Friday, April 18, 2014

A Rare Glimpse

One of the challenges of blogging about my classroom is that I want to share what I'm doing while respecting the privacy of my students.  So, I don't post videos or photos with faces which means there are so many wonderful moments I can't share.

Our district tech department is having a video contest and I got permission to post a video to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NapaEdTech on the right under recent posts by others.  I think the direct link is here.


If you go there you can see a glimpse into my school and help me win a free Chromebook by liking the video by April 24th.  The three videos with the most likes get a free Chromebook and the top three are in the 30-90 likes range right now so this is very possible to win.

Help me win a free Chromebook!


I have one computer in my classroom right now which is attached to my smart board in a way that I have to turn the smart board off in order to do anything without every student watching.  This would be such a huge help for me.

The video features one day of teaching... last Saturday.

Saturday?

No, it wasn't like Breakfast Club.  No one was there because they were in trouble.

Yes.  I am an elementary teacher who has taught on several Saturdays.  I'm not the only one am I?

Some Saturdays in the past were for intervention before state testing.  This year is different though.

Our district has started recovering attendance money by inviting students that miss a day of school to make it up on a Saturday. We were told we could do what ever we want.  I've been having so much fun.

I usually have a group of about 20-30 5th and 6th graders for about 3 hours.  When they arrive I let them choose teammates and a research topic under a category (this week mammals).  They develop questions, research, and then present.

It. Is. Amazing.

The kids are excited and motivated.  I actually have kids come up to me enthusiastically and ask if I'll be teaching Saturday School and what we'll be researching.  I had a kid joke that they were going to make sure to be absent again so they could come to the next Saturday School- of course we had a talk.

I love see the students collaborate and present.   I feel like I'm seeing them at their best.  This last Saturday, I told them that we'd make PowerPoints and while we were in the lab, kids started asking if they could do a Prezi instead and if they could also make a GoAnimate.


My teacher-y instinct was to remind them of the directions but then I reconsidered. "Yes, this is your presentation.  Make it what you want."

The most amazing part of all?  They barely needed my help.  I was walking in circles with so little to do, I made that video and showed it to them by the end of the day.  (If you haven't played with the iMovie app, you'll be amazed how easy it is.)

Check out what my kids accomplished in a few hours.  You'll love it.



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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Surf Lessons

This year I am an intervention teacher.  I'm teaching SEVEN grade levels every day.

Brain. Tired.

While I'm mentally exhausted this year, it is incredibly rewarding.  I've worked with about 300 kids so far this year.

Most of the time, my colleagues family, give me "bubble kids" who just need a little push to become proficient.  Sometimes, I work with kids that need basics- like my sixth graders that need to memorize their multiplication facts.

When I get a new group of kids, I explain why I call my intervention group Surf Lessons.

"Do you know what surfer's spend most of their time doing?" I ask.

Most kids enthusiastically say surfing.

I tell them whenever I watch surfers it seems to me that they spend most of their time falling off their surf board.

Even when they catch a wave, they don't ride it all the way to shore and then just step off their surf board.

"Do you think when they fall they give up and pout saying, 'I'm taking my surf board and going home!'?"

"They have fun.  They laugh.  They smile.  They keep on surfing, or trying to surf.  The time they spend actually riding a wave versus waiting for a wave or falling off waves is pretty small, but it is worth the time and effort."

I want my class to be like that.  We may have fallen a bit lately and what we are trying to do may feel pretty hard, but it will be fun putting in the time and effort to try again.




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Saturday, February 1, 2014

I'm back

Ever feel like you are talking to yourself?

I feel that way in class sometimes.  Don't we all?

As I start typing a blog post sometimes, I feel like I'm talking to myself.  Then, there are moments that remind me that incredible people are listening,  well, reading.

Sometimes, it is a great comment.  Sometimes, the reminder comes as an email.  My favorite moment where I felt connected was last year during the Super Bowl.

My niners were in the Super Bowl, and there was a TPT sale.  I was at my friend Sarah's house watching the game with her family.  I told them that I had wished for cha-chings on the TPT app during  a niners touch down.  

I looked down as they were looking good and realized my phone had died.  I looked at my husband and asked for his phone.  He laughed and said, "Do you really think someone will sit there and wait for a touchdown?"  If there was, I wanted to know.  

I downloaded the TPT app onto his phone and logged in just as the niners reached the end zone.  Sure enough, when the touchdown came, there was a cha-ching.  Well, actually there was a unique combo cha-ching sound of multiple sales at once.  

One of the coolest memories ever.  I couldn't believe there were multiple people out there willing to help one of my silly wishes come true.

I was thinking about that tonight and realized the Super Bowl is coming up and there is no sale.  I went and set up one for my store for traditions sake.   It got me thinking.  It really has been a long time since I blogged.  If there is ever a time to remember that I'm not really talking to myself, it is Super Bowl time.

So, I'm back.

This year has been incredible so far.  This school year or this calendar year? Both, actually.

I look forward to telling you about it.

Look closely.  See that dolphin jumping out of the water?  I was lucky enough to start 2014 swimming with it.




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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Short Vowels

School started two weeks ago and I'm settling in.  Here is a glimpse at my schedule.


I'm enjoying teaching 7 grade levels.  I was curious how it would go, but I think I have just enough time with each age group to enjoy them.

I'm starting my year with some far below basic groups.  This is good for the beginning to get some of those kids a jump start.  Most of my year, though, will be working with groups that just need a little help to get to grade level.

I spent the first few days with lower grades giving one on one assessments.  Now I'm in the full swing of teaching and I'm enjoying it.

Since kids are pulled from exciting places like Fitness and the Computer Lab, I've been making an effort to use a lot of technology on my Interactive White Board (Eno Board) to keep it exciting.

I thought I'd share some of the resources I've found and ask if you have suggestions for me.

My second and third grade groups are kids that need help learning to read short vowel sounds and words.

The software that came with our Eno Board had some premade games for short vowels.  Score.  

I wish every interactive white board had the same software so it was easier for us all to share these.

My kids are loving this Vowel Bat video.  I don't think they can ever forget these sounds after singing this each day.




I've been using Starfall.com.  As we learn each sound, I have them read the Starfall story for that sound.  The kids are eager to get up their and click the pictures so they come up and read the story page to us so they can click on the interactive pictures. The kids I'm working with are kids that struggle on grade level activities, but the confidence they have being in a room with kids just like them is wonderful to see.  Even the shyest of kids will get up and proudly read to us like it is the easiest thing in the world.

I think the best part of my job is seeing kids feel successful.

What are your favorite ways to teach short vowels? 

 Do you have a great interactive website I should try?



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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Outlook Bright

School started on Wednesday.  We had three half days.

For the first time in a long time, I had no idea what to expect.  My new position as Intervention Coordinator means that I could teach any kid in the school.  My roster will always be changing.

This position came with a schedule revamp.  Our staff had a strong interest in not having kids pulled out of core subjects.  So, I'll be pulling kids out of fitness or the computer lab during specials.  This specials time is when grade level teams collaborate.

Our computer lab wasn't open the first week of school.  That meant each class in the school needed somewhere to go so the grade level teams could collaborate.

I had all 600+ kids in our school come to my room during those three days and I absolutely loved it.

As you may know, I've worked hard to have an amazing ocean themed room.  I enjoyed the oooos and aaaaahhhs as the classes entered.  I only had a half an hour with each class to introduce the math program they'll use in the computer lab and to explain that when their teacher said they needed to go to "Surf Lessons" instead of going with the rest of their class to specials that meant working with me.  I was able to set a positive tone and I believe kids will be excited to come visit "the ocean room".

I've been teaching at the school for over ten years.  I know all the 4th - 6th graders well and it was fun seeing all the little ones.  Amazingly, I knew so many of them because I've taught their siblings.  They were always so proud to tell me that I taught their siblings.  I think it made them feel cool. It was fun to tell some of them that I remembered when their mom was pregnant with them.  I told a little boy about how his brother, who is now in high school, was afraid to come into class on the first day of school.

I enjoyed feeling like a minor celebrity on campus and kids would excitedly wave at me when I'd walk by.  The joys of teaching every child.

Next week, my real week will start.  I'll have all grade levels of small groups for about 45 minutes at a time.  Having the quick turn around this week was great because those strong loud personalities that grate at you by the end of the school day are actually some of my favorites in small doses.

I'm looking forward to this year.

Whether you've started or you are getting ready to (or you are on the other side of the world having winter), its time for the big Back to School Sale at TPT.

This is a perfect time to stock up!  Everything in my store will be 20% from Sunday-Wednesday.  On Sunday and Monday you can use the promo code BTS13 to save an additional 8%.

This is a great time to get some of those wish list items.  Bundles are a great deal at this time.  All of my bundles are already 20-25% off everyday, with 28% after that, you'll get a great deal.  The big sale only happens a few times a year.

Here are a few of my store categories :


Super Surfer Multiplication




Fraction Task Cards


Frames to Layer
















I'm excited to do some shopping and get some items on my wish list.  :)

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Monday Made A LOT

I'm officially back to work this week.  I've already attended 7 days of trainings and spent umpteen hours in my classroom, but now it is no longer voluntary.  Oh alarm clock, how I hate miss you.

I've been busy, busy and have a lot to share this week.

Monday Made It #1

Vinyl Clipboards


First, I'm sharing my gift for my team.  Since the Monday Made It will no longer be weekly, I'm doing the unthinkable and sharing this before I give it to them.  I don't think they read my blog.

Shauna, if you are reading this, don't show your hubby, k?

I've seen so many cute vinyl ideas, I don't know who to credit for the idea to use vinyl to make personal clipboards, but I'm thankful for the Pinspiration.

After a bit of searching I found some plastic clipboards.  Why are basic things so hard to find when you need them?!

I have a new team this year.  I'll be on the specialist team.  We all have the pleasure of teaching every grade level K-6.  I had the realization the other day that more than 600 kids will walk through my room during the first three days of school.  Thankfully that won't happen the rest of the year, but that is quite the intro to my new position as Intervention Coordinator.

Two of my team members are PE coaches and one will teach ELD.  I wanted the coaches to have very different looking clipboards since they share everything.  (We do not have a gym.  Our coaches have the pleasure of both teaching on the blacktop while recess and lunch are going on.  Talk about amazing people!)

I was nervous making a decorative item for a guy, so I figured if I went with a sports theme it would make him happy.  It doesn't really look like sports theme, but its San Jose Sharks colors (hockey).



(Coach D is called Coach Daisy by Kinder so they can distinguish between B and D)


I was asked on Instagram how I made these.  I wish I could give a better explanation.  I cut out vinyl circles, dots, and words on my Silhouette Cameo. Then I used washi tape to transfer them.  I don't know why but I had a ton of fun making these.  I think I need an Etsy store just so I have an excuse to make more.


Monday Made It #2

Paper Lantern Jellyfish


I saw some jelly fish made out of lanterns on Pinterest and I had to give it a try.  I read directions for several and then did what ever I wanted.  :)

First I cut the lanterns in half.  All the ones I read had you just cut the bottom off,  but I figure I could make twice as many this way.  (Strangely,  I started making 6 and by the third I decided to stop.)

I took some tissue paper.  I cut a  circle. Then, I cut a spiral.  When the spiral was released, it looked like a tentacle.


I used tacky glue to glue on the tentacles.  I fell in love with tacky glue when I worked at a craft/fabric store in college.  It is cheap and it works on all crafts.

I glued some tentacles to the inner rim and some to the middle.

On the larger one, I also glued on some ribbon.






My husband attached some ribbon and hung them for me.  I requested a grouping of three at varying heights.  I figure you arrange jellyfish in groups of three like you arrange flowers. :)

Monday Made It #3

A Fish Wall with Lei Seaweed

This year I am doing targeted small group intervention.  I want the kids to be excited to come with me.   What better way than to have the coolest room ever?

I love that this panoramic makes my classroom look fishbowl shaped. :)


My husband has been very patient with me.  Every time I tell him about the next thing I'm planning he gives me a look.  I think he was the most skeptical about this project.

First, we covered the parts we needed in transparent blue.  Then we added the hilly sand. 

We ran out of blue and headed to the party store.  While looking around the party store, my husband got a great idea for the seaweed.  He cut leis and stapled them on with fish peaking out here and there.\

When we got back, we realized this blue was different.  No need to panic.  That blue became the sky and I very carefully cut what I had left and made waves to put over the sky.

I still have a sky full of possibilities but I ran out of time before I could put anything up there.  The school year isn't over yet.


Monday Made It #4


Wave Bulletin Board


I had this idea and followed through on it without deciding why I'm doing it.  I wanted a bulletin board that had a giant wave.  I have a ocean/surf themed room.  That is my only reason.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with that bulletin board.

We hung light blue paper across the top and dark blue paper across the bottom.  Then, I cut a dark blue length, put it on the ground and cut a bump.  I then wen back and cut away until I was happy with the wave shape.  Then, we stapled it over the "sky".



I think I have a weird little crush on my wave.  I made the perfect quote sign for it:  "You can't stop the waves but you can learn to surf." Perfect quote for an ocean/surf themed intervention classroom, right?  I couldn't bring myself to put the sign on the board though.  So, it is hanging next to it.  



Maybe it will become my data wall.   My next project is turning this giant piece of ply wood into a surfboard to stand up by that board.  Once it is there, maybe the board will tell me what it wants on it.  :)

Monday Made It #5


Sometimes I get requests via TPT questions.  It bugs me that I can only reply once.  I wait to reply until I've made the item so I can tell them the link.  Some things may take forever to make and then I feel like the person will think I'm ignoring them.  If you ever make a request on TPT, consider including an email.  :)

This product was by request.  Someone liked my Rainbow Dots Frames Freebie and said they were looking for something like that with stars.  Here is what I came up with.

Rainbow Star Frames



Rainbow Star Backgrounds


Click the pictures to find them in my TPT store.

Whew.  Time for some sleep!

Check out Tara's linky.









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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What I'm Loving

It's almost 10 at night and I'm finally settling down to join Jessica's linky at Covered in Glitter and Glue,



How is it possible that I keep finding more and more to do to get ready for school?  I'm back officially with required PDs (Professional Development) next Monday but I've attended 2 days of PD this week already.

I've realized that I had three weeks between summer school and the school conference I went to in Baltimore.  Three weeks 'without work'.  No wonder summer felt so short.

Even though summer felt was short, I'm excited to get started.

What I'm Loving #1

Positivity and Enthusiasm

It has been so nice to be back at school and see all the smiling faces of my work family.  Everyone is excited about the return of our principal from two years ago which is helping to make the mood on campus so positive and enthusiastic.

I mentioned to my principal while at a PD off campus that I wanted to make sure my room was fun to visit since kids will be pulled out of other fun things to come to intervention with me.  I told him to just walk in to my room sometime to see what we did.  I was pleasantly surprised to get this text from him tonight:

"I just checked out your room...looks amazing!! Kids are going to love being in there!"


I know he's spent the past two days at required district meetings.  The fact that he went by my room after a long day like that and took the time to be so positive and encouraging is a glimpse of why the mood on campus is so great right now.  We're going to have a great year.

I hope to take good pictures of the room and link up with Corinna from Surfin Through Second soon.  If you follow me on instagram (surfingtosuccess), you've seen some sneak peaks.

What I'm Loving #2
New Teacher-Only Pens


Why is it the little things that make me so happy?  I was sitting at my desk today, making three To Do Lists, looking around my room.  This little Target bucket full of new pens made me smile.



Sometimes I go to grade papers and can't find the color I want and then make fun of myself for letting that bug me.  I love that none of my pens have wondered off yet.  They are all washi tape end down in the bucket, but I've marked them with a different color washi tape than the pens the kids are allowed to use.

I find myself just sitting in my desk looking around right now.  I think its kind of like putting your toe in the water and letting it get used to the temperature.  I'll have to jump in next week- ready or not.


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