Sunday, April 26, 2015

Spring Reflections and a Fast Food Experience

     I have spent the last 2 weeks thinking to myself, "OK, you wanted to blog again, so what do you have to share that is actually interesting?"  Thoughts have run the gambit from sharing a spring lesson or creating a new organizer for my account at to reposting a favorite blog post from a few years ago...then it hit me what I should write while spending over an hour waiting for food at a fast (umm...cough.cough) food restaurant.  Perhaps I should go back as and paint a bit of a picture about that evening.
     Imagine having an actual evening off: no meetings, no papers to grade, house clean, laundry done.  No, I can't imagine that either, but I was choosing that evening to ignore all of those things that needed to be completed.  The husband was at an umpiring training, so the kiddo and I decided to do a little grocery shopping and go to dinner.  He and I love sushi, so I was picturing a fun evening of paying money for a restaurant to plate food that they didn't cook. Instead, someone decided he "weally weally" wanted a cheese burger from a restaurant that rhymes with Phonic. 
    Thus  began our dinner adventure.  We tried 3 different parking stalls before we actually made contact with a human from behind the red button.  During the hour wait for food, we played the game of counting how many cars gave up and left before us. (For those that are holding their breathe waiting to know what that number was: 24. Yes, 24 cars gave up before us.  Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!)  I spent much of the time trying to convince the kid to go somewhere else and he spent much of the time convincing me that the wait was worth it.  In honesty, it was nice to just sit and visit with him.  My reflecting on the whole issue, and how it has anything to do with education...I promise there is a connection, came towards the end. 
     At one point the manager came on the speaker and was very panicked.  He was sharing that he is a good manager, and it was their technology that let them down that night. Always willing to be helpful (or bossy) my child was shouting at me to tell him to breath in and count to 10.  (Now just to convince that same kid to do it when HE is having a meltdown.) When the manager finally stopped, I convinced him that we were still waiting and looking forward to dinner.  Food finally arrived and lucky wasn't even what we ordered.  (If you were the one who ordered the corn-dog, I'm sorry, but finders keepers...) Taking a deep breathe myself, we took the food and ate at home. 
     It seems to me that we, as educators, could learn a lot from the struggles of this restaurant manager.  . 
     1.)  Just like this manager, we are also in a customer service career.  Instead of quality fries and a soda, we are trying our hardest to provide a quality education.  We are trying to grow leaders and life-long learners.  We are trying to light the passion of education in an atmosphere of testing and politics.  Now, I truly believe that this manager was trying his best, but problems defeated his goal that day.  I also truly believe that we have stumbling blocks each day,  but as teachers, we do not have the right to let our goals be defeated by outside circumstance. That is where being a flexible teacher can turn any moment into a successful learning time.  Any teacher worth their salt has a Plan B,C, D, and E in the back of their mind.  (This is where I want to shout out a thanks that I don not have to write out all of those extra lesson plans though...yikes!!) I think I have just stumbled upon a new blog topic for later.  I'd love to hear from everyone how they adapt to those road-bumps in the daily education road.
    2.) As L and I were sitting in the parking lot, I could see the staff working really hard to rectify the issues. I also know that there was a lot of behind the scenes work happening. It is what makes this restaurant usually work.  Placing this in the education setting, I know that we work really hard to constantly adapt and grow and learn as a staff.  I've seen and watched my amazing co-workers work 20 plus extra hours each week, taking professional development because we want to-not have to, and I know we are always reflecting on how to improve.  My question though is if others see that?  Just as customers sometimes just see "distracted waitor" or "they forgot the straw", what do parents and outsiders see the school system doing for their child (or for their tax monies.) Are we showing them how much we care and are striving for excellence in the classroom, but also for each individual student? 
     3.) By the end of the year, we all start reflecting on what goals we met, and what we want to work on the next year.  This reminds me of our order at the restaurant.  We ordered 2 burgers, 2 shakes, and some tater-tots to share.  We ended up with 1 burger, 1 corn-dog, 2 different shakes, and some french fries.  I'll tell you what, that corn-dog was good.  I don't think I've ever had a year where all of my goals came out exactly, but sometimes those "orders" that don't go as pictured can end up being some of the best learning.  I have to say, that I love spring time reflections.  I love seeing how far my classroom kiddos have come, and each year of experience that I gain, I realize it is OK to acknowledge the things that need improvement.  In fact, once this post is finished, I will be starting my reflection process for the end of this year and the start of next. By that, I mean I will be pinning ideas on Pinterest and not doing laundry.  :D
      Not sure that this post went where I had planned, but I guess that was the underlying theme of the post.  So no matter if you ordered a cheeseburger or a corn-dog, I hope your week in the classroom meets the goals you are striving towards. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Following My Heart and Coming Home

    It has been 3 years.  3 years?? Really??  Surely I just stepped away for a few minutes...maybe a couple days...but not 3 years?  I'm not sure what happened.  Life got busy and I just meant to step away for a little bit.  I needed to stop and enjoy a cup of coffee, smell the flowers, and take a mini vacation.  In reality, I think I just ended up working harder and longer, gulping massive cups of bad coffee, and the only flowers have been dandelions picked by the cutest little man.
    A quick recap for anyone that has patiently stuck with me: I've now looped up to 6th grade for this year, my little guy is 1 part Dennis the Menace and 1 part Momma's Boy, I have a few lot more grey hair (reread recap. :D ), my weight has increased, but don't worry-I have stretchy pants. (OK, the weight needs to go down, but that's a different post.)
    The last few months I've been having these fleeting thoughts, in between lesson planning and meetings, that something is missing.  Something that was dear to my heart was absent, and then it hit me.  I have actually been going to bed at a decent time and haven't done any late night ramblings.  I've missed it.  I've missed my blogger buddies. I've missed sharing my ideas on this big ol'Internet.  Guess that means it is time to follow my heart and come home to my blog. 
    I have lots of ideas stored up to share, and I can't wait.  Soon. For now though, it feels good just to be rambling  and reintroducing myself. 


Monday, August 20, 2012

Mounds of Laundry but an Organized Classroom

You know when you are driving, and your car starts to make weird sounds? My computer did that today, and now it won't turn on. Sigh. is great.  Thankfully I have one of my bestie's netbook, that I need to return, but for tonight it is becoming my blog station. 

I am so excited to say that I am finished with my room!  We won't mention that my house looks like the toddler threw a kiddy rager, the yard is starting to look like the house is abandoned, and I truly considered taking all the dirty laundry along with the clothes scattered here and there and having a big bon fire.  Seriously...does anyone have a match??

Oh well, at least this teacher has a color matching classroom. My child doesn't have diapers, but my room matches! LOL!  Here goes....(imagine a curtain being lifted and gasps of awe and delight from the audience.)

I used to think my little bulletin board was great until...

I now have an interactive wall!  Calendar, Learning Goals, Exit Slips, and Questions
This first wall I am using to help the students set and see the goals and to use exit slips to check for questions, miscues, etc.  The "Why" bulletin board is something I am very excited to try.  It was one of those 3 am ideas.  I always have students with so many great questions from their reading as they are tracking their thoughts, exploring Science and Social Studies, or as we have group discussion; we don't always have time to find the answers.  This year, students can write their question down on a post it, then towards the end of the week they can grab their question, or someone elses, and go research and explore those lingering questions.  Hoping it  works as well in real life as it does in my brain!

The back corner before...I used to have our workshop rug in this corner, along with...

this ugly yellow shelf. (It used to be cute, I promise.)

I now have a CAFE inspired CRAFT area. The CRAFT posters
are a Freebie from  LadyBug's Teacher Files.

 Finally, remember that table of junk useful supplies.....

It is now a writing/personal space/conferring/basket holding area. 
Notice my coffee pot in the back. Sigh, have I mentioned I like coffee??

I know I shared my desk, but I added labels on the file cabinet (thanks Dad!),
a great lamp, decorated an old kitchen utensil holder, and hung curtains! Whoo-who! I am finished! Well, actually I have another window that needs close...

The bad news is that now I have no excuse not to clean my own house.  However, the laundry bonfire still might happen.  S'mores anyone?

Don't forget to enter into my Starbucks/Organizer Giveaway.  You have until August 28, and I have to say that the odds are good. 


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Custom Made Freebie and Starbucks Card: A Procrastinators End of Summer Give Away

  I've sat at this computer typing and deleting...typing and deleting.  My sarcastic wit has deserted me, and left in its place is a caffeine deprived blogger.  However, I am enjoying one of my most favorite places in the world, the Big Horn Mountains, with some great family, so I guess that makes up for my lack of snarky and highly humorous intellectually stimulating comments today. 

  To ask forgiveness for this dry and boring post, I am teaming up with Life's Journey Scrapbooking to do a giveaway for all my teacher and non-teacher bloggy buddies! Drum roll please...We are going to give 1 lucky person a....
 $10 Starbucks card
I even promise not to use the $$ that is on the card!
and 2 lucky winners will receive....oh I can hear all of the deep breathes as everyone gears up in anticipation.....

Custom made Accordion Folders!!
(Ok, I thought about naming them the "Cute and Crafty Lifeline of Organization for Teachers and All Others Dohickey Thing-A-Maging Must Have Tool of Sucess", but decided I might get tired...or confused...when repeating it.)

The Outside of my Folder: Step 1 of Operation Organization! The front is under the plastic, so it won't get ruin when you reach across your desk and spill coffee..noth that I have ever done that!

Mine includes a calendar, spiral notebook and pocket to store stuff candy hidden from students or the toddler. Sorry, wine, coffee, or energy drinks won't fit.

Are you impressed yet?

I am going to use mine to store
 parent notes and messages until I can get them filed. 
What would you used this for?

This is a super cute example my friend Crystal made for her daughter.

Can you guess what her daughter loves?

Organize, photos, document, or store!

  These folders are adorable and can be used as a planner, organizer, or to hide the candy bars from the children. See? Multi use!  The 2 folder winners will get to pick color and/or theme and will receive a 1-of-a-kind file made by moi.  Now who needs Prada or Coach when you can have a Mrs. M original? 
 You can get up to 5 chances to win, and those that are blog experts can already guess how. 
1.) Go check out my buddy at Life's Journey Scrapbooking and make a comment on her current post. Make sure to let her know you found her through me.
2.) Follow her publicly. (She has some great ideas!)
3.) Leave a comment on my blog about how you would use the folder or your favorite coffee drink. :D  Don't forget to leave your email and that you have or already...
4.) Follow me publicly.
5.) Post a link to this blog post on your blog, and let me know by sharing that in your comment. (It is almost midnight and I am not about to being to figure out how to use the linky tools. Next time...)
6.)...Hey, it's my blog, I can add an extra chance if I want!  6.) I take bribes. The bigger, the better. Just saying.

I will alert and announce winners on August 28, which is the first day that our kiddos come back to school. Good luck all!

P.S. I am sharing 2 more photos of my color cordinated classroom.  It's getting there...slowly...and very expensively...If you missed my first picture and classroom ideas, check it out!

The one time this year, my desk will be this clean!

Lets pretend we didn't see this....

 I am off to enjoy the last few days of summer!
Good night all!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Great Expectations: Organizing a Classroom, Educational Filler Links, and a Broken Budget!

    Smug: (V) The feeling of superiority the night before going into your classroom, knowing that you are going to 1.)Complete a room full of bulletin boards, 2.) Move furniture, 3.) Empty summer boxes, 4.) Create Open House letters, gifts, etc, 5.) Create a new curriculum map (because hey, you are feeling superior so why not reinvent the wheel), 6.) Send ALL the projects to graphics, 7.) Have everything completed for not just the first day, but for the first 2 weeks of school, and knowing that you will do it in just 5 hours, and a whole 3 weeks before school starts.
            (Jeez, that wasn't a long and grammatically incorrect sentence, was it?!?)

Uh Duh: (V) The reality check that you are absolutely crazy to think that said plan will actually happen.

   Yep, you would think after all these years, I would have a firm grasp on reality.  I obviously didn't; I'm blaming the lack of coffee that day.  However, I am very excited to post the pictures of what I did get accomplished.  Everyone needs to promise to not ask what I spent to make it happen...
Can you guess the colors I picked this year? First year doing a color theme...
Same location as the first picture, but what a difference! I know I would curl up and read a good book there.  If I wasn't afraid that I'd never get up, I just might!
Starting to look like a room.  Sigh, lots of bulletin boards left to go...
Umm, let's pretend that this was a before picture and not the one that I snapped before walking out of the room.
     Now I know I mentioned sharing some super tech links, but 3-6 Free Resources is having a great sharing linky that talks about brain breaks, or those educational time fillers, so I thought I'd share three of my favorite ideas. 
1.) We keep a Jenga game going in the corner of the room.  The Jenga pieces have division facts on them.  If the student gets the problem right, he or she gets to keep the piece for their team.  Game over when it topples or they draw the Gotcha piece. 

2.) Timed ball toss. 1 small ball or stuffed animal (we used an Angry Birds that I found in the dog toy section). Our rules are that it can't be dropped, can't be passed around the same table, everyone plays, and no overhand.  We do a baseline on our time, then the kids keep a graph with the times.  Once in a while we analyze performance, possible changes, teamwork, etc.  Fun and Math rolled into one!

3.) Logic Puzzles and Division Wraps- Kiddos ALWAY have access to either of those items.

Well, now that I am completely done not close to finishing my room, but still feeling smug that I went in several weeks before, I am going to go enjoy a quiet house. The hubby took our Little Man to watch his first mutton bustin' so I am going to have a glass bottle of wine and do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Good night all!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Time Zones, Housekeeping, and a Differentiated Instruction Conference: Excuses for not Blogging

    So I feel that I should preface this post with the information that I have a really good reason for not blogging steadily the last few weeks months.  I have been a world US traveler the last 3 weeks, and truly didn't want the crazies (no, I'm not talking about us crazy educators..) knowing that I was away from my humble abode.  Seriously, someone might have stolen my milk and kool-aid stained couch or the desktop computer from 1862 or my stylish mom jeans or...
   I do have to say that I have been SO excited to share my trips with my fellow bloggy people though!  In the last 3 weeks I have traveled from my sweet home of Wyoming to Washington DC for an NEA assembly (which was amazing for this new delegate!) back to Wyoming for 1 day ( yes only 1day- gee, no time to clean the house that day) then I was off to Vegas with Hubby, Kiddo, and 3 amazing teacher friends for the Differentiated Instruction conference.  L.O.V.E.D. it!!  Got to meet Stephanie Harvey, and am super excited to see her again next week at a local reading conference.  (Yes, my name is Mrs. M and I roll with the Stephanie Harveys of the world.  Don't  you wish you were me?)  For those that are unfamiliar with Ms. Harvey, among other educational supports, she has written several books, including Strategies that Work.  Google her..I hope to be her, umm like her, when I grow up.
Crystal aka the new Mrs., myself (yes, I'm actually dressed up!), Stephanie Harvey, Brandie BBG the Softball Diva , and  our "I teach every grade" Sheila!

Wait...did anyone else go to either of those events?  Let me know!!

   Since I just spent a week listening to some great teachers speaking about everything from DI to technology, to sponges and warm-ups to poverty and beyond, I thought I'd share some ideas that they gave us throughout this next week. Wish I could claim these, because they are wonderful.  Tonight I'll stick with some classroom management/ brain break/positives, because seriously, clapping a pattern is SOOOO 2011.
1.) To the tune of Who Let the Dog's Out... "Who did a good job? You! You! You! You! You! Who did a good job? You! You! You!  You! You!" (Haha-don't blame me when that is stuck in  your head!!)
2.) Voice Chorus- As you raise/lower your hand students make a higher or lower pitched "ahhh" sound. Challenge them by splitting the group in half and "directing" using both hands.
3.) To allow time for thinkers to think, and blurters a chance to blurt instead of burst; simple count down from 5 silently with fingers.
4.) Keep in mind, " When our bottoms go numb, our brains get dumb." LOL!
5.) When someone does a "Great Job"  turn one hand into a cheese grater and the other into cheese then make those motions.

     Tomorrow I will share some, ok a lot, of technology sites for the classroom.  Disclaimer: some of these sites will force you to spend less time on Pinterest.  Now that I'm back in the real world, away from hotels, big cities, and long days of meetings, I have come to realize 1 important thing....there is no maid or room service where I live. Sigh. Can you guess what I'm going to be doing after I publish this post...yup, you got it.  Ignoring the laundry...still...and the dust bunnies...ahh, aren't they cute...and going to play with, umm professionally analyze, these sites for tomorrows blog post.  I'll leave off tonight with some pictures of what we accomplished after the meetings...
Baysocks game with far away family
hoping to see Long-Lost Nephew Play Ball!
4th Of July in DC-Amazing!
For my fellow Wyoming delegates:
"We Have Badgers!"
Hmm, I wonder if my toddler decorated
couch would look good in this house?
Happy to be touring our Nation's Capital
4th of July Week!
Enjoy the a/c at Hausbrauhaus!
Oye, Oye, Oye!
We swam..a lot!
We learned teamwork and
collaboration this week! 
Did I mention we swam?
Ready to Fly!

How I felt after almost 3 weeks of meetings
and 3 different time zones! Yikes!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Summer in Pictures

Ok, I feel like a student who doesn't have her homework.
Teacher, "Why haven't you blogged any high quality educator thoughts, tips, freebies, and ideas Young Lady?"
Me: "Umm, I was sick? Aliens abducted my brain? The dog ate my..Umm..USB cord?...I ran out of coffee??!?"
Ok, truth be told, it truly was the aliens. I've put in a lost and found ad, but no luck yet.
It has been a crazy and busy summer, so I thought I'd do this post in pictures.

A Rambling through Pics....
(I am doing this post on my iPhone, and it won't let me put captions under the pics, so as a resourceful teacher..and someone who doesn't want to retype... I created a caption list. I would say that I'll go back and fix it...but that would be a big fat whopper!! )
1. Water line broke down the street, but no worries! Little Man has his frog boots and diaper on to fix the water!
2. Desert from the most amazing dinner at Cuban Libre this summer. (Notice my pics seem to be about coffee and sweets? Geez, why don't my pants fit??!?)
3. Porch swing, coffee, ahhhh!
4. Designing scrapbook pages for Life's Journey Scrapbooking
5. Little Man shooting a 3D target: Bam bam bam!
6. High quality public education: an amazing group of educators that met in Washington DC.
7. Enough Said!
8. Have I mentioned I heart coffee?
9. Ok, so I don't have a picture, but I'm sure you have heard about all the wildfires in Wyoming, Colorado, etc. Well, it seems like our state is on fire, and I am so very proud of my sister, whom is a firefighter. She has spent the last 21 days fighting fires in 2 states. She is now home safe and sound as of today! So many homes and communities have been devastated, so please keep our states, firefighters, and families in your thoughts.

Well, I have procrastinated, I mean blogged long enough so good night all, and I hope your summer is worthy of many picture memories!

Have a great week, and enjoy your weekend blog friends!!