Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Just Gotta Share...

The  word "love" is over-used in the following post.  I did NOT use a thesaurus! Consider yourself warned! Ha Ha!

Ok...I have to admit...I am a staff development/workshop geek. Do they have a support group for that? Blasphemy, you say?  I know, I know...we all dread the development days at the beginning of the school year, especially if we've been in the same district for years.  I agree...things get really repetitive. But, I love the curriculum workshops.  Sorry.  I like getting a new scope and sequence; I like getting new ideas (that I sometimes forget the following day...but hey); and I absolutely love ordering books mentioned during a workshop from Amazon on my phone. Yes, I am indeed a geek. And since I'm blogging this year, I'm passing on some info to you!

As many of you know, my new position involves working with teachers and students in grades 3, 4, and 5.  So, for the first time ever, I went to a workshop to hear 3rd grade ideas. It was a two day event that dealt with bridging the gap some students show when they move from a non-testing grade to a testing grade. (In Texas, students take the state test for the first time in 3rd grade.)

Well...I loved this workshop primarily because we received two FREE professional books.  Yes. Too. Cool.  I love free anything or peppermints on the table! So imagine the JOY of getting an actual BOOK!!! Two of them!!!  My Geekdar was off the charts!  I just have to share the best one!

It is called Independent Reading:  Inside the Box by Lisa Donohue.  Here is a pic of the cover:

I love this book because it combines skills lessons with fiction and non-fiction ideas with higher level thinking with station ideas with the independent reading part of balanced literacy! Get. Out. Of. Town.  Awesomeness!!!!!  Here is just one picture of the many ideas shown in the book:

The really cool thing about this is that I can use the ideas to create my two favorite things...anchor charts and foldables!! (If there was an Olympic medal in those areas I would sooooo win  gold!)  Part of our "activity" during the workshop was to show other teachers our interpretation of different sections of the book.  I created examples of an anchor chart I might create based on visualization ideas from the book.  I created two.


In the first one, I love that students learn visualizing is not just a "picture" in their head...we use all five senses to understand characters and events! Great chart for shared reading! The second one encourages students to draw a picture of what is being studied and label it.  My sticky notes are ideas of different ways I could use this chart!  I would draw a diagram ahead of time and prompt students to help me label as we read!

Students can use these ideas to then respond to text during independent reading! I just love it!  This book can be ordered from  I don't know if it's available on any other site...this address is on a sticker on the back of the book.  I just know it's perfect for those looking for new ideas for anchor charts and text response.

New ideas pass through three periods: 1) It can’t be done. 2) It probably can be done, but it’s not worth doing. 3) I knew it was a good idea all along! --Arthur C. Clarke


Monday, August 13, 2012

I'm Baaacccckkkk....

Wow!  This summer has flown by!!  My last post was on June 10.  So much has changed for me in two short months.  I really had nothing, idea-wise, to blog about.  On top of that...ah, just read below...

I am no longer at 4th grade teacher.  ::gasp::  It's hard to believe.  I left my last day of class knowing that I would return to the same campus, same grade, same classroom.  Oh wrong I was! (Don't worry, blog land, it wasn't something negative).  Want the story?? Well, here we go...

On June 20th, I received a phone call asking me to apply for a different position.  I had been asked to do so several times since April.  I always said no.  However, the phone call I received happened on the date, 26 years later, of my dad's passing.  He was killed in a car accident when I was 17.  For some reason, I felt that the phone call was a "hint" from a higher power that I needed a change.  Weird, hunh?  I tend to believe, sometimes, in that fate/karma thing.

Anyhoo, I decided to apply for the position.  I went on the interview and was given the job.  I am now a Campus Instructional Specialist (CIS) for grades 3-5.  It is basically a "peer facilitator" job.  Same responsibilities; different title.  Not only did I change my job title, I changed campuses as well.  I am the proverbial fish-out-of-water.  My support system at my old campus was extensive.  I have to start from scratch at my new campus.

I have the opportunity to work with teachers now.  At the minimum,  I will support them in their classrooms with everything from finding materials, giving ideas, and disaggregating data.  I also will tutor small groups when needed.  (There are a lot more responsibilities...I just haven't digested them yet!)

It's a very exciting, yet terrifying time for me.  I will miss having my own class and working with students on a daily basis.  I will NOT miss grades, attendance, restroom breaks, etc. I will be working with 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers, so I have a lot to learn about 3rd/5th grades.  It was also difficult to go from a large classroom to a small office. Geez...I had no idea how much "stuff" I had hoarded accumulated over the last few years.  I kept all of my books, but gave a lot of 4th grade things (including a huge box of unused boarder!) to one of my daughter's friends who just graduated and had her first teaching job in 4th grade.  Any primary stuff I had was boxed up for my daughter to use after she graduates in December.  And I threw A LOT of stuff away!  ::tears::  But, if I go back to the classroom one day, I'll have an excuse to get all new stuff!!! Yay!!

It's intimidating because helping the adults will be my focus.  I'm confident...I know my stuff when it comes to curriculum.  I think I have a lot of great ideas and enough experience to confidently share those ideas.  But grown-ups can be grown-ups, if you get my drift.  I plan to work really hard on my colleague relationships.

I've stepped out on a limb...the hardest part is leaving a campus I loved, and people I loved, for the unknown.  But greatness has never been achieved by those who don't take risks.  And, boy, I am sure not a risk taker!!!!!!

I plan to keep my blog name for a while.  I still feel like a 4th grade teacher at heart.  I will continue to post ideas for foldables, activities, and anchor charts.  My first plan of action is to create a binder with all of my previous anchor charts and have it available to any teachers on my campus that may need an idea or two.  I also plan to add to it throughout the year, based on ideas I may get from other teachers.  Anchor charts and foldables can be used for 3-5...I'll simply adjust them to match the TEKS for a particular grade level.  So keep up with my things will come!

Please keep me in your prayers. I plan to do my best, use my best, and give my best on this new chapter.  And hopefully, come out a better person for it.

"You can't build a reputation on what you're going to do."--Henry Ford