Sunday, August 31, 2008

Productive Day!

Isn't it funny how productive one can be in the classroom when there are no other teachers or students in the building?

I went in around ten this morning and left at three-thirty, and though I didn't touch *any* of the filing I had hoped to work on, I did manage to:

~Get my students' daily schedule written up on sentence strips and displayed in a pocket chart

~Make new desk and cubby tags, laminate them, and get them situated

~Enlarge our word wall with another panel of blue bulletin board paper

~Create handwriting pages for my students using the Zaner Bloser font to spell out their names

~Relocate the Lego table, the computer center, and listening center for better flow

~Set up the discovery table for this week's science exploration

~Make new Borrow Book envelopes

~Prep the photos of lunch time choices on our chart

(The English Language Learner Teacher/Department sent us photos of all of the food item choices for the year so we could have visuals to go with our lunch charts!)

~Cycle out the "welcome to kindergarten" book selections and add alphabet, shape, and autumn books to the reading center

~Set up the light box, colored transparent blocks and overhead projector with manipulatives

It was a good day, and despite the fact that I'm supposed to be "off" enjoying this Labor Day weekend, I just might be inspired to go back to school on Monday and tackle the filing, once and for all.

But not for the entire day, no sir-ee Bob. I feel the need to BBQ.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saturday's Bits and Blurbs/Kindergarten Teacher Tip


I finally caught up a bit on politics this week... Democrats, Republicans, Independents, let's not just put on a good show, let's do some *real* good for this nation. Please.


~Teachers, check out The Student Bill of Rights over at The Elementary Educator. Mark Pullen hit the nail on the head with this one, demonstrating pro-student advocacy over the priorities some teachers insist upon, usually for their own convenience.

~Jennifer at Inside Pre-K posted a blog that capped off my week, "Oh, So They Just Play..."

One of the reasons for my off-mood last week was the abundance of clueless-about-kindergarten statements that were made to me or about my students by colleagues. Everything from "wow, it must be hard to teach kindergartners, I mean, because those little guys can't do anything" to "hey, your one girl, the medicated one? I don't think she's medicated enough..."

Early childhood and kindergarten do tend to be grades that teachers either love or avoid like the plague. A room full of five year olds can frighten adults who are uncomfortable around runny noses, accidents, spills, outbursts, loco-motoring through story re-tellings, broken crayons, and yes, hand holding when it comes to learning how to cut, hold a pencil, or tying shoes. I am not a person who is bothered or annoyed by those things, because I understand that every person alive, at one point or another, experienced this developmental stage, learned through it, had fun in it, and is, in part, alive and successful today because of it. They learned how to cooperate, they learned how to decipher the chicken scratch that is writing, they learned to obtain information from not just the printed word, but illustrations and verbal communication from teachers and classmates. They learned to recognize patterns, sort, classify, count, evaluate, re-arrange, build, and use tools and materials around them. They learned to create, learned new techniques, asked questions, shared joy, and made friends. They learned to take care of their personal needs, and with the right teacher, they learned that school was a good place to be and a safe place to try out activities new and unfamiliar. While many of my colleagues don't remember their kindergarten years, let me gently remind you all: you didn't master "being at school," fine motor skills, social skills, or demonstrate academic prowess in the first twelve days of your kindergarten year. In fact, you didn't master them for much, MUCH longer. Take a breath. Think before you speak, and please stop speaking about my students within earshot of them (by the way, we can hear your cackles and criticisms around corners, where we're waiting, quietly lined up, for our turn with you). None of you have heard me say something like "Oh those third graders" or "Oh, all those students in the upper grades," have you? Nope. Because I understand that while I haven't taught third graders or secondary students, they are NOT incomplete or inadequate people because they haven't yet mastered the school curriculum in a way that is convenient or ideal for you or me.

And new kindergarten teachers...if anyone approaches you with the classic "Oh, you teach kindergarten? So you just PLAY all day, right?" statement, just remember: most people play to learn and spend their lives trying to obtain mastery. Don't believe me? Watch a colleage be introduced to a new computer program that s/he has to use for work. Then watch them play computer Solitaire, or Concentration, or type a letter to a friend. What are they doing? Practicing and developing techniques that will help them when they use the new computer program. Ever see an adult pick up a new hobby like knitting or painting? Were they experts on the first try? Nope. They made mistakes. Probably got frustrated a few times along the way too. *Might* have even thrown the paintbrush or knitting needles aside..."this is too hard!" Sound like some five year olds you might know?


New Teacher Tip: For those of you who have a general elementary education degree, you can usually be credentialed to teach grades K-6 or even K-8. If you've been hired to teach kindergarten after your practicum experience has been in any grade OTHER than kindergarten, you're probably in shock right now, especially if you didn't have to take early childhood development courses for your major. My advice? TAKE SOME ECHD COURSES PRONTO. Kindergarten is NOT the same as grades 1-6, and it is NOT "easy" like babysitting either. FIND BOOKS, ARTICLES, AND BLOGS ABOUT TEACHING FOUR TO SIX YEAR OLDS, find out who a "master kindergarten teacher" is in your district, apply to take a day's leave from your class and go observe that teacher. Ask permission to take your digital camera. Take notes. Ask questions. Keep in touch.

Scholastic's The New Kindergarten

Joyful Learning in Kindergarten


Friday, August 29, 2008

I'm Following Thumper's Dad's Advice...

...because it's been *one of those days,* learning the ropes and observing the "dynamic" at my new school. (Thank goodness for my students and their families-they are TERRIFIC!)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pleased to Share

After a year of posting here, here, and here, I've been fortunate enough to have made some wonderful new colleagues, friends, and acquaintances through our shared commitment to teaching children. I'm apparently now showing up on more than a few blogrolls, and have started being contacted by other bloggers, educators, even sales-pitch-people, complimenting my blog and asking me to please visit theirs, share, or contribute.

I am grateful, in awe, blushing a bit, and thrilled to be expanding my network with other parents, teachers, child advocates, and those involved in public education.

I am also very pleased to share links and blogs I've been invited to peruse: has some incredible posts I am looking forward to catching up on, but their offering of videos as Inspiration for a New School Year was just the right pick-me-up that a lot of us need as we return to our classrooms. "Kindergarchy" is a phrase I'll enjoy reading up on at their site as well with their latest posting, Parenting Lessons at the Weekly Standard.

~NIEER, the National Institute for Early Education Research is now posting articles individually (rather than in a collection in one issue) that are accessible via their issue archive.

~Author and former teacher (not really, she still teaches and guides teachers through professional development!) Deb Renner Smith made me an instant subscriber to her blog after I read Parents Matter! First Days of School.

~Kathy at Teach-a-holic (what a great blog name!) has taken me right back to my subbing days, before I was hired to teach full time in my own classroom. The ins and outs of hiring, irregular paychecks, and the annual TB test can be found in her online blog/journal.

Check 'em all out!


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wednesday's Wordle, Words and Wonderings of Kindergartners

Yep, that's what this blog is all about! (Click on the image to be taken to Wordle)


My tip to new teachers? Write it down.

"Mrs. Sommerville, how come crayons won't erase like pencils?"

"Teacher! You're older than my dad! Can you put him in Time Out?"

"I'm confused. My mommy says to tell her if my daddy got her a nice present. My daddy says I'm not supposed to tell Mommy he got her a nice present. I'm gonna get in trouble with one of them!"

"Teacher, you're pretty. Except when you start singing. Then you're just silly."

"If I'm a Super Star, does that mean my brother is a Super Star too?"

"Look, when I'm sixteen, THEN I'll have a girlfriend, but not right now in kindergarten. Cause my mom said so."

"I'm so smart, I wish I could give my brain a treat for doing a good job!"

"I know why it's called 'an accident:' 'cause I didn't do it on *purpose*!"


~Kelli shares a wonderful tutorial on how to make aprons...

~CasaSugar links to Martha Stewart's DIY baby blocks (I'd love to make some with a Halloween theme!)...

~Laura at Paint in My Hair shares a wonderful "any fruit" crisp dessert (and check out the peachy photos!)...


Pre-Deal-or-No-Deal-fame, Howie got me ready to teach kindergarten:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Happiness is...

Finding an empty playground on a quiet Sunday morning:

... trying out the slides:

... **shoving** Sister down the slide when she isn't expecting it...

...learning to swing:

...and giving Mommy heart attacks:

It was a good day!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Amazing Machines

It's an amazing video, though I'm hoping human beings don't stop dancing just because we've programmed machines to do it instead. (Mom, doesn't the last bit of the presentation look like Eskimo dancing?)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What I've Been Flagging

My blog writing and blog reading schedule has been topsy-turvyfied for the past two weeks thanks to the start of the school year. My weekends are spent playing catch up, posting blogs to the queue and reading through NetNewsWire, flagging posts left and right that I want to return to or share. After yesterday's parent teacher conferences, Dear Daughter's last morning practice session for Freshman Volleyball (she made the team!), and another week under our belts dealing with the Toddler's transition to a babysitter, I'm hopeful that the family and I can settle into a somewhat regular and predictable routine so that I find time for the regular reading, regular posting, and regular commenting I've enjoyed for the past year. Coffee, blogs, exploration and discovery. Coffee, blogs, exploration and discovery. Coffee, blogs, inspiration(!) and discovery!
* Pulling at my heartstrings again, Poppytalk shares photos and links to an Old School Exhibition that has me wishing I had a collection of globes with which to decorate.

* The Red Bee Creativity Blog shares how to's for two Halloween make-and-take booklets here and here...

* Cakespy has me hoping a classroom mom will make ice cream cone cupcakes as a birthday treat this year...

* Hostess With the Mostess has added nummy new recipes to The Recipe Box (grown up s'mores, bread pudding with chocolate chunks and bananas, caramel nut popcorn, seared scallops with chili pepper dressing, and many more)...

* The Purl Bee shares a wonderful tutorial on how to make a fabric party banner/garland (I know, I've become banner-addicted!)

* And just in time for today's rainy day weather, The Secret Recipe Blog shares a copycat recipe for Olive Garden's Angel Hair and Three Onion Soup


Back to reading!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Posting at In Practice

I've posted over at In Practice again (I know, it's been a long time!), this time regarding Professional Development for Teachers. Check it out!

I would love to see district in-service meetings run like TED Talks. Have you watched "The Future We Will Create: Inside the World of TED?" Do so, do so do so. The energy is incredible. "Books ARE technology." "Creativity is as important as literacy."

My brain is about ready to swoon.


Parent Teacher Conferences

It's Parent-Teacher Conference Day today!

I'm looking forward to hearing what my Super Stars' parents will share with me, and of course, I'm excited to be able to provide them with information from preliminary assessments. I've checked/assessed the following:

~ Hand dominance and pencil grip

~ Ability to identify:

*Letter names (uppercase/lowercase)

*Letter sounds



*Numbers (0-9, OUT of order)

~ Ability to extend or create original patterns

~ Knowledge of personal safety information (can a student recite his/her name, address, phone number)

...and of course, the biggie: BEHAVIOR.


Conferences require balance, patience, enthusiasm, sincerity, inquisitiveness, humor, and the ability to recover if one "stumbles." Thank goodness flowery tights and theatrical make up are not conference essentials!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What My Super Stars Learn About Me

Meeting the teacher is a stressful and yet strangely exciting event. Getting to KNOW the teacher during the first few weeks of school is an amazing process for students and their parents as well. My Super Stars and I are almost at the end of the second week of school...what have they learned about me?

~ I love to sing and dance. I use the melody of the "Happy Birthday" song for just about anything (this week it was for our color days: "Happy Purple Day to you, Happy Purple Day to you, Happy Purple Day Dear Super Stars...Happy Purple Day to you!"), and I enjoy relaxing, instrumental music playing in the background as my "white noise" or soothing "static."

~ That I can recognize most of my Super Stars' voices by now, even when we're in a darkened planetarium, or I'm standing outside in the hallway waiting for my students to finish using the restrooms.

~ That I don't think shouting makes you right, it just makes you LOUD.

~ My favorite smell in the air is freshly peeled bananas (yellow day certainly helped them figure that one out!).

~ That *I* won't forget our classroom rules.

~ That my computer is somehow linked to their parents *knowing things* that have happened at school.

~ That I make mistakes, and that I appreciate help.

~ That I have clothes, jewelry and accessories that "go" with any color.

~ That if Mrs. Sommerville doesn't pick her nose, wipe it all over the carpet or worse yet, *eat it*, then neither should any Super Star.

~ That whining is one of my least favorite sounds, and tantrum throwing won't make me change my mind.

~ I make extra copies of activities, just in case a total goof happens with scissors.

~ I'm good at repairing glasses.

~ That I believe kindergarten is for **practice**, NOT perfection.

~ My toenails match my fingernails.

~ My favorite kindergarten book is Where the Wild Things Are.

~That I'm glad to see my Super Stars every day.

~ That I'm not just a teacher, I'm a mommy too ("Oh MAN!" is usually the response I get to that tidbit, often from a precocious boy who realizes he's not going to be able to sneak things by me).

~ I really like letter sounds and practicing counting.

~ That sometimes I wear my hair "up" and sometimes I wear it "down" but it's still me each day, even if my hair looks different.

~ I keep band-aids in my desk.

~ I like to hear manner words...often.

What do your students learn about you?


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My Own Personal Teacher Quirks

More self-reflection and "A-ha" moments for me:

~ I'm not a teacher who can hang out in the teachers' lounge. Visit on occasion, yes. Donate goodies and nummies on payday Fridays, certainly. Eat lunch every Working with kindergarten students means I'm talking with them, listening to them, taking in their verbal and non-verbal communication constantly. Lunch time is my break. I like to listen to a bit of music, or even just have some quiet time. Teachers' lounges are rarely soothing, calm places. Being social 24/7 is not in my nature. I could roam antique malls for hours, silently, all by myself, or with a friend. Shh. No wonder I almost became a librarian.

~ I don't hang out with parents while I'm their child's teacher. Invite them to volunteer in my classroom, yes, oh yes. Attend their Longaberger or Pampered Chef parties? Nope, though I certainly welcome a catalog or two into my classroom and gladly order goodies that will help out the hostess! Once I'm done being the teacher and school is out at the end of the year? Lunch at Panera, Ladies, lunch at Panera!

~ I have to do all the motions to "The Wheels on the Bus," "Five Green and Speckled Frogs," and "Little Bunny Foo-foo" with my students. HAVE TO. Thankfully, I also have a toddler, so I can usually get away with doing the motions on the weekend, out in public with my family. I suspect that my husband and daughter are looking forward to the day they have to pull me aside and whisper "uh, Honey/Mom, could you *not* do that anymore?"

~ I like putting up bulletin board displays and vignettes. Yep, I'm a sicko.

~ This year, I'm not a fan of "professional development" for "new teachers to the district." Probably because this is the THIRD ROUND of "new teacher PD" I've had to go through in the last four years. Show me the computer program, tell me the quirks, give me the inside scoop on the ins and outs of drills and the school calendar, and then let me teach, please. A person who will be teaching for the first time *ever* needs all the support and help colleagues can muster to give them. They need to be taught that they have resources, they often need to be taught HOW to use those resources and build collegial relationships~ I remember, I've been there. Meanwhile, a person who has taught for twelve years previously needs to know what abbreviations his or her new school uses as labels for the same services s/he was required to provide at the previous district and his or her district password to get into school programs, records, e-mail. Is it called the intervention team, the S.I.T. Team or the S.W.A.T. team? They're the same thing (though their format and operations change a bit, especially now with "response to intervention," R.T.I.) and every school has to have one. My most helpful "training?" Being taught how NOT to set off the alarm at school when I'm there after hours. Alarms are new to me. Otherwise I know how to get information and who to ask. When I don't know who to ask, I ask colleagues anyway, and get steered in the right direction. I know how to read teachers' manuals, know how to set up my curriculum map for the year, and know how to assess my students. I operate PC's and Mac's quite well, and know how to communicate with parents. I know how to teach.

Yet another reason to hope Uncle Sam doesn't move us again any time soon: I don't want to be the new teacher anymore. I just want to teach.

~ Many teachers have day runners, Blackberries, or desk top calendars. I have my binder, divided by sections: Class lists and info; Curriculum map and year long calendar; lesson plans; Kansas State Standards for kindergarten; screening sheets. Want to get on my not-so-nice side? Move the binder.

~ Though the thought never appealed to me before, I would consider being a "mentor teacher" if I could follow the example of my own, Laura. She welcomed me to the district and Kansas before school started, has had lots of info to share with me, has made it clear that she both IS a resource and HAS resources for me should I need or want them, and folks, she has a garden! My family and I are enjoying cucumbers and tomatoes thanks to her green thumb- I'm thinking BLT's for breakfast tomorrow...seriously!

~ My students accommodate me as much as I accommodate them since I hear things a bit differently than most people. I hear everything (except for whispers), and I mean, everything, at the same volume. I hear the student talking with me, the lights buzzing in my classroom overhead, the water dripping from the water fountain, colleagues talking across the hallway, students debating on whether to build a tower or a snake out of blocks, and parents chatting outside of my classroom windows if they're occurring at the same time, AT the same time. Students have to get used to raising hands, and taking turns when I'm listening to someone else, because it takes a lot of focus and attention for me to give a person my almost-undivided-attention. Just another reason I could handle working in a library!

~ I can't wait to make more banners for my classroom decor- I'm enjoying the shift away from pre-printed, pre-packaged classroom displays that can be found at teacher supply stores to more homemade and kindergarten friendly elements that I can create over the weekend. The fact that I have to drive half an hour to forty-five minutes one way to GET to a decent teacher supply store might have something to do with that too! I found some inspiration on Flickr...

1. Back to School Banners, 2. fall round tag banner, 3. Fall Tag Banner, 4. Sparkling Fall Banner, 5. trick or treat swap banner for jess and sarah closeup, 6. Spooky Halloween Banner


How "quirky" are you?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's Tuesday...Time to DANCE!

**Just because.**

Go ahead,*try* telling me your toe wasn't tapping!
By the way, Shannon has split her treasures between Green Gemini's Designs and Angel Kisses Alaska.

Think I can talk her into making some stylin' lanyards from which my school i.d. card can dangle? Plain ol' cotton just isn't pretty enough for my teacher fashion:



Monday, August 18, 2008

GoodyBlog, and Samsung, THANK YOU!

Look at this happy face:

At the beginning of the summer, GoodyBlog posted a terrific Father's Day Giveaway, with one of the prizes being a fifty inch television and stereo surround sound system offered by I posted a comment entering the giveaway, but never expected to win. Fast forward two weeks later, and I received an email notifying me that I had won the prize for my husband! He did the happy dance, I did the happy dance, and then Shannon (GoodyBlog) and Sheila ( figured out the logistics of holding the television and stereo surround system for us as we moved from Texas to Kansas.

My husband opened the boxes this weekend, and my goodness, talk about a kid in a candy store! He set up the Samsung Surround Sound System (the wireless speakers are way cool!) which also is a multiple disk dvd player with a station for my iPod, and placed the television (also from Samsung) in its place of honor in the living room:

The picture is sharp, the sound is phenomenal, and my now glued to the couch.

Never fear, dear Readers, the kids and I will shanghai the remote this evening so we can watch a family movie together with popcorn!

Thank you, thank you, thank you Goodyblog, and Samsung!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

When in Rome... has to *learn* what the Romans do!

After this first week at school, I've figured out a few things about myself. Surprising, because I didn't spend the past year actively asking myself questions about teaching, debating how I'd like to spend my free time, or building face-to-face collegial ties. I also didn't anticipate how my unique traveling circumstances (I'm now working with my fifth principal in my fourth school district in my third state since 2003) would affect my mood, my tone, and my attitude when I was once again hired to teach with a school staff that for the most part (other than the new hires that joined me this year) has remained the same for a while now.

My first ten years of teaching were spent in the same school, at the same grade, with roughly the same colleagues. The nurse, lead custodian and music teacher's positions changed (along with a new principal) but the rest of us were a long term team, quirks, beliefs about education and all. Teaching in a small community, any teachers who transferred in were already known to everyone, and those who left visited often. A comfort zone was created by this long term teaching commitment that I have not felt again since leaving Alaska. Comfort zones are more common for those who stay in one place longer than a year.

Easy to understand since I spent one year teaching in New Mexico, one year in Kansas, and took last year off while we were stationed in Texas. I haven't been anywhere long enough to settle into a school's routine, a staff's easy banter in the lounge, a community's familiar scenery. On this latest educational stage, many roles are the same (librarian, kindergarten team, cafeteria staff, administration, special education teachers, custodians etc.) along with some new characters (21st Century Classroom teacher, Educational Dome Theater instructor, Compass Lab facilitator), and the goals we all work toward achieving are student focused and are seemingly educationally sound. Contemplating my new environment, I'm reflecting on my own perceptions, not knowing anyone well enough yet to be able to guess with any certainty what, if anything, is running through their minds as they interact with me.

For someone with over a decade's worth of teaching experience, a person who has taught in very ethnically, religiously, geographically and socio-economically diverse locations, I've been asking what must seem like silly questions this past week, to include "What do the alarms sound like at this school?" My principal was kind enough to let us listen to short bursts of the tornado alarms, but several colleagues have looked at me like I've lost my mind when I've asked for a description of the sounds since, as hearing those alarms and dealing with them is second nature for teachers who have been here longer than a year. Alaskan schools have fire alarms. No tornado alarms. No earthquake alarms, nada. Just fire bells. In the newer schools, there are probably some computerized alarms with flashing strobes, but that's it. In the New Mexico school I worked at, there were no tornado alarms. No door alarms. No intruder-on-campus drills (I'm sure that has changed since). In my previous Kansas school, the fire bell and tornado alarm did not sound the same as they do here. Some of you have sirens, some of you have bells, some of you have "tornado watch" beeps that are different from the "tornado imminent" howls- and at least in this school, you have a new teacher who has not heard them before. Thank you for your patience, new colleagues. Hopefully you feel you have a new partner that wants to be as prepared as possible, so she's asking.

One school had designated door holders during alarms, another stressed that no kindergarten student should hold the doors because they might get trampled, or get scared and be left inside, and another school insisted that all students file through the doors pushing the bar and not looking back, trusting that the next student in line would also be facing forward, arms at the ready to push the door open as s/he walked through in a quick but orderly fashion. Cafeteria routine? In Alaska, my students ate in the classroom. In New Mexico, they ate in the cafeteria which was in an annex building right next to ours. In Kansas School Number One, the gym and cafeteria were the same place. In Alaska, children had two choices, "home lunch" or "school lunch." Same in New Mexico and Kansas School Number One. Here, my students have the following choices: entree one, entree two, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, bagel and yogurt, OR home lunch. Wow. And if you've taught kindergarten before, you know exactly how that routine goes during the first week of school: "I changed my mind, I want something else," or "I thought I had lunch but this whole lunch sack is really filled with SNACK," or "I don't have to do the lunch chart because I'm not hungry." Throw in a few "I brought home lunch but I want pizza now," or "but I drank the three juices Mom gave me and now I want milk" and you can imagine that every so often, too much of a good thing is NOT a good thing.

Routines for duties, who walks whom back, who escorts students to buses, who picks up kids from the day care, who walks, who takes attendance and lunch count (I have an aide this year), who does copies, what hours can we be in the building over the weekend, and is it the class list on yellow, the red or green paddle flags or the class list on a clipboard we use for emergencies at this school? Does the principal want composite data sheets on students' beginning-of-the-year screening assessments, copies of e-mail communication that *might* get tricky depending on how parents interpret them, and lesson plans on a weekly spread page or in daily list format? Do the staff members at this school view kindergarten teachers as teachers or glorified babysitters? Do we sit wherever we want to during staff meetings or do we sit at tables by grade level? How clique-ish are the teachers? I can't tell you how I *wish* I could do a selective brain dump on the routines and need-to-know info I've had to memorize and learn from my previous teaching locations so I can keep this new set straight! Who uses the hallway potties and when since my classroom shares a single seat girls' toilet and a single seat boys' toilet with another entire classroom (talk about bad planning that someone should have caught when looking over the blueprints!), and though handrails are available down ramps we use to get to other parts of the school, why are most teachers encouraging their students NOT to use them while walking? I know, I know. I'll "get it" this year. Time will give me the info.

Unless Uncle Sam decides to move us AGAIN.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Playing Catch Up!

...with a little bit of this and a little bit of that today~

A very happy birthday to my grandmother, my childrens' "G.G." I spoke to her today on the phone, and she mentioned she enjoyed a celebratory cappuccino during lunch. She hasn't had a jolt of caffeine in years, so her afternoon was probably spent hanging out with this fellow:


It has been a busy first week of school with students. A lot of joy, tons of enthusiasm, a bit of drama, much-appreciated reassurances, and a remarkable amount of support from parents, students, new colleagues and administrators. I knew I would *love* returning to teach in the land of Oz!

Reading the comments many of you have left and the e-mails you've sent to me about my classroom decor, teaching philosophy, and your unselfish sharing of ideas, links and resources has been the icing on the cupcake, truly. I'm looking forward to exploring your sites and updating my blogroll this weekend! Professional Learning Communities and Collegial Ties certainly can and DO exist worldwide now!


~Poppytalk Handmade got my attention with School Days, a back-to-school and fashion market.

~ Now that I'm teaching in a school that utilizes Smart Boards in the classroom, the nostalgia of chalkboards has hit me... Poppytalk has been similarly affected!

~Frazzy Dazzles has me wishing we were neighbors, crafting friends, because she captured The Very Hungry Caterpillar perfectly for her daughter's birthday!

~The family wants me to try Crispy Yogurt Chicken, thanks to The Pioneer Woman Cooks...


Tomorrow is Purple Day in my classroom! Yes Mom, I'll be wearing my purple cowboy boots- but the students will be enjoying several stories about Harold and his purple crayon:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

They Answered My Question

I've become addicted to watching TED Talks lately. I've been addicted to reading Mamacita's thoughts for over a year now.

Sir Ken Robinson answers a question, a pondering I had quite a while back, about whether or not public education today (with the drill and kill for state assessments) was squashing or killing students' creativity. Mamacita addresses the same topic, in her blunt and brilliant way.

In his presentation (which is humorous and charming), Sir Ken reminds the audience that educators of young children should "educate their whole being." Intelligence is "diverse, dynamic, and distinct," and "creativity is as important as literacy."

The clip is twenty minutes long- sit back, listen, think.

By the way, Mamacita (Scheiss Weekly) has moved- I'll update my blogroll this weekend, but you can now find her here.

Thank you Sir Ken, thank you Mamacita.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The First Day of School


It's the first day of school and I'm up at four thirty in the morning, thanks to the toddler waking up, soaked through his diaper, shirt, and sheets. So much for getting potty training started! Of course I was sleeping restlessly anyway, thinking about my students and our activities for the first week. Being at a new school means I'm not only getting to know a new group of five and six year olds (their parents too), but new colleagues who will interact with my students daily for music, art, P.E., library, etc. Are the teachers used to kindergarten students? Do they enjoy kindergarten students? How will they take me staying with my students for this first week, observing in their classrooms? Good thoughts, good thoughts, good thoughts...breathe.


Kissing hands~ basic sugar cookies with a chocolate kiss added immediatly after the cookies come out of the oven. The hand shaped cookie cutter looks a little odd, perhaps the cookies do too, but the story is sweet, and in the past my students have enjoyed having this special snack, taking home a cookie for parents at the end of the day too. I even have a little silver hand brooch with a heart in the middle and dangly charms that I wear on the first day. Have I mentioned how good it is to be back into teacher fashion?


As a special gift, I made each of my kindergarten colleagues a banner/bunting using paper in basic colors and patterns, ribbon and buttons. As most kindergarten classrooms teach "colors" or have Colors as a curriculum unit, I thought it would be a great classroom decor item that we could use on bulletin boards or hang above a special center or display.

I'll photograph mine once I have it hung in the classroom so you can see the whole thing!