Saturday, April 18, 2015

Spotlight on Michigan Author Maria Dismondy

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I'm thinking of a fellow Michigander. She is a former first grade teacher who now writes books for children that focus on diversity, kindness and character. She also travels to schools and conferences giving presentations on these topics, allowing her to touch the lives of countless children and adults with her message. (How cool is that?!?) You guessed who it is...or maybe you just read the blog title because it was right there...or maybe you peeked at her lovely's Maria Dismondy! :)
Seriously! How cute is she?
(Sidebar: Maria taught 1st grade in my current district for several years. I remember seeing her and even sitting next to her at various professional development meetings. I remember being impressed by her sweet, lively personality. Little did I know at the time of my brush with greatness! It's funny how things like that happen.) :)

I received a copy of Maria Dismondy's newest book, Chocolate Milk, Por Favor! Like her other stories, this book's message of the importance of treating others with kindness and empathy was written in a way that really resonates with young children.
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Book Synopsis: Johnny is a big fan of school but that all changes when the new kid, Gabe arrives. Gabe doesn't speak any English, and that doesn't stop Johnny from going out of his way to be unkind.
But what will Johnny do when Gabe starts to make new friends? Will he join in the fun of making a new friend or turn the other way? Johnny realizes a powerful message in this story where student differences are celebrated. Read to find out how chocolate milk plays a major role in the discovery of the real universal language.

Check it out on Amazon here! You can read more about Maria, her books, and find all kinds of other great resources on her website here!

I read this story to my class earlier this week. Maybe it's just me, but it couldn't have come at a more perfect time. This time of year can be difficult because the students are comfortable with one another (and me!) AND they are excited because the weather is nice AND they know the end is in sight (#eightmoreweeksbutwhoscounting). Mix that all together and it can sometimes result in not-so-nice behaviors. This book serves up a refreshing reminder that kindness always matters, no matter what...milk mustache not included. :)

After reading the book aloud, my class and I brainstormed a list of ways we can demonstrate kindness to others:
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I posted it in my classroom as a reminder to refer to in the days to come.

Would you like to win a signed copy of Chocolate Milk, Por Favor!? Comment below because sometimes I wonder if anyone actually reads this blog for a chance to win, and I will have my son pick a winner on Sunday. Good luck!  {CONTEST OVER}

It seems only fitting to end this post and the book blog tour in the words of Ellen DeGeneres, because she and Maria are spreading the same message: BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER.


Friday, April 10, 2015

Five for Friday: April 10


Happy Friday! It's time once again to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching and share a few things from my week.

I was on Spring Break this week, but I still did a few things related to school. For instance, I moved my school bag from the chair in the breakfast nook to the floor of our office. (That counts...right?!?) I also shopped at an Office Depot that is closing and has some great sales going on right now. I had to keep myself in-check, though. It's easy for me to get carried away in a school supply store (Mechanical Pencils! Pens! Oooh...binders!!!), especially one that has some great sales! Anyway...
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I took Seth to an Easter egg hunt on Saturday at my friend's church. So of course my boy wore a shirt with a glowing skull on it. I mean, if that doesn't say Easter then what does??? ;) I love my boy, and his choice of a shirt just cracked me up!

There were TONS of eggs there and right away Seth spotted a large GOLDEN EGG in the middle of them all. He was determined to get that egg first, and he did! He was SOOOO excited about it, and saved it til the very end to open because he was certain it would have a special prize inside. I mean, it was a GOLDEN EGG! Finally, after opening all of the other eggs it was time to open the GOLDEN EGG. We held our breath in anticipation as he opened it to reveal...nothing! The GOLDEN EGG was EMPTY!!! (#whodoesthat) As you can imagine that is all he talked about for the rest of the day, even though he got to eat some pizza, decorate a cookie, make some sand art, and play with friends. He just couldn't believe that the GOLDEN EGG was EMPTY. (#lifeishard) And if we're being honest, I couldn't believe it either. I mean, really...
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Ready or not...
Speaking of Seth, I found this note from his school yesterday. I knew this was coming soon, but I was still dreading it...Maturation Education. Ugh. (Sidebar: That's one of many reasons I couldn't teach an upper grade. First of all, I am not mature enough to talk about things like that without giggling or at least smirking a whole lot! Second of all, those kids are almost as tall as me and harder to intimidate. Ha!)
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Hi. I can't take a selfie to save my life.
I got my hair cut, colored, and highlighted on Wednesday. This color is a bold change for me. I typically like to just blend into the background and not call attention to myself. This hairstyle does not allow for such shenanigans. It's hard to tell in the picture, but the darker sections are actually more of a brown with a violet tint. in purple! I KNOW!!! I can't believe I did it, either! I really like it, though. It's a fun change! I am not sure I will continue to wear my hair this way once it fades and looks more natural, but every once in a while I like to mix it up. My sister commented that I got in touch with my inner biker chick. Yep, that's me...all motorcycles and leather! Yep.
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I actually made something and posted it in my TpT store. If you're looking for a way to display word families in your classroom, I hope you will check it out! It's black and white for easy printing. I plan to make more like this for the other short vowels, as well as long vowels.
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My quote for the week. This is something I have struggled with all my life. I am a very sensitive person, which has proved to be both a blessing and a curse. Over the years, I have developed a tougher skin and learned that what others think and do is ultimately out of my control. That knowledge was very freeing for me. Sometimes though, it can still be a struggle. I wanted to share this in case anyone else has ever found themselves feeling brought down by what others say and do. :)

Happy Friday!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

We're Having a Ball!

Woohoo! I'm on Spring Break, so of course I'm having a ball! But that's not the kind of ball I'm here to talk about with you.

Not THAT kind, either! *ahem*


Yesterday I shared this picture on my Five for Friday post:
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Now I'm here to tell you more about the yoga balls I am using in my classroom.

Each year, our PTO grants each grade level some money to use for purchasing classroom materials. I talked my team into getting a few yoga balls for our classrooms. After figuring out everything else we wanted to spend our money on, one other team member and myself got some yoga balls. We each got 4, and we got them from Therapy Shoppe.

I was so excited! I'd been toying with the idea of using yoga balls in my classroom for a little over a year, but I was hesitant to implement them. I'd been reading about the benefits of using stability balls in the classroom and how they are good for young students. But...I had visions of things quickly going awry (think: ball pit mayhem) and children running amok. You could say I had reservations. But, I got over those reservations and decided to take the plunge. It only took me a year and a half. Worst case scenario: things don't go well and the balls disappear.

Before introducing them to my students, we (first grade teachers) asked a fellow teacher in my building how she used them in her 4th grade class. I also read some blog posts from fellow teachers telling how they implemented the use of yoga balls in their classrooms. I finally felt ready.

My bloggy friend Holly from Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade wrote this post a couple of years ago when she started using yoga balls, and she included the rules that the students had to follow in order to have the PRIVILEGE of using the yoga balls. So, I totally copied her:
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Before allowing my students to use them, I went over the rules and gave a big spiel about how using the balls is a PRIVILEGE and not something that Mrs. Campbell HAS to let you do. These are not recess toys! They are classroom equipment! And these balls cost money! And back in my first grade day, teachers didn't let their students sit on yoga balls! We didn't have iPads either! Or computers! You kids have no idea how good you have it! So behave yourselves! Or something like that. :)

Everyone was excited and everyone wanted to use the balls RIGHT NOW. But seeing as I have 27 students and only 4 yoga balls, that wasn't going to happen. This tied in quite nicely with our recent social studies lesson on scarcity. (Look at me, being all cross-curricular and such! #pureluck)

I explained that each morning I would draw 4 name sticks and those are the 4 students who can use the balls for that day. If someone chose to not follow the rules, then the yoga ball PRIVILEGE would be revoked immediately. IMMEDIATELY! So don't try any shenanigans, you kids.

Well, that was on Monday the 30th. So far, 16 students have had the PRIVILEGE of using the yoga balls and it has gone quite well! Only one friend had to have his PRIVILEGE revoked. #saywhatyoumeanandmeanwhatyousay I think that is a pretty good start.

This past week, I would pause every so often and wish it was Spring Break already look around my classroom to just watch what my students were doing. And you know what? They were doing a fabulous job of following our Yoga Ball Rules! They were absolutely LOVING their new seats! It was NOT total mayhem! I mean, sure, every so often a student would lose her balance and wobble a bit too far, or a ball would accidentally roll out from under a desk when someone wasn't at his desk, but I was expecting those types of things to happen.

Once we return from break and everyone has had a chance to use a ball, I am going to send home a letter to parents explaining the benefits of using yoga balls in the classroom. I'm also going to give them the option of sending in a yoga ball for their child to use every day, should they wish to do so.

In the meantime, I am wondering if any of you are using yoga balls in your classroom and if so, what tips do you have? I'd love to hear about your experiences.

P.S. Go Green!!!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Five for Friday: April 3rd


Happy Friday! I love this weekly linky party from Doodle Bugs Teaching.

Lucky to Be in First! 
Amen, Hallelujah and Glory Be. I am on Spring Break! I know you understand. I'm not going to go into detail about how I slept until NOON today, my first day of Spring Break. I swear my body shuts down and has to reboot itself when it knows I am "on break" because this happens every single time on the first day of a break! (Anyone else???) After this, we'll be in the home stretch and counting down until June 11th. I always feel like it sneaks up on me.
 The Leader in Me Book second edition
Do any of you teach at a Leader in Me school? My school is going to start implementing this program next year. From what I have heard and seen, it looks excellent. If you teach at a school that currently uses this program, I'd love to hear more about how it is going  and what you think.
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Thanks to our PTO, I was able to get 4 yoga balls to use in my classroom. Yes, I know this photo only shows 2 of them. And that they are on the counter. Sitting on my math bins. The other 2 are elsewhere. Sitting on the writing center table. Because this picture was taken after school. :) I will be writing a post about this very soon, but so far I am really liking how it's going.

I am by no means a die-hard MSU fan but when a team from my state is in the Final Four, well, I just have to root for them! My sister and her husband both attended MSU and so did several of my co-workers. I also think they have a really nice campus out there in East Lansing. My husband and son however, are HUGE U of M fans, but they are also rooting for MSU to go ALL.THE.WAY. So, I'm happy to jump on the bandwagon and say Sparty On! Go Green! Go White! :) (P.S. If I am being completely honest with you, I will tell you that if I HAD to choose between MSU and U of M, I would totally root for MSU. Don't tell my husband.)
Happy Good Friday!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

April Currently

 April Currently!
(Is anyone else in shock that it's APRIL??? I can't believe it!)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Five for Fr...Saturday

Hi friends! I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend. I started coming down with a cold on Thursday. By Friday evening, I was a goner. I went to bed at 6:45. SIX FORTY-FIVE!!! (#lame) I slept all night, too. I'm still sniffly, but I am well-rested! :)

My school had a door decorating contest as part of March is Reading Month. My class looooooves Elephant & Piggie. Heck, they love all of Mo Willems' books! First, I did a directed drawing with them. Each student chose if they would draw Elephant or Piggie. I used the step by step drawing directions that I found here. Then, they outlined their drawings in Sharpie marker and painted them with watercolors. Finally, each child wrote an accompanying speech bubble. I think they turned out really cute! Here's a close-up of an Elephant and Piggie:

 We've been learning all about shapes in math. I think the geometry unit is my favorite! When I teach symmetry, I give each student a heart shape and tell them they can only decorate ONE SIDE of the heart. Then, I collect their half-decorated hearts and pass them out again. Each child then decorates the other half of the heart they received and tries their best to make it math the side that's already decorated. It's always interesting to see how well they do. My class LOVED looking at the finished hearts and discussing if they were symmetrical or not.
 We also learned about polygons and 3-D shapes this week. My students loved using straws and pipecleaners to make different polygons one day and 3-D shapes on another day. (I didn't get a picture of the 3-D shapes...oops.) I always tell my class that I didn't go get the shape-making supplies at a super-secret teacher store; they can get straws and pipecleaners at a craft or big box store and make these at home, too! :) (Twist ties also work if you don't have pipecleaners.)
I took this picture of my car right before I left yesterday. See that white stuff??? That's SNOW! It was in the low 30s yesterday, and it's still that way today. Snow and wintry temperatures at this point in the year are just annoying. Come on, Spring!!! The good news is that temperatures are supposed to start creeping back up within the next couple of days. Yay!
The quote for this week: