Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Pirate's life for me

Ahoy there matey!
 "Most days are like all of the others- go to work, come back home, watch tv. But brother, if I had me druthers, I'd chuck it and head out to sea. For I dream of the skull and the crossbones, I dream of the great day to come. Where I dump the mundane for the Old Spanish Main and trade in my computer for rum"..

     While I'm not trading in my computer for rum, I do want to dump the mundane; mundane teaching that is... Where am I going with this? Well, I feel in  LOVE with a book I read for professional development called " Teach Like a Pirate" by Dave Burgess. Once I opened this book, I could  not put it down. seriously. This was not a boring and stuffy book. It's filled with humor, inspiration, challenges and motivation. It's pages truly spoke to me.

When you think of pirates, you often think of them as adventure seeking, daring, takes risk, willing to use unorthodox tactics.. you know,  this guy.

A pirate teacher really isn't so far off from the pirates we've seen on the screen and read in the books. Their lessons are packed with adventure, they take risks with new ideas, use unorthodox methods to teach, and embark on uncharted territories.  Burgess's Pirate stands for
a-ask and analyze

Each letter has it's own chapter dedicated to help you think, question, and gain inspiration on becoming a better teacher. I was completely inspired by the passion chapter. The 'passion' chapter talks about the 3 types of passion- content, professional, and personal passion.  He asks you  to find what you are passionate about in those areas and look for ways to bring them into your classroom. Using your passions can be a simple way of taking a mundane lesson or curriculum and transforming it into a ticket worthy performance.

I  think my favorite chapter was "Building a better Pirate". He asks, "Do you want to be great?" When I read that, I had this weird tingly sensation run through my body.  I got people bumps and I got nervous. This was such an uncomfortable question. How do I even begin to  answer that question without sounding conceded or egotistical?

He points out that we idolize great athletes and musicians. For example, when you go see your favorite musician- you want to see a side of them that you hear on their records, but you want to see it play out in front of you. You want them to give you so much of their heart and so much of their spirit that after they are done, you have to sit an take a breath. That's what makes singers legends. And when we don't get that, we get disappointed when they don't fulfill their potential. So, why are we as educators afraid of being great or admitting that we are? Burgess  encourages YOU to be great- It not only raises the bar and model for others to emulate, but it also contributes to a school culture for greatness to flourish.

Well, I admit it- I want to be a great teacher. I've thought I was a "good teacher", but after reading this book, I have LOTS of work to do. One way I am going to try to be  a 'great' teacher is bring some of my passions into the classroom. Well, I have a lot of passions. However, I'm thinking Netflix and chill probably isn't the best one to start with.  Some of my  personal passions include rapping, (I'm pretty fly for a white girl), singing, acting and cooking..

 I'm teaching 4th grade Texas History and Science this upcoming school year. New grade level and new subject. I want my students to leave my classroom loving history or at least have an appreciation for it- but I remember,  I hated history growing up.  I remember calling my Grandmother in California (My mom was PISSED that I called long distance from TX to CA) and crying about studying for a Texas history test. (Weird, how this came full circle.). I told her, "History is a bunch of dates about old, dead, white guys." My Grams (who can be described as a day old Italian loaf of bread-ya know, hard & crunchy on the outside but warm on the inside) ripped me a new one.  I got an A on the test because I didn't want to disappoint my Grams, but I did not start liking history until high school. I had this AMAZING teacher who told history as a story, allowed us to be creative, challenged us to go beyond what we thought we could do. How could I still be me and bring my passions into my classroom and emulate this great teacher?

Well, I'm about to use some unorthodox teaching methods while also appealing to my personal passions. I've decided to create 3 characters that sporadically come in as guest speakers. This should make the lessons exciting...  The first one is Rapper Notorious T.E.X. who raps about famous people and places throughout TX history. Here's a little taste of what Notorious T.E.X has been working on...

" Now, this is a story all about how, Texas history got turned upside down. I'd like you to take a minute a sit right there,  I'll tell ya all about how the State of Texas popped out of nowhere!"

The other is Drop Dead Diva, who is a valley girl/ know-it-all- who pops up along history and gives her 2 cents about it.

The other character is for science. I'm still trying to think of something. If you have any ideas, I would LOVE to hear them!!!

I'm kind of excited about these characters. I hoping that because I am excited the kids will be too.   Plus, we all can remember lyrics to any song. I can't remember what I did yesterday, but I can sure tell you all the lyrics to "Bye Bye Bye".

This year, as I embark into uncharted 4th grade, I want to really embrace teaching like a pirate.  After all-sailors tell stories, pirates create legends.

How will you teach like a pirate this year?

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Interactive Notebooks.. Oh, and a Flash Freebie Alert!

When I first found out that I was going to be a 4th grade teacher, I was filled with all sorts of emotions: excited, nervous, overwhelmed, challenged... I could go on.

I am teaching Texas History and Science and really want to help lead my students to truly love these subjects. For starters, I hated history as young kid. I remember I had to study for a test and called my Grams  (in California) pleading with her to tell my mom to not make me study. I cried and tried to plead my case with  her, "It's just a bunch of stuff about dead old white guys!"... Needless to say, she gave me an earful.. I studied and did well, but just thought of it as facts and dates until I had this AMAZING  history teacher in High School...

For those of y'all in Texas, you know that *most* history classes are usually taught by a coach.. Now, I'm sure there are amazing coaches and history teachers but at my school,  my freshman year's teacher was typically worried about drawing up his next football play, rather than teaching.. But somehow, I ended up in this class my sophomore year  and had this amazing guru.. It was then,  that year, I  began my love affair with history. He told history as a story full of adventure, drama, romance and of course war. It was like all of my favorite movies in one time period. He has us create these interactive notebooks where we colored and drew pictures, bolded words and highlighted others. We created 'left sides' where we as students demonstrated our learning in a creative way. It challenged me to think 'outside the book' and highlighted by creativity.

This summer, I decided let's approach teaching this year differently. I don't want to be that teacher who constantly has students reading from books and doing worksheets (there is nothing wrong with that) but it's not for me. Just because we have our hands on doesn't mean our minds are off. I want to start my students off early on their love affair or at least give them a taste of how cool history and science can be... So, I did some research, started turning my wheels, and voila... I have the foundation for my Interactive Notebook. For those that want a sneak peak and a freebie head over to my store... Interactive Notebook

I hope that it helps inspire to teach more 'colorfully'.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Clickable Social Media Buttons

I know I always show up late to the party... But this "How to" was amazing! I have been trying to figure out how to spice up my Terms of Use page.... Because.. let's be honest. It was pretty sorry looking. For someone who claims to "make learning more colorful" it was plain as vanilla pudding. It's okay... for now... but there are SOO many better flavors..

                                                       Just check out this before...

What was I thinking? It got the job done but I felt it wasn't a true representation of moi! I started  thinking what makes me me... and then I had that light bulb moment! I had to have polkadots.. That goes without saying. I LOVE coffee. (Even my students this year caught onto that) and I love puns.. I also knew that I wanted to have clickable Social Media buttons. Which were SOO last year. .But, better late than never, right? 

The After

*sigh* I know it's not as fancy as others, but I love it. Plus this tutorial was Simple. Easy. Amazing. You can check it out here... Adding Clickable Links to PDF 

Till next time!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Test... Test.. Is this thing on?

Wow. It has been a HOT minute since I blogged. I completely failed on my goal for more blogging for this year... Well,  wait!! I did get one blog post in. Just kidding. Not what I was envisioning when I made the goal to blog more.... I'm still trying to find the time to lesson plan. teach. grade. have a life. repeat.  So, I apologize if you were horribly offended by my lack of blogging.

This year was one for the books.  Let me start off my saying, my students were GREAT! I loved my babies this year. Sure, you will always have "that one".. you know what I'm talking about...

but even that  kid and I became close.. I did have a few 'challenges'  outside the classroom this year... It was tough at times...okay.. a lot of times. I was lucky enough to have a very great support system from teammates, friends and my husband.  

Fast forward a bit and I get the message, "Please come to the office"... Ever since I was a kid, the "office" has been a terrible. horrible. no good. very bad place for me. But my principal sat me down as asked what I thought about moving to 4th grade... I'll admit it.. I did not accept right away. I love my team and I love those 2nd grade kiddos. Taking the time to think, I made a Pros and Cons list... To me it made since to move and voila.. I'm now moving to 4th grade!!! It is bittersweet- I'll miss my old team but I am SOO looking forward to working not only on the other side of the building but with some teachers who truly are "ROCKSTARS".  I will be teaching Social Studies and Science..  The one thing  was not excited about doing was moving my stuff..

I realized I had a lot of "stuff"... That's the nice word... I guess in trying to find the positive- it will be nice to start fresh and new. Plus I love designing and decorating, so I guess that just means time to "update"!

Until next time. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Currently.. October

I have always loved seeing the "Currently" on my Facebook feeds and am so glad that I found one to join. I've joined Oh Boy 3rd grade and I'm so super excited to have found her blog. I just LOVE It. I can't wait to continue the "currently" posts.

 It has been a very interesting start to my October. We have many things to celebrate this month... We are finally in our home and it's beginning to actually look like our house. We've been living in boxes and it's been pretty interesting trying to cook healthy when you can't find your pan. Lol.

We are also celebrating our 1st year anniversary today!! Love my hubby. He is the one who holds my hand through the good times and the bad. He keeps me grounded and is truly my better half.

Listening: I LOVE football. I get up early on Sundays to watch Mike and the boys and figure out my Fantasy Football lineup. 

Loving: Happy 1st Year anniversary. I can't believe it's been a year!! So blessed to have an amazing hubby. 

Thinking: I need to figure out when they are playing so I can get my grading done and get on with my day. 

Wanting: I made the mistake and ate something that I should not have. Living with a  gluten intolerance stinks. I was miserable and in so much pain yesterday. Starting to feel better now. 

Needing:  the past week has been a pretty tough week for me.Without getting into details... . I made a mistake and owned up to it. First, I hate making mistakes. I'm harder on myself than most people are. But, what I tell my students is that if you make a mistake (regardless of big or small) you need to own it and fix it. I  have to model that in my life and I did. It was not met with understanding... I'm hoping to have the confidence to show that it was a mistake, that I respect the feelings that this mistake caused, but that I hope that my mistake will not hinder our future interactions and student success. 

Bootiful: Looking forward to walking with my teacher buddy this week.. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Take a Peek into 2nd!

Hey Y'all...

So sorry for not blogging in a bit. It's been a few crazy months with school starting and getting into a new house. Teacher Friends, DO NOT. I repeat DO NOT move when school is starting. I hate not starting with everything perfect and in place... but alas, I do need to have a life.

I've joined up with some fabulous people to help y'all take a peek into what 2nd grade teachers are doing in their classrooms. Katie from Pop Into Primary is the master mind behind this and I'm just so tickled to be apart of it. Each week, there will be a new 2nd grade teacher who will share their favorite product from their store and tell us how they use it in class.

First up, is Stephanie Chambers from The Learning Chambers.  Here is a little bit about her... Head on over to her blog to read all about her Reading Response Flap Journals. I CAN NOT WAIT until I use these in my class. These are such a fun and creative  way to get the kiddos excited about responding to their reading.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Turning your Beliefs into Actions

'Action. Action. We want Action. Act-ion.' We used to chant this cheer on the sidelines back in the day.  But I have to sit and think for a second. That was back in the day... hmm. Actually, a lot of days ago. We cheered for action in the game, why am I not cheering for action in my life today? Insert  My sweet friend Whitney from  WithLoveFromTexas.  She came up with this brilliant idea.

Let's turn our beliefs into Actions. It's what I cheered for back in the day, why not make it a present day thing? She suggested that we write down our educational beliefs. Those are the things you are most passionate about. They are the things that get you going-It's the things that make you cry when it happens, puts a smile on your face,  tense up when you see it go horribly wrong, or make your heat glow when you know its going good. So the following our my educational beliefs....
When I collaborate with my team, we try to make our lessons fun and engaging.  We are constantly updating and revamping our lessons to not only be current with the educational trends but also what is current in our classroom. I believe that students learn more and will remember your lesson when you not only connect it with something that are passionate about but also connect it to THEIR world. That's why I'm big and my team is big on Voice and Choice. It allows students to have a voice in their research and a choice on how to present it. Kids will pretend they like it when you do things for them- like printing out their work and highlighting it for them, but if you teach them how to research they are going to get so much more out of it.

This also ties in when my definition of "Fail". From day one I teach my students that Fail is an acronym.... In my classroom it means First Attempt in Learning. We may not get the concept, the lesson, or activity right the first time. That's OKAY! It's natural. But, what makes us successful students and life-long learners is that we learn from the mistakes and try again. I found this great short video called Austin's Butterfly . I showed it to the whole class. We talked about how sometimes our best work is not our first work. I show this to my class at the beginning of each year and will also show it as a refresher after a certain "break"... They seem to really have that 'a-ha!" moment.

Students are able to do this if you, the teacher, truly believe in them. By creating a safe and welcoming environment I have laid the foundation for trust and collaboration. I tell my students that I believe in them and love them every day. Now, don't get me wrong- there are days that some "tough love" comes into play, but they appreciate it. They just want to know you have limitations and boundaries but also that you believe in them and see so much more than what they can achieve.

I think this goes hand in hand with positive reinforcement in the classroom. I do not know about you, but when I was a kid and had a teacher yell at me ( because that never happen. ;) ) I turned off and shut down. I don't want that for my kiddos. I'm also not going to manipulate them either. I won't say, "Well, I just LOVE how Susie is working hard"... and then look at the trouble maker. I won't say "Wow, you colored great."... when they did not. We appreciate the truth and the kiddos do too. I give them honest feedback. " I know you got off to a rocky start, but wow! Look at what you are doing know. Doesn't it feel good? Super proud of you man".

Finally, before this turns into a novel... I believe in using what you got. I'm a bit of a funny person at heart, I like to make up raps and jingles now and again. ... And I use that in the classroom. The kids first think I'm crazy, and for the most part, they are right... But then, I catch them singing it in the hallway or on the playground. The best moment EVER was when a third grade teacher said she was teaching some of my former kids and they all go, "Miss H used to sing and rap for us. Here is one of her songs!" Lawdy, I almost fainted from my heart glowing.

My goal this year is to really turn those beliefs into actions #IamaBeliever.  I hope you join me in this challenge of turning your beliefs into actions. Even if you don't blog about it, simply write your beliefs down. Keep in a place you look often. Let it help remind you and help get you through "those" times.

Till Next Time
Keep it Colorful!!

Continue on to this lovely teacher's beliefs. Teaching Redefined