Friday, July 21, 2017

Where has the TX Teacher been??

My lack of blogging makes me look like a part of some weird blogging episode of "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" But, maybe this will explain where I've been instead...




Yup, I had a baby in July of 2016, so basically I left my blog high and dry once we decided we wanted to start a family. My sweet girl just turned one and (incase you couldn't tell) we celebrated with a unicorn themed first birthday. She was actually into unicorns before this whole thing became a fad. We found this neat unicorn toy that spoke a couple of different languages when she was super tiny and she was OBSESSED until her crazy drooling (thanks, teething) broke it. Poor unicorn really was wet from her slobber ALL THE TIME. So a unicorn first birthday in her honor definitely seemed fitting!


 So how have things changed for me in terms of teaching?

Well, they have and they haven't. My family is certainly a priority- so I try to keep all teaching related tasks either at work, or done after the baby goes to bed for the night. Work-Life balance is imperative. At the end of the day, these are my people, and they need my time and love to flourish. I hope you remember that as this new school year rolls around. Having a baby has meant that my "Work in Progress" folder on my desktop is gigantic. I'll whip up an activity or something for my classroom, and it doesn't get posted to TpT like it used to. While I LOVE helping others and thoroughly enjoy creating teacher related materials, it's a balance. Nap time is my new work time! 😂

So, hopefully, you'll be hearing a lot more from me. Writing is therapeutic for me (i.e.- stress relief!) and I've come to a point in my career where I feel like I have enough experience to offer advice in certain areas. 

Hope you are enjoying these summer days and NOT counting down the time until we go back to work. We need this break. It makes us human again. 





 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

August Currently

I'm linking up with Farley (a long-time favorite blogger of mine, who is teaching 4th now! Woo-hoo!) from Oh Boy, Fourth Grade for August Currently! Did I mention she's from Texas, too??

Oh Boy! Fourth Grade!


Listening: Not a summer day goes by without listening to something off of iTunes Radio. I purposely haven't updated because my husband told me some of the stations disappear once you go to iOS8! Eek! I am usually an Alternative music (think Alt. J, Foster the People, fun., Hozier...) girl, but Pop has been keeping me going this summer!

Loving: Ohhhhh my puppies! I think they're going to take it pretty hard when I head back to work full time! They've been loving the all day long attention, love, and affection!


Max, the smiling Dachshund! 
Llama or dog... you decide. 
Audi, the Pei-Wei loving cat... Or maybe it's just a love of plastic bags. 
Thinking: I got a "promotion" of sorts at work and I am now the 4th Grade Team Leader. I am really excited for the challenge and really, really, really want to do right by my team and all of our fourth graders. Wish me luck this year! Or feel free to comment with words of wisdom, advice, or something you wish your team lead would do/not do. :)


Wanting: So our sweet head custodian, Maria, is running behind on waxing our campuses floors thanks to all of the summer school that went on at our campus. So we've been LOCKED OUT. I am dying watching people Periscope their classrooms (Follow me! @TheTexasTeacher) and post all of these pictures when I haven't. even. started.


Needing: While my gorgeous, amazing, phenomenal, planner has already been in my hands for a month or so, I might've gone back and ordered some stickies to use with it, and a lined notebook for inservices/faculty meetings/team planning, etc... I really can't wait to get that notebook! 2 days of differentiation training and 1 data day later, the lined pages in my planner are almost full. Yikes!!



B2S RAK: So I recently discovered my absolute love for cutting vinyl with my Silhouette. Maybe not just love, but like OBSESSION. I want to run around screaming VINYL ALL THE THINGS! So as my B2S RAK, I'm vinyl-ing new clipboards for my team! Who doesn't need a customized clipboard?? For now, here are my new task card bags I made for my Math & Reading centers. No more wasting plastic baggies for me!!





Love Y'all, 
Lindsey

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Texas Sized Link-Up! Meet the Teacher!

Get ready for Back to School with this Texas sized Linky party FULL of items you just can't live without! Below, you've got the chance to win one of my favorite Back to School necessities- my Editable Open House signs! These are SO versatile and can be used for Back to School, Open House, or Orientation (really, whatever your school calls it)! They are a PowerPoint format and can be customized with any "stations" that you could possibly need.



Open House can always be pure madness with so many parents coming and going and so many different things to be completed. To corral the chaos, I made signs that led my students and parents around the room so I knew they completed each thing that was required. The first "station" was myself and my co-teacher greeting each parent and child as they entered. We then directed them to the first station and they were on their way! This format worked out great because everyone had the opportunity to meet us, complete the necessities, and chat with us on their way back out. Here are some pictures from my Open House last year!

I used binder clips to hold up each sign. Minimal work involved! When the event ended, I unclipped the signs, stacked them up, and stored them in my file cabinet. Easy peasy!

I used the "Giving Tree" sign to create a space on my board where parents could pick up an apple with a wish-list item on it if they wanted to. This was completely voluntary!

Last, but not least, I had some treats waiting for my new student's and their parents at the end of the Meet the Teacher "loop."

While the pictures I have are few,  (I *might* have the tendency to run around like a crazy person making sure that I didn't forget anything before these events) I hope you get an idea of how I made these signs work in my room. They can actually be used as a Power Point Presentation, too! If there is any time to get off to a good, organized start with parents, it is most definitely at the beginning of the year.

ALSO included in this pack are some basic Meet the Teacher/Open House/Orientation forms. I included a Sign-In Sheet, Transportation Form, and Parent Contact cards- all things that I use in my classroom for Meet the Teacher. Many times, student transportation is different on the very first day of school, so I like to have it written down by the parents so there are no errors that first day!

As for the Parent Contact Cards, I print them on cardstock, hole punch, and ring them all together. It gives me a quick reference if I need a phone number or some sibling information!

Be sure to enter for a chance to win these awesome, editable cards below!
If it's not your lucky day, you can check them out here!

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 3, 2015

TpT Seller Challenge- Dare to Dream!

Well, this summer is shaping up quite differently then the last! Each day has been jam packed + we just got back from our cross country road trip with our really good friends, Britney and Travis. (Britney is a teacher, too! We only made 1 Target stop in the 3,663 miles that we drove... Amazing, right??) We drove through six states, not including the driving we put in to get out of Texas! We spent time at Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Teton N.P., and Yellowstone! It was an amazing trip that deserves it's own post once I narrow down the pictures I want to share with you! Here's a sneak peek of just one amazing thing we did...



Since summer has been such a whirlwind (I mean- it's JULY for crying out loud!), I have been seriously slacking on the TpT Seller Challenge. It was completely not my intention, but when you're prepping for 8 days of limited phone service, you handle the life priorities first (bills paid, hotels booked, groceries bought?). If it makes you feel better, I did actually finish my Dare to Dream before I left, but I walked out the door about 15 minutes later... No time to write a the blog to go along with it! But here it is...





Dream #1: Some of you may have caught on to the fact that I work at a Title school. My first year teaching, I had picked up a few odds and ends in terms of supplies, not really knowing what I would need to have ready for my kiddos. We spent a little bit of our first day of school organizing supplies and one sweet student, brand new to Texas and dropped off an hour after school had started, had absolutely nothing. No backpack. No pencils, paper, crayons, markers... nothing. So spending time organizing supplies was agonizing for her. I will never forget those tiny tears. And I will never let another one of my student's feel the way she did that morning in my classroom. So every year I keep extra everything on hand. You name it, I've got a fresh, unopened pack of it, ready to be claimed by a student in need. But obviously, this takes some fundage. Our sweet counselors do supply a bit, but a lot of it is used. I remember the stigma of having the used supplies, the hand-me-down clothes... I was that kid, and I won't let me students suffer through it, so I'll gladly foot the bill!
 
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Dream #2: If you've checked out my Pinterest (Check it out here!), then you've probably seen my board called BOOKS, BOOKS, AND MORE BOOKS. I have a book buying PROBLEM. Fortunately, my husband doesn't see my Amazon Credit Card statement. I just love a good book. Any kind of book. Influencing my students to read and actually enjoy it, is pretty much my #1 motive for the entire year. So I will buy whatever they seem to enjoy reading. You name it, it's probably in my collection! Need recommendations? Hit me up!! So in terms of dreaming about books, being on TeachersPayTeachers and offering my creations to others, helps cover that outrageous credit card bill.


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Dream #3: While I don't blog about every vacation my hubby and I take, I do have a serious passion for experiencing other places and being a part of other cultures. I feel like it makes me a more well-rounded person. Traveling provides me with more experiences to speak from as a teacher. I am always spotting schools and watching how things are done in other places.

(RANDOM FLASHBACK WARNING: Hubs and I walked through the gardens near the Louvre in Paris and a group of children were running laps through the garden with their P.E. Coach. What an amazing way to grow up!) 

Our next mega vacation *fingers crossed & prayers sent* is supposed to be Russia in 2018 for the next World Cup. We had an amazing time in Brazil and going to Russia would allow us to see more soccer games AND to experience the history and culture that Russia has to offer. We would probably tie this into an Eastern European trip as well... but it takes money to make these kind of things happen. Just another place where TpT comes into play!



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Dream #4: There are SO many reasons why I like love this digital life I have created for myself. I am very crafty and creative and can spend small fortunes in Michael's, Hobby Lobby, etc. so taking this creativity and making it digital has probably saved me some money! I would be beyond thrilled for this to become my "full time job" or at least allow me to stay at home for a few years when the hubs and I decide to grow our family beyond our furbabies! I am also considering starting an Etsy store, for all my digital, non-Education related, creations. I have been whipping up different posters, invitations, note cards, etc. that I would love to share with others, and Etsy seems like a great possibility for doing just that!


Look out for a post full of vacation pictures coming soon!! :)











Monday, June 15, 2015

Bloglovin!

My new 2015 goal is to ACTUALLY keep up with this blog! I am constantly jotting down ideas... but I need to start jotting more on here and less on my phone, or in my brain, or on random post-its. So, to start this new goal off correctly, I have paired up my blog with Bloglovin' to make following me easy for you! Use the link below & your Bloglovin' account to make sure you never miss a post! :)


Love Y'all
Lindsey

Thursday, March 26, 2015

This Test. An Open Letter to Parents from Teachers

It's that time of year again, y'all. That time that every teacher dreads. Our feet are dragging in the door each morning as we, with 20+ students in tow, head towards annual state testing. You can't even watch the news without hearing about it. Even the lady I see in the morning when I stop for breakfast tacos has asked me if my kids are ready. Every hallway is covered in butcher paper, blocking every ounce of text that might help aid the students in some form or fashion. My classroom feels like a paper dungeon, ready to issue paper cuts at any moment between the paper on the walls, and the thick tests I'll place on their desks on Monday morning. The teacher's lounge starts to feel a little stiff, too- definitely less laughing and lunchtime merriment than the fall and winter bring. And then there are the parents. The people that we share our precious students with. The ones who can see the stress like we do. The ones who, sometimes, feel like this is the doing of the teacher. An evil scheme we use to torture students with from August til May. Oh, Dear parents, I can assure you that it is not. If only we could all speak out honestly about how we feel towards this... Unfortunately, we don't all have that luxury so here are a few little bitty points that might help you see where we are coming from.

1. Teaching to the test is not the reason we picked this career. 
We chose this job because children and their education is our PASSION. We fervently love all things related to making and watching children grow and learn. We love the lessons, the activities, the engagement, the fun, the laughter, and the building of knowledge. And we hate the absolute dullness of doing practice Reading, Editing, and Revising passages with our students. We hate spending valuable time on testing strategies and how to answer multi-step Math questions with 4 tricky answer possibilities. It's a laborious process. It's tedious and boring. But we do it because giving our kids an idea of what they are in for is better than watching them suffer, unsure, for 4 torturous hours when we are not allowed to reassure or assist them in any way. I tell mine this all year- I won't be able to help you, so I want you to feel confident. I want you to sit down in that seat and open that test without a single fear. I want you to finish with a smile on your face, not a tear in your eye.

2. We don't want them to stress!
We love these kids, but we don't love the stress that this kind of testing puts on them. It is not fair to their little bodies and little minds to have to be stressed about anything, at all. Please reiterate to your child that this is not something that will determine their entire life. It may help determine their readiness for the next grade level. It might be used to decide whether a student should be tested for a learning disability. It may even play into what teacher your child has the next year. It could decide whether your child needs a remedial course in Middle School or gets to take an additional elective, but it won't decide their life. While this test is something to take seriously, it is not something to take to their grave.
3. We feel the stress, too.
Not every teacher has the luxury of having an opinion. Not every administrator allows "dissension" from the test. Not every district is comfortable speaking out against the way their state has elected to test it's students. Just because a teacher is under contract in a certain place, doesn't mean that he or she holds the same testing values or beliefs. Some administrators will stand up and say that these tests are the only way that they know we are doing our jobs.  Some will tell you that they're ridiculous and need to be changed, they'll encourage you to talk to your legislators and unions. But in the end, the majority of teachers can't pick their campus, so please remember that they're essentially products of their environment.

4. Is assessment important? Yes. Are state mandated tests the best way to assess? That's debatable- but almost every teacher you'll meet will tell you no (this may only happen in the privacy of our own homes or under the influence of a glass of wine, but we'll admit it). There are many ways that we determine if your child knows what they need to know- rigorous, lengthy, standardized tests are unnecessary. We have to assess to do our jobs, but we can assess in ways that prove to be more meaningful than a pencil and a packet of paper. We don't make these tests ourselves. Many of the people who make them, and make decisions about them, have never even been classroom teachers. How whack is that?? Please keep that in mind when you're frustrated about crazy homework or an obnoxious question on an assignment (Refer to 1- Teaching to the test is not the reason we picked this career).


5. Despite what any news source tells you, we are doing our jobs. 
I read a quote from a district "curriculum specialist" that floored me. This person stated that if a teacher's students can't do well, then that teacher is not doing his or her job. I laughed. This person clearly hasn't been in the classroom recently- especially not a classroom with learning disabled students, dyslexic students, students with Special Needs, or Title 1 kiddos who don't know if they'll have a single meal to eat all weekend who will come in to school on Monday morning with the worst hunger pangs of all... Sorry, but we have other fish to fry besides your fancy test. We are adamantly teaching our curriculum, while the people writing these tests are adamantly seeking new ways to confuse and destroy students. I'll stop my rant here, as long as you promise to know how hard your child's teacher is working around the clock, even if some of that time is spent preparing your child on how to take a test.

6. Help us speak out against this.
 Is this level of testing even developmentally appropriate? Again, this is debatable, but almost every single teacher will tell you that it is not.  We don't agree with this either. Writing two grammatically correct, full page essays, back to back at 9 years old is a bit silly. Testing on financial literacy and Economics and being able to calculate interest and balance a check book in Elementary is even more silly. We know that this is not ok. We speak out against this kind of testing to our legislators, and you can do the same. It takes a village to raise these children. If we speak out together, we can make a bigger difference, faster. We can't fix this without you.

Chances are that fixing this testing business (that's a whole different post...) will take time, but just know that we are for you and your children, and not against you.

Love Y'all,
L. S.






Sunday, February 15, 2015

YIKES! It's been how long since I've posted?!?

Wellllll, needless to say, it's been a while since I've written a post! I've had all these great ideas for posts but they just never seem to make the "Do Now" side of my double column to-do list! So here is a short version of my to-do list of things to tell you about:

1. I moved classrooms this year and my new room is pretty cozy! I may eventually get around to posting some pictures of it that I took before school began... but no promises there! I went with a black, pink, green, and blue color scheme and absolutely love it. The black backgrounds make everything look very crisp. Much more calm than whatever it was that I thought I was doing last year!

2. My students are SOOOOO sweet this year! I am still teaching the collab class with a wonderful co-teacher, but I just wound up with the sweetest bunch. They work hard, are almost always eager to learn, and truly enjoy the activities and centers that we do. Such a different dynamic than last year!

3. I have the LONGEST list of products to post in my TpT store, EVER. I have whipped up so many neat things for this group of students and it seems like I whip up what we need and then leave it to sit in the darkest caverns of my "Documents" file... Oops! You'll start seeing things trickle in now... Promise!

4. I debuted a new Writing homework series for Texas Teachers!! I was using a fantastic TpT resource that my team has multiple licenses to, but it just wasn't what we needed in Texas. So I simply came up with my own! I have posted the Personal Narrative version but the Expository, Creative Writing, and Persuasive are in the works!! Look for them in the coming weeks! Below is a picture of the layout of my Writing homework packs. It's an easy format that is great practice for the STAAR test. If you teach 4th of 7th (of in Texas at all, really!) this product is totally meant for you!! It can most definitely be used in class during Writing, too. I send it home just for additional reinforcement with my students!


It comes with a Student rubric for easy assessment, too! I have my students switch papers and score each others writing as well. I don't know why, but they love, love, love seeing other student's writing! I'm going to have to start saving papers from each year to share with my kiddos! Well, if this is something you think you'd be interested in- check it out on TpT here.
My intention is to post a freebie pretty soon, so you can try a week out with your students! Hope you're having a fun February with your students so far! Spring Break is just around the corner!

Love Y'all,
Lindsey