Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy 2013 and Currently...

As I am typing this, the clock is ticking toward midnight and the end of 2012. In less than an hour, it will be 2013. I am anxious to see what the New Year has in store for all of us...

So, of course, a new month means it's time to join in on Farley's Currently. I've been worried about this one. I knew it would be time to pick a new word for my One Little Word (OLW). I've been thinking a lot about "perseverance." Sometimes I need to remind myself to hang in there when the going gets tough--because it almost always gets better (and sometimes I don't even have to wait very long.)

Then I moved on to "appreciate." I NEED to stop and be more appreciative more often. I need to slow down and be thankful for the MANY blessings that I have. Even when things are difficult, I should be appreciative, because I know it could be worse (much worse). My struggles are few and my joys are many.

Then again, I've thought about the word, "consider." Consider the possibilities, consider the consequences, consider how lucky I am, consider how to persevere and appreciate... Nah, I just can't tie it all together that easily!

So I think I will consider it a little longer and commit by the end of the week. (That IS one more vote for consider, I see!)

I have truly enjoyed this vacation. I decided to just stay home and appreciate (heeheehe) the quiet, restful tone of no school. Get up when I want, stay up late, do school work, don't do school work... So many options! Aside from Starbucks, I haven't needed all that much to make me happy.

I want to design a "Stay Organized" plan. I know I am much happier when I get things done "on time." Why, then, am I often scrambling to finish report cards at three in the morning or looking for lost math tests under the couch when I am already late for school? Hey! Maybe my OLW should be "organize"! {Shudders} No, that's too much responsibility. I need to take smaller steps to success!

Well BloggyFriends, YOU have added to all that was wonderful about 2012. I wish I could e-mail anyone who has ever read one of my blog posts and say THANK YOU! But I'm having trouble getting one blog post finished and one little word chosen...

So, instead, I hope you will just know that I DO appreciate (keeping track?!) the connection that is built in the BloggyUniverse. Thanks for being a part of my little slice of it.

Three minutes left, so I will click "publish" for the last time in 2012...
All of these cute New Year's graphics are from Ashley Hughes on TpT!

Warmest wishes for a wonderful 2013!

Now, it's your turn to link up with Farley, to share your own "Currently," to follow the Rule of Three, and to make some new connections...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Joyful Day!

I am wishing you all things bright and wonderful on this special day!

Merry Christmas

Have a JOY-filled day!

I hope that you enjoyed a day filled with friends and family, love and laughter,
and plenty of JOY... 

P.S. Thanks to Ruby Slipper Designs for the happy graphics!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Teaching Kindness

I don't know about you, but I was SO glad to see my students today!

We start each morning with a handshake (with a different variation for each day of the week) and a "Good Morning." I have to admit I probably squeezed each hand extra tight!

We limited discussion about the events of last week and we got on with our day, but we were all a little subdued. It could have been because it was Monday. Or maybe it was the rain. Or maybe it was because it was just hard to forget what happened less than seventy-two hours ago...

And, still, I loved them a little bit more today. I was grateful to see their "tweenager" faces and I felt blessed to be their teacher and to be there, with them, on this day.

We have been trying to be more conscious of the thoughts, and needs and feelings of others in these twelve days before vacation.

      Font by Kevin and Amanda; Digital Paper by Surfin' Through Second (TpT)

Each morning, I have started the day off with a "challenge" of sorts--a suggestion, a prompt, a request to be kind to the people with whom they share their school day.

With a few sweet Melonheadz elves, two of my favorite Jen Jones fonts (HelloBasic and HelloFun), and my happy heart, we started with something easy: Sharing a smile.

The students were a little reluctant at first. I think it seemed odd to actually TALK about the need to be kind... yet alone the need to BE kind. After the first day or two, however, they got into the spirit and they tried a little harder to remember what we were practicing each day.

I am proud to report that they have really stepped up to the challenge! Today we worked on sharing kindness by making an effort. It was an "All Thumbs Up" day in PE--which means that ALL of the kids demonstrated good sportsmanship and worked hard in during their PE time with the PE Coach. No one got in trouble for an attitude problem or for talking too much. I couldn't have asked for a better start to this day!

With just four days to go, we continue to think about ways to be kind to each other and to other students and adults at our school. Just so you can see our journey, I've included the cards below. They are on our classroom door too to keep us focused on our path to kindness....

I hope that kindness is filling YOUR classroom today. And if you are lucky enough to be out of school already, I hope that you encounter kindness wherever you go today!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Learn How to Join in a Tribute to Sandy Hook Elementary on Sunday, December 16, 2012

In a few more hours, my giveaway will be over, and in a day or two, the winners will be announced.

And as I excited as I am to give away gift cards and celebrate some winners, it seems oddly insignificant as my heart is aching for those whose lives were touched by the tragedy in Connecticut.

In the end, I think we were ALL touched by this tragedy in one way another. I think that teachers across the country have been running scenes through their heads, wondering: How would this play out in my school? Are we prepared? Would we know what to do? How would I respond? What about my students?

And I KNOW that parents EVERYWHERE have responded similarly... Holding on to their children a little tighter, considering what if, and then hugging their children once more and LOVING them.

I could write a thousand lines or three, and I would not even be able to hint at the ache that is felt by those of have read or heard about the loss of the lives of so many children.

And then that sadness would pale when compared to those families and friends who experienced first hand yesterday.

So, tomorrow, we will FEEL many things. But in honor of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary, we will say nothing. We will look at the heart that will be posted on countless blogs, and we will remember, and pray, and honor and reflect.

If you are a blogger, please join us. Go to Farley's blog (Oh Boy Fourth Grade) to get the artwork (designed with so much love by Michelle from 3am Teacher) and the directions for joining in this tribute.

Title your post for Sunday, December 16th: Silence for Sandy Hook Elementary and post the heart (and nothing else) on your blog.

Join us as we hold each others' hands and hearts--and those of the people in Newtown, Connecticut...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

It's Like Getting Free Money (With JOY!)

Recently I read a post at Oh Boy Fourth Grade about focusing on the JOY. As usual, I think my friend, Farley, is on to something.

Based on the name of my blog, people often think my name is JOY. My name is Kim, but I don't mind being confused with JOY. It's a part of who I am in many ways.

Like Farley, I am making an effort to find the JOY at school--even when that is not an easy task. Here's my strategy: Before I leave school each afternoon, I sit down, close my eyes, and try to think of one good thing that happened that day. There is usually at least one good thing, so I can almost always head for home on a positive note. My general outlook has been remarkably improved!

I am blessed to have lots of JOY in my life. LOTS. And after thinking about all of the things I've been given, I've decided to give some away!

Elf from Bilingual Scrapbook (on TpT) and digital paper from
and "HelloAli" font from Jen Jones-Hello Literacy (on TpT)
I've never done a "formal" giveaway or used Rafflecopter before, so there are a few "firsts" in action. Mostly, I am excited to pass along some JOY to some BlogReaders this holiday season.

So here are your options....

Maybe you'd like a $25 dollar gift card to spend at Target.
You could use it to buy decorarons, or a (lovely) holiday sweater.
Or treasures in the dollar section or some presents!

Or maybe you'd like a $25 dollar gift card to spend at Starbucks.
You could treat yourself to something tasty while you shop or wrap presents.
You could even trade it in and buy gift cards for your coworkers!

Or maybe you'd like a $25 dollar gift card to spend at Amazon.
You could buy a book or two to read over vacation.
Or you could buy books or lots of other things for presents!

Or maybe you'd like a $25 dollar gift card to spend at ToysRUs.
Maybe you can get some toys for some little cherubs.
Or games or puzzles for your classroom!

There will be four lucky winners. And each of those four people will win a gift card. And each person can choose which gift card they would like--even if all four people choose the same card!

So, come on, join in! You could win some JOY of your own!

Hey! I got this sweet little candy cane from Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs! 

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Currently... It's December!

I have often thought to myself: It's a good thing that Sweet Farley does her Currently postings... Otherwise I would never know what month it was!

So December is here and I am thrilled. I'm not sure why November was so incredibly long, but I am glad it's over...

I feel like my class is ready to take off and learn.  We had struggled so much with behavior, and apathy, and a lack of empathy at the beginning of the year... and now things are beginning to fall into place. Every time someone raises his/her hand to offer a comment, the joyful applause goes off in my head. It's not frequent, but it's BETTER. And I will take better--happily.
Hello Sketchie font by Jen Jones; Heart paper by Lauren Thompson on TpT
Still my heart had to hurt a little last week when we needed an extra volunteer for our Kindergarten Recess Helper program.  "Is there anyone from the Monday squad who would help out on the kindergarten playground today? Tuesday squad? Is there anyone from ANY day who will work an extra shift?" Not.One.Volunteer. Not one! I sat there in stunned silence willing myself not to cry (or worse!). Finally, one of my shyest (and sweetest) kiddos raised her hand and offered to help supervise the kindergartners. I said, "Your kindness has won you an evening of no homework..." (Odd that I felt the desire to reward her--Clearly I have some learning to do as well.)

Of course, then I had several volunteers. Obviously, I declined. I said that this student had volunteered because she was being kind--NOT to get something in return. She saw a need and decided to step up...

I believe that acting with compassion can be learned. I don't think my kids lack heart... they just haven't been called upon very often to think with their hearts. Overall, their lives are pretty comfortable and they are fairly fortunate.

I think that learning comes from opportunities to practice. So, I am going to incorporate some talk about Random Acts of Kindness into our schedule at some point in the next three weeks. If you haven't read the story about the police officer who bought new shoes for the man who was homeless, check it out here.  I think that will be the opening of our RAK discussion. (A side note: Maybe I because I wish so desperately for kids to care, I have read the story and watched the video FIVE times--and I still cry every time. I hope I can keep it together long enough to teach the lesson in a meaningful way...)

So now you get a chance to be inspired through the BlogFriends you meet and/or check in on at Farley's Currently. She's asking you to list your state when you link up, so don't forget. And, as always, remember to leave some love with those who link up before and after you.

 I hope that your December will be filled with happiness and the joy of random acts of kindness...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Look What I Am Buying at the TpT Sale!

Has anyone else spent the last few days filling an imaginary shopping cart at TpT? At last look, I had over 80 items squished in there. (In my mind, that imaginary cart is overflowing, and I keep having to pick up the items that fall out!) Mind you, I haven't put anything back yet either!

I love the TpT Sale!

Why? First, it often amazes me that many "teacher books" are not written by teachers. A real teacher would not ask you to gather up 46 different items in order to complete one of the simple projects listed on page 3 (usually prefaced with words like "easy" or "simple"). I have 32 kids, folks. Few things are "easy"--and certainly not things that send me to five specialty stores and expect me to order materials from the Internet--three weeks in advance! I once attempted to do an "easy" pyramid project from one of these books. The project called for "wheat paste." Two hours of searching (and a moment of panic regarding my child who was on a gluten-free diet) spelled the beginning and ending of the wheat paste pyramid project.

Whoa. Got a bit sidetracked there! What I wanted to say was that TpT materials are designed by real teachers--often by teachers who have already used these very items--or something similar--in their own classrooms. They understand the limitations of teacher budgets and patience--and they rarely ask you to find wheat paste. I have paid almost twenty dollars for many "teacher books" that sit unused on my shelves.  Most of the items available at TpT are less than ten dollars. Many are less than five dollars! And on the rare occasion that something is more than ten dollars, it is worth it!

So I have been looking over the items in my cart and I have been getting excited about teaching! I have lots of great items that I am looking forward to buying, downloading and printing... SOON!

This Monday and Tuesday, LOTS of items will be on sale at TpT. I've been dreaming about TpT's Cyber Monday/Bonus Tuesday for weeks!

Don't forget to use the code, PROMO CODE: CMT12 when the sale starts!

 So jump in the cart (push some of those items aside--but don't wrinkle them, please) and I will give you a little tour of what's on my list...

As you peruse the items below, I made it easy for you... Click on the picture (or the name) and you will be whisked off (running after your cart) to TpT. If you haven't started, it's time to shop. If you think you're finished... Look again!

I have LOTS of task cards by Rachel Lynette. Those are going into my Literacy Centers as soon as I can print them! She has a set of task cards for everything. I bought several "bundles." I like my purchases to be as easy as possible. (I promise her covers aren't blurry like my picture. I haven't figured out that whole screen shot skill yet!) Rachel has almost eight thousand followers, so you know that stuff is high quality!

I have several items created by Katie Klohn. I love, love, LOVE having a BloggyFriend who teaches sixth grade. I'll let you in on a little secret: Katie teaches language arts, but I love her math task cards too. (So cute and easy to follow). So, I am buying math and language arts activities from Miss Katie! Now that you see them, I bet you want them too!

And then there is Ashley Hughes' clip art. I love it because it speaks for itself. Ashley's clip art is perfect for Smartboard and ActivInspire flipcharts because it has clean lines and the images stand out on a page. I have her geometric solids and a few others sets in my cart, but I am kind of partial to these mini composition books too!

And then there's Ashleigh Swinford's Prefix and Suffix of the Week. I've blog-talked to at least five different people who have this item in their carts too! You've got to get this! You don't want to be the only one who doesn't have Ashleigh's pack, do you? It looks wonderfully organized and, I admit, I love the Melonheadz graphics on the front! I bet Ashleigh will sell hundreds of this one!

With Katie Klohn's help, I found a new seller on TpT. Her name is Jen Bengal and she is currently a Literacy Coordinator for grades three to five, but her products include middle grades. Jen's products are grade-specific and common core aligned. Those aren't just buzz words--those are heaps of awesomeness! I may have about twenty items from her in my cart and they all look wonderful. I think Jen may actually be organizing my literacy instruction for the reminder of the year. Oh. Happy. Day.

There are three special sellers on my list--as always. I think I own at least half of the items in each of their stores--maybe more! So I just have to give a big SHOUT OUT to my Bloggy Buddies...

I adore Stephanie from Teaching in Room 6. Her Calendar Math is legendary! But I am pretty excited about her Poet-trees unit too! Stephanie lives a couple hundred miles from me--but often I feel like is teaching right next door...

Jen Runde's Interactive Math Journal materials are in LOTS of classrooms. I have learned so much (about so much) from dear Ms. Runde. And, like Stephanie, she's just a FABULOUS friend and Blogger Extraordinaire. I already own this item, but if you don't, you should put it in your cart NOW.

Then there is our fairy godsister, Tara from 4th Grade Frolics, revered for her Makin' It Monday Link-Ups (and the reason that two-thirds of my garage was cleaned this summer)! I'm getting these writing journals from my pal, Tara. You know, I have often thought I could hear Tara's laughter--even though I have never met her. Just. Plain. Sweet.

Finally, I am celebrating a little milestone of my own! It took me six days, three half gallons of ice cream, buckets of tears, and plenty of consolation and encouragement (of all kinds!)... but I finally have a store or my own. It's just one item--and one freebie, but it represents a lot of work--and a lot of growth. I guess you really can teach an old dog new tricks! If you or anyone you know wants some card games to practice working with integers, I know JUST where you can get some!

Well yesterday has turned into tomorrow, and I promised Shuna from Pocketful of Kinders that I would link up! There were my offerings. Why not click the (very cute) button below and see what other people are buying.

Wishing you happy shopping and happiness in general. Are you glad you've found your way into BlogLand?