Friday, August 26, 2011

Week One: Done, Done, Done!

I just finished my first week back at school. What a whirlwind of a week! I love, love, love my class! For the second year in a row I am teaching a kindergarten/first grade combination class. I love both grade levels so am a happy camper! However, at times I feel somewhat lonely. I am like "a man/woman without a country" because I am not truly affliated with either grade level. I am a hybrid of my two grade levels. That is why I LOVE my blogging buddies!!!!!

As I reflect back on my week, one new activity that stands out is the observation books that we made. I got this idea at a FOSS science training. (I soooooo LOVE FOSS!!!!) I gave the children four page booklets and magnifying glasses. (Each page was about 8" X 5"). Their job was to observe four different objects and then draw them with great detail. (Well, a few details at least since these are kinders and firsties!) First, they looked at a ball and drew it. Then a crayon, a plant and finally any object of their choice. For the plant, I took them outside and let them observe a plant in the garden. At the end of the lesson I felt like they had a good understanding of "observing". Hurrah! Plus watching them look through the magnifying glasses at each object with such serious expressions on their faces was so precious!

My students' favorite lesson was hunting for Pete the Cat. They keep asking when we can look for Pete again. So guess what our first prize for Teamwork Bingo will be? Yep! My kiddos get to hunt for Pete again. I will have to make up new clues. They are working super hard to win this "prize" so I have to get on the ball and create a different hunt. Too, too funny! Each day they have me read "Pete the Cat". I read Rocking in My School Shoes today, but I don't think it will ever replace the original at least in my heart. Oh, I do love Pete!

Now I am off to plan wonderful lessons for next week - which means I have some serious blog stalking to do!!!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Meet the Teacher

This is for the Meet the Teacher Linky Party at Blog Hoppin'.

Tell us a little something about you.
I started teaching 8th grade students and gradually worked my way down the grades. Currently I have two favorite grade levels: kinder and first. Lucky me! I get to teach BOTH of my favorite grades this year because I have a kinder/first grade combination class!

How long have you been teaching?
Really long! Last year I had the joy of having the daughter of one of my former students in my class!

You might not know ...
I was the very first teacher to have a computer in her classroom in my district. My sister was a programmer for Atari and she gave me a computer to take into my class.
I had TWO Donor's Choose grants funded this summer and a third one is close! Most of the donations are from strangers (which touches me deeply).

What are you looking most forward to this year?
Taking a diverse group of strangers and creating a class family.

What do you need to improve?
Organization!! I have sooooooo much stuff that I have a hard time organizing it all. I HATE to get rid of anything because it might come in useful with a future student. Sigh. I am really trying to get rid of some of my things.

What teaching supplies can you not live without?
I am going to loosely define "supplies" to include people. There are the people I cannot teach without:
my students: adorable, sweet, eager to learn
my principal: supportive, positive, encourages me to take risks
my families: unbelievably supportive
my co-teachers: supportive, good listeners, loving
my fellow bloggers: creative, risk taking, supportive, brilliant - You amaze and inspire me! Lots of love to all my fellow bloggers!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

So what is ESGI?

I am the queen of "To Do" lists, especially at this time of year! It seems like for every item I cross off, I add two more so my list keeps growing and growing!! Yesterday I had to stop working on items on my list to attend an inservice.

Have you heard of ESGI? Well, I hadn't either, but after the inservice yesterday, I am now super excited about it!

ESGI is a data recording system for kindergarten. That's sounds quite boring, doesn't it? But actually it is going to save me so much time. The teacher sits at a computer with one student. The test items show up one at a time on the monitor and the teacher types in whether or not the child gave the correct answer. ESGI creates class graphs of the data, parent letters, and flashcards all based on the results. The child's data is tracked for the year. ESGI has assessments you can use or you can input your own tests (like my very wonderful partner Stacey did for my district). Except for a running record, my complete battery of kinder math and reading assessments can now be given using ESGI. The kinder teachers are all very excited about this new tool! The cost is $199 for a year for one teacher. (Bulk rates are available.) My district willingly paid $149 for every kinder teacher because they saw the benefit. I left the two hour inservice yesterday feeling like I had a good handle on ESGI. I had been able to input all of my student names, plus do a fairly complete run through of our entire kinder assessment.

I feel like this is a commercial for ESGI. It is not! But I am just so thrilled to have a tool like this at my disposal!

Now off to my classroom to try to dwindle down those To Do lists!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

More About Pete

Hi all!

I am stressed out of my mind preparing (or should I say, not preparing???) my classroom. There is so much to do that I spend most of my time thinking about all there is to do! Crazy!! But I did finish one task. Hurrah! The clues for my Pete the Cat hunt are now complete. In a previous post I explained my plan and gave a list of all of my clues.  Since I don't know how to add colorful graphics to documents, I had to cut and paste (yep, with scissors and glue). But I LOVE how they turned out! (...and yes, I have added "Learn to add colorful graphics to documents" to my TO DO list!!!!) For my cards I used pictures from a bulletin board border I found at the Dollar Store. Here is the first card:

Now it is time for this girl to go on into the classroom!
Take care my hardworking friends,

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I'm Interviewing Today!

Gulp ... I am interviewing today. But ... double gulp ... I am not the interviewee - I am the INTERVIEWER! I am on a panel to interview for the unfilled teaching positions in my district. I am THE teacher rep on the panel. Me! The one and only teacher rep for my entire district. Me! Triple gulp! I think I am as nervous today as I was a million years ago when I was applying for teaching jobs. Yikes! It seems like just yesterday, but now here I am on the other side of the table!!

Just a few months ago, my district was giving pink slips, but now due to a variety of circumstances, EVERY teacher was offered a position and we have to hire a few more teachers. WOW!

So dear Bloggets, if any of you are looking for a teaching job in northern California please post a comment to this blog. I am more than willing to contact you and give you specifics. At my school alone, we have two openings: kinder and third. Great district, great school, great principal, great families, and most importantly: truly great students! ... and if you are interviewing for jobs, please know that the interview team is truly on your side and wants to make you shine during the interview!

Have a great Thursday everyone!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Where's Pete? Forget Waldo, We Want to Find Pete!

Last week I ordered a stuffed Pete the Cat from Amazon and I have been waiting patiently (HAH!) for Pete to be delivered to my house. I keep wondering, "Where's Pete?" which prompted me to write clues for a hunt for Pete. (Very similar to the Gingerbread Man hunt.) These clues are nothing brilliant, but I want to share them with all of you. I am offering them just as they are - no graphics, no fancy fonts. See what you think. If someone likes them enough to fancy them up: GREAT!! - just let me know.

Here is my plan - I will read the book Pete the Cat to my class on the first day of school. After finishing the book an envelope will mysteriously drop out of the book. The envelope will be addressed to Team Five. (I teach in room five so I refer to my class as Team Five.) Upon opening the envelope, we will find this note:

Dear Team Five,
My name is Pete and I am a cat.
I've been waiting for you, but where are you at?

I decided to look around; everything is so new.
But to help you find me, I will leave a clue.

Clue #1:
I went to Mrs.P to look for you.
She's so smart, she'll tell me what to do.

Walk, walk, as quiet as a hat.
Please find me; I'm Pete the Cat.

(Mrs. P is our secretary so we will go to the office and meet both Mrs. P and the principal if she is available. While there Mrs. P will hand us clue #2.)

Click here for the rest of the clues

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Does anyone know you blog?

So I am really curious.  Does anyone know that you blog?  Do your friends know that you have another circle of friends, none of which you have ever met in person?  Do your coworkers know that you spend hours stalking blogs?  

Here is why I am so curious:  I am in a weeklong math institute.  On Monday, we had to list one hobby and then find someone else in the room with that hobby.  Without thinking I listed my newest obsession, whoops - hobby: blogging.  As other teachers checked my card to see if our hobbies matched, I started getting the strangest looks.  If I hadn't known better I would have thought I had grown two (or even three heads).  I soon realized that I stood alone with my hobby - absolutely alone.  I also realized that since I have been hanging out with all of you, I assumed that we bloggers were in the majority.  Hey - there are a lot of us, so surely wherever I go, there will be many, many bloggers.  Whoops, guess that was a bad assumption!

So I am now sending out lots of love to you all ... I am so happy that I am a part of the blogging community.  I love having this opportunity to learn from such brilliant teachers and I also love being able to share my ideas.  Even if I am the sole blogger in the room, I am standing tall because I am proud to be one!

Love to bloggers and bloggets everywhere!


P.S.  The math institute is absolutely wonderful and the other teachers delightful (... even though they don't blog).
P.P.S  I will start sharing ideas again soon!!!  Promise!!!