Sunday, May 1, 2016

{Currently....May 2016}

Well what a bummer to see that this month's currently will be the LAST one :( Sometimes Currently is the only thing that keeps me blogging each month! Ah well...all good things come to an end, right?

At least I'll have my classroom currently to keep me going....






Listening: Over winter break I became absolutely addicted to the walkie-talkie app Voxer...and joined some amazing groups. One is so busy though that it gets backed up fast. Thus when I'm doing plans or blogging, I catch up on all of the great discussions.

Loving: I've been absolutely loving snuggles with my grandson! I spent two whole weeks helping his momma and snuggling him lots and then didn't get to see him for several days because I had to go back to work and it was SO incredibly busy! But I got to see him on Friday and today. Love!

Thinking: I really need to finish my lesson plans for this coming week! They are 98% written but I have to get them finished and printed so I can get things set for this week as we finish standardized testing.

Wanting: I love my job and I love my kids....but I am ready for these last few weeks to fly by. I'm ready for summer, lazier days and time to just get all of the other things going that I am trying to do (JumpStart training, my Princeton trip, road trip this summer). It's been a crazy year and while I'll miss my kiddos, I'm ready for the end (and quite honestly, I am sure they are ready too!).

Needing: Originally we planned to road trip it West but discovered renting an RV that long would cost us our entire budget, without being able to actually do anything. So we scrapped that plan....and decided to head to Disney World instead. :) We need to finalize plans since we are going to drive instead of fly and we want to make sure we spend our time there wisely. Exciting!

Truth: I am just lazy....lol I like exercise and it makes me feel good but trying to actually find time to get on my bike has been really tough. I have so many other things going on all the time that I just don't make time for it. It's now May 1st and I've said I'll start on the 1st for five months now....and nope :(

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Grandma = Game Changer

At least in my own mind, I'm young and hip (my teenagers will tell you I am NOT hip, they would use words like "embarrassing" or "mortifying"). Far too young to be a grandma....but 12 days ago, I became one.

It's amazing how being a mom changes you (or a dad but I wouldn't know since I'm not a man). Being a grandparent though? 

Total. Game. Changer.

It's quite remarkable how much this has changed me. It isn't a secret to anyone that I plan to open my own school in the very near future. It will be independent (not affiliated with any specific district) because I want to do things a certain way that I think most districts would be leery of. Totally understandable which is why I don't plan to pitch my idea to my own district or any others nearby. I'll do it on my own.

But since having this new person enter my life, my purpose and mission for it has shifted. Now, instead of thinking "what kind of school would I want my kids to attend?" the question has shifted to "what kind of school do I want for my grandchild(ren)?"

It's a relatively subtle shift in the question...but it's powerful. This young boy is not even two weeks old and everything I thought I knew has now been put through my "grandma" lens...and some things are being tweaked. Does that mean I don't care about my own kids anymore? Of course not....

But my kids are all beyond the elementary stage. My younger two are going to be in 8th and 9th grade next year. My school will be K-5 (possibly K-8 but I doubt it...I really want to stick to what I know best). Therefore, the experiences my own kids have had in elementary school will certainly shape some of the things I'd like to change, but my focus is on what kind of school would I want my grandson to be attending.

While it's tempting to jump on the edu-jargon bandwagon and proclaim that a new school would be innovative, creative, project-based, implement STEM projects (and every other current trend), what I want to do is create a safe, caring environment where all kids are met at their level. Their learning is personalized based upon the standards, not some arbitrary sequence in a text book. Play and creativity is encouraged and fostered. Kids are held accountable. Their parents are partners and treated as such. 

My vision for my school has been relatively consistent for the last two years, but now it has shifted. What kind of learning environment do I want for my grandson to grow up in? What kind of learning experiences will be necessary to foster his imagination? How can the curriculum support curiosity and inquiry while instilling "soft skills" and rigor in our kids?

I always tell people it's not enough to sit around and complain about the current state of education. We have to go out and DO something about what we don't like. The closer I get to my dissertation, the more I realize that this is true. We have to push back, we have to stand up and we have to think about the next generation: what, ultimately, kind of school system do we want when our legacy (grandchildren) get to kindergarten? 

For me, it would look nothing like how school looks today.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Baby!

Monday morning at 5:38 am, I became a grandma. Friends of mine have told me that this baby would make parenting seem like a joke because being a grandparent is so much better. I didn't really understand it until I snuggled this sweet baby for the first time. It's such a bigger deal than being a mom...the legacy lives on through the grandchildren. So precious.

I am so very grateful to be able to spend two weeks at home helping The Oldest as she adjusts to being a new mom. This baby boy really is everything. 

First selfie with his fabulous, hip (and young!) grandma :)

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Currently {April 2016} + Giveaway Winner!

Happy April! Can you believe how fast this year is flying by?!

Thank you to those who entered my Kwik Stix giveaway! Christina is the winner :) You will receive an email from Kendal at Pencil Grips, Inc to claim your prize. Congratulations! Please do let me know how you like them :) 

And now onto Currently...the reason many of us maintain our blogs once a month bahahaha



Listening: I do not listen to the radio because I can't stand the chit-chat (which is really ironic for someone who gets paid to talk all day). I get most of my mainstream music from word-of-mouth recommendations. When I was in DC, they were playing Something in the way you move before one of the plenaries and seriously....you can't help but just want to dance to it. And let's be real, we've all had a boyfriend/girlfriend in our life at some point who was just not good for us but we couldn't stay away from them. I am totally obsessed with this song and sometimes listen to it the entire 20 minute commute to work--it just pumps me up because of the peppy pop beat.

Loving: Our spring break started at 3:34 on Thursday. I love my little guys but they are SO draining sometimes! And since my grandson will be arriving any day now, I am off for three weeks instead of one because I am taking FMLA for two weeks to help The Oldest transition into her role as a new momma. Love!

Thinking: Speaking of that grandson....I can't wait for him to arrive! We thought he was on his way last week as his momma was having lots of contractions but he is a stubborn little one and has not arrived yet. He is due on Monday and we're hoping to meet him sooner rather than later.

Wanting: My house needs a major spring cleaning but I HATE cleaning. Ugh. It is necessary but it is also very tedious and boring. I'd much rather pay someone to do it...but The Husband won't let me. :(

Needing: This current grad class is winding down and I'm SO ready for a break from that too. My brain is overloaded (in a good way) but I need a mental break. I love to learn and could seriously be an academic nerd forever (if someone wanted to pay me lots of money to read books and research stuff, I'd be all over it), but sometimes you just gotta think about nothing.

Whatever:  I am not impressed at all that we're supposed to have a winter storm today....unfortunately it is not an April Fool's joke. *sigh* It seems to always snow at least once over spring break. So I guess as long as it does it over the weekend and then decides to be nice and sunny, I can deal with that. This winter was VERY mild compared to the last two years but I am still more than ready for sun and warmth.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Kwik Stix Review & Giveaway

Happy almost April! I'm super excited to share a fun product with you that I was asked to review awhile ago.

I will tell you that I am the least artistic person that I know, but working with elementary age students and having a child who is a budding artist, I have learned that sometimes I have to fake my artistic abilities at times. Thus when I was approached about reviewing this product, I knew that even if I couldn't get myself into it, I have plenty of students and my own little artist who would be happy to help me test these babies out.

This fun little box of paints came to us and you can't help but feel happy just looking at the box. How stinkin' adorable is the box??

The size is amazing. Elementary students are all pretty adept at using a glue stick, right? To me, one huge plus with this product is that these paints are the exact size and shape of a glue stick. Perfect for little hands but also not as messy as free painting.

Here is the blue stix opened up after use. You can see that it looks exactly like a glue stick and functions in basically the same way. Perfection!

Have I mentioned I am not an artist? How about some proof? I'll show you if you promise not to laugh *wink*

I made this little not-very-realistic bunny in about 2 minutes. No mess at all and the stix glide on just like using a glue stick. Very smooth and easy. The picture really doesn't do the color justice either--they are very vibrant and bold right out of the box. What elementary artist wouldn't be all over this?

But these products are so versatile...because my 13 year old squealed and jumped up and down when she saw them. Then she promptly stole them and ran into her room (with the requisite slamming of the door as teenagers are wont to do). I did ask her to play with them a bit and make me a picture and this is what she came up with. (Note: she was trying to replicate a painting her dad made over the summer of the ocean.)

I absolutely love and adore how vibrant these colors are. She made me promise to point out this is an "incomplete" picture, but the colors pop out and it catches your eye. As an artist, she gave a huge amount of praise for these stix because they were so easy to use. Her exact words were "I hope you don't want these back....you can't draw anyway." Thanks kiddo! :)


This was the next picture that she made. She continues to praise how fun these stix are because they aren't messy at all. You just paint and it dries fast. This picture really shows how vibrant the colors are since it features two shades of green.

The Kwik Stix are so easy to use! Just uncap and paint. They are small and super portable too, which would be awesome for traveling in the car (road trip!). I can especially see utilizing these stix in my 3rd grade classroom in an art station. There is no worry about the paint spilling and the students simply roll up as the get low. 

I am definitely going to break my own bank stocking up on these for next year! They are absolutely amazing and you have the opportunity to win your own set! Enter the giveaway now. Winner will be announced April 1st!



Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Whirlwind

What a whirlwind I have been on for the past week. Wow. 

Last Tuesday we had parent-teacher conferences. They were originally scheduled for February 25 and March 1 but due to snow and weather delays, they were moved around. I had a trip planned for the March 10 which was one of our makeup days so I had to scramble trying to fit in families at other times so I could still meet with everyone and then had our long night of conferences on Tuesday. 

Wednesday night I had dinner with a lovely representative from Lexia Core 5 (the winner of our Shark Tank in February). She offered my school a free pilot of the program for one year. That was unexpected and very awesome! She told me that my passion for teaching and learning is contagious and that my eyes become a little bluer and my cheeks a little pinker when I talk about teaching :)

Thursday I flew to Washington DC for the Teaching & Learning Conference sponsored by the National Board. I went two years ago with The Husband after I earned National Board Certification. At the airport, in the shared van for the ride to my hotel, I met a wonderful couple from Los Angeles, the man being retired LAPD. They were fun to chat with and the man reiterated what the Lexia rep told me: that my eyes are brighter and my whole face just comes alive when I talk about what I do :) 

The conference itself was amazing. It is also so inspiring for me to be around so many other NBCTs. It's pretty uncommon on the West Side of Michigan and I'm kind of an anomaly. I just have so many things I want to do to further our profession and I won't stop until I accomplish them. If that means branching out on my own later, so be it. (It will happen eventually, just not sure how long it'll take.) I had an amazing time at the conference and left so inspired (and with a billion new ideas running through my head!).

Yesterday I found out that I was accepted for a summer institute at Princeton University via Gilder Lehrman! For one week at the end of July, I will get to participate in a workshop about the Thirteen Colonies with resources and information to bring back to my students. 

How freaking cool is that?? I am so excited about it, it is ridiculous. It is a highly competitive and selective process and I am absolutely astounded that I got selected. This is just pushing me forward with things I want and need to do to get where I'm going in my career. I feel like I'm on fire right now and just unstoppable.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Currently {March 2016} & Giveaway winners!

Happy March! This means spring (and my grandson!) will be arriving sooner rather than later. Yay!



Listening: I'm in my office and enjoying the quiet whir of the space heater fan. Oddly relaxing.

Loving: I am adoring all of the PLN connections I have made in the last couple of months. They are keeping me sane!

Thinking: I need more hours in my day...I am SO drained when I get home and there is grad work to be done and I'm just blah....if I had 5 more hours in a day, I could take a nap when I got home and still have time to get everything done.

Wanting: I seriously hate grading....it's the only thing (aside from over-testing) that I do not like about teaching.

Needing: I am in serious need of a nail fill. These nails are looking whack.

Polling Site: Yep, we are a polling site. Usually we have the day off for polling (or we have PD) but sometimes it occurs during school which is so not awesome.


And last but not least, the winners of the Pencil Grips giveaway are Mary Alison & Holly W :) Congratulations!