Posted in Teaching Life

Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

This is just a quick wrap up of some of the things I did last week…sorry this is a bit delayed, but pocket these ideas for next year. Also, I have seen some Thanksgiving books on sale, so maybe these titles or the selections in my last blog are on sale….worth a browse.

This was an Amazon deal…7.99 for hard cover.

This book is always a hit. Many teachers use this and add the turkey in disguise activity to go with. I like to read and have a discussion as we read. No matter how many times a student has heard a story I feel if it is from a different reader, there is a new slant to the way it is read and hearing a good story more than once is never a bad thing.

These were some phonics cards I whipped up to support my students working on initial sounds. I personally love the clip art. I use alot from this artist. These cards can be use in multiple ways. These will be a future product in my TpT store.

We made personal feasts after we read about the first Thanksgiving. I very much enjoyed watching and hearing about what items made each student’s menu. The language that came from a simple cut, sort and glue was awesome.

If you read my blog regularly, you know I love sticky notes. I have started adding them to books. I know classroom teachers have been doing this for years. I did when I was younger and very green, but over the years I sort of let it go. This year I am feeling the pressure of covid and hate how it is effecting my mental state, so questions stuck on pages have kept me focused during individual readings.

The purple, mesh zip bag is my go to this year. I keep differently sized sticky notes, pencils, a pen, a flair pen and one sharpie….there might be a few rogue paperclips, but the core elements are my mini, mental toolbox. I can quickly and easily jot a question or observation down. I keep this toolkit in my bag-just for me. I should keep some candy in it…somedays I need a boost.

With all the challenges this school year has presented, I am trying my best to center myself back into activities and materials that I love. Doing the things that support goals, but more importantly bring some joy to a session. As this November comes to a close I am feeling very grateful for the flexibility and uniqueness teaching 1:1 brings.

Here’s to a fantastic December. Check back to see what I have going on in the classroom and at home.

Posted in Teaching Life

Giving Thanks and Having Fun with Online & In Person Activities

School has obviously looked very different for so many of us this Fall.  I have been trying to adapt, adjust and maintain some normalcy.  Thinking about how I am going to use resources and materials has been more time consuming than usual, but I have found ways to make lessons enjoyable.

https://wow.boomlearning.com/deck/would-you-rather-thanksgiving-HZ2qXsuxEpJeurhGj

I have created some Boom Cards to offer light fun for students. These activities are quick and the task is familiar. I am trying my best to keep our favorite things safe and efficient.

Boom Cards have been a blessing. I love making them and the kids love playing the decks. These activities support multiple skills.

  • Reading
  • Comprehension
  • Language
  • Choice making
  • Humor
https://wow.boomlearning.com/store/bundle/7buxqaBByE2iatu9h

This bundle is everything I have made Thanksgiving related. My hope is to put one or two more decks together. I have a couple of ideas on the back burner. The time has been the challenge. I’m sure if you are currently teaching, you can totally relate to the multiple to do lists!

This book is an oldie but goodie. I love any books that get kids thinking about how they can be a helper. I added these cards from a sequencing resource for support. We explored the language and message of the story.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Listening-Speechreading-Fall-and-Halloween-4968299

We used the pictures for listening or speechreading and then generated sentences to support phonics, handwriting, vocabulary and language.

These are some of our favorite Thanksgiving stories. Each is very different and depending on the student I am with is used differently.

  • Listening
  • Comprehension
  • Retelling
  • Vocabulary
  • Text to Self Connection
  • Predicting

This is the resource that I use to support the stories or use independently. I created different mats and pictures to support IEP goals in a fun and festive way. They are in my TPT store.

I laminate these for durability, but this year it has been a time saver. I wipe everything after a student uses it. I don’t have to have multiple copies. The stories are only touched by me, so they stay safe. I have used these mats with mini erasers in the past. Not this year, sadly. I might use candy corn or skittles. I’m sure those will be way more enjoyable!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Fall-Halloween-Bookmarks-4952078

I made this resource last year, gave it to students and blogged about it. I am so thankful I have this resource. Things have been so difficult and foriegn this year, so being able to print and laminate these add an extra level of care to my relationship with my students. They all know how much I love to read, believe in them as readers and want them to read for enjoyment. I love giving them a fresh bookmark with an uplifting phrase.

These are in my store as well. I also have different holidays and some basic sets. Add a ribbon or not, your students will love these!

This little beauty just arrived at my door! I have 3 more titles coming. I just can’t help myself when it comes to books. This will be a new read for me and hopefully my students. I will put another post up with the activities and other books once I use them. Stay tuned.

I am counting my blessings and am feeling very grateful that I have been able to be in person with my students. Hearing their laughs, listening to their awesome questions and feeling that special something that happens when you turn the page and they are totally absorbed into the story had been very gratifying. Everyday I get…I will happily take.

Posted in Gluten Free Life, Positive Life, Teaching Life

Fall 2020 Vibes

October is almost over and things have been smooth. We all are in good health, school has been manageable and I have been able to enjoy some of the typical Fall things that bring joy. I know so many of us are over all the things that have been weighing us down, so this post is a hodgepodge of positivity.

Getting the pumpkins for the porch was very important. I love pulling up to my house after an exhausting day at school and seeing the colors of Fall. Fall is my favorite season, so I am soaking up all of its beauty.

I had to get all the colors this year. Typically I go with a couple of mums, but this year I felt the more the better. I thankfully found ones reasonably priced. I may love the look, but I am still going to be thrifty.

We are taking full advantage of the cooler temps. Walks are still important for our mental and physical health. It has been fun getting out and seeing what our neighbors have done to celebrate Fall or Halloween.

I have turned into a two cups of coffee a day person. I have only had a morning cup for years, but with the challenges this school year has brought….I need an afternoon pick me up. Of course I am going to enjoy my liquid sunshine in a festive and seasonal mug. Finding the joy in simple things.

Baking is something that brings me joy, relaxation and sadly unwanted calories. This was an apple crisp I made, gluten free of course. I think this one was a total success. I did what I always do for the apple mixture, but the topping is where I got creative and think was a total win. I used gluten free pancake mix! I substituted the flour for the mix. I would love to post a full recipe, but I am a toss stuff together kinda gal, so I apologize, but if I make this again…which looks very likely, I will post the process.

When I think of all of the changes I have had to make this Fall, how I am teaching, what I am teaching and who I am teaching….I have needed to stop and smell the leaves. I was taking the dog out and took a moment to take in the simple beauty of my side yard. Taking in these tiny moments have helped my head and heart. Being overwhelmed seems to happen daily-for some reason or another, but remembering to give myself grace and stop to enjoy all the things that are around me has helped with my anxiety and my focus.

There are so many things out of my control right now. I think this is true for so many of us. Making healthy choices is getting me through my masked up, sanitized days.

These are fun to use….I just divide up the boards and leave a few on my students carts. The game is spread out, so I am not spreading germs.

Pacing myself with what I am teaching and not forgetting the fun has been something I have been thinking about quite frequently. Remembering I am not able to use materials the same way was a but of a downer when I started in September, but in the last couple of weeks I have had to make a shift and bring on the fun. Books make me happy, so fee nee titles to read to my littles has be a simple solution to things I felt were beyond me.

My littles love Splat!!!

I am also shopping my TpT store. Being so overwhelmed and I forgot about an activity I made last year. Someone purchased it and it jogged my memory to print ant use with my kiddos. Looking at resources I used to take from school to school…out of my bag…is no more, now I am looking at how I can repurpose, adjust and reinvent myself. All the while keeping it fun for the kids and myself.

Halloween fun throughout the house also helps elevate some of the outside world stressors. I hope that as you read this it gets your wheels moving and grooving in a positive direction. Find the joy in what you can, wherever you are.

Posted in Book Life, Family Life, Teaching Life

Books to Inspire and Educate Little Women

Since the passing of RGB I have been feeling like I needed to post about books out there that can educate and inspire young girls to dream big. I know in recent years there have been more titles published to share the stories of bravery, courage and innovation women have contributed to the world. As I was looking for titles related to Ruth Bader Ginsburg I came across these ideas and thought I would share.

I love that people have put collections together. I looked up some these titles on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It makes my heart happy that there are titles for girls of differing ages and interests.

Since there has been such a push for women and girls in science these looked like great choices. I think is fabulous learning about smart and science minded women.

I was really happy to find a few books that were not just about inventing or science. I personally am not science minded, so if I was a young girl in would be looking for titles about women who made different contributions.

Our young people need to read and see titles showing the struggles, challenges and accomplishments of women, to know they too can do amazing things. Future men need to have these books in their heads too. Everyone needs to learn how women have had instrumental and necessary actions that have shaped all our lives for the better.

We are living in turbulent and unsettling times. There are so many things on the news everyday that make me stop and think about what I need to do to make the world a better place for my students and my own daughter. I feel like exposure to texts that are positive and explore the real life successes of women is a simple way to uplift and instill messages of confidence.

My daughter asked who was RBG? My response is you need to read about her. What I know is not enough, I know I too can learn more about her, so I preordered a book.

We have many My Little Golden Books. I thought this would be a wonderful addition to our collection. There are other titles that are currently available for use to read about the accomplishments of Ruth Bader Ginsburg until this becomes available, in December.

I love anthologies. One book that can give options. A buffet for the eyes and brain. This one caught my eye because the cover art is fun and the subtitle is what I want girls to think about….how can they dare to be different, even if they are just an ordinary person. How can they be brave to just be themselves and by being themselves contribute to society. I think everyday choices and actions have a profound impact on the greater good. Being mankind and thoughtful person is an accomplishment in today’s world.

Counting on Katherine is a great title and I feel like this can be applied to all of us. You may not be a math genius getting astronauts to the moon, but each one of us has a role and I am counting on each person to to their best and try to lead the most positive and powerful life they can lead. This is a message I am teaching to my students and my child. I try to remember that I still have lessons to learn as well.

Books have meaning and can be powerful. I hope that you find some inspiration from these titles. Maybe add one or two to your classroom library, buy one for the school library or for your home library. Sometimes the truest messages are found in the pages of a beautifully illustrated children’s book.

Posted in Teaching Life

First Week Back: 20-21 School Year

I want to say so many things, but I don’t have the words this week. There have been alot of thoughts and feeling. So many things to be thankful for. This week was a success and I know when my brain has time to decompress I will have more to say. So, for now here are some pics and quotes that touch on all the things that a covid back to school can bring.

Got these…. breath in, breathe out!
Google slides coming out my ears.
This is necessary!!!
Posted in Teaching Life

Bring It On September

Whether you are a first year teacher or a 25 year plus veteran, this September is going to hold so many emotions, plans and ideas. The unknown of what will be has been keeping me up at night. Feeling like I can not see what will be is very frustrating. I can typically plan and forecast what I need to do to start up my year, but I too am treading into uncertain waters, not knowing if I going to be able to swim, tread or sink.

My plan is to go into the 20-21 school year with a glass half full mind set. I have been trying to get what I can ready. Planning always makes me feel better, so doing something familiar is helping ease the frustration and lack of mental sight. Small steps feel like I am accomplishing something with control.

Keeping things safe and seperate is my first priority. I have separated out materials per student on my caseload. This seemed simple and manageable. I also wanted to keep these things seperate per building, so I bought craft carts and dolled them up a bit to place in my buildings. I find that the foot print is not intrusive in the spaces I work and easily rolled out of the way if need be. They are also easy to store materials on. One level per student or different materials per shelf. I added positive messages to uplift my students and myself.

This cart was from Michael’s. So easy to assemble and add vinyl words.

My plan book and my “bible” are something I am always reviewing and revisiting. I have gone digital and went back to paper last year. I think I am keeping with a paper planner again this year. This has been a great debate in my mind. Will it be easier? Will it be light? Will it be sanitary? After much consideration I think I am going to try it and if need be I can go digital. I love planbook on chalk.com, but there is something about writing things down, so paper it is. I will also add stickers and quotes. These are purely for me, but every little bit of cute or positivity I can add to my resources and tools makes me feel good.

Picked this up on clearance. I haven’t used a store planner in ten plus years…hope I like it.

I have been working on getting my organizational tools and logs together. I have been creating new dividers to pop into my “bible” binder. I decided to go with a granny chic look this year. I very much enjoy this peony clip art I purchased 2 years ago that has just been waiting to be used. My hope is pretty and fresh flowers will be visually uplifting when the snow flies.

Google classroom is the thing right now. So many of us are using it to some extent. I am dabbling with it and trying to decide what is going in. I know once I have committed more to the process in will share in a post. I am still very new to it. My hope and a prayer is it will be a helpful tool in assisting my students and their parents when they are home following a hybrid schedule.

Found resources on Teachers Pay Teachers. Check out Roots and Wings.

I think the biggest take away as I head into the next few weeks is that I need to give myself and everyone I interact with some grace. Remote, distance, hybrid, in person learning are the key words that seem to swirl around me and in my head, so I know if I am having moments where I need to remember to breathe and accept the new normal, then the people around me are in the same situation. There will be times where I feel like this new way of teaching my students is horrible or just too much, but thankfully my tribe is amazing, I will look to them for support and in turn be a shoulder or ear to lean on.

Small things that are “normal”, things I can control and the familiar faces (even masked) should get me through. I always am looking to change things up or improve how I teach. I think the universe has heard and responded! I need to take this bizarre opportunity and just go with it, control my little bubble and focus on the positives.

1. I will see my students again.

2. I have a fantastic teaching community.

3. This is not forever.

So bring it on September!!!!

We Got This!!!!

Posted in Teaching Life

Back To School 2020: 10 Itinerant Tips and Ideas

Let me just start be saying I am trying my best to wrap my head around what I need to do to get myself ready for the 20-21 school year. If you read my blog regularly you know I am very transparent about being a teacher that never wants to be in a rut or stale, so I welcome revamping my routines, outlook, approach and materials, but a pandemic is a tad bit different and difficult. This list is what I have been thinking about. I am sure as the weeks go by there will be even more things to to consider.

Being an itinerant teacher has it’s pros and cons. Traveling can be exhausting some days or completely liberating, but thinking about traveling lately has really made me stop and think about how I am going to protect myself and everyone in my multiple buildings. Going in and out will look and feel different for sure. My hope is with some thought and tweaking I will be able to do what I enjoy. With these adjustments and accommodations I think I will eventually settle into a new normal.

One

Depending on your set up, travel and caseload I think no matter how you think about putting materials together this year, everything needs to be seperate for each student.  This will be work in the beginning, but once you have everything divided and contained it will offer you better control and peace of mind.

I know that at a couple of my schools I am able to leave materials. I love this because it saves time, pressure off my back and allows my kiddos to feel like I am part of the day… not just this woman that flies in and out. This being said, and I know I have said it in previous posts, leaving things can not be just one bin this year. I am going to have to have seperate containers or ways of keeping individual materials and tools safe for my students.

Two

Seperate bags for seperate schools may be a healthy option if you can not leave materials and tools. I would consider bags that can be laundered or wiped down. Have one bag per building or per student. I had one bag per student maybe year two or three of itinerant teaching. I liked the ease of just grab and go, knowing everything I needed was in each bag.

Three

Masks for a day. I know that going back will require wearing a mask. I have been stockpiling some cute fabric masks. I personally do not enjoy the disposable masks. They don’t fit right, which makes me anxious when I wear them, so fabric is my personal preference. I recommend trying out various sizes and styles before you head back to school in person.

I know clear panel masks are what most of us consider a great option for our students. Lip reading is essential. Make sure the mask fits, your can function and is anti-fog. I purchased shields for myself. I still waiting on the complete school plan about what will and will not be allowed. I am just trying to be prepared for my options.

Four

The idea of materials for each student started to overwhelm me. Paper resources can obviously be per student, but what about my games and hands on manipulatives? I started to think of ways to divided up a game or deck of cards. I am with only one student at a time, so I obviously don’t need 30 riddle cards or 20 listening comprehension cards, so taking some and storing in little containers or zip bags will work. Germs will be separate. When I am ready to switch materials it should be easy to sanitize and rotate.

If you play games with boards putting some Press n Seal wrap over the board can protect the paper surface from sanitizing between students. Clear contact paper is another option for covering and preserving materials.

I recommend laminating anything that may not survive constant sanitation. I have a home laminator that I use when I am working from home or have the genius idea to laminate at 10:30 on a school night. I have purchased various weights of lamination. Sometimes I want a light, flexible hold and sometimes I want a heavy, strong hold. Lamination at school typically tends to be a lighter level , so needing the heavy stuff is why I did some Amazon clicking.

Five

Sanitizer or alcohol is an obvious thing to have. My hope is wherever you are working schools will provide this. I am sure there will be something distributed, but if you are fussy about smell….like me, maybe consider getting sanitizer that agrees with your skin and sense of smell.

Six

Cleaning Supplies are most likely not going to be an issue at schools. Be sure you find out what is being used or acceptable if you want a personal stash. I know I intend to have a zip bag with small sized cleaning products in my car incase I need to manage things to my liking. We all are going to come at returning to school at different perspectives and comfort levels. I am not a germaphobe or scared to return, but I know I need to be mindful and respectful of my peers and students who do not have the same feelings or outlook I have.

Seven

In a secondary zip bag I am going to have for myself: baby wipes, alcohol spray bottle, tissues and tic tacs. I know on a typical day o like to refresh. Depending on the students you serve or the amount of buildings you enter…I normally just feel like I need to scrub up, so I just want to be prepared for new feelings or the new reality of being itinerant.

These items will be just for me, especially the tic tacs. I have found a mint or mint gum helps my anxiety when I am wearing a mask for and extended time. I am not sure if it the smell or the oral stimulation that distracts me from the gross dislike I have for wearing a mask. I despise anything touching my face. This mask wearing will be a challenge, but my hope is I become a more relaxed wearer and also smell minty fresh!

Eight

One thing I am considering is ditching the big binder. I always look for way to be lighter. I change data collection, notes and organization almost yearly. Having things in a digital planbook is the lightest, but it has pros and cons. Last year I went back to a paper planner and data collection. I wasn’t planning on changing it up, but I started to think about taking it and setting it down in multiple places. I know I can try to keep it clean, but do I want to is my current dilemma. I think the right answer is choosing what you feel most comfortable doing. If changing your process seems like just one more thing and might stress you out don’t change.

Post it notes or a small notebook might be a long option to carry in to use for data and notes. Then this information could be added at points in the day to your big binder or plan book. This could easily be done when you return to the car.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Data-Collection-and-Progress-Monitoring-Sticky-Note-Bundle-4337356

Nine

Procedures and rules for each school may be slightly different. Be sure to know what your expectations are. Where you will be able to safely work with your students is key this year. I know I have had random and inconsistent work spaces, so be pleasantly persistent for what your students need. With social distancing going on workspaces will be at a premium, regardless you are important too.

Ten

Remember to sanitize your vehicle. I keep a small spay bottle, in my cup holder, filled with rubbing alcohol. I like to mist the wheel and my dash area for a quick clean between stops. My vehicle is my partial work space, so I want to make sure it is safe for me and my family.

Starting out may be a bumpy road, but hopefully these ideas help. I looking forward to being in my buildings and seeing my students. Getting back on the road will be a welcome change. Safe travels and happy teaching.

You can always like and follow me. Be sure to look back into my archives if you are looking for any other Itinerant Teaching ideas.

Posted in Teaching Life

Summer Reading: Diverse Fairytales

The Little Red Fort is diverse and has lots of girl power!

Fairytales can be fun ways to teach and entertain students. I personally love to use them for listening and teaching compare and contrast. I love looking for different versions, so we can break down the similarities and differences, but often titles are told with animals or caucasian characters. I am going to be looking for titles that represent and offer diversity.

Books and Activities to enhance your library.

Of course I decided to head to Pinterest to see what books might be options to add to my library or wishlist. I love that I can always tap the app and find what I am searching for. If you are looking to expand your fairytale collection I reccomend checking out pins and start a list.

These adorable books seem to be popular. I saw multiple pins and posts about these. I love the illustrations and I know we are not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but these are beautiful. I checked these out on Amazon. Each book seems to cost about 8-9$. There is the option to purchase them as a boxed collection…which saves money and I love to save. All of these appear to be board books. I love that these books are intended to be read by and to little ones. Starting our youngest readers looking at these is where small changes can start. I would totally use these with school age kids. Going in an out of my itinerant bag can be brutal on paperback books, so these would represent what I want to instill and be incredibly durable.

Our Beautiful World

These are stories that are have African characters and an African setting, as opposed to the typical European tale. Rachel Isadora is an award winning author and illustrator. I found these titles on Amazon, but I know I will be looking for these in my local book store. I would love to turn all the pages before I buy.

Why does Little Red Riding Hood have to be a girl?

I love that these stories have children of color, are fairytales with boys and look modern. Jack and the bean stalk is typically set long ago, but with this version it is set in a city which is most likely more relatable to kids these days. I think that flipping the gender for a fairytale is equally fantastic.

I have never read this story where she wasn’t a girl. Frederico and the Wolf is a refreshing change. A boy with a bike trying to get to grandma. I find there are more stories told with a female main character, maybe more authors will flip the gender, so boys can see themselves in the pages.

This Mexican-American version also has a salsa recipe included. How fun would this be as a math or cooking extension? Students could use the same ingredients Frederico brings to his Abuela?! I am sure that with some research you can also find activities to support and connect to the culture depicted on the pages of these diverse tales.

This book had conflicting reviews. I would have to read it before I bought it.

Not the Same Old Story

How about this title?!?!?
I love a good spin!

There are so many fantastic titles out there. I am going to continue to search for titles that tell classic tales with a twist and diverse representations. I am sure there are titles I will love and ones I won’t. I think checking the book out, cover to cover, is key and be sure the books will engage your students. I’m not just going to get books that look different-they have to be quality stories. My hope is the more students see stories with characters that might not look or look like them, so we can build a more inclusive and open minded school community. I am excited to start doing my part. I know I will make mistakes and I have things to learn, but moving forward is how we grow!

***Most of these titles I found when searching on Amazon. Check out the reviews and summaries to see if they would work in your classroom.

If you have any recommendations I would love it! Share away!!!! You can send a comment.

Last thing-I started a books for kids board on Pinterest. If you want you can always look there or follow my Pinterest to see what I have most recently discovered. My Pinterest can be found under The Listening Ladybug‚̧

Posted in Teaching Life

Summer Reading: Expanding My Library and Myself

As an educator I find myself always looking for was to grow and expand what I know and how I can better serve my students. Watching the news and seeing posts on social media has compelled me to dig a bit deeper and search for new tools to broaden my teaching scope. One place I always like to go for ideas is Pinterest.

https://pin.it/157eKf3

I love how I can always find ideas and perspectives to add to my boards. The picture/pin above summed up what I was looking for. If you follow this pin you will see it leads to a simple and clear post about building ones home or classroom library with diverse titles. She offers up 8 tips to think about when adding to your shelves. I say thank you…well done.

https://pin.it/2DXMShf

This pin caught my eye because I have some of the titles shown. I am going to be looking further into the others and determine what ones might be helpful for my collection. I very much enjoy how each book has a mini review. I recommend looking at this collection and reading the blog post.

https://pin.it/4oWzuGv

Seeing that this is pride month I couldn’t ignore looking for a collection of books that would support and educate my students and myself about people and families that wave all of the colorful flags. I know I do not have any books on this subject matter in my collection….my basement library, so I will definitely be looking at the above highlighted titles. I appreciate that the pin has summarized all of the books. Hopefully when I get out to my local bookstore I can see and touch the pages before I purchase.

https://pin.it/4CE5XLm

The collections in this post are mostly unfamiliar titles and with this unfamiliarity comes an obvious lack of full understanding and knowledge. This is where I need to do the work and put my summer days to good use, exploring and expanding my knowledge base. I know I have so much to learn and my hope is with this knew knowledge I will be a better teacher.

https://pin.it/uuhZZrg

One thing I have always loved and appreciated about education is we are a group of sharers. We pass on our knowledge and experiences not just with our students, but with eachother. We can support and lift eachother. I very much recommend exploring these collections and searching for others. As I state this I am also generating a to do list for myself.

Digging Deeper Research Tips

  • Look for more collections and individual titles online
  • Ask other teachers for recommendations
  • Revisit and dig through my personal books
  • Make a trip out to local bookstores
  • Look for new titles and authors
  • Actually read the books…not just gloss over
  • Start small
  • Keep questions written down
  • Recognize this is a process
  • Be a learner
  • Think about how I can infuse new titles organically into my lessons
http://www.feministbooksforkids.com

I am very thankful to all of the people who have put together all of these pins/collections. Sometimes when I think about researching anything I am looking for I have a moment or two of feeling overwhelmed, but I know there are smart and helpful people out there that have had the same questions….and have done great work. A friend of mine keeps reminding me Pinterest is a search engine, which I often forget. It can be so much more than a way to relax or fill time, so I will put my scrolling fingers to work and do my homework.

Here’s to turning pages!

Posted in Teaching Life

Boom Cards & Distance Learning for Deaf /HH Students

I don’t know about you, but since life has changed a bit, I am trying to keep up and keep going. Teaching is definitely not what it looked like months ago and because it is such a drastic change I have had mixed feelings about everything.

Trying to to the best I can for my students has been a driving force. I am obviously not seeing them face to face. Being one to one with my students is vital and because of where we are…home, I can not deliver the same level of instruction.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Home-E-learning-Suggestions-and-Resources-for-Family-Support-5326320

Meeting goals and keeping my kiddos engaged has been a focus. In the beginning I was sending home paper based activities. I also had website suggestions and app ideas for my students and parents to support my goals and what the classroom teachers are doing. It has been wonderful that many online companies offered free subscriptions.

After a few weeks of teaching I started to settle in and so did my students. This is a great thing, but I still felt like I needed to do more. A good friend dipped her toe in the Boom Cards pond and I was intrigued and inspired by her process, so I decided to look into making some.

https://wow.boomlearning.com/store/authorId/WNNmzcKExv4npGZAd/1

My objective is to make materials that will help my students grow, practice skills and have fun. I focus on listening in a typical session, this is something that is not happening with distance, so I wanted to create decks that focused on listening-hearing my voice.

I decided to jump in with both feet. I needed to figure it out, which thankfully Boom is easy to navigate and I am blessed I have a friend who is willing to answer my calls for help. Putting my decks together was fun and got me pumped for distance learning. With this platform I feel I am spicing it up, meeting IEP goals, offering variety and providing interaction.

https://wow.boomlearning.com/store/authorId/WNNmzcKExv4npGZAd/1

I created my classroom, made the activities and BOOM….learning is happening. I love that there are options to track progress and assign decks for specific students. It is very customizable.

If you are looking for something to enhance what you are doing from home I recommend looking into Boom Cards. I created a store once I had a handful of activities made. My store is under my blog name and my TpT store. There are lots of resources out there to support you as you are trying to support your distance learners.

I know this can be hard and sometimes frustrating. We are teaching in unprecedented times. None of us are perfectly getting this right, but my hope is as a community we can support and share what is working for us!

Posted in Teaching Life

Love Crafted

I love how we as a society are now promoting kindness.

February is the shortest month and quite possibly the sweetest. I adore how many hearts and messages of kindness kiss the halls of my schools. Love, kindness and friendship are very much in the air.

I am often inspired by the teachers I work with and what I see when I am hustling in and out. Seeing teachers promote kindness and allowing students to be self reflective is wonderful-but it started to make me feel like I needed at incorporate a little of that into my plans.

Lovebug

I had my students stick ripped pieces to the heart as they listened for prompts related to their goals. I love watching how they placed the pieces and which colors they selected. Sometimes asking them to be creative or free with choice is difficult for them. I too love routine, order and strive to provide clear expectations for my students-which I must do, because they were shocked we were ripping the paper…gasp.

We all were stepping out of our comfort zone.

These are completed by my students.

I am trying to slow sessions down and incorporate more creativity.

I include myself when I say this, but we (teachers) put alot of rigor into our lesson plans and can get caught up in the data. There is alot expected in a day. I know my students are working harder than their hearing peers, so I need to design well paced and designed activities that are not a “drill and kill” style. I also see that the way my students internalize language is often literal, so they just want to be told what to do.

Creating lessons and activities at the primary level, that allow for free choice are vital. My goal is… free thinking will connect and support them when we ask the “why” questions and ask them to infer or predict. Skills that are essential as they grow as learners.

I want them to take risks with their answers, be brave and confident in their knowledge.

Who fills your heart?

I loved these. Of course the teacher was focused on the writing piece….which is obviously important, but who and what these children drew is what captured my attention. Everyone should have a full heart.

I had high hopes for doing more crafty or artsy activities with my littles in February, but it did not work out. The week before our winter break was filled with schedule changes and I think my love of children’s literature overshadowed crafty activities. You can read about some of those activities in a previous post (Valentine’s Lessons and Activities). I know I was hitting goals and planning engaging activities, but I need to try harder to get the creative, risk taking juices flowing!

March is a new month…days away and I am gearing up this week to infuse some thematic craftiness into my plans. I will be connecting any and all activities to children’s books-of course, pulling out some of my favorites and looking for new ways to use them. Maybe if I have time I will create new ideas and post them to Teachers Pay Teachers.

Trying to grow and keep things fresh.

If you like this post or any of the others on my blog you can always follow me and you will be notified when I put up a new post.

Thanks for reading!!!

Posted in Teaching Life

Valentine’s Lessons and Activities

This post is going to be short and sweet. I pulled out some of my goodies and favorites, but I also incorporated a few new things. I LOVE this week. I think less about data, relax a bit and let the pink and red reign.

Where I start….

Books shape and lay the foundation for what I want my students to learn, explore and understand about a theme or topic.

The Day It Rained Hearts could and has been used for so many different lessons. I choose this simple worksheet this week. My student are always working on expressive language.

I love this book. The illustrations warm my heart.
One student heard this story three times.

Splat has been a massive hit. The giggles and comments make this book and worksheet packet fly by. I think that reading a book more than once can be incredibly helpful for some students. With each read we found new questions and observations with our new friend Splat.

This is used as multi step listening to build the board. Then played like normal bingo.
Following auditory directions.
These are a huge hit. I often find as a freebie!! Middle schoolers love. Great listening and conversation.
I love all the free ideas on Teachers Pay Teachers.

I tried to infuse a bit of crafty into my week of adjusted schedule, annual reviews and holiday parties/ 100th day of school.

A little fine motor never hurt to add in!

I actually had more things planned, but time was against me. Some of them were so cute I think I am going to complete them anyways. Love and good vibes don’t need a calendar date!

I hope your week was full of all the happy, lovely things.

Posted in Teaching Life

Art In the Heart: Winter

Being itinerant keeps me on the go. During the month of January, which seemed like 83 days long, I tried to open my eyes and slow my steps down as I walked through my schools.

This one is my favorite….Reading and Art coming together.

Winter art was happening and even though I am not a fan of the cold and snow, these works of art warmed my heart. I love seeing teachers take a break from the rigor and let littles create.

Winter Wonderland of Primary Colors

All of these works of art are clearly working on skills:

  • Listening
  • Visual
  • Fine Motor
  • Processing
I see math here!
I see a writing assignment here!
I love how each of these is different, but totally beautiful.
3D Polar Bears
I see shapes and colors here….learning was definitely happening.

As February has started I am starting to see all the Valentine’s Day themed creations. I am looking forward to all the love that is going to spread down the hallways.

I know it is probably an eye roll for some people, but I wish I saw more of this in middle schools. I know there is so much to teach, get done and do….but taking a break once in awhile isn’t a bad thing. I know I would if I had a classroom. I try my best, as an itinerant, but I have limitations: space, dry time and access.

I think I am going to challenge myself to take a break from activities and data. I am going to plan to incorporate some lighthearted creativity into my sessions for February. I am going to pull some ideas out of my archives and look for inspiration among my peers. I know I can also look to Pinterest if I am struggling-what did we ever do without it!?

I will post my results in a few weeks. Maybe think of challenging yourself. Put a splash of color in your plans.

Posted in Teaching Life

January: After Holidays Slump

2020 has just begun. January is barely half way and how is it everywhere I go teachers are burned out or in a slump?! We just had a break. This post is sort of one big question….thoughts in my head this week.

Is it the break?

Is being off for almost two weeks…or in some schools actually two weeks, just to much? Is it like when you oversleep too much and wake up feeling like crap? I am not sure. I think most teacher friends were trying to rest, relax and recharge.

Of course the hustle and bustle of Christmas and New Year’s was part of the time off, so maybe it isn’t such a relaxing two weeks off. I know all of that family time was not relaxing for me. Family dynamics are always stressful.

Is it the weather?

I know where I live the days are gray. The days seem long. The days are cold. I definitely think the weather effects us. Winter blues are a real thing.

Sunshine is a good thing.

Is it the curriculum?

By this time of the year I know I personally feel unmotivated with my lesson plans. I start to think of ways to spice up or challenge myself. My students are progressing, but sometimes I am not. Call me crazy…but teaching about winter, snow, snowmen, snowflakes….when I am putting my coat on six plus times a day is not very fun.

I love to use a theme when I am planning and teaching things that tackle a student’s goal. All of my littles love the cute extras-but I am very much looking forward to some greener and warmer themes for my games and activities!!!

No matter if you are in the classroom or traveling like me, I hope the winter months go by quickly and peacefully. I know I am trying to stick to a healthy home and school routine. It is taking a concerted effort, but I am sticking to some goals I set for myself.

Goals are a good thing.

I’m going to reflect a bit more and hopefully in my next post I will have some ideas to help us all out of the winter slump!!!!

Posted in Teaching Life

Best Shoes for Itinerant Teachers

This gingerbread girl loves shoes. I always have, even when I was living with gluten inflammation…I just tried to look for the cutest, supportive and affordable options.

Over the years my style, needs and comfort levels have changed. In my 20’s I never cared about comfort. All I cared about was the look. I wore toe pinching, arch aching stylish shoes, but now I know how much I rely on my feet.

In my 30’s I was struggling to make it through the day with minimal levels of pain. I searched for comfort and style. This was difficult in the beginning, but I found and still find a lot of shoe manufacturers do a good job at both.

You only get one pair of piggies!

I need my feet to be happy. It makes the day run better. I look and shop for soul serenity. I have found that comfort can come in a variety of footwear options. I try to have a variety of on trend but realistic and functional choices.

Boots

Sneakers

Slip Ons

Loafers

Flats

Sandals

I am adding wedges, but to be totally transparent these were a shoe I loved, then could not wear all day. My inflammation was really high and a full day was not in the cards for a while, but now that I am pain free I will rock a wedge on a rain free and less crazy day.

Wedges

These are some examples of my actual shoes. I typically like to online shop for shoes. I know my size, have my go to brands and love to shop from the couch. This is the easiest and most time effective way to keep my dogs stylish and bark free.

Favorite Online Brands and Sites

  • Earth Brand
  • QVC.com
  • Amazon.com
  • Kohls.com
  • Crocs
  • Vionic
  • Clarks
  • Nordstrom Rack.com
  • Ryka
  • Coach

If you are on the go like me and have some favorites I haven’t mentioned…please share!!!

Posted in Family Life, Teaching Life

Holiday Teacher Gift Ideas

As a teacher I know that I am never expecting a gift, but I do love to receive something from my students…something that they put thought into. Some of my most treasured gifts have been made from paper, crayons, stickers and kindness. I think most teachers feel the same way.

I know as a parent I look at teacher gifts from a totally different perspective. I want to make sure I find something personal, budget friendly and useful. I also encourage my mini me to take an active role in the shopping process. I want my child’s teachers to know we see and value their hard work and commitment.

One thing I do in September is look around the teachers room during open house. My mini keeps her eyes and ears open too throughout the first few months. This way we can even make a gift card more personal. Knowing something as simple as a favorite color can be so helpful.

This leads me to the ideas.

Gift Cards

So I know most people love a gift card, but I have a love/awkward feeling about them. They are quick, easy, and practical…so people love to give and get.

They are quick, easy and practical…so that’s why I don’t always love to give. I feel like it says I don’t know you or had no time to shop for you, so I picked up a gift card.

This is where, for a teacher gift, I have to calm down and just do it…most people love them. I try to add something cute to the gift card that is personal and I try to select a gift card that is not just Starbucks-unless the teacher is seen with a cup daily.

A favorite coffee place is simple.

Here are some of my past selections:

  • Target
  • Favorite Restaurant
  • Pedicure/Manicure
  • Movies
  • Favorite Store
  • TJ Maxx
  • Amazon
Movies are a great way to unwind over the holiday break.

Classroom Essentials

Depending on a teachers situation sometimes they need things for the room that they can’t or shouldn’t pay for. Teachers spend a lot out of pocket to make their room a great place for their students. Picking up their favorite pens is the least I can do.

Add some flair to their holiday season!
  • Flair Pens
  • Markers
  • Dry Erase Markers
  • Electric Pencil Sharpener
  • Sharpies
  • Inspirational Stationary
  • Personalized Stationary

Mugs and Water Bottles

  • Personalized cups and mugs
  • Themed cups and mugs
  • Inspirational messages on cups. mugs and water bottles

I think these are useful and can be refreshed. I personally enjoy a new water bottle or cup, especially because I forget about them(which means they get gross) or loose them in my travels.

Self Care

  • Lotion and hand cream
  • Soap
  • Lip balms/gloss
  • Nail polish and cozy socks
  • Massage certificate
Candy cane red…classic color

I try to keep these unscented or neutral. Scent can be very personal and powerful. I choose neutral or classic colors as well.

Treats

  • Chocolates
  • Wine
  • Cookies
  • Edible arrangements
  • Favorite snacks
  • Hot chocolate

One observation I have made over my many years of teaching is teachers love a treat, but not ones from a home kitchen. You may make the best fudge ever, but during cold and flu season most teachers will pass. We are looking forward to a happy and healthy holiday break, not one filled with chicken soup and tissues. So, I always purchase a yummy treat.

I like to get a box and put in the office or staff lounge for everyone

With all of these ideas my ultimate goal is to get something useful, personal and something that isn’t cluttering up a shelf or desk. No teacher needs a dozen Best Teacher mugs! And no teacher wants to feel guilty not using the multiple mugs.

Whatever you a purchasing this holiday season I hope you enjoy the process. If you can’t think of anything unique…get the gift card. I know I am taking the pressure off of myself this year.

And if you don’t have the budget for a gift consider:

  • A hand written note or card
  • A kind email
  • Have your child write or draw something
  • Have your child create something
  • A heartfelt “Merry Christmas” at pick up or drop off

I think the key is expressing appreciation. Who doesn’t like to feel respected and appreciated?!

You can always email, like or comment my posts!!!

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Posted in Teaching Life

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!

Posted in Teaching Life

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.

Posted in Teaching Life

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!!!

Posted in Teaching Life

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!

Posted in Teaching Life

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
Posted in Teaching Life

2 Creative Resources to Help Little Writers

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I absolutely love language.

Being a teacher of the deaf, I see students who often have language delays or struggle with language.

  • Reading
  • Phonics
  • Expressive Language
  • Receptive Language
  • Comprehension
  • Writing
  • Recall

Most of the items in the above list are weaved throughout all of a students day. It is my job to help them navigate and wade through all of activities that sometimes have my students drowning in the “English” sea. I always tell them English is a crazy language.

I find that the classroom teachers are doing wonderful work with reading and writing. Many of my students achieve success faster with reading than writing. Many of my students do not enjoy writing. Writing has alot of layers and skills to master.

  • Phonics
  • Spelling
  • Handwriting
  • Keyboarding Skills
  • Expressive Language
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
  • Writing Conventions……

I have been trying to think of ways to really help my littles work on all of these skills, at their level, in hope that they will become less resistant to write and feel more confident as they navigate the grades.

Journal Writing

I have done journal writing over the years. Some students are writing to themselves, working on advocacy skills or writing to a peer. This style is free writing is proving to be helpful and bringing happiness.

I created a journaling resource to give options.

These options make the experience more personal and differentiated.

Writing Prompts

I have used written prompts forever, but recently I have been developing visual prompts for creative/expressive writing. I have many bright students with much to say, but sometimes that white, blank sheet of paper is overwhelming.

Using a picture sparks language and creativity.

These resources are flexible. As the teacher you can select the pages, the structure and the goals you are working on.

These resources are just a framework for the all of the skills you and tour students have been working on.

I am going to keep creating and challenging myself to teach and support my littles in their writing skills. Check in with me to see what I’m working on. You can follow my TpT store, this way you will be notified when I post new resources. You can also follow me here and see what I am working on.

I always welcome feedback and comments. Let’s learn together.

Posted in Positive Life, Teaching Life

10 Reasons to Love Fall If You Travel for Work

Cooler Temps

I love the summer months, but the heat and running around aren’t always that enjoyable. I prefer not to be a sweaty gingerbread girl!

A Drive With A View

I love it when the trees start to turn. That is a total bonus driving around all day. A beautiful view can make a long day fly by.

Students Schedules

Once the leaves start to turn and the pumpkins are out I feel like the kids start to settle into their schedules.

Daily Caseload

It takes me about a full month to feel like I know where I am going, who I am seeing.

Long Weekends

I love how there are two long weekends in the fall. We try to take advantage of the scenery and plan family time. Also, people seem to look forward to mini brakes.

Happy Teachers+Happy Students=Happy Me

Pumpkin Spice is Back

Either you love it or hate it. I love it!

The Christmas Crazies

After Thanksgiving I feel like the kids start to progressively amp up for Christmas, so I love the few months focus.

Try Something New

This is the time of year I try a new method of data collection, lesson plan format, try out new manipulatives and give myself grace for a learning curve.

Cozy Layers

The weather in the Fall is perfect for cute light weight jackets, scarves and booties.

Fall Fun

People often get out during the weekend for apple picking, pumpkin picking, football games, hayrides, festivals, Halloween parties, trick or treating and Thanksgiving. These are just some of the ways to enjoy the weekends of Fall…. before the hustle and bustle of the holiday season takes over.

This type of fun is often centered around family and friends! Care free fun makes for a better Monday morning.

Posted in Teaching Life

Professional Development and the Itinerant

Heading back to school can be a dread or something you genuinely look forward to. I really do look forward to getting back to work, seeing my students, and all of my colleagues. I love summer break, but it is temporary and now it is time to get back to ten month reality.

Carrying my world on my back

I think the one thing I do not look forward to is staff development or professional development. Not because I know everything…haha; I have lots to learn and love growing personally and professionally. It is the disconnect I have with what is offered. I say this with no disrespect to my employer, because I know it is difficult to find topics and presentations that fit a large organization. I have personally served on the planning committee and know it is difficult to find specific, helpful and relevant sources or presenters. Finding the perfect presenter or topic for hundreds of people is never going to happen.

With this being said I try to approach these moments with patience and grace. I listen for gems I can take away and add to my teaching treasure chest. I also try to seek out professional enrichment else where.

Motivational Speakers

I often enjoy these presentations. They are typically filled with true stories and humor. Who doesn’t need a back to school laugh?! Most of this humor is generated from a personal struggle. I can really appreciate the effort and inner determination people have to turn what could be percieved as a weakness and turn it into a strength. Hearing how they have turned struggles into success stories is inspiring. I also sometimes see past and present students within these stories of fear, frustration, isolation and lack of acceptance. I emphasize and try to think of ways I can turn these issues into non issues or head them off.

Webinars

These can be good or bad. I love the idea of finding new information at the click of a button however, getting everything you want in one webinar can be a challenge.

  • Some are filled with amazing content
  • Some are easy to listen to
  • Some are visually appealing and engaging

Still searching for one that is the trifecta!

If you have watched or participated in a great webinar for teachers of the deaf, please share back! I know that Karen Anderson’s website and group of professionals puts out things of value, but I am sure there must be others….I just haven’t found yet.

Online Resources

Articles and Ted talks are a great way to keep up to date on advancement in deaf education, technology, finding motivation. I often will share out any good ideas with my colleagues. I have to admit I could be better at using these resources. The internet is always there. You can learn something new from your couch in your pjs!

Guest Speakers

If I have the opportunity to get information from a person who is job specific I find this incredibly rewarding. These sort of opportunities are very limited. I know my field is very specific, but getting information in this forum is probably my favorite.

Facebook

This is a resource that I have just started to dabble in. I have found that there are great groups out there. I can’t get hours for PD from comments and discussions, but I have read and learned alot from really great professionals. I enjoy knowing that questions I have maybe foriegn to the teachers I work with but not to the TOD community. Some people are out there driving MILES everyday, some are literally the only one in a large area and others are teaching in schools for the deaf-each of these people are relatable. It takes a village to raise a good teacher too!

Focus Group

I am very fortunate to work with a handful of TODs. We are an excellent team. We support and offer advice whenever needed. We try to meet on a monthly basis. Time is precious, but it is worth it when you get back so much. We provide each other support via email and texts. It is great to have a mini tribe to bounce ideas of of or just vent about things….if you are itinerant you know there are things that we do and see that typical classroom teachers never struggle with.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

How do you Grow?

I would love to hear from you.

Posted in Teaching Life

4 Little Things That Shape an Itinerant’s Day of Travel

As an itinerant or person who travels for work…do you have a list of the best places to:

Copy, print, eat, park, and of course use the bathroom?

I know that I do. My time is limited and priceless at points in my day, so I need to know where I can have the best and most productive day. Work spaces are what they are. I try to make the best of any space a school will give me and I have written about awesome spaces in previous blogs, here I am focusing in on the other bits of my intinerant day.

Parking

So this is how I start my day…parking at my first school. Depending on the weather, my mood and if I am pressed for time where I park is very important. I typically don’t care in beautiful weather, but seeing that I teach on the run in all four seasons this location will change. This ties in directly to my mood. I am not a cold weather lover, so ice and snow prompt me to park as close as I can. I always find it interesting how being a few minutes earlybor late can alter where I park as well. One year parking as late as I could was best. I didn’t have to battle the parent carpool line.

Do you have a “spot”???

Printing and Copying

These two aspects to my job are incredibly important. I have had years where the only place I can get anything done is at home. I do not love this….last time I checked teachers don’t get paid enough, so if I can get work done for my students in their buildings, like the classroom teachers, I appreciate it very much. Ink can be pricey and I try to be thrifty!

So, I try to make the most of the resources provided to me. I am very thankful when I have access to these tools. I find I am more inclined to create more resources and activities. I am always trying to keep it fresh for my students and myself.

I have found that making a friend in a building or just asking is incredibly helpful. I never assume I can use resources, so I ask where and what I can use.

  • Copy machine
  • Printing
  • Color prints
  • Lamination
  • Library books
  • Website ID and passwords

Eating Lunch

If you have read other blogs you will know I am conflicted with eating lunch in school. Sometimes I enjoy it and look forward to eating with the staff I work with. I love building friendships. Then there are times I keep a low profile. This typically hinges on how welcome I feel.

Now there is a third reason I do not munch and gab with school peeps….it’s call zero time! I am running my gluten free, gingerbread girl, butt off and have zero time. This is sadly a reality for many itinerants. We run and often eat in between kids-which is in the car or in our work space.

I am sure there are other reasons that keep itinerants out of staff lunch rooms:

  • Being outside in your car with the windows down, music playing and fresh air is a beautiful perk.
  • Wanting to stay positive…I think we know lunchrooms can be a place to vent
  • Needing alone/down time.

Restrooms

Now this seems to be maybe a tacky thing to mention, but in my world I like to know where the best pottys are!!! I think no matter where you work you care and have an opinion.

Things I look for or try to avoid:

  • Location-I can not wander on a tight schedule
  • Kids vs. Staff-primary sized toilets are a thigh workout, even for petite peeps
  • Cleanliness
  • The toilets and sinks-auto is awesome, the less I have to touch the better
  • Staff bathrooms NOT off of a lunchroom….never understood this
  • Hooks-I need a place to hang a coat or bag

As you can see I have thought alot about this. When nature calls…a girl has needs!

I really do love my job. Figuring out how to do my best doesn’t always have to do with lesson plans and materials. I am sure, no matter what you do, you too look for the best of the best to be an effective worker.

Here’s to rocking out your work place!

Posted in Positive Life, Teaching Life

Growth Mindset for School and Home

It seems like positive phrases and quotes are everywhere. Teachers are really making an effort to put positivism, self reflection and encouragement up and around their rooms. I think this trend is here to stay.

This was in a middle school hallway

Everywhere I go in see things that are inspiring…uplifting or just make me think. People say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I think a few words printed on a wooden sign or bulletin board might be just as or more impactful.

Saw this in a school.

Schools aren’t the only places trying to get the “word” out. Positivity is popping in just about every store. Try to shop without seeing some message ment to inspire.

This hung in my mini’s locker.

I really love this trend.

This greets visitors when they enter my house.

I feel like theses mini messages are creating a new mindset for all the little people walking around. My hope is that the more they see and read…the more the messages marinate in their being.

We have been living by these words for years!

My house has many peppy, thoughtful messages for an improved mental health. Momma needs a boost somedays. I need a reminder when my day or mood seems like it is in the toilet.

My personal mission is to be more observant of the messages around me. Be more mindful of how those messages resonate with me.

These I found online. I thought these would be perfect for the middle school students I teach.

I made these mini notes to let me students know how awesome they are. They are the perfect size for the square sticky pockets. They are post it note size, so east to staple or tape in agendas, desks, lockers and folders.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Mini-Notes-Positivity-and-Encouragement-for-Students-4715415