Sunday, August 26, 2012

This is the End . . . and a lesson on the power of positive people

The end has come, the end of summer, the end of all my relay races, the end of sleeping in (as much as you can with children).
Our FANTASTIC 2012 Hood to Coast team!
This summer has been unlike any summer I've had.  I've experienced new friendships, watched both of my daughters grow more independent and found out how important it is to keep things positive.

Often I find myself going to the darkside . . . looking for the worst case scenario, seeing the glass half empty, finding ALL the things that could go wrong.  

After spending the summer with an amazing group of friends, family and runners I think I'm learning about the importance of being positive.  I'm hoping this will be something I can sustain and take with me into the classroom this year.

Take for example my sister.  She is one of the strongest people I know.  She had a baby in February (I will post a picture because he is so cute!) and in August was running a 216 mile relay.  Only through hard work, dedication and a positive attitude could she have achieved this AND she had 4 legs while the rest of us had 3.  Katie ~ you are my hero!  
My nephew - Cooper  Isn't he the cutest!
Then there is my van mates.  I spent more than 65 hours in a mini van with these wonderful 6 individuals.  Now I can safely say, (and it is true) that I am the slowest runner in our van, but at no time did they ever make me feel that way.  They were always positive, encouraging, and they gave me the strength to do my best and be OK with who I am as a runner.

Thanks vanmates!  There is not another group of people I would have spend that much time in a van with!
 And finally there is Mr. M.  Although he probably would not agree with me, I think he is one of the most amazing people I know.  2 years ago he quit his upper level management job at a big corporation to go back to school and pursue his passion ~ teaching. Now he has his masters in education and some lucky school is going to get him for a teacher.  Although there have been hiccups along the way, he has NEVER given up and has always kept his focus on the prize ~ educating children. 
Mr. M and our youngest snuggling on the couch.
So, what I'm trying to say is that because of all these wonderful people I'm finally ready to begin my school year.  If you read any of the previous posts you know I have been dragging my heels and not ready to start the school year.  There have been several changes in my school this year that have caused my to be a Debbie Downer.

But now I see that change is good and it can become whatever you make it. I officially report on Wednesday and I will get to see my kiddos on Tuesday for Meet the Teacher night and then on Wednesday, September 5th School is in Session!

What have you taken away from your summer?  Any big lessons learned?  What about meet the teacher night?  I always do the same thing and I would LOVE some new ideas.  It looks like I will be hitting Pinterest later!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Top Ten Back to School You Tube Videos & a Fabulous Freebie

I had my team over for a BBQ on Sunday night and it was so much fun, then I had a staff development meeting on Monday morning to plan out our year in professional development.  Whether I'm ready or not, the school year is creeping up on me.  I'm actually contemplating going into my classroom tomorrow to start working.  I'm post some pictures, eventually.

Today's top ten has me a little giddy.  I was pinning on Pinterest last night and found some fun videos I plan to use this year in my classroom.  Some are old favorites I've used in the past and some are new and some just make me laugh.

I could watch this over and over again!

This one is great for the beginning of the year, especially to infer important ideas about friendships, tolerance, bullying, and more.

Fun video and rap about the elements of a story. Explains plot, character, conflict, setting and theme.

Great for inferring right from the get go...Infer the setting, the profession of the man, what might happen, character feelings based on actions and expressions...

The Actual '73 Giving Tree Movie Spoken By Shel Silverstein

This is another Pixar short for reinforcing or introducing the skill of inference; allow students to watch the entire film (5 minutes) then replay it, stopping to ask inference questions

Fun song to use when learning about map skills.

Vowel Bat - My students would sing this when they were working during word workshop!

Everyone LOVES Pete the Cat

You know you have all been here before - Jerry Seinfeld teaching a history class on SNL

Hope you enjoyed those!

Now for some exciting news, I finished my Reading Workshop Launching unit for First Grade AND it is aligned to the CCSS.  I may not have my room ready, but at least I know what I will be teaching the first month of school in Reader's Workshop. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, I would love to know what you use to launch your Reader's workshop.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday Top Ten is Back! My Top Ten New Books for the School Year

I've been in denial, but I think it's time to start accepting that I need to think about school.  My friends and colleges are already back working in their classrooms and even having those dreaded back to school dreams.  This is my attempt to ease into a back to school state of mind.  I'm bringing back my top ten with the ten new books I just ordered for the school year.

I am a member of Amazon Prime, which means that when I order a book I usually get it in 2 days and the shipping is always free.  This makes me so happy, but maybe not Mr. M.  It means that I usually end up spending way more on books than I need to. I'm like a kid on Christmas morning when the UPS driver pulls up in his brown van and delivers a package to my door with the Amazon logo.

Here are my new books for this school year:

Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills

Otto the Book Bear by Kate Cleminson

There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books by Lucille Colandro

First Grade Jitters by Robert Quackenbush

Oh, No George! by Chris Haughton

The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore by William Joyce

I Don't Like to Read by Nancy Carlson

Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle

Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by Eric Levin (pre-ordered this baby!)

Smarter Charts K-2: Optimizing an Instructional Staple to Create Independent Readers and Writers
by Marjorie Martinelli

What are some new books you have ordered for this school year? I may need to add them to my Amazon wish list ; )

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lost and Found . . . part 2 (bear with me I have a few goodies at the end)

 I know what your thinking, 2 posts in 2 days.  It's a little crazy, but I'm excited to share the beginning of August with you and a few things I've been working on.  

For those of you that read my post yesterday, thanks for not forgetting about me.  Here is a continuation of my summer as it rolled into August.

August began when we reunited with our oldest daughter. found myself missing her like crazy and was so happy to have my family back under the same roof. Maddie returned from the south with the in-laws as they came into town to watch our girls during The Cascade Lakes Relay. 

Get Out of the Van at the starting line
Shortly before the race I lost my mind with worry about whether or not I was ready for the race.  My hips were hurting and mentally I did not feel like I was capable.  I had been training most of the summer and even found a wonderful running buddy; but I was still a sack of nervous energy before the race.

Here is the lowdown on The Cascade Lakes Relay; 216.6 miles in 35 hours; 12 team members.  Each person ran 3 different legs of the race ranging from 8.5 miles to 2 miles. It's very similar to the Hood to Coast except the weather is warmer, the terrain is steeper and the scenery is absolutely beautiful.  Here are some highlights:

Van 2 getting ready to run

We camped at Diamond Lake the night before, this was the starting line of the race.

As we were waiting for our turn to run we stopped off at Crater Lake

Mr. M warming up for his legs
The weather was about 90 degrees with little shade - thanks so much to my  team for stopping to give me water!

There's a rare shot of me running - I had to walk half of it.  7.5 miles is a long way!
Handing off to a team member

Yes we literally ran up a mountain!

Cooling off in the hot summer sun

The reward at the end of the 3rd leg

This is my brother-in-law as Tweety in the costume leg!

Here we are at the Finish Line!  Did not think I was going to make it.

My sister - she just had a baby 5 months ago and then trained to run 20 miles - you are my hero!
This experience was amazing, and although at the time I was cursing it; looking back I find myself remembering the good parts and feeling lucky that I ran with such a supportive, positive team.  I could not have done this without them.  In fact in 3 weeks I will be doing it again as we run Hood to Coast.  Now I know that teaching kindergarten caused a short in my brain because I thought it was a good idea to run 2 relays back to back.  I've LOST my mind!

Things have finally settled down at our home.  My girls are back under the same roof and we still have a few weeks until school starts back.  The Dogs Days of Summer are here:

I did promise you a few things I have been working on.  I try not to do too much over the summer, but I do enjoy reading and have been reading some professional books in between running.  I also have been working on some year long planning for teaching first grade. Here is what I have so far for my reader's and writer's workshop:  
Year Long Plan for Reader's Workshop - from the book First Grade Readers by Stephanie Parsons.

First Six weeks of Writer's Workshop  - from the book First Grade Writers by Stephanie Parsons

I'm also working on creating a document similar to the one I made for kindergarten for teaching Reader's Workshop in the first 30 days of school. Hopefully it won't take me a month to load it!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Lost and Found . . . part 1

Grab a cup of coffee, tea, diet coke, lemonade, beer or wine . . . this is going to be a long post (or possibly the first of 2 posts)  

Well, it's been exactly 2 months since I've last been on the old blog; so I have a lot to report.  I'm titling this post Lost and Found because I feel it sums up my summer accurately. For me this was a summer of losing myself in wilderness, my family and running and finding that I am stronger than I ever thought I was and that I have some of the most supportive friends & family around.  
Me and my fellow Cascade Lake runners & teachers at Crater Lake

Let's begin with June:
June started with school ending.  My first year of teaching kindergarten under my belt. I have to be honest, I was a little relieved.  If you've been following my blog at all you know that teaching kindergarten has been very challenging for me. I absolutely have more understanding and compassion for kindy teachers now than I had on the past. Our year ended with a kinder-lympics and a celebration of all our hard work and learning.  
Erupting our volcanoes


Sack races
Once school was out I immediately embraced summer and threw a BBQ for the fam. My family has a habit of clustering birthdays and anniversaries so this was a BBQ to celebrate ALL the spring/summer anniversaries & birthdays and holidays. Plus my sister and brother-in-law had just come into town so all the cousins were reunited.
LOVE my sweet Lola

They look like they are up to something don't they

This is how I felt when school got out : )


All the cousins hanging out!

Once we had time to celebrate we were off on our trip to Yellowstone.  This was something I had been looking forward to since we made the plans several months ago.  I have never been to Yellowstone, or even that part  of the United States except to drive through it. I had been reading the book The Last Child in the Woods so I was anxious to put it into practice.  No cell phones, computers, TV, nothing.  This was my time to get lost in nature!

Yellowstone is some of the most beautiful scenery I have seen in a long time (until this past weekend, but we'll get to that)  There was a lot of driving, but the destination was worth it.  Here are a few highlights:
The Grand Tetons

Jackson Hole, Wy - standing by a arc of antlers

Maddie getting back to nature

There is a grizzly bear in there - can you see it?

I loved watching the buffalo roam

Old Faithful

Watching Old Faithful 

I could probably post another 100 photos, but I don't have the patience to load them right now.  

After Yellowstone I lost my oldest daughter when she headed back to the south with her grandparents and Mr. M and I headed home with the little one. When we got back to the northwest Mr. M and I lost ourselves in potty training our almost 3 year old.  For those of you that have been through potty training or are going through potty training you can empathize with me when I tell you it was the worst 2 weeks of my summer. Trying to potty train a strong-willed child results in frustration, tears, yelling and pulling out hair (and I'm only talking about Mr. M and myself!) But FINALLY Lola is a big girl! 
Just like a grown-up : ) 
Soon after the potty training period Mr. M and I found ourselves parents of an independent, strong, precocious, hilarious 3 year-old child.
What a face!!

Naked as usual blowing out the candles on her cake

Having a picnic in the backyard in her panties - I'm surprised her shirt is still on

That brings us up through July.  I will save August for part 2.  What you say, It's only August 7th?  Yes it is, but I feel like it's been August for a long time.  During all these events Mr. M and I were training for our first of 2 relay races this summer. Tomorrow I will share our Cascade Lakes Relay adventure and a few teaching plans I've been working on.