Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Look out kindergarten . . . here I come!

Next week is our kindergarten round-up.  I am very excited, but also quite nervous.  It will be my first time teaching kindergarten.  It's hard to be thinking about next year while I am still in the midst of this year.  Although we only have 36 days left in school I feel like there is still so much to do to get my firsties ready for second grade. But yet I had to turn in my supply list for next year and start thinking about how I am going to set up my room for kindergarten. 

Deep breath Jen!

So my fellow kindergarten teachers for next year and I wrote a kindergarten pamphlet we are going to pass out to our upcoming kindy families along with directions for how to access the kindergarten website we created.  (By "we" I mean Ken, my teaching husband and technology guru)

Kindy Parent Info

I am actually quite excited by the round-up.  We are going to read the classic Eric Carle book The Tiny Seed



and plant our own seeds.  By the time the seed will have grown, it will be ready for kindergarten to begin!

So if any of you kindergarten teachers are out there reading this I would LOVE  to hear your advice and kindergarten wisdom on organization and great ways to begin the school year.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

How I Became a Mom (accidentally)

I've already described how I came to the name of my blog The Accidental Teacher, but here is how I got to the MOM part. This story does not really relate to teaching, except to say that being a parent has changed the way I teach.  Not that it's made me a better teacher, just a different one for the better.

I normally write a Tuesday top ten list.  I didn't get to it this week because on Tuesday my littlest one, the daredevil, dislocated her wrist and ended up in the ER.  She absolutely fine now.  She's a climber and will climb on ANYTHING. She's so brave and not afraid to get into whatever there is to get into and mix it up!

Lola is very different than her sister, Madeline.  Maddie always sat back and watched the world.  She was a quiet baby who did her own thing.  Maddie was independent and happy to sit and play quietly. She would hold your hand when out in public or she'd walk right next to you.  Lola does not.  She's into everything, she climbs onto everything and needs a leash when out in public.


Maddie and Lola are seven years apart in age.  It's actually kind of wonderful because Maddie is so helpful with Lola and is a amazing older sister.  When Mr. M and I had Maddie we told ourselves three years and we'll be ready for the next one.  Three years came and went and we were so happy.  Maddie was really a wonderful baby/toddler/little girl.  So we began to try for our next addition to the fam.  We knew it would take time because it had taken time to have Maddie.  Three years and many, many heartbreaks after we started trying we were told that it was very unlikely we would be able to have any more children.  We were saddened by this news, but chose to think about the things we did have.  Each other and Maddie.  We really couldn't have asked for a better child. That summer (2008) we had a garage sale and got rid of all of our baby things we had been saving.  It was time for a fresh start.  We decided to build an addition to our house which consumed all our free time.

The fall of 2008 I opened a new school.  Any of you teachers/parents/friends with children know that whenever you're exposed to a new group of children the germs start flying! I came down with strep throat in October.  I took my antibiotics and felt better in no time. In November I came down with strep throat again.  This time I also caught a stomach bug with it.  I went to the doctor and told them I had strep throat but that I also had a stomach bug. The doc took a throat culture and sure enough it came back positive for strep throat.  He also did a few blood tests because I am subject to low iron and he wanted to check my levels.  OK.  He said he would call with the results.

I went home and immediately went to bed to rest.  The doctor's nurse called with my blood test results and congratulated me.  On what? I thought, having strep throat twice in a month?  No she said, on being pregnant.  I just about fainted.  Me? Pregnant?  No way!  Mr. M had the same response when he got home and asked if I had strep again and I said, "Yup, and I'm pregnant."

8 months later Lola Jane was born and our family was finally complete. That's how I came to be a mom (for the second time) quite by accident.  In my life, it's was the BEST accident I ever had.


Maddie reading to her sister.

Maddie & Lola, quite a pair!

This is how Lola looks most of the time (the rest of the time she is screaming)

The Murphine Clan

Two peas in a pod.





Thank you Lola and Maddie for giving me such joy and for helping me become a better person!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Happy Hour

Every Wednesday our school has early release for teacher planning.  At first I wasn't sure what to do on Wednesdays.  Our schedule was so choppy that I only have 1 hour of continuous teaching time. I have now come to appreciate this as "Happy Hour".

One of my goals for this school year was to include more art in my teaching.  Last year when I was working toward my National Board Certification I had to complete an entry on art.  I had not taught art all year and my second grade students LOVED it.  SO this year when I loved back down to first grade I vowed to teach art.  Wednesday were perfect.  I had a 1 hour time slot that was enough time to introduce and teach an art lesson and for the students to create art. This became known as my happy hour. My one hour of the day when ALL of my students were engaged and learning and cooperative and having fun.  Most weeks we work on an art technique, but I often try to include math and writing along with my art.  We love to make glyphs and presents for other too.

Trash into Treasure

This week we worked on recycled art in honor of Earth Day on Friday.  I sent a letter home to parents asking to collect their "trash".  They sent in cardboard, aluminum foil, buttons, egg cartons, magazines etc.  Today we turned our trash into treasure. Here are a few examples of my students' treasure:

I set up a painting station (using recycled materials of course)

Here is my example, I made a recycled art statue of "The Thinker"

a mailbox

This student was making a vase out of an old baby food jar.

This student was making a 3-D picture of a dog.

This student was making a bird house.

The flower vase

The birdhouse (still needs some paint)

The 3-D dog picture

This student made a car and a boat.

This student is making an Earth Day game out of egg cartons.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I HEART Anchor Charts!

I have a strange addiction to anchor charts.  I love them! I use them for everything!  There is something about pulling out my smelly, colorful markers and creating a place that captures what my students are thinking and a tool they can use to be independent learners.  So here is a collection of my current anchor charts.  The only problem is not enough space to hang them in my room!


 This is Ronald the Super Reader.  Every time we learn a new thinking strategy we add it to his super brain!
 Today we launched determining importance and figured out what was important in my purse.  They LOVE this activity!





What anchor charts are you using in your classroom?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It's Tuesday, another Top Ten List!

This week's top ten list is my tribute to The Office and to Michael Scott.  Being a teacher is very different from working in the corporate world.  Luckily I do not have very many of these office experiences. Although our staff room lunchtime conversations are fantastic!  However my husband (who recently left the corporate world to go to school and get his Master's in Education) used to be a corporate drone.  From what he's told me, The Office is pretty accurate and bosses like Michael Scott are out there.  I dedicate this entry to my husband for leaving the corporate world and entering the wonderful world of education. 

Here is my top ten Michael Scott quotes.  I probably could call this a top 20 list, but I'm sick and want to get to bed.  Enjoy! I will miss you Michael Scott!

1.      I guess the atmosphere that I've tried to create here is that I'm a friend first and a boss second, and probably an entertainer third.
2.      This is an environment of welcoming, and you should just get the hell outta here
3.      I'm friends with everybody in this office. We're all best friends. I love everybody here. But sometimes your best friends start coming into work late and start having dentist appointments that aren't dentist appointments, and that is when it's nice to let them know that you could beat them up.
4.      Yes. It is true. I, Michael Scott, am signing up with an online dating service. Thousands of people have done it, and I am going to do it. I need a username, and... I have a great one. "Little Kid Lover". That way people will know exactly where my priorities are at.
5.      Would I rather be feared or loved? Um... Easy, both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me
6.      I enjoy having breakfast in bed. I like waking up to the smell of bacon, sue me. And since I don't have a butler, I have to do it myself. So, most nights before I go to bed, I will lay six strips of bacon out on my George Foreman grill. Then I go to sleep. When I wake up, I plug in the grill. I go back to sleep again. Then I wake up to the smell of crackling bacon. It is delicious, it's good for me, it's the perfect way to start the day.
7.      You may look around, and see two groups here. White collar, blue collar. But I don't see it that way. You know why not? Because I am collar-blind.
8.      I don't want somebody sucking up to me because they think I'm going to help their career. I want them sucking up to me because they genuinely love me.
9.       Dwight, you ignorant slut!
10. That’s what she said.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

All Good Things Must Come to an End

This is my final weekend before returning to work.  I have really enjoyed my spring break and didn't do too much work. I went out with some friends last night and enjoyed a happy happy hour, but alas I am starting to think about all the things I will come back to on Monday; unfinished lesson plans, DRA testing, staff meetings, our big school wide event (which I am on the planning committee) and on and on . . .  I even had a back to school dream where I had to take the morning off and when I returned to school, my sub didn't show up and my class disappeared.  Does anyone else have those dreams?  I always know that the end of a vacation is near when I start to have my back to school dreams.

So to appease the back to school gods I did a little planning today while Lola was napping.  After I return I will finished up my unit on asking questions and start my favorite unit - determining importance!  I love teaching this thinking strategy because I pair it with nonfiction writing and our science investigation of insects.  It's such a fun, exciting and engaging way to end the school year.  Although I'm not particularly found of insects, I heart how excited my students get when learning about them (until they begin to bring them in for show & tell!!)

I am posting a few things I created for my new unit.  Once I get back to work and in the swing of things, I will post some pictures of anchor charts and examples of student work.

This first download is a collection of things I have found over the years.  Books I've read, articles I've found, etc, etc.  I put everything in one document.  Then following that is some response sheets I use to capture my student's thinking about determining importance.

Determining Importance

FQR Response Sheet

Important Details

Important Ideas vs. Interesting Details

Nonfiction Reading Response

What's the Big Idea - RR for Det. Import.

Be sure to check back in on Tuesday when I will have my top ten Michael Scott quotes as my tribute to him leaving the office.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Can't Help Myself . . .

Okay, I lasted a few days before I started thinking about work. I just can't help myself.  Our final science investigation of the year is insects and it's one of my favorites.  Not because I am found of insects, but because my students are so excited to watch the caterpillar transform into a butterfly and a mealworm turn into a beetle.  They LOVE it and so I love it because they are so engaged.  Here is the beginning of an insect unit I'm working on.  Some of this I put together last year and I added on a bit.  Watch for more to come! I've got several chants and some GLAD books I'm putting together.
Insect unit

I'm dedicating this to my teaching husband Ken who tells me I am the queen of cheese. Ken get ready, like Kraft Mac & Cheese, this insect unit is the cheesiest!

Top Ten Thing I LOVE about Spring Break

I know that most teachers look forward to spring break because they are ready for a little R&R and most parents look forward to spring break because of time spent with the family.  Being a teacher and a parent I look forward to spring break for all these reasons and more.  Here are my top ten. (as usual in no particular order, just how they come to me)

1. Time spent with my family (obviously)  During the school year I teach all week while Mr. M stays home with the little one.  Then during the weekend Mr. goes to school while I stay home with our little ones, which means we hardly ever see each other. Normally we would head out on a vaca and find some sun; this year we are relaxing at home and having picnics for dinner and walks to the farmer's market and going out to breakfast and loving every moment of it.

Can you resist this face?  I can't.

2. Time to catch up with good friends.  I've already had a pedicure and look forward to meeting my friend's new baby boy and catching up on some gossip over coffee.

3. Time to do whatever I want (code for taking a nap)

4.  Time to run.  I've already been twice and the first time was hard, second time a little easier.  It can only get better from here.  I will share that story another time.


5. Time to make some really yunny food.  Last night for dinner we had roasted salmon with a crust of chipotle and rosemary, roasted asparagus and parmesan orzo with fresh basil.  Tomorrow night is homemade pesto with garlic and chive pasta.  Who has time to cook like that during the school week?  Not me.  I would have taken a picture to share, but I was too hungry.  Tomorrow for breakfast is pain au chocolat - no dieting on spring break!


6. I can set my own scheulde. I love that I don't have to set my alarm clock, instead I have my own personal alarm.  Her name is Lola and I would much rather wake up to her talking in her room than the beeping of my alarm clock.  As long as it comes after 7 am.

7.  Time to hang out with Maddie.  The older she gets the less time she wants to spend with her old mom.  I want to savor every moment she chooses to spent time with me.



8. Time to myself.  I feel so lucky that I have a husband who will let me take naps and hang out with our children while I take time for me.  Thanks Mr. M!



9. Time to plan.  Although I try not to think about work (and so far I haven't) I do enjoy the TIME to think about work. Teachers you know what I mean. I can take time to read a new book about math or reading workshop or teaching my struggling students and plan out my insect unit for the spring. I get inspired by finding new ways to reach my students and engage them in learning about non-fiction.

10.  By the time spring break is over I am re-energized and excited to see my students again. I feel rested and ready to teach!


Saturday, April 2, 2011

How I Became a Teacher (Accidentally)

Being late to join the world of blogging, when I finally decided to start my blog all the good names were taken. So I thought about how I came into the world of teaching and  when I thought about my story I realized that it was quite by accident.  I never intended to become a teacher.  I never grew up saying, "When I grow up, I'm going to be a teacher." I played school as a child but it was not my life's dream.  What I really wanted to be was the drummer for the Go-Go's or an actor in Hollywood.

I went to university fully intending to get a degree in the arts and one day make it to Broadway or Hollywood.  I never occurred to me that this was not possible, even though I couldn't sing and I have a funny voice, that was my dream.  Then I took a puppetry class.  For our final we wrote our own plays, made our own puppets and performed for a local elementary school.  That was it, my moment of clarity. What I really wanted to do was this - teach.  From the second I stepped out from behind the curtain and started a Q and A with the students about the performance, I was totally certain that I wanted to become a teacher. The students were so engaged in our play. When we showed them how we made the puppets they were in awe of us. I couldn't believe how excited they got over the prospect of getting to make their own puppets and when one of them said that he was going to be a puppeteer when he grew up I thought, "Wow, look at what influence one person can have over another."  I was referring to the students having such an impact on me!

My colleges and family will tell you that from time to time I can be quite dramatic and I always find an excuse to do readers theater or dress up.  My love for the theater and acting has never gone away, I just found something that I loved more ~ teaching!


My teammate and I dressed up for the 80th day of school!

That is how I accidentally became a teacher and how I came to the title of my blog.

This is my spring break and I am hoping to take an actual break, no planning, no thinking about school, just some relaxing with the fam!  We'll see how long that lasts!

Also since nobody commented about questioning I guess that no one gets a copy of this wonderful book.  So I am giving it to my sister who will be adopting her first child from Thailand this summer!  Maybe I'll try to get some more followers before I have another giveaway or maybe a better prize : )