Planning For Student Success When You Have a Substitute

2:00am my daughter has a fever. Between doses of tylenol and resupplying her with a cool, wet cloth for her forehead I walk downstairs in the dark trying not trip on a stair or stumble over a toy. I find my computer, report my absence and then open a google doc to start writing my lesson plans for my absence. An hour later the plans are written and I hope that things will go smoothly. Continue reading

Join Us For Kids Summer Slam

Earlier this week I shared with you about the Teacher Talk Live session I was part of about preventing the Summer Slide.  An idea that came out of this wonderful time was my daughters and I hosting a Kids Summer Slam a time this summer when kids could come together and share all the super great things they have done and/or learned this summer. After this ah ha moment during the  session I ran the idea past my daughters (probably should have asked them first if they were in), but when I did ask them they yelled, “Do what mommy? With kids? From anywhere? YES! Mommy!  We want to!.”  Once I knew they were in we sat down, picked a date and time and I started to bring it all together.  With final approval and total excitement from my 8 and 9 year old girls we decided Friday August 7th at 2pm CST we would be when we would be hosting a Kids Summer Slam.

Be Part of the Kids Summer Slam

If your child(ren) (and you) are interested in being part of this Summer awesomeness share out or even if you are just interested in getting more information on the Kids Summer Slam click here and fill out this super short form. After you complete the form and we get closer to the date, my daughters and I will be sending you more information about the event.

Don’t miss this super fun chance for your kid(s)  to connect and share their awesome with other kids! We hope we will see you there…and HAVE A GREAT SUMMER!!!!

Infusing Fun and Learning Into Summer

Last week I was asked to join Teacher Tech Live hosted by Oscar Staton.   “This is a friendly forum education professionals to discuss public school resources, every day hacks, advice and collaboration.”  They want their “viewers to walk away with something useful they can take back to their classrooms and make their lives easier.”  

The Night’s Topic: The Summer Slide

Summer slide is a term used to describe the loss of student’s skills during their Summer break. Three months off surly means extra time for good parents to drill and practice and infuse their children with extra instruction and skills that will not only prevent skill loss but also push their child ahead for the next school year.

I say don’t! Continue reading

MY STORY…Why I Became A Teacher

National Teacher Appreciation week has filled my blog stream with all kinds of stories about teachers!  Some stories have been about why they became teachers, others have been about what they learned from the teachers they had and some have been thanked the educators that have inspired them.  Reading them made me smile.  We don’t just touch our students but we have the chance everyday to impact and inspire future educators and each other…but these posts also got me thinking.  I have never shared my story.  I have never shared why I became a teacher.  Here is my story.

. . .

I was so very proud to earn it.  That neon orange vinyl belt that went over my shoulder, around my waist.  It clipped in the front and held my silver badge. I was a patrol.  My first job as a patrol was to hold the stop sign as kids crossed the street (of what I recall was a pretty busy road) then higher powers realized it probably wasn’t a good idea for a kid to do that and an adult replaced us.  So then I was given bus duty.  My job was to monitor students getting off the bus and make sure they went to their classes.  One day that bus came.  It was the bus with the students in the special education classes.  ThMy Story: Why I Became a Teacherey were students with significant disabilities (what I would now describe as significantly cognitively impaired and significantly autistic students).   I was curious and than eager to help.  So everyday I looked forward to an opportunity to assist with getting those students to and from the bus to their classroom (in a mobile classroom, not attached to our school, away from our school and  in no way integrated…I know but it was how it was). Throughout the school year my eagerness to help quickly grew into a fondness, a curiosity and a desire to learn and do more with this teacher and her students.  So when the school year ended I decided  (I must have talked to the teacher about this all on my own.  I don’t even remember how it all came together) I wanted to do more.  That summer I came  back to school everyday during those student’s summer school and helped.  Each morning of those weeks I woke up early, got on my bike and rode it to my elementary school (yes, the ride was uphill and it was a heck of a hill).  I remember watching her, studying her and falling in love with being a teacher that summer.  It was in those moments of that summer that I knew I wanted to be a teacher.

It was that summer that I discovered what I was made to do. Continue reading

Bright Ideas #6: Starwarsopoly Gamification

I have been a Star Wars geek for as long as I can remember.  Not only does the movie hold  incredibly fond memories for me, I really just love LOVEEEE the movies, the characters…the everything.  Super Mario Brothers was our first classroom gamification,  then there was Angry Birds,  so when my students asked me what would be next and they asked me what about Star Wars.  I didn’t even have to think.

HOLY WOW….HECK YES!!!

After Angry Birds (which ended up being exhausting, was way more work than I had anticipated and will probably not be played ever again ever again unless it goes electronic)  I was ready to plan a classroom gamification game that was individual and not so time consuming on my part.  I really wanted a game that would run itself but would also be strong enough to continue to motivate and be fun for my students…especially at the end of the school year!  I knew just the game…Monopoly!!!  Not only was it a game I had wanted to make one for two years now (yeah a long time for an idea…I know) it could meet all my classroom gamification requirements.Hans Solo Fun

I started by researching names,  places, things and  ideas (Best Star Wars site…ever!).   I wanted to say is true to the game of Monopoly, while allowing it to ooze Star Wars fun!  As I started making the board I also knew (from past gamification experience) while cards and some of the extra details that make Monopoly Monopoly would be fun it would also make making the game time-consuming and eventually take the fun away from the game… because it would never get done.  So I decided to try to find that balance.  I decided to balance the complexities of the game, getting the game actually made and not making it exhausting for me and unmotivating for the players. Continue reading

My First Digital Drawing Challenge

The tweet flowed through my stream.

Anyone up for an Easter weekend “Digital Drawing Challenge”?

“ooooooo I don’t know?!! Maybe I could?!  I’m not the artist these people are.  I don’t draw like they do.  I don’t know…but what if?  What if I do?  It could be a lot of fun!  What if my drawing turns out ok? What if it’s awful compared to theirs? What if its fun?  What if I do ok?” the thoughts, the words of doubt, the possibilities and the battle for bravery flowed through my head.

“I want to do it ,” I tweeted excitedly!

The link to the challenge came through my twitter stream later the next week.  The prompt was inspired by the Wreck In Journal.  We would have to digitally create:  “figure out a way to attach these two pages together”.  Ideas and thoughts for it danced through my head…”Oye, it also had to be digital.  I still can’t find my comfort zone handwriting and drawing more complex pieces digitally…yuck.  I stink at them.  Pages…two pages joined together…hmmm.  Maybe I would get my daughters to pick a page from their favorite book and I would find a way to creatively join them.  Maybe I’ll just take two pages and join them some how…hmmm.  Hmmmm.”

So as  fantastic creative peeps and artists (and can I just share how incredibly warm, friendly, supportive and just as nice as a new artist could hope to find in this space) shared their imaginative creations I peaked in on them when I could and I spent time enjoying…. A sister’s night, a birthday and an early easter celebration but even with all that wonderfulness…it left me with plenty of time to come up with an idea and very, very little time to draw it.

When the days finally slowed and time for me finally appeared, I sat down and digitally drew my interpretation of “attach these two pages together”.   I decided that my joining of two pages would be inspired by me…be inspired by the me I have been working to embrace all year.  I decided to join the part of me I have known for sixteen years, known I have wanted to be since 5th grade and still love to my core doing and being everyday  and the part of me that is new, that I am learning to embrace equally and learning to allow it to enhance, infuse, electrify and color my life and my teaching more then it ever has before.

My interpretation of “attaching these two pages together”

#TodaysDoodle: Join Two Pages Challenge By Carrie Baughcum

I had so much fun creating for this challenge.  While I love to draw, I generally only just draw my characters on the iPad. This challenge gave me a push to create it all on the iPad.  I learned that it is more time consuming than my pencil, paper and sharpie creations, that I need to maintain more layers for easier editing later and that I need to (like all things that need practice) create on it more and continue to practice my lettering and lines.  Most of all I am so proud of this super fun, colorful joining of the two pages of me! 

If you would like to check out these amazingly kind, welcoming, supportive, talented and  inspiring artists you can follow them on twitter via the #TodaysDoodle hashtag or here on their Twitter accounts:  Marc Bourguignon, Rob Dimeo,  Tracy Levasseur,  Lilpeanut,  Mauro Toselli, Dr. Makayla Lewis and Monica Lopez