Box 1

Box 1

Box 2

Box 2
Character Education

Box 3

Box 3
Digital Learning

New Year's Resolutions

        I love New Year's! It's a lot like the beginning of the school year, with opportunities for fresh starts in many areas of our lives. My 2013-2014 year got off to a pretty good start, but this week and a half of break has given me a chance to step back and take a look at what might be better. Time to dust off, sharpen up, and polish a few areas in my personal and professional life.
       First up: Journaling. I always tell my students that journaling is extremely important because it's the way we let future generations know who we really are. If you do not keep a journal and leave it where your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will find it, how will they know who you are inside? How will they know what is important to you, what you were like when you were young, what you thought about the world in general, your interests in specific, and most importantly what you were thinking about them.  I have four beautiful grandchildren, and a fifth one on the way. This is the week that I will start a journal for each one of them.  I won't write in each one every day, but will pull one out to record a new experience we've had together or a sweet memory when one comes to mind.  My two year old grandson had his first sleepover at our house last night. What an amazing time Grandma, Papa, and our little bundle of energy had! How incredible it will be for him to open his journal when he is a grown man and remember the silliness and fun of this visit! 
      Also first up: my friends. Eight of our closest friends are coming to our house for dinner tomorrow night, and I was just thinking how precious their friendship is to us, and how we don't do this kind of thing often enough. Now is a great time to start some new traditions with friends.
     Second in line: My district has recently selected me as one of six teachers to receive training in the new NGSS science standards.  Our charge is to develop a vision for our district in the adoption of the standards, and then work with teachers to implement them.  We're learning some great teaching moves in our training sessions. Time to bring more of them back to my students and start inviting other teachers in! I'm really excited about this new opportunity and want to do it right!   
      Third: I've been cleaning closets at home. How many pairs of black pants does one person really need? (Just an example from the teeniest tip of the overabundant iceberg!) Anyway, while folding my gazillion sweaters, I started thinking about the file cabinets in my classroom which have so many teacher books that I never look at anymore. When I need a fresh idea, I just search on TpT and always find what I need. Often, I find even more that I didn't even know I needed. Affordable, fun, and I know where to find it on my flash drive, under "My Purchases" or n my computer desktop. Why root through the filing cabinets anymore?  Maybe someone else can use them.  I plan to take a stack of teacher books to the faculty room every week.  What is still there in Friday will go to the recycler in the parking lot.
       Fourth: My blog. I actually enjoy blogging, and don't know why I don't do it more often. I make plans, often take classroom photos, jot notes, and then forget about it when it comes time to record it here. I have promised myself to blog more often this year.  
       As for my TpT store, I plan to work on some more novel units for the read-alouds that my classes have truly loved, many of them not your usual fourth grade choices, and also to add more math and science products. Social Studies? Next year! (I'm trying set realistic and attainable goals here!)
       Finally: More travel with hubby. Giant friends trip already planned for this summer to Denver because our friend's son is getting married there. More trips from our "really should go there someday" list after that.

        A quote from Oprah: "Cheers to a new year, and another chance to get it right!" Hoping to get a few of the above things right this year! Happy New Year, everyone!

       Linking this blog post up with "A Peach for the Teach". (Love her name and the glittery peach on her blog banner!)  Follow the link below for more resolutions from our blogging buddies!


You might also like:

                                                                                  Rock Star Students

                     SCOOT OUR RULES!
My School Year Notebook (Journal and Posters)

#love4SH Remembering Sandy Hook

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the heart-wrenching tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, resonating in the souls of so many parents and educators still today.  How do we even attempt to keep our children safe in this world, especially in the world of their classroom, their recess playground, their cafeteria, their media center?

Our doors are locked, we practice lockdown procedures, we ask children to practice at regular intervals behaviors for an event we pray they will never need to experience. We are doing all we believe is possible, and yet our hearts still ache for the loss of the joy and freedom of childhood.

My experience in the classroom tells me that children learn what we teach them.  If they trust and value the person delivering the lesson, the lesson becomes a part of each of them. We are so focused on delivering the “standards”, papering our walls with goals and targets, prepping for endless and often meaningless academic tests, that I am afraid that we are getting farther and farther away from the relationships and character building that were commonplace before all of the push towards high stakes assessments. 

There is little time in our schedules to teach about kindness and character. What do we leave out? What if our kids are less than prepared for math standard some number.some letters.some other number?

Just today: in Colorado, another senseless shooting ending with the suicide of the shooter.
I know that each of the perpetrators of the unimaginable crimes we hear of in the news was once a child sitting in a first grade or fourth grade or seventh grade classroom. I can’t help thinking about this today. What messages did that child receive in school? Was he bullied or teased? Did he feel not good enough because he didn’t make a high enough score on a test? Did he feel accepted and valued by his teachers? Did he think that the work he did was important?

 I am not naive enough to believe that real mental illness can be overcome by good teaching, neither am I assigning blame to the teachers of any of the shooters, but I believe that real change can and does happen in small increments. Greg at Smedley’s Smorgasbord of Kindergarten has a great idea for how we can start. What if each of us does one small act of kindness today, and then finds a way to present the idea of kindness to others to our students as we go through the weeks and months ahead.  This focus on kindness can be our tribute to the Sandy Hook kids and staff who were not given the chance to go on making a difference for others.  Read his whole post at

Some resources I recommend for inspiring kindness and justice in your students are the entire song library at I Am Bullyproof Music
The sweet songs that you will find here will delight and inspire your students to become kinder, more caring, stronger, and more confident human beings.
My students and I call these songs “the sound track of our lives”.  We sing them at the start of the day, the end of the day, and the transitions between subjects all day long. (One way to sneak the kindness lessons back into the curriculum!)
 I Am Bullyproof Music

Another idea that is perfect for January is to take the “Kindness and Justice Challenge” inspired by the teachings of Martin Luther King and started by his family.  Here’s a free product that can get your students collecting their acts of kindness and justice and thinking about the next kind act in their future. It’s free!!!!

This year, I have added some kindness cards to my December calendar. Each day, we turn over a new card that suggests another way to be kind. Thanks, Rick’s Resources, for this one! My kids love it! Not free, but worth it!

This is a really long post for me, but I need to share one story here:
Our night custodian came into my room on Wednesday evening this week to tell me that one of my students had actually approached her in the hall after school to thank her for doing such a great job cleaning our room every day.  She had tears in her eyes when she told me that she has been at this job for 25 years and this was the first student who had ever thanked her! It meant so much to her to hear those simple words.

I’m joining Greg in his movement for more kindness, and I hope you’ll join in, too!