September 21, 2015

I Made it Monday: Sewing Summer in Review

Last year I shared with you how I rediscovered sewing.  This summer, I hit it hard!  It was so relaxing to just sit and sew my summer away.  It may have taken me a couple of weeks, but I'm through wearing all of the outfits I made this summer!  I documented each one because so many of you wonder what I make!  So, here they are!
Butterick 5982

I wore this the first day of school and to a number of weddings this summer!  It is just a fun dress!  

Top Simplicity 1430 Skirt 2451

This was my second day of school outfit!  I purchased the material at Walmart.  They have invested in really well made fabric from Waverly.  Don't be afraid to buy from them-I have yet to find a bad fabric!  

T-Shirt New Look 6735  Skirt- Simplicity 1560

I fell in love with this fabric at JoAnn's.  It is a simple skirt to make!  It only took about 2 hours.  The t-shirt was easy too, but the material stretches really badly.  Plus, somehow, in the wash, it gained a highlighter stain!  It is now an around the house shirt.  I purchased a t-shirt to wear with the skirt.

Butterick 5466

Just the skirt!  It was another Walmart fabric find.  I really fell in love with this fabric and then I found the cute t-shirt with the cut out!  Simple and fun to wear!

Simplicity  1699

I almost trashed this dress!  It just didn't come out right and it took me a number of days to get it to fit right.  Then, it just was blah.  I added the orange trim after seeing a number of people do this with the dress.  Cute sweater to cover up the sleeves I don't like.  Then it worked!  Needless to say, so did everyone else!

Shirt- Simplicity 1462  Skirt- Butterick 5466

I really enjoyed making this shirt.  It does have  slide zipper that is invisible.  I've never done that before.  I love the opening at the top and it is a very nice shirt.  The skirt is the same one as the straight paisley.  I added a couple of inches to it.  I should have ironed the hem too!  

Simplicity 1883

This is another dress I almost gave up on.  I didn't like it at first.  In fact, I've used this as an example when I taught "Failure leads to Success".  The zipper is not exactly something I'm proud of.  But, again, everyone liked it!  May have to fix the zipper!!

Butterick 6168

I really love this one.  It is fun and easy to wear.  The skirt if full but flattering.  I wish I would have stood straighter for the picture because it does look very nice!  It is exactly the color on the cover of the pattern because it was a great color for me!  Thank you Butterick for the suggestion!

Butterick 5982

This one I LOVE!  And so did everyone else! It is our school colors as well, which made the kids love it.  I took the view with the multiple skirts and cut one band in half.  Then I used those to make the stripes at the bottom.  I eliminated that much (8") off the bottom and sewed the bands on.  Otherwise, the dress is exactly the same as the pattern!!  Easy too!

Shirt-Simplicity 1430  Skirt-New Look 6899

This is my go-to skirt!  So simple, so easy, but the pattern has the wrong material amount listed for my size!  So I always get a little extra!  The shirt is the same as the green one I wore the second day.  All I did was change the band color to highlight the cream in the skirt.  They I used a bow from another dress pattern to create the bow for the shirt.  LOVE  IT!

Shirt - Butterick 3383  Skirt- Simplicity1560

This is the same skirt pattern as the green and blue paisley from the first week.  It is a different view, a kick skirt style.  The shirt is a simple tunic, but I added two inches at the fold.  This allowed me to do a front pleat.  I also added the same brown color from the skirt around the neck and arms as a highlight. I found this look on Pinterest and liked it, so I modified it for this top!  It does have a jacket, but I didn't stitch the sleeves down and, well, it's still too hot for a jacket.  This will move nicely into the fall and winter months in Florida!  

What do I do with my scraps you ask?  Well, I found something to do with them too!  This is just one of the outfits I made in doll sized patterns!  It was fun sharing these with a special friend for her 7th birthday!

So, that sums up my summer sewing!  It was fun to wear all these great outfits but even funner to know that it cost me a fraction of the cost it would to have purchased all of this. Plus, it was therapy!  No need for a therapy when you have a sewing machine!  

September 18, 2015

Five For Friday: Five "Not So Fancy" Anchor Charts

      For this week's Five for Friday over at Doodle Bugs Teaching, I've decided to share my "Not So Fancy" anchor charts to encourage all of you who are not into the crazy rage of "Fancy" charts!  I believe charts should represent the real you, made right there with kids.  Now, I will say a few of these are a little bit fancier than I normally do.  I'm branching out and trying some "redo's" and some "print and go" type charts, but, for the most part, they are "not so fancy".  Here we go!

    I got this great idea to name my math rotations from a blog somewhere.  I had it as a tab on my Chrome, but, alas, it was closed!  Now I am not sure where I got it, but I LOVE IT!  Thank you wonderful teacher who used the M.A.T.H. idea that I adapted to my own.  I direct the kids to this chart while we are doing rotations so they don't interrupt me! 

        This was, literally, spur of the moment teaching.  One of our strategies for the week was Context Clues.  I'm not a fan of the basic ideas given in manuals because they don't really work!  I used word that we are using in class to help grow connections between our talk and the skill.  The little stop signs you see are other Key Words we talked about but haven't found in our story.  I didn't have them ready because it was so spur of the moment.  This is one of my favorites this week!

      This is another skill we are working on with our story. (The dog prints are there because it is a story about dog adoption!  OH! Why, oh why, hasn't that hit me!  Great opportunity to invite a rescue team in!  Next year!)  This is one of the print and go ideas I will be offering in my Wonders Grade 2, Unit 1 Enrichment packet.  We also wrote friendly letters!  It was so much fun today and the letters came out AMAZING!  

      This is an oldie but a goodie!  Years ago my former school adopted a behavior system out of the University of Florida.  It was a great system but relied on the use of a Time Out Room to be really effective.  It also came with a variety of lessons.  This was one of them-to clearly define jobs of the student and teacher.  It was so funny to look at my list.  Some of them were straight out in your face-Mind your own business!   That doesn't work today!  Anyways, I needed to do this with my students because some of them are very "teacherish" in their choices.  This will be hanging as a reference point, exactly as it currently is!

       This one is my FAVORITE!  Again, total spur of the moment.  We have been struggling with Speaking with Good Purpose when there is an accident.  One student is accusing, the other is denying, and it suddenly hit me-they don't know what an accident is REALLY!  So, we went step by step!  Wrote it down!  Modeled it! It worked!  The next thing I know, an accident happened!  And, just like that, "Oh, I'm sorry!"  We will be going over this a number of times to just instill in us what accidents are and that our bodies do things we don't realize!  Oh, happy day!!  

      So, that's my Five For Friday "Not So Fancy" anchor charts!  What do you have for us?!  

September 10, 2015

"It's a Sin to Waste Teacher's Time"

Tanny's other book is Comprehension Connections

     You know it will be a good inservice when the presenter starts with that rule!  And trust me, she DID NOT waste my time!  Tanny McGregor was worth the entire time I put in watching her!  Let me tell you a little about who she is and what she shared!

      Tanny McGregor is a Heinemann author who was invited to my district by our AWESOME representatives, Trudy and Nancy!  And, to make it even better, it was a FREE event for us!  She is a keynote speaker and workshop presenter who focuses on metacognition!  I have been a firm believer in metacognition for about 15 years now.  I've read Mosaic of Thought and been a fan of Strategies that Work!  I was totally into the idea of seeing this presentation and it was worth every moment of my time!  

      Her presentation was entitled "The Transforming Power of Reflective Thinking", another thing I've really renewed my interest in since reading Learn Like a Pirate! The nice thing about Tanny's presentation is she focused on the THINKING aspects of reflecting. Teaching this skill is key to developing the comprehension of our students in ANY area!  She shared an example from recent research by Hattie and Marzano.  John Hattie's research says that metacognition is the 14th most important strategy to improve students learning out of 138 strategies!  That's a good place to be!  In Marzano's research, he calls metacognition the "mission control" of learning!  Tanny says it makes the student more "brilliant" than others.  Not the self-named brilliant, but the shining, thinking, wonderful brilliant that we want our students to be!  I like that!!  

       She also talked a bit about what kills our ability to really teach metacognition-mandates, strict standards, expectations, kids schedules that are filled with "other", and TIME!  All of these things rob us of what we used to do naturally in a classroom, which used to make the kids think deeply and "brilliantly" because we could take that time.  This was my last year.  I felt robbed by all of these things, robbed from teaching my students what they needed.  I promised myself this year that it wouldn't happen-and I'm keeping that promise!  Even more so now that I've heard it from Tanny! 

       She also reminded us to carefully examine our texts before teaching.  Do you remember a time where you felt like you can do that?  That you could really plan out materials and create those awesome lessons that lasted long enough to get good thinking!  She reminded us to do that because if not, you, the teacher are missing connections you can't get back!  The first read of a text is so important!  That's where you make the discoveries that you teach from, that you build from!  We need to slow down, just like the students do, not just in teaching, but in our planning.  I was so happy to hear her point this out-it's what I've been doing this year, slowing down.  I've also been doing her next point-Make it your own!  Take time, as a teacher, to create a system that works for you.  Use the spaces in your manuals, (which, I hate) the WHITE SPACES as my own! She recommends that students come up with their own coding systems, to make it their own and build their knowledge based on something they understand!  I say, let's take this back in our own planning, our own learning, our own classrooms and build thinking, brilliant students who do the same!  

       The final thoughts I would like to share from this awesome inservice are research findings that are the most current.  Tanny shared that the two most important findings are:

1.  Deceleration trumps acceleration:  This doesn't mean slow down a novel to the point of boring.  It means slow down your reading and teaching.  We need to make our teaching and learning mindful about reflection on what we've read and learned.  This means we need to stop the rush of learning and step back into quality! Standards won't be mastered if students can't think!  Period!

2.  Spacing is more effective than cramming:  YES!  Little things matter, like turning and talking, drawing about their reading, and anything that makes them reflect!  Tanny clearly said, "STOP thinking, "If I have time..."  We need to make the time!  The gains students will make by thinking trump the cramming of curriculum down their throats!  The following statement pretty much sums it up, "It helps at our heart level!"  Because, you see, if you don't read and take it from their head to their heart (18" problem as she calls it!) you won't improve their comprehension!  

       So, let's step out and make a "conscious choice in our lesson plans" and stop cramming and spamming them with useless materials that aren't making it the 18" it needs to go!  And let's thank Tanny for the research behind this choice!  (Trudy and Nancy-we owe you so much for this opportunity too!  Thank you will never be enough!)

P.S.  I'm looking forward to diving into her information on Genre Connections!  So blessed to have WON it at the presentation because Heinemann ROCKS!

September 6, 2015

Smart Starting the Year with Kagan Strategies


     This week went by in a blink of an eye-literally!  I am so thrilled with my class and we have completed a lot of material, both curriculum based and team building, in the two weeks we have been in class.  I have to say, being in a new grade level, I was not prepared for introducing the Smart Start materials.  I was actually in denial, I believe, denial that I had to do it!  I wanted to really work with my students to get the best community that we could.  I know it is what I failed at last year.  Last year-stress over a new curriculum we didn’t receive until that back-to-school teacher week.  Stress over a new evaluation system.  Stress over a new email system! You name it, we got it, in the first teacher week back!  This year was so MUCH better!  But I still didn’t go for the gusto with the Smart Start materials.  I thought it would just flow.  Luckily, it did!
            Our focus story was The Lion and The Mouse, an Aesop’s Fable.  Here was problem #1.  It is a print and read story from Wonders Reading.  This is the thing I struggle with in this series.  Why would a company send 1. everything on-line and 2. expect teachers to have time to print it and use it!  Call me old fashion, but I want everything in my hands!  I can’t run to a printer down the hall all day, let alone print stuff all summer!  Then I also didn’t have an actual copy in my many, many book library!  That for me spells “disinterest”!  So, I put it off!  THEN…
            I actually found a copy and read the story!  LOVE!!  I really love that story!  I love the lesson it teaches, I love the pictures in the text that I found, and I LOVE that it is very versatile.  It not only teaches the moral of friendship, but it lends itself so much to Kagan Strategies!  This year that is one of my goals-to bring in simple Kagan, and other, participation techniques into my classroom.  I am really excited about this and can’t wait to see what I can do in my room!  So, here’s what I did with my kids!
            Our Standard focus for the story is Key Details. I pulled out my handy-dandy Kagan “cheat sheet” and discovered some great ideas to implement and tie into Key Details.  Our first one is “Find the Fib”.  

Our copy machine has some line issues!

I thought I would start with this one since it was an easy introduction to Key Details.  We discussed what Key Details were and shared some samples from the story.  Then I sent them to their seats and had them work on the page.  They created two truths and one fib.  It was also a great way to introduce team jobs!   Once at their seat, they could only work on the jobs given to them by their Team Leader.  Wow!  I have to say, cooperation increase, the interest level was high, and the product was pretty great!  Students also shared the outcome as a group, in front of the class.  This gave them their first exposure to presenting before a group!  Great start to get them ready for bigger presentation! 

            Next came Mix, Pair, Share with pre-made question that focus on the Key Details of the story.  Students got a card from their table basket that matched their actual table color!  How is this determined?  See my post here about how I found a freebie to help me use my tables to the best advantage that I can!  Each child then had a question.  They stood up, pushed in their chairs (an important manner procedure we are working on) and began to mix!  When I called “Pair, “ they found a partner to discuss the question with.  

It took a “Super Heroes Ready” a time or two to get this one down.  When I want my class’ attention, I call “Super Heroes Ready” and they call it back.  I had to explain that they had to listen to the question carefully AND answer.   A number of the kids didn’t realize they had to answer!  That’s why you practice so much at strategies like this!  The results-AWESOME!  It was even an opportunity for a student called “Super Heroes Ready”.  This is a strategy I learned from Learn Like a Pirate by Paul Solarz.  Students should be responsible for sharing their own learning and discoveries.  One student taught me that when their team was finished, they would show thumbs up.  So I had him teach the class!  The kids really love teaching the class and sharing their ideas!  It is worth a try if you haven’t ever done it! I am so glad I tried this idea, both of them! 
            Another activity included watching a video I found on Pintrest.  It was a VERY well done version of The Lion and The Mouse.  Watch it here!  It was really great and the kids wanted to watch it first.  I did set a purpose of gathering Key Details that were the same and different in each version.  The students then worked in a team to complete a Venn Diagram of The Lion and The Mouse!  

So much fun!  We did do a class share out also!  This was a great activity because it gave me an idea of who struggles with finding details and who excelled!  I will use this information to further instruction within our class.  So much good stuff!
            Finally, I didn’t get to the last part activity, which are Key Detail Cards.  This activity is a game where students create their own flash cards .  The idea for these cards was for students to create Key Detail flash cards and then play a Go Fish type of games.  Students would ask, “Do you have a…” and then collect Key Details.  The idea would be that students find that Key Details are the same across their thinking because they are from their text.  I am looking forward to using this technique this year! 
            Where can you find them all?  Right here! 

The Lion and The Mouse is one of my newest products and lots of fun to use with kids!  A great way to Smart Start your year! 

            What have you done this year to get it off to a great start?  Let me know!