50 posts…I had no clue!

I know I have just started on this blogging journey, but it was a happy surprise to get this notification!!!

I am going to keep on writing and sharing. I want to thank all of you who follow and read my weekly post.

It really means a lot that you take time to give my posts a read.

If there is ever a topic or question you think I could shed light on, add my two sense or explore contact me.

Itinerant Teacher Holiday Blues: 3 Ways to Sparkle and Shine

We get in our cars and Christmas music is on the radio, right after Halloween. We see the drive through beverages get sprinkled with peppermint. We start planning lessons with a holiday vibe.

All of these things can be lovely and delightfully festive, but if you are itinerant the holiday season, in school, can be a real bummer. I know not everyone feels this way, but I have seen a few comments on Facebook posts and I know I am not the only one out there feeling the itinerant holiday blues. Being on the go all day does not pair up with Christmas parties and Secret Santa.

Sometimes being itinerant is beyond great. We see a situation or work in situations that look stressful….are stressful and we get to leave when our time is up. If you are like me you still think about difficult students and situations after you leave, but I am not in it all day. I say a prayer for that teacher or team and move on to the next place in my busy day. This is a definite bonus to traveling.

Make tracks….and get gone!

Once the weather turns and the holidays start to happen I feel an internal shift. I do not love the cold, so that definitely adjusts my mood, but I think last year I really felt bummed out and left out of all the holiday spirit in school.

  • I see students during the fun holiday staff lunches
  • I am not in a place every day or at the right time to participate in fun group games or activities-like Secret Santa
  • I often miss the sweet holiday performances because my time is up and I am moving to my next location.

If you read my blog regularly you know there are some amazing places and people I have worked with. I have had opportunities to feel part of something and I think that when that special something isn’t happening, it can be tough to get through a time of year that personally can feel stressful or overwhelming, then head into work and I think for me it creates a little grey cloud over my head…no mistletoe to be found.

This year I am going to try to put some holiday pep in my step and not fall into a candy cane induced pity party.

Festive Apparel

Ugly sweaters….bring them on!!! Maybe you don’t go that far, but try holiday or Christmas:

  • Tee shirt
  • Socks
  • Earrings/jewelry
  • Sweater or Sweatshirt
  • Leggings
Snowflake sweater and headband

Looking festive can make you feel festive. Often these fun items are conversation starters. Students love it! This can be a simple way for you to blend into the holiday aesthetic.

Inspirational tee, headband, leggings and earrings

Holiday Lesson Plans

Even though your classroom comes out of a bag like Mary Poppins and you probably are not decorating your work space, try to add that holiday magic to your lessons.

  • Holiday Games
  • Festive Manipulatives
  • Books
  • Worksheets
  • Apps

These are a few of my favorites.

Mini erasers and felt gingerbread men for games

Look online for some inspiration. I love to find ideas on Pinterest and resources on Teacher Pay Teachers.

I know there are so many more amazing holiday books, but I try to stay away from ones I see classroom teachers read. I want my students engaged and not bored with a story they just heard.

Holiday Treats

Maybe consider a peppermint mocha, hot cocoa or hot cider to lift your spirits as you are traveling all day. I will still be following one of my cardinal rules…”If I can’t drive though it, I don’t do it.”

Add a Christmas cookie to your lunch box. #selfcare

See if there is a fun holiday lunch or staff get together you can attend. If it is something you would enjoy- it is worth an ask.

No matter where you are, the weather, the driving conditions…I am wishing you a Merry and Bright December.

If you have any suggestions or tips for December holiday survival comment, email…reach out. I would love to hear from you!

Itinerant Teacher Book Picks: Favorite Novels to Read with Students

Readers gotta read and listeners gotta listen! Let’s turn the pages!

Restart

This novel is a great middle school pick. It has multiple characters and the chapters are character specific. The chapters are not incredibly long, so it is realistic to read a chapter during part of a session.

Many of my students have enjoyed this as a read aloud. It stirs up great discussion. The language is clear and relatable for middle schoolers. It addresses bullying in a multifaceted approach. As a reader you can see inside the minds of the bullied and the bully.

Depending on what your goals are you can easily work on comprehension, vocabulary and expressive communication skills.

Hello Universe

I am currently reading this novel and we are loving it. This is another story where individual characters tell the story from their perspective. My student is enjoying the story, but finds the chapters told from the bullies perspective harder to listen to.

Bullying is such a conversation and issue within schools. It is great that there are authors writing relatable stories. And I think it is so helpful when students can generate conversation from a real and deep place.

This story is particularly great, in my opinion, because one of the characters is hard of hearing and wears hearing aids. The author has done a wonderful job writing chapters from a hard of hearing girl’s perspective…..and the best part is she is not the character being bullied. She has struggles, but she is confident and strong. I love this so much. I want my students to read about smart, confident kids like them!

When we finish this book I am hoping to complete a resource to support this book. Stay tuned!

Because of Mr. Terrupt

I have read this novel with students as our read aloud and as classwork. This is how I was first exposed to the series. The first book is great and it is awesome for fifth or sixth grade students.

This is yet another book told by each character. I just realized this is a commonality with the books I have listed so far. I think the chapter break ups, personalities and perspectives make these books easy to stop and start for an itinerant teacher.

In this story there is a bit of humor, struggle, heartbreak, and friendship issues. This book is very accessible and relatable to 10-12 year old kids. There is great vocabulary and questions for discussion you can pull from each chapter.

If you do not have time or the inclination to pull the vocabulary and questions, there are really great resources you can find on Teachers Pay Teachers. I bought a resource and it is very helpful.

My Life in Pink and Green Series

I bought this series a few years ago. I had a female middle school student who needed to work on listening and engage in discussion. She needed alot of academic support and was not strong in ELA. I choose this series because it has a great friendship storyline, there are problem solving skills, but the story is light and breezy. Some kids already have heavy lives, sometimes I want to be a bright spot in their day.

These three books were an enjoyable read for both of us. This novel is told from the main characters perspective. Switching from character to character can overwhelm some kids, so this series was perfect for a student that has processing difficulties or learning disabilities. The language was also simple and believable.

We were able to use this series to tackle IEP goals and basic middle school life. I try to select books that will fully support my students. They are way more than their IEP and I strive to fully support them.

The Secrect Language of Girls Series

I think all three of these books are great. I borrowed them out of a middle school library. My student selected the first book and wanted to finish the series.

I was very happy to find out a student I once had, as a consult, also read this series. Both students loved these books, even though they are very different people and learners. I think that says alot for an author if you can touch different types of readers.

  • Realistic
  • Easy to read
  • Easy to follow the plot
  • Addresses friendship and social issues
  • The characters grow and change over the 3 books

I loved how as a reader we followed these friends grow and mature, sometimes together and sometimes apart. That seems realistic and helpful as kids wade through the turbulent waters of middle school.

These are just some of the awesome books I like to use…I will be adding more in the future. I am fairly sure one of my schools will have a book fair again and I always love to look on Amazon. I also see a Barnes and Noble visit in my future. My mini me loves to read. Together we make a dangerous combination in a book store.

I know that libraries are a wonderful way to try new books out for free. I do this too, but if I love it and know I will read a novel multiple times-I purchase. This way I can sticky note it up, underline and highlight/tag pages.

Read, Research and Respond

If you enjoy reading with your students I hope you give one of these a try. Happy reading. Happy teaching.

Also, if you ever want to comment or share something I would love to hear from you. Also if you like this post and would be interested I being alerted to my next post you can always follow my blog.

5 Observations On My Gluten Free Journey

Whether you read my blog on a regular basis or this is your first time- welcome. Writing about being gluten free is going to be something that I want to post about on a semi regular basis. This is still new way for me to live and I feel like I learn different things all the time.

My hope is my story will connect with you on some level.

I have only been living GF for 19 months. I am still a newbie to this lifestyle. I did not choose this-it choose me. Celiac was finally my diagnosis to a 15 year struggle with IBS.

To live my best life I have to eat gluten free.

I have written other posts about this journey, so check back through my blog. Some of those are a combination of positive and sad feelings about going GF. Each one was written in real time as I make my way on this new path.

Here I want to focus on a handful of positive observations I have had lately.

Bye Bye Angelsoft

This may seem like a silly thing to write about or too much information, but it is a solid reality. We shop for and by less toilet paper. I don’t live part time in the bathroom anymore!!!! Saving money and time….winning .

Bye Bye GPS

Not stressing about where to find a bathroom is a new observation. I used to plan around if and where a restroom would be. This anxiety I had over making sure there was one made my day miserable, especially with travel. It became a norm sadly, but now I recently stopped doing it. I am just going about my day care free. This little stone is gathering no moss.

Bye Bye Butterflies and Anxiety

So now that I don’t have that panic, stress and worry over: feeling sick, will I be sick, or when will the cramps kick in- I noticed about a month ago I don’t have that jittery feeling anymore. I think it is a two part situation.

1. My physical health is improving

2. My mental health is improving

Bye Bye Bloat

This is one of my favorite changes. It is a new sensation to not feel gross all the time. It is great to fit in my clothes after eating a meal. It is awesome to not hear a thunderstorm in my stomach. That was sometimes embarrassing. I could cover up the other two with a fake smile and a loose outfit, but I couldn’t hide the rumbling.

Bye Bye Fatigue

This is a battle I have won. I used to complain about being tired. I was sort of a broken record. I don’t think I was even aware how annoying and fatiguing I was! Now if I am tired it is a normal sort of tired. I don’t wake tired.

  • I am not up sick in the middle of the night and I sleep better.
  • My inflammation is down and I sleep better.
  • I can do yoga now…..I sleep better.
  • I can accomplish more in my day….I sleep better.

Hello Happiness

Finding what works I think is the key to any necessary change. I have adjusted my diet and seen life changing benefits. At first I was happy I had an answer, then I was mad at all the food I couldn’t eat and now I am just trying to find balance with my new existence. Allowing myself grace, knowing I might have a bad day and trying to practice patience with the process.

Itinerant Teacher Book Picks: Picture Books

I love a Scolastic Book Fair.

I don’t know if it is just me, but I totally love it when I see a book fair roll into one of my schools. I love shopping for my students…or should I really say for myself. Haha. New books are right up there with new crayons, fresh markers and new stickers.

I love seeing new titles or titles I might have not been interested in at a previous sales. I have a good size collection already, but I get inspired by new authors and illustrators. New stories enhance a lesson that might be stale and in need of a reboot.

Free tote bag…#bookjoy

I had to get this one….the squirrels look so cranky! The title is a lesson in itself. It is very fun, fast moving and has a plethora of colorful and complex language. I am excited to use this with muti ages. I love being able to take something that seems like it is for my littles and use it with my older students.

I like stories that also have a series or style that my students recognize. There is something comforting in the familiar.

These Old Lady books are always fun. Why shouldn’t she go to space…she has already eaten so much on earth. She is limitless.

I have a few versions of the three little pigs and when I saw this one I had to have it. I think seeing characters and stories told from different perspectives helps students see that a story doesn’t need to be told just one way. I have a few versions of the Little Red Hen. I have loved those stories for 15 plus years. One so much it is taped together.

They are great to compare and contrast.

This book is adorable. It has great illustrations, humor and is actually informational. I love a book that teaches science in a fun and engaging way. It is sometimes a struggle for me to teach science concepts, so when I can cute it up I am all in!!

This title says it all. I think my students struggle at times to make friends. Sometimes it is communication issues or they are just shy. Either way I want each and every child to feel like they have one or two friends. School is tough sometimes…for teachers too and I think without friends it is even harder, so I think it is my job to help my students learn how to make connections.

This style of post will be reoccurring. I feel there will be new titles in my future….of course there will be! There are plenty of bloggers who review books…i am staying in my lane. I just want to share what I am using and my hope is it can work for you too.

Happy Reading with your students!!!

Sticky Note Obsessed: 3 Ways I Use Daily

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Student-Self-Monitoring-and-Data-Collection-Sticky-Notes-4337240

Plan Book Notes

This year I have gone back to a paper planner. I took a break for the past two years doing an electronic, web based planner. I enjoyed the web format, but I really missed the act of writing things down.

I downloaded a planner from Teachers Pay Teachers that I could punch the pages and use my Happy Planner rings with. The size of the squares are perfect to fit the smaller 2×2 inch sticky notes.

I buy fun colors and mix it up in my book. I write my session notes on the sticky, then stick it right over my planner square.

I present my sticky notes for the week.

Insta Lessons

Sometimes a teacher throws something at me upon arrival. I have learned to roll with it and whip out the sticky notes! Being itinerant can be difficult at times, but keeping my favorite tools in my bag has made teaching easier and less stressful.

Insta lesson ideas:

Storytelling

I love these…bright ideas…found at the Dollar Tree

Phonics

Auditory discrimination

Letter and sound recognition

Spelling

Speechreading

Practicing our speechreading and calendar skills.

Vocabulary

Verb search from a story/auditory activity.

Matching games

Word scrambles

Labeling

I can write what is needed quickly and I love that the kids love them. They are colorful, stick to the table and stick to eachother. My students love being able to manipulate them-depending on the activity.

I can take a simple sequencing activity and stretch it. Combining two goals in one simple activity.

Book Tabs & Tags

When reading a novel with students or even a picture book I always find vocabulary students don’t know. I tab the words in the book, so I can review and revisit. I like to write questions, predictions and inferences on a sticky and stick them on specific pages or on the inside cover to save for later. I write student responses as well. Sticking the questions on the pages to reflect on at a later date.

Haven’t finished yet…so far we love it. Book review in the future!

I love to have students use the sticky notes to record feelings or ideas they have during the reading or listening process.

This book is currently being read and tagged.

As you can see I love a sticky or post it note. I find them incredibly useful, convenient, portable and practical when teaching all ages of students. I think they are perfect for being on the go all day long.

What tools or materials do you always keep in your “tool bag”?

Drop me a line or comment. I would love to hear from you!

Backing Up & Slowing Down When Teaching Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children

Sometimes when I read an IEP and I try to build a picture, road map or plan of where I want to see a student go. This to me seems normal and makes my type A heart happy. I love a plan!

I know the IEP is not the whole child-no matter what is written in the pleps, but if people have been thorough and truthful it should be a solid picture of a student. I would like to think I do a good job putting an IEP together, but I know there is always room for improvement, better ways to phrase things or different perspectives to look at when writing.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I recently saw a Facebook post of a teacher who was questioning a students abilities and progress. Not to expose to much of that story, but she had really great comments about the IEP not matching what she saw in her classroom. This got me thinking about what we write and what to do when the student in front of you doesn’t match with their document.

I think there are a few things to do.

STOP AND SLOW DOWN

Stop lesson planning for the moment.

INFORMALLY ASSESS

Think of some ways to gather data and notes that can show where the student’s present level really is.

  • Language skills
  • Communication skills
  • Academic skills
  • Social skills
  • Advocacy skills
  • Recent audiogram

DO NOT PLAY THE BLAME GAME

I would like to think many teachers are trying their best and think they have written an accurate report. Last year is over, look forward and breathe.

You can always ammend.

I think starting from now can go in two directions. The student may have less skills than reported or more. Maybe the IEP was accurate…students can regress or mature.  Either way the only way to make progress is be in the now.

START FROM NOW

Think about what needs to be addressed in the goals.

  • What is measurable?
  • Are you the only one able to collect and track the data? Sometimes this is the case, but think of how the team can work together.

Think about what is written in the PLEPs.

  • Does the IEP reflect the students present levels?
  • Are the needs/goals evident in the narrative?
  • Are there other things to work on that are not a specific goal? Not every need needs a goal.
  • Has parent feedback and concerns helped shape the narrative?

Once these things are looked and and adjusted start planning again. Now that you have a more accurate baseline it will be easier to plan and collect data.

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com