June 27, 2016

TIPS, TRICKS, AND PITFALLS WHEN PACKIN' UP A CLASSROOM

For the first time in my career, I had to pack up my classroom. I have been lucky enough to work for schools that didn't require me to box up all of my goods every year.  My end of the year duties encompassed shoving the desks to the side, turning out the lights, and locking the door. ((((FIST PUMP)))) This always seemed pretty lucky as I have heard the horror stories from all the educators out there who have to basically strip their rooms down to the studs each and every year. 

Well, it's finally payback time for all of my good fortune in this EOY duty department. I am moving out of a classroom teacher roll and into a contract coaching/curriculum position. This, in turn, means that I will no longer have a large space on campus to call my own (cue the sweaty upper lip). I have spent the last two weeks popping in and out of good old Room 18. Countless decisions have been made. Well, I'm finished.  I carted off those precious items, willed my favorite treasures, trashed cruddy items, and left the rest to the sweet teacher who is taking my place in the fall.  



I learned a ton while submerged in this tedious process as I had 10 years worth of amazing educator activities, games, manipulatives, toys, files, furniture, and books that I have purchased and/or accumulated over the years. I am going to share my TOP SEVEN TIPS for those teachers out there who are facing a similar situations. If you are taking a leave of absence from your district to head back to school, to focus on being a parent, and/or to change roles/careers like I am, this post is for you. So, without wasting a moment more (heaven knows you will need these precious seconds to spend cleaning and weeding), I give you my PACKIN' UP CHEAT SHEET.

GET YOUR EMOTIONS IN CHECK
I expected to be a little emotional when I started packing up my precious teaching things. What I DID NOT expect was to be an absolute blubbering mess. Seriously :( I was on the verge of tears the moment I stepped foot on campus. It became progressively worse as I began opening drawers, bins, and cabinets. So many wonderful memories were drudged up.  The cake though was crying in my Super's face when I hugged him goodbye for the summer. Um . . . GOOD HEAVENS, GIRL . . . pull yourself together.

I know that everyone's circumstances are different when packing up and moving on from the classroom - a leave for various reasons, returning to school, retirement, becoming a mommy, transitioning into administration . . . the list is endless. However, each one of these will bring a different bag of emotions with it.  I wasn't ready.  My suggestion . . . be ready.  

If I've learned anything over the years, it's okay to sit with sadness. Don't dwell here, but definitely sit with it for a day or two. Let those feelings hang, soak them up, and process them. It's definitely a solid way to move past a tough situation faster.  With this said, I ended up leaving on that emotional first day. It was the best decision I made during this process. I went home and took a long nap, played a few holes of golf, cried some more, and binged on Boardwalk Empire (Season 3). The next day as I opened that door, I was ready. Sure, I was still a little sad to be saying goodbye, but I was in check.  
  
BRING A SURVIVAL KIT
I learned the hard way that NOT packing snacks and other basic survival items was a really DUMB idea.  That second day I was rollin' . . . I was an absolute packing and sorting machine.  However, about 12:30 my tummy started talkin'. By 1:30 my hands were shaking like a baby Chihuahua on a cold as all get out day. This forced me to cut my workday short. This brings me to TIP #2. Pack a lunch and/or  things to much on. It seems like a no-brainer, but I spaced this one.  Oh, and FRESH water is a must.  I forgot that too. (Notice that I said FRESH . . . there is just something about drinking out of the classroom faucets that frightens me to my core.) 

In addition to the survival items above, I strongly suggest rockin' the tunes while you're working.  Upbeat Pandora stations were dang near shaking the walls of my old portable and it helped lighten the mood. I may or may not have danced around a bit on a few killer songs, but we will leave this secret tightly locked in Room 18 :) 

TALKIN' TRASH
Most of you probably think this is a rather simple notion, but I felt the need to reiterate as it was difficult for me at first. The trash bin is your friend. However, it can be tough to toss things. We've all been here . . . the hours we slaved away while creating/cutting/laminating, the endless stream of dollars we've spent on various goods, and the classroom memories attached to so many of these items . . . all of these join and drive us to hold on to senseless items. Break the dam.  Toss something . . . it's liberating. Once those first few items get trashed, the decisions get much easier and you'll need to sweet talk the custodian into a handful of those HUGE bags ;)


A little inspiration . . . 
KINESTHETIC APPROACH
When moving out for an extended or indefinite period of time, my recommendation is to touch EVERYTHING. It takes a bit longer, but this tactic helps in three big ways. First, you don't forget to take anything that you love. Second, you don't leave a mess for that sweet educator rollin' in behind you (we've all been here . . . sigh . . . again, it's okay to use the trash can). Finally, when you touch everything, you're able to dish out the goods amongst your best pals (more on that in a minute).  


Here's the start of the process ((GULP)).
Cleaning always is SO messy!
One word of caution here. If at all possible, touch each item only ONE TIME. I made the mistake of going back into a cabinet for a second look-see. FOR THE LOVE OF PETE . . . DO NOT DO THIS TO YOURSELF! Not only did I double my gosh dang time in this particular area, but I also ended up getting in a mental struggle over what should come with me (((eye roll))).  In the end, I ended up putting back most of the stuff I pulled out. Your first instinct is typically right on target. Lesson learned.  

SPREAD THE LOVE
When deciding what to keep, what to toss, and what to leave, think about all of those grand friends of yours who are still in the trenches. Don't just focus on the district you are in now . . . this is a great time to reflect on all of those stellar teacher friends that have crossed your path over the years. I'm not saying to strip your room (obviously some stuff belongs to the school). However, I am saying that it's a good idea to will those items that you used successfully. With this said, I left a TON for the gal coming in behind me. However, I also shared some of my favorite resources with my old co-workers from a previous district. I knew that these items would be used immediately. I also liked the idea of keeping some of my best treasures in the "family," so to speak.

BAGGIES, BOXES, AND ENDLESS CONTAINERS . . . OH MY
When I began deciding what to take with me, I just started randomly piling it on a table. It soon reached the size of a small hill and began tipping over. I won't tell you what I uttered at this point. But, word to the wise here . . . don't do this to yourself.  My advice is to organize it from the get go. This helps you not over think things and it will make your move "home" much easier.  

I set out a series of long flat bins and slapped labels on the sides - math, reading, writing, office, presenting, and random. As I set aside items I wanted to hold on to, I placed them in the bins. When one was full, I closed the lid and it was all ready to cart home.  Boom.  Easy peasy.  


Large bins are for the main core areas.
Smaller bins house all of the math manips that are mine.
I also suggest further organizing goods into plastic bags. Although many of my items were already packaged in such a way, I combined and cleaned as I sorted.  All of my double dice were tossed in a bag.  All of my playing cards went into a bag.  All of my . . . uh . . . you get the picture here.  It is just a nice way to keep all of the small items together and easy to grab.   

Finally, I had two boxes going for a couple of my favorite buddies (remember back to all that "family" talk above).  Just like the bins that I would bring home, boxes made it quick and easy to sort out and deliver treats to my friends.  

CLEAN BEFORE YOU BRING
My last tip of the day is a BIG ONE.  I strongly suggest that you clean out a space (or two) for your classroom treasures before you tote it all home. Usually getting out of your room is a huge time crunch. It needed to happen yesterday and the deep clean is already scheduled and the educator taking your place is beggin' for the key. In addition, you are usually running so much at the end of the year that your home space may look like a bomb went off (well, it did in my house . . . sorry, Dear). 

I, personally, felt so pressured for time during this process, but I forced myself to take a time out and clean out my office before I quit.  Not only did I make room for the crap amazing items that needed to find a home, but I also found items that needed to be returned to school (whoopsie . . . my bad).  


One last look . . . before I go.
This is also the step that will appease your spouse. I don't know about all you alls, but my man has a thing for his garage.  It's so orderly and clean. This, in turn, absolutely blows my mind as he is like a tornado in the actual house . . . but, I digress. Anyway, I was able to limit the time that the items hung out in the garage because I already had a space ready to take on more goods. The process of moving part of my "classroom" in was pretty seamless and the boy's griping was kept to a minimum. #wifewin

The hubby was happy to help.
He was extra pleased when the load was easy to pack.

Oh . . . and isn't that red chair super dreamy?
Yep. One of my treasures that I treated myself to last year.
Alright, there you have it.  My suggestions for packing up your classroom for an extended leave.  I know there are many of you out there who have way more practice at this than I do as you pack your room up yearly.  If I missed something, feel free to write it in the comments below. 

Thanks for taking the time to visit me today.  I will be back again soon with an idea for incorporating music into reading instruction :)   


June 19, 2016

THE FACTORY IS BACK IN BIZ. (YES . . . SHE IS ALIVE)

Just a quick informal post to let you know that I am still kickin' over here.  A wave of chaos hit The Factory and definitely kept me running in oodles of different directions as of late.  On that note, you may or may not want to relive this particular turmoil with me . . . but, here it is just the same.  I promise to hit you with a few giggles and some overblown drama along the way. What can I say?  Humor gets me through my days - great, good, bad, and ugly.  And, on the flip side, those who take the time to read this just gotta walk away with something today. The best I can offer at this particular moment is a little entertainment (hopefully).   



TALE OF A DISPLACED TEACHER 
Yep. I'm gonna lay it all out on a very upfront line. My uterus is broken . . . or at least on strike (I told you I was going to be a tad dramatic). This is not new. Nor is it something that I like to talk about. However, it's the main reason behind all of the current changes in my life and why my blog has been so hit or miss at times. I have Stage 5 endometriosis and now am the proud owner of a "belt" with FIVE surgery notches engraved deeply in the old-@$$ leather. It has been a battle for the past 9 years and I lost this year, so to speak. I had surgery about two months ago, but it didn't go all that well. Sure, I managed to get a bit of relief, but I have too much scar tissue at this point. Therefore, my pelvic pain will be chronic. I have come to terms with this as I have lived/worked/existed with it for years. However, this year and this surgery led me to a new and somewhat sad conclusion. I am stepping out of the classroom. It was a decision I NEVER thought I would have to make . . . one I never WANTED to make. However, it has become a decision that I MUST make. ((SIGH))  The always sweet Leigh from the Applicious Teacher coined it for me perfectly . . . I'm a "Displaced Teacher."  Don't feel too sorry for me (I've done my fair share of pit dwelling). I promise that I am still smiling these days.  As Red told us, "Get busy livin', or get busy dyin'."  

Deciding what to take and what to leave.
After 10 years in the classroom, this was so difficult.
Despite transitioning out of the classroom, I won't be totally out of the game. Luckily, I was offered up a new gig by my current school district.  I am rolling into a coaching and curriculum position that I can mold to fit my health ebbs and flows. Um . . . talk about a dream come true!  So, next year my focus will be writing curriculum (K-5) as well as a handful of other contract jobs to help support new and seasoned teachers! Although I rather loathe the thought of missing out on crews of little kiddos to call my own, this is definitely right up my alley. I think know it's something I will really LOVE in the long run! I also was able to do a little work with my previous school district (more on that later). Boy, oh boy . . . that was a rather lengthy way of telling all you alls that I will have a new position in the fall :P         

A SERIOUS ADDICTION
My name is Kelley and I have an addition . . . it's golf.  Not sure what you thought I might say here :P  Yes, I still love my glasses of vino while I'm cookin' up a storm, but golf has reached a new level of desire for me. I poured myself into my golf game after surgery . . . as soon as I could swing a club. It's the perfect active and calming outlet (as long as you can move past those $#@& shots). The courses are always so beautiful and peaceful. I even go out by myself now. If you don't golf, I suggest that you give it a go this summer. Hit up a range and see what happens. You may hate it . . . but, you might end up really loving it.  





HEART WRENCHING NEWS
Alright, so I'm pushin' 37 and I don't have kids of my own. Therefore, my pets have become my babies - we have a dog and two cats.  Well, one pet in particular takes the cake. Henry Dolling . . . the stray kitty I adopted two years ago is the definite front-runner in my book.  I'm gonna go ahead and say it here (it's okay to judge just a little). I am a cat lady. If I had a bigger yard or a barn and my husband didn't put his foot down, I'd have 4-5 (strike that), 6-7 of these feline friends. Now that I have actually put these secret thoughts in writing, I can see the absurdity in this other lifestyle addiction I seem to covet. But, hey . . . I like what I like, dangnabbit.  

With all of this said, I was hit with some killer news last weekend.  Henry has FIV. What is this you ask?  Oh, well, it's just Kitty HIV. Yep. You read that right. My cat has flippin' AIDS. I didn't even know that this existed. At first I thought the vet tech was pullin' a nasty punk on me as I ironically made the joke that waiting for Henry's blood test results was like waiting for an AIDS test at your friendly neighborhood clinic. I guess that's what I get for being somewhat crass (something I am very good at in my old age). Well, anyway, I knew it was bad when the doc wouldn't look at me when she walked in the room. (Kelley made another situation awkward . . . surprise, surprise.)  Who knew that I actually called out what was indeed wrong with my little sweetie??!! #palmtoforehead


Waiting for the test results at the vet.
The longest 30 minutes EVER!
 
Told ya he was my best buddy :)
I know what you're thinking, can people get this? No, it's feline only. It's just like regular AIDS as it compromises his immune system. I just have to keep my boy healthy and he could live up to five years. However, if the little fella gets sick, I could lose him tomorrow. I guess I am thankful that it's not leukemia, but this less than desirable news still brought on oodles of tears. Needless to say Henry is attached to my hip these days and the level of spoiled has reached a whole new rung :) #kittymama

THE BIG SHOW
In the middle of all of this (moving out of my classroom, the kitty meltdown, and recovering from surgery), I was contacted by my old school district to host a 2 hour presentation on music and movement in regards to reading instruction. I jumped at the chance to return to my old haunt and share my outlandish ideas with one of my all time favorite crews. This went down on Thursday afternoon and it was tons of fun. My old super walked in and said he could tell I was back on campus . . . tee-he-he . . . I had the educational tunes and 80s re-mixes blaring (before, after, and during).  





I poured hours into my session (it actually proved to be a glorious distraction) and am working on trying to get it into a free webinar for all you alls. We shall see if I am tech savvy enough to actually pull such a thing off :) Here's hoping SPMS can show me the way!


Powered by endless cups of black coffee.
I'M GETTING A FACELIFT
It's official.  I'm OUTDATED.  I came to this humbling realization a few months ago. Well, I'm doing something about it. My BLOG is getting a facelift.  I had that moment back in the spring when I visited my page and gasped a bit.  I have been so preoccupied with everything these days that I didn't notice that moment that I became quiet passe. I like to equate it to that pair of shoes or favorite shirt that you hold on to for one season too long. Do you know what I mean?  That moment when you find it hiding in your closet and finally realize that it's time to let it go :P

I hired a graphic designer out of the UK and found a killer WordPress gal on Etsy. It's a slow process, but we are getting there.  Look for the change over to take place mid-July.  I'm super excited to see how it all comes together in the end. Here's a sneak peek . . . 




Alright, that's enough about me. I know it's rather a strange post . . . one that has nothing to do with sharing fun ideas or strategies. And, it feels rather narcissistic ((GULP))). However, I felt the need to get back to my roots and draft a post that screamed real life. (It's ain't always rainbows and unicorns over at The Factory.) As everything hit, I lost my voice there for a bit and had to recharge. It always helps me to sit quietly when the &$%# hits the fan in an attempt to gain some valuable perspective . . . things could be a heck of a lot worse. I am actually feeling pretty lucky these days. 

If I have learned anything about the education biz (both in and out of the classroom), it's so important to take time for you when an opportunity presents itself. Everything will be waiting for you when you're ready and/or able to check back into the game. Well, I'm finally ready now.    

I will be back this week with some useful information . . . that actually pertains to the classroom.  I have a series of posts planned that I think will be just the ticket for summer break. Big hugs, y'all. Thanks for taking the time to come back to see me.  

April 24, 2016

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF "WEARABLE WORK"

So, we are rounding that final bend and "home plate" is in sight. With this said, y'all know that keeping engagement high, while still targeting those standards gets a tad trickier.  Well, I have two little words for you . . . WEARABLE WORK. Yep. It's that simple.  If primary kiddos can put an activity some place on their little bodies (head, arms, back, face, etc.), I promise that they will be "all in."



Okay, so let's be honest here. Paper hats and flip book arm bands are not new concepts. However, these simple ideas are the gateway to oodles of NEW and oh so FUN ways to get our kiddos interacting with standards.  We just have to step out of the box a little bit when it comes to all of those grade-level concepts. It also helps if we simultaneously slip ourselves into the shoes of our babes. I said it before and I'll say it again.  If a kid can wear it, engagement goes through the roof. Case in point . . . take a quick moment and think about all of the projects that we do that are NOT wearable. Yet, somehow our little sweeties figure out a way to "put it on."



Here are a few ideas for you today . . . most are very little prep and can be used with any standard under the sun.  

PAPER BAG VESTS
So this activity is ALWAYS a hit with students. Heck, I even like making one every year and tossing it on as we walk out to the pick up line.  


This simple idea can be used for just about any standard.  I typically use them for short e words as I dig the connection (vEst . . . hehehe).  However, I have used these for fact families and I see them working oh so well for vocabulary definitions and/or a story retell.  

I typed up the directions to this one and made a handful of templates for you to take with you today. (((FIST PUMP))) Grab these HERE.  

**Please note that I typically make the vests on a day with a parent helper or during a big buddy session.  However, my mommy cancelled on me this year and I ran with it anyway . . . SOLO (GULP).  I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.  My first graders were able to cut the bag on their own with me modeling and assisting every step of the way.  However, we had to break up the cutting and actual vest making into two sessions as it took a little longer than it normally would.  Don't let this scare you though . . . the kids were so delighted with the idea making their own vest that I had them eating out of the palm of my hand :)    

SENTENCE STRIP HATS
Hats are one of my all time favorite types of wearable work because the possibilities are endless. You can use these in so many different ways and they NEVER get old. 


Here are just a few of the hats I have used in the past.  

  • Main Idea will never be the same now that you can slap it all over your noggin - it's one of my favorite activities all year. The kids get SO into pulling a main idea card and developing supporting details. This also can be used in conjunction with any literature piece. You simply need a space for the main idea, three supporting detail cards, and a sentence strip.  If you want all the pieces and parts, this hat is part of my Main Idea Packet
  • 100th Day hats are not new, but how about if we toss in ten frames and facts to ten?  I ran with this one the year I taught kinder.  They were all about it.  See it in action, HERE.
  • Pronoun Power Bands are my latest idea. Students are asked to come up with corresponding nouns for some of the top pronouns (he, she, it, they, and we). This is in the plan for an upcoming week.  You can bet that we will take the time to cruise the room and read each other's creations. You can read more about them, HERE.    
**Before I move on, let me post a quick disclaimer as seeing a photo collage of me is somewhat unnerving. I do not make a habit of taking photos of myself in silly hats.  Actually, I am utterly selfie challenged and I have to ask my hubs to snap shots for me (which I never live down).  However, when I come out with new ideas or "wearable work," I want to show the piece in action and I don't have children.  Therefore, you always tend to get my ugly mug making some sort of dippy face. Reason 4,245 as to why I need to get on the kid thing . . . if not solely for silly hat wearing purposes ;)  


The hat making fun doesn't stop there in my classroom.  Check out BIG Silly Wigs.  This phonics based "wearable work" lets the kids rock out a particular spelling sound, while unleashing mounds of their creativity.  In year's past, I have had kids come up with everything from pigtails and ponies to mohawks. (All complete with short i words.)  You know it's a winner when the kiddo who NEVER dances, sings, or draws attention to himself slaps on his new hairpiece and proudly marches out to the bus :)  You can use these wigs for all sorts of things.  I like the short i connection, but this can be morphed to fit what you are currently serving up in class.  

Speaking on word family and phonics work, the one and only Susan Jones from T.G.I.F has a great hat freebie. I know my class loved being KINGS of ING :) Check out her mini phonics pack, HERE.


SUPER CAPES
I have used wearable capes for a variety of different standards, but my favorite is detailed sentence writing. The kids always go above and beyond, because of the super hero angle.  And, yes . . . I know you are thinking it . . . I let them fly around the room before we go home.  BUT, I definitely make them read each other's sentences :)


To roll with this one, all you need is a large piece of construction paper, markers, and lined sentence writing templates. I like to have kiddos choose noun and verb cards so that all of the capes are different, but you could post a whole class topic on the board or provide a menu of subjects and predicates. If you follow me, you know I encourage silly sentences with stellar details as they buy-in even more. However, you could have your students roll with more straightforward sentences that encompass a non-fiction topic or vocabulary words that you happen to be targeting.  

If you want all the templates and word cards that are specific to my super sentence capes, they are part of my Super Sentence Writing Packet. (This collection is filled with out of the box ideas that work to foster a love of writing in our primary kiddos.) 

Alright, so there you have it.  A little post dedicated to "wearable work."  I am sure I will be back for a second installment down the road as I am a HUGE proponent of slappin' standards on kids bodies.  If you have any questions or want to share an idea you roll with in your classroom, post a comment below.  

Thanks for taking the time to visit me today.  I will be back with some end of the year fun in the near future.  



April 1, 2016

POSITIVE IDEAS TO HELP YOUR CAMPUS SURVIVE TESTING WEEK

I am hosting a TBT post on a Friday . . . I guess you can say I am into breaking all of the rules these days. However, this one seemed pretty dang fitting right about NOW, so I am pressin' on with my plan :)*************

A handful of you have already started, so I am behind the eight ball a bit for some folks. However, with my campus beginning state testing in a few short weeks, I figured I would toss some ideas out just the same.  

Let me back up and give you the back story on my ideas surrounding testing. (Heaven knows I love to frontload just about everything.)  It only took one year of being a "testing" teacher to grasp the stress involved with the whole process. I didn't sleep for a week and I will NEVER forget the moment when one of my little 2nd grader babes looked up at me with his lower lip quivering and tears welling in his eyes -- "I can't read this, Miss B." I squeezed his hand with as much love as I had in me, but I had to reply, "I'm sorry sweetie, I can't help you. Just do your best."  This dang near killed me.  Needless to say, this event was burned into my brain.  That next year admin dropped me down to first grade. Yes, I was cheering to be away from the heat of testing. However, I couldn't quite get that moment from the year before out of my mind.  So, when testing rolled around for the rest of the campus, I knew that I wanted to do everything I could to boost student and teacher moral during this tough time. That's when Adopt-A-Class and a few other ideas were born. 



ADOPT-A-CLASS
Adopt-A-Class is a fun project where all of the non-testing classrooms adopt a testing class.  Prior to testing and throughout the week, "parent" or non-testing classes go out of their way to brighten a class full of test takers :)  It doesn't have to be anything major . . . friendly letters delivered the day before the test, a surprise snack after the first day of testing, motivational classroom murals and posters made by the little kids on campus . . . anything to show these students that they are supported.  

A campus generally needs about a week to get this one going.  However, I have put it together in less than 5 days.  You just need a teacher or small group of teachers who are willing to step up and man the process.  

With this said, I have made a packet with everything ready to go (plus lots of other fun and easy ideas for surviving testing).  I broke all the rules and made a LARGE freebie a few years back and it just received a much needed facelift. In my heart of hearts, I just couldn't charge for this then . . . and I can't charge for it now. Moral boostin' and feel-good ideas and activities should be free in my book. Also, just for the record, I do want to state that I posted this packet in it's original form in 2012 prior to the 10 page freebie rule - just sayin' :) (Can you tell I don't like to break rules??!!)

If you haven't started testing yet, you're all set with this one.  If you have, download it for next year!  What do you have to loose . . . it's free??!!  



TESTING TUNE
This fun little tune from Ron Brown's Intelli-Tunes is all about doing your best on the test.  If you are running with Adopt-A-Class, and you have time, you can get you babes to learn this one and perform it for your testing class.  If you aren't, share it with your music teacher or admins.  They can play it for the testing grades :)  The best part about this one . . . it's FREE too :)  Click the image below and find the freebie called Best On the Test.  




UNDERCOVER MISSION
The night before the first day of testing hits, I like to sneak out to school and decorate. I make a bunch of butcher paper signs to hang in the hallways. I also like to decorate the sidewalks with inspirational messages in chalk. Finally, I have a collection of funny/motivational posters to hang on all of doors of those classrooms that will be testing (these are in the free packet).  I know that I won't be able to get up early enough to pull all of this off in the AM, so I just make an extra little trip.  All I will have to do in the morning is hang the balloons at the school entrances. 



WALK OF WINNERS - CHEER LINE
This one is my favorite. The walk of winners is a cheer line that takes place on the first morning of testing -- it kicks off the day.  For this stunt, the non-testing students line a hallway and all of the testing kiddos walk through it while you blast fun upbeat music.  

All of the notes you need to get this one going are in the freebie packet from above.  It outlines the process and contains an editable note template (as well as some sample notes).  I think I made this pretty easy on ya.  You just need access to a powerful radio or speaker system, some fun tunes loaded on your iPod or iPhone, and teachers who are willing to mess with their morning schedules for about 15 minutes.  This event ALWAYS makes me cry (I have to wear my dark sunglasses) and this year will not be any different.  It's a moment that kids (testing and non-testing) will NEVER forget.  

You see all of your old students roll through with big old grins on their faces.
It just seems to lighten the mood for everyone - students and teachers.
I am crying just writing about this experience.
I am in big trouble tomorrow! #passthetissues
 
I will be cheering my heart out for these sweeties tomorrow.
They are big 4th graders now. 

Yes, I'm still crying a little.
Hootin' and hollerin' with grins from ear to ear :)
The love and support oozes from our cheer line.
Alright, there you have it . . . just a few ideas to help your school survive a run of testing.  My FREEBIE packet contains oodles of other ideas to toss into the mix -- breakfast of champions, ready-made badges, smart snack ideas, etc. CLICK HERE to check it out.  My goal is to ease kids into the testing process and make them believe that they are control of the test.  Sure, all of our kids are not going to ace the big bad test.  AND . . . let's be honest . . . these stunts aren't really going to change many scores (if any). However, if we can keep lower lips from quivering, ward off unnecessary tears, and put a few smiles on some faces, I have done my job with this collection :)  



Thanks for visiting me today!  I hope this next week is stellar.  I will see you in the near future :)  Big hugs!


March 13, 2016

A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND A LITTLE BIT OF THAT

Hey gang, I have a bit of a potpourri post today.  (That's just a nice way of saying that I am all over the place at the moment!) Taking this all into account, I figured that I'd just toss this one up as a list of sorts today.  

ONE - SCKC CONFERENCE
Last weekend I spent time presenting at the SCKC 2016. The SoCal Kinder Conference is always a great time. The crowd is awesome and I love hanging with my bloggy friends. On a side note, if you were in my pre-conference math games session, I emailed out the slides, the activities promised, and a few other goodies. A handful of emails bounced back to me. If you're reading this and you didn't get an email, shoot me a quick note and I'll hook you up within 24 hours (kelleydolling@gmail.com). Some of the emails were difficult to read and I may have incorrectly guessed on a letter/digit. #eyeproblems


Love me some SoCal gals.  See you next year my friends!  
TWO - ONLY TIME WILL TELL
We just finished up our time unit.  Don't tell, but when I heard that we were adopting a new math program next year, I went a bit rogue and marched off the curriculum and toward the clocks. The kids ate it up and my little firsties ALL know time to the 5-minute now. I am running back to the curriculum before I get too caught up in my own thing and get busted, but this was a much needed and fun standards-based break :)  Check out just a few of the activities we found ourselves mixed up in . . . 
Licorice clocks are a great way to hook those kids into tellin' time!
Can't use candy . . . roll with pretzel rods instead :)
We did a little graphing game to keep the engagement high!
Students roll the dice and match it to the correct clock.
Amy Lemons' flip book was a huge hit.
Check it out in her awesome time packet >>> HERE

THREE - FEATURED FUN
I was honored to receive an email from Scholastic asking to feature one of my crafts in their recent Teacher Magazine issue. They shouted out one of my very first crafts (Flying Fact Families) and offered it up as a fun spring freebie . . . let's just say it quickly received a much needed face lift before it went into their mag :) Don't want to use it for fact families? No problem . . . roll with same sum, word families, pronouns, or just about any other concept under the sun :)



FOUR - OPERATION EGO BOOST
I will chat more about this whole idea in an upcoming post. However, I wanted to toss it out a bit earlier this year as this idea requires a bit of planning. With all that fun testing looming, why not leverage it to pump up our kids? I created a packet years ago called Operation Ego Boost and it also received a little face lift this past spring. It highlights oodles of ideas to help pump our kids up before, during, and after all those high-stakes tests. Oh, I should mention that this pack breaks all the TPT size rules for freebies. What can I say? I just couldn't charge for a feel good packet like this . . . it seemed tacky. So, this 30+ page collection is FREE in my shop. CLICK HERE to check out this packet in full detail. It has everything from editable signage and adopt a class activities to breakfast name changes, treat tags, and cheer line instructions.  




I didn't get too many quality pictures from last year's festivities.
Take a second and check out the packet. It's worth a little look-see :)
FIVE - A PERSONAL NOTE
I don't really like chatting about my health issues, but my cruddy post record and flaky response to emails these days deserves a little clarification. Here goes nothin' . . . some of you know that I was diagnosed with stage 5 endometriosis in 2009. This disease is actually how I got into blogging - I was out on my second surgery leave. Well, every few years it surges back and takes me out. I have the best doctor a girl could ask for (at Stanford no less) and he takes such good care of me. However, to help "fix" the problem at least for a year or two, I get to have surgery.  I am slated for my fourth date with the knife in a little over a month. 

So, if I fail to promptly respond to an email, forget to send you a revision on something, or leave the blog/social media silent for weeks on end, it's not that I hate you or that I am giving up on The Factory. It's just that I have to pick teaching and just surviving at the moment. This has all made me rather forgetful right now too . . . please just email me again if I miss something. You're not a bother and reminders are good for me :) 

As a added bonus, my district can't find me a quality long term sub and I am working a brand new school this year. GULP :( I am trying like hell to hold on as long as possible as I love my students and just can't abandon them yet. Call me stubborn, but this isn't the first time this mama bear worked with ungodly pelvic pain :)

Alright . . . so there you have it . . . a deeply personal number five. Now that I have finished typing, I can feel my face contorting and my blood pressure just shot up quite a bit.  BLARG!!!!  Please know that I am not trying to complain or make you feel sorry for me . . . this is why I tend to keep quiet about it. I just felt the need to be honest as to why I have suddenly vanished. 

With all this dirty laundry now aired, please know that I will hopefully be back in action in early summer. The blog and product creation have simply taken a back burner until I get cleaned out. Thank you for understanding and sitting through all that jazz.

On a final note, Endo indeed sucks @$$ and it makes me cry from time to time, but everything these days has been put into perspective. I know there are quite a few other secret battles that many of you are be fighting out there. My heart goes out to you as it's no easy feat to have "issues" when you are attempting to manage a classroom and life in general. Big hugs to you and your families . . . stay strong my friends.  

With that, I am FINALLY O-U-T and off to finish up report card comments :P Thanks for sticking with me. I will be back during my Spring Break with something useful. Our little week vacay is so close . . . I can smell it :)  

  

February 21, 2016

ADD SOME SILLY TO YOUR WRITING BLOCK

As I sat down to finalize the rest of the themes for the year, I realized that April Fools Day falls during our Spring Break (((insert super sad face))).  Over the years I have come to L-O-V-E this "holiday" in the classroom.  You must think I am nuts after reading that line.  Let me explain.  In the beginning, April 1st simply signified a day filled with countless jokes that lacked a punchline and/or lame tricks that would earn the best phony giggle I could muster :)  

Well, after a few years I decided to leverage the power of all this "SILLY" and incorporate it into our writing block. Since making this shift, my joke angle works like a charm every year and keeps the kids beggin' for more writing time. With all this said, I just couldn't miss out on this week of jokes and other shenanigans. SO, I am pluggin' this mighty theme into the mix in early March. I see this aligning oh so well with all of the Dr. Seuss fun :)  Now, if you are lucky enough to have already had your Spring Break . . . hit 'em with this during April Fools.  It's classic.  Or, I see this theme would also work well during the dog days of the year -- anytime during that long stretch from the final vacation window until the last day together.   



On that note, here are a few easy ideas to help you and your babes embrace the "silly" this spring. Leverage it for all the WRITING AND READING work it's worth, folks!

KNOCK KNOCK JOKES
These are the easiest jokes for kids to deliver and they NEVER seem to get old for our kiddies.  With this said, stock a center with knock knock jokes - you can snag countless ditties via a simple Google search.  Your students will be reading and recording for days.  You can even have them pick their favorite joke to "house" in a cute little knock knock display . . . did ya catch the sly pun I slid in there on ya?? 



With this out on the table, why stop here?  You can even have your students draft their own Knock Knock jokes.  Most of them won't really make all that much sense or will be a rip off of another old version. However, this station is worth its weight in gold as your students will write and write . . . and write some more. I suggest that you host a quick brainstorm session to get the juices flowing and some subject matter out on the table. Then, provide a simple little template and model the process.  Finally, let 'em fly.  I guarantee that the giggles that erupt from this station will be absolutely contagious.

A LITTLE STAND UP
As a little home to school connection, I have the kids turn in a joke that they research with their parents at home.  My only rule is that they must be school appropriate -- yes I put this in the note home (no blood/guts or toilet humor PLEASE).  A few days later, we practice our jokes and host a little Comedy Stand Up Session. Oh, and to add a little extra spice, we invite the neighbor Kinder class to watch the performance. (NOTE: Younger students always seem to be a better audience choice as they laugh at EVERYTHING.)  Three kids are placed in the "hot seat" and each one is called to deliver their joke to the crew. I may or may not break out the karaoke microphone unit for this event ;)  A few kids also add some side acts to the shindig via some crazy improv and a fully-stocked prop box . . . the photo below says it all. (No, I did not ask for those teeth back after his "sesh" . . . call it a little gift for being brave.)



CRAZY ANIMAL JOKES
These are kinda dippy, but the kids get OH SO creative when writing animal jokes.  This one requires very little prep too!  Fill a center table with non-fiction animal books.  Introduce the kids to the simple animal joke template (see below) and model a few critter sillies of your own.  

A _____ can __________.
A _____ can __________.
A _____ can __________.
But, a ______ cannot _____________!

As you can see, the outline is simple.  The kids come up with three true facts and one false fact in connection with an animal they select.  Now, an "in the box" false fact will do . . . But, a elephant cannot run faster than a cheetah. However, I strongly urge my kids to get a little WILD and very detailed . . . But, an elephant cannot swing from a long green vine while eating 100 rotten bananas. These make for the BEST author's chair session and I always hang these in the window.  You'll be dishin' out countless smiles to all who stop to take a little look-see :)



GROUCHO-STYLE 
Take any read the room or word hunt activity that you may be doing for the week and add a little "Groucho" flavor.  Snag the mustache/glasses disguises at any Dollar Store (I just so happened to stumble across some that light up a few years back) and stock a center with 'em.  You would think that this extra silliness would jack them all up.  However, it actually produces the exact opposite. The kiddos WANT to wear the glasses, so they work to keep things in check. A little front-loading and you're golden with this one.  



Alright, so there you have it.  A few ideas on ways to host a joke week into your writing/reading block.  These are all ideas that you can easily implement with your crew.  However, if you are looking for a handy dandy collection that is ready to go, check out my No Foolin' Packet >>> HERE.  It has all the above and more!

Have a wonderful week my friends.  I'll be back to see you again soon :)




February 15, 2016

INTERACTIVE SCIENCE NOTEBOOK REVIEW - CARSON DELLOSA

It's time when I get to test out a product by our good friends over at Carson-Dellosa.  This month, they sent me a grade level specific Interactive Science Notebook guide to test and report back.


When the package arrived at my door and I perused those pages for the first time, I liked what I saw.  It is broken down by science strand - life, physical, and earth/space.  The book also has a generic reproducibles section that caught my eye immediately.  This contains everything from flap books and puzzle pieces to a KWL chart. CD must know that this teacher loves options . . . this additional element definitely won may heart over.


The Interactive Science Notebook guide provides a great introduction on starting, organizing, and managing this process in your classroom.  In addition it contains a suggested grading rubric.  This is such a cool element.  Although you may not follow it to a T, it helps to have an outline to get you started.


The lessons and pages Carson-Dellosa has included are well thought out.  Each lesson has an introduction, a sample page, and ideas on ways to have your students reflect on their learning.  

**I need to come clean on something.  Before I get to much deeper into my final thoughts on this book, I must admit that I do not use interactive notebooks in my classroom and I wasn't about to start them up on a whim just to review a product. I know that you must be thinking I am crazy at this moment. I didn't have a choice on the item I was sent this go around.  I have always pondered starting up some sort of interactive notebook in my classroom and I even have a classroom set of composition books sitting in a pile on my office floor waiting for me to pull the trigger . . . such a Dolling move.  Alright, so now that this disclaimer out of the way, I feel much better about this post - it's all about transparency over here at THE FACTORY.  Despite this lack of notebook use, I still feel like I can look at this product and give valid input on its overall classroom/teacher appeal.** 

Science is definitely not something that you just plug into the mix at random (well, at least not in my planning process . . . it's just not how I roll).  Instead, it has been carefully folded into my long-range plan for the year.  With this said, I would love to have seen this book in August.  I think it would have enticed me to fold these lessons into my long-range calendar and get those comp books off of my floor and into the hands of my kids.  Looking at the content of the book now, I can count at least 12-15 pages that I would have been interested in using with my kids.  The habitat/animal and physical science pages are particularly useful and SO many of them align with lessons that I already have in place throughout the year.  


So, in a nutshell, I feel comfortable stating that this is a good product and worth a little look-see.  If you currently use Interactive Notebooks with your kids, various lessons within this book could easily slip in and supplement whatever you have cookin'.  If you don't use Interactive Notebooks for science at this time, but have thought about starting them up, take a look at this book for next year.  It may be what you need to get the process rollin' :)  To check out this resource a little closer, CLICK HERE.

Thanks for taking the time to visit me.  I will be back again very soon with something timely and fun for your kids . . . it's in the works as I type :)

*Review Disclaimer: I participate in the Brand Ambassador Program for Carson-Dellosa and have received this product for free to review.  



 

Website Design By | Sour Apple Studio | All Rights Reserved