Sunday, July 26, 2015

Unshakeable Book Study- Chapter 20

It's been great doing this book study with my some other bloggy friends! Unshakeable is a fantastic, motivating book with real, practical ways to help teachers enjoy their jobs (almost) every day. Chapter 20 is the final chapter. so I thought I'd leave you with a few final thoughts and images as we start thinking about, or already teaching, this new school year.

 It's true what Angela Watson says about this, "Most of us are too busy to regularly- or ever- step back from our daily routines and reflect on what is and isn't working." Next year I'd like to make myself sit down for a few minutes at the end of the day and think about the day, maybe make a few notes for the next year, and let myself appreciate what was accomplished that day. Think I can do it? I know it won't be as easy as it sounds, but it definitely will help me keep enjoying my job.
Right now what's working in my classroom is a few things I won't allow myself or anyone else to compromise:
1. giving myself permission to take time to talk with my students about THEM. That sounds so depressing, doesn't it? A few years ago we under pressure to stick to a schedule that gave us about 15 minutes per day to teach science, social studies, art, music, clean-up, put backpacks away, you get the idea. Let me tell you, that's miserable for the teacher and the kids! If we spend 20 minutes just talking to each other about what kids what to talk about it's ok by me. I get to know them, they get to know me, and everything's good!
2. Playing games! Math work stations, partner word sorts, Scoot, SpellingCity.com, abcya.com, Go Noodle
3. Regular time for PE
4. Writer's Workshop- started this 2 years ago, did it a little more last year, and I love it! My kiddos get to choose their topics so they're extremely excited to write. They help each other proofread. I jsut love watching and listening to them interact with each other and their writing! It makes this teacher's heart very happy.
5. Daily 5- I'm tellin' you... I can't imagine ever NOT doing this! It's the best thing I've ever done in my classroom! Kids love it, I love it, and I see it building excitement about books, the desire to read, and along with that comes improvement in reading.

***What is one of the very best things you've added to your teaching repertoire?



This made me laugh

Yesterday I wrote about having been burned out and not enjoying my job a few years ago. Angela suggests finding a PD book to read, taking on a new school committee, or challenging yourself to do something new in your room as a way to shake things up and make things new again.

Angela writes,"...trust that you'll be able to handle whatever comes your way."
That's not easy and can be very scary!
Last year was my first experience with 1:1 technology in the classroom. It forced me to try things even though I didn't know what the outcome might be. I'm the kind of teacher who tries to think through the possible problems and pitfalls in order to try to prevent them so this was extremely uncomfortable for me. One day I tried using Google docs with my 2nd graders. I had no idea if what I was planning was something they could really do. Well, what we tried didn't work. I was honest with my kiddos about not knowing how it would work out and when it didn't they were flexible and change gears with me and we just did the project a different way.
I'm not saying that was the best thing to do, but we all made it through the experience and it gave me the courage to try other things even when I wasn't sure of the outcome.





Angela writes about choosing the things you do as a teacher based on what is best for kids rather than the fear of what your administrator or other teachers might say. She writes about a time she didn't use workbook pages like she was told to but presented her principal with results that showed the children learned what they should have using other methods. Turned out the principal was very impressed with what she had done rather upset about the lack of workbook use.


I had to laugh reading this chapter. Have you ever been presented, trained it, and directed to use a program only to have it replaced with something else after only a year or two?
Angela writes," Don't internalize this pressure, my friends. Be kind to yourself."
Something for me work on. I'm sure I'll be re-reading this chapter.


The main idea here is not to let little failures keep you from forging ahead. Last year we had WBT training so I went back and tried Teach, OK the very next day. It didn't go well and I never tried it again. Hmmm..... maybe I should.


I hope this next school year will be a fun adventure for all of us! Some of my classroom set-up and possibly our PD day may not be much fun. There will be lots of paperwork, supplies to sort through, etc. but as Angela writes,"Watching kids learn is the greatest adventures you'll ever have." Here's to a great adventure! Let's


Thank you to Jessica from Tales of a First Grade Teacher for introducing me to this book and inviting me to be part of this book study. Please check out the other posts from Jessica, Cassie, Brittany, and Sandy on their fabulous blogs! (if you haven't already :)

Fearless in Fifth


If you're interested in more about Unshakeable by Angela Watson, she has tons of resources on her website. Just click on the image of her book. There is also a Facebook group doing a book study too.
http://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/books/unshakeable




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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Unshakeable Book Study- Ch. 19


I am loving this book!! Several friends and I are reading it and sharing our thoughts on different chapters. Chapter 19 is the second to last chapter and it's fantastic! It's called Re-Write the Story You Tell Yourself About Teaching and it's something I've been working on doing for a while.

A little backstory: About 4 years ago my mindset about teaching had become very negative. It a little uncomfortable to admit that but it's true. Testing, schedule requirements, a consultant with specified things we should do all attached to points and a score sheet to reflect her 10 minute visit, and a school climate that seemed very negative just didn't add up to enjoying my job much. I wanted my situation and my classroom to be different. So in early summer 2011, spending lots of time at my computer I discovered teachers blogs and found many teachers out there who love what they do, put a lot of extra effort into their class and school, and were doing such creative things. So I started my blog. I met other teachers with similar philosophies and goals. Those teachers shared PD books like Ron Clark's No More Molasses Classes. That was the start of an exciting change for me. I guess that's when I started to re-write my teaching story.

Back to the book: Angela Watson writes that "your mindset will keep pulling you back to the same story and old patterns of behavior." So she says, "you can re-write those stories about how you are helpless and powerless, and start telling yourself that you can change things that are not working in your life. You can write an empowering story that you will enjoy living."
So she asks 3 questions:
What is the story you're telling yourself about teaching?
How are you justifying your negative stories about teaching?
What is the story that will produce the results you want in life?

Boy, if that's not food for thought, what is?

Reading through this chapter was very re-affirming.
I thought about story I was telling myself 4 years ago and how I justified those thoughts. I'd rationalized how it was outside influences that caused my negativity or that I was "just venting" not complaining.
I also thought of things that have helped me re-write my story (which is still a work in progress, and probably always will be) and what I want my story to be. My classroom has become a much more exciting, dynamic environment in the last few years and my teaching strategies have changed to accomodate much more movement and partner/group work. Now my students are doing math work stations, Daily 5, writer's workshop, and doing a lot of learning through playing games and working together. This next year I want to work on having more time at home that I'm not working on school work so I get more things done around the house, more time to exercise, and more time to read for pleasure.

Enough about my story. Now I'd love to hear from you about your "story" and how you might re-write your story.

I hope you're enjoying this book study. I'll be back with the last chapter tomorrow.

If you missed chapters 17 & 18 you can check out Sandy's posts on her blog
Fearless in Fifth


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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Alphabet Exchange- It's almost full!

Hey everyone! Hope you're having a wonderful summer day at home or on vacation. For those of you back at school already, hopefully you're having a good start to the school year.

To those who already signed up for the Alphabet Exchange, thank you. I hope to get your group information to you next week.
If you haven't signed up yet, there are only 7 spots left.
http://firstgradefoundme.blogspot.com/2015/06/alphabet-letter-exchange-registration.html
If you are interested in participating, please email me at firstgradefoundme@gmail.com.

What is the Alphabet Exhchange? Find out HERE.

By the way, anybody know of a tutorial to help me make a blog button that's not blurry???


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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Unshakeable Book Study- Learn to Say NO Without the Guilt


If you read my post yesterday, then you already no I have trouble saying "no" to things at school. Maybe I already posted about 2 years ago when I taught 1st grade, was on 2 district committees one of which was creating a Common Core pacing guide for all three trimesters of 1st grade. That "committee" was me and one other teacher. I also was the advisor for Student Council, which I'd never done but thought would be fun and it was. I also took on the task of decorating the 2 hallway display cases on either side of the cafeteria building. They were consistently empty and that bugged me so I decided to do that rather than be annoyed at looking at an ugly space every day. While all of that was pretty enjoyable, it took away from tons of personal time with my family, my blog, exercise, reading, etc. Reading chapter 6 of Angela Watson's book Unshakeable is just what I needed! 

Angela was a classroom teacher and now writes and is an educational consultant. She's been in my/our shoes and clearly knows exactly what it's like. Chapter 6 is called Learn to Say "No" Without the Guilt and Make Your "Yes" Really Count. She brings up the point that everything you say "yes" to means you're saying "no" to something else. I'd never thought about it that way before. She writes,"When you start to feel guilty about saying no, remember what you're effectively saying yes to. Saying "no" to a colleague means saying "yes" to time for relaxing that evening." She calls decisions like these "honorable, worthwhile decisions." Thank you for that, Angela!

Next year my goal is to only take on projects/committees/events that I truly enjoy and feel make a direct impact on helping other teachers enjoy teaching or my students enjoy being at school. I WILL be more careful to protect my time right after school so that I'm doing lesson plans and prep then and making my health and sanity a high priority. It will be hard not to feel guilty about some things, but I'll try to remind myself about what I am saying yes to.

Things I want to say YES to more often:
1. Time to walk more days than not. I really enjoy walking as my major form of exercise but when I'm at school until close to 5pm every day there's not enough time. 
2. Time in the evening with my husband cooking dinner or watching tv without also doing school work or having my mind preoccupied with school thoughts all evening.
3. Time to read and blog which I find relaxing and which help make me happy. And I know my loving family and friends much prefer happy, relaxed Chrissy to stressed out, preoccupied Chrissy.

Angela has several other great ideas for learning to say no without the guilt including how to say no to parents, how to soften the blow of saying no, and even prepared responses to make it easier to say "no" to additional commitments.

I'd love to hear from others like me: What do you find it hard to say "no" to things at school? What do you say "yes" to? 

Chapters 7 & 8 are being hosted over the next 2 days by Sandy from Ramblings of a 5th Grade Teacher.
Fearless in Fifth

To read about previous chapters, check out Cassie and Jessica's fabulous posts!


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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Unshakeable Book Study- Ch. 5


 I am thoroughly enjoying Unshakeable by Angela Watson. Chapter 5 which is all about ways to relate to your students' families without eating up too much of your time or money.
Having good relationships with my students' families is one of my favorite parts of teaching. Last year I went to the high school graduation party for one of my former kindergarten/first graders. His family and I have kept in touch all this time. About 2 weeks ago their son left for the Navy to become a rescue swimmer. He's an absolutely awesome kid! There are other families I've gotten to know well but it still seems that I could be more in touch with more families. Enter Angela Watson and chapter 5 of Unshakeable.
(Ha! Ha! It just occurred to me to say "Angela's main ideas are..." I guess that work on non-fiction this year stuck with me. Hopefully it stuck with my students too!)
Angela highlights 10 ways to improve interaction with parents:
  1. Get parents on your side from Day 1
  2. Know and celebrate your community
  3. Hold monthly or quarterly Family Festivities
  4. Share good news from school
  5. Establish ongoing two-way communication
  6. Be pro-active with demanding parents
  7. Be pro-active with uninvolved parents
  8. Adopt an attitude of grace toward students' families
  9. Accept the fact that some parents will never, ever like you
  10. Never give up and always keep pushing to make parents your allies
Next year I'm going to work harder to get parents involved with our classroom. Angela as an idea for calling parents at the beginning of the year (I know I won't get that done day 1, but by the end of week 1 it seems do-able for me.) and for on-going communication. She has some freebies to help with this on her TPT store.
Do you have special events in your room or school for parents to come to? It seems like we all do. Every year my class Christmas party is making and decorating gingerbread houses. I invite parents and they make them with their children. It's great! Parents meet each other and the children their kids talk about and we all have fun. But after reading Angela's book I'm very encouraged to try having more events like this. Some years my school has a math night or reading night, etc. Now I'm thinking that I could do the same kind of thing only during the day. Angela suggest doing some before school, but I'm really not a morning person. Instead, maybe parents could come during the day. Say for 45 minutes before lunch for a math event. Or the same before recess for a reading or writing event. Surely my student's parents would really enjoy hearing them read their writing during our writing publishing parties?
I'll be back tomorrow with chapter 6! Learning to say no without the guilt. Oh boy do I need help with that!!!

Thanks for following our book study. Be sure to check out Cassie's blog for the previous 2 chapters. 
Adventures in Teaching



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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Shark Week!- 9 Shark Books for Kids

I'm keepin' it short & sweet today...

This is Shark Week! Do you teach your students about sharks? They are always such a fascinating animals for kids- especially the boys! Here 9 of my favorite shark books to share with kids.

http://firstgradefoundme.blogspot.com/2015/07/shark-week-9-shark-books-for-kids.html

Last July I posted about Ted Arnold's Fly Guy Presents SHARKS! and made a word search to go with it. You can check out that post and grab your freebie HERE.

Enjoy!



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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Unshakeable: 20 Ways to Enjoy Teaching- a book study

It starts today! A book study on an inspiring, encouraging book called Unshakeable: 20 Ways to Enjoy Teaching Every Day... No Matter What.

I encourage you to get this book. It's already given me some great ideas for next year that I'll be sharing Friday and Saturday. I hope you'll join follow along and join in with us. Go ahead and grab the bookmark freebie below and start reading!
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1WlMNXUXAS2ZWc5WEx0SW5kNjg/view?usp=sharing
Everything kicks off with Jessica from Tales of a First Grade Teacher.

Cassie, Sandy, Brittany, and I will be along later in the week. See you then!
Adventures in Teaching
Fearless in Fifth


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