From Smiles to Thanks

Today is the last day of the 31 day writing challenge. I made it almost the whole 31 days. I started a few days late and missed a couple of days throughout but all in all I did pretty well. And I feel better.
I feel back to my old self where I wrote just because... not for the purpose of entertaining, enlightening, or entangling. Writing is my outlet- my way of letting go after a long day or trying week. I’m glad I did the challenge to remember and reflect. It is empowering.

Now that I have this challenge down I am on to one I am super excited about. 30 Days of Thanks. I can see so much coming from this. I skimmed the surface with this challenge last year on Facebook. But this year I want it to be more.
It is going to be a thought provoking, soul deepening challenge and you can find it here if you’d like ride along.

For my last smile I’ll leave you with a peek of the spread that my room mother put together today. Wowser are these kiddos lucky! It was a great party. One of my kiddos asked me what I was dressing up as tonightI told her a mean teacher. She paused and looked at me not sure what to say. I told her I was practicing right now. She grinned and said noooo you’re not a mean teacher. Whew! Glad I’ve got her tricked!! 

A Thief!

Well ok we did not get a lot of work done in first grade today. We did reading and math, language and phonics buttttt not in the way some would calltypical.
We kinda had a visitorkinda. We didn’t see him, but we know he was thereor had been theresomewhere.
The teacher (aka me) was not happy. 
Well she was at first. Someone (we don’t know who) left the teacher (me) a beautiful jar filled with candy corn. It was so pretty and looked so yummywe just don’t know who the nice person was that left it.
Butthen it disappeared! While we were gone. Just vanished off the table where it was on display. The teacher was NOT happy! Who would do such a thing while we were out of the room? It just was not nice. Then we saw it. The note. From the one that TOOK our treats.
IT WAS THE CANDY CORN BANDIT! He is a candy corn stealer apparently, and he ran off with OURS!
He did leave some clues. So we made some predictions and followed the clues alllllll over the school. NO ONE had seen the guy. 
There was talk that he was in someone named Josie’s class, but no one knew who Josie was...a few kindergartners just knew they had seen himbut couldn’t tell us whereor what he looked like. 
The gym teacher had not seen him. Mr. Bob our janitor had not noticed him sneaking around. The librarian had no clue where he could be, and the teacher’s on duty could not help us at all.
Finally we found the last clue that sent us back to our room. And what do you know! Our candy corn had appeared again. With a note! From that sneaky bandit!
Some were convinced he knows that sneaky e guy and that they could be working in cahoots.
Here’s a warning to all you trick or treaters tomorrow night! Keep your candy corn close or that sneaky bandit will snatch it out of sight!
If you’d like to check out the Candy Corn Bandit you can here it was made by Abby Mullins at The Inspired Apple and it will make you smile wider than you have in a long time!     

Sly As a Fox! SOL

I'm linking up today with the weekly Slice of Life community at Two Writing Teachers You should too! 

He thought I wouldn’t notice
But I did.
He thought I wouldn’t see
But I saw.
He thought he’d get away with it
But I know.
He thought it wouldn’t matter
But it does.
He thought I’d be none the wiser
But I am.
He thought I couldn’t tell
But I could.
He thought I wouldn’t notice
But I did.

Mr. Hubby just had to have a bag of peanut clusters this weekend. I got a bag of caramel peanut clusters. “Ick” he said, “that ruins them.” His bag was gone last night. Mine was hid. BUT today I could tell it had been moved.pieces removedhummmm not so ick after all!
Sly as a fox! 

Oh and by the way what does the fox say."Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding! Gering-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding! Gering-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!

My kiddos love this song. Had to laugh at how excited they became when I played it before the dreaded timed test this morning!    

Presto, Change-o A- Door- Able

What’s a teacher to do when she gets the memo that the classroom door has to be decorated today for red ribbon week? Why she decorates her door of coursesort of.
Remember that super cute door I made for back to school night? The one with the cute colored leaves that we hung on top of the camo paper we used for the first week of school? Yeah that one!
Well genius crazy teacher that I am I left those cute little googley eyed leaves on the doorripped off delicately removed the writing about fall. Had the kiddos write “Leave drugs alone” on red paper. Replaced the notes in the cute lil’ leaves “hands” and Presto Change-o a red ribbon week a-door-able door!

And best of all? I.Am.Done. why red ribbon week is this week I have no idea. But on the plus side it is dress up week, so that means jeans for the teacher all week! That makes me smile! 

Mash-Up Freebie and Con-Sens-O-Grams

I’ve been fiddling around with my school computer today. I made a few things in power point. I’m not so sure about this PP 2013 yet but I made mash-up of odds and ends and they look ok to me. If you’d like a copy you can grab them here.

Maybe first I should explain the Noun Consensus page. We are just finishing up nouns and heading toward verbs and adjectives, but first I need to know where my kiddos are with nouns. Monday we will take a “consensus” and make a con-sens-so-gram.
I begin by taking a poll of how they feel about nouns. Do they know them well enough to teach them? Do they know them well enough to differentiate them in sentences? Or do they still feel unsure of what they are and how to use them? 
I build a chart with these questions. I then give them a dauber to put a dot in the space they “feel” about nouns (or any subject matter).
Then I assess. I will give them each a sheet about nouns that I made up. After I grade the assessment I then give them a different color of dauber to place their mark according to how they scored on the assessment.
You can really tell A LOT from this assessment. Who is thinking what. Who you need to continue working with. Who has it. Who doesn’t. And the visual is put up to remind me (and them) where we need to go!
I do a lot of “Con-Sens-O-Grams” in my class! Do you?   They make me smile! 
Graphics by:

The Creative Chalkboard


Discover. Play. Build.

Today I am joining up with Ruth at Discover, Play, Build for her weekly linky party of Celebrations!
I’m not really in the celebration mode today. My home computer crashed and I am lost. I had just wrote a poem for today and it is gone and I can’t remember everything I wroteL.
But then the good news is I took it to the computer guy and he said it should be fixed by Monday, but it’s the hard drive and he’s not sure how much he can save. I will celebrate when he tells me all is saved. Funny how we become to rely on these things so much.  
I am celebrating that my girl came home for the weekend. She always brings a smile.
I am also celebrating that this was only a four day week and all my teacher conferences are through for the next few months. Woo Hoo!
Hope you’ve had an amazing weekend and find something small or significant to Celebrate!

A Good Day

I know how to make a group of first graders smileand whoop and holler, and think that I am the best teacher in the world school.
Line them all up. Make them stand in line while all the other classes are sent in. Stand there and look over the top of your sun glasses at them, as if you are expecting something. Then with the most serious look you can muster tell them they get an extra five minutes with the playground to themselves!
I was their hero.
It was too pretty to go in today. The weather was amazing, and it soon won’t be so we took advantage.
As I watched them play they took turns coming up and thanking me with hugs. But one little guy came up to me and said “if I had money I’d pay you!”  Cracked me up. I took my payment in hugs!
I listened to some of the kids playing and one group was playing “horses.” They were making up names for themselves. One of my girlies told her friend he could be “Electric.” He said nah I want to be “Whitelightning” it’s my “end name!”
I had to laugh his- “end name” instead of last name. And yep that really is his end name!  
K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students. I've been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program. If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.

Slices, Smiles, and Sentences!

Today was a great day for learning. We spent the morning wondering how the “desk fairy” gets into our classroom, and how the pumpkin arrived on Mrs. Klinger’s desk.
We discussed the difference between statements, questions, and exclamatory sentences.
We then used our pumpkin, some chart paper, and a marker to practice what we learned. We broke into groups. One group generated questions, one did statements, and one did exclamatory. 
Presto!  Instant KWL chart via the kiddos, and sentence writing practice as well.

During Writing Workshop we talked about voice in our writing. I asked if anyone could tell me what voice is. One little guy raised his hand and said- “It’s what you use when you want people to hear you!” These children are brilliant I tell you!
I have one engagement picture to share only oneit’s the teaser the photographer put on Facebook.  It is gorgeouseven without faces! 

Jacuzzi's and Scarecrows!

Just a quick post tonight I want to go and comment to the people I missed Saturday because I was out of town. I tell you if you haven’t visited Ruth’s Celebration day on Saturday’s you really need to try and make it there this Saturday. Not only are the celebrations great the community of “celebraters” is amazingly uplifting!
My weekend away was SO wonderful. I.did.not. want to come back. The hotel room had a fireplace and Jacuzzi tub! Wowser!
We had the Cheesecake Factory TWICE! The kids joined us on Sunday so they of course had to go toopumpkin cheesecake for me on Saturday and key lime on Sunday! Yummmo!
Here are a few snapshots of the wedding venue. It was so pretty and so perfect. Of course Hadley had to try out the swing.

And I have a new favorite store! Garden Ridge! So cool!!
My classroom smile comes from one of my little girls today. This group of kiddos has a tendency tolet’s say.”zone out”a lotso today when I noticed one of my darlings not giving me her full attention while discussing nouns, I tried to refocus her by calling on her to answer the question.
Me reading the sentence-“The scarecrow scared away the birds.” J. which word is the noun?
J.- as serious as can be-“because they were eating the corn!”
I had to laugh and stop what I was doing to write it down.
We have great schema for anything country here in Oklahoma!!
Ok I think I said this would be shortI really have to do report cardsL
Smile y’all Thanksgiving in a few short weeks away!  

Celebrating What You DON"T Believe In

I’m linking up today to Celebrate with Ruth at Discover, Play, Build for her weekly Celebration! You really should too! Who doesn’t like a chance to CELEBRATE?!
Discover. Play. Build.
In first grade we find things to Celebrate EVERYDAY! We celebrate a lost tooth. We celebrate a new pair of shoes. We celebrate reading words, books, sentences. I tell you we CELEBRATE the big and the small!  
But what is so very hard for me is the celebration that must occur in spite of my thoughts and feelingsfor instance timed tests. I despise them, and have never liked using them. I think they breed anxiety (especially for those kiddos who struggle just to get a number down, and in the right direction). I think they are NOT a definition of fluency- fast and timed does not mean fluent. I would rather my child know what numbers are, do, represent- than memorize a set of facts. And although yes I want my kiddos to be fluent and know those facts inside and out, I DO NOT believe timing them is the best method to show this.
But sadly others in my school and Mr. Principal believe it is the best method- for kindergartners and up.  
So how does one celebrate something they don’t really believe in, but want the kiddos to be excited about?
Well besides the usual Whoo Hoo’s and Good Jobs, big smiley’s and gold stars we now have in first grade.
                  "The Wall of Fame!"
This is where the passed tests go from the dreaded timed tests, and where other awesome work will go. The kids get so excited to see their papers on our “Wall of Fame” which of course just a part of empty wall space with fancy letters.  But it gets the kiddos excited about their efforts, and shows Mr. Principal that I am indeed doing his mandated timed tests.
There is one thing I can guarantee you- every.child. will.have.a.test.on.the.wall.of.fame.- by the end of November when the challenge comes to an end! Then we will really celebrate!!!
I am also celebrating today because I get to go out of town with Mr. Hubby! Do you know how long it’s been since we’ve beenanywhere? It’s just to Tulsa but hey it’s away and tomorrow the kids join us to check out the wedding venue for June! That is really a cause to celebrate! I think it calls for cheese cake from the Cheese Cake Factory!  

Smiles From Maine

Our state has adopted the Marzano Teacher and Leader Evaluation Model like many other states have this past year, and this year.
I was so excited to find Kimberly’s posts about it on her blog First in Maine. They too have adopted Marzano. She is at the first stages of the evaluation process at her school, but unlike us she has had some training in the process. I am so excited to keep up with her posts to see if I am on track and to have someone to converse with about the whole process.
So my smile today comes all the way from Maine! Thanks Kimberly!
One more thingone of the domains states that:
Reflecting on Teaching
Evaluating Personal Performance
50. Identifying Areas of Pedagogical
Strength and Weakness
51. Evaluating the Effectiveness of
Individual Lessons and Units
52. Evaluating the Effectiveness of
Specific Pedagogical Strategies
and Behaviors

Developing and Implementing a
Professional Growth Plan
53. Developing a Written Growth
and Development Plan
54. Monitoring Progress Relative to
the Professional Growth and
Development Plan

Do you think my blog will work for this? LOL

Throwback Thursday and Redo's

Since I haven’t blogged about my kids lately I thought I would do the whole Throwback Thursday thingy (that’s a lot of th’s).

This is a picture of all of us two years ago on top of the Capulin Volcano in New Mexico-Kanten and his then girlfriend now fiancé –Deanna, Hadley, Donnie, and me. 
It was a great trip filled with laughs and fun, as well as yummy authentic Mexican food.
This weekend we get to all get together again. We’re meeting in Tulsa to visit the wedding venue with Deanna’s parents. I can hardly wait. We get to see the venue and check out the gorgeous fall scenery of eastern Oklahoma.
Throwback Thursday got me to thinking about redos. You know those things that you like so much you want to do over and over again- like a favorite song or favorite book.
I have a lot of books that I redo- reread. It started at an early age. In grade school I reread Anne Frank so often I felt like knew the attic by heart. In junior high I reread The Outsiders so much my book fell apart, and I considered naming my first son “Pony Boy.”  
I still do the same today. I save books I love so that I can reread them on breaks and during the cold winter evenings.
There’s something comforting and familiar about a story you feel you’re apart of because you know where it’s heading.
This is something I hope for my kiddos as I teach them to read. I often reread mentor texts and favorite stories just because the kids love them so much, and I want them to do the same. I want them to seek out books because of the connection of familiarity and comfort they find in them. Not because they’re a certain level or have so many words per page.
Throwback Thursday is fun. I think I may implement it in my classroom, because who doesn’t love to have a reason to reread your favorite stories?

Ch, Ch, Changes...

Sometimes I miss my first blog. The one I made first a few years ago. The one that I dipped my toe into the blogging pool for. It was the one that set me on my way and opened the door to so many wonderful blogging finds and friendships.
I began as First Grade and Fence Post. That was how I came to know the Slice ofLife Community, how I learned about so many wonderful writers and teachers.
It was me.
It was where I put the words of my children’s and student’s lives. It was where I wrote about my learning, living, and love of writing. It was where I met such people as Linda, Elsie, Michelle, Ruth and Christy, and so many more. These people welcomed me and helped me grow.
But then I changed and so did my blog. I wanted to grow and venture into the fast paced world of “teacher blogs.” And oh it was fun. I discovered Teeny, the Parade, Made for 1st Grade, and so, so many more. I learned from them as well, and grew in other ways.
I have grown and I have changed as we all do from time to time. And yet lately I find myself coming back full circle and back to my roots. I am still that fence post forever grounded in the love of writing. But now I live at Storybook Café and it’s ok.  
I continue to grow and learn from such amazing friends, and find a few more along the way.
I have found new blogs that inspire me and make me think such as Firefly Trails and Teaching Young Writers.
Whether fence posts or storybook I am still the same person, the same blogger, and the still the same gatherer of words, friends, and blogs. 
And I am glad.
My smile today comes from my bestest friends’ student teacher. We had a luncheon for Mr. Principal today for “bosses day” and she told me MY potato soup was much better than the Pioneer Woman’s! Woot Woot! 

A Smile, A Slice, and Enlightenment

Tomorrow is Friday!! Not really but it feels like it for me because it is our last day this week and then our two day fall break! Woo hoo so ready for a break. 
I’m afraid this might be one of those years when I count down the days between each break. You kinda worry when the gym teacher brings your class back and says to you “if I had this class all day I’m afraid I’d have to quit teaching.” And she only has them 30 minutes a day 3 days a week!!! YIKES!

Today we got our feet wet with “how to” writing. I first asked if any of them knew how to make a PB&J sandwich. Oh yeah! They ALL knew how to make one of those. SO I asked one little sweetie to tell me. “You get two pieces of bread, put peanut butter on it then jelly, then you put the other piece of bread on top.” Ok I said, and wrote just what I was told.
I then said ok now let me illustrate what you told me. I drew two pieces of bread, a jar of PB and a jar of jelly. Then I drew the PB&J being dumped in a pile, and a piece of bread being put on top.
BOY did that get a roar! NOOO you have to put it on the bread with a knife! Ohhh I said you didn’t tell me that!
We then discussed the importance of details and using words like first, next, last, and finally.
I then asked if they had something they could teach others and of course they all did. 
After writing for a while I asked them to find a stopping point.
I then paired them up and told them to read what they had written to their partner and the partner was to illustrate what they had written. BINGO!
They could really tell if they had enough details or not because like my heap of peanut butter next to the bread the illustrations told what they had written-not what they thought they had written.

We spent the second half of the day working in groups to “build” leaf people and animals.let’s just that was an eye opener too!

My smile comes from my dimpled cutie today. He came in smiling and handed me a smiley cup! I wonder if he has been reading my blog!