Friday, February 21, 2014

Currently for February

Hello, caterpillar friends!  Glad you clicked here, if you even clicked, because I think I will literally be the LAST person to do a February Currently link up.  {Please read the following sentence with a stereotypical Texas twang} I just need to grab the saddle and mount back up on this here blog!  Ehem, Currently will be the perfect vehicle for my purpose, plus it's just a hoot! 
I feel like the LAST person in the whole USA to have an i product.  It was time to upgrade recently and I was able to get an iPhone for free.  So far, so good and I love iTunes radio!
Ok, I feel like I'm surrounded by great women everywhere in my family, my job and my life!  At church, we have UMW circles where like-minded women get together and work for a purpose.  My circle is called Missionettes, because we all love to do mini-missions, but we are all working women with one exception.  I love that our group is diverse in ages and backgrounds.  We only meet once a month, but it's always great to get together.  This month, our mini-mission is to gather Crayola crayons for our adopted school.  Then at our meeting, we're going to make motivational posters for 3rd graders at that school. :)
At work, at our school and in our district,I get to rub shoulders with the BEST of the BEST!  Every teacher gives their all and just a dab more, it constantly pushes me to be a better teacher!  It's great to be surrounded by super stars!!  Here's a clip from one of the schools in our district, this school librarian was featured on ELLEN!  Warning, this video made me tear up, but in a happy way!{Click Here}
Hey, I'm lesson planning right it's understandable that I'm thinking about my friends.  I love challenging them!
I'm going to search Craigslist and Garage Sales high and low for a daybed headboard for my office and something for my bedroom.  It's so college-esque in our bedroom...I'm going to decorate on the cheap, upcycled stuff for sure or basically free.  Wish me luck!
I'm going to make my students' learning visible and post some mini-stories on our classroom walls.  It's a Reggio thing, but in my old world they were bulletin boards.  However our school just umps it up a few hundred degrees.  I'll show you what I mean in my post tomorrow!
2 Truths and a Fib
1.  This is a completely true statement.   My husband was a member of Ver-Sa-Tyl, a Boyz II Men (before B2M) like group in the early 90's.  Their video was played on BET and he toured with LL Cool J and other hip/hop R&B peeps.  It was a long time ago and still I can't take him anywhere without people recognizing him!  LOL, just another day with my Moose!  Here's a clip if you to check it out, he's the guy talking to the girl on the stage at the beginning of the video.
2.  This is also a true statement and Aunt Phyllis is another one of the great women in my life.  She inspired me to work hard and do what I have a passion for, she worked for years in hotel management and the hospitality industry.  
Her ranch is on my mind because we are going to visit her this Spring Break! :) 
If you are ever in Amarillo, you HAVE to check out her ranch!
3. Although I admire architecture a great deal, I've always wanted to be a teacher.  I feel our profession is a calling.  We may not get equitable pay for the work we do, but our reward is surely in heaven with all the little people we influence everyday.  {Sigh}
Well, hey, this has been fun!  I'll be posting tomorrow for 5 for Friday, so ya'll come back now ya hear?--Sorry, spring break and the ranch are calling my name!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Another Snow Day--Monday Made It

Well, guess what?  It's another snow day here, so today I made several things for my classroom.  My friends think I on my days off, I do nothing. Ha!  I'm linking up with 4th Grade Frolics' Monday Made It! 
With all the snow hub bub, I know my little caterpillars are going to be interested in all things snow.  So, when I found this idea on Pinterest, I knew I had to make it happen!
So tomorrow (when I get paid), I will purchase all 3 ingredients and make my play snow.

This weekend I cut out this 2 ton roll of lamination for flip books for the kiddos.  I'm almost done and will put them on rings tonight!

 Well, maybe I should be doing more, but I'm enjoying my snow days.  I've organized our bedroom closet and I'm moving on to the guest room!  Oh yeah!

I made a linky party with a rafflecopter giveaway!  I hope you enter, click on this post for details!  Make sure you use my graphic and link back to my page to qualify!

When you're done entering my giveaway, head over to Live Laugh I Love Kindergarten's giveaway!
Have a great week!
Later gators,

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Peek at My Week~Visual Plans

Hello, bloggy friends and visitors!  I have watched this visual lesson plan linky series for months.  I've always thought...I wish my lesson plans looked like Deedee's from Mrs. Wills Kindergarten Blog!  This week, I made it happen people!   
Click to see:  My Visual Plans
This week, I'm entering a giveaway from Mrs. Thompson from Adventures in Teaching blog.  Please click on the previous link (because I haven't learned how to do the pic/link cool bloggy trick).  Just by blogging about this giveaway, I increased my entries by 2.  I have several things on my wish list on TPT and have my eye on the $25 TPT gift certificate.  {Wish me luck!}
 Lesson Plan Activity Credits:  
Hey, guess what another snow day was just announced for my school!  Who knows, maybe I'll do the following week's lesson plans tomorrow?
Mrs. Cowan

Friday, December 6, 2013

Snow Day! Yay!


Today is a snow day, yay!  Here in Oklahoma, a good guarantee of a snow day is ice, ice baby!  (Which by the way is one of my favorite karoake songs to rap--because I can't sing in key too long.)
I have enjoyed a delightful day of making cookies, pot roast and chili.  I even persuaded my daughter and husband to organize Moosey's sock drawers (yes, he has that many socks).  Yay!  It's one of those little things that makes my heart happy, organizing the choas--especially if I don't have to do it!
Well, it's Friday again and that means it's time for Doodle Bugs' fun linky party.  Join in on the fun and click the link!

I did it!  I made my first linky party.  Now, I have maybe 10 followers, but I'm being optimistic that at least 10 of my 
friends will join me to tell the world about those top five special ornaments on their tree.  This linky party is open for 20 days, so I hope you'll join me to tell me "Where did you get that?" retrospect, I should have come up with a cooler name.  Oh well.  {Le Sigh}  Link up here and join me!

Have you ever found something
 in your house, that you had no
 idea what it was?  Well, my little something was this little lighthouse thing on the casing of my front door.  (Btw, it's not dirty, even though it looks like that in the picture, it is simply aged.)  {Link here} Well apparently, it's Jewish blessing that is required on the front door casing of every Jewish home or blessing.  It's so cool to find out that the former residents of this house left a little Godly blessing for the next tenants. :)  Now, I'll be looking for these little guys everywhere! 

Source: Link
 With the snow day here, I've had plenty of time to scroll through Pinterest and think about all the crafts I want to do over Winter Break.  One of which is a wreath from my Alma Mater, OSU.  Isn't it adorable?  It's available on Etsy, but I'm sure my Mother-In-Law could make me an OSU inspired wreath.  She really is a wreath-tastic crafter!  Of course, we will be watching the big Bedlam game here at my house, I really hope OSU sticks it to OU this year.  It will give me bragging rights all year, considering he roots for the other team.  Ugh!

This week in class, we worked on our top secret Christmas gift for the students' parents.  Every holiday, I try to have the students make what I called parent pleasers.  Yes, I know they aren't really developmentally appropriate, but as a parent, these are the gifts we treasure for years and years.
Also, my kiddos had a Kenna session.  We sketched and measured Kenna.  My little caterpillars were so engaged and learning.  The best part of it all is it was their idea to investigate pets, caretaking and specifically Kenna, our school dog.
 My favorite blog read this week is Tulsa Kids magazine about Oklahoma values.  It's nice when someone not in the education field speaks out!  Check it out here.  I'm sure no matter what state you're from, education is being attacked specifically the teaching profession at large.  Currently in Oklahoma, the teachers pension is being trimmed and attacked.  Come on people, really?

Sorry to end on a "negative" note here, but I think teachers need to be more vocal about the politics that affects our profession.  Whether your "political" or not, politics will impact your classroom and your wallet.  So speak out already, people!

Later Gators,

Click here to join the Linky Party:  Doodle Bugs


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Long Term Investigations--Caretaking Unit

Let me first warn you, I'm new to this Reggio inspired business.  Our school uses a lot of different philosophies to round out our instuction and approaches with our students.  Some of the other approaches we implement are Waldorf, Conscious Discipline and Love & Logic.  I personally like to sprinkle a lot of Great Expectations, too.  However, while I'm really familiar with all the other approaches, so I'm trying to learn more about why we do the Reggio things we do at our school.  IT. HAS. BEEN. A. PROCESS.  (Big props to my Pre-K Team, I could not have done this without their help!)
So, in my path to understanding long term investigations, I have been doing A LOT of reading.  I found this awesome article about long term investigations on NAEYC's website.  I loved how the teacher made the learning process visible and communicated with the parents, which is a big emphasis in the Reggio world. 
Now, you can't rush a long term investigation.  I started my year out doing all those get to know you things we do as teachers to bond with our class and that are so neccessary to build a classroom community.
A big part of discovering the long term interests is to sit back and let the classroom environment inspire the children.  Then I watch, like a stalker, observing them, recording conversations and seeing what they are interested in.  Through my observations, I quickly discovered three themes/investigation possibilities.  My students were pretending to cook and build stores in blocks, pretending to be monsters (this was mid-October) and pretending to dogs/cats on the playground.  My assistant and I talked about their interests and decided to ask the students in morning meeting what they would like to investigate further.   I was quite shocked at the results.  Hands down, I thought they would choose something else...
However, my students choose to investigate pets. 
Side note: For simplicity's sake, I just wrote one word on the smartboard so we could sound out the onset sounds.  Also, during the vote, I was surprised when one of my students said, "Remember, I can write my name."  So some of the names are written by me and others are written by the students. 

Now our class is exploding with interest and engagement.  Not to say they weren't engaged before, but now it's so much more purposeful and it's so student driven!  I'm amazed, I really am.  Just look at my little caterpillars here in our block center.  They decided our reading buddy Valentine needed a house.  On their own, they built him this structure and began discussing how many blocks and then they added a door for him. 

I just can't wait to see where this investigation goes next!  Have you ever worked with an emergent curriculum?  What kind of long term investigations have your students explored?

As always, love the comments!  Keep 'em coming!

Happy Hump Day!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Where Did You Get That? Linky Party

So, we all have them.  The gloppy, painted clay ornaments that may seem ill formed to the outside observer.  However, be still my beating heart...these ornaments make me weepy eyed every year.  I know you guys have them, too.  So, I thought why not share these wonderful stories/ornaments with the world?  {Insert triumphant music here}  This my first created linky party and I'm calling it, "Where Did You Get That?"--I hope you join in! 
I'm not even sure if I have enough followers to pull this off, so I'm counting on all of you, yes that means you, to blog about your misaligned favorite ornaments and to encourage your bloggy friends to participate. :)  Thanks friends, I knew I could count on you!

My first precious ornament  has fingerprints with permenant marker reindeer embellishments.    I first blogged about this in this post and is what inspired this linky party.  Every year this ornament reminds me of the impact I create just by doing my job every day. 
When I pulled, this ornament out of storage this year I flashed back to the day the Girl Scouts pulled several girls out of my class including this little girl. (For the sake of the story and confidentiality, let's call her Josie.) Josie came back from Girl Scouts all excited and handed me this ornament she made with her fingerprints. Josie and I had bonded over the school year and her parents had yet to realize what a gift of a child she was. I exclaimed that her parents were going to love it and she said, "It's not for them, it's for you." I insisted she take it home and she said, "Why, no one cares about me at home like you care, Mrs. Cowan. Besides, if I give it to them, they will just throw it away." So, of course I kept it. Everytime I put up this ornament, I say a prayer for this student and her family. It always brings a tear to my eye. Remember teacher friends, what we do is important to every child...sometimes (whether it is true or not) that child, your Josie, believes we are the only one who cares for them.  

This second homemade ornament is one I made for my mom when I was about 8 years old.  We made it at church at an Advent workshop.  I'm close to 40 people and my mother still held onto it for me. 

It now hangs on my tree and it reminds me of how much the little things in life touch the hearts of the ones we love.

This third ornament is one of my sweet little girl when she still openly adored me.  I think she still does most of the time, but it's hidden under all that teen angst and "OMG, my mother is embarrassing me!" attitude.  She's still completely my little Squish, even if she would have me exterminated if I ever called her by her nickname at school.  Thank goodness she doesn't read my blog. :)  Everytime I see this ornament, I remember how sweet and wonderful she is and I look forward to each day with her. I am so very, very proud of the young lady she is becoming!

This fourth ornament is from a student I had when I was his toddler teacher at a mother's day out program at my church.  I still remember how timid and shy Jack was when he walked into my classroom.  I now see him at church and although he doesn't remember how shy he used to be, it still makes me think that I somehow helped him develop into the wonderful young man he is now.  It helps me remember that our time in our student's lives are so short, but our impact is sometimes only remembered by our student's parents.  A big part of our jobs are reaching not just our students, but their parents as well!  Teaching is such a partnership with families and I try to remember this each time I have to broach those sensitive topics with families.

Last and certainly not least is an icicle ornament from my mom.  She LOVES Christmas and always tried to make it special for us.  I didn't always appreciate it and still harbor some anxiety about Christmas from all her efforts to make it so perfect for us.  (Hey, we all send our kids to therapy for something we do. Even if what we do is pretty fantastic.)  This icicle is one of the oh so many ornaments she stored for me and my brothers.  It's a handblown glass ornament that she bought on one of her many after Christmas sales outings.  So, thanks mom!
Well, I look forward to reading every one of your posts about your 5 special ornaments!  Just click on the linky button below to join the "How Did You Get That?"  linky party. :)
It's also that time of the month where we post in Farley's Currently Linky Party. 

It's pretty early in the morning here, I'm all out of whack so I'm listening to the sweet sound of silence before I return to a classroom full of little people saying, "Exuse me, Mrs. Cowan" all day long.  Don't get me wrong, I love my sweet little students, but after a week of excitement I need to get my school game face on. :)
I loved Thanksgiving Break and I am counting down to some more time with my family/friends over winter break.  With Christmas fastly approaching, I need to remember to say no sometimes so I can focus on what little time I have with Alexandra before she's off to college. Speaking of which, I need to get her a coat.  It's an ordeal to go shopping for a coat, we've gone three times already.  I hope she's this picky when she decides on what college she decides on or what man she'll marry one day!
Our favorite holiday tradition is to look at Christmas lights.  We have a church here in the Tulsa area that really decks the halls.  The church is called Rhema and my parents used to joke that if you stand around too long at Rhema you might get covered in lights.  It's so beautiful and completely free!  So if your ever in the Tulsa area around Christmas, go check it out!
Ok, drumroll.....I'm hosting a giveaway for a $10 Target  gift card and $10 Starbucks gift card!  See the Rafflecopter below for details on how to get more entries!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 29, 2013

Aww Thanksgiving Break!

Well, it's that time again!  I almost let it sneak right past
 me, but  it's Friday check-in on the week of Hannukah
and Thanksgiving. 
1.  Thanksgiving Break
Oh yeah, I've been looking forward to
to this little break all month!  I always
have a ton of laundry to do, even though
we have just a family of three.
And there is the rest of the housework! 
Once upon a time, I had a student ask me
what I would do if I won a million dollars.
He said, "Would you still be a teacher?" 
I said, "Yes, I would be a teacher with a
maid and a teaching assistant!"  :)
2.  Mr. Cowan's birthday!  We had a great karaoke birthday party and then we followed up with a home party.  (His birthday generally falls on Thanksgiving.)
3.  This weekend I'm making a name game that I saw Mrs. Watts playing with her class.  Mrs. Watts is a teacher leader at our school and she has an awesome event business with another teacher, Mrs. Nash, here in Tulsa.  Check her out if you are planning a lovely event in the surrounding area!  Mrs. Watts shared a document with me and said I could offer it as a freebie on my blog!  Yay!  Just go to my teachers pay teachers page.  I hope to finish this project by Monday for Monday Made It.
4.  Ok, I know a couple of weeks ago we got our tree up, but there was a teeny tiny problem with the pre-strung lights.  Um, they weren't working.  We bought lights to replace the burned out ones, then quickly realized, "Hey, how do you know which ones to replace?"  Well, I'll tell ya, I'm ready to unstring all those lights, because they do not work.  So this weekend, Mr. Cowan will be working on fixing that little problem! :) I love my Moosey!

Light Wrangling Moosey Style!
5.  Ornaments!  Ok, this next number comes with a little story.  Today, when I pulled out another box of Christmas ornaments (insert long story of my mom giving me a bunch of ornaments that she's stored for me since I was born.) and I pulled out this little beaut.

I thought for a second, I don't remember Alexandra making this.  Then I turned it over and saw one of my former student's name on the bottom.  In a moment, I flashed back to the day the Girl Scouts pulled several girls out of my class including this little girl.  (For the sake of the story and confidentiality, let's call her Josie.)  Josie came back from Girl Scouts all excited and handed me this ornament she made with her fingerprints.  Josie and I had bonded over the school year and her parents had yet to realize what a gift of a child she was.  I exclaimed that her parents were going to love it and she said, "It's not for them, it's for you."  I insisted she take it home and she said, "Why, no one cares about me at home like you care, Mrs. Cowan.  Besides, if I give it to them, they will just throw it away."  So, of course I kept it.  Everytime I put up this ornament, I say a prayer for this student and her family.  It always brings a tear to my eye.  Remember teacher friends, what we do is important to every child...sometimes (whether it is true or not) that child believes we are the only one who cares for them.
Mrs. Cowan
Linky Party: