Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Slice of Life-Where is My To-Do List?!?!?!?

I found this while lingering on blogs one morning.  I found this link to the Two Writing Teachers:

Happy New Year!  We've been on break for about 10 days now.  Oh did I have grand plans.  After some much loved time with our families on their farms, we returned home.  My To-Do list included (but wasn't limited to):  cleaning out kitchen cupboards, cleaning said cupboards deeply, cleaning out our office/guest room, school work at school involving deep organization and rearranging of furniture...oh the list goes on and on.  

A nasty head cold delayed this list.  I had my house to myself for two whole days!  (Kids enjoying extra family time, husband working.)  As I recovered from this cold, the To-Do list was delayed.  On Saturday when we were reunited with our kiddos, I was feeling a sense of stress because I knew some of these things weren't getting done.  This sense of  (failure?  disorganization?  laziness?)  was starting to creep in.  Two things were said to me in the past couple of days that helped me refocus on what break can be about.  As I slept in yet again yesterday and woke up with self talk that focused on being lazy I was met with, "This is what a vacation is."  Today, as I'm chatting with my sons at breakfast.  The conversation turned to our break and how we were spending it.  I was met with this, "We might not be Doing a lot, but we are spending tons of time together as a family."  Man, I love it when this kind of perspective whacks me right over the head.  

So I present my new and improved to-do list for winter break:
1.  Play lots of games with my kids.  We love Spot It! currently.  
2.  Go on several dates with my husband.  Talk to him about books and movies that we are reading/seeing.  Wander around the book store together.  Eat dinner together at a sports bar and talk about football and basketball.      
3.  Clean a little bit.  :)
4.  Meet with friends.  Eat dinner and cupcakes and snacks together.  Drink tea, coffee, and a little wine. Discuss books we are reading, blogging, workouts, and plans for New Year's. 
5.  Read.  Read.  Read some more.
6.  Reflect on some school practices.  Set a new date for rearranging at school.  (So glad my plans are done for the first week back.  That took some pressure off.)
7.  Bake cupcakes from scratch.  And dinner too. 

I'm sure there is more.  And of course I'm still fighting the urge to get crabby because I didn't "accomplish much" over break.  Because I really accomplished a lot.  I've taken that restless energy that teachers experience over a break and aimed it toward my family and friends, and into excitement for going back to work in a couple of days.  

I hope that you too have had time to rest and rejuvenate.  Happy New Year!  

Monday, December 30, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/30/2013

I'm joining Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?.

This year I am using winter break/holiday #bookaday to read some titles that were buried in my TBR pile.  Now or never!  Some highlights from the past week...
Boris on the Move by Andrew Joyner

Boris for the Win by Andrew Joyner

The Family Book by Todd Parr 

Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet by Jane O'Connor

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Bedtime for Mommy by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

 Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

Thomas Jefferson Build a Library by Barb Rosenstock

The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins

Plus Two Books Written for Adults: (This was a biggie for me!  My reading life consists almost exclusively of reading professional books, blogs, and books that can also be read by children under the age of 12.)

Bossypants by Tina Fey

When Did I Get Like This?: The Screamer, the Worrier, the Dinosaur-Chicken-Nugget-Buyer, and Other Mothers I Swore I'd Never Be by Amy Wilson


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Family Edition)

I'm joining Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for It's Monday!  What Are You Reading? (for the first time!).

This may turn into more of a title talk when I'm on break, and it's not exactly only about what I'm reading, but my family too.  But I love sharing titles.  And this blog has given me an outlet to share what I'm reading and a little bit of accountability.  As I was breezing through our house this morning, I was looking at my unread titles.  I am (embarrassed? proud?) to say I have about 100 unread titles floating around this house.  It's time to do something about this.  

We are a family of readers.  Date night with my husband always consists of a trip to the bookstore.  My kids are starting to see the library and book store as rewards and adventures.  For myself, I would love to use 2014 as a time to put aside some distractions and read!

So this week's post doesn't have only a kid-lit focus.  It's more of a family edition.  :)  Here's what our family is reading this week.

Li'l T says, "This is funny because it (the trumpet) didn't sound right.  I caught him last night with a flashlight in bed last night. Our snuggle time was really spent reading.  (Yay!  He's growing into a reader!)

My oldest is enjoying this book.  When I asked him about it, he said it was very exciting and he loves reading it.  The teacher in me was nervous if he would truly be able to enjoy this book (read understand), but the reader in me did some backing off, and he's loving it.  

I gave this book to my Grandmother for Christmas.  As I started reading it, I really wanted to abandon it and run for something else.  But I'm going to finish it today.  Not my favorite, but it was awesome to be able to sit down with my Grandma and discuss a book together.  

I'm excited to start this book next!  Even though I have a ridiculous amount of books to read, I'm moving this one to the top, so I can read it with the rest of the world.  The Book Whisperer really changed how I approached reading at home for my students.  I can't wait to see how this text changes my thoughts as well.  

My Mr. loves reading Ted Dekker.  This is one of his newer titles.  We had the opportunity to hear Ted Dekker speak in our home town a couple of months ago.  Hearing him speak made me want to read his work.  I wasn't really interested until that point.   He has a YA series, that's on our shelf.  I may pull that out in 2014.  :)  

What have you read over break?  Next week, I'll have kid-lit titles to share as we'll be back in school!  

Friday, December 27, 2013

In January...

I hope this time of the year finds you rested and refreshed.  After emerging from time to nurture family and Faith, I know it's time to reflect and reset.

As a teacher, I feel blessed to have a chance to reset a couple times a year. I reflect and reset over the summer and over winter break. I do love having this time to reflect on my classroom and personal practice.  I feel like when given this break, it's a chance to really pause and reflect on what is going on.  If needed, (and it always is) I can reset some things to make things better.

Today, I've been blessed with the opportunity to have time to think, study, and write.  And I'm thinking about 5 things to work on as we gather together in January.

1.  Eating Good Food at Lunch.  The inspiration came from an awesome family member and this link.  http://www.robinssweetconfessions.com/wp/category/paleo-challenge/
Simply put, I'll need to focus on what I'm shoveling in my mouth at lunch.  Instead of grabbing what is closest or ordering it to come to me, I need to slow down and take the time to eat good food at lunch time.  As a family, we don't adopt one 'way' of eating.  But this link has some good ideas for what to eat when I'm at school.

2.  Lunch Bunch.  While on the focus of lunch time, I want to spend more time hearing my student's voices.  We organized lunch bunches in my classroom a few weeks ago based on interest.  It's time to implement this interest that my students have!  This will be a good way to continue to build community in my classroom this year.  

3.  More organization on my part of the blog.  More discussion with my co-bloggers on this one.  I know for myself, instead of just posting what is on my mind randomly, I want to be more purposeful on how I'm sharing my story as a teacher.  #nerdlution has jump started the story-sharing.  Now I think it's time for more purpose in how my stories are being shared.  

4.  Documenting Technology Use in the Classroom.  I've been working on a shift to use technology authentically in my classroom this year.   I would love to document what has worked, and what hasn't.  (See number 3.) 

5.  Reader's Notebooks.  As I was getting to know my class this year, a response journal was something that I chose to put on the shelf for this first half of the year.  We have some good strategies in place now, and I can introduce this tool effectively and not haphazardly.  We will use drawings, some post-it note templates, and some writing to share the thoughts we are having while we read.  

Are you reflecting on classroom practice?  What are you considering as you head back to school in a week or so?


Monday, December 23, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/23/2013

I'm joining Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for It's Monday!  What Are You Reading? (for the first time!).

I am hopeful to do the Holiday #bookaday Challenge this year, but I want to make sure that I give my family the attention they need/want.  Here's what I read today.

Just Me:

This one is on the Iowa Children's Choice List this year.  A few fourth graders told me I would love this story and that I would cry.  They were right.

With the Kids:

A Bob Shea marathon. Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great is now on hold at the library.