Saturday, August 24, 2013

New Aimee Buckner book!

So I admit I have been a little MIA.

This school has started in a busy, hit the ground running, kind of way.

So let's move on to the AMAZING news.

Aimee Buckner has a new book!!  :)

Click the book cover to order it online.
The best part, if you sign up for the site's online newsletter, you can preview the ENTIRE (Yes, the WHOLE book.) for FREE!!
I am sure this is a limited offer, so enjoy while you can!
(I found this thanks to the Teaching and Learning Coach at my building who works with Antoinette.  Thanks Melissa.)

I am off to going camping with the in laws.

Enjoy the last weekend before Labor Day!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

B2S and Classroom Communities

Last week was back to school and I have to say the year is off to a great start! :)
It was so nice to see everyone and catch up!
But most of all, it was great to no longer be the new person at my schools! lol

The first day back was the normal back to school business in the morning and the afternoon was spent preparing for my presentation and meeting with one of my new teams.

Day two involved a morning of learning about writers workshop and projecting units of study from Matt Glover who I have posted about numerous times.  The afternoon was time for me to present!  My principal and I did a review of balanced literacy with a focus on writing workshop.  I love that we were able to give the teachers some time to capture writing in their own journals as well as time to have conversations about mentor texts they can use to help teach writing.

My real reason for this post is to share a conversation I had with a group of teachers at one of my schools.
This team consist of almost brand new teachers.
I am so excited that they wanted to meet with me to discuss and share ideas about B2S.
They had some great questions and I am looking forward to working with them!
They are an eager team and I know they will be amazing!

We were talking about the importance of classroom communities and discussed some get to know you activities to help build strong relationships as well as team building.

One activity we talked about was using inside/outside circles.
This could be used at any point in the year, but in the beginning it is a great get to know each other activity.
You divide you students into two equal (if you can) groups.
One group forms a close circle facing out.
The other group forms a circle around them facing in.
The teacher asks a question (What was your favorite summer activity? What is a hobby?  What is your favorite book? etc.)
The students directly facing each other will take turns sharing their answers.
The teacher will have one circle (inner or outer) rotate at least one space and ask another question.
Continue process.

Another activity was creating team/group banners.
Cut out strips of poster paper (maybe 10" by 15" or whatever size you like).
Draw lines dividing the paper into 4-5 sections.
Have the people sitting together decide on a team name and write it in the top section. (You can definitely set parameters for their names.)
The next sections will be topics like favorite sport, hobby, book, season, etc.
These sections can really be topics of your choice but each student has to individually draw their favorite in the specified section.
So if the section is favorite sport, I might draw a baseball and bat.  Another member of my team might draw a soccer ball.
It's a great way to get to know the people you will be working closely with.

Here are some ideas that I found on Pinterest:
(I have used some of these before but some are brand new!)
Click on the image to read more about each.

I could go on an on with back to school activities to help you and your students get to know each other!  Pinterest has so many ideas.
Hope these ideas are helpful!

What back to school activities do you do to get to know your class?
I would love to hear them!

Antoinette :)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Writing Process

My district dove into Common Core ELA last year with the introduction to Balanced Literacy and reading workshop.
Midway through the year, we introduced writing workshop through the fabulous training of Matt Glover.  Below you will find an image of Matt Glover and a couple books that he has written.
I have enjoyed my training and conversations with him and look forward to our district training that he is presenting this Friday.
Click on the image of Matt Glover to find more information about him and his books.

As you know from reading some of my most recent posts, I received training from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project from New York.
What an experience that was!
And how lucky am I to be part of it!
Click on the images below to read more about Lucy Calkins and Natalie Louis (my presenter from TCWRP).

My training was geared more towards primary and my administrators was towards upper elementary.
A big topic during this time was the writing process.
In my training, Natalie referred to the writing process as Think, Plan, Write, Revise, Edit, Publish.
My principals heard it as Collecting, Developing, Drafting, Revising, Editing, Publishing/Celebrating.
In the world of Matt Glover, he talks of three stages during a unit: Immersion, Close Study, Writing Under the Influence.
On the internet, you most often hear of the process referred to as Prewriting, Drafting, Revising, Editing, Publishing.

Are these all the same process just a spin off of each other?  I mean you can't make money using the same thing as someone else.   You have to make it your own and name and describe it differently right?
As a Teaching and Learning Coach (known as an Instructional Coach to most people)  my job is to guide and instruct my teachers.
That's difficult when you are hearing so many different stories!
What is the "right" process?

With this in mind, I am almost finished with writing a unit on Vignette-style Memoirs.
I love learning knew things, but with fresh information in my brain, it makes revising this unit more difficult.
It makes me question what I have.
Every 5th grade teacher in my district will be using these.
I want them to be the best they can be.

So where do language standards fit into the writing process?
Do they fit at all?  Part of me thinks they should be incorporated into word study time.
At this point in the game, I have them in the revising and editing section.
We are incorporating CCSS L.5.1 and L.5.3 (varied sentence structure and verb tense in particular).
Are these revision lessons or editing lessons?
At first I had sentence structure as revision because you vary them to add to them meaning of your story.  For instance, short sentences can slow down a story and long run-on type sentences create a sense of urgency or excitement.
But now I am thinking now, that it should be editing because it is about structure (simple, compound, and complex sentences).
After spending some time researching on the internet, I found that no one seems to have a good answer to this.
Revising and editing have a blurred line between them.

I have verb tense as an editing lesson.  For the most part I feel good about this decision because it would fall under usage.
But at this point, I am questioning everything!

So what do you think?
What is the writing process to you?
Where does sentence structure fit in the process?
What about verb tense?

Thanks for you thoughts about this!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Can it be!!! August Currently!!!

Farley was totally right when she said where did this summer go!
It seems like it was only a blink!
Most of us are already back at school at some level.
Whether it be trainings, working in our rooms, or with students already!
If you aren't back yet, we hope you are enjoying what summer you have left.

Now for the August Currently.
If you haven't linked up for a Currently, head on over to Oh' Boy 4th Grade and join Farley's monthly Currently.
It is a great way to find new blogs and get to know the people behind them!

Antoinette's Currently will be in blue.
Emily's Currently will be in fuchsia.

It's that time of year...
The time when you hear many, many teacher conversations.
That's what I am listening to...
Teacher conversations.
Shh... I am multi-tasking. Don't tell! lol

Just like Farley, I am loving my new hair cut.
I posted a picture earlier in the week, but am going to post it again!
I was walking by the mirror a couple days ago and I happened to notice my body.
Only it didn't look like my body.
With 68 pounds down, you'd think I would look at my new body all the time.
I do... lol
But this was the first time that I actually thought that I liked my body!
It was kind of like, "Wow, I've lost a lot of weight!  I don't look half bad!"
This might sound conceited and I don't mean it to.
It's just that I have NEVER thought that before.
Not in my entire life.
I still have about 25 pounds to go, but I can't complain!
I am thinking...
Need I say more... lol

My wanting and needing are connected.
I am wanting to reach my goal weight and am needing to work out so that I get there.
I haven't been sleeping well lately.
I toss and turn until 2 or 3 in the morning and wake up at 4 or 5 wide awake.
Did you know getting a good night's sleep plays a role in weight loss?
At least that's what I heard...
So I definitely need to catch up on sleep.

Now for me B2s'...
A place to keep track of your learning.
I am a firm believer in being a lifelong learner.
Each year, I learn so much and I love it.
I find that if you have a great place to keep notes, it makes the learning even better.
I posted my new notebook earlier, but here is another pic.

A plan for balancing your work and personal life.
It is so easy to get lost in your work at the start of the school year because there is SOO much to do.
I do it every year!
Have a plan for cutting off your work load.
It could be going in a bit early, staying a bit late, or after the family goes to sleep (but only for a bit).
Have a cut off point.
Your personal life is important to your health!
I know need to practice what I preach! lol

A great teacher bag and supplies.
I wasn't going to buy a new teacher bag but I needed a new lunch bag and I wanted them to match.
So I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my 31 Utility Tote and Thermal lunch bag.
Here is what they look like:
Now the big talk amongst my co-workers are the pens in the image below.  These pens not only come in a variety of color, but they are erasable too.  I have two images of them because, to be honest, I am not sure which one is the noteworthy pens.  The first one is cheaper though, so I like them more. lol

My point...
Going B2s isn't easy.
It's sooo stressful!
Find things for school that make you happy. :)
Signing off and passing the baton to Emily!

Is there any out there who isn't watching The Big Bang Theory?
I live with an engineer so many of the character's personality quirks seem all too familiar...

I am LOVING my hubby.  We are celebrating our 5th wedding and 12th relationship anniversary this weekend!  
Our gift to each other is a new couch.  We have tushy tested quite a few.  We haven't officially decided which one we want.
This is a contender.
I have been dealing with an auto insurance claim, so I am thinking about blame.  Yesterday, I was passing an SUV pulling a trailer of rock.  One of the rocks flew up and hit the windshield of my hubby's BRAND NEW Honda Pilot.  The insurance company and I disagree on who is to blame.  (Shocking I know!)

I want just a little more sunshine.  With only a week until school starts, I want to lay out just a little longer.

What teacher this time of year couldn't use more time?
Summer is ending... my classroom needs hours worth of work... my house needs cleaning... house projects need completing.

My B2s must haves:

1: A new outfit for Back to School night. 
This year a blue dress.

Don't forget the comfortable shoes!
2: Chocolate!!! 'Nuff said.

3:  A maid
This is a busy time of year.
I could use someone to do the laundry, clean my house, and cook dinner. 
 (If only the hubby could get this for me for our anniversary!)

What are you currently up to?  Link up!

Antoinette & Emily