Friday, July 1, 2016

Money, Money, Money...

“Money, Money, Money!  Some people got to have it.  Some people really need it.  Money, money, money...”  This is a great song by the O’Jay’s. When I initially started this blog, I had only money dreams in mind.  Who doesn’t like money?  I do.  We base our decisions and future plans with money in mind.  I don’t think that’s a bad thing unless it’s getting in the way.  It was getting in mine.

I was first drawn to Teachers Pay Teachers (Tpt), an open online store where teachers sell their teaching materials to other teachers as a buyer.  It felt good to shop, find what I needed, and put money in to other teacher’s pockets.  This led to my goal of possibly pursuing this money venture.

I noticed that most sellers on Tpt have a blog.  While reaching out to some of them through private messaging, they all gave the same advice: having a blog will promote your packets and bring up your sales.  Here’s the problem:  I had no packets to sell.

I had the pleasure of attending a Writer’s Symposium hosted by New Mexico National Boards (being a NBCT has it perks!)  This easily had been the best Professional Development I have ever attended!  I wish our school district would focus on our teaching passions and deliver professional development accordingly, but that’s another blog entry.

While acquiring much needed knowledge on how to write and collaborate with other like-minded, intelligent colleagues, I had my Oprah “a-ha!” moment!  We had the “introduce yourself to your neighbor you don’t know opening” activity. While meeting my new friend, I noted that I had started a blog website two years ago and had only published a few pieces!

This intelligent and kind new teacher friend immediately exclaimed how cool it was to have a blog but wanted to know why I have just a few entries.  After shrugging my shoulders, he exclaimed: “You are a baby blogger!”   This was the real moment of self realization.  I really don’t have packets to sell on Tpt, but I do have a lot to say.  Take the money out of this entire situation and it becomes so much more ideal.

I still like money.  I like the money song, too.  “You wanna do things, do things, do things, good things with it...”  The money might come some day. I do not have packets to sell.  I simply want to write.  I have always enjoyed writing.  I want opinions.  I want to interact!  I want to collaborate! 

What’s your dream!?  Tell me what is inspiring, irking, irritating, excting you about your teaching world these days?!?  Let’s talk!

Friday, May 8, 2015


I love to write.  I love to read.  I love to read blogs.  Why haven't I posted on this cute little blog?!?  

I push my students to write...and write...and write every single day.  My students open our entire day with writing.  They write about themselves, their friends, and family.  Then they write about what they read. They write about science topics, our current social studies focus…they even write about Math for Pete's sake!

Why should I require so much writing of my students, and yet I can't get myself to write on this simple and fun little blog?  I love to read other blogs.  I respond to many of them with comments.  If I’m willing to write on other blog sites; what about my own?!

It came to me one day, while I was brainstorming about a new “Show and Tell” topic for my first graders.  While pondering ideas, thoughts, assessment types and even more thoughts, it came to me…

Writing forces me to speak!  It forces me to open up.  It's a huge risk, actually. What is writing, after all, but our thoughts on paper that we don't say out loud? When I was in school, there was a lot of writing and reading.  There was very little speaking.  Most (if not all) of my teachers liked it quiet.  I hardly ever spoke.  When I came to this conclusion, I was absolutely in awe of how much my first grade students take risks on a daily basis!

Once we're able to think outside of our own little bubbles, it's so much simpler to observe and learn from others.  I began to notice little things that held a huge amount of significance.  Here they are:
1.  There are very few speakers and quite a few listeners.
2.  My students are placed in tables of 4 to 5.  One thing that becomes evident year after year is their love of talking, and talking, and talking.  But no one was listening!
3.  Everyone seemed to have something important to say, but once a listener finally took the bold action to say in response, their statement was always powerful and meaningful.  So, if listening leads to meaningful speaking, how can I best encourage my students to do both.

This was an exciting epiphany for me.  It also reminded me of one of my entries from my National Boards.  I am very proud to be a "NBCT!" One of my most proud career moments was when I passed my National Boards.  My state highly values teachers that are certified.  

I didn't pass the first attempt.  I failed the Speaking/Writing component.   However, and despite my best efforts, I didn’t pass the Speaking/Writing component the first time.   The rubric read: "instruction may be inappropriate and fail to help student(s) progress as listeners, viewers, and speakers."  I remember being appalled.  Of course I knew how to get students to speak and listen. I had been teaching for ten or more years by then.  After sleepless nights, tears, and riding the pity-train for a few weeks, I finally decided to put my “big-girl pants” on.  I rolled up my sleeves up and made myself watch the video again.

Wow.  I clearly did not know what it meant for students to have meaningful speaking opportunities.  I sheepishly noted how I did most of the talking.  My feelings of being appalled turned to self-discovery and growth.  It led to the creation of the “Special Speaker” packet that my students and their families equally enjoy.  After creating my packet, distributing it, assigning monthly topics, assessing, and receiving feedback from families, I began to tweak.  I changed things.  I edited “Letters to Home” and asked for student and parent input. 

Here it is in final version.  My very first Special Speaker packet.  I hope you enjoy it as much as my students and I enjoyed it. 

Click Here:

Friday, December 6, 2013

Better now...than NEVER (My Story Buckets)

Hello Dear Teachers in Blog World!

Wow!  I have had a contentious year to say the least.  Our district is imposing a new evaluation system as part of a new reform...UGH!  It has been stressful and demoralizing.

My students are amazing (as always); my student's parents have been responsive and supportive...but my allowing our Public State Education Department's (PED) ridiculous demands to give me so much stress has been OVERWHELMING!  I'm still trying to figure out if all the cause of this stress is due to local demand (Principal) or if PED is really trying to "give it to us!"

Well, that's my reason for being so behind on my publishing.  Michelle made this amazing blog design and I'm happy that I finally get to use it for my stress relief.   Please stay tuned for my next "Snooping Around" blog titled, "3's Please?!?"  I would love to reach out to all of you and hear if you're experiencing the same type of demoralizing demands that my state department has imposed in regards to Teacher Evaluations.

Anyhow, the silver lining is that I was recently asked to present at a local National Board Conference.  I was asked to engage teachers in what I wrote about for one of the portfolios.   This is what teaching is all about:  fun and inventive strategies that help our ever-changing children's learning styles to succeed in reading!

I decided to focus for both this blog and my presentation on one of my favorites: "The Story Bucket!"

 My reading program consists of a large focus on comprehension.   (Of course, a main portion of the day is dedicated to phonics and phonemic awareness!)  

I would like to introduce one of my most favorite strategies in connection with decoding:  My Story Bucket!  No matter what type of learner a child might be, young children will enjoy utilizing a Story Bucket with story element wands to re-tell a story.   

This bucket is displayed proudly in a main part of the classroom.  My students make their own Story Pockets:

left picture:

This single bucket (a converted oatmeal box) was converted into a Story Element re-tell tool.   After reading a story in a whole group or small group setting, children use the sticks by pulling them one at a time to cite the main ideas of a story (Common Core Standard R.L.1.3 for First Grade).   The following re-tell wands (sticks) to represent the main elements are are in this bucket:  Setting, Characters, Beginning, Middle and End.  I have found immense success.  Here are some artifacts:

Students holding up the correct sticks for an appropriate Story Element re-tell:

 I am especially proud of these pics.  These are my "struggling students."   Each student has a Kinesthetic Learning Style.  As you all know, this learning style is perceived as a difficult learner but in fact, are quite able and intelligent students.  The idea that they can grab sticks after reading a story is compelling and engaging for them:

Since writing about my success for my "Comprehension" entry  for my National Board Certification Portfolio, I have since added new wands to our Story Bucket!  I am currently working on a packet in connection with this bucket for my TPT Store (finally).  Due to the immense market on Teacher's Pay Teachers, I am doing whatever I can to make it "TPT-worthy."

Finally, I would like to close with pics of the buckets that I made for my grade-level friends.  They are amazing.  This is the least I could do for all of their ideas and support:

I am currently working on a friend's bucket with an Owl theme.

Thank you, my dear teacher friends!   I hope that you have a wonderful weekend!  More to come...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hello Wonderful Teachers and Friends!

I would love to take this time to introduce myself (why am I so nervous?!?).  My name is Deborah.  I have a wonderful husband.  We have been married 18 years.  I have three perfect children and two furry children.  I am going on my 14th year of teaching.  I have taught Kindergarten, First, Second, many combo classes and am currently teaching First grade.

I wanted to take this time to thank so many of you for the warm welcome to the blogging community.  I am excited to begin my blogging adventures!  I plan to open this school year with lots of blogging and sharing.  I am happy to accept advice anyone could offer.  I am quite humbled and very thankful!

Lastly, I would like to close this introduction with HUGE gratitude to Michelle!  She is truly a genius and I love my custom blog design!  WHOO HOO 3 am!!!!!

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Very First Test Post

Thank you, Deborah, for giving me the honor of creating a custom blog design just for you!!