Saturday, March 30, 2013


This morning, I decided I needed to start running again.  I have allowed myself to get out of shape and I was starting to feel it in my clothes.  I need to eat better and start to do more exercise.  All of this means change.  Will it be enjoyable?  Probably not at first when I am moving slowly from sore muscles.  But as I get past these first steps I know it will worth it and I will be glad I started taking better care of myself.  I may get sore again from time-to-time, but I know it won't be like it was at first. 

To me, this is like change in the classroom.  I know things are getting out of shape when I am getting the same old results from students.  I need to educate myself more on practices that I believe are no longer working.  Like running, if I continue to do the same thing, after awhile I won't see results.  The routine needs to be switched.  Same thing in the classroom.  The routine and delivery needs to be changed.

I think teachers today are so lucky when they want to change things.  They have Professional Development right at their fingertips.  I can easily get book recommendations and advice from Twitter friends and different blogs.  I can read articles online.  I can talk with other teachers about what is working for them.  No excuses, especially when I have a nice stack of professional reads calling my name.  The only problem is what should I read first? 

Is change enjoyable?  For me, not always at first.  Like running, it can be painful.  I know that there will also be a few bumps in the road.  But, I do know that in the end it will all be worth it. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Slice of Life Day 14

Tonight I am in a hurry so this will be a short post.  Tomorrow my class will be celebrating St. Patrick's Day.  They have been working on St. Patrick's Day and Irish reading and writing stations the last 2 weeks.  For a lot of it, they have to do some research.  They have been loving it!  The engagement is awesome and they are really learning so much.  Tomorrow I am making corned beef and cabbage along with some potatoes for the whole 5th grade to sample.  Another teacher is making Irish Soda Bread for them to taste.  For our Fun Friday activities in 5th grade, there will be an Irish theme to them.  In my room, students will be learning some simple Irish Jig steps.  (I'm not sure simple will be simple enough for some of them...and that includes me!)  We will also watch some of Riverdance so they can see some professionals.  I am hoping after learning how coordinated you need to be with the simple steps, they will really appreciate watching the dancing in Riverdance!  With all this stuff going on, I'm not sure I will be able to accomplish much else.  I am just hoping we have outside recess tomorrow so they can go and burn off some of their excitement!  Well, I am off to practice some "simple" jig steps and then I need to get the corned beef and cabbage ready to cook tomorrow morning!  May the luck of the Irish be with you!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Slice of Life Day 13

A review of Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson

Hattie Ever After (Hattie, #2)

I loved this book! Kirby Larson is such a wonderful writer. It is obvious she did her research when writing this story. Through her descriptions I really felt like I was in San Francisco in 1919. I could imagine the sights of the people and the city. Throughout this book I kept rooting for Hattie, just as I did in Hattie Big Sky. When bad things happened, my heart went out to her. When good things happened, I wanted to cheer for her. And there were times when I wished I could talk some sense into that girl! I know this is a book I will reread. The day after I finished it, I was going back into the story to read some of my favorite parts! If you read it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Slice of Life Day 12

I've been doing some serious thinking about what I am going to read over Spring Break.  I love that I have a week to read!  When I think about it, I can't believe I have put that much thought into my list!  Of course, as it usually is, my list will probably be more than I can possibly do.  This year, my husband and son have their Spring Break the same week.  So I am sure there may be a day trip or two that will prevent me from reading.  I wish I could read in the car.  That would make things so much easier!  However, my stomach just doesn't enjoy it as much as my mind does...  So, here's my current list.  (This is subject to change, and probably will!)

1.  Math Sense: The Look, Sound, and Feel of Effective Instruction by Christine Moynihan  (My last few professional reads have been about Language Arts so I need to get in a math read.)

2.  Fablehaven by Brandon Mull  (He is visiting our school in April and I haven't read any of his books from this series.)

3.  The Runaway King by Jennifer Nielsen

4. Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson

5.  We Are Not Eaten By Yaks by C. Alexander London

I also need to visit the friendly librarians at my public library to see if they have any picture book recommendations!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Slice of Life Day 11

Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful day!  In fact it was warm enough to open up some windows in the house to air it out.  Today, not so much.  It's rainy and colder.  Tonight was a good night to read.  I had picked up some picture books at the library and also had some Irish folktale and St. Patrick's Day books.  One of the books I read was St. Patrick's Day in the Morning by Eve Bunting.  My mom used to read this book to my brothers and me when we were little.  I'm not sure why it has stuck with me over the years.  I read it to my son tonight, but he didn't seem to enjoy it as much as I used to.  I'm not sure what it is I liked about it so much.  Maybe it was just the fact that it was my mom who read it to me.  I'm sure my brothers and I were cuddled up to her.  Must just be the nostalgia.  This did get me to think about my storytime with my son.  I wonder what books it will be that will stick with him.  He loves bugs, so will it be the bug books I have read?  Or will it be the books that make him laugh? Who knows.  There probably isn't any rhyme or reason to it.  I also wonder what books I have read to my classes over the years that will stick with them and why.  I wonder if it will be books that were memorable for me to read to them or if it will be different for each student.  Either way, I just hope I am creating memories for them.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Slice of Life Day 10

I really do love teaching.  I love the interactions with students, collaborating with other teachers, and learning new things.  I don't love all the political stuff that goes with it but it seems I am getting used to it.  I don't know if that's good or bad.

This week I am excited for a few things at school.  I am am looking forward to continue reading Beyonders by Brandon Mull to my students.  We are getting ready for him to visit our school in April.  We are also doing some studying/research this week on St. Patrick's Day and Ireland.  The students started this last week and will continue this week.  They are certainly enjoying this learning experience.  We will will be having corned beef and cabbage, Irish Soda Bread and a few other treats at the end of the week.  In math, I have a couple of learning games lined up for this week.  It is also 1 week closer to our Spring Break.  I have started planning what books to read over that week.  I am hoping I can put a dent in my TBR piles!  I hope you are looking forward to some things in your classroom this week!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Slice of Life Day 9

A Trip to the Zoo

Today was a beautiful day.  It was sunny.  It was in the 50s.  In my book, that's a perfect day to go to the zoo.  I can't tell you how much I love the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.  I love the layout, I love the docents, I love the learning that happens there.

Mr. D and I decided we would let our son pick where we were going to go.  Now, when I go, I have a plan in mind.  I know where all the animals are and can easily navigate from one to the next in a nice orderly fashion with little problems.  When Little D's 8 year old mind decides where to go, he does not have the layout in mind.  We got in A LOT of walking because of all the zigzagging around.  I really should have brought my pedometer.  It would be interesting to see the distance we walked.  Thank goodness he wanted to spend some time just watching some of the animals so we could rest our feet.  We stayed at the aquarium for quite a bit because the divers were in feeding the fish.  We also observed the gorillas and then the bonobos for quite awhile because they were being very entertaining today.  The lions, we had to observe them twice.  I think he just liked the fact that they were so close to the people today.  We did see other animals, but those were the biggies today, the ones he really wanted to see.  And of course, we had to end the visit with the purchase of cotton candy.  Nothing like the sweet stickiness of cotton candy mixed in with the smells of the zoo!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Slice of Life 8 of 31

Fun Friday

Every Friday (or the last day of the week) our school has Fun Friday.  This is a reward program for our students.  In order to participate, students are only allowed to have one bad day during the week.  In order to have a good day, students must have their planner signed, homework done and their behavior card has to be on green, yellow or red (purple and blue come after red).  This week only 3 of my 22 students went to what is called Task Room instead of participating in Fun Friday.  In Task Room, students work on any missing work they have or they read a book. 

Each week we have a different theme.  Our theme for today was Science Day.  Each teacher had some sort of an science experiment or activity in their classroom.  In our 5th grade, we had a teacher doing experiments with electricity, another doing what I would say is a science craft, and I had students designing paper airplanes to fly down the hallway.  Students would spend 20 minutes in one classroom of their choosing and then they would have the opportunity to spend 20 minutes in another classroom.  As you can imagine, Science Day is a popular Fun Friday theme.  Students love the hands-on activities!  In my classroom, students would design paper airplanes, fly them down the hallway to see whose flies the farthest, and then they had the opportunity to redesign them to see if they could get them to fly farther.  Some of the students said they loved doing this because they felt like the were able to break the school rules without getting in trouble!  Yes, I do have a few ornery boys and girls! 

I'll admit, sometimes I get frustrated with Fun Friday because it is taking away from our classroom time.  But then I have days like today.  I see that kids are having fun and yes, they are even learning too!  They are also building wonderful school memories.  Days like today remind me of the days before the high-stakes testing.  The days before students were labelled advanced, accelerated, proficient, basic or limited.  There is learning going on.  And, oh my goodness, it can be fun!  Imagine that! 

Planner signed, homework done, good conduct, FRIDAY FUN!!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Slice of Life Day 7

5th Grade Program

Tonight our 5th grade had their spring program.  Wow!  What a great performance!  Our music teacher really outdid herself.  She puts so much time and energy into the shows.  The show was about wheels and how they have been used over the centuries.  We travelled from caveman times, to the Roman Empire, Industrial Revolution, the invention of the car, the 50s and to the present.  As I was watching and listening to their songs,  I realized how much history the students actually learned through the program. To me, that's some of the best learning.  I love it when the students realize that you don't just learn social studies in social studies class, math in math class, and science in science class.  These subjects are everywhere and are intertwined more than they realize.  Now, when it comes to reading, they seem to have a better grasp that reading is everywhere, not just in reading class.  I am so glad that our schools still have music programs because of this connection and more.  To me, it's a shame when they are taken away.  So many lost opportunities.  I hope they are here to stay.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Slice of Life- Day 6

Spring is in the Air!

If you live where I do, you would probably look at me in a funny way after hearing that because of the snow on the ground.  However, I see it and I feel it. 

I saw it in the stores today. 

When I went to Kohls, the shorts and spring shirts were out on display.  The winter pants, sweaters and long sleeve shirts have been moved to the clearance racks.  The patio chairs and tables were out.  The candles were spring and summer scents; lots of flowers and tropical smells.

I then went to Lowe's and they had their lawn mowers out instead of the snow blowers.  As you walk in the store you are drawn to the flower and vegetable seeds on display.  Of course I had to pick up some carrot and lettuce seeds.  Hard to believe that the garden will be tilled up in about 2 weeks and seeds will be in the ground in 3-4 weeks.

As I drive through neighborhoods, I notice St. Patrick's Day and Easter decorations adorning the houses.  More pastel colors are decorating the wreaths on the doors. 

Even though there's snow on the ground I can feel the warm up around the corner.  Can you feel it?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Slice of Life- Day 5

10 Reasons Why I Should Have a Snow Day Tomorrow

  1. Sleep in! (or at least just lay in bed and watch the news)
  2. I love the unexpected day off!
  3. I have papers to grade.  grrr...
  4. I started reading a good book and really, really need the time to finish it!
  5. Our family tradition is to go out to eat for breakfast on snow days.
  6. I don't have to dress up!  It's a sweatpants day!
  7. Play games and snuggle with Little D.
  8. Hot chocolate!
  9. No rushing around.
  10. No schedule for the day!
Come on Mother Nature!  Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Slice of Life Day 4- My Family

Let me introduce myself and my family.  I have been teaching for 13 years.  I have always taught 5th grade.  For 4 years I was out of the classroom and served as a math coach in our district.  I missed the kiddos and teaching LA so I asked to be placed back into the classroom.  I have always been a reader and loved math in school.  I also enjoy gardening; both flowers and vegetables.  I have been a runner but haven't been good with it lately.  I am hoping to get back into it soon! 

I have been happily married to Mr. D for 10 years now.  He is also a teacher.  He teaches government, psychology, and sociology at a local high school.  In fact, it is the same high school where he graduated.  He is also the head girls' varsity basketball coach.  His team just ended their season as the district runner-up.  They lost to last year's state champions. 

Little D is in 2nd grade and is the joy of my life!  He loves Legos and bugs.  He is bound to be an entomologist when he grows up.  He has certainly taught me more than I ever cared to know about bugs!  He will read any book about bugs that he can get his hands on.  He has also recently discovered the Lunch Lady series and has been reading through them.  He started cub scouts this year and is really enjoying it. 

As a family, we like to visit new places.  Little D's current favorite place is Mackinaw City, Michigan.  We will also tent camp in the summer at different state parks. 

There's my happy little family!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Slice of Life Day 3

I don't consider myself a writer.  However, I do realize how important writing is if I want to be a better writing teacher.  I always struggled with writing in school and college.  I think I have a hard time finding my voice.  I am also a to-the-point person and have a difficult time with details.  If I had a write a 4 page paper on something, I could usually do it in 2-3 pages and then would stuggle to fill in the rest.  I have tried a few times to write in a notebook but wasn't consistent with it.  I have been wanting to start a blog for some time and decided that this Slice of Life challenge would be a good time to get going.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that by the end of this month I will be a better writer and a more consistent writer!