Thursday, December 7, 2017

Sometimes you just color.

Yesterday was one of THOSE days at school. I was grumpy. A cold front was blowing in. Christmas is barreling down on us. There was a Supermoon recently and my kiddos were just W.I.L.D!!! After school  I was just in funk and knew we needed a day to get back on track. So...I drove over to Michaels and purchased a giant cardboard gingerbread house. We are currently wrapping up a 2 week study of The Gingerbread Man stories and I had seen a friend post about these cute cardboard houses.

So this morning I set out to break our funk with a giant cardboard box.

During learning stations I pulled out each cardboard piece, dumped markers all over the floor, and said "have at it guys."  And they did. They were so excited. They colored with a fever I had never witnessed before.  I had kiddos choosing to color rather than playing on Ipads or in waterbeads. In fact 15 out of my 20 kiddos chose to color the house rather than work in learning stations.

At first I relished in the few moments of peace and tried to check off things on my never-ending to do list but after seeing my kiddos having so much fun I decided to push that to the side and lay down beside them and color.

And we colored. For an hour and a half. We colored. And talked. And laughed.  And sang Christmas songs. And bonded. Nope...this was not on my lesson plans. No...I had not planned out standards or anything "academic".

But sometimes that is okay. You putting aside learning objectives and school get to actually listen to your kiddos. I learned about a  student's trip to eat pizza the night before, what one kiddo ate for dinner at his grandmother's house the night before, and that one kiddo was secretly hoping his tooth would fall out at school so he could get one of those cool treasure boxes to put his tooth in. I heard stories of Melvin and Marvin...two elves that live at one student's home as well as many other elf stories. Elves are important to kindergarteners right now. I heard my kids encouraging each other and complimenting each other. They helped each other out and showed endurance because they wanted to finish the project.

But academics were not completely pushed away. They are always there. We planned and looked ahead to see which part needed colored next. We discussed how colors changed as they overlapped. We discussed patterning and counted gum drops. We worked as a team.

And it was much fun. I had lost my joy for a bit in the classroom as I was caught up in all the "stuff" that comes at this time of year. But today...I found it coloring a giant gingerbread house with my kinders.

And it was beautiful!

Monday, October 23, 2017

What a journey so far...

Let's go back to last April when this whole journey began. At the end of the day, I was greeted by my principal and daughter who presented me with balloons and flowers announcing I was voted as Teacher of the Year for our building. I was surprised and so honored to be selected by my peers.

Fast forward to the end of May. We were just about to wrap up the school year and we were in the middle of my favorite day of the year...our big OSCARS themed awards ceremony. Everyone was decked out in their movie star best, the room was filled with parents, grandparents, siblings, etc. and the hallways and classroom was completely decked out. It was standing room only. Halfway through the ceremony, in walked my principal again...this time followed by our superintendent and several other people from our central office. They halted the ceremony to announce I had been selected as district teacher of the year. I was completely shocked and so blown away...I just broke down in tears. It was such a memorable day to have so many people there for the surprise announcement and I was so honored to represent our district.

After that, it was a whirlwind time of preparing applications for district teacher of the year and writing my big back to school speech. In August, as the school year began the district comes together for a back to school assembly. During that assembly I gave my first big speech in front of about 2,000 people. It was both an exhilarating and completely terrifying day for me.

Later that week during a professional development session, we received an email stating I had been selected as a regional finalist.

In September, I was invited to the state capitol to be recognized as a regional finalist. The ceremony was live streamed so my coworkers and family were able to watch live as the announcement was made of who was in the top 4 state semi-finalists. I was thrilled to hear my name called.

I was welcomed back to school the next day with signs. posters, flowers, a lounge filled with my favorite treats, and so many well-wished I couldn't breathe!

Two weeks later, the Arkansas Department of Education came to my school to observe and conduct formal interviews. I was told they would announce the 2018 Teacher of the Year "before Christmas".

Then just a few weeks ago, on September the middle of a reading assembly I got the surprise of a lifetime. After our superintendent finished up reading a book to the entire student body, Commissioner Key walked in to read another story. As he began to read aloud the story, members of the school board, department of education, community. press, and my family began to file in. Commissioner Key read a story about a teacher (me) and officially announced me as the 2018 Arkansas Teacher of the Year. I was I was completely overwhelmed.

These past few weeks have been filled with media visits, photo sessions, and working on my National Teacher of the Year application...which in itself is a unreal experience.

I am still completely overwhelmed at this point and looking forward to what lies ahead on this journey as ATOY!

Monday, April 7, 2014

on the Magic Schooooooooooooool Bus...

For book character day this year, we were inspired this year by our favorite science-minded redhead and her magical school bus.  I have always adored Miss Frizzle and her out of this world fashions.  I love that her dress is always themed.  I found the most perfect blue swing dress on clearance at Old Navy and the deal was set!  I made some felt planets, stars, and other fun things to sew on it.  I found the most perfect shade of yellow tights (Target clearance) and added my own red shoes and my little girl's Merida wig.  I had to pin the wig and put part into a pony to create the Frizzle look. I thought it turned out pretty fabulous and my students LOVED it.

Mr. Howse made THE most incredible bus out of carboard and paper.  He even added those sweet familiar faces of the kiddos in the back!  The bus opened up so our other kinder teachers could hop on!

This was by far my most favorite book character day!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Cooking with Kinders

Well we unintentionally took a few...errrr....well several month break from blogging.  But we are ready to get back in the swing!

One of the things that has kept us so busy this year is "Cooking with Kinders".  We started cooking with our students last school year and have continued it on this year.  Basically we plan a cooking lesson with our students based on our unit of study each week.  We combine our classes and have a blast.  We are able to connect MANY CCSS standards into each lesson (like average of 13!) and we are feeding our students at the same time.  Last year we presented our "Cooking with Kinders" idea to our district school board.  In November of this past year AETN contacted us to partner with them to put in a garden.  A few representative came and cooked a big Thanksgiving meal with us and took some fantastic photographs!  Hopefully we will get that garden going before this school year ends for sure!

This fall we were asked to present it at our state school board conference!  It was the first time for either of us to present formally and we were so nervous and excited.  We got to share our idea with school board members, principals, and superintendents from all over the state.  We got a good response and learned a lot from our experience.  We were so honored to have been chosen.

In January we were recognized at a school board meeting for presenting at the ASBA conference and a local education reported heard about us so she contacted us to do a story.  She came in late January and observed/ took photos and videoed while our students made salsa and guacamole.  It was the most precious write-up in the paper and she put the most amazing video together of our students.  You can see it here.   Again we were so beyond honored.

We love the cooking program we have created and feel that it is a strong way to incorporate so many CCSS standards into your weekly lessons.  It provides a hands on, integrated, fun lesson for students and it feed those bellies at the same time.

We are currently working on putting together a printable unit based off our cooking lessons for TPT.  We will update when we do!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Another Kinder quote

Here's another funny Kindergarten quote that one of my students said after we had been discussing how to be a good friend to others.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Humpty Dumpty Day

We've been spending the first 3 weeks of school learning nursery rhymes, working with colors and shapes, and focusing on rhyming words.  Today we had a "Humpty Dumpty Day" at school.  We all got our very own (hardboiled) Humpty to decorate and then drop off our "wall" while re-telling the nursery rhyme.  So much of our focus is on re-telling and rhyming the first part of the year...I use this re-telling activity for my Qualls assessment as well. :)
 The kiddies also got to make a Humpty and put him on the wall (brick scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby) and "write" how they would put him back together.  I thought they came up with some pretty cute ideas this year.

Then we started our Humpty "Egg-speriment".  We put a raw egg and a hard-boiled egg in vinegar to soak overnight.  The kiddies were so excited and had all sorts of theories as to what would happen. 

Then late in the afternoon all our "kings men and kings women" headed out to the track behind our playground for our 2nd annual Humpty Launch.  We love this activity and it's a student favorite from last year.  We covered 4 boxes with "brick paper" of different colors.  We used a 3 man slingshot and raw eggs to launch Humpty as far as we could.  We re-told the rhyme over and over and discussed where he landed each time (using those positional terms). 


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

time can be a funny thing

This is our 3rd week of the school year. This marks the fourth time in my life as a teacher that I have started a new school year.. I feel like each year goes by faster and faster. The year we had our son was the fastest so far. I think the average school year is 178 days long. The state of Arkansas will allow you to retire after 28 years of teaching. That means if you retire the first year available you probably worked on average of 4, 984 days as a teacher. That is 28 extremely long first days of school. In Kindergarten you have 20 students. In a Kindergarten teaching career you will probably have more than 560 kiddos in your classes (assuming some students will move throughout the year). An average 28 year teaching career means an average of 4,984 days of teaching. I have already completed about 544 teaching days so far. Part of me gets excited to know that the count down doesn't seem too unbearable but part of me knows that I need to enjoy every minute of my job. It is rare to meet people that absolutely love their job. I am one of those people. I know that of the 560 kiddos placed in my room they are all there for a reason. I know I can teach them all something and they can all teach me something. I know I need to cherish and make the most of the 4,440 more days. This job is one of the only jobs I can think of that can keep my attention. Looking forward to the next 25 or so years!