Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday Snapshots

Ugh. summer vacation is half, wait...there's still almost a full MONTH left!  There, that's better! Perspective is everything, right?  I'm linking up with Run, Miss Nelson's Got the Camera for Saturday Snapshots for a peek at my week.

The fireworks on the 4th of July took on new meaning this year.  My stepmother-in-law passed away on the 4th.  Her name was Angel and she truly was one.  I'd like to think that the skies lit up that night to celebrate her life and illuminate her journey.

Wine club pick up time!  I belong to two clubs.  One winery is in Sonoma and the other is in Napa.  We made Sunday our 'pick-up' day.  Of course, if you're going to pick up your wine, you might as well sit for a spell and do a wine and chocolate pairing.

Rutherford Ranch Winery

Looking at the calendar and realizing that a month of vacation has gone by prompted my daughter and I to plan a little local adventure.  Our first stop was Muir Woods.  I love Muir Woods.  Walking through those towering redwoods is a bit humbling.  For as small as we humans are, we are the guardians of some pretty amazing places.  

Tuesday found me poolside, resting my tired toes.  

On Wednesday, we jumped on the Angel Island ferry out of Tiburon.  Many folks just think of Angel Island as the Ellis Island of the west coast, but that's just one piece of its history.  If you're interested, you can read more about the island here.

I used the pano feature on my phone to capture this view of the San Francisco Bay.  To the left is the Bay Bridge that connects Oakland and the East Bay to San Francisco.  San Francisco is in the center of the picture.  To the right is the Golden Gate Bridge.

It's nice to have friends who are always willing to grab their camera and head out on a photo jaunt with you.  Thursday found us just across the Carquinez Strait in Martinez and Port Costa.

The Martinez shoreline.

There's not much green this time of year.

Port Costa

Apparently, you can only act out your dreams on the weekends?

This is the town's wishing tree.  There's a bucket filled with pens and tags.
People hang their wishes on the tree for all to read.  

One of the wishes we found.

I loved the randomness of this.  

This morning I woke up to this:  

This was the most expensive project I've ever posted and I was more than a little worried about it being funded.  Kudos to my amazing students who earned $1000 for the project by participating in code writing.  Most of the remaining funding came from donations via the Caring Classroom community.   If you're a DonorsChoose fanatic like I am, go take a peek at this incredible group.  They've donated over $70,000 to projects like mine.

So that was my week in pictures.  Today's adventure:  cleaning the house and the Wild Ones.

Remember to link up with Miss Nelson's Saturday Snapshots!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Monday Meet Up!

So this is a record.  It's still June and I'm posting AGAIN!  This MUST be summer vacation.  Let me start by pointing out that blonde over there on the right.  She's the reason I'm sporting a sunburn.  I decided to play around with my Art Studio app this morning and wasn't paying attention to how long I was sitting in the sun.  Ouch! I feel obligated to disclose some information here:  I look nothing like her.  The blonde hair is now graying (long, but graying), there are a few extra pounds hanging around, and my feet aren't that small.  But I created her in the image of what I would want to look like if I was a piece of clipart.

This is the real me.....

I thought I'd join in with The Teaching Tribune's Monday Meet Up.  I know, this is Week 4 for everyone else, but it's Week 1 for me and I'm pretty excited about it!

Here are a few completely random tidbits about me.  

I'm curious, what's the most interesting food item you've ever eaten?  

Be sure to head over to The Teaching Tribune to read some entertaining tidbits about your fellow bloggers.  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Reading in the Wild: Chapter 1

I know, two posts in one day.  I'm sorry.  I just had to link up with Ideas by Jivey's book study of Reading in the Wild.

I just finished reading the first chapter, "Wild Readers Dedicate Time to Read", and had to respond.  It felt like coming home.  Our school has gotten so far away from giving students the chance to read independently and it's made my heart sad.  Readers' workshop has gone by the wayside.  Guided/leveled reading groups, reading intervention pull-outs and push-ins, and fidelity to the curriculum, while all have their place, have  pushed that sacred time right out the door.  It's gotten to the point where most teachers feel guilty if admin walks in to find kids reading silently at desks, under desks, stretched out on the carpet or snuggled into a comfy little nook.  Imagine that.  Having to feel guilty when you have 34 kids fully immersed in a book of their choosing?  What a horrible reading for the sheer joy of reading!

I will admit, that over the years, it has been difficult not to succumb to the pressure.  In Room 24, we still have Fall in Love with Your Book Time for 20 minutes when we return from the library.  After FILWYBT is over, students are invited to give a quick book talk to share first impressions of their new reading material. My students know to always have the book they are currently smitten with on their desks for when their other assignments are complete and we sponge up any extra minutes between preps, lunch, and recess by opening up those same books. They know that this is our covert independent reading time.  Each and EVERY day, I use the last 10-15 minutes for a read aloud.  Shhhhh!

This coming year, we're jumping into common core and new curriculum with both feet.  I'm not sure how it will all work, but I'm determined to find time each day to dedicate to the type of reading Miller describes in Chapter 1.

"When students read together every day, they forge strong bonds though shared reading experiences that help them define themselves as members of a reading tribe."  I love this!  I want to do whatever I can to help my students become a tribe of wild readers this coming year.

Like others who have already responded to Chapter 1, I love the idea of having a book on hand at all times for 'reading emergencies'.  I usually carry my iPad mini with me for just such occasions.  On our recent camping trip, I was chastised a bit for bringing a piece of technology into the wild.  I quickly pointed out that it was my 'book' and not an iPad mini at all.  Having finished my current book half way through the trip, I was more than a bit upset when I realized I hadn't downloaded the next book on my list!  With no internet connection, I was in a true reading emergency! You can bet I'll be more prepared next time.

Five for Friday!

It must be summer vacation...I have leisurely sipped my cup of coffee, walked the three Wild Ones, and have been catching up on some much neglected blog reading for the last hour or three.  I've also found time to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching's Five for Friday linky party!

So what's been going on this week?

Not the best way start to summer vacation, but I did what teachers often seem to do best and ignored my health as we wrapped up the school year.  So long sinus infection!

My husband and I loaded up the three Wild Ones and headed for the mountains for a few days.  We camped at Gerle Creek, perhaps the quietest campground you'll ever find.  Days were spent either romping through the woods or hanging along the shoreline with our energetic pups.  You'll notice the hooded sweatshirt I'm sporting.  Yes, it was COLD up there!  

Just started reading this.  I fully intend to link up with Ideas by Jivey's book study.  I just need to catch up!  I borrowed the ebook from the library, but already know that I want a copy of my own to keep.

I HATE shopping for clothes.  There.  I said it.  However, my son's graduation in Las Vegas next week is a formal affair.  So I had no choice.  Fortunately, I have my own built-in personal daughter.  I basically stand in a dressing room and she brings all the possibilities to me.  We laugh, we giggle, we cringe, and I sometimes cry.  It's a painful process made a little bit more enjoyable by having someone do all the work for you.  The dress in the middle is for the big event.  The other two, while I'm not sure I'm keeping both yet, are just for fun.  Does anyone really 'need' two polka dotted dresses?  The one on the left is brown and very Pretty Woman-like.  Neither are really 'me', but maybe it's time to redefine 'me'?

A co-worker showed up at my door last night.  He's the only co-worker who lives in the same town as I do.  We used to commute together until he transferred to a different campus.  He came back to our site this year, but I opted not to carpool with him. While I felt guilty about not joining in again, I enjoyed my solitary commute and wasn't ready to give it up.  That's my unwinding time.  That's my one opportunity to sing as loud as I want or to just sit in silence. Carpooling with fellow teachers means a daily rehashing debrief.  It often feels like work isn't over until I step out of the car.  Call me selfish, but I don't want to carpool.  Anyway, back to my story.  This man is a pretty amazing human being and I could probably write a whole blog post about how caring and kind he is.  As he stood at my door last night, he handed me a card.  It was a thank you with the sweetest sentiments written inside along with a Jamba Juice card.  What did I do to deserve this treat?  Nothing. He was in a car accident during the last week of school and needed a ride to school one day.  ONE day.  I get a heartfelt thanks and some yummy Jamba Juice for that?  I told you he is an amazing human being.  I thanked him and said, "Let's carpool next year."  He smiled and said, "I'd like that."  I can still do my singing in the shower.

I'll end this with my goal for this summer's vacation.  At summer's end, I want to feel as relaxed as Gus looks in this picture:

A napping Wild One

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Bark Mulch, QR Codes, and 7 Days to Go!

Whew!  Where did the year go?  Obviously, it wasn't spent tending to my little blog.  I figure I might as well try to get in one final post for this school year.

Here's a little bit about what's been going on lately...

We welcomed this little man into the world last week.  His name is Will. He's our second grandbaby and first grandson.  

On the school front, our 5th grade student council decided to tackle a rather dismal area outside of our classrooms.  Here's the transformation: 

It's looked like this for YEARS!

We were able to get much of our materials donated through both Lowes and Home Depot.
Our student council ran a Flower Fund drive that raised about $40.

The daughter part of this mother-daughter fifth grade team.

Planting time!

Relaxing in the 5th grade reading garden.
I need to get a better 'after' photo that includes the flower pots and colorful Dollar Store pinwheels.  The kids LOVE coming out here to read and it's not uncommon for teachers to stop by to hang out after dismissal.  

I tried something new last week!  Laura Candler recently listed her Team Scoot activity on TPT.  My kids tested it out and reported back to Laura with their thoughts on the activity.  They LOVED it!  You can read more about it here on Laura's Corkboard Connections.  

We'll be using Team Scoot on Tuesday as we try out Laura's new Fractions of Whole Numbers Task Cards.  I just printed and laminated the cards with the QR code answers on the back.  I may be a bit behind the times, but I've just recently fallen in love with QR codes. 

We have our Outlandishly Odd Olympics coming up this week. Kids sign up for 3-5 events and we spend the morning giggling our way through the various competitions.  

A few of the activities are self explanatory, but I'll briefly explain the others.  

Tower of Cups requires students to creatively stack the greatest number of cups to the greatest height.  We bought packages of brightly colored, shot glass sized plastic cups from Dollar Store. 

In Snowball Shoveling, students are blindfolded and have to shovel cotton balls from one bucket to another.  

For A Bit Dicey, they hold a popsicle stick or tongue depressor in one hand and try to stack as many dice on it as they can without the dice toppling over. Greatest number of stacked dice wins.

Speed Crab is a race across the room in the crab position.

Bean-o is always a favorite.  Students each have a straw and a pile of uncooked beans.  Using suction through the straw, they have to move as many beans as they can from their pile into a cup.  Whoever moves the most beans wins!  Just make sure the beans are too big to actually go into the straws!

Field Goal is a paper football 'kicking' contest.  Winner is the one with the longest 'kick'.  You remember flicking those with your fingers in math class, right?

Noodling Around requires students to place one end of a piece of uncooked spaghetti in their mouth.  Penne pasta is scattered on the desktop. They try to 'spear' as many penne noodles onto their spaghetti spear as they can.  First to pick up all of their penne pasta wins.

Math Maniacs pits students against each other as they try to solve 5 different math problems.  First one with all five answers correct wins. 

For Word-it, we give students a word and they try to make as many other words using the letters as possible.  Not sure what the word is going to be this year. Scoring is based on the number of letters per word. 

Tanner Trivia has a new look to it this year.  Obviously, students have to answer trivia questions about me.  Usually, I give them a worksheet with the questions on it.  Not this year!  Remember me saying that I've fallen in love with QR codes?  Yep.  The questions are embedded in QR codes on cards that will be posted around the room.  Kiddos will find the cards, scan the codes, and answer the questions in their nifty little Secret Agent books.  I hope they are half as excited about it as I am!  

Alright, now that I've finished this post, I've got some catching up to do on my blog reading.  Wishing all of you a relaxing rest of your three day weekend.