Monday, August 27, 2012

Magnificent Monday!- Pixel of Ink

I have been singing this sites praises all summer long!

Pixel of Ink

Pixel of Ink is a website of free or bargain books for the kindle. All you need to do is sign up for their email, like them on facebook, or visit their page to find what great bargains they have.  Everyday they have at least 3-5 books that you can download for FREE!  You have to grab them fast to get the free ones, but even if not free there are some great bargain prices that are offered.  I love seeing what the daily deal is!

Here is the part that I love..... They have a Young Adult Section (and a facebook page) and a Children's Section! On the Pixel of Ink Young Edition it is also sectioned out by ages.

As a teacher I am always looking for books for my classroom.  Using amazon you can read on your kindle, the kindle app on another mobile device, or even your computer.  I am also always looking for books while I am on a budget.  Since learning about pixel of ink my classroom library has grown by leaps and bounds!  My personal reading has also gone up.

Today I finished my first day of my 11th year of teaching, so I am going to finish shutting down my computer and head to my next meeting.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Busy Bee Classroom 2012-2013!

Tomorrow starts my 11th year teaching!  I can't believe it!  I will have a blog posted tomorrow of one of my favorite websites, but I wanted to give you a view of my classroom for this year.

I changed my room around a ton!  Couple of things that I wanted to point out: SWBAT- had a teacher at school send this link! What a Fabulous idea! Near my calendar area there is an AWESOME screen!  I didn't have a chance to try it out last year, but I have it set up and ready to go for this year!  Check out IR Great Innovations for more information (and watch for some more videos!)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mail Call Monday- Dot Day- Guest Blogger @tjshay

I didn't have time to post last Monday for Make it Monday.  I will get better!

This is my first month for Mail Call Monday.  I am still gaining readers, so I wanted to offer Mail Call Monday as not only answering questions from readers, but also offering a place to a guest blogger.  Want to be a part of my next month Mail Call Monday?  Email Me!

If you have been following my twitter feed lately you would see the hashtag #dotday.  I just LOVE connecting with other cool educators and other great thinkers that get my brain moving!  Peter H. Reynolds is an amazing author and illustrator that is the creator of The Dot.  Saturday September 15, 2012 is International Dot Day.  I connected with Terry Shay by following the #dotday hashtag and he is ABSOLUTELY amazing!  Since everyone is so busy right now Terry is allowing me to crosspost his blog about International Dot Day.  I hope that you decide participate in Dot Day.  I am already excited about the activities my students are going to do, but even better is that our art teacher and myself are planning a whole morning of Dot Day activities on Saturday!

If you follow me on Twitter or 'friend' me on Facebook, you will often see mention of "International Dot Day". If you are new to following, you might wonder what it is all about. You can find out much more on  the FableVision Learning website. But, really, why the focus on dots?

Peter H. Reynolds wrote a book called "The Dot". The first time I read it, I got tears in my eyes. You see, it is the story of a girl, Vashti, who has an amazing teacher. The basic premise is that the teacher does a relatively small (though fabulously thoughtful) thing that transforms Vashti into a super-creative wonder. I love that idea.

The official FableVision Learning press release says, "One teacher, Terry Shay in Iowa, believed so fully in the power of The Dot that in 2009 he “made his mark” by declaring September 15th as International Dot Day. To commemorate The Dot’s publication date, he encouraged fellow teachers to read the book and then create their own dots." That's the story...but it was only the beginning. 

The amazing thing is that it started with a Facebook message to Peter H. Reynolds and what I called a 'crazy idea'. (I have a lot of those). I thought it would be fun to create little event where kids could put down their standardized tests and just spend some time being creative. What it has developed into exceeds my wildest dreams. 

The first year was a sweet little celebration with friends around the country. I marveled at the creativity of teachers wearing dot shirts ( <3 Maryann), decorating their school with dots, and I was thrilled to that many people sent me photos commemorating the day. I held an event in my school with fourth graders and the school counselor was there to help. 

Fast forward three years, my good friend, Bill Norris, suggested we come up with some sort of form to find out who was celebrating and where they were. Again, I am a pretty good at dreaming, but I never dreamed 17,000 kids and 1000 adults on six continents would be participating...and those are only the ones who filled out the form. We were helped out a lot last year by dear friends Shannon Miller and John Schumacher, who made a weeks worth of activities and got a lot of new people on board.

Now for something I have never said to anyone. I feel like I should label this section "Dear Diary". . . at least one time per celebration, a tiny negative voice creeps into my brain and says, "really... dots... is that it? No one has ever changed the world by making a dot." Then, fortunately, that little voice is shouted down by a barrage of emails, tweets, and Facebook messages with kids proudly holding their creations. And, as I always say, if there is something better than a kid with a beaming smile, proudly holding their creation, I don't know what it is. I do believe with my whole heart and 99.9% of my brain that this day can be a launching pad for future creative classrooms. I know it has worked for mine. 

Last year, another event made a huge difference to me. The lovely and talented author, Sharon Creech, did a simple act of love and kindness that changed something in me. She sent me a dot on dot day. I am just a teacher in a tiny school in Iowa, and this amazing person who is loved by every single person who has picked up one of her books, is taking part in this special day. That special email launched the next project I am working on, Celebri-dots. In my mind I can picture kids going to that site and seeing famous people creating dots just like they did in school. Again, wildly exceeding my expectations, the creativity on that site has blown me away. Apple pie dot, raspberry juice dot, clay dot....what better example could their be for children than a wide variety of creative responses?

I could go on and on....and I have. I am grateful beyond words for Peter H. Reynolds the author of the Dot and a champion of creativity. I am grateful for friends like Shannon M. Miller and John Schumacher who have taken the dot and run with it. I am honored to have awesome celebrity friends who inspire me every day, following the model of Sharon Creech, whom I adore. 

I dream of taking this day even 170,000 students, then 170 million . .. to pick up that last continent (because 6 continents is SO last year). I dream of the day that a student will say, 'hey, remember when we celebrated dot day, that launched a journey of unimagined proportions for me' . . because it has done that for me. 

Best of all... PARTICIPATE THIS YEAR!! September 15ish.

Thank you so much Terry for letting me cross post this blog for my first Mail Call Monday.  Are you celebrating Dot Day?  Are you helping your students "Make their mark?"  Thank you Peter for a great inspiration to remind students the importance of making their mark.  I think that it is even more important to remember that teachers need to be reminded of the mark they make on students lives.  Be watching for posts on how our school celebrates Dot Day, sign up, and follow the hashtag!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Odd Life Of Timothy Green- PCOS

No, I will not give any spoilers!  I have read many reviews that have many different takes on what kind of audience it is going to go for, or who will enjoy it, and so on.  Now, my blog is not usually for movie reviews.. but I wanted share a little more insight into my own life.

I LOVE Disney movies, and this one was no different.  I knew that I wanted to see it from the first commercial that I saw.  Not necessarily because it was Disney, but because of how the commercials portrayed Timothy coming about.

My husband and I have had a chance to do some amazing things since we have been married.  Between traveling, being active in our community, and so much more.. I know that I am lucky in what I have.  However, my husband and I have dreams of starting a family.  We have tried for 7 years, so this movie hit home in so many ways!  I have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome).  We have done infertility treatments and are now just in kind of a holding pattern as we figure out which way we are going next.  Yes, I realize that I can not grow a boy in my garden (and with the rain lately in our area.. it is not really possible anyway).  I loved how the movie portrayed the couple learning parenting techniques.  I also loved how it brought the related family aspect to it.  Facing our own path of how we are creating a family is always tough to talk about it.  I enjoyed the movie (yes, I cried in the first 5 minutes.. and I cried throughout the rest of the movie) and will be seeing it again.  Although I cried, it was more of an understanding of what the parents were going through and how I want to see my own child someday (whether they be adopted or my own)
I do know one thing though.. although I don't have kids of my own, I am still a teacher.  I have a chance every day to instill the values that I would want in my own family through the way that I behave and interact with my students.  Do I have a list of what values and virtues that I want my child to possess.. yes I do!
Thank you Disney for a Fantastic movie for all ages, but also one that spoke to me directly.  Timothy did remind me to believe in all things... and remind others to believe in themselves.  
If you check out the Odd Life of Timothy Green website, they are even giving back to the community! Speaks to my heart even more!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My Brain is Full- A Few Reflections

I finished up my first two days of my district's summer institute.  I have 2 more days left! Tomorrow I am even presenting a session over using a blog as a communication tool for the classroom.  This summer I have had a chance to really reflect on who I am and where I hope to go.  I have been looking for inspirational quotes lately, and my awesome friend Shawn posted this one today, and I just thought it was pretty perfect for all of my reflections right now.

This past year I have taken a TON of chances.  I work in a school district that allows me to do that.  I also work with some awesome parents and people that let me try out crazy new things!  I also know that I make a ton mistakes, but that I am really good at saying sorry.  The last line pretty much sums up how I feel right now.  Always be you... and be okay with it.

Things I have learned about myself:
-I LOVE traveling, but only for about 3 or 4 days at a time.  I also like things to go smooth and I don't like being stuck in airports.
-I LOVE presenting!  I love it because I am able to talk about different things that I am passionate about, but even more because I am able to connect with other really cool people.
-I think the most important thing I have learned about myself is.. I am always going to be me.. and when I try to be someone different I am VERY UNHAPPY!  I am always going to be the person that has my door open to help answer any questions.  I can't be mad at people (and hopefully some of my friends will forgive me for thinking that I was mad at them.. but in reality I wasn't.. just had to figure that out myself) I am always going to be an overachiever.  I am extremely passionate in whatever I set my mind too.
-I LOVE that I surround myself with strong people that have kind hearts and souls.  Thank you for helping my heart as you always do.
-I LOVE my parents for being the support that I always need and my husband for being right there next to me pushing me forward.
-My last AHA moment is one that is tougher for me.  10 years ago, I began teaching and had the assistive technology specialist bring me an intellikeys keyboard.  That is when I knew that I wanted to be an assistive technology specialist.  I worked, I presented, I got my masters, and I have continually pushed myself towards a goal that I thought would be perfect for me.  With different things that have happened this summer.. I don't know if that is the journey I will be taking.  I am a planner.. so that that is kind of a tough realization.  But in the mean time I am going to keep connecting and being the passionate teacher I am.  Because if I was something different I wouldn't be myself.

"There are only two options regarding commitment.  You're either IN or you're OUT.  There's no such thing as life in-between."
- Pat Riley-

Do you have any quotes that are your must haves?  What AHA moments have you had this summer?   

Monday, August 6, 2012

Movie Monday along with some other resources!

Just finished up my first day of training and realized that today was supposed to be my first movie Monday! So... needless to say, I don't have a movie for today!

I did want to point you in the right direction of my youtube page which I do keep updated. You can find all my videos at

Here is my video from last year
There will of course be more movies coming!

As I get ready for the upcoming year, I start scouring all of my favorite blogs for ideas, tips, and other tricks.  These are a few of my go to websites/blogs
-http://aspecialkindofclass.blogspot. (LOVE her calendar time idea! )

Here is  one of my pinterest boards.  This one is for active learning station ideas.

What are some of your go to websites or blogs? How do you get ready for the new year?