I forgot to post this video yesterday:
I found it at Little Minds at Work. I absolutely love this teacher's style! (in clothing as well) I think this approach would really work for my kiddos. I must learn more about Whole Brain Teaching. I'd love any input! I see there is a link to the website but it seems a little daunting! So much information! I'll have to carve out some time to really explore. :)- Whole Brain Teaching

"Summer, summer, summertime
Time to sit back and unwind
 School is out and it's a sort of a buzz..."
Remember that Will Smith song... oh wait, he was probably still Fresh Prince at that time, huh?
Well, it came on the radio as I peeled out of the parking lot two Fridays ago... er, um... I mean, left somberly from the school parking lot. :) I pretty much jammed out to it the whole way home.

The 2011-2012 school year was a challenging one but also a big year of growth for me. I gained a lot of perspective and solidified my passion for this profession. I mean if I can make it through a year like this and STILL say, without hesitation, that I absolutely ADORE what I do than I think that means that I'm meant to do it, right? A lot of great opportunities came my way this year as well. I got to write curriculum for the district which, in turn, immersed me in the common core standards and  gave me a lot more appreciation for data, rigor and all those "buzz" words that seem to be at the forefront of education these days.  So challenging students, tedious new paperwork, and frustrating RTi procedures at school aside, it all turned out good in the end.
Peace Out 2011-2012 School Year
Doesn't your room always look so strange when it's all cleared out?
On to year number 12 for me... wowzers! I AM OLD!

Summer vacation has been such a blast so far. I knew I was going to love being home with my lil' fella but I could never have imagined how much. This toddler-hood stuff is pretty cool.
That's right, I said toddler. He just turned 18 months and he is a wild man. Plus, we have words!! Woo hoo! "Hi" and "more".  Also, as you can see from above, he can write his own name, What can I say, he's advanced. :)

This week I read The Daily 5 during nap time (along with The Happiest Toddler on the Block... love me some Dr. Karp. As fun as my "bubba" is he is starting to get some major toddler 'tude. If you know what I mean. If you have or will have toddlers, I highly recommend the book.)
My husband is really questioning my sanity, as I've been sitting out by the pool with my little highlighter reading, nodding, and jotting down notes. He keeps telling me to put the book down and relax. Ha! Take that people who say teachers don't work during summer vacation! 
The Daily 5 pretty much blew my mind in the first 2 pages. I mean, their description of the end of the day, picking up all the centers, finding some of them ruined, wondering what to do with all the worksheets and papers you've had them do, feeling like all you do is plan centers, and make copies, and plan more centers... Man, I can relate. The thing I related to most was the feeling of- "What is the purpose of this?" "Is meaningful learning really taking place?". 
"It's not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?
-Henry David Thoreau
Centers, in my classroom, have always been done in a strict rotation with a worksheet to be completed after every activity. I'm such a stickler about routine and organization. I forced those worksheets because I wanted the kids to have accountability... but, for what?  I always hated the grumbling that came when "Red Group" realized it was their day for independent reading and they would have to fill out their book logs. At the time- and realize this was only 3 weeks ago- I thought, "Well, you WILL read independently and you WILL fill out those book logs. Those book logs go in your portfolio to be turned over to your second grade teacher. We all have to do things we don't want to do sometimes." Now, after reading The Daily 5, I'm starting to think differently. First of all, no second grade teacher I know even looks at those book logs. :) Second, if they grumble and have a bad attitude about it they are obviously not engaged and not taking it seriously. It is true that we all have to do things we don't want to do but think about it... when you are forced to do things you don't want to do do you do them to the best of your ability? *sigh* Teacher fail. 

I also realized while reading The Daily 5 that I am a helicopter teacher. Oh, how it pains me to say that. If you had asked me, even a week ago, I would have told you all about how building independence in my first grade classroom is one of my top priorities but The Daily 5 has forced me to admit that I have not always been successful in this. I have really been inspired to "Stay out of the way".  How true it is that this is what our kids really need. It will be a real challenge for me but I'm committed to it. Plus, our new APPR guidelines for teacher evaluation are all about student independence and students taking ownership of their own learning. 

On page 60 a story is told about "the sisters" running into a woman who passionately advocates that they include some way to get families to "read to those kids!" in their new book. Well, how many times have those exact words come out of my mouth? Um, daily for the past 11 years of my teaching career! 
This quote really stuck with me. I believe it to be very true. The best of us can often get bogged down by all those things we cannot change or control but REAL change comes from positive action. End of story.
Now that I've finished the book I'm going to allow it to percolate in my system for a bit. I probably will re-read it before the school year starts again. I'm really committed to trying this approach though. It will be a challenge. My district's curriculum is designed around the Reader's and Writer's workshop model and it will take a lot of collaboration with my colleagues and some very careful planning to be sure I'm able to "do it all"! I'm stressed and excited at the same time! 

More on The Daily 5 and the other books I'm reading this summer later...

Two other quick things. 
I am on a mad hunt for soap containers. I thought for sure I'd find them at the Dollar Tree and I've had ZERO luck!! I blame this all on pinterest!! I know all the teachers have seen the links for storing playing cards, game pieces, flash cards etc. I just want to store crayons!!! They would be prefect. The hunt continues.
 While I was at The Dollar Tree I got these adorable little aprons:
I got the ones with the bees on them. I haven't figured out what I'm going to use them for yet but I was thinking about having classroom/teacher helpers wear them. Ya know- My "Busy Bees". Cute?!

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