Friday, June 27, 2014

bigtime blogging challenge announced!

So sorry for the delay...Yesterday I mentioned the Big Time Blogging Challenge on my first post about my Europe trip and have since been busy preparing! Yesterday and today I was drafting and sending it out for feedback and revising...but good news! It's ready to go!

I hope you can join me in celebrating the first anniversary of Big Time Literacy with a month-long blogging challenge!

On July 1st, I'll be holding a PD in my district with a handful of teachers who are about to embark on their own blogging journey, and in an effort to get their feet to the pavement with writing, I've created this month long challenge! The bigtime goal: to write every day.

Head on over to my TpT Store to download all the details. There is a calendar with prompts if you feel like using those, but you really can write about whatever you'd like!

Each day in July, I'll post a blog and a space for linking up - so write along with me and link your blogs! I'm looking forward to networking with other bloggers and getting to know some new people!

Hope you can join in on this 31 day challenge. Day one begins Tuesday!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

no time for sleep with ef!

I'm baaaaack! Europe was amazeballs and I have learned exactly how much I love to travel.

I went on a this trip with one of my best friends, who is also a teacher. She took 5 of her students (and I was her sixth traveler). She booked the trip through Education First (EF) and this is the way I plan to travel from here on out!

EF is great because you don't have to do any thinking, planning, or really preparing, other than just showing up the the airport. They book every ticket - from the airlines, to the train tickets, to the metro tickets. They book the hotels and get you from one place to another, which is why I got to see London, Paris, Venice, and Rome in 10 days. This is not the kind of vacation to take to relax, in fact, I'm exhausted...but I learned so much! Most importantly, I learned that I have a very strong desire to see more places around the world!

I'm going to write a little bit about the trip each day in July, but here's a brief overview:

Day one was travel time...flew from Chicago to London on a nonstop flight. Spent two and a half days in London and saw Big Ben, the London Eye, Trafalgar Square, and the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. We were actually supposed to see a lot more, but there was some missing luggage with someone else in our group and we just got off to kinda a slow start...

This is Heather, one of my best friends from high school. Crazy that we've already been friends for like 20 years, and we talked about our next 50 ahead on our trip. Here we were on the day we arrived London and in Trafalgar Square. I'll share more about that on another post! (This is also the only day my hair looked good.... had major problems with the electricity situation and blow dryers and flat irons!)

We left London on the morning of day 4 on the Eurostar to Paris. This train goes under the English Channel - I think it was a four hour trip. We spent our next two and a half days in Paris. We saw the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, The Louvre (the Mona Lisa!), the Latin Quarter, and Notre Dame. That was all guided by EF, and then Heather and I also tried to find some filming locations from Sex and the City's Series Final episodes. Even though we weren't super successful, we did have a great day!

This moment was one of the top two of my whole trip! It's so touristy, but such an icon that I'm so glad we got to see!

At the end of day six, we took a night train to Venice. The night train was an experience like one I've never had before (more to come on that!) but we arrived in Venice on the morning of Day 7. We only had one day in Venice but it was amazing. Venice is actually the one place I *need* to see again! There we met in St. Mark's Square and had a brief walking tour. Because we were running a little late, we had to miss the glass-blowing demo because we really wanted to take a gondola ride instead! We got to do a little shopping and I bought a beautiful quartz ring and then we had an amazing Italian dinner: prosciutto and cheese, followed by gnocchi, and then roast beef and potatoes, and tiramisu! (I'll blog about all the amazing food later, too!) The restaurant was awesome with live music and a beautiful outdoor seating area. I *loved* Venice!
on a Gondola, nbd :-)
We spent one night in Venice (in an amazing hotel after that night train!) and then we were on another four-hour train ride to Rome. When we arrived in Rome, we went straight away to a quick lunch at Piazza del Popolo (had an awesome pizza there!) We then took the coach to see the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. That night, a few of us went back out to see Piazza Navona, Castel Sant'Angelo, and Vatican City lit up at night. The next morning, we had our official guided tour of the Vatican, the museum inside, the Sistine Chapel (amazing, but no pictures/video allowed), and St. Peter's Basilica. We then had free time, so we ate at Piazza Navona, and then walked to the Pantheon and the Spanish Steps. Our last dinner was in pizza in Rome, and then we returned early to pack up to travel back to the states on day ten.

Travel back wasn't as nice as going out there! We were dropped off five hours before our flight, then I flew on a 9 hour trip to Montreal, was delayed there for an extra hour and a half, to finally arrive back at O'Hare at 10pm last night. I was definitely up for 24 hours straight yesterday!

But, that is no big deal and totally worth it. Love traveling, love EF, and I'm hoping to plan a trip back in Summer 2017! Definites are Spain and Italy again....have to see what EF has available and which of my former students want to come with me!

So my plans are to write a little bit each day of July for a BigTime Blogging Challenge! Do you want to join me? I'm giving a PD to teachers in my district on July 1st, and then providing them with a possible calendar of topics to cover. But the caveat is that you are encouraged to write about whatever you want for the whole month - the challenge is just to write every day in July.

I'll have the Blogging Challenge Calendar up in my TpT store as a freebie later today or tomorrow. You'll be able to link up with me every day in July, so I hope you'll write along with me and the other teacher bloggers from D100!

So many more stories to come from my travels....excited to share it with you all and also document all my memories!


Monday, June 16, 2014

signing off

Hey out there! Happy Monday! I'm up early (and went to bed late) in an attempt to get myself tired enough to sleep on the plane - I'm leaving for Europe at 6:30 tonight!

The longest flight I've ever taken was to San Diego, so this 8 hour trip is going to be double that, and when I get off the plane in London, we'll start our sight-seeing right away as it will be 8:30am there!

I'll be visiting four cities with one of my best friends:

Should be a great trip!

I won't be around on the blog much, but I'm hoping to tweet and post pics to instagram when I have access to wifi. Follow me there if you want to keep up with my travels! I'm also hoping to come up with a hash tag for my adventures so I can save all those photos under one name....but that's still in the works :-)



I did buy a little notebook to write while I was away from my computer, so I'm hoping to have lots to share when I return around the 26th or 27th.

Oh, one more thing....have you heard about the 100 happy days challenge? I started mine about three days ago after I read about it from a friend on facebook. It's an awesome idea and I'll have lots to be happy about in the coming days! Check out the challenge and join in if you want!

Until we meet again...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

response to "the toxic culture of education"

Have you seen this video: The Toxic Culture of Education? If not, it's worth 17 minutes spent watching it.

I watched it a few weeks ago and then yesterday someone posted it again on facebook. We got into a little debate about it and then I was writing a response that turned into too much for a facebook comment so I'm putting it here instead.

I believe that assessment is absolutely integral to instruction - you have to know what kids are learning in order to inform your practice. I definitely use some standardized test prep with kids – they have to be ready for The Test, but other assessments like running records that track words per minute, errors, accuracy, and specific miscues inform my instruction, plus conversations about comprehension (Can they retell? Can they think inferentially about the text and talk about the author’s craft and structure?) Looking at writing and grading against a rubric also tells me what kids need and where they excel. All of these measures plus interest inventories are ways for me to look at the data and give kids what they need.

My problem with standardized testing is the now federal testing and labeling schools, teachers, and children with the results. (Note: I don't oppose a standardized test - I oppose the "high-stakeness" of it.) Now that it's on the federal level, Pearson can crank out one textbook that will teach the content and align to all states - everyone will buy it up and then we will buy the tests from Pearson, and we'll never be able to pass them, because the narrative (fueled by the reformers that goes all the way back to “A Nation at Risk” published in 1983) is that public school is failing. This narrative will not change as long as the corporate reformer people (Pearson, Gates, groups like Students First, and generally rich people like Silicon Valley mogul David Welch who financed the Vergara trial in CA that did away with teacher tenure) get on the airwaves and all over the web continuing the talk about how public education is in trouble. (It’s not). 

The media LOVES this stuff because their viewers who don’t follow the other side of the argument are outraged and worried about their children and the education their children are receiving. (What parent wouldn't be?) On the other side of the argument is Diane Ravitch – Educational Historian who wrote Reign of Error and The Death and Life of the Great American School System.  If you haven't read her stuff, I highly suggest it. Anyways, the general public doesn’t know the other side – just what the media covers. Corporate reformers *want* public school to fail so they can privatize, so they can bring in all the public tax dollars that flow into education through charter schools that do not have the same kinds of transparency that public schools do. Charters do not answer to the public (for example, with democratically elected school board) and have more freedom to put those dollars where they want (like pay the CEO hundreds of thousands of dollars). (Of course, I don’t want to generalize, but I’m sure it happens more often than not.)

*This* is my problem with the narrative about public education going on right now. The narrative is that public schools are failing our children. I believe the opposite is true.

Never has there been a time when teachers are more aware of what students are learning (or not learning). Never has there been a time of more differentiation and more decisions being made to best help students achieve at high levels. Want some hard data? Look at the PISA scores - this is a test that compares children in all different countries. It looks as if kids in the states are not doing so hot, but when you factor out poverty, we are right at the top with all the other high-performing nations. The problem here isn't a failing public school system. The problem here is poverty.

Anyways, that is just my two cents for Saturday morning. What do you think? Are you as worried about public education as I am? I believe that our country is *great* because we have free public education for all but I believe we are on course to privatize all of education, and that my friends, really scares me.

Because of this, I speak up :-)

Friday, June 13, 2014

this is why

I've been mulling posting this for a whole day now. Other bloggers out there: do you sometimes feel like you're pushing buttons when you post controversial topics? Do you just do it anyways? Does the blog sit in draft in your Blogger dashboard? The thing is, I can't not be myself or not share my opinions. So I guess it's time to click the publish button...

I taught in Arizona for six years. We had a "union" there. I paid my dues, but it didn't really stand for much. The spring of 2009 was my last year there, and that same year, the board of education in the district I worked for extended the school day (without increasing pay to teachers) on it's own behalf. There were no negotiations, there was no asking input from teachers. Just done and done.

At the time, and even over the course of the last five years, I've often thought that tenure didn't matter. Believe me, the last thing I want to do is come off as arrogant (and that is not my intention here), but I am an effective teacher who *loves* her job. I am reflective in my practice and always strive for my best. Because of that, I never really thought tenure was any big deal. To me, if you did your job well, tenure would naturally follow. But then I began to read more about all the corporate reformers and about how some people want to do education cheaper, which might mean letting go of experienced master teachers and their hefty salaries (I can't believe I'd call my salary hefty!) so newbie teachers could be hired in their place at a much better rate.

These thoughts come on the heels of the Vergara v. California  where judge Treu ruled that teacher tenure is unconstitutional because it causes students to have a poor quality of education (especially students who are low income and of minority status). 

Then this happened yesterday in USA Today:

Yes, that's a child in the trash can.
The advertisement says: "Sue. Unions are protecting incompetent teachers by keeping them in the classroom. This week, a California court ruled that protection of incompetent teachers is unconstitutional. Can't change the laws to protect kids? Then sue. It worked in California."

Let's get a few things straight about tenure:

First, tenure doesn't give teachers a job for life. It gives us due process so we can't be fired for some random reason and be fired without even so much as a conversation about why. Take for example, a teacher I heard about from a colleague: works at a charter school and was let go because, "the school is going in a different direction."

Because this teacher works for a charter school whose teachers do not belong to a union, the school doesn't even owe her explanation. I doubt that they offered professional development or coaching to help her improve her practice. They didn't even have to explicitly state why they were firing her. They could just let her go and be on to the next.

In a school that is backed by a union, that would never happen. Due process would mandate that a teacher who was ineffective receive coaching to assist in improvement of practice. Time would be allotted for development of essential skills with coaching and feedback. And only at the end of all of that would the teacher be let go - if that teacher had not made adequate growth, then s/he would not return the following school year.

But being a part of a union is much, much more than that. I feel that I have my freedom of speech protected because of the union I am a part of.

When I taught middle school, I loved teaching a social justice unit with my students (this was built off of Freire's work). Essentially, we were studying groups who had power and how to change systems when other groups were marginalized. With union protections, I don't have to worry about whether or not my lessons went against what someone in admin thought. Have you every heard about the Mexican-American Studies ban in Tucson, Arizona a few years back? (Seems like it may be reinstated just this past school year...) Teachers wanted to teach relevant material to their students that was culturally responsive. But, the admin didn't think those studies were aligned with the "American way of life." Those teachers (who didn't have union protections) were fired and a law was passed so that those studies couldn't be taught further. How can we deny students knowledge of their culture because it isn't in line with someone's belief of what constitutes the American way of life?

Another: The fact that I sit writing this blog with the intention of publishing it to my network...the only reason I feel comfortable doing so is because of my union. My tenure allows for my free speech without repercussions. I can write and not worry that I may lose my job for respectfully voicing my opinions. Teachers in other states where there is little or no union support may not feel safe in a similar position. I can't imagine not being able to talk freely about my beliefs!

And the what's most important: our students. I can advocate for the best interest of kids that I see each day in my building. Running a school isn't cheap and state and federal governments are constantly slashing our budgets. As a teacher with union protection, I don't ever have to worry about asking for money for materials to best meet the needs of the students at my school. I don't have to worry about disagreeing best practice on a topic/philosophy/ curriculum choice with a colleague for fear that my job might be on the line. (See a great source here about difference in opinion and tenure.) A teacher's freedom of speech is protected by their union, which also means, if a special education teacher has a child with special needs on their case load, they don't have to feel uncomfortable asking for whatever accommodations that child needs (regardless of how inconvenient or expensive it may be for the district). I can't imagine trying to work without those kinds of protections. I can't see how teachers would feel safe to speak authentically on behalf of their students if they were not backed by a union.

A union gives the teachers a voice to the administration of the school district. Currently, our school district is negotiating our new contract with the teacher's union. The administration can't just have the teachers be at their will with any decision they make - there has to be compromise among both sides.

I just don't understand why people think tenure makes teachers bad or lazy. Are there ineffective teachers out there? Yes! Is that a causation of tenure? I think not! Pretty ironic how the highest performing state on the NAEP (Massachusetts) has a strong union while the lowest performing state (Mississippi) has no union support (source). The ruling in Vergara v. California would suggest the opposite to be true....

It's because of all of this (and lots more reasons) that I am taking on a new title next year - I'll be Emerson's Union Representative, and I couldn't be happier or more proud to do so. I believe in public education and I believe that teacher's unions want to protect high-quality instruction, not ineffective teachers. The fact that I have tenure allows me to be a great teacher and an advocate for kids...

Kids just like these third graders:

and these kinders:

and these soon-to-be middle schoolers:

and some amazing cheerleaders:

 and volleyball players:

and a homeroom that I still love to pieces:

Teacher tenure allows me to be at my best on behalf of my most important clients: my students.

If you want to stay more in the know of all that is going down with the corporate reformsters, check out the Badass Teacher's Association on Facebook and Twitter. Diane Ravitch also shares lots of info daily on her blog. 

That is all.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


After an extended year because of snow days and after two days of curriculum committee, my first year as a coach is dunzo! So hard to believe that a whole year has come and gone, but it has. I've been kinda reflecting on the year in my brain each day, but I thought getting some ideas done on paper would be helpful, too! Let's get down to business with what worked this year!

First, I built some great relationships with colleagues at my new school. This was my first year at Emerson (I came from a middle school in our district) but getting to know a new staff takes time. I didn't want to come off as pushy or overbearing, so I did my best to build trusting relationships with the teachers at my school. I am so happy to work with awesome teachers - below is a pic from last night of some of us painting at Bottle and Bottega! I'm really feeling part of the Emerson team now, and I'm excited to hit the ground running next fall!

I also got to know a really great group of Literacy Coaches. We're lucky because there are six of us in our district, so we see each other about every month. We're all returning next year, so we can continue from exactly where we left off yesterday at Curriculum. I think going to the Illinois Reading Council (IRC) Conference together and stalking famous literacy people to take pictures with was the turning point - it was so much fun! I'm really looking forward to working with them again next year!

Michelle, Courtney, Felicia, Lauren, Anne, and Leah :-)

And finally, my year would never have been what it turned out to be without these two:

Laura, Christine, and I
We worked so well together as Emerson's reading team. These two were always there to debrief a day and also work together to get things done at school. Not only can I trust them and speak without having to edit my thoughts and they are super fun to work with, too. And....they taught me tons about my job every day! I'm so thankful for these two!

I learned so much about primary literacy! I teamed up lots in with a Kinder teacher who showed me so much about our earliest readers. Her whole team implemented Words Their Way (which they loved) and we also used Personal Readers to give kinders some reading material that was Just Right for them. I really appreciate all that I learned about kinder with our team of teachers.... and I have such a great admiration for them... I can only hang for about an hour in there at a time!

I also taught a second grade guided reading group pretty consistently across the course of the school year:

Thanks to Ms. Bratta for collaborating with me all year!

Thanks to my amazing colleague, Christine, I learned lots about how to most effectively teach guided reading! She taught me a great lesson plan to follow that includes guiding kids to better oral reading fluency with familiar reads and repeated reads, all the time having kids whisper reading in front of me so I can hear the miscues they make and give them tips - on the spot - to improve their fluency. Christine also helped me balance fluency instruction with comprehension over the course of the week through discussion and writing. Finally, I figured out a great way to track data and the best data points to use. I updated my data tracking sheet like three times this year so it can really reflect the child's progress and inform my instruction.

Another accomplishment was that we got a data wall up and running. We built this data wall around our Fountas & Pinnell data which is a more authentic assessment that measures students oral reading fluency and their comprehension. Even though this kind of assessment takes a while to administer, I love that our data wall charts this information.

first attempt at a pano on an iPhone!

Additionally, we had each teacher write a SMART Goal off of the info on their data wall. At our last staff meeting, we recognized three staff members who accomplished their goals: Ms. Vega, Ms. Smetko, and Mrs. Stalter:

For my evaluation, I implemented Academic Parent Teacher Teams with Ms. Optie, one of our kinder teachers. Check out the posts on APTT for more information, but I'm excited to hopefully expand APTT to all of kinder, roll it to first grade as well, and ask any other teachers who are interested in participating to join us. Now that I've done it one year, I know what needs to be different, what can be planned more ahead of time, and how we can best serve our community. I'm hoping we have even more parent participation with this project next year! I'd also really love to present APTT at the IRC Conference in the fall of 2015, so any teachers who collaborate with me - I'd love to have you join me at IRC if/when I get accepted!

Finally, due to parent request, we created the Emerson Community Collaborative Blog for sharing with one another over the summer (and really, beyond the summer, too!) Parents had requested summer reading lists for the kiddos and some assignments for the kids to do over the summer. I was all for the book recommendations, but not for assignments that would undermine a love of literacy, so the blog was formed. So far, we have had a few teachers post and one post submitted by one of our families. I am crossing my fingers that more families will submit posts for us and keep us going all summer! I'm really excited to see where the blog goes this summer. Make sure to check it out!

So those are some really great things that went on this year, but there is also room for improvement! Here are just a few things I want to do better and differently next year:

For our last PD this school year, the reading team presented on mini-lesson. We then had teachers go off to try out the strategy from the presentation, and then Christine and I were able to visit all classrooms twice to provide teachers with feedback. Because our PD was so structured, it made our feedback so focused. I really hope to get into this kind of cycle - a PD presentation, time to implement, and then time to provide feedback to teachers. It was so purposeful and I loved doing it. I just want to make it happen more next year!

I was supposed to do an exit survey for parents for the APTT meetings, but I never did it. Next year for the APTT meetings, I want to map out the whole year right away in the very beginning of school - get all the dates on the calendar, get the NJHS kids from the middle school set up right away for the childcare room, and plan the exit surveys early on. APTT is so much work and really worth it - but I need to get more organized!

Finally, I need to do a better job "positioning myself as the expert" as my best friend, Liz, told me to do when she visited me from Seattle a few months ago. (She's currently a doctoral student in a literacy program at University of Washington and she's always teaching grad school classes to teachers in her university's master's program.) I do have a lot of knowledge about literacy, but I'm not the kind of person who ever wants to come off as arrogant, so I did a lot of listening and perhaps not doing what's best for student achievement soon enough at school this year. It's not always easy to be a Literacy's definitely a balance between helping teachers see things in new ways, but not being so overbearing that anyone shuts down and doesn't want to collaborate with you. The bottom line is though that I do know lots and need to use that to best serve the students at our school, so next year I hope to heed my bff's advice as I begin the year.

Your Turn...
How was your school year? I think it's such great practice to reflect on our work - hour-to-hour, day-to-day, and even year-to-year!

Have a great night!

Friday, June 6, 2014

open doors with your work ethic

The folks over at Webucator contacted me this week inviting me to participate in their Most Marketable Skill Campaign. They want to give back to the class of 2014 with blogs by successful professionals in a variety of fields. They are hoping that these blogs will ease the graduates of 2014 into the work force, which can be a daunting task!

Dear Class of 2014,

You did it! You've finished up your studies and are all set to go off into the workforce! There are many qualities that contribute to a successful career, but I think having a strong work ethic is at the top of the list.

No matter what field you enter, your work ethic can make, or break, your success in your field. As someone who has been in education for 11 years now, I'm at the point in my career when job opportunities come to me. I worked at Heritage Middle School for Leslie Hodes, and did my best work every day I walked through the doors of her school. I was a mentor to my team of teachers in the area of literacy - no one asked me to write lesson plans and give professional development to them, but I did it because it was good for my bottom line: student achievement. I treated my colleagues with respect and when I needed to vent, I went to a person who I knew would keep my feelings confidential: I always was professional at work. Because of choices like this, Leslie never wondered what kind of teacher I was. She knew I was the kind of person who was an asset to her staff. It was because of my work ethic at Heritage that I then had an opportunity at the University level - Leslie referred me to her colleagues at Dominican University, and now I'll be teaching graduate level courses as an adjunct professor for them. Work ethic and my desire to be a life-long learner got me that interview, not filling out countless applications!

Prior to working for Leslie, I worked for Damon Twist at Excelencia Elementary and Creighton School. Damon was on the team that hired me my first year of teaching, and he watched me grow for six years. Every day, I was there on time and I accepted constructive feedback willingly as I was the reflective practitioner who always strived for improvement. When I found something I didn't know how to improve, I enrolled in a graduate program. These actions don't go unnoticed! When I left Phoenix and moved to Chicago, it was Damon who called Leslie to tell her to hire me. She received this phone call before I even had an interview! There aren't many administrators who do things like this, but if it wasn't for my work ethic, that would have never happened.

So graduates, the advice I give to you: do your best every day you walk into your office. Present yourself professionally - at work, at happy hour, and with every interaction with your colleagues. You're always on an never know what changes will be made among your superiors, and so bad choices in front of the people that are your peers one day could be your new boss' memories just a few weeks into the future. When you do your best, it's noticed, and then the opportunities will knock on your door - opportunities that you had never even imagined!

Best of luck in your future endeavors!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

all in

I don't know if this is a post I should or should not share, but idk. I feel compelled to write about it this morning!

Have you ever heard a saying something like, "You're not in a real, true relationship until you had your first fight?" Well, the six literacy coaches and I are now in a real relationship :-)

Now, don't get the wrong idea - no big screaming match or anything, but just a heated debate went on yesterday...

The coaching position was a new one this year in our district. There are six of us and we meet up about every month for various projects and just to connect with one another. We find out how things are going in each of the various buildings. Between the six of us, we have countless degrees, a crazy amount of years of experience, and a National Board Certification. We are all *so passionate* about literacy. We *love* our jobs - with a freakish intensity almost (well, I speak for myself but I know they would all describe it the same way, too!)

Because of all our knowledge, our experiences, and our passion, we get into ongoing debates about things - and many times, we are actually saying the same thing without even realizing it. (Such was the case yesterday.) Our buildings are in various places with our implementation of Reading and Writing Workshop, which also makes things difficult. But, I for one appreciate that there are coaches now to get all our elementary schools on the same page - it's a process so it will take awhile - but we're getting there.

Anyways, it seems silly to bring up our disagreement, but what it did for us is force us to work through our thoughts and come together in the end. I'd say we're in a *real* relationship now, if that line that I mentioned above really is some kind of quote somewhere!

As I was leaving the meeting, I said something like, "I think we need a group hug or something!" They all laughed, but we ended with this picture...

...because at the end of the day, we're all here for one another, and it really is such a great support system we've built. Thank you, D100, for seeing the value in Literacy Coaches, and letting us continue with our work in the 2014-2015 school year!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

currently....wowza, it's june 1st!

Did you notice anything new? My blog got a total makeover and I love it! Kassie over at Designs by Kassie did it for me and she's just a great designer to work with. She's actually going to make me another little button because I'm presenting at the Illinois Reading Council Conference this October! I can't wait for that!

So it's time to link up with Farley for Currently! Here's what's up in my little part of the world as of late! JT

This is one of my recent downloads and it's been on repeat for about a week. I never see videos, unless I'm writing this blog, and so just watching the video made me love this song even more....and now all I want to know is: Who are they?!?!

Also, H is watching some baseball and making some corny jokes while I write - "That's the Wong thing to do!" (guy named Wong was batting or in the outfield or something.) But I do love corny jokes, so I def lol-ed.

Perfect start to (almost) summer - breakfast, run errands, watch a little baseball, and then off to a street fest before we watch the Hawks take the Kings and advance to the Stanley Cup championship - love Chicago and all it's amazing teams and traditions!

Loving....this essay from a former student:

When our kiddos leave eighth grade, their Freshmen English teachers always make them write about a great teacher at the end of their freshman year. The English department then sends the essays over, and this one was one of my faves:

What is a "successful" teacher? One who is intelligent, wise and knows how and when to get work done. To me, Ms. Brezek, my 8th grade Lit Studies teacher has shown the qualities that will meet any kids' expectations for a "good quality" teacher. In this essay, I will talk about the qualities of a good teacher and how Ms. Brezek met them.

A good teacher to me is one who knows her students. Who realized things about them, that can work with mistakes, and has patience for any kid that comes towards her way. She will counsel, teach, be humorous, get work done, and applaud you when you're at or beyond expectations. Understand her students, help them on their roughest days. She will get work done! Teach you what's required for or beyond your age level. You will learn valuable life lessons from him/her. Teach you reality in the world. What to expect. Overall, the teacher that is like a second mom. To me, the qualities of a teacher are met like that!

Ms. Brezek was my eighth grade Literature Studies teacher. When I first met her, I did not like her. But when she made me realize that life isn't about girls, money, shoes, and a game is when I realized A LOT. She was kinda like a taxi cab driver. You called her when you needed her, she take you to your location, and you can call unlimited times. When I had problems at home, she'd talk with me. When I'd get off track, she'd put me back into place. I loved reading because of her. I stopped focusing on popularity, girls, money, and all the things that got you nowhere in life. She showed me the value of education. That along the way, things would come later in life, bigger and better. She made me the positive kid I am today. She went beyond my expectations of a good teacher. That's why I can write all day about her.

You don't find a good teacher every year. I found mine in eighth grade. My freshman English teacher is just like her. That's why you take advantage while you're there. These qualities aren't built on the streets, they're built through education and hard work. That's why Ms. Brezek was my favorite, most amazing teacher. She's shown the great qualities of a teacher.

This is why I super love my job!

Thinking...June is going to fly by!

We're about to pay back the three cold days of the Chiberia Winter, 2014...and I have lots to do at work! Mainly just one thing - the literacy coaches and a group of about 12-15 teachers will be meeting to plan out curriculum for the next school year and make common assessments (both pre and post) for two of our units. It's just a bunch to do before I can really be done with school, but after that, lots of fun!

I have a few days before a Father's Day weekend - I'll go to Hektor's family's house since my two dads are far away (love you, two!) and then I'm off to Europe on the 16th with my best friend! We'll see London, Paris, Venice, and Rome, (and get some quality 1:1 time) and return the 25th. The 25th is Hektor's birthday, so we'll have some plans for that the following weekend. I have a mud run that Saturday morning with some girls from work and then H's birthday with his family in the suburbs, and then I'm taking him on a surprise trip on the last Sunday of the month...I'll share with you next month! I guess I'll have a few days to start planning for the PDs I'm doing in July after all that....Of course the summer months would fly by!

PS: I'm planning on doing a Bigtime Blogging Challenge in July! (It's my 1 year blogging anniversary and I'm doing a blogging PD with teachers in my district.) Make sure to follow me so you can stay up-to-date with the challenge and participate! More deets to come on that soon!

Wanting...a new ride

I really want a bike. Like this one...It's a Schwinn!

Last week, Hektor and I rented Divvy bikes - Chicago has a bike sharing system - and they were cool, except you had to check them in every 30 minutes or you pay an overage fee. So I'd rather just have my own bike!

Today we walked down to the bike shop in Hektor's neighborhood - family owned. The bike above was one that was in stock...super nice but super expensive! It's going to cost like $325...not really sure I have an extra $325 laying around. I told Mike I'm going to check out Target, and his reply? "Come back when you need me to fix it!" hahhahaaaa! start preparing for my trip to Europe!

I leave for Europe in 15 days (!!!) and I can't wait, but I have lots to do. I need a new suitcase, one that for sure will fit in the carry on luggage. I need a new backpack that I can carry around with me every day and Heather told me to get a wallet for my passport that is on a lanyard that I can wear under my clothes. I need some kind of rain coat I think, in case it's raining over there. Plus, I need to figure out how to pack for 10 days in a carry on and a back pack. Let's just put it this way: I'm not a light packer, so this will be a challenge! I know, I know. #firstworldproblems, right? I'm going to Europe!

Summer Bucket List

  1. Work on my fitness - running every other day, yoga in between, maybe some volleyball at the beach, ride bikes (when I get one) - anything to stay active. I'd love to say I want to lose x amount of pounds, but I'd rather just be active, have fun, and feel good about myself!
  2. Take a mini-vacay with the bf - we want to go to Cedar Point and we want to go see the cubs play in Milwaukee - I'll take either or as long as I get a road trip with this guy:
  3. Develop some stuff for TpT - I want to make a set of running records that are aligned to Fountas & Pinnell's running records but are using the Reading A-Z books. So that's one project. The other is to work on publishing my social justice plans and resources for middle school. If I could get one of those done, I'd be a happy camper! Do you use running records? Would you use a set of them with Reading A-Z books?

Well, that's all for me today. Thanks again to Farley for hosting Currently for all the teacher bloggers! Hope you're having a great weekend and happy summer vacation, teacher friends!
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