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Sunday, December 25, 2016

New Year, New Practice: Teacher Vision Boards Instead of Resolutions

Do you want to live your life with the same growth mindset you teach to your students?  Then it's time to start thinking about what you want for yourself in the new year!  Join me as I begin my vision board journey!

Even though it's not the new year yet, it is actually the best time to be thinking about what you want for yourself next year.

1.  Think about the areas of your life and career that mean the most to you.  
Don't just think about work.  Be sure to add areas for personal growth and health, too.

Here are some of my top areas I will focus on next year:

Teacher Self-Care

2.  Choose whether you would like a tangible vision board or a digital one.
I chose digital for the ease of changing and adding to the pictures.  I simply used PowerPoint, but many people prefer the tangibility of scrabooking their vision board.

3.  Collect pictures from magazines or online that will help you visualize your areas of focus.

Beg, Borrow, and Teach!: Creating a Teacher Vision Board

Beg, Borrow, and Teach!: Creating a Teacher Vision Board

4.  Look at your vision board several times a day.
I plan to look at it when I get up and before bed, at the very least.

That's it!  So simple, but so effective.  This will guide your thinking and actions each day.

How do you create goals for yourself for the next year?  I'd love to hear about it!

Beg, Borrow, and Teach!: Creating a Teacher Vision Board

Sunday, December 18, 2016

5 Things to Do Before Winter Break to Reduce Stress Next Year

Would you like to be able to enjoy your winter break more?  Would you like to return with less stress and a better sense of preparedness for those inevitable meetings that first week?  If so, then read this post about my must-do list before I leave for winter break!

5 Things to Do Before Winter Break to Reduce Stress Next Year

1. Make a to-do list for the week before you leave, but keep it short.
Sounds trite, I know, but having something tangible to remind me of what I have to get done before I leave motivates me and gives me a sense of satisfaction when I cross things off.  The reason I say "keep it short" is because I can always add to it later if I get everything done.  A long list makes me more nervous.

Here's my current list:
~Grade papers
~Put 2nd Quarter grades in computer
~Hang posters for next unit

2.  Have at least a general idea of what you'll be teaching the week you return.
I know you are just trying to get through to winter break, but trust me, planning a little bit ahead will give you peace of mind during the break and lower your stress when you get back.  Even if you can plan the first couple of days, that will help tremendously.

3.  Check out an online planbook to streamline the planning process.
If you already have your plans written, awesome.  If you don't, may I suggest an online planbook?  I've been using for about 4 years now, and I love it.  It's so easy to change and add to from any device.  If snow hits, I just bump my lessons forward.  No more erasing and re-writing.  No more lost sticky notes.  Fun fact, I am NOT being paid to promote their website.

4.  Get that copying done NOW.
Once you have a general plan of what you'll be teaching when you return, start making copies.  You know the line will be long when you return.  You know the copy machine will jam and waste time when 80 people are trying to use it at once.  Why not get a little bit ahead of that stress?  Even if you just copy a few key assignments, it will save you some headaches.  I promise.

5.  Practice some self-care EVERY day.
If you lower your stress before break, you will most likely return with a a better sense of calm after the break.

Here are some of my favorite self-care routines for teachers:
~Do stretches at your desk throughout the day

~Rub your favorite lotion or essential oil on your hands and inhale

~Listen to an audiobook on your way to school and home

~Write down at least one thing that went well each day and keep it to read when you need a reminder of how you are doing a great job and YOU MATTER!

~If you can, do a couple of laps around the hallways of your school at a brisk pace to get your blood flowing.  FEEL-GOOD BONUS:  Do this with a favorite teacher friend.

For days when all else fails, during your planning period:
~Shut the door, turn the overhead lights down, draw the shades, turn on soft lighting, play your favorite music or put an uplifting/funny YouTube video on in the background while you work.  I swear this one works!

What do you do to make the beginning of the year start off smoothly?  I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Seasonal Sensory Writing: Winter Bakery

Now that the weather is a bit chillier and coffee shops everywhere are offering flavors only available this time of year, it's time to use those sensory experiences in your writing with my Winter Bakery: Sensory Writing for the Season!

Seasonal Sensory Writing: Winter Bakery.  5-Senses writing.

The first thing I like to do with students is to read some sensory-filled mentor texts with the students.  We collect words that match each of the senses in our writing journals and I keep them on anchor charts as we go.

Seasonal Sensory Writing: Winter Bakery.  5-Senses writing.

My Sensory Writing Packet includes several more mentor text suggestions, but these are two of my favorites.
Seasonal Sensory Writing: Winter Bakery.  5-Senses writing.

Seasonal Sensory Writing: Winter Bakery.  5-Senses writing.

Before reading, I hand out the a double-sided graphic organizer.  The first side has my filled-in version of the "5 Senses Organizer" and the other side is blank.  The filled-in version is below.

Seasonal Sensory Writing: Winter Bakery.  5-Senses writing.

We talk about why I chose the words I did to fill in the organizer (descriptive and sensory).  They then try to find words like these in the mentor texts as we read them aloud together and fill in their side of the organizer.

We also discuss their favorite place to eat. It can be everything from their own kitchen to Panera. I do try to steer them towards a place that offers an atmosphere unique to the season. For example, if their favorite place to eat is Burger King, they are not going to have as much to write about pertaining to the holidays. However, we work with what we get. Even Burger King offers some sensory experiences.

If you'd like to pick up a copy of my Winter Bakery: Sensory Writing for the Season, click here.

How do you bring the season's sensory experiences into your writing?  I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Indoor Gross-Motor Activities to Burn Off Energy

What do you do with all the energy children have on those days when you are stuck inside?  You get them moving with gross motor activities!  Read on to see some of our favorite activities to do on a rainy day.

ndoor Gross Motor Activities

This soccer ball works great on hard surfaces, but it works especially great on carpet.

Here is a "Kick the Cup" alphabet recognition game you could use with the soccer ball.

Indoor Gross Motor Activities

This Little Tikes Trampoline is awesome!  My son will hold on to the bar and jump while watching TV.  Another great activity to put some balls on the trampoline and see if he can bounce them off.

Here's a list of additional activities to do on the trampoline.

Indoor Gross Motor Activities

This hoppy animal is great for sitting and bouncing while watching TV or for having races to see how fast we can get to the kitchen.

Indoor Gross Motor Activities

This 6-inch parachute is just fun!  There are so many games you can play with it.

These are parachute games "for toddlers", but I think any age would enjoy them with slight modifications.

Indoor Gross Motor Activities

One of our favorites is the Magic Moves Electronic Wand.  It says an animal or thing and asks you to do some sort of movement to go with it.  For example, "waddle like a penguin" or "grow like a flower". It plays music to encourage the movement for about 30 seconds.  You can push "play" to get a new movement/song or "repeat" to do the previous one.

Do you have any go-to resources or activities to get kids moving in inclement weather?  I'd love to hear about them!