A Gift From Lucy

Did you get your Christmas gift from Lucy Calkins and the TCRWP Community today? Well I did and it is awesome! They have videotaped a few teachers ranging in grades teaching specific common core lessons. Here is the email they sent me with the link to the videos-

Dear Friends of the Project,

In honor of the holidays, we are writing to let you know two pieces of good news. The first is that we're completing work on a new Units of Study series—Units of Study in Teaching Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing: A Common Core Curriculum. You can visit Heinemann's website to get more information about the series, view sample minilessons, etc.-- 

Our second announcement is that we have compiled almost 40 video clips of Common Core aligned teaching and learning and want you to know this is a resource you can have, use, share. You'll see that this provides more than 6 hours of classroom videos to support you and your colleagues. To ensure that Pathways to the Common Core: Videos from Inside Classrooms can be helpful to as many people as possible, we've put the videos online in Vimeo albums. This is the link to the website on which you can watch all of the clips:

You'll notice the videos are organized by major aspects of the Common Core State Standards—Reading Literature, Reading Informational Texts, Opinion/Argument Writing, Informative/Explanatory Writing, and Narrative Writing.  Within each album are clips of teaching which aim to help children reach that aspect of the standards.

We offer these snippets of instruction, these scenes of classrooms, not as a final answer, but as a laboratory of sorts. We think these classrooms represent an important pathway to the Common Core. That is, we make no pretense that the methods of teaching that are shown here are those a teacher must use in order to align to the Common Core. The Common Core does not mandate any one particular method of teaching and in fact, explicitly says that decisions about teaching and curriculum must be left in the hands of practitioners.

Know that we've put this together on a shoestring budget. Unlike other CCSS video collections, this was not funded by an outside organization. It's the result of just a few days of filming…and we don't think for a minute, that this is perfect. The teachers you see didn't suggest that their teaching met some special gold standard—they simply said yes when we asked if we could stop by, video camera in hand. Some of the snippets were filmed long before the CCSS came onto the scene and we'd do things differently if we could, but we included them because they, nevertheless represent a pathway to the CCSS. We hope you appreciate the teachers featured here for opening their doors to us, and for welcoming critique. We've provided our own critical comments, and explained connections we see to the Common Core in commentary.

This is our gift to education---no profits will be made from the distribution of these clips or of the DVD on which they are compiled. We share these with thanks for all you do each day. You are invited to share this with whomever you'd like. It is our hope that these clips will be the start to conversations across grades, buildings, districts, states—all of us putting our heads together to find ways to help all children to reach the Common Core State Standards.  Special thanks to Kelly Boland Hohne for editing this collection.

Have a beautiful holiday break—well-deserved!

Lucy Calkins and the TCRWP community

Don’t you just love Teacher College and the Writing Project? It is my dream to one day attend in New York City!
I have only watched a few of them so far, but I really enjoyed watching the first grade teacher teach the lesson of comparing and contrasting fairy tales. I love how she encourages them to dig deeper.
I am off to make cookies I have a huge Christmas planned. This year both my brother’s and their families will be here. I don’t think my kids have ever been with both Uncles on Christmas. It should be a fun filled, story filled, laughter filled, Christmasy good time. AND we are expecting snow!

My wish for you is much of the same. I hope that your Christmas is filled with family, fun, precious new memories, and a blessedly safe New Year.   


Debbie Miller on My Doorstep!

WOOO HOO! Merry Early Christmas to ME! Look what the UPS man just brought! It’s the brand new second edition of Reading with Meaning Teaching Comprehension in the Primary Grades- by Debbie Miller.

I am so excited I can hardly wait to dig in and “dig deeper” with Debbie. Her first two books are like my bibles and my go to books in the summer or anytime for a refreshing or stimulating myself and my teaching. I love me some Debbie.
Did I ever tell you I was once sitting right BEHIND her while we both listened to Georgia Heard speak? I was there hundreds of miles from my home to see HER and there she was sitting Right. In. Front. Of. ME. (Georgia Heard and Katie Wood Ray were added bonuses that summer). It was the best summer PD EVER!
So here I am home from some incredibly dull PD from our state department this afternoon about that good ol obscure Common Core and as soon as I get home Yippeee the UPS man shows up with this. A great ending to fun with friends but boring PD day! Merry Early Christmas to ME I’m off to READ!
      “It doesn't get any better than this.”         



Our little corner of the world has been Elf-iltrated! They are everywhere! One has invaded our classroom and has been a little "defil." He has written on my whiteboard, rearranged our ornaments on our tree AND got into our bubblegum jar, spilled our gum and chewed some!

He is quite the little stinker. But he has reminded us how nice it is to give without asking for anything in return, and taking the time to tell those around us thank you.
Today first grade took some time to do just that. We wrote thank you letters to the special people in our school, and then the sneaky little first graders- turned elfy, secretly (as secretly as first graders can be) delivered the fruits of their labor and a candy cane to each person.

They had the best time. A few of the staff found me and told me how much they enjoyed getting their notes and treats. That made it even more enjoyable.  
It looks like the Christmas spirit has hit here in the country.
Next week is reindeer week I wonder what ideas the sweet little “deers” can come up with to make someone’s week! 


Currently, Buggy, and a Carousel!

Time once again for Farley’s Currently and I currently have a few moments before everyone wakes up and complains of hunger so I’m going to take advantage of the quiet and write.
This weekend I spent a few days in the big city of Tulsa Christmas shopping with my hubby. We had a good time and spent way too much money. 
It doesn’t matter how old your kids get you still try to get them everything on their lists to make their Christmas morning special.
We have 13 days left in school so I’m trying to get everything in order and ready so I can squeeze in as much as possible. 
Plus I have my annual cookie exchange here at home, the school Christmas party, the Fire department party (gotta cook pork loins for that one), Hubby’s work party, and my annual Christmas Eve bash, The holly bloggy Christmas exchange and blog post, the RACK’s I have planned, buy gifts, wrap gifts, and I still have no decorations or my tree up. 
Whew, I really need to get off this computer.

Buggy for 2nd Grade
Have you seen my friend Kelly’s newest post at Buggy for Second Grade? She has a new TpT store up and would love for you to visit. She has a really great number unit and some freebies offered there.

Also have you found The First Grade Carousel?  She has a fun activity exchange she is hosting and is looking for participants. I’m joining in and you should too. Jump on the Carousel and check it out. 

I'm off to clean and decorate....and watch Christmas movies! It's MY favorite!!!


Sticker Melt Down Diverted

I'm joining up with the Two Writing Teachers for their weekly Slice of Life! You should too!

I have this little darling that is shall we say...at times very trying...temperamental...keeps me on my toes...draining...loving and needy. Bless her heart
I have she has had a very tumultuous year this year (I also had her last year). She has been trying very hard, and has...let’s say been “holding it together” the past few weeks.
Previous to the last few weeks she has had NUMEROUS melt downs that start with her first throwing off her shoes and then can go anywhere from screaming under her desk to locking herself in the bathroom stall-while screaming. The biggest one lasted an hour and half. They usually stem from her not getting her way, or a bad start to her morning at home.
Her mother is a single mom and has worked so hard to get this angel where she needs to be. I love them both and would bring mom (yes she’s young enough to be my own daughter), daughter, and younger brother home with me in a heartbeat.
Today I thought we were headed for a doozy. She came in from music and told me she had a sticker in her pants.
“Ok,” I said “go find it and pull it out in the bathroom.”
Off she went. A few moments later she was back and not happy. “I can’t find it!” “I think it’s in my panties!” “Can I go back?”
“Ok but hurry it’s almost time to get ready to go home.”
Five minutes pass. Ten. Ok now I’m worried, send another child after her. “She says she needs more time.”
I go to the bathroom. “---- Come back now.”
NO I can’t get it!
Lordy...”It’s ok it’s time to go home mom will get it.”
“NO!”  Wailing.
Panic! (yes from me).
“Ok listen you can’t cry... so you can hear me.” Silence.
Thank you Lord.
“Take your panties off and I’ll text mom to come and get you early to help you...Ok?”
Back to class she comes- panties in hand. We (she) put them in a bag then into her backpack.
She sits down to finish work and never gives it or mom another thought.
I pull her aside before we leave.
“I am SO proud of you for not throwing a fit.”
She smiles tears still in the corner of her eyes. 


Happy Unthanksgiving!

I hope all my bloggy friends had a wonderful family, fun, and food filled Thanksgiving. I had a not so fun filled day in bed with the flu that started about 1 in the morning and lasted alllllll day. My poor family had to eat cheese burgers and fries for their Thanksgiving feast. But I am feeling much better today and plan on making it all up to them tomorrow. We will have Bedlam Thanksgiving! Go Pokes!

While in bed, in between sleep and aches (and bathroom trips) I kept thinking how glad I was I did not have to make sub plans. Which made me realize that if I had, there would have been no way I could have, and the poor sub would have had to “wing it” from my regular plans. So I have decided to make a “Sub Stash” to have on hand just in case something like this hits on a school day. UGH. I will share when it all comes to fruition.
My friend Delighted and her hubby were supposed to come for Thanksgiving dinner as well yesterday, and now I will miss out on their company tomorrow because they will be out of town. It won’t be the same without them…but there is always Christmas and leftovers for our lunch next week.
Have you seen the cute Gingerbread and Reindeer units at For the Love of First Grade? I found her cute blog through my buddy Miss Delighted. You should check them out as well. I want them both!!

TpT is having a Cyber-Monday Sale and everything is 10% off I have decided to put my few things on sale as well for 20% off starting Sunday the 25th. Maybe I’ll have that whole sub stash bag done by then…right after my nap. 


The Circle of Thanksgiving

I'm Joining the Two Writing Teachers today for their weekly Slice of Life posts. It's a great way to stretch those writing muscles, and like the rest of my muscles they are a little out of shape. But I always enjoy my workout. You should join up too! Today is a fictional slice about Thanksgiving, don't judge too harshly... I am out of shape. LOL

It feels like the first time as she silently slips on the pearls. They are the last thing to ready before their family arrives for the timely Thanksgiving dinner. As her ever steady hands latch the tiny clasp she remembers the first time they were placed on her neck.
He slides up behind her as she stirs the gravy muttering to herself “clockwise only” like her grandmother had instructed.
This would be her first Thanksgiving meal away from the farm, and her first as a wife. Although she was desperately homesick she wanted it to be just right for him.
Gently he places the strand across her collar. “What’s this?” she gasps in surprise. He nuzzles from behind as he fastens the clasp and kisses the spot they are draped.
“We can’t afford these; we can barely afford this turkey.” 
"I know” he replies, “but every beautiful wife deserves something beautiful to wear on her first Thanksgiving.” “One pearl for every Thanksgiving we’ll share.”   “Like our love, they never stop. When you think you’ve reached the end, the circle begins again.”  
Forty some years have came and went since that first Thanksgiving. The first one small and quiet just the two of them filled with love and promise and those pearls. The gravy was lumpy and the turkey cooked upside down, but the love and respect was there to withstand it all.
The years to follow were filled first with babies and children then later with in laws and grandkids. There were a few trips back to the farm in the early days, but most were spent at home. Their home.
The gravy became routine and the turkey was never cooked wrong side up again, but some things stayed the same, the pearls and their love.
The knock at the door brought her back to the Thanksgiving of today. In bounced her grandkids and children. “Ready to go grandma, grandpa’s waiting.” Her bubbling granddaughter sidled up beside her and grabbed her hand.
“Just let me adjust my pearls,” she whispered.
They walked the path together. Her grandkids bounded ahead, her daughter by her side. “Are you ok mom?” Her daughter worried. “We can come back tomorrow.” But she smiled and fingered her pearls as she placed the wreath on the stone. She knew it had to be today, because the circle is unending, and it is Thanksgiving.        


Have You Heard? Have You Heard???

Have you heard?? Have you heard?? Holly Bloggy Christmas is back!!! I am so excited! It was such fun last year. The gift from my Secret Santa last year was the first one I opened. I just love surprises and it was so fun getting it in the mail, and then finding out who it was from. You can read my post and see my gift here.
This year there is a fun twist with the gifts being our “favorite things,” and there will be GIVEAWAYS! If you want to know the whole scoop you should pop on over to the Teacher Blogger Exchange spot and see what Caitlin and Sarah have been so sweet to put together.
Don’t forget to sign up while you are there, you never know you might get me as your secret Santa and I have LOTS of favorite things I want to share!
Happy Holly Bloggy Christmas Y’all!

Family Involvement Freebie

Here is the Family Involvement project I mentioned yesterday. It is free for the taking until Thanksgiving and then it will be gone, gone, gone. Click HERE.  Happy Veteran's Day!


Tally Turkey Freebie and The Queen Bee

While I am watching the Pokes go after West Virginia I decided to whip up (I really shouldn't say whip up it is more like labor and delivery for me) a turkey activity for my kiddos this week. We only have this week and then we are off the whole week of Thanksgiving, which is a little ridiculous to me. I’d rather go Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving and have a couple of extra days off at Christmas. Or in May. But they forgot to ask me. Again.

They should have asked me because this week I was called the “queen bee” at school, so they should have asked. But Whatever.

My teacher buddies said she (the lady who said it) meant it as “Queen B” not “Queen Bee.” But I think they are WRONG! I am SURE she meant as the cute little thing with wings. That’s my story and I am sticking to it. AND I was also called the “Mother Theresa” by another person at school this week. I am on a roll I believe.

Here is a (ohp GO POKES! 28-14) sneak peek of my Turkey Tally pages. You can get it at my TpTstore here for free until Thanksgiving as my “Happy Turkey Day” wish to you. Enjoy!

I am working on a quick little family involvement project for this week too. I usually do the whole turkey in (ohp fumble-recovery for OSU-field goal eek 31-14 sorry WV fans) disguise thing, but again there isn’t enough time. So I’m trying to whip up a little project for Monday. I’ll share if I’m successful.

Well I’m back to the Pokes. Did I mention I don’t even really like football? I just watch in case I see my kids on the big screen. I never do. Maybe this time. I am the Queen/Mother Theresa Bee ya know!    


Veteran's Day and An Author Celebration

Today was a busy day in first grade. We began by learning about Veterans Day and all the ways we should be thankful for their service. I used Deanna Jump's awesome Veteran’s Day unit I had bought last year. We made the little reader and talked about the different branches of the service, and what veterans are and do. We then made the really cute veterans from construction paper. Of course I forgot to take pictures. Sorry. But you can see Deanna’s version here.

Toady was also our Author Celebration Day. My kiddos worked really hard to make covers and title pages for their books. Then after much anticipation it was finally time to SHARE! They were so good and such sweet stories. We have just completed our memoir and small moment unit of study. I was pleased that so many of them grasped the idea so well.  Here is a snapshot of one sweetie sharing her story.

One of my kiddos even shared that his book was a 2.6 reading level and the AR test number was 181166. Cracked me up! 
It also got me to thinkingI told him if he could make up 5 questions to go with his story I would make a test to go with it and put it on our AR list. Whoa did that start a fire. Before I knew it I had five kids asking for paper so they could make an AR test too.
Looks like we will have a new category of tests to take soon! And how exciting! Not only are they writing more they are reading, rereading thinking about their reading AND they are thinking about their writing. Something new to like about AR but more important something more to LOVE about writer’s workshop, as Stephen Covey would say it’s a win- win situation!
 Just before we went home we all celebrated with popcorn and orange drink and a congratulatory “cheers” toward each other.
Today I am thankful for the men and women that have put their lives on the line (like my nephew and niece in law) past and present, for our freedom. If you know a service man or woman please tell them thank you from the Storybook café.      


Thankful For Data and AR Resources

As I’ve mentioned before I have a love hate relationship with the Accelerated Reader program we use at our school. I love that it gives fairly easy to understand and fairly accurate reading levels on many books. I love that the kids like reading and taking tests on them. I love that there are tests to take for the books, and gives the kids more opportunities for reading. BUT I DON’T necessarily love the tests.
I hate that it seems to be the “be all end all” for reading in our school for many grades. I hate that the tests are supposed to be comprehensive but are many times completely in left field-or use vocabulary that was not in the book, so my kiddos are lost. But mostly I feel we’re missing out on a lot of great literature and reading skills (mostly in the upper grades) because so much emphasis is put on AR.
With that being said I have decided that it can be a very useful tool. We are starting the new evaluation process here in Oklahoma, and at our school. It of course is meant to coincide with the common core. Our school has chosen the Marzano evaluation method. I do not know a lot about this method of evaluation just yet. We are just getting started.
One of the aspects I have grasped is that myself and my kiddos are going to be required to record, keep, and explain A LOT of data. Hence the good part of AR.
I have always had my kids record their own scores, so we can go over it and discuss it. But I have now decided I need to carry it a few steps further. I have made up an AR packet for November and December so that I can start having my kiddos set goals, record scores, graph scores, and determine how they are doing and where they are going. I have added a few extra elements as well like a paper bag book report challenge and a critic’s page.

I don’t know how you all feel about AR or if any of you even use AR in your school, but if you do you can find the packet here, and the first person that tells me they’d like to have one I will email it to.
Today I am thankful for a school that uses AR but allows me the freedom to put my own spin on it to enrich my kiddos experiences. 


Currently Thankful

Already time for Farley's Currently! I know right how can it be? But really it is so here goes! You should link up too!

Since this is Saturday my thankfulness is blog related instead of classroom, but in a way they are connected, because I believe I am a better teacher today because of this blog and all the wonderful teachers it has connected me too.
As I mentioned before the first blog I ever followed was the Two Writing Teachers. They opened me up to a whole new world. I soon discovered other wonderful blogs such as The First Grade Parade and Teaching Blog Addict. They like Stacey and Ruth opened my eyes to a whole new world.
But it’s the commenting that has really shown me what great connections and friendships can be made in this blogging land. Linda at Teacher Dance has given me so much through her words of wisdom, compassion, and the inspirational way she writes, teaches and touches lives. Even though we’re hundreds of miles apart and only connected through the wonder of the World Wide Web she is truly a friend for life. I hope to be the teacher/writer she is one day.
Tammy at Forever in First is another great inspiration to me. She has shared my blog, and hers. She always has encouraging comments and inspiring posts. We connected at first because of our names, but the connection I believe is much deeper, and I can’t help but feel we’d be great friends if we were in the same state or school. I wonder how she feels about moving.
Kristin from a TeenyTiny Teacher is another blogger I have been so very thankful for. She graciously became a follower after I literally BEGGED her to become one of my bestest buddies (it’s going to take a whole separate post to how thankful I am for that lady!) followers. Kristin is a fellow Okie at heart and good naturally puts up with all the teasing I give her. Her posts are fun and lighthearted. She is a joy to read and makes me happy every time she comments.
There are so MANY bloggers out there that have been so kind and encouraging to me. It would literally take days to name all of you. I just want you to know that if you are reading this I am thankful. If I am reading you- I am thankful. You have all made me a better teacher and blogger. So currently. I am Thankful for YOU!


Thankful Tantrums

Today I am very thankful for my sweet kiddos. They have been a bit of a handful this week (one tantrum too many equals in school detention for one poor sweetie-my first time ever for that) but they are all really very sweet.

I have one little girl that lives just with dad. She is very young and cannot stay focused for more than 2 minutes, but every day before she leaves she says “I love you Mrs. Klinger.” She is new to our state and school and has told me that since her first day. Sometimes she makes me want to pull my hair out, but she is oh so sweet.
Another sweet one that is new to our school has been placed with grandma because dad is in jail and mom is a drug addict. Every day she politely asks if she can give her grandma a hug at lunch when she sees her (she brings the headstart kids to eat at our school). So, so sweet.
Today I listened as they were working on their small moment stories. I play music for 10 minutes so they can work quietly without interruption. I could not help but smile as they whispered their ideas as they wrote. One boy made me so proud. He can barely read a few words and still has to sound out even short vowel words, but he was so engrossed in what he was writing. I watched him so intense in his writing and sounding out every letter to get it just right. It was so cute, and made me so proud of him.
I am so thankful for this class of first graders, tantrums and all.
I hope you decide to link up sometime this month to share what you are thankful for in your classroom lives.  


Thankful Thoughts Linky Journey

Thankful Thoughts Linky Storybook Cafe 2012

I just finished reading Stacey’s post on the Two Writing Teacher’s blog. Stacey and Ruth are the really great reading and writing coaches
that started me on this whole blogging journey a few years ago. 
In my eyes they are the rock stars of teaching, writing, and blogging.

Today Stacy wrote about this being November and how much she is thankful for since she and her family and friends just lived through the terrifying storm of Sandy. “Thankfully” she, her hubby, and baby made it through safely. She’s challenged us to be more aware this month and blog or write about what we are thankful and grateful for in a positive light-i.e. “I am grateful for these beautiful warm days in the fall.” Not-“I am grateful there’s not a foot of snow on the ground.” Same thought different spin.
Like me, many of you are probably already doing this on Facebook. For instance this morning I wrote “Today is November 1, 2012 and I am so thankful for the amazing adults my kids have grown to be.” And I am. But I think for my blog I will be taking this a step further.
Since this is my “teaching blog” I am going to host a Linky Journey for what we’re thankful for in our schools, classrooms, fellow teachers and students in the month of November. I hope you all decide to come along. The posts don’t need be long, or every day- just a quick thankful note or grateful thought will do. I knooowww some days might be stretch, but I think if we try we can all come up with more than a few things we are grateful for, and blessed with.
I will also be extending this great idea into my classroom. I am going to have my kiddos write something they are thankful for each day in their journals. I will share a few of those too!
November 1, 2012- I am thankful for the smallness of our school. I am grateful that when I have a child that is not feeling well I can text mom (and not have to bother the office ladies) and ask her to bring up some medicine for her sick kiddo. This saves the office time, me time, and keeps my kiddo in class. This is just one small reason I am grateful for the smallness of our school.
Link up this month with your “Thankful Thoughts.” I will grateful you shared.  


A Slice on Sunday

I am slicing today because Ruth and Stacey live on the east coast and they are hunkering down for the “storm of the season” I hope the weather men are wrong as they usually are here, and it all passes them by. Stay safe eastern bloggy friends.

There are some days when I can barely drag myself to school. It is awful to admit, I know. But between the discipline, the testing, the state mandates, and just the day to day “stuff” I honestly at times feel it would be better just to stay home, and hide.  
Until I remember the horror of sub plans. And the horror of the day I return. And of course how much I will miss my kiddos.
Last Thursday was such a day. All week I had been conducting parent teacher conferences, having heated discussions with a fellow teacher about the “benefit” of timed test (or the lack thereof), and trying very hard to keep one of my kiddos engaged in learning and out from under her desk. All the while fighting 40 MPH winds at recess and during after school duties. It had been a loooongg week.
And then Thursday morning I was greeting my kiddos as they entered and one little guy handed me a card he had made. I have to admit I get a lot of pictures and items in the morning and I usually thank them and hang them up by my desk as I tell them how much I love their art work. I don’t spend a lot of time with each item, just enough to celebrate their work and tell them thank you.  
But some reason this one caught my attention and I stopped what I was doing to read it.

          It made my day. I love the part where he wrote "I like you in the beginning of the day." "I like you in the middle of the day." "I like you at the end of the day." Isn't that the sweetest thing you've ever read?
         It made the chaos of the morning and week melt away and fill me with gratitude. Gratitude for the job I am able to have. Gratitude for the parents that entrust me with their children every day. Gratitude for these kiddos that keep me on my toes and still make me feel loved every day (even when I don’t love myself). Gratitude that I work with people that I may not agree with , but are still willing to appreciate their opinions. And gratitude for coming to school even on the days I would rather hide away in bed.
I have to take a moment to brag about my school. I don’t know if you state is “grading” your schools or not, but ours has just started. Of the 1700 plus schools in our state 45 elementary schools received an A. Our school was one of these schools.
Ever since my children were small and attended this school I have told people what a great school it is. Now I have proof. Here is one of the reasons. Here are a couple of pictures of my kiddos and their first and second grade teachers. They have been retired for a few years now, but they still treat my kids like their own. We were celebrating their first grade teacher's 70th birthday with a surprise party. They were the only "kids" that came. I had to have a picture.

Stay safe and dry east coast bloggers! Our thoughts are with you.