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Monday, December 31, 2012

What a Year It's Been... and Fitness Resolution

This time last year I was: engaged, nervous/excited for student teaching, living with my college roommate, trying to get wedding plans around, enjoying a month long Christmas break. Fast forward a year  and I am now: married, half way through my first year of teaching, enjoying break (I only wish it was a month long.) Safe to say...what a year it has been. I am extremely blessed!


That's enough for looking back... it's time again to look forward! Today I'm linking up with Mrs. Wills Kindergarten for the final resolution installment: fitness.

Whew. I'd love to say that I am an exercise fanatic {I'm not.} I'd love to say that I eat as well as I should {I don'.} I'd love to say that I'm satisfied with my physical condition {ya, that's a no too.}

So here we go... hold me accountable people, this is the one resolution area that I probably will have the most trouble with. {If God only made leafy greens taste like chocolate, this wouldn't be so hard!}

  1. Eat more meals at home. This is a baby step. I want to eat healthier, but cutting down the trips downtown to eat is the place to start. Working and graduate classes just zap my desire to stay on my feet and put in the time for a home cooked meal. 
  2. Get back into shape... I haven't gained a whole lot since the wedding, but I haven't helped myself either. Last year I was going to attempt Julianne Michael's 30 Day shred, it lasted the first few days of the new year until student teaching started, then I stopped. This year, I will make it through 30 days and then some! I want to feel good in a swimming suit this summer, that hasn't happened since high school.
  3. Drink more water and less pop. I'm good during the day to drink water, but once I'm home that goes out the window. 
So there we go... a look back at a wonderful year, planning, reflecting and preparations for the upcoming year. What a fun linky party to participate in. Here is to 2013 and accomplishing most if not all of your goals!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Downtime? {What's That?} Resolution

I'm linking up for another day of resolutions and giveaways I hope everyone is enjoy all of this end of the year fun! Today I'm linking up with Step into Second Grade to talk about some downtime resolutions.

{But seriously.... downtime... "ain't nobody got time for that".. Can finding downtime be a viable resolution?}

For when I do have down time here are a few of my resolutions....

  1. Have more random and fun date nights with my hubby. Our first 6 months were definitely full of wedded bliss, and I want to continue the fun. I have a pinboard full of "Fun Ideas" full of inexpensive and unique ways to spend time with each other. I think this new year will be a great time to try a few out.
  2. Conquer a Pioneer Woman recipe and just cook at home more. I have one of Ree Drummond's cookbooks. I think I've read it twice. I love the humor and the stories mixed into the recipes. Seriously, read through one of her cookbooks, you'll feel like her kitchen just talking to her {minus, what I'm sure would be amazing smells of whatever would be cooking.} I have a long list of recipes of hers that I want to try, I just haven't yet....but I will soon. Hopefully I can get back into the groove of cooking after a long day at school.
  3.  Make my rental our home. The hubby and I really, really, really want a place to call our own out in the country. Unfortunately we cannot find anything that is either worth fixing up, or that's anywhere near our price point. Until we can, I need to embrace our rental and make it ours. It still looks like a college place at the moment. 
  4. Get crafty. I have a ton of pins (seriously, check it out) and I need to do more than stockpile ideas, I need to try some more out! My sewing machine has been neglected since high school and there is a cute little quilt shop downtown that is just begging for me to drop in.
Hopefully I can find make the time to accomplish not only these goals but some other fun things too. What goals do you have for your spare time? Be sure to link up and share!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Resolutions: Professional Growth

I'm linking up once again to share this years resolutions.. today's topic: professional growth.



I've been a full-fledged teacher for all of five months, and boy, there has been a huge learning curve. I finally feel like I'm not constantly being overwhelmed, it just comes in short bursts from time to time {for which I am truly grateful, and I'm sure, my wonderful and understanding hubby is too!}

As far professional goals... hmm there are a few.

  1. Get more organized. My world is full of paper-- whether it be IEPs or trying to get ahead on lesson plans (keyword trying) there is a lot of paper in my day-to-day life, I need to overhaul my current system of organization. To learn other organizing goals check out this post.
  2. To incorporate more technology. My school is 1-1 iPad, but I don't utilize this amazing tool nearly enough in the class I teach. An ongoing goal, but I'm making progress in incorporating the iPad more, see here.
  3. Learn how to incorporate more TEAACH methods in my classroom. Looking towards the future I may need to make my classroom more structured and I like what I've seen from this method. 
  4. Survive my first year. I think this is one goal I can accomplish, but I really want to end the year on a good note, see students succeed, live through state testing, and just really get into a groove.
What goals do you have professionally for 2013?  Be sure to link up with One Extra Degree

Friday, December 28, 2012

Resolution: Organization

I'm linking up for day two of this fun resolution linky-party with 2nd Grade Shenanigans.



Today's topic: Organization. Something that I definitely need to have a resolution or two or twenty of...

I'd love to have a picture here of my lovely newlywed home....but alas, it is not as neat and tidy as I'd like it to be before I show the world my humble abode. As much as my husband and I enjoy cooking I'd really, really like to show you a picture such as this...


or this...



or a freezer like this...


This summer I was a lean, mean, cooking machine... Betty Crocker could have kissed my booty. I had good, home cooked meals on the table ready to go when my hubby came home for lunch and supper. Then, well, I started teaching, grad classes started, and hmmm... home cooked goodness hasn't happened as often as it should.

Personal Goal:

I've pinned freezer meals from time to time, and this girl loves her crockpot... this time around though, the meals as seen above, will be prepped and made, and tweaked (because neither my hubby nor I can just keep a recipe as is we are always tweaking things). My freezer may not look exactly like the one above, but I will have meals on hand ready to go for those days when I know I won't want to come home and cook, or for when I know guests are coming and I want a good meal that's ready to go. I also like the idea of baskets with the dry good ingredients of a few quick and easy family favorite meals in the pantry all ready to go. I need to do this as well! For some really great ideas for recipes to start if you would like to try this too, check out Six Sisters Stuff.

Professional Goal:

I've known that special education comes with paperwork and a lot of it, it just never hit me on how much until I was the one dealing with it all. I really need to get all of the paper in it's proper place. Filed in a more efficient manner than the organized chaos that it currently seems to be.

What are your organizational goals? How will you be making your life tidier, less messy, and more accessible? Be sure to link up or comment with your ideas!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Technology Resolutions

Update: I'm adding this to to Sent From My iPad's "Must Have Apps" as a part of her technology linky. Scroll down I talk about several of my favs, and I thought I'd just double up this post rather than talk about the same ones multiple times.  I'm excited to see what others are sharing, if you have a favorite app or have another topic throughout the week you want to contribute to, link up!



I cannot believe how fast this year has truly flown! I'm linking up with Growing Kinders for a little fun and hopefully some accountability in keeping this years resolutions.



First.. a little look at how I  incorporate technology in my classroom.

I love that my school is 1-1 iPad, as such, most of what I will show you incorporates this technology.

My favorite app: Educreations

 Some of you may know that I serve at two different schools. I primarily work with 5th graders, as the 5th grade interrelated teacher, but I'm also a K-4 special education teacher at a rural school. Both places are great to work at, but it's hard to be in two places at once. Enter Educreations.

This app enables me to explain a concept, review a topic, or show the students something new. It is a screen and voice recorder. On my maiden voyage with it, I had my pullout math students into two groups: one working on decimal place value the other with money. {Both students were working with a topic that involved decimals on their own level of understanding... differentiation.} Student popped their ear buds in, and listened as I explained concepts, pausing to work out problems on their whiteboards {and so I could make sure they were following along as well as give me a chance to help students who were struggling.} To learn more about this click here or click the picture to set up an account and get started.

 In classrooms that I co-teach in, Strip Designer has been used to create comic strips for evaluation, such as creating a comic strip to show what happened during a novel that was read. It's a quick tool that students enjoy, and has many applications for writing.

 Story Kit is an app that lets you write your own book or story. It has features to add pictures, text, sound, or drawings via a paint function. When we used this, students were given a couple of minutes to draw a specific character from Because of Winn Dixie. Then, students were given a few minutes to type out character traits to surround their illustration. This process was continued for the rest of the main characters.

Tools4Students has lots of templates for various graphic organizers and maps. Students can choose one that suits them (or that they are directed to) and type the information in. Typed information is saved automatically. 
 Notability is a note taking app that allows you to "write", type, or record on the go. You can create folders and folders within folders to stay organized. For example, in our Written Language class we have the name of the class as the main folder, then housed under that places for vocabulary, notes, and a journal.

Fun & Education

When students have free time or the option to choose an educational app these two apps are picked often.

Stack the states asks all sorts of questions {capitals, landmarks, symbols} as you get the answers correct, the states begin to stack up. Once you pile the states to the given line you win. {There is a free version, but the questions are very limited. After a week on the free one your students will probably need the full version or they will have the same 10 things memorized very well.}

 Cash Cow is a fun, arcade like game. Students swipe coins with the goal to make a dollar. You can combine coins to make bigger denominations (i.e. pennies into nickels/dimes, nickels into dimes or quarters, etc.) There are several different mods, lots of color and sound. Just a fun app.


Now for the resolutions...

Professional: Learn how to create my own items to use in the classroom. I love blog stalking, TPT, and Pinterest for finding all sorts of neat stuff (and freebies) to use in my room, but I want to start giving back and making things that not only benefit me, but hopefully some of you as well. Who knows maybe someday I'll be brave and create my own things for TPT. That is yet to be seen.

Personal: Master my DSLR!! I love to captures moments. I even started a blog about our newlywed life, captured in pictures to share with friends and family, but... I still shoot mostly in auto. This year will be the year to learn to shoot in manual.

What are your techno inspired resolutions? Be sure to link up and share.. and if you have any super iPad apps that you love to use in your classroom please share!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Social Stories

I recently attended a workshop on Autism. The day was very informative and enjoyable, full of stories about interventions that worked, those that didn't, and various quirks of students that the presenter had run across during her 23 years of working with students with Autism. 

One thing I found particularly interesting was how exactly to write a social story. Not rocket science, but I've been guilty of pinning generic social stories with the intention of using them later with students. Not bad, but not the best I could be doing either. 

Here is some background on creating social stories, then I will share the few simple steps I learned in creating a social story, and a quick sample story that I made during the workshop. 

How Social Stories Work
  1. Target a situation or behavior
  2. Gather information about the child's perspective of the story
  3. Write the story
  4. Share the story with the child
  5. Identify and support new skills in the story
What Should Be In Social Stories
  • Telling where a situation takes place
  • Telling when the a situation takes place
  • Telling who is involved with the situation
  • Telling what is occuring
  • Telling why things are occuring
You want to describe everything not just a prescribed to do list. 

Parts of a Social Story
  • Descriptive sentences
    • defines where a situation occurs, who is involved, what they are doing and why
  • Perspective sentences
    • describe a person's internal state, their knowledge, thoughts, feelings, beliefs, opinions, or physical condition/health
  •  Directive sentences
    • define what is expected as a response to a given cue or situation
    • avoid I can or I will statements
    • use I will try, I will work on, I might try, or I may try
    • the child may interpret statements literally so try to minimize presure

*Ratio of Sentences*
0-1 directive(s) to 2-5 descriptive and/or prescriptive sentences
General Guidelines to Consider
  • Form clear, specific goal or outcome of the story
  •  Tailor the text
    • first person, present or future tense
    • use WH?s as an outline
    • write and illustrate with literal accuracy
    • mention variations to situation
    • use terms like "usually" and/or "sometimes"
    • keep awareness to possible literal interpretation
    • write positive
    • make abstract terms visual and concrete
  • Consider the student's cognitive level, attention span, reading and reading comprehension levels and interests
    • helps determines content, format, and style of the story
  • Teach with Titles
    • try to identify desired outcome of a story
    • State as questions, story demonstrates resulting answer
My Example
 *Disclaimer* this is my first social story, wrote in about 5 minutes, may not be the best...

Time for Treats

My name is Aaron*
*Name has been changed
I like my school.
I like my teachers.
Sometimes, we get treats at school. (Picture of cupcakes and candy)
Sometimes, my friends bring birthday treats to celebrate.
Sometimes we earn candy in class. (Picture had a child saying I passed my test)  
Sometimes, we get candy when playing games. (Picture of a student saying Bingo)
I like it when I can have a treat. 
My teachers always let me know when there might be a treat.
There may be times when there may be treats on my teachers desk.   
My teacher will let me know if I can have one.
She may say yes, she may say no, or she may say wait till later. 
I will try to wait to get a treat until my teachers say it's okay.

This story was in mind for a student who has a new habit of taking candy from teacher's desks if any happens to be out and about. I may try to make this into an actual illustrated story and see if it helps to nip this habit in the bud.

Really, the process isn't too bad, hopefully this post helps to inspire a social story or two for all of you. What topics will your stories address? Blurting, listening, giving hugs were a few topics discussed today.   

Monday, December 17, 2012

12 in '12

I'm linking up with Kristin (Teeny, Tiny Teacher) and Hadar  (Miss Kindergarten) for their end of the year linky party! So much has happened this year, I'm excited to join in!


My 12 in '12 

12) Favorite Movie Watched

I haven't seen a movie in a theater all year. If we watch anything it's usually TV. My sister-in-law let us borrow What's Your Number a few weeks ago.. so I guess I'll say it's that.

We bought The Hunger Games at a black Friday sale. I really, really, really want to watch it, but I'm holding out that my hubby will read it first before watching, but I may have to watch it over break...

11) Favorite TV Series

Duck Dynasty. Home grown, humor. I also like the family aspect of a shared meal and prayer at the end of every episode.

I'm also the daughter of a game warden, so the great outdoors is in my blood :)

10) Favorite Restaurant

Willies Sports Bar. It's a local restaurant/bar in Manhattan the town of my Alma Matar (K-State, home of the Wildcats, whoot!) Luckily, we only live about 45 minutes away and find an excuse to get away to Manhattan about once a week and usually eat here.

9) Favorite New Thing I Tried

To learn how to use my DSLR camera. Went to a photography workshop with my best friend Lenses of Beauty put on by the wonderful ladies Laura & Emma (if you want to see some great photographers, check out their work!)  It was a fun afternoon, though I still have much to learn about my camera!

Here are a couple of images I took that day...   These were taken later in the evening at the Kat House Lounge. (A nice escape from the chilling outdoors.)




8) Favorite Gift Received



My wonderful fiance, minutes before I met him down the aisle had gave me a note by way of one of my bridesmaids. He is the sweetest guy ever.

7) Favorite Thing Pinned

I have lots and lots of pins...11,000+... but this is the first that comes to mind. 

Click the picture to go to the blog post on this project.
My hubby and I built our kitchen table, and someday, if we have the 3 boys that my husband is pushing for, something like this will definitely need to be made.

If you would like to check out some of my 11,000+ pins from school related pins to food, health, and kiddos click here

6) Favorite Blog Post

This is by far the most viewed post on my humble blog, the post with my first freebie.  I've used this resource throughout the year and I hope some of the people who viewed it found use out of it too. 

Click the picture to head to that post


5) Favorite Accomplishment

This last May I graduated from K-State with honors and shortly after was hired for my dream job. {It was a surprise hire, out of the blue, meant leaving another job...but this was definitely the right move to make, and I don't regret it one bit.)

4) Favorite Picture

I honestly cannot pick just one. June 2nd, 2012 was the best day of my life so far so I have to share a few pictures.





The days leading up to the wedding were cRazY! At the end of the day I was married to my best friend and the craziness didn't matter one bit. 

3) Favorite Memory

Getting married see above :)

2) Goal for 2013

I teach in a 1-1 iPad school district. AMAZING. But, I don't incorporate the iPad nearly enough. It's pathetic really. This is changing! 

I also want to be better at positive communication to home (or any for that matter). I don't feel like I'm making a good enough effort in this area either.

1) One Little Word

Blessed!


Here's hoping you have a wonderful new year!


Mrs. Whitehair









Friday, December 14, 2012

Devistation.

Today I was at an Autism conference. Over a break somebody logged onto Facebook and news of the tragedy spread through the conference like wildfire. All I wanted was to be back with my students.

I love my school. I love my students. Today isn't a day to get into the politics of gun control, would haves, should haves, or could haves. Today is the time to take a moment of silence and say a prayer for all affected by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. 

It is my hope that when your kiddos came home from school today that you gave them the biggest hug, told them that you love them and that you do this everyday. Let them know the importance of being safe, but also letting them learn how to have fun too. Teach them how to be kind to everyone. Most importantly, raise them to love God.


Just saw this article pinned... a good read for any parent, or teacher out there needing to know how to talk with children about events such as this. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Educreations!

Being in a 1-1 iPad school is pretty great. The student's are doing so many neat things on the iPad, it truly is a wonderful tool.

The iPads have been utilized often in written communication with apps such as Tools4Students, where kids can create various maps and organizers for their stories. Strip Design to make drawings and descriptions of characters. In the first hour math class I co-teach in we've used apps to help with math drills, and various math practice games. Although I'm not in the science/social studies classes, I often hear of what great things the kids can do thanks to the iPads. 

In my own, personal math class.... The iPads have been nothing more than a glorified whiteboard. Generally glorified paperweight would be a better description. 

It's not that I don't like technology or see the benefit, I do. I just want my kiddo to have as many hands on opportunities to learn. This month though, now that I'm a seasoned teacher of 5 months, I've begun to do some deeper reflecting. Have I utilized all the tools that are around me daily? Nope. Are there things I can do to be better? Yes. 

Step in Educreations.

Super easy interface. Love it.

With this app, as a teacher, I can create a presentation, the app takes not only a video of what is done on the screen, but also records my voice. (Only bummer is there isn't an undo with voice recording...I've learned to hit pause between thoughts, so that I make fewer mistakes.) Students create accounts with username or email address as an elementary school teacher, I love that the student's don't have to have an email. Once they login to www.educreations.com from Safari, they can watch any video that I assign to their class. (They have to have a one-time password to join a class.) Really, this is simpler than I'm making it sound, I just want to make sure, that if you want to try this out you can! From there, students can view mini-lessons or full lessons that are created by me. 

Here is how I've used this application so far:
1. Some of you may remember that I cover 2 schools. I'm at my "home" school 95% of the time. {I'm so thankful for a very caring and wonderful para that goes above and beyond on a daily basis.} I created one lesson so far on how to count money using touch points. I plan on adding to this with a variety of lessons to touch on points even when I can't physically be there.
Even though this school does not have iPads, the videos can still be accessed by logging in online. My para created an account and can view anything I post to open up and share with the students there. 

http://www.educreations.com/lesson/view/decimals/3222034/
 
2. In my math class, on our maiden voyage with the application we were able to differentiate a lesson for the various needs of all of my students.  I put my students into two different groups. One group watched the same touch point money lesson that I created for the other school. The second group watched a video on decimals. Both videos had places where the students were to hit pause and work out examples on their whiteboards. I thought this made the process more interactive, and I and the paras in the room could see if the student's were starting to "get it", attempting... rather than just watching a video and zoning out. Once they hit play, the answer was given on the video and they continued till the end. After the groups were done, we did hands on activities to apply what they learned about.
3. I've put other little videos with multiplication songs and tips/tricks as a reference for students to utilize throughout the day or at home to help them refresh on concepts.  
  
Three new things in less than a week. The iPad no longer seems like a paper weight.  

I love this application. This is just the beginning. With the Common Core State Standard initative, I know that students will need to explain more. Giving student's a problem and having them create a video to explain how to solve it to show their understanding. Currently, student's can't upload to a class on educreations, but our tech gurus found a way to do this through mybigcampus. More on that if/when we get there.

So what do you think? How can this app be used in your classroom? 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Scribble Story



We are in the midst of our biography projects in Written Communications. Neck deep. Our first research project is a little trying at times...

So to switch things up this week {and to be completely honest... for all parties involved...students, teachers, and paras to regain their sanity} We did "Squiggle Stories" as seen on What the Teacher Wants. With this burnt-out and weary bunch I wasn't sure what to expect, but these stories turned out GREAT!

We took the idea from this blog post, and tweaked it ever so slightly and it went over great. To start, I couldn't get the file to open. {Does anyone else have internet issues when your on a short notice, rushing around, or maybe just forget to print things off the day before?... Maybe not, but I sure do!} So I quickly took a screen shot of what they had and made it work. You can download (the much cuter original) here
Then, my wonderful teaching partner gets a BRILLIANT idea. {Brilliant in it's creativity, not only for the writing, but also a way to keep the kids engaged and make this activity last for a whole 55 minute period. It worked. So it's worthy of being called brilliant.} Have the students trade their stories and pictures every ten minutes, adding to what was written previously. Simple. It worked wonderfully.

Students had 10 minutes to make their squiggle into something. Anything, as long as it was appropriate for school... no blood, guts, gore, etc. This time included, if so chosen to add some color to the pictures. Then students were given 10 minutes to start their stories. When time was called they had to stop... adding nothing more. If your stopped midsentence you can't finish it. You pass your illustration and start of the story to the next person at your table, they pass theirs to the person next to you and so on. Then the same thing repeats, 10 minutes to write until time is called, until you get your story back. 

The stories were hilarious. Black holes. Magicians. Tornadoes. Pancakes. Clothing. Parrots. Evil trees. These were just a few of the topics that were woven into different stories, and although the stories didn't go exactly like the original author might have intended, all of the kids got a hoot out of what was created. This pass-and-go activity really kept the kids engaged, ideas flowing...more so than their worn out brains might have done if  they could only work on their story the whole hour. I wish I would have saved a few stories to share... but I did snap a few pictures of the kiddos illustrations. To think. They all started with a squiggle. 


A monster destroying a city.


A stylish shirt.


A hand band, not an ordinary head band, but a glow in the dark head band.  


In the student's own words: "This is a Jurassic scene" 


One of my favorites. A "rapping grandpa".  I loved how the student chose to do a side perspective. Blew me away. 



This project could take as little or as much time as you need, depending on how involved you would want it to be. The original post on this suggested this as an activity for substitutes. I'd have to agree, it'd work great for days like that. I think we will pull this out again another time or two throughout the year when we all need a break!


 
  
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