Welcome to my blog:) Since I am so far away from my friends and family, I want to keep you updated on the fun and trials of my new job. Thank you to everyone for your support, encouragement, and the tips/ideas you may offer!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Understanding Poverty #5

A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby K. Payne, Ph. D.

Chapter 5 - Reflection

Does your school incorporate looping to help strengthen student bonds?  Do they have mentors or check in/check out systems for students who need positive role models?

- At the school I worked at for the last 2 years, the PTO sponsored a raffle to help raise money for school activities.  Teachers were asked to donate something for the raffle.  Instead of buying a toy many teachers would donate their time to participate in an activity with the student.  Some teachers would bake cookies, go on a bike ride, have lunch with, or build a bird house with their prize winner.  

- I also provided a check in/check out system for many of my students.  We talked about what good behaviors we needed to work on for the day and what the benefit of these good behaviors was.  I wish I had listened more about what students did the night before/how their morning was going.  Well, there is always room for improvement next year!

Are you a role model for your students?

How?  (check in/check out, teaching students to look for options, goal setting, what do you do???)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Understanding Poverty #4

A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby K. Payne, Ph. D.

Chapter 4 - Reflection
How many of you have students with "interesting" family dynamics?  This chapter really stuck with me and made me go "AH'HA!"!  After only two years of teach, I'd given up trying to keep track of my students' "parents".  Payne showed me that people in poverty view legal marriage as irrelevant because they do not have any money or property worth splitting, so why pay someone to help them figure that out?  It seems to change by the week who certain students are living with, who their "dad" is, who is picking them up from school, etc.

On the other hand, my lack of interest in my students' "parents" may have a negative impact on the students if they sense my disinterest.  It is definitely complicated from my perspective, but I am going to try harder to at least be interested in who they are living with, but I don't think I will try to understand/figure out the family structure any more, as Payne shows, it really is continually changing.

Characteristics I noticed that might be valuable in including in a classroom include food=love and humor is valued for entertainment and personal character traits.  What other qualities/characteristics of people in poverty do you work to incorporate, view as a strength, or use to benefit your classroom community?

How do you try to work WITH (instead of against) characteristics of families in poverty that Payne notes?  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Understanding Poverty #3

A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D.

Chapter 3 - Reflection

Payne included a quiz for readers on how they would survive amongst poverty, middle class, and wealthy people.  Then she included the hidden rules for each class.  It was interesting to see what skills I have and where I feel I fit on the scale.  It was also interesting to see what skills I didn't have and how those would be important to people of other classes.

(How) Do you teach your students to do things we take for granted - setting a table, using credit card/checking/savings account, health/disability/housing insurance, going to college, interest rates/loans,  what to do if you don't know how to complete homework (besides ask parents), decorating for holidays, how to answer a phone/take a message, problem solving, washing clothes/dishes, what to do instead of hitting someone, or getting a library card?

Are there any other skills you teach that you consider something children should learn at home?

Many of these are probably more relative for high school but things I still thought were important to consider.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Understanding Poverty #2

Before I jump into my book reflection....despite reading work related books, I'm still on summer vacation.  The TV is definitely on (not always just in the background) while I read and blog.  Today I discovered I really enjoy "Melissa and Joey"!  It reminds me of some of my favorite shows from growing up:  Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Brotherly Love, plus the show is pretty humorous!

Also, head over to Dirty Hands and Lesson Plans.  Katie has a super cute blog and is having an awesome giveaway because she reached 250 followers!  Congrats Katie:)

A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D

Chapter 2 - Reflection

People in different socioeconomic statuses speak in different ways.  This effects the way students write, the way parents communicate with parents, and how difficult it is for people living in poverty to get a job, because they speak in a different way than people in the middle class or those of wealth. Payne explains how this works in chapter 2 and gives examples of the different ways people in poverty talk vs. people in middle class.

What this means to teachers...
- We need to be more sensitive to the parents trying to communicate with us.  
- We need to directly teach students how to talk and write in a more formal form of English.
- We need to accept the way they already talk and write as one form of communication.

This year I had two specific students who would write the way they talk.  They would leave out words, write "swimmin" instead of "swimming", writing one long sentence (that should have been 5), etc.  I tried very hard to work on editing with these students, and after several weeks they began picking up on some common editing mistakes on their own.  However, I never acknowledged the way they were writing as "a real form of communication".  I wish I had spent more time expressing that that is one way of writing and speaking, but at school and when working people try to use a more formal way of speaking and writing.  Note to self....

Now it's your turn!  

How do you work to improve students grammar in their writing or conversations without belittling the way they talk?

How do you incorporate students' informal/home version of language at school?

Any other thoughts about how verbal communication affects our students and our relationships with their parents?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Understanding Poverty

I have begun reading A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby K. Payne, Ph. D.

What an insightful book!  If you have time to read it, I would seriously suggest it.  I am borrowing this book from the school I work at, but I am seriously considering going out and buying it.  Then I would let my mom read it, and she isn't even a teacher, but she thinks she'd be interested in it too.  Well, that's what she said before I talked her ear off about it at lunch today.  Hopefully I didn't bore her!  I could seriously recognize my students while reading this book.  If your school is thinking about doing a book study, this would be a great one to consider!

First in Chapter 1, Payne talks about the resources that individuals may or may not have available to them.   Then there are several scenarios for the reader to consider and decide what resources the families have available to them.  I think this is a great exercise to write down on a scrap paper to compare at the end of the chapter and discuss with colleagues.

Physical Resources - As a teacher I have sent pencils, crayons, and pens home with my students so they can complete a 5 minute piece of homework.  This is because I have had students return uncompleted homework saying they didn't have a pencil at home.  I never want that to be a possible excuse for my students.  I can't imagine a home without writing utensils, but after reading chapter 1, it sounds completely believable.

Financial Resources - On the other hand a couple of scenarios involved teachers who assigned projects that required the students' families to purchase large amounts of supplies, which may not seem like a burden to middle class families, but when you're struggling to put food on the table $10 in school supplies does not seem worth it.

Another example required going to the library because the family didn't have any books at home, but they did not have enough gas to get to the library, so the student could not complete this assignment.

Knowledge of middle-class hidden rules (Resource) - The head of the student services department at my school has said she never gave homework because that was the least of her students' concerns.  I can also see this, but if we are expecting our students to abide by the middle class hidden rules (completing a task by the deadline, turning something in, perseverance, etc.), we need to teach students these rules and how to accomplish these rules.  I do not expect my students to do hours of homework, but I think finding 5 minutes to practice their math facts with a worksheet (or a paragraph story with 3 questions) and writing utensil that I have provided is completely manageable.  This past year I didn't have any consequences for incomplete homework, but I did have sticker charts for students who completed homework.

Support Systems (Resource) - Most parents in poverty do not know how to help their children with homework or how to seek help for their children.  This is why I make sure that the homework I do send home is something the student can ABSOLUTELY complete on their own, it is simply practice to increase the students' fluency or automaticity and develop responsibility.

How/Have you had to address the homework issue with your students in poverty?  

Other resources include emotional, mental, spiritual, and role models.  Do your students have many resources available to them?

Until this exercise in this book I'd never considered how few resources some families may have.  This is something I will definitely keep in mind as I continue to assign homework.

Let me know if you have read this book and what you think of chapter 1.  If you haven't read this book, please leave feedback on these two questions any way.  I feel like the more input I get from outsiders the better I can wrap my head around this.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Big News!

It became official yesterday!  I will be moving to a new school!  Two years ago I was hired in a school district in northern Wisconsin, even farther north than Green Bay.  Since my family is from Illinois and my boyfriend is living in Milwaukee, I was quite a distance from everyone, which meant a lot of traveling on weekends.

Well, this year, I applied for jobs like crazy to try to change that, and it worked!  Now I'm moving toward the southern part of Wisconsin.  So now I need to find somewhere to live, but I'm very excited to be closer to friends and family!

On another note, I'm reading A Framework for Understanding Poverty, by Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D.

Has anyone else read this book?  I'm thinking about posting little blurbs about each chapter, to help me remember what I read about.  Then maybe others can comment on their experiences, thoughts, or how you deal with the topic.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Blog-peeves Linky

I rarely go through and read every blog post on a linky, but I did this time!  I wanted to know if I was secretly (or not so secretly) driving everyone nuts.  Check out this fun idea Jessica had!  I love the learning opportunity!


- Just as everyone else has said...the infamous robot...check out my recent post

- This one is only cause I'm lazy and trying to maximize my time....but I like viewing 3 or more blog posts on a page instead of having to click on "view older posts" and waiting for my computer to load one more post, and then having to start the cycle over again.  I just like scrolling down and down and down to view more and more and more blog posts....saves me time...and oh so much energy that I use while clicking the next button;)

- Music on blogs also drive me crazy but in a funny sorta way.  Since I'm addicted to blog stalking, and I don't like my family knowing I'm doing it, AGAIN, but when the music comes on, I have to explain!

- The next one is probably really vain...and kind of embarrassing to admit...but just as I love to leave comments (so people know their blogs are being heard) I love receiving (good) comments.  So I'm always (secretly) a little disappointed when no one comments on a freebie I posted or (what I think is) a great idea.  Comment away (please)!  If you have another great idea that goes along with my post that I may not have thought of, if you're working on the same thing, if you like a post and want to hear more on a topic, if you think I'm completely crazy and you have a better way of doing;), etc.  I'd LOVE to hear from you:-D

( pressure to leave a comment;)

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Manic Monday at Classroom Freebies :)
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

It's my birthday, I'll party if I want to, party if I want to:)

Inorder to celebrate my birthday, I'm giving away this compound word activity (because birthday is a compound word....and I didn't have many things for my students to work on compound words).  Hope you enjoy the freebie.  Check it out on TpT.  Don't forget to leave me a note to let me know what you think:)  Thanks!

While working on this activity, I learned how to make graphics have a transparent background.  Check out how to do that at A Turn to Learn.

The graphics are from MelonHeadzThe 3 AM Teacher, and From the Pond.  Thank you all for your great graphics!  It's so kind of you all to share!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Another end of the year field trip

Again, sorry for the delay in these posts.  I wanted to make sure I was able to include the pictures though.

At the end of the school year the other special ed teacher in my building and I took all our students (about 30) to a park near by for kickball, pizza, and then let the kids play on the playground after lunch.  The kickball game and pizza went well, but the playground time was a little too unstructured for my kiddos....note to self....

Here are some of our fun pictures:)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Field Trip

I finally got my photos loaded to my computer!  Since I've been away from home for awhile (summer traveling to see family and friends), I forgot my camera cord, TERRIBLE, I know!  So I'm using my mom's camera and cord right now.  Those cameras that can import pictures to your computer automatically (without cords) are sounding really nice about now...

Any way, at the end of the school year, the elementary and middle school EBD section of our Special Ed Department got together to have an end of the year reward field trip.  The students could not have any poor behavior slips (or had to earn X amount of points), had to have homework turned in, etc. in order to go.

We had hoped to go to Lambeau field, but it was unavailable.  So we went to the zoo and an amusement park near by.

Here are some pictures from the zoo...
Kiddos with the Peacock! The peacocks roam free, so the kids loved following them
 and trying to get them to open their feathers.

One of only 3 girls out of 20+ students on the trip. 

This student's other teacher had a bearded dragon, so he wanted his picture with this lizard:)

My four kiddos on the trip.

My four hanging by the penguins.

We had a great time at the zoo, then we were off to the amusement park.  This is sadly my only picture.  It's a great picture though!!  So full of excitement!!

By the time we had gotten done eating there wasn't much time left for rides.  Since I work with the emotional behavioral students, this was a bit of an ordeal!  I had to pull one student out of line for a ride, so that we could get on the bus and another student had a break down because he could not reach the pedal on the bumper cards/didn't know how to operate the bumper cars.  I FELT TERRIBLE!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sweet Summer Time

I have been connected to my computer by my hands all summer far.

I set up a TpT store.  Learned how to save jpegs and post pictures of my products on my blog.  Then I learned how to sell something.

Now, I have been working on completing some of my online Pins.  So far today I learned how to make a graphic transparent and how to make a "grab button".  Karla at Life in Special Education gave a great tutorial on how to do this.

So here you can grab my button:)

 We Are All Special!

On my to do list for the rest of the week while I'm home with my parents....

- make a lawn sized Jenga with my father
- see my grandparents
- hang at the pool with one of my besties from home
- see my cousins
- go to Goodwill to look for kid's games
- post a limited time freebie for my Birthday (on June 14th)
- family Father's Day picnic

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Posting Comments

Is it just me, or are the word verifications for leaving comments on other's blogs getting WAY more difficult?  If they are driving you as bonkers as they are driving me read on...

I learned this from a fellow blogger a couple months ago.  I wish for the life of me I could remember who it was, but their suggestion worked very well for me.  (If it was you let me know, and I'll insert a link to your blog here.)

Since these word verifications are getting harder and harder here's what you can do to eliminate them.  Go to settings > posts and comments > (scroll toward bottom) and change show word verification to "no".

Since I did this, about 3 or 4 months ago, I have only had one Spam post on my blog.  My spam filter has caught probably about 50 spam posts, and I just delete them.  Not bad odds if you ask me:)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Feeling like a Rockstar;) and Freebie

Again, I'm linking with Classroom Freebies, for Manic Monday.  If you're here for the Freebie, scroll all the way to the bottom:)  Thanks for visiting!
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
OK!  I'm feeling like I can concur just about anything right now!  I just uploaded my first item for purchase on TpT.  It took a lot of trial and error for me to figure out how to save PDFs and jpegs on a Mac, get my thumbnail images resized to fit the smaller dimensions, and I'm sure there is more I'm forgetting.  But those are the things I'm most proud of at the moment.  I'm also very proud that this item looks more fun and exciting like all you "expert" TpT Sellers!  That kudos goes to Michelle at The 3 AM Teacher:)

This item is for Kindergarten (and Special Ed) teachers.  It is based of the Math Counting and Cardinality Common Core Standards.  It has assessments and ideas for all 7 of the CCS for Kindergarten Counting and Cardinality!  I'm hoping to do more assessments like this in the future.  We'll see if I get any feedback on this one first though:)  Here is a picture of the cover page.

The above bundle actually started as this little gem.  I wanted a way to assess number identification without using my typical flashcards.  I also wanted something that could be done very quickly.  So in a hurry, I can assess 10 numbers at a time.  Perfect for those special education teachers when they have a minute before sending a kid back to class.  I uploaded a mini version for a Freebie! Here is a picture of the cover page for the freebie.

Since this is some of my first experience with posting items on Teachers Pay Teachers please leave any feedback you have!

I'm already feeling like I've learned something this summer:-D

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Rockin' Resources

I'm linking up with the Teacher Idea Factory for this fun linky...

AND, now I'm Linking up at Blog Hoppin' for Teacher Week.

This linky has really made me think, as I pack up my classroom to leave for a new school, what am I really going to HAVE to have at my new school?  Here is what I think I can not live without....

1. My Scotch Laminator  for all those great games and practice activities I get off of TpT.  (I do have my own laminator, so I won't have to worry about living without this resource).

2. iPads (I'm seriously thinking about buying my own personal iPad because I fell in love with iPads at my old I'm an Apple fan.)

3.  (This sight is amazing!  I love that it is standards based and that you can view students' scores.  As a special ed teacher it is great for reinforcing skills you just taught one student, while you teach another student at a different level.)

4. Easy readers/sight word books.  These are so great for beginner readers!  I have hundreds of books, but my favorites (aside from the great hard cover read alouds) are by far the lower level books that really get my kiddos reading.

Now in the next couple months we will see what I TRUELY can't live without.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Currently - June

Farley is doing her wonderful monthly linky:)  Here is what I'm currently doing...

to sum it up, I'm ENJOYING SUMMER!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

You Know It's Summer Vacation When...

Kindergarten Lifestyle is having a cute Linky.  I LOVE SUMMER:) 

Since my boyfriend and I have lived at least 2.5 hours apart for the past 2 years summers are a very welcomed time for us to spend more time together.

**Note - this took a lot of trial and error (and patience), but I think I finally got it saved as a jpeg, and I hope that this file stays "good" forever....silly Mac.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Summer Bucket List


Check out this awesomely adorable linky:)

This summer I hope to.....

Work on school stuff...
- improve my assessment binder

- go camping
- go to a Brewers' game
- go to the beach
- have a slumber party with some of my gal pals

Try something new...
- try a new recipe once a week (which means once every 2 weeks, if I'm lucky)
- Make this outdoor Jenga game??
Giant Jenga.