Friday, August 30, 2013

Classroom Set Up

I rearranged the setup of my classroom this past summer. It has been working out really well. There is plenty of table space for kids to work with partners/groups and a large area for meetings on the carpets (we use carpet remnants that I have collected from Building 19, Ocean State Job Lots and my sister in law! :-)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Summer Professional Reading

1. Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement
By Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth, and Christopher Lehman

This book was a quick read and very helpful. In our district, we have been working with the Common Core for a while. This book clarified the ELA portion of the new standards and provided a clear game plan for writing instruction, especially. 

2. How's it Going? By Carl Anderson

After the weeklong institute a few weeks ago, I jumped on Amazon to purchase some recommended books. This fantastic, thorough book by Carl Anderson was highly praised by our presenter and after reading it, I understand. 

Anderson leaves no stone unturned when dealing with the subject of conferencing with students. He focuses on one on one conferences being a conversation. He goes through the teacher's and the student's role during conferencing. It is fascinating when he shares the mistakes he made and the justification for how he runs conferences now. He has excellent chapters on mentor texts, gathering information for minilessons and classroom management. Valuable read!

3. Narrative Craft Unit of Study by Lucy Calkins and Alexandra Marron

I am about halfway through this unit of study. It is slow going because it is very thorough and I am note-taking with post its for my lesson plans as I go.

Lofty, hopeful plans for professional reading in August, a.k.a. Books on Deck:

- Finish Narrative Craft Unit of Study
- Independent Writing M. Colleen Cruz
- A Quick Guide to Struggling Writers M. Colleen Cruz
- A Quick Guide to Reviving Disengaged Writers Christopher Lehman
- A Quick Guide to Making Your Teaching Stick Shanna Schwartz
- Mentor Authors, Mentor Texts Ralph Fletcher
- Launch an Intermediate Reading Workshop Lucy Calkins
- Crafting Digital Writing: Composing Texts Across Media and Genres Troy Hicks

Friday, July 26, 2013

Day Five: Professional Learning Community Starts

Today, teachers from North Andover and Reading public schools met to start our work together as a Professional Learning Community. Our focus is writing workshop and the Units of Study presented this week.

I feel very supported now and know I am not going it alone. I have the two other teachers in my school for support, the fifth grade teachers from my district that were at the training, and a fifth grade "buddy" from North Andover as well. 

I also have a fifth grade partner from my district as well. We decided what to tackle first and when we want to get it done. Our focus is preparing a binder to refer to while conferencing. For instance, one divider could be "staying in the moment" In that section would be possible lessons/strategies you could teach to the child and a mentor text listed with page number to provide an example. We each took four strategies to do and will share them with each other before school starts. Then we will tackle some more. This task is made easier by the fact that there is a book in the Units of Study collection that gives if/then ideas for conferring. If the child ______, then ________.

I am very excited to get going with this work. Many of my blog entries this school year will be about my work on developing my writing workshop.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day Four: The Last Day with our Fearless Leader

Today we role played conferencing one on one. It wasn't too hard, but my more pressing concern is gathering and organizing all the mentor texts. I am going to spend a lot of time doing that this summer and other colleagues will do the same and then we can share our work. 

I love the idea of spending time during conferencing to research the child and come up with a theory and lesson on the fly. I trust I can do that once I have a strong conferring toolkit to support my decisions including mentor texts. The If/Then book that comes with the units of study has a lot already done for teachers in regards to teaching decisions on the fly during conferences.

Along with role playing, we talked about small group instruction and watched a great video of it in action. All the videos we watched this week are on the following site:

- Click on resources
- Click on Common Core resources
- Click on CCSS videos (left margin)
- Click the link in the middle of the page

An aha moment for me was the idea of grouping by need, not level. Writers at all levels may need a lesson on staying in the moment, whether they have one paragraph written or three pages. If our focus is teaching students strategies, they should be grouped by what strategies they need. Duh, right? 

Assessment was another important topic we learned about today. Writers workshop and the rubrics that are used lend themselves well to the common core and standards based report cards. The learning progression charts are a tool that I will use often in planning, conferencing and assessment. 

What a packed day! An overview of informational writing was also taught today and we walked through a few pages of a fabulous mentor text, Oh, Rats!

We ended the day by celebrating our revision/final drafts with a museum walk set up. It was great to walk around and read everyone's work. I liked that we wrote comments for them to see when the activity was over. The comments for my piece were encouraging and some of my writing strengths were affirmed. I still feel I need a lot more instruction about how to get my writing to the next level. I am a good writer, but want to become a great one. 

Sadly, today was the last day with our presenter, Maggie Roberts. We all were left wanting more of her help and guidance, but we will have to use twitter or email to get it. :-)

The message she left us with was to not try to be the expert. We can all help each other and learn together. 

Tomorrow we are meeting from 8:00-12:00 to start our professional learning community work(P.L.C.). I am really looking forward to working with my Reading and North Andover colleagues to improve my teaching of writing.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day Three: Mentor Texts and Revising

Another productive workshop session today. I am not going to write much tonight since I spent a lot of free time finishing my revision draft for tomorrow's session. It is supposed to be a final draft, but it really is still in the revision phase.

Today, we learned about how to use mentor texts with students. It was very cool to go through pages of a text, Hurricane, and write post its about what the author is showing us about what good writers do. This is also a great activity for kids to do with mentor text. Most importantly, these marked up mentor text can be used by the teacher to model when conferencing with a student.

We also went over how to confer with students. I felt relieved when the presenter said that she only gets 2-3 one on one conferences done each day during workshop time. Table conferences are a great way to confer more often with students  in addition to the one on one times. The goal is for students to become independent, so the minilessons and the charts that come from them are valuable tools for students.

The afternoon was about revising and editing. There are so many ways to go back in to your writing and make it better. I am not going to list them all here. Too tired. Will share in a later post though!

My writing brain needs to relax and watch some bad reality T.V.!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day Two: Teaching Points and Minilessons

Today we got a lot done. We moved on to teaching points and minilessons. The modeling and practice was very helpful to see how this will be implemented in the classroom. Tomorrow we are presenting minilessons in groups. Valuable practice.

I am starting to get a better picture of how my writing workshop will run this year. I always did a form of workshop, but all I knew was what I read in books. The kind of learning we are doing this week is invaluable!

We went over multiple minilessons today and I have a better idea of how to generate learning points and develop the lessons.

Tomorrow we are moving on to editing/revision and conferencing. Looking forward to it!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Day One: Summer Institute on the Teaching of Writing

Today was day one of a weeklong writing workshop in North Andover presented by the Teacher's College (Columbia University) Reading and Writing Workshop (TCRWP). TCRWP is a research and staff development organization. We are using Lucy Calkins Units of Study.

The presenter, Maggie Beattie Roberts, is dynamic and focused. She tells great stories, but stays on track. Day One was beautifully paced and jam packed with information, modeling and interactive learning.

It was a refreshing surprise to get new information that I had never heard of before. After 21 years of teaching, workshops get frustrating when the same  concepts you learned in college (1980s) are still being taught. 

For instance, I had never heard of Cambourne's Seven Conditions of Learning. Although this is not shocking information, it is always helpful to reflect on these lists. 

1. Immersion: content and context
2. Demonstration: practical, concrete models
3. Expectations: clear
4. Responsibility: accountable learners
5. Approximations: find approximations in student work; determine what they are trying
6. Practice
7. Feedback, support, celebrations: should occur continuously

We went over the principles for Writing Workshop and the bottom lines for Writing Workshop. New to me was the phrase "approximation." It is what we do instinctually as teachers. A student is not exactly on target, but we can see what he was trying and what he got from the lesson. Helps to guide our teaching. I also liked the idea that you are not just teaching the writing, you are teaching the writer. 

We explored classroom environment including finding room for a meeting area for workshop. I am rethinking how my room is set up and I may move my desk to the back of the room to make more space for a meeting area.

Of course, we talked about the writing process and we learned how to start the first writing unit, personal narrative. The afternoon was walking through a workshop session and writing.

The day flew by! We had to read a few pages for homework and write three beginnings for three personal narratives. Looking forward to tomorrow's session.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

First Time Project with Educreations

Once again I see that my students are technology natives and can teach me so much! Last week the students created their Character Trait projects for their guided reading books. I was concerned that they couldn't save in Educreations until they recorded. That meant gathering pictures and photographs of their work in Dropbox or on the camera roll and then bringing them over to Educreations. Many students, however, wanted to use the vast image search within Educreations. One of my students realized that she could go into Educreations, do an entire page with text and images the way she wanted it and then just take a screenshot of that page. The technology specialist, learning center teacher, learning center para, and I never thought of that! We all are too old to be technology natives.

I always reflect on what worked and what didn't. I will still have students plan everything out in a storyboard fashion ahead of time including any hand drawn pictures they want in their presentation. That is why everything else went so smoothly. I will then have them go straight to Educreations to create one page at a time and take a screenshot of each one. That way the work won't get lost. When it is all created then they can record.

Recording was a challenge in the classroom, so I may arrange for some parents to come in next year when we are planning to record. Luckily, this year I had two Learning Center staff members that were able to find quiet areas in the school to do the recordings with a couple students at a time.

One of the students chose to write the text and not record his voice. Instead, he chose a song that fit his character well and recorded it from his Iphone. It came out great! Again, tech. natives!

Our tech. specialist created a school account with Educreations so that the kids could save it to the site. I know there is a way to share these presentations with parents using a link, but I am not sure how yet. I will figure all that out for next year. We did watch all of them in class on the SMARTBoard.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Drop It Like It's Hot!

So within the span of about three days, I had two colleagues talk to me about using Drop Box for three different purposes! I was intrigued. I know it isn't that new, but it was news to me!

1. My teammate mentioned it as a way for us, as a team, to collaborate together on the run. We do not have common planning time and we have used Google Docs in the past for this purpose. Drop Box is the new and improved Google Docs/Drive.

2. My teammate also shared the fact that the need for flash drives would be eliminated! Do you know how often fifth graders lose or forget to bring their flash drives? With drop box they can put their work in the "cloud" and access it easily at home and at school. This also allows the teachers to access it as well because a student can share it when they are done!

3. Another teammate told me that the tech. specialist from our school could come and demonstrate how to use Drop Box on the IPad for projects. We are planning on having the students use the Educreations app to create a presentation about their guided reading books. My teammate was concerned because it is very difficult to save and share Educreations projects when you have multiple people using the same IPads. One user IPad is no problem. Also, you can't save on Educreations until you record. So, students need to have everything planned out and put somewhere until they are ready to place it all in Educreations and record. Some of their pieces will be in the camera roll and others they will place directly into the drop box. Drop box is better because this set of Ipads is being used in grades 3-5. Any student can delete pictures from the camera roll, but if it is in Drop Box, it is safe! When the projects are all done, then the students can save them to Educreations to be watched.

4. I will use Drop Box, along with Document Writer, to make my files mobile! I love the idea of working from anywhere on any device. 

Wait! Most importantly, the free version has plenty of space! I think it is 2 gigs.

I went to and downloaded it onto my laptop. It then gave a prompt to have it added as an app for my IPhone. It sent me a text which sent me to the app page. Easy!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Goldilocks and the Three Triangles

I was in the middle of a lesson yesterday and was struck with an idea. I am sure others have thought of it, but it was new to me. The focus was to help my students remember what a right, acute, and obtuse angle are so that they can identify different kinds of triangles.

The Goldilocks metaphor came to me when I said that 90 degrees is a right angle. One of my students asked, "Why is it called a right angle?" I jokingly answered, "90 degrees is just right." Then the fairy tale came to mind. 90 degrees is "just right." Acute is the angle that is "too small" and obtuse is the angle that is "too big."

Worked for my students. 

Another part of identifying triangles is the length of sides. My students know equilateral because they hear the word equal in it. They know it means all side are equal length. What was causing them confusion was how to remember the difference between scalene and isosceles. Again, brainstorming with my students to find a mneumonic that works, I came up with two sides are the same length, we have two eyes, Isosceles. If they know equilateral and isosceles, scalene is easy!

Now they need to study the memory devices and practice identifying triangles!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

IPhone Camera: Uses in Classroom

I don't think it is officially considered an iPhone app., but the camera on my iPhone has helped in my teaching in many ways. The obvious way that I use the camera is to take pictures of any fun events or learning activities/science investigations, etc. I compile the pics at the end of the year and create a Photo Story to be played at Open House in May. In addition, the parents who work on the fifth grade yearbook every year sometimes use one or two of my pics. We also have a fifth grade Weebly site, and I post pictures there as well to share with parents throughout the year.

In April of this year, I attended the Blue Ribbon Conference that is hosted in our district, Reading Public Schools. One of the keynote speakers was Dan Meyer.  He talked about an Educational Technology Manifesto: capture perplexity, share perplexity, resolve perplexity. 

Meyer shared how he uses his iPhone to capture perplexity. As I go through my summer, I will capture any images that I think may be perplexing for my students. Cropping a picture is one way of doing this, so that only part of the story is being told. Another perplexing image could be a sign with grammatical errors that the class has to notice and fix. 

Now my camera is another tool for enhancing my curriculum!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I Am Persuaded!

This year, we started using the Empowering Writers program. It is a strong program with a truly comprehensive writing guide for expository and persuasive writing. Pretty impressive.

My students have learned about all different aspects of persuasive writing and are now planning their three main arguments. Included in these argument paragraphs are techniques such as rhetorical questions and bandwagon techniques, as well as critical language for affirming your audience and supporting your position.

Once the body paragraphs are done, there is a section about writing an introduction and conclusion paragraph. Like I said, very comprehensive.

Why am I blogging about this? Mainly because I wish my writing teachers taught me some of these techniques. This is good stuff!! 

As I conference with students, they are beginning to understand that they need to address the audience's possible opposing view and then negate it or "flip it" to show that their point of view is right. The chapter on critical language gives multiple examples of how to do this. 

The students see the power of the bandwagon technique and see it as an intelligent, persuasive version of a "dis." :-)

Looking forward to teaching this unit for years to come.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

To Diagram or Not to Diagram?

I pose this question and hope people will comment. To diagram sentences or not to diagram sentences?

When I went to school, we diagrammed sentences. It was one of the few 
things in school I was really good at doing. I understand my learning profile now and understand that it was that way because I am extremely visual. This visual representation of sentence structure and parts of speech clicked for me. 

While I was skimming a website the other day, I saw a few worksheets scaffolding diagramming sentences. Super Teacher Worksheets is a great site by the way. These sheets inspired me and today I began teaching this to my fifth grade students. I wonder whether this will be the tool that makes parts of speech click and stick for my students.

Old fashioned? Maybe. A visual representation of sentence structure? Definitely. Putting rigor back into the curriculum. I think so. 

To diagram or not to diagram?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Pinterest App for IPhone

Pinterest App on IPhone

This is my second post about apps that make my life as a teacher easier. Of course, you can access the site from your laptop/desktop, but what makes it a winner for me is that it is an IPhone app., and I can get ideas 24/7 wherever I am.

Pinterest is a fantastic way to get ideas for the classroom. When you find an idea you like, you pin it to your board. I have so many teaching related pins on one board, I am already thinking of separating the pins into boards by category. May be more efficient this way. Great summer project!

Every few days I go on to Pinterest and either go to the education search or type in something specific into the search bar. I am never disappointed with what I find and there is a great amount of variety and styles.

Possible Board Categories:
Classroom Decor/Theme
Classroom Organization/Supplies
Education/Teaching quotes
* Science would be one too, but I am not teaching it next year.

Many of the resources I find are linked to Teachers Pay Teachers, a site I had never heard of before going on Pinterest. Some are free, the rest are very reasonably priced. 

Some examples of lessons and ideas I have used from Pinterest:

- Common Core checklists and student self assessment rubric
- Area/Perimeter/Volume sorting activity
- Figurative Language activities
- Format for weekly plans and set up of planning binder, so that every week the repeating information is already on the plan/ saves time
- organization of week's work into folders with days of week on them.
- a lot of new, creative ways to present information to my students in all curriculum areas

Pinterest is extremely valuable to my teaching now. It is sharing ideas with colleagues on a grand scale. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Document Writer App. for IPhone

As I sit in the movie theater waiting for Iron Man 3 to start, I am writing this in document writer. In the past week since I discovered this app., I have used it multiple times for the purposes of teaching. Today, I am using it to draft my blog post as well.

So, earlier this week, I was almost ready to turn in for the night when I realized that I had not created the landmarks (mean, mode, median, and average) math reference page for my students that I had been meaning to make. It was late and I didn't feel like getting out the laptop and waiting for it to get going. I wondered out loud to my husband about whether there was an app that does what Word does on my laptop. I searched apps and quickly found that Document Writer was well worth the $4.99 price. I made my reference page in just a few minutes and the app is set up just like Word! A life saver especially since my wonderful husband has set it up so that I can print from my iPhone as well! Even if you can't, there are multiple ways to send it, save it, etc. I still have not fully explored the app, but I know it has templates, as well, that I definitely want to check out.

I have already set up folders within the app and love that I can now do this kind of word processing on the go!

The movie is about to begin. Summary: Educator or not, check out Document Writer!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Elated to be Back to Blogging!

I am getting back to blogging again regularly. Started a brand new blog, fresh start. It is very different now. Easier to write on the go. Now, with an IPhone, I can keep a list of topic ideas and draft my posts in my notes app. So convenient! Then, when I am ready, I can cut and paste the post into my blogger app. I love technology! I just came up with another topic to write about. I could write for pages about how my IPhone has helped me in my teaching and in my life in general. So many ways. Will write about that at some point. For now, I am just happy to be blogging and reflecting this way.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Fifth Grader Approved Read Alouds

Below are six read alouds, chosen from many, that I have read to my fifth graders through the years. These books, in no particular order, have been the best received by students. Some are probably not appropriate for younger than fifth, for instance, Thief of Always.

This may seem obvious, but I never read a book to the class that I have not read myself. One reason is that I choose standards that I want to model through the read aloud, so I need to see what standards the book best demonstrates. For instance, some books have stronger character development than others, lend themselves to prediction more than others, have more examples of figurative language, etc. If the book is not well written, there is nothing to model, and I do not read it aloud.

Another reason that I will not read aloud a book is if I know that it will make me cry. For instance, the beautifully written book Wonder , which would have caused me to be sobbing in front of my fifth graders, will be a great guided reading book instead. I cry very easily and at the end of a couple of the books listed below, I knew I would get choked up at the end. This led me to create the fun tradition of a student or students reading the last chapter or two of the read aloud. They even get to sit in my swivel chair! The end of Thief of Always gets me every time, but as long as I don't have to read it, I can control the tears!

Probably the most important reason to read the book first is because, otherwise, I run the risk of reading a boring or inappropriate book. I may realize it half way through and that is just not a great feeling. If I read a book and it is boring to me, I do not read it aloud. If I cannot enjoy the book, then I risk the chance that my students will also find it boring. Also, if I am bored, then my reading and instruction around the reading will not be interesting or dynamic. Also, if you have a student who has experienced a loss of some kind, you need to know the content of the book, so that you can make a judgment call about whether to read it or not. Lastly, some books in this list have some degree of violence. Fine for some classes, not for others. Depends on the maturity of your students from year to year. Beware of intriguing books that are high interest, but may be too violent and possibly provoke parent phone calls. For instance, Zach's Lie is very vivid and disturbing in parts. Know your read aloud so you can justify it if parents have questions or concerns. I can't stress it enough, read books yourself before you read them to your class!

A great quality about most of the books below is that fifth grade students have never read them before or even heard of them!

Thief of Always by Clive Barker

I usually start the year with this book as my read aloud. It grabs the kids and doesn't let go. It is a mix of fantasy and horror, as well as having a strong message and a sweet ending. Barker has written a book that is perfect for boys and girls, which is really important. Reluctant readers enjoy this book and it is a way to hook them into the value of stories and reading. Fantastic for modeling prediction and inferencing.

Crash by Jerry Spinelli

Also a terrific book to start the year, Crash is a fifth grade favorite. The class gets invested in the characters and cares about what will happen. They love how the character changes throughout the story and the book is a natural tool for open circle discussions.

Among the Hidden Margaret Peterson Haddix

What an amazing book! Another book that is equally popular with boys and girls. They strongly relate to the characters and root for them. Very cool concept, strong character development and nail biting plot. There is an entire series of books to follow this first one! Warning: Death of a main character at end.

By the Great Horn Spoon Sid Fleischman

What a clever, funny historical fiction book! So well written and chock full of figurative language. The structure of the book lends itself to studying plot. There is the major plot of the book, but then most chapters have a problem that is solved by the end of the chapter. Many years ago, Disney made a horrible version starring Roddy McDowall. Do not bother showing that to your class unless you want them to do a compare and contrast essay or persuasive essay about which was better.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh Robert C. O'Brien

Classic story. Not much to say here, except it is long. It is an investment to get through it as a read aloud. Some years I use it for guided reading instead. Secret of Nimh , the animated film version is fun to watch after reading.

Skellig David Almond

This is a thought provoking book full of symbolism and metaphors. A lot of inferencing is required, so great for teaching that skill. Not a read aloud for every class, but when I have chosen to read it, the students become enthralled. Good one for boys and girls. Empathy and death are strong themes in this one. Throughout the book we discuss, "Is Skellig a man, bird or angel." Spoiler alert: the author leaves it for the reader to decide. I love this, but most fifth graders want closure. I have them write their own ending chapter to get the closure they want. :-) The movie version is slow paced and hard for the kids to understand in parts.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Boston: Surreal April Vacation

I am "shelter in place" in Waltham right now as the second bomber is loose, armed and dangerous. My thoughts go to Monday, when we go back to school after this traumatic vacation.

Unfortunately, we as teachers recently had to face trying to control the talk of the Sandy Hook tragedy in our classroom since we didn't know how much the parents wanted their kids to know. I think this is a similar situation.

Worries: Were any of my students at the marathon or did any know people who were injured/killed? Fifth graders are going to talk. Many will know a lot about this on Monday. Some will have been sheltered from the information completely.

I hope everyone stays safe and I am so sorry for those who are suffering or have passed on due to these horrible acts.

Teaching has never been so complex.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bird Theme for Next Year

I have always loved birds and have had owls as a theme in my classroom for the past two years. I love many different kinds of birds though.

The decision was made today, that next year my classroom theme will be birds, all kinds of birds! Love it! Wading birds like majestic herons, backyard birds, birds of prey, cute waddling penguins, so many birds!

I was especially inspired by some beautiful paintings that I bought today in Rockport, MA. I love bright colors on my classroom walls and these are the brightest, most fun paintings I have seen of birds in a long time. Matted, but not framed, these were very affordable at only $8.00 each. Everyone knows teachers spend a lot of their own money on their classrooms, but this is a fun, aesthetically pleasing purchase that is for me just as much as it is for the kids.

Just remembered, I have 3 years worth of Birds and Blooms magazine issues with vivid photographs that I will use as well. Plus, I have numerous pictures that I took last spring of the swan babies that were across the street from where I live. Great close ups. Who knows what birds I will see in Hawaii!

My next job will be to find great figures of speech and inspirational phrases involving birds. "Birds of a feather" may be my classroom door idea?!?! The possibilities are endless. More bird theme ideas to come.

Pinterest Update: After searching Birds Classroom Theme, I am convinced more than ever that this theme is perfect!

1. Possibility of incorporating Angry Birds paraphernalia is fun!
2. Tweeting idea that I have been trying to incorporate this year. Like Twitter, but on a door or bulletin board in the classroom. Kids tweet about what they learned. Great for practicing summarizing of a lesson, main ideas, etc.
3. Birds of a feather idea and also flock or nest sayings for door with kids pic on it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April Vacation

I never fully take a vacation. Most teachers don't. We take a few days to relax and maybe even go somewhere. We sleep in if that is what we like, go see movies and set our own schedules. However, most of us don't turn off our teacher.

For instance, when I was recently in Newport, R.I. and saw rocks that were beautifully layered, I took multiple pics so I could have my science classes discern what kind of rock they are seeing. This is an easy, real world review of what they have learned and many teachers do this while they are vacationing. I also took pictures of the tide pools and cliff areas to review ecosystems and weathering/erosion. Showing a picture and having the students just write what they see using science vocabulary never gets old.

Because I do this, some of my students through the years have adopted the same habit. They come in after a vacation with rocks or shells they collected "for class" or with pictures they took with our science class in mind. I hope they maintain their wonder wherever they go!

This same kind of obsession, never turning off my "teacher mind," like many teachers, does not end with just science class. I am working on developing a figurative language unit and have had to pull over while driving to write down a song title or lyric that demonstrates a figure of speech. There are so many!

I am online regularly finding better ways to present difficult concepts to students. It never ends. By the way, if you are an educator and have not checked out Pinterest...get on that!!!!

Looking forward to my honeymoon in Hawaii this summer. I know I will come back relaxed, tan, and full of great experiences/photos, etc. to apply to my classroom.