We all have memories of our childhood. Good memories and bad memories. Although hopefully more good than bad.
Sometimes the way we remember things is very different from what really happened. Over the years our memories become muddled, distorted, enlarged, minimized, twisted, or enhanced.
But the memories are ours to keep and ours to remember….however we may.
They connect our past and our present.
They make the events of today more meaningful in some ways that cannot always be explained or understood.
The past two weeks we’ve watched our Little Garden That Could grow and grow. After a run in with a pesky chipmunk, I decided to expand the garden and add some new plants that my friend gave me.
Each day I go out to the garden. I look at it. I smile.
Sometimes I pull some itty bitty weeds.
Sometimes I go around the perimeter and identify each plant and note its progress.
I study the leaves.
I look for new developments.
I push the dirt around and fill in the holes that stinking chipmunk has left behind.
I take pictures and send them to the kids when they are not home.
Every time I go in my bedroom, I can’t help but look out the window at the backyard and admire the progress.
I am not sure why I get such joy out of the garden.
Perhaps it is because of the memories I have of not one, but two dads, a grandpa and gardens.
Every time I am in the garden I am reminded of my stepdad’s giant garden when I was little. It was out back, behind the shed and by the sandbox.
Preparing the kids for what lies ahead, I have told them at least a half a dozen times how it was my job to pick the vegetables. I used to go out before dinner and pick the vegetables he “ordered”….a bowl full of cherry tomatoes, two green peppers, the biggest tomato I could find…
I don’t remember him specifically working in the garden. I am not sure when that work was done. But I do remember him cooking out, slicing tomatoes, and making the best BBQ burgers on the grill.
not liking hating stuffed peppers. Not even wanting to eat the insides because that green pepper flavor tainted the rice mixture.
I remember the sprinkler in the garden. It threw a spray of water on the swing set and if you timed it just right it was like swinging in the rain.
And then there was my dad. He didn’t have a garden. Although he often tells the funny story of my stepmom wanting a giant garden, planting it, and then letting the weeds take over for the entire summer. Until one day, she walks into the garden and hollers, “There’s vegetables in here” as if she forgot she ever planted them.
But my dad’s dad….he had a huge garden. My dad took us there every Tuesday to visit and in the early days of my childhood, when my grandma and grandpa were younger, I remember walking around the perimeter of the garden.
Grandpa would have us identify each plant and note its progress.
I remember the nets he placed over the strawberry plants to keep away the pesky birds.
I remember the green hedges that bordered the garden on three sides…where little bunnies would dart out and startle us.
I remember the giant cherry tree that he covered with a gigantic net and how my dad would hold us up so we could pick the cherries. We’d reach high up in the net and pluck the cherries that were not stolen by the birds.
Sometimes we’d pick some vegetables and put them in wooden baskets and take them to grandma who was waiting on the front porch.
And then she would tell us it was time for Wheel of Fortune or ask us if we wanted to play Uno at the kitchen table.
These are my memories..the ones that flood me when I am working in the garden.
The ones that bring me joy.
They connect my past and present.
And as we watch this garden grow this summer, so will the memories.
I just came in from getting the mail on this rainy, blah day.
Junk mail, coupons, Giant Eagle ad….
A letter with our school return addresss….could it be?
The envelope was soggy but the news was awesome!!
We are getting six iPads for our Resource Room students!!
With all my anxiety over the Possibility of Ipads in the Fall, I realized that I will still have my SMARTBoard and that it has been the center of my instruction for 6 years. I love my SMARTBoard.
The first time I had my own SMARTBoard was when I walked into a new job at the high school and a giant box sat on the floor. The principal said, “The previous teacher wrote a grant for this before he left. It’s yours now.”
I had NO idea how to use it.
Luckily, I had a dozen students who were more than happy to show me how it worked. In the two years I was in that position (OGT Prep/Intervention), I learned a lot from them and a lot from just playing.
There were two lines that came up during that time, memorable quotes that have stuck with me over all these years…
The first from a boy with an amazing sense of humor, “You have to be smarter than the SMARTBoard.“
And one that I am pretty sure I said in one of those “Man, I love this thing” moments, “Have you hugged your SMARTBoard today?”
While the SMARTBoard can be viewed as a presentation tool, it is really an interactive instructional tool.
And for me, it is a planning and organizational tool.
There are so many ways to organize lesson plans, materials, and resources. I’ve tried them all over the past 17 years.
Organizing Lessons and Materials
By the week
+ Good if you use the same lessons year after year
- Makes finding bits and pieces of a lesson more difficult if you need them at another time
- If the schedule gets disrupted by a snow day, sick day, underestimation of time, there goes the “week”…
In folders by the reading selection or unit
+ Keep all the resources for one story in one place
+ Ready-to-go options when you read the story the following year
- Requires you to pull together and reorganize the unit each year
- Easy to hoard things that you don’t really use or need
- Need to weed through often
In SMART Notebook files by story or unit (obviously my favorite and a major point of this post)
+ Like the folder option, lets you keep all you resources in one
+ Automatically feeds into currently technology (Don’t know what I’ll do when the SMART Board is replaced by something else)
+ Allows you to easily pull in templates and frequently used pages
+Provides the option to create interactive activities
+ Allows you to include links to media, websites, and other files
+ Easy to rearrange and reorganize (Try grouping the pages)
+ Labeling each page with a keyword and/or standard keeps you focused
+ The capture tool allows you to “steal” from anywhere (This is how I incorporate pieces and parts of other resources in find online,worksheets such as the ones I linked to here, and in the accompanying workbook.)
+ Easy to clone pages for quick editing or differentiation for different class periods (No examples in this lesson)
+ Export and print as a PDF and attach it to your lesson plans (Looks like this: No Guitar Blues lesson)
This week I should find out if my friend and I are getting iPads for our Resource Rooms.
We wrote the grant over Spring Break and submitted it to our Tech Department the morning the email came out announcing it.
We quickly received a really nice email from the person in charge, thanking us for our application. But you know how the mind plays tricks on you….”Did she thank us for applying, but…..?” or “Did she really like our applications that much?”
One minute we are like, “We are so gonna get them!” and then we are like, “We better get them!” and then “We are never getting them.”
A few years ago, we wrote a grant together to get a Senteo Response System (and we got it!). The year before that, I wrote a grant for a SMARTBoard and document camera. (I was initially denied but then the special education department had some extra money.)
But iPads….they are a hot item right now. Everyone wants them. And there is only so much money in the budget…and we’ve already received a grant. We can’t expect to get them all.
I think we had pretty valid points and I think we could do amazing things with 6 iPads.
I have the RR students 1st and 2nd period for Language Arts and then they go to RR Math during 3rd and 4th. At the most, we will have 10 students on our roster.
Why do I think we should receive a grant?
Here are a few excerpts from our application:
-The addition of iPads will allow students in the resource room setting and the inclusion classroom to receive instruction which will be interactive, engaging, and individualized for their particular learning needs. By combining tablet technology, students will be able to view instructional materials firsthand and in real-time.
-As we each teach multi-grade level resource rooms, it is important that we have the resources available to differentiate their instruction as their IEP calls for. For example, reading levels this year range from non-reader to 7th grade. In Math, students’ ability levels range from 1st grade to 6th grade.
-Incorporating iPads into the classroom will allow us to break students into appropriate groups for specific skills. While the teacher is working with one ability/grade level, the others will be directed to appropriate activities using the technology. With so many apps and programs designed to keep record of student progress, this will allow us to receive immediate feedback and easily plan individualized instruction. Core Math, which is fully compatible with Common Core Standards, is able to track progress for 50 students. Khan Academy would allow similar progress monitoring and prescriptive teaching. DropBox will allow us to create individual folders for each student with appropriate reading selections and spelling activities. Vocabulary and spelling skills can be individualized on Spelling City.
-This new technology will be especially beneficial as our math and language arts series are available online. As the instructors, we will be able to direct students’ attention to particular features of the text, highlight important details, and demonstrate strategies for improving reading comprehension and basic math skills.
-As inclusion teachers, we would be able to provide access to our other IEP students across the curriculum with the teachers we co-teach with. We could break the class into small groups and provide direct instruction in the general education classroom and then design activities for small groups on the iPads.
-One of the most exciting capabilities of this technology is that students will receive immediate feedback from apps and internet web site as to their progress. With programs such as DropBox and Nearpod students can easily share their work with the teacher and their classmates. Students working together in small groups will be able to brainstorm ideas, complete graphic organizers, develop a plan to solve a problem, or explain a process and then bring the team’s ideas to the attention of the teacher which will allow for corrective feedback. Many students are motivated by this type of technology. We are interested in the possibility of using the tablet and its technology to create a small-scale in-class version of a flipped classroom. While some students are receiving direct instruction, others will be front-loaded with information on the next lesson.
Although we’ve only been out of school for a week, I will admit, I’m already in the planning stages for next fall. A tiny part of me is holding out on the hope that iPad activities will fill one column of my lesson plans. As I sit and create lessons for the first few stories, I keep asking myself, “How would this work on the iPad? What apps would work in place of this?”
And then I think….”If I don’t get the iPads…..”
If I don’t get them, I will regain three days of my summer vacation back, because anyone who receives a grant has to attend a 3 day training in either June or July.
I am ready to just find out either way.
Have you ever written a grant?
What was it for?
How did it change your classroom?
Share your story in the comments!
Oh. My. Goodness!
I found the most amazing collection of links to everything a teacher needs. The Cybraryman Internet Catalogue has “Over 20,000 relevant links personally selected by an educator/author with over 30 years of experience.”
Cybrary Man’s Educational Web Sites has been divided into 4 sections (Parents, Students, Educators, and General Interest) and I honestly could look at only the links on his page the entire summer and still not get through everything.
This website feels a little Alice in Wonderland-ish…You open a page of links, click on a link…and you find MORE links. It’s like opening a series of doors and finding options behind every one of them.
I think you need to have a focus as you approach this website. Otherwise, you will find yourself lost in a maze of good ideas and you’ll become overwhelmed.
After one night of exploring, I realize I am going to have set time limits on the computer for myself, because he is making this just too much fun!
I will try to post a little about the best of the best throughout the summer.
Let me know if you find anything great as well!
As the year ended, I was cleaning up my bookmarks and folders on my computer. I decided to compile my favorite websites and share/store them here. These are resources I use all the time in my Resource Language Arts class.
I know many of them are worksheet based but I simply use the content to make SMART Notebook files and group activities. Rarely do I just print a worksheet and pass it out for students to complete.
Here they are in no particular order:
- Achievement Strategies On a recent professional development day on curriculum mapping, I discovered a great website. This is an amazing list of templates, tools, and resources for everything Common Core! This is how I mapped out 2 years worth of units for my Resource Room.
- ReadingResource Recommended by our speech-language pathologist for teaching struggling readers (specifically labeled as a “Dyslexia Resource.”)
- WorksheetWorks Customizable, printable, and free worksheets for math, English, geography, puzzles and other random resources.
- Free Language Stuff Very unique worksheets that I talked more about here.
- ReadTheory More details here on these comprehension selections
- English for Everyone - Related to ReadTheory but expanded to cover grammar, writing, and vocabulary as well.
- Readworks I still stand by this favorite for non-fiction reading. The fact that you can search by grade, skill, and keyword is the best!
- eReading - Printable, but also on-line interactive quizzes I found late this year and only used a few times, but definitely worth going back to.
- ReadWriteThink - My favorite activity is the flip book generator.
- Daily Teaching Tools: 180 Journal Writing Prompts 180 random and unique writing prompts at your fingertips.
Are any of these your favorites too?
What is bookmarked on your computer?
Share links to your favorites in the comments!
I can’t believe I missed it!!!
All Access Pass’s one year anniversary was April 28th when I posted my very first blog post.
I’ve seen bloggers celebrate this milestone anniversary for over a year and I missed mine!! So, I will celebrate today!
When I started this blog, I really didn’t know what to expect or how I would develop it. It was a challenge, or maybe even a dare, from a friend and I decided to take her up on it.
Blogging became a huge part of the summer of 2012. I loved writing, reading, gathering resources, and organizing for the 2012-13 school year. I loved sharing my ideas. I loved having a voice and being accountable.
I documented some wonderful memories with my family.
I preserved some of my favorite photos with the Weekly Photo Challenge.
I also realized I had to ability to share my blog with hundreds of teachers on Edmodo which contributed to thousands of views by educators around the world.
Blogging about a job or a hobby requires you to know what you are talking about. So researching has also become a hobby of mine. The knowledge I have gained from that research and from other bloggers (in all fields – not just education) is amazing.
I think of reading blogs as a type of multi-tasking reading. In a half an hour, I can read a dozen posts or more on just as many topics.
While the stats are a little off due to the lateness of this post, here are the stats for my first year+ as a blogger:
Total number of posts: 166
Total number of followers: 214
Total number of views: 31,992
Viewers from 130 different countries
Top Post: Tricks to Teaching Character Types (2544 views)
Most Commented Post: Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting Moment
Best Day for Views: 1,295 (Tuesday, Dec. 4th I posted Christmas Countdown!!)
To my students (who have no idea this blog exists, but who provide me with endless topics to write about), to my children (who always ask, “Are you gonna put that on your blog?), to my family and friends (who faithfully read but aren’t involved in education) and to fellow teachers (who “get” what this blog is all about.)…Thank you for helping me make it happen! Thank you for following my blog, for commenting, and for sticking with me the last year.
So, going back to my very first post….Am I glad I took the risk? Was it worth it? Absolutely!
As I’ve decided to commit to this blog again, I feel that same excitement I felt a year ago and to me, that says a lot. This is what I was meant to do.
Ian has been bugging me for years if we could make a garden. This will be our fifth summer here and I finally said yes.
First of all, our yard is on a corner lot with a very small back yard so it is not the most conducive to a garden (or sadly, a trampoline, or sadder yet, a pool.)
Secondly, I figured I would be much like the Little Red Hen and “do it myself.” (Dee doesn’t do
hard labor any labor and Ian bails on me sometimes.)
Thirdly, it’s a lot of work and summer is for relaxing.
Lastly, he doesn’t even eat vegetables! (Not a good reason, I know….)
So, on June 1st (our first day of summer vacation together), I picked them up from their dad’s and the first thing out of his mouth was “Can I dig a hole today?”
I sat on that idea for 24 hours, considered my options, and on Sunday morning, around 10:00, I gave that boy a shovel.
We picked a spot behind our garage (which needs painted really bad and will be by the end of the week!)
Ian wanted to “Go big or go home” and was shooting for the world’s largest garden, but I limited it to a 6 x 6 foot space (with a lesson on perimeter and area).
Fortunately, we were blessed with a lovely day – partly sunny, mid 70s, low humidity and good attitudes from both children. (Dee even helped with this project!)
This took us about 3 hours to dig and prepare (the best that amateur gardeners prepare a garden). Our tools were limited…two tiny shovels, a rake and a garden weeder.
After the ground was all dug up and we were fully committed to planting vegetables, or replanting grass, we took a break and relaxed. “Relaxed”, if you have a 10-year-old Ian for a son, means playing 1-on-1 soccer and riding our bikes.
After dinner, we headed to the store to buy the vegetables. There was a big debate if we should get seeds or if we should get plants. Dee was not very interested in the selection process but Ian studied the seed packets and the days to maturity and the directions for planting.
He based his decisions on the following questions:
- How long until we see results?
- How much digging will I get to do?
- Do you think I will eat this?
We ended up leaving with 2 tomato plants, 4 pepper plants, and seeds for carrots, lettuce, green beans, watermelon and corn. We also bought some seeds for decorative pumpkins and sunflowers which we will plant somewhere else.
We were still planting at almost 9 p.m. but it is pretty much a finished garden. (I will need to go back in and do a little more digging of grass today.)
Before bed, Ian said, “Do you think we will have to pull weeds tomorrow? I bet we will!”
But the quote of the day was when he said, “We so own a part of nature now!”
This should be a fun experience and adventure. Stay tuned for more pics and updates on “The Little Garden That Could.”
I had that feeling you get – there is no word for this feeling – when you are simultaneously happy and sad and angry and grateful and accepting and appalled and every other possible emotion, all smashed together and amplified. Why is there no word for this feeling?
Perhaps because the word is “healing” and we don’t want to believe that. We want to believe healing is purer and more perfect, like a baby on its birthday. Like we are holding it in our hands. Like we’ll be better people than we’ve been before. Like we have to be.
- from Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
Before heading into work yesterday, I posted on Facebook: “In some weird and wonderful way, this “end” feels like a “beginning.”‘
Well, after a little speed bump first thing in the morning and then a summer kick-off shopping spree, my official calendar restarts TODAY, June 1, 2013.
Our teacher work day was yesterday, 8th grade recognition the day before that. The weeks and months before that…a total blur.
To say that I was ready for the year to end is an understatement. All teachers say that pretty much. But for me, I was so done with this year and all things associated with it.
That may sound horrible coming from a teacher who
blogs blogged religiously about teaching. It’s kind of embarrassing. I tried a few times since January to return to blogging but my heart wasn’t in it; it just wasn’t the right time.
I feel there is no graceful way to come back into this and act like nothing ever happened. Because a lot did.
In every part of my life – my family, my relationships, and my job – I faced some major changes.
And to be expected, those changes were my primary focus and probably still will be for a very long time. I am going to take this summer to start fresh, to think clearly, and take care of me….
Part of that is working on this blog again. It will help me with the changes I will face at school next year (I’m teaching 7th grade!) and it will bring me a piece of happiness that has been missing from my life the last five months.
I’ll have to start small and get back in the groove, but I am excited to try.
To get going, I’ll leave you with two sweet stories from the biggest parts of my life: my family and my students.
As I whined the other night that I was “so ready for this school year to end,” Ian told me he “didn’t want it to end because 4th grade was the best school year EVER!”
How amazing is that? My 10-year-old son, who just 5 months ago was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, saying THIS was the best year of his life?!?
He loves school and he loves his teacher. He loves his friends. He loves playing baseball and he’s a happy boy. And his proclamation let me know I did my job as a mom to make sure his life remained as normal and happy as possible.
(Incidentally, my new 8th-grader Tweedle Dee is beyond thrilled to be out of school for three months!)
The last two weeks of school we worked on our poetry project in my Resource Language Arts. As I’ve written about before, and as it must make perfect sense to fellow writers, you really learn a lot about your students through their writing.
One of my favorite poems was written by a student who started with me later in the year and really grew on me, despite some very challenging traits.
This poem seriously just touched my heart and gave me the greatest joy. There were many days in the past few months when I felt like I was trudging through the motions with my class. But this little poem made me realize I am still providing my students with a safe and happy place to learn.
You see, I’ve realized I’ve been too hard on myself the last few months. I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to get over these road blocks in a timely fashion. Healing takes time. For once, I am going to let myself be a little less than “perfect” and know that even on my worst days, I am not so bad.
To go along with my Prezi, I decided to create mini-lessons for the five text structures.
The plan was to spend one day on each, using the Prezi as an intro, taking notes in the Text Structure Flip Book I created, and then doing corresponding activities.
The activities took me a little longer than five days but ended up making a great unit.
I used many of the graphic organizers from a PDF I found online (Comprehension and Text Structure Graphic Organizers)
I also used many of the nonfiction reading selections from www.readworks.org.
Here are some highlights from each mini-lesson.
Students used a graphic organizer that really helped them think spatially as they described our classroom. I gave students the option of describing their bedroom if they wanted to.
Compare and Contrast
For this lesson students rotated in groups to three different stations. Each station had a nonfiction selection from ReadWorks.org. I picked a variety of Lexiles and highlighted some text features like footnotes, headings, bold words, and captions.
At each station they had to record three details showing similarities and differences.
I used the questions that come with the selections the following day as a review of test taking strategies on the SMART Board.
Cause and Effect
I used the cards and activity that begins on page 29. I cut the cards and students picked one from the bag. They then wrote their “cause” statement on their paper. I played some music and students walked around until the music stopped. They plopped down and wrote one “effect” on the paper. We repeated this process about 5 or 6 times and each time the students had to read all of the effects listed and come up with something different. I loved the creativity of some of their responses and they loved walking around and writing on their classmates papers.
Sequence or Process Writing
For sequence writing, I used three nonfiction selections spread out over a few days. We completed these individually just like we would the OAA – I read the directions and questions, they read the selection, and I repeated the directions (per their IEP accommodations). This provided some practice and forced them to pay attention to detail and read headings.
- The Scientific Method 600L
- Scientific method questions
- Colorful Crayons 630
- Crayons questions
- Magellan Was First 790
- Magellan questions
Problem and Solution
I turned this mini-lesson into a speaking/listening/social skills lesson where students had to rotate with small groups to 6 different “problems.” For each problem they had to come up with a good solution and they had to use a signal word from the list on the Prezi in their response. After reading some of their solutions, I realized we needed to work on some of our social skills so I will be coming back to this activity later this week.
The final activity was a matching activity and part of the PDF file.
Wow! That is a lot of information. I hope I provided enough information to show the variety of the lessons. The last thing I wanted to do was bore them with a bunch of worksheets but with the OAA coming up tomorrow I wanted to be sure to cover a lot.
And on THAT note….I should probably wrap this up and relax a little before the fun starts tomorrow! If you happen to be in Ohio, or are taking any sort of achievement tests this week….Good luck! It’s all downhill from here!