12 More Days

        I am not very nice sometimes. I like to make people squirm and get a panicked expression in their eyes-namely parents. It’s really a lot of kind of fun to torture them as they are sitting across from me during conferences. It’s a deer in the headlights type of look and shame on me but I did it three times tonight. Hee hee.
They sit down fully expecting to hear how wonderful their child has done this year, what great readers they are, and how far they have come.
          But instead I pull out a reading test and start by saying: “this is the reading test we took and it shows they are on a kindergarten reading level.” The look on their face is hilarious. I pause. Then I say “at the first of the year, and this is the one from this monththey are now on a 3.7 or 2.5 (or whatever it is) reading level.”  I laugh as I watch relief wash over them. Just a tad bit evil I know.  
I am meeting with the rest of my parents next week on Monday and Tuesday and then my conferences will be done for the year. And in 12 school days our school year will be over. We have a new state law that says if a child is not reading on grade level or passes the state reading test by the end of third grade they can be retained up to THREE times in third grade. It has done away of social promotion in grades K through 3. Does your state or schools have anything like this?
Today I got teary eyed at the kindergarten program. Wasn’t it just yesterday my two kids were on that stage? Geeze I wonder what the last week of school is going to be like?
Wednesday a few of my teacher buddies and I went to a conference with Matt Glover. He is co-author with Katie Wood Ray on a book, and he has written a book of his own about writing with young children and writer’s workshop.


It was a very good conference. He gave great insight into making books with children and how to conduct writer’s workshop in grades PreK-2. My teacher buddies do not do writer’s workshop in their classes. But I think I may have converted a few of them. The Kindergarten teachers have been sending down some very creative authors from their classrooms to share their books with me. I am so excited for next year!

Today we read “If You Give a Dog a Donut” by Laura Numeroff. We then made donuts from biscuits in a can. My kids think I am a genius and the best donut maker ever! One of them suggested I open my own donut shop, but one little girl quickly corrected him and said “no way then she couldn’t be our teacher!”
I guess she doesn’t realize I’ll only be her teacher for about 12 more days!

The Rocky Mountain Hair-Do!


 Today I was observed. Yes it is a little late in the year. Yes it was unscheduled. And no it was not modeled after Marzano, Danielson, or the Tulsa model. It was just a good old fashioned observation Mr. Principal and my kiddos seemed to really enjoy.
       He showed up right after lunch and stayed for an hour and ten minutes. Yes you read that’s right Mr. Principal stayed for 1 hour and 10 minutes to do my observation.
       This might make a lot of people nervous, but we were just having such a good time I don’t think he thought about leaving.
       We have been working on poetry and using objects to help us think like poets. Today we revisited this idea after I read some new poems I had found. I also read a few of their poems from our previous lessons. That got them going! And they were off to sketch, write and share.
       During their workshop time Mr. Principal and I chatted about school issues, common core, an upcoming workshop, and of course the kiddos. As we were talking Mr. Principal made the comment that one of my kiddos’ hair looked like the Rocky Mountains. I laughed and said “ahhh he was using his poets’ mind.”
       As the kiddos were sharing I noticed the Mr. Principal fervently writing. Ut oh I thought maybe it wasn’t going as great as I thought.
After the last kiddo had shared Mr. Principal raised his hand and said he’d like to share. He walked to the front of the group and read what he had written-The Rocky Mountain Hair Poem (sorry I forgot to get a picture).
The kiddos clapped and cheered BRAVO! It was a great ending to a (hopefully) great observation.
I promise I will get pictures of our anthology when they are published. You can bet Mr. Principals' will be in there!


Hallelujah, Amen and WOOO HOOO!!


          Can I get an Hallelujah, Amen and a WOOO HOOO!! Testing is OVER! DONE! KAPUT! I am sooooo happy for it to be done (and so are the kiddos). This year was particularly grilling because instead of just the survey edition of the Standardized test like we usually do, our sweet princi-PAL decided to step it up and do the CORE testing which was about 10 pages longer-translation TWO DAYS longer. BUT HOO-RAY we are DONE!!  
In between all that testing we did have some fun. We started our Biography/Autobiography unit using The Teacher Wife's super cool unit. Check it out your kiddos will enjoy it as much as mine I’m sure.
We also took Tammy’s ideas from Forever in First about poetry and worked on poetry for our Poetry Anthology. The kiddos LOVED sketching the objects and then writing poems about what they drew.

We did two days together looking, discussing, sketching and writing a class poem. They turned out pretty cute. We decided the back of a magnet looked like a speaker and came up with this fun poem. The kids were having such a good time reciting the “Little Speaker” poem the other first grade teacher had to come in and see what ALL the noise was. They really got into the Boom Boom Booms!




This week we will continue with our autobiographies and poetry writing. We made “wonder wands” today and will be taking them outside tomorrow to look and sketch things we find around the school and then come back inside to “use our poet thoughts and thinking” to build great poetry.
Well I have two of the milestones over for this month. My daughter’s prom was Saturday night and YAY it was a success! I got the prom dress taken in, made the vest, ended up making the bow tie (heaven forbid the oranges did not match! Eek!), put on make-up (hers not mine), and gave the boyfriend a haircut.

New sandals or boots?

Boots of course!

Daughter and Daddy



Next up academic awards and scholarship banquet, OSU graduation, high school graduation, parties for each, and moving the son to his new home, please someone give me strengthor drugs! LOL!

I'm So Excited I Just Can't Hide It!



 I've been waiting all week to share my good news. I could hardly keep quiet about it. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops and put it up in lights; I am so excited.
I know it’s not that big of deal to many. And a lot would think I’m kind of weird. But not me, I am excited, thrilled, ecstatic and ready. It will be a memory I’ll savor for a lifetime.
I don’t know what to wear. I don’t know what to take. I bet I’ll need some new shoes (I always do). I think I might have to take my camera, and my notebook too. But my swimming suit will not be needed (ever).
I’m taking my bestest buddy, and maybe our hubby’s (or maybe not).
Are you going too? Are you anywhere near? If you are you need to sign up ASAP because last year was THE best, and this year is sure to be the same.
What AM I talking about? Why the All Write Institute of course. In Indiana. It is SO great. If you are close you should go.
Ruth will be there, and Debbie, Donalyn, and Ralf (supper will be with him) just to name a few. And my idol, the one that I love, love, love- Katie will be there for one session too. I saw her last year along with DEBBIE MILLER. That was a memory I will always cherish. I wish I’d had the nerve to say hello.
Wouldn’t it be fun to meet some blogging buddies there too? If you are in Warsaw, Indiana, June 21st or 22nd let me know. We’ll have lunch.
We’ll swap stories, and pictures, laugh and learn then swoon over such writing/teaching greats as Donalyn Miller, Debbie Diller, Ruth Ayers, Patrick Allen, Katie Wood Ray, and Ralf Fletcher.     
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Birthday's, Storms, And a Guest Blogger

Just a quick Saturday slice and re-post of Ashley’s from Live 2 Learn fun game of “War.” Today is my daughter’s 18th birthday and we are in a HIGH storm alert. My hubby is smoking chicken and pork loin as he keeps an eye on the sky. Keep your finger’s crossed they stay away. We have about 30 people coming for supper and I don’t want to have to spend it in the basement at school.
I’ll share with you two of my favorite pictures of Hadley and the picture of her “surprise cake.” The lady that ALWAYS makes our cakes and I tricked Hadley and told her she couldn’t do it this year. I sent her yesterday to see if she could “just do some cupcakes.” Laura pulled out her cake from the back. Hadley was ESTATIC! And surprised.
Hadley Paige 3 years old

Hadley Paige Senior
Hadley's Surprise 18th birthday cake


Now on to the good stuff here is the post from Ashley on Monday and her super cool game. Also if you haven’t read Tammy’s from Forever in First on Thursday you need to read it too. She has a wonderful tip for writing poetry with our young kiddos.
Have a great weekend everyone. I will be partying with 18 year olds hoping the storms stay away. J






Hey all!  My name is Ashley from Live 2 Learn.
I am super excited to be a guest blogger here at Klinger Café!  I am also extremely nervous because this is my first guest blogging experience.  I always wonder if anyone really cares what I have to say!  Just my personality I suppose;)!
Now, for what I have to share!  About a month ago, a friend of mine (Hi Danny!), who is also a school psychologist, told me he (yep, it is a guy!) had an idea for a great little math game.  I am not sure if this was originally his idea or not, but I thought it was genius and decided to come up with the cards to go with it.  I call it Wacky War.  It is played exactly like the card game War, only with a twist.  Instead of having the person with the higher number get to keep the cards, the person who can give the sum or product first, depending on grade level, gets to keep the cards! 
I made two versions of the cards.  Both can be used for addition, but one can be used for multiplication and the other can’t!  The first set I created, for addition only, has my own version of a tens frame for those kindergarten and first grade friends who may need a visual to help them add the two numbers together.  This set goes to ten.  The second set can be used for addition or multiplication because they have a star in the middle that has nothing to do with the number on the actual card.  They just add a little fancy.  This set goes to twelve.   

Cards

Multiplication Cards
I hope someone out there can find these useful!  My students always loved to play War, so I cannot wait to break out this wacky version when I am back in the classroom!  Thanks bunches to Tammy for letting me make my guest blogging debut here and if you have a chance, come check me out and say hi at Live 2 Learn!

Ashley
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Come in, Stay A While, Pull Up a Chair, and Meet My Wonderful Guests

Of course you all know how much I love company and parties. Well I have to tell you having guest bloggers are WAY better than company at home.
They come. They stay for wonderful conversation. They have very important things to say. They make your space look really great. You don’t have to worry about snacks (unless it’s dip for my buddy). AND you don’t have to stock up on toilet paper!
I’m having lots of company again this weekend for Hadley’s 18th shin-dig, but tonight I have a very special visitor from Forever in First. Tammy (yes, you read that right, great name huh?) is guest blogging.






Read on about her amazing thoughts on poetry, and then visit her blog for many other great posts and ideas.
AND if you didn’t catch Ashley  From Live2Learn on Monday you have to pop back there. She has a super fun post and game that she shares with MY bloggy friends! How sweet is that? You need to go on over and introduce yourself at Live to Learn, so you can be her bloggy friend too.  She has tons of fun ideas and activities!









Did I say how much I love company? Well I DO! And now you can see why. Come on over too! The more the merrier!  
Now onto Tammy's Wonderful guest post... 
Hello!  My name is Tammy but not the Tammy you have come to know and love.  I'm from Forever in First, and I'm just tickled that I've been invited to guest blog here for Tammy.  Wasn't that sweet of her?  By the end of this post, I hope you think so too!

Teaching the art of writing poetry was elusive to me for the longest time.  I so wanted to try it.  I just didn't have a vision of where to start and was too scared to even give it a shot.  Several years ago Lucy Calkins and Regie Routman came to my rescue, and I quickly discovered there's magic to be had when first graders write poetry.  Oh how my first graders and I had been missing out.  If you've been missing out too, I hope this post gives you a glimpse of where to start, so you and your writers can find the magic of poetry as well.

(Again, thanks to Lucy and Regie for the foundation of what you're about to read.  I'm leaving out lots of details, but you'll see the basics of the first three days of my poetry unit.  Warning: This post seems long but it's mostly pictures, and the best part is at the end.  Stick with me!)

Day 1
I start the lesson with poetry (no brainer) and talk about how poets see things in a fresh new way.  The following two poems are great examples of that.  (Click on the picture if you'd like a copy.)
The kids then get a chance to look at ordinary objects in a fresh new way.  I place several objects at each table.  Here are just a few of the things I use.  

Each child gets a blank sheet of paper.  They travel around to objects that interest them, sketch a picture, and write how they see them in fresh new ways.  Below are two examples.

Since this is day one and I'm throwing them into the life of a poet after only a ten-minute mini-lesson, there are for sure some misconceptions.  The key is to search for kids who get it, and point them out often.  "Hey guys, check this out.  When Katie looks at this shell, she doesn't see a shell.  She sees an ice cream cone.  Isn't that cool how she sees things in a fresh new way?  You can do that too!"  Repeat this about five times, and the lightbulb starts to flicker.

Day 2
I like to basically repeat the first day with the same objects and their same observation sheets.  These are the poems that I share.  (Your own copy is a click away.)
I continue to stop often and celebrate how poets are seeing ordinary things in a fresh new way.  By the end of today's lesson, most of them are really catching on.

Day 3
Today we learn that poems have ingredients.  Poems are written by seeing things in a fresh new way, and poems have their own special music.  The words poets choose and they way they put them on the paper with line breaks and white space is very important.  I use the following poem by Valerie Worth to help make this point.  We read it several times and listen for the music.
We read it like the picture below and listen for the music, discovering there is none.  I put the words back the way Valerie Worth used them and read it again to hear the music one more time.


Shared writing is one of the most important steps in the magic of teaching kids to write poetry or any genre for that matter, so we write a poem together.  I choose an ordinary object - a tissue, for example.  We focus on seeing it with poet's eyes and use line breaks and white space to hear the music.  Here's what we came up with.  (Notice the type of paper.  The lines or short for a reason.  It forces them to use line breaks.)

The objects come out for the last time, kids use our special poetry paper, and they choose objects to write poems about.  Again, I stop often to highlight the kinds of things I'm seeing that I want all the poets to do.  For their very first day of writing poetry, they manage rather well.  Here are four examples. 

(Written about a screw - Rocket Ship: 3 2 1 blast off I am going to the moon)
(Written about a lid - Wheel: Wheel stomping on the road rolling back and forth changed for snow changed over again never stopping always turning)
(Written about a screw - The Screw: the screw like a rollercoaster that twists and turns again and again)
(Written about an object shaped like a plastic thimble - The Quiet Castle: A sandcastle sits quietly in the beach waiting to be played with)

I can only imagine the poems they'll be writing by the end of the unit.  I'm amazed year after year at what young poets are capable of.  Give it a whirl if you haven't already.  Your poets will be sure to amaze you as well.

Thanks again to Tammy for having me and to all of you for joining me here.  I hope you've enjoyed hearing from Forever in First!



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The beginning to the End





This week is the beginning of the end. The beginning to the end of my crazy month of a million things to do. The beginning to the end of my month of momentous occasions with my children. The beginning to the end of this school year. The beginning to the end of my daughter’s high school days and days living year round at home. And the beginning to the end of my son’s life as a student.
Linda at Teacher Dance has been writing some beautiful poems about saying goodbye to childhood. Some of them touch so close to home and my life right now I have a hard time reading them. But you should. They are poignant and beautiful.
This Saturday my baby turns eighteen. She came home the other day, went to her room and came out in her cap and gown. I blinked and turned away. All I could see was her walking across the stage in her sweet plaid dress and poster board and yarn mortarboard I had made for her kindergarten graduation. It was the beginning to the end.
I finished taking in her prom dress this weekend. She tried it on for her Aunt that was visiting. “Beautiful” was all her Aunt could say. I blinked and turned away. I saw her in her frilly dress up tea party dresses as she offered her guests of stuffed animals and the cat their tea. It was the beginning to the end.
My son came home this weekend and told me his college graduation announcements would be in soon, and he had a house to live in the town for his new job. I blinked and turned away. All I could see was the boy I hugged and said goodbye to in front of his dorm room, as we all wiped away the tears searing our cheeks. It was the beginning to the end.
And so this week I am planning parties, making announcements, gathering addresses, and double checking my lists, because the end is coming, and all I want is the beginning again. 




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Birthday Surprises and Storms and Guest Blogger...Ashley

Just a quick Saturday slice and re-post of Ashley’s from Live 2 Learn fun game of “War.” Today is my daughter’s 18th birthday and we are in a HIGH storm alert. My hubby is smoking chicken and pork loin as he keeps an eye on the sky. Keep your finger’s crossed they stay away. We have about 30 people coming for supper and I don’t want to have to spend it in the basement at school.
I’ll share with you two of my favorite pictures of Hadley and the picture of her “surprise cake.” The lady that ALWAYS makes our cakes and I tricked Hadley and told her she couldn’t do it this year. I sent her yesterday to see if she could “just do some cupcakes.” Laura pulled out her cake from the back. Hadley was ESTATIC! And surprised.
Hadley Paige 3 years old

Hadley Paige Senior
Hadley's Surprise 18th birthday cake


Now on to the good stuff here is the post from Ashley on Monday and her super cool game. Also if you haven’t read Tammy’s from Forever in First on Thursday you need to read it too. She has a wonderful tip for writing poetry with our young kiddos.
Have a great weekend everyone. I will be partying with 18 year olds hoping the storms stay away. J






Hey all!  My name is Ashley from Live 2 Learn.
I am super excited to be a guest blogger here at Klinger Café!  I am also extremely nervous because this is my first guest blogging experience.  I always wonder if anyone really cares what I have to say!  Just my personality I suppose;)!
Now, for what I have to share!  About a month ago, a friend of mine (Hi Danny!), who is also a school psychologist, told me he (yep, it is a guy!) had an idea for a great little math game.  I am not sure if this was originally his idea or not, but I thought it was genius and decided to come up with the cards to go with it.  I call it Wacky War.  It is played exactly like the card game War, only with a twist.  Instead of having the person with the higher number get to keep the cards, the person who can give the sum or product first, depending on grade level, gets to keep the cards! 
I made two versions of the cards.  Both can be used for addition, but one can be used for multiplication and the other can’t!  The first set I created, for addition only, has my own version of a tens frame for those kindergarten and first grade friends who may need a visual to help them add the two numbers together.  This set goes to ten.  The second set can be used for addition or multiplication because they have a star in the middle that has nothing to do with the number on the actual card.  They just add a little fancy.  This set goes to twelve.   

Cards

Multiplication Cards
I hope someone out there can find these useful!  My students always loved to play War, so I cannot wait to break out this wacky version when I am back in the classroom!  Thanks bunches to Tammy for letting me make my guest blogging debut here and if you have a chance, come check me out and say hi at Live 2 Learn!

Ashley
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Laughing and Tagged

It has been a fun Easter weekend at my house. My brother and his family are here from Montana and when either one of my brothers are here all chaos breaks loose in my house. My kids laugh so much they turn purple.
You have to picture my brother he is a big guy with a big black cowboy hat, an even bigger handlebar mustache, and an even bigger heart and ability to make people laugh. The stories and jokes that bounced around our dinner table had the sons' girlfriend in stitches and the grandma’s in tears (from laughter). My sister in law, hubby and kids feed off of him and there is not a moment of peace at our table. 
Simply, it is heaven, and I am exhausted just from the pure joy of it all.   
Tomorrow it is back to school and ready for testing. Testing in first grade is THREE WEEKS LONG in my school. THREE WEEKS people. We don’t test on Monday and Friday but the rest of the week we spend each morning testing. I tend to get a little cranky when I hear the upper grades talk about how important their testing is, and it lasts THREE days. THREE DAYS. We test 6 and 7 year olds THREE WEEKS!! Ok enough of that, I think you now understand my angst.  
Speaking of angst I have been tagged by Jillian at Just Tinkerin' Around. OWWWW you tagged too rough. Just kidding.
 One of my new buddies has tagged me and because I am not a rude new friend I will play even though  am exhausted from all that laughing I’ve been doing.
So thank you Jillian here we go. 
 AND while over taking a peek at her tagging questions I noticed it was none other than that teachy buddy of mine who tagged HER.
AHEM Miss Delighted will NOT be Delighted to talk to me in the morning! Good thing she stocked her fridge with Diet Pepsi last week.
1.      You must post the rules.  (Done)
2.   Answer the 10 questions the tagger posted for you. (fine)
3.   Create 10 questions of your own to ask the people you are going to tag. (Good thing I’m nosey)
4.   Tag 10 people and link them with your post.  Let them know they've been tagged!
Here we go.catch me if you can!
1.      Where/What do you teach?
I teach first grade in a small rural school in northern Oklahoma.
2.   What is your favorite font? (I know we all have one!)
“Tammy” of Course, that and “Apple Butter” but I’m not sure where I snagged them.
3.   Do you have a favorite grading pen?  Or stamp?  Or stickers?
Nope I just grab whatever is close.
4.   When does your school get out for Summer?
May 17th waaaayyy too soon because my daughter graduates the next day and I. am. Not. Ready.
5.   What is your all time favorite lesson/unit to teach?  Why?
I like doing author studies but this year I am doing a Fairy Tale unit and the kiddos and I have really enjoyed it.
6.   Any guilty pleasures on the weekend? (you read about my embarrassing TV shows....)
Time on my patiojust... being.
7.  What one thing could you not live without in your classroom?
The shelves my hubby built me the first year I started teaching.
8.   Favorite piece of technology?
The smartboard, but I would like it more if I had an iPad 2 to connect to it!
9.    Body wash or soap? (yes, I'm getting desperate for questions here...I told y'all this would be the hardest part!)
Oh soap, Dove .
10.  What does your classroom smell like?  Candles?  Diffusers?  Plug-ins?
Clorox Wipes we clean desks daily I do not like to be sick!


Here’s my ten:
1.      Do you do writers workshop in your classroom?
2.   How do you feel about teaching spelling?
3.   Who would you most like to see at a conference or workshop?
4.   What kind of grades do you take (A, B, C, D, F etc)
5.   How many days/weeks do you test?
6.   What is your favorite way to spend your summer vacation?
7.  Do you have a bestest teacher buddy?
8.   What should I get my 22 year old son for graduating college, and 18 year old daughter for graduating high school two weeks later? (ha ha this one is trick but very important!)
9.    Are you a mountain, plains, or ocean person?
10.  Do you ever feel like you’re talking to air when you are teaching?
And now to find 10 people that have not already been tagged.

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