Friday, July 24, 2015

Social Media Diet

Do you find yourself constantly getting whistled at
by Periscope, beeped by Facebook, tweeted at
by Twitter, and binged by Pinterest?

Seriously, there is only so much information and interactions via these sites that I can process effectively.  It's just becoming a time-waster and I don't have time for it. 
Here's my plan going forward for the rest of the summer (I naturally unplug during my B2Sch prep time):
  • Turn off all those noises on my phone.  I want to see if there's any notifications on my phone, but the noises are distracting and I ALWAYS take a look when I hear them
  • Don't even look at anything related to Social Media until after I get my morning tasks done
  • Schedule in a time allotment for Social Media skimming - LIMIT it to a set time - maybe it's 15 minutes in the AM, 10 minutes after lunch, and then 30 minutes in the evening.
  • DON'T LOOK at my phone unless I get a text message or phone call - I have such a reflex of checking it frequently.  Seriously, I'm not that important and what I'm saying on these sites is not that important!
  • Blog once/twice a week
  • Learn Like a Pirate Facebook posting as a facilitator - 30 minutes 2 times a week
  • Choose one day a week and go silent - NO social media - I'm thinking Sunday!
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic, as well as your suggestions.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Periscoping Misadventure

Not going to lie, it was painful to watch on replay - lots of umms, repeated words, and oh, ugh! just not how I want to present to the world.

But, I did it!  I went for it, learned (did another one a few minutes later so I could learn how to switch views), experienced some inward groans, and now am even more energized about how I can make this work @ Back 2 School Boot Camp in August and in September, my classroom.

This is the rage now, teachers - hop on board and be the innovator at your school.

You can go to Periscope @teach2inspire6 to watch for the next 24 hours and then it's gone!  Not my stellar moment, but hope that it will inspire you to be brave and try that thing that strikes fear in your heart, but you really want to try it!  DARE GREATLY!

What I would have looked like if I could have figured out
how to switch views LIVE in Periscope
* now I know, perseved just like I want my students to!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Creating JOY with Pass the Bulldog

Our school's mascot, the Bulldogs
Create JOY opportunities!  

One of my teacher goals this coming school year is to promote a positive school culture within our staff inspired by Angela Watson's book Unshakeable.  Who does not like GOOD surprises?

How to implement this in your classroom:
1.  Find something that is related to your school or just will bring JOY upon sight.

2. Write a 1-2 sentence note of encouragement, such as, "Hope your day is doggone good!" Or it can be specific to the individual, such as, "Nicole, the way you connect with your students is just so inspiring!"  The point is just to encourage.

3. Find a place to hide it - you decide how stealthy you want to be - put it on their lesson cart or in their classroom library.  Trust me, the students will be over the moon to let the teacher know about something new in the room.

4.  Smile, because you just brought someone joy!

5.  Now, it's that teacher's turn to Pass the Bull Dog or whatever you decide to call this joy-giver.  Nope, it doesn't matter if the same teacher gets it twice, you have 35 weeks to pass this cutie around.

This idea was inspired by my reading of Unshakeable by Angela Waston.  Totally took another teacher's idea who shared about a similar idea online and tweaked it - don't we all do this!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Unshakeable Reflections - Part 2

Chapter 7 is all about being a force for good at your school.  Oftentimes, you can not change decisions that are made, what you have to teach, your staff, or your students, but you do have the power in how you proactively respond.

Here are a few pointers from the book:
1.  Don't engage negative co-workers in any way whenever possible - no matter what you say, the Debbie Downers are only going to see problems and want to drag everyone down.

*Don't let them waste your precious time, gripping to you or telling you why a new policy isn't going to work or add to your burden.  Odds are you may agree with their perspective, but if you are powerless to change the decision then why talk about why it's bad. You already know that you are going to figure out how you can make the decision work.

2.  Share what's working and support one another's teaching
*My takeaway was to go visit other classrooms (not just when you "have to" for peer reviews).  Chances are that you will see something that sparks your imagination or maybe you can just simply point out to them what they are doing right.  As Angela points out, it's rare for teachers to get genuine positive feedback.  Be that force for good in your fellow teacher's life.

3.  Stealthy JOY - One person on the Facebook book club page shared about secretly passing around an item around campus, I think it was a dinosaur toy.  It would just secretly appear in a classroom and the fun was in how long it took the teacher to notice it and then her job was to place it in the next person's room.  I am so ALL OVER this idea! I just bought a stuffed bull dog animal, a bull dog is our school mascot.  

Seriously, I can not wait until school begins to implement the gazillion of ideas I've read about in Unshakeable by Angela Watson, as well as the amazing ideas that teachers have shared on the Facebook page!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Back 2 School Boot Camp - 2015

This ACADEMIC summer camp is designed to help incoming 4th, 5th, and 6th graders dust off their brain cells while having phenomenal fun!

Small class size = lots of individual attention.

Back 2 School Boot Camp will give your student an academic boost in the areas of reading, writing,
and math, using lots of active engagement and tons of positive reinforcements.
DATES : August 17 – 21

Times:   9 am – 12 noon       Session 1
                12:30 – 3 pm           Session 2
                (extended day care is available)

Cost:       $125 + $25 nonrefundable
                registration fee for Session 1
                $175 + $25 nonrefundable
                registration fee for Session 1 & 2
                Extended daycare is available for
                a fee of $10 per hour

Location:  Contact Mrs. McCutcheon for location in Cypress

Students will need to bring their own lunch/snack AND one of the following: an iPad, computer tablet, laptop, or smart phone.

To register, email   

Session 1
Dynamite Math
*Cooking with Fractions
*Sweet Math (lessons involve candy)
*Measurement Madness
*Fast Facts Review

Wow Writing
*Inspiration Destination Writing Excursions - daily writing walks that will inspire students to write
*Tackling those Tricky Topic Sentences
*Perfect Paragraphs

Session 2
Rockin' Reading
*Reading for a purpose using online resources
*Citing Text Evidence
*Comprehension Review

Home Run Homework
*Setting up your study area
*Study Skills
*Test Prep
*Taking Notes

Imagination Destination Writing Excursions

Imagination Destinations Writing Excursions

Back 2 School Boot Camp believes in getting students outside in order to be inspired by the world we live in.

Each day campers will set out on a surprise destination and will use their senses to write exciting insightful narratives.  Destinations are within walking distance and writing will occur all along the way.  

At least one day will be devoted to nonfiction writing inspired by a nature walk.

Students will be able to take pictures to illustrate their stories during the writing process.  

"A Star and a Wish" feedback provided by me, as well as other campers, will take place various times during our writing excursions.

After we return to base camp, students will edit their story and then upload to a Back 2 School Boot Camp blog.  In this way, students will be able to share their writing inspiring other campers, family, and friends.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Becoming Unshakeable - Part 1

Are you stressed just thinking about the coming school year and all the work you know it's going to bring?  Check out Unshakeable by Angela Watson  I'm reading this book for the month of July and participating in a Facebook Book Club with over 2500 educators.

Here are some of my Aha moments and takeaways from this week's first 5 chapters, as well as some practices I'll begin implementing in the coming school year.

Chapter 2 - Allocate your time and energy wisely through productive routines.

I needed this chapter.  I am completely unbalanced when it comes to work because I'm passionate about teaching AND because all of my kiddos are adults (got a late start on becoming a classroom teacher) which means I actually have a lot of extra time to pour into my classroom.  However, this hasn't translated into using those extra hours time productively.  I am so easily distracted by a new idea or strategy or straightening up something that I often don't get done what needs to be done to help my classroom run more smoothly or take the stress out of all the paperwork that teachers are buried under daily.

New plan of action
1.  Set hours of AM/PM hours of work (outside of teaching/school hours) and stick to it!  When it's time to leave, leave.  So often, I justify staying late for an extra hour just to get something done, however, in the long run, I'm still leaving work stressed about all the work I didn't get done.  It's simply better to leave and be done for the day knowing that tomorrow is another day.  Also, this will allow me to gain balance with all other aspects of my life: family, friends, just relaxing, and some professional development - it's not going to happen if I'm always wrapped up in school work.

2.  When I'm at work, have a plan for my work hours (again, those that are outside of the school day of 8 am - 3 pm).  This means I'm going to plan to grade writing most mornings for an hour - this is one of my most procrastinated tasks because it takes so much time!  It's just not good for me to do this after school because I'm tired and already thinking about what needs to be completed and set up for the next day.  I find inputting grades to be mind-numbing, so I'll do that after school - then I can leave with a sense of accomplishment.  Those mid-day planning periods - I'm going to reserve for prep and grading - to be honest, I don't have many in the week, but I'm determined to make those 30 or 45 minute windows of time work for me.

3.  Someone shared about the 43 Folders System and after I googled it and watched a youtube, I thought it would be perfect organizational system for me, especially those pesky papers one must keep track of.  Basically, it's manila folders numbered 1 - 31 for the days of the month and 12 folders for each month.  You simply put each paper that needs to be addressed in the day/month folder that you need to deal with it.  For example, if I have a teacher observation on September 21, I would put the corresponding paperwork in that folder and come that day I know exactly where it is. Of course, I've already thought of a way to tweak it and I'm going to add my revolving subject lesson folders to the system. 

Chapter 3 - Establish healthy habits for bringing work home and decompressing.
To be honest, I decided that this first part is just not going to happen.  My goal is to leave work at work and I have done that for years.  The problem is that I was working 12 hour days most days - like I said, totally unbalanced work/life. I'm sticking to my rule, I'm just planning to work 9-10 hour days = balance for me. 

I have a pretty good exercise habit - I LOVE Jazzercising and do it at least 5 days a week, but there are more habits I would like to incorporate, such as blogging and it's only going to happen if I leave work earlier!

Chapter 3 - Determine how to do what really matters and forget the rest.
Now this is a hard one I think for most educators because so many things matter.  For me, this is translating into a complete educational philosophy revision, in particular regarding homework.  Homework has become stressful for all involved: students, parents, and teacher.  There are many reasons, some of which I agree with and some I don't, but the reality is that I need to make a substantial change in this area. In addition, this will free up my check in/grading time which will allow me to spend more time with my students.

My goal is to concentrate on life-long learning habits all students should be incorporating into their lives and throwing out the rest. 

I'm sure I'll be revisiting these goals, but I found that if you have a plan then there's a chance for change.  And change is needed!