A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish

Setting goals....making resolutions....

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

Hmmm. so I suppose that means if I make a resolution to say, *blog at least twice a week*...if I don't make a plan for that, what I'm really saying is I wish I would blog at least twice a week! Well. That just sounds ridiculous!

With that in mind, I'm going to take a different tact with my New Year's Resolutions...let's talk about the PLAN to get there, too! I'm linking up with First Grade Nest for her fun linky. So let's get started....

I don't just wish these things...they're my goals. So....a plan.....hmmm.. 
So-- I'm looking at those goals up there & thinking about what kind of plan I can devise for each of them. A little bit of accountability will help, too. It seems to me that perhaps a calendar might be helpful for many of them. 
So. Plan 1 - Use a calendar to set aside/mark days to organize, plan "fun stuff", lesson planning, prep healthy meals, & (ahem) blog at least twice each week.

Oh my goodness, I really want to beef up my writing instruction. I just feel like I could do so much better with writing in my classroom! If you are happy with writing in your room, I'd love to hear more about it! 
Since this is not just a wish....I plan to blog at least every other week about how writing is going in my room.

I plan to blog at least twice each week! I plan to use my blogging calendar to set days that I'll be writing for my blog. Yep..that calendar is going to be vital!

I'd LOVE to reach a milestone! I've been on TpT for almost 3 years, but haven't really done much with it until this past October. I plan to upload a new product twice a month. It would be awesome to reach a milestone!
Organize, organize, organize!! I had such great visions for my non-desk last summer...I actually got rid of my desk & now just use my flat file for things like my phone, organizer, etc...but it's not nearly so neat as I'd hoped it would be. 
And let's not even talk about my email! bleh! 
OR...mention my kitchen counter! (Note to self....it is NOT for mail & other papers! haha!)
I think the key for all of this is simply setting aside the time to actually get it all done! I mean, write it on the calendar, set a time, and get it done!

Okay. Confession. I'm a dork....I'd really like to figure out Instagram & Twitter. I mean....I know what they're about...but I've not used them. Ugh. I know it's not hard. I just have to spend some time playing around with them.

So Vegas in July is on my radar. Mr. Primary Inspired & I are making the trip. Super excited!!
And I'd like to go somewhere warm over Fall Break in October....Florida? Gulf Shores? Maybe a trip to see my brother in Santa Barbara? The beauty is...it's all up to me! I get to choose! Yes, I need a plan...but the destination is up to me!

And last.....but probably the most important & powerful....
I want to stop holding the glass forever. 
Have you read the inspirational story about a professor who asks his class how much a glass of water weighs?

It's not very much, of course.
But the longer you hold it....the more unbearable it becomes. It gets heavier and heavier the longer you hold it...until the weight is unbearable.
That is what stress does to you. The longer you hold on to it....the heavier and more unbearable it becomes.

"Life's problems are something like this. Hold it for a few minutes in your head and they seem OK.
Think of them for a long time and they begin to ache.
Hold it even longer and they begin to paralyze you.
You will not be able to do anything.
It's important to think of the challenges or problems in your life, but EVEN MORE IMPORTANT is to
"PUT THEM DOWN" at the end of every day before you go to sleep.
That way, you are not stressed, you wake up every day fresh and strong and can handle any issue, any challenge that comes your way!
So, when your day ends today, remember my friends to ...

Click the pic to read the original story in its entirety.

My final goal is to remember to put the glass down!

Best Wishes for a Happy & Healthy New Year, friends!

Stop by Second Grade Nest to read about more Goals for 2014. Or better yet--- link up your own!

Gobble Til You Wobble!

Hope you all have had a blessed Thanksgiving Day! Lots of pumpkin pie & fun with family...

Have you had the week off? We actually went to school all the way through yesterday. We actually did 'gobble til we wobbled'....lots of turkey fun during math stations with this fraction game.

(Which I think we'll continue using through December....the holidays are still time for pumpkin pie, right?)

 The highlight of the day, though, was making Pumpkin Bread in a Crockpot. So fun! 
And the room smelled awesome all day, too!
I used Randi's wonderful pack. I loved that it includes activities on sequencing, process writing, & VERBS!
We've been learning all about verbs the past week and a half. 


We MIXED....

 and MIXED some more...

 It came out beautifully and tasted wonderful! My kiddos were so, so, excited about it. So much so, that I am definitely looking for more cooking in the classroom activities!

Take Me Back Tuesday

I am loving 2nd Grade Shenanigans' weekly Take Me Back Linky. As other bloggers have mentioned, it really makes me look back at the past year. This year, I'm definitely giving thanks for all of the new wonderful bloggy friends I've made over the past year. It's been a wonderful year!

I know we've got another holiday coming up in a couple days, but this past week, I've been gearing up for Christmas.  Like most of you, I'll also be spending some time over Thanksgiving prepping & planning for Christmas in my classroom. I'm excited to break these out in a week or so...

 I loved reading this post from last year. I remember typing it...my pies HAD just come out of the oven! Which is funny...because as soon as I'm done with this post, I'm heading in the kitchen to get started on the pies for this year! 
Enjoy the holidays!

Well, my pies are out of the oven, the turkey is prepped and ready to be popped into the oven in the wee hours of the morning, & I am ready for the holidays to begin!! 

Over the past several weeks, I've been thinking of all the many things for which I am thankful...family, friends, health, & the ability to adjust to new situations & challenges are high on my list. I am so thankful for God's grace. My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's this summer, & since then it seems my life has been filled with new adjustments & new responsibilities. Learning my new "normal" & getting the school year off to a running start proved to be a challenge. But, you know what? It really wasn't that bad....things are under control...my family is healthy...my mom is doing pretty well...I love my group of kiddos...they're learning & showing lots of growth...It just hit me tonight as I sit here reflecting that even with the challenges of this year, I am truly blessed.

With that being said, I am looking forward to getting back to blogging! I have really missed it. I feel blessed to be part of the blogging community. I love that there is so much support for one another. I've met some really great friends & I've really missed being here. So glad to be getting back!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!

Mmm, Mmm, Math!

Have you seen these limited-time available -only-during-the-hollidays flavored Pringles? 

Yup! Pecan Pie flavored potato chips. Or...even better? White chocolate potato chips. Hmmm.

When I saw these in the store, I thought, "What a great opportunity for my kiddos to practice some graphing!" A recent assessment proved my kiddos needed some extra practice with data analysis. What a fun way to collect data....& then analyze! Right?

So we set up our taste test. Everyone tried both flavors. Then we created the tally chart. Individually, they translated the tally chart info into their scaled graphs. My kiddos were working on a scaled graph where each is worth two. Surprisingly, that turned out to be a bit challenging for them. (Which is why we are practicing......lol).

Now, here's the fun part....& the part that told me a lot about where they are. 
They each made a picture graph with their data. We used chips for the pictures, and each chip had to represent two people. Again, a bit of a challenge...some of us had to pull some off....but that's why we're practicing & will continue practicing.

The picture graphs turned out so cute....& best of all, they all learned A LOT from the activity.

As you can tell, White Chocolate was the winner in my classroom. Wonder which one would be preferred in your classroom? I've just uploaded this Math Activity pack to my store. There is a page for the two flavors we used, but there's also a page with blank labels in the graph so that you can use any flavors you would like! (Dill pickle, maybe? Salt & pepper?). The graphs are set up for 2 OR 3 categories, and scaled for 1 or 2. 

Thanks for the Feedback...I Think!

Wow! Julia Cook has some of the most amazing books out there! I was familiar with a couple: My Mouth is a Volcano... A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue.. But, oh my goodness!...she has an astounding number of truly great books! I love that they each have a lesson for children. You can guess what the messages are for My Mouth is a Volcano & A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue.

I was truly excited when I found this title:
Thanks for the Feedback, I Think

Click on the book cover to head over to Julia Cook's website!

This book helps kiddos learn how to accept a compliment & how to deal with criticism. Now, that's something even lots of adults would find helpful! Sometimes it IS hard to accept a compliment, isn't it?
In this book, the little boy RJ

I really appreciate how it fits with the goal setting we've got going on in my classroom. I've started with Reading Goals, with the intention of adding Math & Writing Goals. Each child & I sit down to talk about where they are, & where they want to be by a certain date. Then each child comes up with a plan to help them get there. As a class, we've created an anchor chart to help us with ideas for that (which you can grab by clicking on the pic of it below).

Of course, as part of that conversation,  sometimes have to give some constructive feedback (some of them need to be talked down...haha...moving from E to L in 8 weeks is probably not a realistic goal). I love this line from the book....RJ's parents tell him, "...feedback is a good thing. It's information that can help you improve and grow. Most of the time when a person gives you feedback, it doesn't make you feel good. But that's the price you have to pay for growing.".

I can see us re-visiting this book several times as we continue to refine our goal setting & have those conversations. I can even see us working together to create a chart. Really--- isn't accepting compliments and feedback at the very base of being able to achieve the goals we set? This book has a very powerful message. 


Are you interested in Cooking up a Caring Classroom? You really need to learn more about Julia Cook's books!

Reaching those GOALS!

My kiddos have been working hard toward increasing their reading level. (We use Fountas & Pinnell book levels in our room). My fabulous teamie & I came up with the goal setting sheet below. We meed with each child, and he sets his own goal. Kiddos also develop their own plan for reaching their goal.

Right now, I'm working on goal setting with each of my sweeties. For the most part, they've done really well at setting realistic goals. There were a few who insisted they could move from E to M (for example) in only 8-9 weeks...but I talked them down some. When we meet the second time, I do a quick benchmark, & then we talk about whether he's met his goal or still working on it. They LOVE getting to color in both the smiley face and the bar across the bottom to show their movement through the levels! If you'd like a copy of the goal setting sheet, just click & download!

When kiddos get to help build an anchor chart, the concept or skill becomes so much more meaningful. It really is powerful. We all worked together to create a list of things that would help us reach our goal. Without any prompting from me, they came up with:
  • Read every day for at least 20 minutes.
  • Practice our strategies.
  • Practice sight words.
They also added "Read about 50 books at your level to get ready for the next one". (haha! Can you tell that I've told them that one or two times?)..I worked the poster we made in class into a neat and tidy ready-to-be-printed poster. They listed the strategies....and I added pics of each one.
If you'd like to grab a FREEBIE of the Reaching That Goal poster, just click on the pic below and download!

I'd love to hear more ideas for helping children set goals and work toward them. What ways do you find successful?

Setting Goals with Kids & Retelling

Whew! It has been a crazy busy week! HaPpY fRiDaY!

At my school, we are all gearing up for observations - some announced, some unannounced. Mine will be unannounced. And-- not that I am particularly stressed about that....but I do find it terribly distracting. Each morning, I wonder if today will be the day. Through the day, I wonder if she'll be in during this lesson. The door opens, and I look to see if the principal is coming in. haha! I will be so glad when she finally does come in so I can stop thinking about it! 

In my district, we have a rubric upon which we are scored. We each chose three areas to target/improve this year, and the principal will be specifically looking at those areas (in addition to all of the others, of course!). So the three areas I chose to target were (and I'm going to paraphrase):
  • The goal is posted, attainable and accessible. Instructional methods and materials align with the goal.
  • Potential barriers in the curriculum and learning environment are identified and addressed in the design of the lesson and the learning environment. 
  • An exceptional number of students can articulate their academic achievements, areas that need improvement, and receive grades reflective of that ability.
So, I've been really trying to be deliberate an conscientious about building these into my daily instruction. I felt like I already had a good handle on removing barriers, but I could polish that up & fine tune it this year. My biggest focus really has been on building supports in for the "students can articulate their academic achievements, areas that need improvement...." and the "goal is posted, attainable, & accessible..." ones. 

One of the goals we've been working on the last few weeks has been "I can retell texts using words like first, next, then, after that, and finally." Believe it or not, in the past, this has proven to be difficult for many of my kiddos. Last week, we worked together to create an anchor chart, and I polished it all up this week & created some Retell Magnets! We are just loving them! I keep the magnets on the side of our easel, then after reading we get busy retelling. They are so excited to volunteer to come up and choose the magnet they want to use for the part of the story they're retelling. I have them choose the magnet, then tell the rest of the class what they're retelling.

For this story, for example, one of my little pumpkins came up, pulled off the "First" magnet & moved it over, then told the class, "First, Scarecrow was lonely". The next pumpkin choose the "Next" magnet & told the class, "Next, nobody wanted to play with him".
Happy teacher heart!! I am just loving how this is making them think! Love, love, love it!

Even better? I've noticed that when I'm reading one-on-one with them, they are retelling using the words! And when one of them gets stuck, they're looking over at the poster for a little support! So how does this fit in with my "goal is posted & attainable" goal? Well, we have that goal written out & posted by the easel and every time we work on this skill, I say the goal. Recently, I've also been having them do a bit of self-evaluation: thumbs up if you think you've got it & could explain how to do it to someone else OR thumbs to the side if you'd like more practice.

This was the first time I used magnet sheets for the printer. They worked beautifully! Just run it through the printer, cut the pieces, & it's ready to roll! (Of course, now I have more ideas for those sweet magnet sheets! lol).

Thanksgiving Writing Center

 I debuted our new writing workstation today. I am a firm believer in giving your class ownership by letting them help with decision making in the classroom. We do lots of Plus/Deltas: what do you like, what would you like to change. Several weeks ago, they told me they'd like to do some writing as part of our workstation time, so we met as a group, and put all of their ideas on a chart. They had tons of ideas for the types of writing they could do at the station: books, poems, letters....

They also had the brilliant idea of putting all of those writing choices into a big basket or tub, and having kiddos draw one out to discover what writing task was going to be completed. Is that not a brilliant idea? LOVE it!

So-- my writing workstation pack was born. It's really a print & go workstation. Everything you need is ready to go. There are 30 writing tasks (and blank discs so you can add your own), a selection of Thanksgiving themed writing paper (both full sheet and with an illustration box), recipe cards, and paper for each of the acrostic poem tasks. Rather than having slips of paper, I put each writing task on a cute little disc, and attached each one to a craft stick (along with a coordinating back) & arranged them all in a cute little pail. Kiddos just pull a task.

Today, we did a little practicing and all used the same task. Today, we pulled "Draw a picture of your family at Thanksgiving and write about it." I can't wait to read some of their recipes!

If you'd like to check this Writing Pack out, just click the pick below! It's going to be on sale for a few days!

Welcome to the Long i Party!

Hope everyone has recovered from trick-or-treating and the aftermath of too much candy and too little sleep! I'm spending my day watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel (yes-- I know Thanksgiving is next...but there are just not very many Thanksgiving movies!) and working on my plans for next week.

My little pumpkins will be moving on to the long i sound: igh, y, and ie. I just finished a little pack that will take us through the week. My, oh my! It's a Pizza PIE!

In addition to the poster, here's what you'll find in the pack:
  • Read the Room pizza pieces and recording sheet
  • 3 Build-a-Word Sheets (one each for creating igh, y, & ie words
  • Word Sort