Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Trying This Again

After much debate, I have decided to try this again! I have been busy the past couple of years working with our district to adopt a new math program, align our new adopted program to the Common Core standards and then create and intermingle mini units to cover the not-yet, but soon to be, phased out 2010 standards. Add to that the implementation of Common Core ELA, a classroom move, and a huge shift in my teaching practices and you will find one crazy, exhausted teacher that is loving her job more than ever.

The journey to and through the Common Core standards has brought me to my breaking point on more than one occasion, but has forced me to evaluate my practices, philosophies, and student expectations. I have found that I am capable of more than I ever realized and that my students have far more abilities than we as an education profession have ever given them credit for. Through this journey my professional practices have been turned up-side down and sideways only to be twisted and turned and tweaked again.

Through this journey I have found:
1) There are million's of primary grade blogs, but few upper grade blogs
2) There isn't one right way, and what works for one teacher doesn't always work for me, and vice versa.
3) Support of a team, friends, family, and administration is a huge help.
4) Pinterest is a blessing and a curse ;-)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I can't believe it has been almost a month since I was last on my blog. I have been waiting for the perfect words, and the perfect time to post this, and today seems to be as good a day as any...

Every July my family and I head out for a week in the woods. We are by no means true campers, as we have a travel trailer with running water and electricity. None the less, we look forward to this outing each year. We always begin our camping adventure at our family reunion and then head up to another camping spot for a smaller gathering with our immediate family. This year, due to fires in the White Mountains of Arizona and an earlier start date at school we did our smaller family campout first and then headed to our family reunion. For the first time in 28 years, I was heading home from my reunion instead of further north. While this was sad for us, it led to an eye opening encounter that has changed the way that I now perceive the things in my life.

It all begin on the San Carlos Indian Reservation while we were stopped at a Casino/RV park dumping our trailer. I took my 3 year old daughter and 7 year old son in with me to pay for the dump station usage and both kids asked if they could spend their last bit of summer allowance on a treat for the ride home. I helped them pick out a snack within their price range and then proceeded to the check out. As I was helping each child count out the correct change for the cashier, a kind lady sat watching us. I had a feeling she was a teacher by the way she watching me, and how patiently she waited for her turn as the kids slowly counted out their change.

As we began walking out of the store, the clerk proceeded to help the lady behind us. She was paying for an RV spot. When the lady asked her if it was just for the night she replied with, "No, I will be here for 9 months. I am the new teacher at the school." She then told her the parking space that she had taken.

I was speechless.

On my way back to my trailer I happened to pass her home for the next 9 months and was brought to tears at the generosity and compassion of this teacher. I now keep a copy of the picture I took as a reminder of how blessed I really am, and how little I sacrifice compared to so many other teachers out there.

I just want to say "Thank you" to the unknown teacher who has touched my life in more ways than she will ever know.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Smartboard Bootcamp

Monica, over at the Schroeder Page, has just started in-home Smartboard trainings via video web. To kick off the start-up of her new bootcamp she is giving away 1 free individualized smartboard training session. Check out her blog to see how to enter! GOOD LUCK :0)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Free Money!

In the current economy, with budget cuts hitting classrooms who couldn't use a little free money?

My search for this free money all started a few years ago when I found some really cool technology that I wanted in my classroom. I could not afford to buy it myself and I knew that my district was not going to be purchasing the equipment for us in the near future. So, I had to get creative.

Grants were still a new idea to me, and I was a little nervous to make my first attempt at such a large grant. But, two teachers from my school had won the grant the previous year and I was determined to be the third!

I set out by researching the grant requirements. This particular grant wanted a STEM based project that was student centered. Once I was familiar with the guidelines for the grant I began searching through our state standards and the web for the perfect idea for a project. I began bouncing ideas off of our technology integration specialist and she mentioned a NASA project that she had seen at seminar she had been to. With her guidance, I looked into the NASA program, requested information, and began to tweak the program ideas to fit my needs and my classroom.

Once, the curriculum and goals of the project were set I needed to find innovative ways to integrate the technology pieces that I wanted to purchase into the project. How would I use the technology to further the interest and education of the students? I had to have a detailed for how each piece of technology I was requesting would enhance my students' learning. This was a difficult task, since I had never used the equipment that I was requesting.

The final step in this journey was to write my proposal. I submitted my first proposal in the fall semester of the 2009-2010 school year. I had the teachers who had previously won this grant help me in my revisions, had all 30 of my students rub it for good luck, and then sent it off in the mail. January came, and the round one winners were announced and I was so bummed to learn that my proposal hadn't been selected.

The initial disappointment only lasted a day or two, but I did not let it discourage me. I had one month to refine my proposal and resubmit it for the second round. I used the same exact project, edited and revised a bit more and in March I received this...

Here is the news clip from my award. In it I discuss some of what I purchased.

I have not written a grant since, as I have been busy integrating the technology that I received from the Qwest AzTEA Grant, but plan to try for another grant this year. There are so many companies out there looking to give money to classrooms. It is so exciting to be able to receive such generous donations through grants just for doing what you already do.

Here are a few sites that have grant information on them. Good luck, and don't forget to google grants specific for your state!

OCDE Instructional Services
Real Classroom Ideas
Technology Grants
Engaging Technologies

These are just a few, there are hundreds out there. If you know of any and would like to share please leave a comment!

Fabulous Find!

I just ordered this Welcome Back banner for my classroom for $1 +shipping and had to share the wonderful link with all of you! At Shindigz you can order a custom 18" X 54" vinyl banner by entering the code SZRCEG at check out. With shipping the total is just over $7. I also ordered one for my daughters first birthday along with this
I can't wait to use the photobooth for Meet the Teacher pictures and then again for Kaylee's 1st birthday. In total, I spent $21 for 2 banners and the photo booth! (I had to place my orders from two seperate computers as they track the code use by IP address.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Social Committee

Over the past couple of years I have been looking for a way to be more involved with my school. The past few years I have had an abundance of things going on and decided to wait until the timing was better. Between having kids and completing my master's degree things were just way too chaotic. This year, however, the perfect opportunity arose... the chair of our Social Committee retired. I have since stepped up to co-chair the committee.

Our previous committee leader was FABULOUS, so there are some big shoes to fill. So far all we have done is begin to plan our back to school family party. In addition to planning this fun event we are also responsible for setting up annual dues, organizing the end of the year volunteer luncheon and staff Christmas party, as well as orchestrating group gifts for new babies, newly weds, retirements, etc. While we don't want to stir things up too much our first year, we would love to mix it up a bit and cut costs.

What are some of the things that your school does for staff parties, gifts, etc?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I Love Books!

Thank you Runde's Room for hosting this linky party! I have so many favorite books that I don't know where to start.

Childhood Favorites
The first book I could read was Are You My Mother? I continue to love this book and enjoy reading it with my children. When in elementary school I loved to read the Boxcar Children, American Girl (I especially liked Molly and Kirsten), and The BFG.

Classroom Favorites
I love sharing the book Peabody's Apples. It is a great story about how easy rumors are to start and how impossible it is to clean up the mess once they have been started. I also enjoy sharing just about anything from Patricia Polacco. A favorite read-aloud is The Thirteenth Realty.

Just for Fun Reading
I loved The Shack, Five People You Meet in Heaven, just about anything Sophie Kinsella and Nicholas Sparks.