Monday, July 29, 2013

Let me Introduce Myself...Yeah!

Hello Friends!  I'm working on an introduction letter to my new students and families at my new school.  (I'm seriously pinching myself that I was selected to work at my dream school!)  Before, I amp this up and put it on cute stationary and all...what do you think?  What would you include in a letter of introduction?  How do you introduce yourself to your families?

Dear Parents and Families,

I am excited to be your child’s teacher!  I’m sending you this letter so you can know a little more about me. I will be asking you to help your student write a letter about themselves for their first bit of pre-k homework! 

I have taught for several years including pre-k, kindergarten and third grade.  I have worked in various vocations for quite some time, before I returned to college. So, I am a late in life college graduate with a lot of real world experience. I graduated from OSU in 2010 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Development and Family Sciences. I am currently a graduate student at NSU. 

I have been on the other side of the teacher’s desk as a working parent!  I have a daughter who is beginning her freshmen year in high school.  I am thankful to my husband and daughter who helped me live my dream to be a classroom teacher! I can’t tell you how many nights, they have helped me cut out laminated games or make flash cards for my students.

I am passionate about education. I believe education can transform lives, it certainly has changed mine! I believe your student has a right to learn and achieve in school. I will help them set goals and exceed them!

Some other things you may want to know about me…

My favorite color is      Fuchsia Pink

My favorite animal is a  Zebra

My favorite bird is the penguin My favorite restaurant is Panera Bread!
My favorite drink is a Java Chip Frappacino (Starbucks), but any great coffee works!   

My favorite genre is historical fiction.

# of Siblings 2 brothers: Chris and Trey.  I also have 2 brother-in-laws and 3 sister-in-laws:  Marvin, Curtis, Vonda, Mickie and Miya.

# of Pets 2 cats: Mr. Kitty and Shug Avery

I look forward to meeting each of you in person and I am excited about all the great accomplishments your student is going to make this year!

Ok, now here is the part where I'd like you to tell me what I should take out or add.  Please, oh please, be honest and kind.  If it's really horrible, please e-mail me.  :)
See you soon racoons!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

10 Things I've Learned from Teaching {Linky Party}!

Hello!  I'm back from vacay and I'm joining Miss Kindergarten's linky party about the Top 10 things I've learned from teaching!

1.  When in doubt, talk it out.  You will have disagreements with co-workers, unfortunately.  If that happens, I've learned it's best to walk down to their classroom and have a good old fashioned face to face conversation.  Most of the time, this works!

2. Manilla folders.  They will be your best friend.  You can never have too many.  They are good for filing away needed papers and resources, but they are also good for file folder games and sending home information with parents.  For whatever reason, most parents keep something if you put it in an all important manilla file folder.

3.  Teacher's Association.  Here in Oklahoma, we don't have a teacher's union, we have a professional organization.  Not only was it a wonderful resource for me as a new teacher, when I did have a problem with my principal...they knew just what to do and how to phrase things so I could keep my wonderful relationship with my principal intact. (P.s. If you are a teacher in Tulsa, here's a link to TCTA.  They also have links to info. about the TLE evaluation if your district uses it.)

4.  Collaborate.  I've learned to collaborate and share with my colleagues.  In the business world, this sometimes means you don't get "credit" for your ideas.  In teaching, teachers that you help will tout your great idea and give you the credit.  So share, my friends, share.

5.  Have a Life!  People, aka your non-teaching friends, will not understand how all consuming teaching is, at first.  If you let it, teaching will consume your life.  You will ALWAYS have something to do, but it is oh so important that you schedule time to be you.  You know, the "you" you become when actually go on vacation...the you that isn't cutting out laminated things and planning centers.  If you want to know the truth, I'm still working on this one myself.

6. Songs. You can waste valuable time telling your students to line up or you can sing it.  It doesn't matter if you can sing in key.  They automatically stop what they are doing and listen.  Also, students learn concepts better with song.  I'm sure there's a scientific reason why this happens, but I like to call it MAGIC!

7.  Classroom Dojo.  Best free app ever.  When I taught 3rd grade, I used this everyday.  Students would magically raise their hand to answer a question, if I gave them classroom participation points.  When they decided to "act up" it dings their points.  At the end of the week, dojo will tell you calculate a percentage.  I put it in my grade book for their behavior grade.  Also, parents can log on and see how their kiddos behaved everyday.

8.  Teaching is Political.  I have your attention don't I?  But teaching is political.  What happens in your school and what is required from you is decided by lawmakers at your state/federal capitals everyday!  Stay informed about education reforms being kicked around by people who have NEVER stepped foot in a classroom, much less actually taught for multiple years.  Call your representatives, be polite and courteous even when it seems like they aren't listening to you.  Your voice will be heard.

9.  Band-aids Cure EVERYTHING!  I know these seems like a sweeping statement, but students {especially 3rd graders}  will think..."Hey, I can get out of class if I need a band aid."  Ah ha, don't worry little one, Mrs. Cowan has a band-aid.  This comes in handy with little guys too.  If they are upset, even if they aren't bleeding a little band-aid or ice pack will make everything ok.

10.  HAVE FUN!  Sometimes life is sad and yucky, but don't bring it to school with you.  Plan something fun and simple and you'll remember why you LOVE your job! 

I hope some of these things help you if this is your first year or your last year teaching!

Later Gators!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Goals for July & Going to Camp!

Hello, all!  I'm joining the linky party of I {Heart} Recess and talking about my July goals!  If you'd like to join in on the fun, just click on the link above for details.

Also, at the end of the week, I will be headed back to Camp Egan.  It's a magical place in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.  (Some of you may remember that back in the day, Dave Letterman made Tahlequah his headquarters.) What's so magical about Camp Egan is so hard to vocalize, but when you are there memories are made.  You become closer to nature and people who believe in doing good for the sake of good.  :) I know, I know...I don't normally talk like this, but Camp Egan just brings out that inner child in me.  Anywho, Camp Egan has no wifi, 3g or cell phone signal.  It literally takes you back in time.  So when I go to camp, I go off grid!  I wonder if my Kindle app will work on my phone?  Oh well, guess I'll find out.

On to my goals!  I struggled just a few days ago with posting the images from Currently, but a helpful blogger friend, Melissa from See Bean Teach suggested I check out Oh Boy 3rd Grade's Currently Post on how to post images.  Luckily linked on Farley's blog was * Albuquerque Amy's * helpful blog post which explained in detail on to do it.  So if you struggled, struggle no longer!
Personal:  We had an infestation of fleas at my house this summer.  In Oklahoma, we had a mild winter and apparently this allowed all sorts of icky little leaches to populate my front yard.  When our cat, Shug, escaped to the roof one day...she came back inside the house with fleas that are impervious to the cheap flea drops we bought at Petsmart.  Well, in the process of flea bombing our whole house (at $15 a room, mind you) we had to remove all our clothes in our closets.  We had to wash clothes, even the clean ones to finally deflea our house.  Btw, this is slightly embarrassing.  I mean, who knew fleas could take over my world!  So, saying all that, I have some laundry to do, ya'll!

Family:  I have recently begun a picture and blog to document my family.  My mom does this through scrap booking and she truly is an artist.  I, however, do not have the patience, time or ability to make a great scrapbook.  So I was inspired earlier last year by a fellow teacher who posted a picture a day with an explanation of what she did.  Then her Momma turned it all into a book!  So that is my blog everyday about my blended little family!  If you'd like to read along click here.

Health:  I'm on weight watchers, trying to lose some of those not so lovely lumps (you know the ones!).  One of my goals is to get up to exercising 5 days a week.  The problem is I strain myself the first day overdoing it and spend the rest recuperating!  So I've learned, a little goes a LONG way.  I started at 10 minutes/3 times a week this week and I've done really well!  It certainly helps that my sweet Moose (my hubby's nickname) has walked with me anytime I want!  He thinks it's funny when I say, "Come on honey, it's time to walk me." :)  It cracks me up, too!

School:  I'm headed up and moving out!  I have an amazing offer to teach at a Reggio inspired school with a principal I've dreamed of working for since I interned at her school.  I love my old school, but I can't pass up this great chance!  I'm moving things out of my almost pre-k class and into my brand spanking new classroom.  I'm excited, but I know I'm going to have to sort through my teacher hoard (Kinder, Pre-K, 3rd grade stuff) and get rid of some of it.  So, that is a BIG, BIG job.  I hope and pray I don't dwell and linger over stuff I haven't used in the last 2 years. 

Blog:  I wanted to learn how to make my blog link up in comments on other blogger's page.  I couldn't figure out how to do it, so I asked my new blogger buddy Julie from First Grade Critter Cafe and she taught me how to do it.  A big thanks to Julie for her help!  However, I already made my July goal poster, so I didn't want to change it!

Outside the Box:  I spent a lot of time at school last year and I want to find more balance.  This month, I declare I will learn to relax and hang out at home more.  Now, don't worry I won't be a hermit.  I just will try to rip and run less and enjoy my friends and family a little more before summer is over. 

Well, I'm off to pack up for camp!  If you like what you see here, follow me on bloglovin or here on blogger.  Now, I'll let you in on a little secret.  Apparently following me is an exclusive club because I only have 2 if you follow it's like you are part of the VIP, baby! :) 


Friday, July 5, 2013

Favorite Pins Friday!

Well, lookey here.  I have proved my husband wrong.  Time on Pinterest was NOT wasted. :)  I'm participating in First Grade Parade's Favorite Pins Friday!  Click the link for more details and join in on the fun!  So just in case you're not following me on pinterest, we can see our favorite pins of our favorite bloggers!

Okay, now on to the pins!

The first pin just cracked me up is from The Berry.

Do you see the caption?  That's hilarious!  The next time I confiscate a phone and it's unlocked...I'm doing this!  I don't think I'll run into too many pre-k students with cell phones, but hey you never know!
The second pin, I'm sharing this week is from We Are Teachers and it encapsulates what I'm trying to do this summer.  Relax and rejuvenate for the fall, which after all the pd I did this summer is well deserved!  I don't think my summer will last long, my new class will be ready August 5th!  I'm so stinking excited to get in there and get to hum.  I digressed.  Summer, Christina, summer. 
I plan on doing number 5 tonight.  I'm going to go for a walk.  Which should fit in perfectly for my Weight Watchers weigh in tomorrow. 

My third favorite pin is from the Pioneer Woman (love supporting my Oklahoma gals) which is recipe I tried last night for the first time.  The Pioneer Woman calls it Watermelon Pico de Gallo, a teacher friend called it Watermelon Salsa, but I just call it delicious!  It's a great way to incorporate my favorite fruit in a dish that my husband will actually eat (He hates watermelon!  It's a texture thing, he says.)  I'm usually weird myself about mixing fruits and veggies in a dish, but I'm trying to branch out.  The watermelon makes the salsa/pico sweet and the jalepenos give it a little heat.  It's just delicious with some tortilla chips or my new fav, cracker chips (less points).

My fourth favorite pin was easy to find on pinterest, but it kept linking to a pinterest cousin like entity where I couldn't actually buy the product, just learn about it.  So after some digging I found the real link at Rakku Designs.

Look at that beauty!  On the website, it says some of these rotating shoe racks can hold up to THIRTY pairs of shoes!  It's only $70!  I know, I know.  I don't normally pair "it's only" and "$70" together, but shoe racks are expensive and they don't normally hold THIRTY pairs of shoes.  I bought a shoe rack from Target for almost $40 and it only held 10 pair of shoes.  We have a compact closet and I'd love to see one of those babies in my closet soon! 

My fifth favorite pin this week relates to my anniversary coming up in 2 weeks!  I think this would be a great way to remember our wedding anniversary, since I'm TERRIBLE with dates.  If I see these pillows every morning, I'm sure to remember my anniversary date, right?  Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it! 

You can get a custom pair of these pillows from So Vintage Chic on Etsy!

Well, I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and my little blog here.  If you like my blog, feel free to stalk my blog any ol' time you are in the neighborhood!


Thursday, July 4, 2013

That Was Easy~Thanks Mrs. Stanford!

So, remember how just yesterday I said, "I wish I knew how to make teachers pay teachers products."~well, I did.  And guess what?  I decided to look it up on good old youtube. 

I found sooo many tutorials on youtube to help teachers learn how to make tpt documents!  My favorite one is from Mrs. Stanford's Class.  She goes step by step on how to create a product from scratch.  Here's the Video!  Get this, Mrs. Stanford even makes her own fonts and backgrounds.  I know.  Mind blown, right? 

Just think, all this time...well, I am not going to beat myself up about this!  Moving on...

Here is my first attempt at creating a document on power point.  For those teachers in Oklahoma, I know a lot of our evaluations are done using the TLE rubric.  Last year, our principal had us document anything she didn't observe in order for us to receive the full points.  So, many teachers created TLE notebooks divided by the domains and dimensions.  So for all of you teachers that are using the TLE, here's a free binder cover!  Click Here to Download for Free :)

I just love freebies, don't you?

Have a Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Currently in this Mild July (so far...dun, dun, duuuuun)

I am so happy to see some of my other bloggin' buddies posted their Currently in July link up today, so now I won't be the only one tardy for the party!  If you would like to join in on the fun, click to Farley's blog to learn the details!

I saved my currently picture as a powerpoint slide show and then saved it as a pdf, which has worked in the past.  However, this time it just didn't work!  Does anyone have any hints or tips for me on this?

Ok, despite my tech flub, I'm still participating.  So, please imagine with me that I have inserted the cute graphic page that our buddy Farley created. ; ) (thanks!)

Listening:  To the sweet sound of the a/c
I'm so thankful that althought the temperatures are mild here in Oklahoma that our air conditioning is working.  I love a/c.  I get grumpy when I get hot and let me tell you, it's just not pretty with the sweat and attitude flinging in the air.  So around this time of year, I always say a THANK YOU to whoever invented modern air conditioning.

Loving:  My Last Real Month of Summer
I feel like this is really my last month of real summer.  I know my non-teaching friends think I have the whole summer to frolic and play, but in reality I spent the first month of my summer in professional development.  Some of it was good and some was eh.  Next week, I will be a camp counselor at ol' Camp Egan where I cannot even get a wifi signal, I will be able to totally relax and just hang with the kids.  It will be nice, sigh.  So I will be praying that a/c is working at Camp Egan~don't even imply camping with a/c is cheating~and the temperature in Oklahoma is mild!

Wanting:  A Garden
I have a hankering to plant my own garden at home.  We have a garden at school, but I am really motivated to plant my home garden where the produce aisle will always be open.  I'm going to try some friend planting this year, so my tomatoes will be chemical free!  I pinned a lot of fun garden stuff on my pinterest, so hopefully I'll actually do some of it!

Needing:  To Learn How to Make Cute TPT Products
I need to learn how to apply all those cute graphics and make my own TPT products!  I also just need to make some to give away~I must give back, I've downloaded so many freebies this year!

Tips:  Enjoy Your Children!
I officially have a high school kiddo in the house!  I can't believe she will off to college in 4 short years!  Enjoy those babies, ladies!

I went to observe my new building and to see my teammates' classes do transitions from morning arrival.  I found so many cool things, that I simply must share with you!
This is a school wide rainbow project that all the 3 year old classrooms are working on to decorate the front of our school.  The pre-k (four year old) rooms are currently under construction and I will be moving in soon!  This chandelier is just so beautiful and is just made from everyday object that parents/families donated to the school.
In my previous post, I talked about the identity panels that are present in Reggio inspired schools.  Here's an explanation (see below) along with another example for me to ponder.

 I also promised in my last post to show some examples of traditions in a Reggio class room.  This first example is a family chandilier to celebrate families.  The teacher had each child decorate a wire with beads and objects at home with their families.  Then she added them to to the home decor piece to make this beautiful art piece that each child had a hand in making.  Isn't it gorgeous?
 The next tradition is the birthday tradition chandelier.  The teacher in this room, hand made all these glorious globes for each child.  At the top of each globe is the child's name and birthday.  On the student's birthday, he/she picks a buddy to help them plan their birthday globe.  As you can see, they are all so precious!  Then when the children are done, the teacher lights a battery operated candle inside the globe.  How special is that?  I personally have always hated the mini birthday parties in my classroom, some students celebrate and others don't bring anything.  Then all day, you hear the chorus of "cupcakes, cupcakes" as you try to teach a math/literacy lesson.  When I taught 3rd grade last year, I learned to make the celebration something small and meaningful.  We did a class book, but this year will be different.  I don't know how, but it will be different, meaningful and definitely respectly to each child!

 Last pic from today, I swear!  I just had to share my teacher friends, little friends at work in the art center.  Aren't they precious?  Have a Happy 4th of July and if you like what you saw, please follow my page on bloglovin! ~Christina