Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Anchor Chart Crazy

If you've read my blog in the past- you know this about me already... I LOVE me some anchor charts!  I don't care for store-bought items.  Frankly, they become decorations rather than actual learning tools.   I've never been a teddy bear on the wall kind of teacher, anyway.

My journey with chart-making goes back to when I was student teaching (fade into dream/ memory sequence, perhaps some snazzy fog for effect).....

I was in a classroom that had A LOT of decor items, but none of which really spoke to what the children were learning.  Don't get me wrong, she was/is a great teacher, but I often felt a bit claustrophobic with the floor to ceiling store-bought charts.  In a perfect retail world, all charts would come in all decor combinations (at least that wouldn't be so bad).  About the same time, I attended a week-long seminar on Quantum Teaching (click HERE for more info).  I'm a brain-based learning junkie, so I loved the experience.

One of the over-reaching concepts that I learned was that "everything speaks".  This includes the learning environment.  What we put in our rooms and up on the walls speaks to what we value.  The environment should reflect the students and what they are learning (the purpose for the classroom).  We cannot go about this haphazardly.  Another concept is that "everything is on purpose".  I take these two concepts with me in all realms of education.

Flash back to the present (insert Wayne's World music, if so desired!)....

Over the summer, if stumbled upon a FAB.U.LOUS. blog by two great teachers: Chart Chums . Do you know this one?  It will change your teaching life!  They just came out with a new book that I have post-noted, highlighted, and written all over.

Click here for more info
This book can be applied to all subject areas- not just readers and writers workshop.  It's more of a design method, than a book of ideas.  Their work is based on brain-based ideas, along with marketing and design concepts. 

I wanted to see if my students actually noticed the difference.... last week, we had a big discussion on our charts.  They wanted to ditch the ones that I had made (along with them during instruction) and keep the ones with my drawings and/or photos.  That sold me!  I will now only be doing things the "Chart Chums" way.  It speaks to my students and that is what matters!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving and a BIG Sale!

I am thankful for so many things this year!  Both of my boys are healthy and growing into sweet young men (don't tell them I said that!).  My sweet husband continues to support me and my efforts in teaching my little first grade friends.  He really is just the best!

We are spending a long weekend at my brother and sister-in-law's house.  My parents also join us, along with family friends.  It's quite a party with 12 people in one house (plus 2 dogs and 2 guinea pigs).  You would think that we wouldn't need to spend the night..... we only live 5 miles away, but it's our time with family.  I've spent most of the day today on the couch, reading with my little niece.  She's only two, but LOVES her books.
I just wanted to stop by and say that I am still here, just crazy busy with work and my family.  I haven't forgotten the blog and have a long list of things to share (including an upcoming writers workshop lab, similar to the readers from last year).
There is also a big sale gong on at Teachers Pay Teachers this Monday.  It's time to empty out that cart and wish list! :)

All of my items will be listed at 20% off!
Click HERE to visit my store front.
You can find more great sellers by checking out the blog lonky party over at Blog Hoppin .
Until next time,

Friday, November 2, 2012

Post-Halloween Crazieness & WTW Video Clips

I seriously believe that Halloween should only be celebrated on Fridays... we only do Thanksgiving on Thursdays, right?  Our little are just so tired (not to mention coming down from a major sugar high!).

My morning started out great yesterday.... I was being observed by other district teachers and training them on Words Their Way.  My littles were A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!  They spoke in hushed tones as they sorted and sounded out the spelling/ sound patterns.  They used the language of word study and were explaining to partners what the spelling pattern was for the sort.  Sigh.  The teachers were so impressed with them.  Truth be told, I spent the first month of school working on transitions and work expectations.  You can see them in action here on a few different days (and me teaching- please don't judge!):

Day 1- Open Sort
Day 1-2 Small Group Instruction
Day 4+ Buddy & Speed Sorts

The afternoon, was not so great.  I had a different bunch of teacher in for the second session.  Needless to say, the tiredness took over and they became little pod people.  I didn't recognize them.. They were sassy to my guest teacher and even to me.  They were rude to each other and there even some tears (all within 15 minutes of our word study portion).  Keep in mind, there were 10 extra pairs of eyes on them.  Hello?  I was mortified.  These were NOT my kids.

I apologized profusely to the other teachers, but they just said "We've seen it before- no problem".  However, I felt like they were silently judging me.  My Literacy Consultant said that they weren't bad considering the day, but I could just feel the cringing from my fellow teachers around the room.

What was I thinking when I agreed to an observation lab the day after Halloween?  Two weeks ago, the kids were fine.  Heck- they were super stars just that morning.

I was a disaster all last night and barely slept.  Apparently, I also looked like it because one of my littles asked if I was sick because my eyes weren't "done pretty".  Kid- sometimes no amount of concealer will work!

I had a heart to heart with my little friends first thing.  I shared with them my feelings about what I saw happening around the room, starting with the great work that they did in the morning and the awesome report from the guest teacher (I love how they say the class was great, even when they weren't!).  I then went on to share my feelings about the afternoon and how it broke my heart to see them treat each other that way.  I also felt sad because they were disrespecting me by being sassy and talking back when I was giving directions.  I cried a little.  That's right, I openly wept in front of my students.  They let me down and I wanted them to know that it DOES matter to me.  Many of them cried right along with me. 

Right or wrong, I was honest and transparent with them.  PMS?  Maybe.  However, we grew closer by sharing our feelings as a classroom family.  They were wonderful the rest of the day.  I think the weekend will give us a chance for the hearts to grow fonder :)