Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Change for Next Year...and Now

It is time to brush off the cobwebs and dead crickets that have no longer been chirping on this blog because they died a looooonnnnngggg time ago!

I cannot even begin to tell you about all of the blog posts I have written in my head, But when it came time to sit down and actually write them, I felt lost. I have kind of felt lost ALL year long with things going on at school and at home. But I have realized how much blogging helps me reflect on my attitude and where my heart is....it is sometimes the compass that helps me point my heart back towards God and the reasons why I love teaching despite how challenging and draining it can be.

Every May, I find myself making a list of all of the things I will do better next year. I tell myself I will be more purposeful in my guided reading lesson plans and Writing Workshop mini-lessons. I tell myself I will stay on top of grading papers so I am not entering grades on the day they are due at 11:58 pm! I also realize how there are so many things I could have done better if I had looked at changing myself first.

Do you ever find yourself wanting to change others....both little people and big people?

And it is often the BIG people we want to change the most because we think they should know better! :)

I have to remind myself daily....and sometimes minute by minute...that the only person I can change is myself and how I respond to that person and that situation.

I know I have found times when I make excuses for myself  and have found it easy to place the blame on others or something else. Have you heard these excuses before?

I have a tough class this year.
I don't like this curriculum.
Admin has no clue what it is like in the classroom.
Their parents don't care about their grades.
They never listen.
They NEVER hush!
You don't understand what my team is like!
I have NO help or support from home!
It does no good to send the children to the office.
This child (or grown-up) drives me CRAZY!!!

These excuses do nothing to SOLVE the problem. In fact, we often use them to justify the things we do. I know I have been guilty of that before. :(

So when that starts to happen, I realize I need to pray and find the things that help me point my mind and heart back on a better path.

Some of my favorite thoughts from Conscious Discipline always help ground me and remind me how I don't need to change others only myself.

How you respond to a child's upset teaches them how to respond to others when they are upset.p. 192
What you focus on, you get more of. What we offer others we strengthen in ourselves. p. 160
Love see the best in people, even children. p.162
Whomever you have placed in charge of your feelings, you have placed in control of you. p.28

This song always helps to remind me of how God will change us so it is not up to me to try and change others.

So instead of thinking of all of the things I need and will do better next year, I remind myself about reaching and touching their hearts first. I remind myself that through the tough times I will face with my kiddos to encourage them and love them.

 I will remind myself to be kind, patient, and encouraging even when those around me are not.

 I will remind myself to show love through the toughest times because we are ALL still learning and changing.

But most of all, I will remind myself that we are ALL broken but God is sculpting each of us into something beautiful!

From My Heart to Yours,

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Label Love: Interactive Learning Fun

Are you ready to discover some awesome Bright Ideas? 

Here is just one of them. :)

I am so excited to share with y'all some fun ways to use labels for Word Study, Math, Science, and more. I love labels and we have been using them to get us up and moving around. PLUS they can often give us the opportunity for some great discussions...OR they give us a chance to practice skills without talking. :)

Here are a few examples of the different ways we have recently used labels. I buy the address ones that are 30 to a page.

For Word Study, I typed (You can also just write them) one part of a compound word on each label. They kiddos had to get up and get moving to find the other half to their compound word.

For Math, I typed random numbers from 1-120. I called on about 8-10 kiddos to come to the front of the room. My other kiddos had their marker boards. They had to write the numbers in order from least to greatest. I then had the kiddos with the labels put their number and themselves in order from least to greatest by making a human number line. We were then able to check our answers.

We then sorted ours numbers and ourselves by numbers greater than 25 but less than 75.

I also called out number clues to help each child identify the Mystery Number I was talking about. For example, I am 10 more than 42 and I am the same as 5 dimes and 2 pennies. I also let the kiddos make up the clues about another person's number.

For Science, we sorted ourselves by living and non-living. To extend that activity, we then used some of our inferring skills to determine what object I was talking about using riddle clues. I forgot to take the picture of this.

Here are some others ways you can use labels:

*short and long vowels
*even and odd numbers
*needs and wants
*solids, liquids, or gases
*shapes- by 2d or 3d, vertices, edges, etc.
*digraphs or blends
*true or false math equations
*balanced or not balanced number sentences
*animal coverings
*beginning or ending sounds
*rhyming pairs
*characteristics of different genres
*characteristics of fiction and non-fiction
*nouns, verbs, and adjectives

You can even have students create the labels for another group to sort and solve. :)

For more bright ideas from 150 different bloggers, please browse through the link up below and choose a topic that interests you. Thank you so much for stopping by Heather's Heart.

An InLinkz Link-up

Hop over to my TPT store or my Pinterest boards if you get the chance. :)

From My Heart to Yours,

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Tough Turkeys

Where in the world is this year going??!!??? I cannot believe it is almost December!

I started thinking this year about some of the tough kiddos I have taught before. These are the kiddos that seem to never be absent but make YOU want to be absent. I think with all of the stress and higher expectations "they" keep piling on us those tough turkeys seem to stand out even more.

We tend to keep having more and more we have to teach but we also have more and more behavior issues each year. There is not enough time in the day to take care of everything but it is so important to help our tough turkeys. We will always have patience when our kiddos struggle academically but we tend to have less and less patience with our tough turkeys' behavior issues.

I have to stop and remind myself that I cannot control a kiddo's behavior but only how I react to that behavior. The only person I can change is myself. One of the most powerful lessons Conscious Discipline has taught me is about how the way we react to the upset of others teaches a child how they will react to the upset of others. Whatever we offer to others we strengthen in ourselves.

Our attitude makes a HUGE difference. There are days that before I even get to school I feel discouraged. I think with all of the higher expectations we are teaching concepts that are not developmentally appropriate. This often frustrates our kiddos and can factor into their behavior problems. We also have kiddos who live in a completely different world with different expectations when they go home. School and School Rules are completely foreign to them. We often forget that we need to be the ones to teach them this different set of rules and expectations. I forget almost daily that each one of the kiddos in my classroom are either extending love or crying out for love. I might be the only one to love that little tough turkey each day.

Each day we need to make a choice to greet all of our kiddos, especially our tough turkeys, with love and patience. 

From My Heart to Yours

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Visit from The Pumpkin Snatchers

On Tuesday, my kiddos were beyond excited before they even got to our classroom. All around the school, children were seeing candy corns EVERYWHERE! As soon as my kiddos got to our classroom, they found a letter from the Pumpkin Snatchers.

The Pumpkin Snatchers told us that they love to eat certain letters. We needed to go and hunt for them around the school by following the candy corn trail they always leave behind. Before the hunt, we sang the song the Pumpkin Snatchers left us...my kiddos love to sing even though their teacher cannot carry a tune AT ALL!!! :)

When we got back to the classroom, we saw that the Pumpkin Snatchers had come by and left us some goodies. We had the Pumpkin Snatchers game, several little pumpkins, and the recipe to make Pumpkin Slime.

We read the letter from the Pumpkin Snatchers again to help us remember that they only love to eat the letters in the word PUMPKINS. We sorted the letters they like and the ones that they dislike. After sorting the letter cards, we used the letters in the word PUMPKINS to spell different words. I am always amazed and the things my kiddos notice when we do different word study activities.

(sorry for the glare)

We practiced playing the game and investigating the letters the Pumpkin Snatchers ate. In the pumpkin container are the cards and the magnetic letters needed to spell the words. This game is great practice for isolating beginning, medial, and final ending sounds. My kiddos are dying to play this during Daily 5! :)

Finally, we made Pumpkin Slime using the recipe the Pumpkin Snatchers left us. Add some food coloring and some pumpkin pie spice and your kiddos will go crazy for this! :) 

We made several batches and they all turned out a little different but still oodles of fun! I didn't get a picture of the slime actually dripping from their hands but here is just a peek at what we did.

I think the Pumpkin Snatchers may be one of our favorite visitors this year! Hop over to my store to check it out!

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy. I'll choose a winner tomorrow morning. :)

From My Heart to Yours,

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Stamina Critters

WOW-zers...How in the world is it already October???!!!??? I am not sure where the end of August and the whole month of September went! We have been very busy in 1st grade...all 22 of us. Our class sizes are usually around 17 so 5 extra kiddos make a HUGE difference in EVERYTHING we do! I know many, many of you have larger class sizes than this...all I can say to that is Bless Your Hearts- You amaze me! :)

We are doing Daily 5 for the first time this year so we are really working on our STAMINA in all we do! Because there are so many of us, we started by working on our stamina on the Learning Rug. I have a very verbal groups this year who are experts in sharing...we are just needing to work on sharing about learning at the appropriate time! :)

After talking and writing about Our Learning Rug promises, we learned a song about stamina!

Later that day, we had a visit from the Stamina Critters.

Here is the poem they sent us. :)

When the Stamina Critters arrived, they quietly started talking to me. I would hold one up to my ear and they would tell me about how they would be watching for children keeping their stamina. They would really be watching for kiddos working quietly. As I noticed kiddos staying on task and working quietly, they would get to go and add a Stamina Critter to the jar. Sometimes I hear Stamina Critters calling out student names that they spy keeping their stamina. The kiddos swear they hear the Stamina Critters talking too....This is when I pray that I am not warping my kiddos too severely! :)

They are so stinkin' cute when they carefully take a Stamina Critter out of the basket and place them in the jar. They are always sure to place them in there so their eyes are watching us.

This has really helped my kiddos. They love to see how many of them can keep their stamina at different times during the day. I have even carried a Stamina Critter when we go down the hallway. Of course, it talks to me while we walk. We have been able to add 22 Critters before when everyone did Read to Self for 20 minutes with no call backs! :)

I hope to build my stamina back so I can blog more, I have really missed my sweet bloggy friends. :)

From My Heart to Yours,

Friday, August 23, 2013

Who am I? Looking from the Heart

Our first day of school is on Monday. Early in the summer I already knew who many of my new kiddos would be. I also knew in which classes each of my kiddos from this past year would be (and the classes many other kiddos would be as well). Knowing those 2 things I must admit something to you....I realized how easy it is to make some judgments.

Have you ever looked at your class role and felt a little bit depressed or nervous by a name you saw on there? Have you ever wanted to go tell the next year's teacher about a particular child before they even have the chance to meet them? I typically don't put a lot of value into what another teacher has to say about one of my in coming kiddos because I know so much can change when the dynamics of a classroom change...but I am also guilty of telling a 2nd grade teacher about a child that *might* be a stinker even though I might also be telling that teacher of ways to reach that child that worked for me (and others) and made a huge difference.

I also realized earlier this week that I have been guilty at different times in my career of talking about a class that is really __________ or __________. I know that myself and others have shared about a student that is __________, __________. and __________.....and many of the adjectives that fill those blanks might not always be very positive. Those descriptions are also usually strings of letters that make us twitch- ADD, ADHD, ODD, ED...and our brains are thinking OMGoodness! :)

I thought about what it would be like if my principal were to call each of the parents of my new kiddos into to her office to share about all of my faults and weaknesses before they even had the chance to meet me. Would they be able to see my strengths when they finally had the opportunity to meet me? Of course not....they would always be seeing those faults first.

I then remembered one of the most profound sentences out of the Conscious Discipline book...."What we say to a child becomes their inner voice for the rest of their lives." Think how easy it is to remember the negative words of just one teacher...but stop and realize for a minute that even though you might not have said mean or hurtful words to a child that our attitude and thinking effect our body language and interactions with that child.

How can we really help each other when we focus on the weaknesses or use those weaknesses as an excuse instead of pushing ourselves more to make a connection with those students we often see as "difficult"?

Each day each one of us has the potential to be the ONE person in a child's life to make a difference. If we are not working to make those connections and touch the hearts of each child in our room than it is easy to head down the road to becoming an ineffective teacher. After a child has just 1 year in a class with an ineffective teacher, it takes 3 years for that child to make the gains that were lost.

Our Superintendent today had us pull out our phones and find a picture of the most important child or children in our lives. We then had to imagine how we would feel if that child was placed in a classroom with an ineffective teacher. I don't even have to tell you where our thoughts and hearts went with that.

Imagine what a difference could be made if each child in our classroom thought they were a priceless treasure to their teacher....a teacher who loved them even when they really were being a stinker.

The children in our classrooms are only going to be as great as we believe they can be....how we see them and treat them will be the legacy they take with them when they leave our classrooms.

From My Heart to Yours,

Friday, July 26, 2013

/F/ /r/ /o/ /g/ = Monkey...right????

Hi sweet friends! I am not sure where the summer has gone but I hope it has been a fun and relaxing one for everyone. I have spent A LOT of time this summer working on our district's Science and Social Studies curriculum team. I am so ready to give birth to that baby! Lol! =)

I have also spent time at my sister's pool, spent time with my dear friend PJ (aka my pajamas), spent time with my nieces, and spent a wonderful week in the Cayman Islands....I am ready to go back NOW. =)

I have also spent a little time working on activities that will help my kiddos be successful...especially in Reading and Math.

In Texas, we give a test 3 times a year called the TPRI. It is a test that assesses phonemic awareness and other skills that young children need to become successful readers. One part of the test assesses the children being able to blend sounds together to make a word. For example, I say /t/ /o/ /p/ and the child says top. To say that I get interesting answers would be a HUGE understatement. I am talking about beat your head against the wall wacko answers. I might say /f/ /i/ /sh/ and I have kiddos saying words like alligator, monkey, Sponge Bob, pizza, and even their own name.

Since Stretchy Snake has helped my kiddos so much when it comes to decoding unknown words, I decided he could help us with this tricky skill too! =)

Click on the pictures to go check it out in my TPT store. =)

My kiddos are obsessed with Stretchy Snake. This game has helped tremendously with this skill that is so tricky for so many of my struggling readers. It is /p/ /er/ /f/ /e/ /c/ /t/ for your Guided Reading and RtI groups.

The teacher will say the sounds /d/ /i/ /p/ and the child has to mentally blend the sounds together and then cover the correct picture. Once all of the pictures are covered the winner will either share the pictures he/she covered or segment the sounds back to the teacher when he/she calls out the pictures that were covered.

There are 5 different games and 12 assessments/individual practice for segmenting sounds....lots of Stretchy Sounds fun! =)

Since I am obsessed with Word Study I wanted to bring back a few *freebies* that I have shared before. I will be using these the first few weeks of school. 

and one more =)

I would love for you to leave me a heart note if you grab them. =)

I have a lot I want to share with you in the next few weeks....I have some really fun visitors that will be bringing us some very fun packages full of lots of awesome activities, snacks, songs and poems, and more. I hope you hop by again to check it out. =)

From My Heart to Yours,