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Monday, July 24, 2017

Update: Where I've Been

You know how sometimes you have the best plan for the future and then life gets in the way? That's pretty much what happened to me these past few months. Luckily, it's all been great things and no bad news! Here's a bit of what's been going on in my life:

I knew this would be a long and challenging road going in, but I didn't realize exactly how much time it would take up. The answer is.. All. Of. It. 

As I work toward becoming a National Board Certified Teacher, I will continue to blog as time allows. This process has caused me to become much more reflective on any and every aspect of my teaching, which includes blogging and designing products for TpT. I want to bring blog posts and resources to all of you, and those take time. I just need about 20 more hours in the day! 

Have you ever heard of PiYo? It's one of the workouts from BeachBody, and it's amazing. I started taking PiYo classes a year ago, and fell in love with the format. I loved it so much I decided I wanted to teach it! 

This one is a biggie. I needed a break to disconnect from blogging, Instagram, and just all. the. things! I needed time to myself again.

Spring Training Games

Flagstaff Extreme Adventure for my birthday

More fun at Flagstaff Extreme Adventure

I picked up hand lettering. I've got a ton of practice to do, and a lot to learn, but it sure is fun!

Kayaking on Catalina Island

Now that I took some time off, I'm refreshed and ready to bring you new products and ideas. So... that's it in a nutshell! Check back for more posts again soon. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Volunteer Appreciation

My team and I do a big fundraiser and sell Otter Pops during Field Day Week. I wrote all about it here and here

Only downside of this fundraiser, is that it happens during school hours. I can't exactly leave my class alone to go run it, so I beg send out parents to help me run it! 

We have a few parents who run the thing all day, and every day during the week. Of course, there are some who can only help out for an hour or so.. I'll take any help I can get to run this thang! I really believe that a little bit of appreciation goes a long way. So we make sure to get thank you notes and gifts for all those involved in helping out. 

The cafeteria ladies help us with freezing the otter pops. This sounds a bit more complicated than it is since these things don't freeze in the box! Noooooo. You have to lay them out flat and they take several hours (at least!) to freeze. When you sell 1,000 otter pops a day... this adds up pretty fast. So the cafeteria ladies received a card with a thank you note from each 2nd grade teacher, coffee, a plant, and pastries. 

There were some volunteers who helped out during the week quite a bit, and they received a card with a thank you note from each 2nd grade teacher, a starbucks gift card, and hand lotion. 

The other volunteers who helped out when they could received this card and Extra gum with a thank you from all the teachers. 

I really believe a little appreciation goes a long way.... and who knows? Maybe I can convince them to help me out again next year! 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Five For Friday

It's been a busy few weeks.. Here's a bit of what's been going in my life!

This past week was the Otter Pop Fundraiser my team and I do to raise money for field trips. It is one of the craziest weeks in the year, and I am so thankful that it is OVER! I do not want to hear the words Otter Pop for another year. 

I love Valentines Day in the classroom! 

We had field day this week.. and I am completely exhausted! Three day weekend you cannot get here soon enough!

I'm getting ready to create a new book club/literature circle pack! These are the books I have right now.. But I can't decide which one to do first! All of my literature circle packs come with at least 1 spelling list, a vocabulary list and activities, comprehension questions to go with chapters or given pages, and at least 1 writing activity. Which one should I do first? Or, do you need a book club pack for another book? Let me know in the comments!

I'm teaming up with some other amazing bloggers to give away some things we LOVE! One lucky winner will receive everything in the picture! Enter below:

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Things We LOVE Giveaway

Where in the world have I been?

Well, the answer is simple. I've been working on my National Board certification. I knew it would take a lot of time and effort, but I was still hoping that I could blog a few times a week. Unfortunately, if I'm going to do this right and pass the different components for my certification I need to devote all of my time to writing and rewriting for National Board. So, I'll blog when I can, and I'm definitely still here! I just want to put forth enough effort into my National Board so that I can pass, and also put enough time into my posts to bring you new and quality ideas!

So.. here's a giveaway to make up for my absence! It's filled with Things We LOVE!

Prize: Things We LOVE prize pack including: Mr. Sketch Markers, Flair Markers, Personal Laminator, Dry Erase Pockets, Dry Erase Markers, Astrobrights Paper, Ticonderoga Pencils, and a $50 Teachers pay Teachers gift card.
Co-hosts:   An Apple for the Teacher
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 2/21/17 and is open worldwide.
Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers!

Monday, February 6, 2017

What I Learned as a Middle School Cheer Coach

Thanks for checking back to see what I learned as a cheer coach!

As I wrote in my last post, I felt a little in over my head at times coaching cheer. I wish I knew these things prior to the season starting, and now that I do next year will be amazing!

I had no transition time between being a 2nd grade teacher and a middle school cheer coach. It took me about 2 minutes to walk from my classroom to cheer practice, and by the time I got there my brain was still in 2nd grade teacher mode. 

As the season went on, I got better at switching to middle school cheer coach quicker... but I could still have improved! The biggest realization I had with this was that things that would make a little 2nd grader cry, would make the middle school girls laugh. They LOVED getting a hard time from the various coaches, parents, and volunteers. I was shocked that they weren't crying. But, I guess middle school kids get sarcasm better than 2nd graders!

I gave the parents my email address and classroom phone number and told them to get in touch with me if they needed anything or had any questions. I heard from exactly 0 parents the entire time. So I'm thinking "Great! No one has any questions, and I'm awesome!" 

Well, that's not exactly how it worked out. It seemed like parents were very thankful that someone had stepped up to take over the cheer position, and they all said that their girls enjoyed being on the team. However, they were always full of questions whenever I saw them at games and after practice! 

I've heard of other coaches giving out their cell phone numbers, which I'm hesitant to do. I try not to bring work home, and I don't want to be contacted over minor things that could absolutely wait until business hours. But... I need parents to get in touch with me if they have questions about a game, that we're currently at, or when we're somewhere outside of my classroom. I may set up a Dojo group for my cheerleaders, or I may give them my phone number. 

I relied on the cheerleaders to relay information to parents about games and practice information. I figured they were old enough to handle it. Some of them did great with this, but most of them did not. I will be getting email addresses to send out the schedule and other game information next year! 

I had a parent meeting with the parents and girls who made the squad. I went over the tentative schedule, the game information I had at that time, and my expectations. I had a lot of positive feedback and I think this answered a lot of questions!

Well, I probably should have had multiple parent meetings, one before and one after tryouts. 

Before tryouts, I should have gone over the tentative schedule, game info (if available), my expectations, and fundraising info (see below!). I think this would clear up any parents or girls thinking they want to do cheer, but not realizing what it is, or the commitment I'm expecting. 

After tryouts, I would wait until closer to game season, and then focus mostly on my expectations at games and other events we attend. I'd focus on my expectations for the girls during the game, attendance at games, and expectations for the parents at games. I didn't have any issues with parents at games.. it was actually the opposite! I think that having a second meeting would allow parents to coordinate carpooling to games if needed, and would assist with finding chaperones for other events and things like that. 

It was clear that I did not use the parents enough! I had several supportive parents, and I need to put them to work next year. Luckily, it'll be easy work :) 

Next year, I'm going to try to recruit a team mom to assist with finding carpools to games or events, assist with fundraising and supervising the girls, and set up a schedule of parents to send in snacks for the girls prior to games. 

I had practice start right after school, and this is something that I plan to continue next year. It worked out well having the girls go straight to practice so we could get started right away. 

I didn't do this before games. I had a lot of girls who went home, and then didn't have rides to get to the games. Next year I plan to keep the girls at school, and practice prior to games starting, have snack, and hang out together. I think it would be nice for team bonding, and then I'll make sure everyone has a ride to the games!

I'll be posting about fundraising ideas on April 3rd, so I don't want to say too much about this right now. That being said, it is so important to start fundraising early!

I don't think I could have wrapped my head around fundraising at the beginning of the season this past year. This is something I definitely plan to start early next year!

I wanted to buy jackets, or other things for the girls, but wasn't able to do that since we didn't have any money. I have plans to do some fundraisers with my girls to prepare for next year so we can start the year with some money in our account! 

I learned a lot of things this year about working with an older age group, and about coaching. It was a steep learning curve.. just like my first year teaching. I hope all those new coaches out there find this helpful!

Come back again on March 6th for my next post:

Monday, January 9, 2017

Cheer Coach - One of the Many Hats I Wear

We all know that teachers wear many different hats: teacher, parent, counselor, nurse, detective - and that's only naming a few! This year I added a new one: middle school cheer coach.

The previous cheer coach moved to a different school this year, so as a former cheerleader I thought I'd give it a shot. It's got to be more fun than teaching after school classes, right? Well, yes and no. 

Yes - because it's fun to cheer and watch the girls perfect things we've worked so hard on. I even had one of my old students from when I taught 3rd grade on the squad, so it was cool to see how much she had grown up! Not so much fun feeling like a fish out of water and like a first year teacher again!

Prior to taking this post, I searched Pinterest for hours trying to find a middle school cheer coach that posted their ideas and things they did with their cheerleaders. I mostly found coaches from competitive cheer, which isn't something my squad was going to do. I looked at some high school cheerleaders, but that was quite a bit too advanced for what my cheerleaders were going to be able to do. It was the first time some of them had been in dance lessons before, and the first time any of of them did stunts so it wasn't very helpful for me.

I needed someone who works in a K-8 school like I do, posting about how they run their program, or even someone who works in a middle school writing about what they do with their cheerleaders. I couldn't find anything like that, so if I'm missing out on something amazing please please please let me know in the comments!

Anyways, since I couldn't find what I was looking for, I decided that I would write a post about the things I learned as a first year cheer coach, how I managed my program, what changes I'll make next year, and fundraising ideas. My goal is for this to help someone who is in a position like I was!

Check back on February 6th for my next post:

Monday, January 2, 2017

How I Gamified my Classroom - Quarter 2 & a GIVEAWAY!

After the end of First Quarter, I wrote a series of posts about how I gamified my classroom during the First Quarter. To see those posts, click the images below!



I ended it with my goals for gamifying my classroom during Second Quarter, which included adding characters, introducing new mini games, and adding a breakout kit or using that in a challenge. Here's a list of the things I did to add new game elements during the Second Quarter:

This was really disappointing for me. When I set a goal, I do everything in my power to accomplish it. I had every intention of adding new things to keep the "game" fresh, but it just didn't happen. Between becoming a National Board candidate, coaching cheer, planning the field trip and Friendship Feast, midterms, and then everything over the holidays, I just did not have enough hours in the day! I guess that's real life though and some things don't work out the way you want them to all the time. 

But, I'm not going to let it get me down! Third Quarter is a brand new chance to do those things, and with a refreshed mind after Winter Break I'll have the chance to do it better than I could have in the Second Quarter. 

So, here's my revised list of things I'd like to do to gamify my classroom in the Third Quarter:

1. Characters

I previously wrote about adding characters. I have all of these ideas of different characters do use, and now I need to introduce them. I'm thinking of writing messages to the students on the board from the different characters a few times a week, then possibly bringing them out again during a mini game. Any other ideas for ways to introduce the characters to the class? Let me know in the comments!

2. Introduce New Mini Games

I never got around to introducing SMART Board Football, but with the Super Bowl coming up soon I think I see a football tournament in the future. 

3. Breakout Kit

I've got a few ideas in the works for adding this into my "game". I'll blog about that as soon as it happens, so check back again soon!

Oh, and make sure you enter the giveaway for a chance to win a $25 gift card to Teachers pay Teachers!

Prize: $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
Co-hosts:   An Apple for the Teacher
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 1/9/17 and is open worldwide.
Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers!