Learn Like a Pirate: Improvement Focus vs. Grade Focus

I'm linking up with Amanda from The Primary Gal again for Chapter 4 of Learn Like a Pirate.
This chapter was all about providing feedback. I would like to think that I provide my kiddos with constant feedback, but after reading this chapter, there is more that I can work on.

There are a few questions at the end of the chapter that I’d like to reflect on. It was hard for me to relate to a lot of his experiences simply because I teach much younger students AND we don’t do a lot of group activities that they have full control over. As I’ve been reading this book, I’ve tried to understand how I could make these things happen or reflect life in kindergarten. This is one of the harder concepts for me.

1. How often do you give specific feedback to your students?
I give feedback often and not in great detail. I normally do not write on any of their work. This leaves it open for me to verbally provide them with praises and things that I think they need to work on. As I walk the room and check their progress during a whole group activity, I usually find groups to give feedback to at once or if I notice that one of my strugglers has done something really well, I give praise then. I did relate to the fact that Paul says he doesn’t try to correct them in the past tense. He states it in a way where it seems like they’re not being punished. I didn’t realize I did this until I read his words. I always say, “Well next time…” or something to that nature. One rule that we have is to try to never complain that something is hard. Kindergarten is where we PRACTICE. It’s okay if you cut your paper in the wrong place. We’re practicing. It’s okay if you have to erase and write that letter the correct way. We’re practicing. Feedback is a lot easier to give when they know it’s okay to make mistakes and that we’re all in this thing together.

2.     During which activities can you begin to offer regular feedback to your students?
Regular feedback can be given during reading small groups, math small groups, writing times… pretty much anytime throughout the day.

3.  How can you teach your students to be more focused on improvement and revision, rather than completion and grades?
This is one of those I cannot really relate, but I can things. I think this stems back to we’re practicing so you don’t have to be perfect and I don’t expect perfect. My kids know that I expect them to give there very best and that’s enough for me. We don’t always finish writing when they have writer’s workshop time. I have a folder made where they place their unfinished writing in the front. All of their completed writing is placed in the back. The next day during writer’s workshop, they check the front of their folders to get what they didn’t finish. I think this helps a lot and they learn to take their time. There isn’t a race and we’re not competing to see who can finish. My kids don’t realize or know anything about grades so I have it easy in that area.

4 and 5. I’m skipping these.

6. How can you encourage your students to keep improving their assignments, even after a unit has been completed?
 I am moving more towards revision. It’s quite a big task in kindergarten. We do simple things like checking to make sure we used more than 5 colors in our drawings. We go back and add more detail to our pictures. We add on to our writing if there is more that could have been said. It’s the very basic, but it’s a start. I think it helps them to be better thinkers, better writers, and overall better students in the long run.

7. How can you enlist the services of your students to provide meaningful constructive feedback?

Eeeek! I am not sure! I’ll be reading through the link up trying to get some ideas and to see if anyone mentions this. How is it that we can get kindergarten students to think on this level to their peers and to the teachers?

Yeah... this was a tough chapter for me. Sometimes I just cannot get in the mindset of doing things on a grander scale for five and six year olds.


TPT Seller Challenge: Week 2

Hey friends! I'm linking up with the 4 ladies over the TPT Seller Challenge again! This week is all about dreams. I think this is great because even though it may take us a while to achieve a big dream, it's always fun to think we're getting close.

Ahhh... these are really close to my heart and I won't go into MAJOR detail, but these are three of my dreams.

Life is difficult for a single teacher that has to pay everything alone. My first year teaching was probably the second hardest year of my life. Your coworkers have all these great ideas and you want to please everyone. I didn't have the money to buy class sets of shirts or to celebrate every single holiday. I didn't want to be the only one on my grade level "not doing it." I was the only unmarried teacher. There husbands all had really great jobs and it made it really easy for them to spend hundreds of dollars on their classrooms.

Me. Not so much.

As time has gone on, I've learned how to make my own classroom decor, reuse things that other people don't want and learn to make my life easier as a teacher. Teachers Pay Teachers has been a very small happiness of money cushion for me. I don't have great months every month, but a couple of extra dollars here and there helps a long way.

My dream is to finally be able to live comfortably. I'll probably be old and wrinkled before I ever pay off my student loans, but when the day comes, I'll be doing some type of Michael Jackson dance with zero rhythm with a HUGE smile on my face. Life could totally be worse, but it's not. So for that, I'm happy. Hopefully, my little TPT store will take me to the next level with achieving this goal a lot sooner than later.

You all said dream big right? If I could have any dream to come true it would be to have total peace everywhere. I tire of reading about killings and hate crimes and just MEAN people. My parents and my middle sister are all in law enforcement so I have a bias opinion when it comes to anything police related. I just want their jobs to be easier and for the people they have to deal with to start getting nicer instead of crazier. It's getting even crazier in schools as well. I want teachers to be able to go to work and ENJOY their jobs instead of living in fear of what parent is upset or who's mad about what.

I dream for the world to be at peace. How lovely would that be? Maybe this TPT journey will lead me on a path to help people find peace. I have to admit, I'm not the nicest person in the world; however, I just cannot stand negativity. I'm still unsure about this dream or how I would be able to help anyone.

After I moved off to college, most of my friends went their separate ways. I was fortunate that my two best friends came to the same college. We had a BLAST! Then, we graduated. People moved away. I started teaching. I made a friend at my first school and then I moved to another school. I made some really great friends there.

Then, I moved. AGAIN. But 5 hours away.

Two years later and I'm still missing my friends. I miss my family. I wish it was easier to just walk outside and find people to hangout with. I am SO thankful for IG, Facebook, my blog and all of my blogging friends that I've been able to meet in the process of this wonderful teaching journey. I could be miserable everyday, but I'm not. My favorite hobby is my job. With that in mind, all of you and your creative ideas, inspiring stories, and LOVING spirits helps to make life so much easier.

I feel like I have tons of friends that I've never even met before. This is why I am so excited about Vegas this year. The past year made living down here by myself exciting. I love my peeps from Elementary Entourage. Amanda from the Primary Gal has had so many different things that I've joined and been able to collaborate with.

That's it. Feels like I gave y'all a little piece of me that no one else knows about.


So you're going to the I Teach Conference in Vegas... Now What?

Are you going to any of the I Teach conferences in July? Well, I've got a FEW tips for you!  I wrote this post before going my second time. I've updated it (2016) with a few more things than I had before.

I know there are TONS of people going to Vegas in a few weeks. A lot of you are first timers. My first time going, I had no clue what to expect. I just knew I was going and would try to go with the flow. BOY – did I learn A LOT!

Here’s a few tips that may help you out if it’s your first time OR if you’ve never been to Vegas.

Take lots of pictures. Of EVERYTHING. I don’t mean outside where you’re sightseeing. You should take tons of pictures inside your sessions. The reason? When you leave, you are going to forget what all those great ideas were that you wanted to implement. If you take a picture of the slides that you’re like, “oh yeah! That’s a great idea.” when you get back home, you’ll have the picture to refer back to. Most of the presenters bring their charts, games, tons of examples and so much and they have it out for you to look at before the session begins or when it’s over. Take pictures of it all.

Just be sure you're allowed to take pictures of the slides. The presenter will let you know. :-)

If you have a small camera that takes great pictures, bring that. If your phone does a great job, bring that. Here’s a tip if you plan to use your phone. Bring a charger. The first year I had my Mac. I could just charge it using that. However, that thing isn't too light after a while.

My phone did not last through every single session. I had to charge it during one of the sessions even though it charged the entire night! That should show you how many pictures I was taking. To prevent this EVER happening, I bought this little goodie from Amazon for $12.99.  It's a portable charger. All you have to do is plug in your usb charger and boom! You have a charger wherever you go. It's so tiny, it won't be in the way at all.

There are more colors to choose from, but I decided on black. It is lightweight and works like a charm! My phone WILL not die for I Teach K this year.

Make sure to save all your pictures on your computer or on your cloud at night. This will free up all that space on your phone or camera so you’ll have enough space the next day. It stinks when it pops up and says you have NOOOOOO space for more pictures.

Jot down as many notes as you can. These will make all of your pictures make sense. As I heard things that I wanted to try, I made a quick note about it in a little notebook that I brought. I made sure to write each session and who the presenter was before I started notes. This helped to jog my memory when I went back through my notes and pictures about a week or so later. If not, my notes would have made ZERO sense. One year later and I still look back to my notes for ideas. I got so many ideas for things that I wanted to try and wasn’t able to.  I can still go back to my notes with pictures and ideas scribbled out to the side. If your note taking stills aren't fast enough for slides like this one, snap a picture of it and write down the essential information that you will take away from the presenter.

There will be SO many great ideas that you’ll get. BE SURE TO WRITE THEM ALL DOWN! It would be a shame for you to go and forget all those great ideas. I have a new notebook ready for Vegas. I'm bringing this as well as a notebook with all my session info in each one.

I live in the south so I know all about it being hot. However, we have a very humid hot. It’s not the same as in Vegas. You can dress comfortably outside with dresses, capri pants, shorts or however you’d like to dress. When you are in the conference rooms, it is quite cold. I wore a dress (very CASUAL) everyday and the first two days, I had to have on a jacket. I am cold natured. If you’re naturally hot, you may not need a jacket. Just remember when you're packing that it will be hot and you won't want to have on skintight jeans or really hot tops.

As far as dress goes, just remember. You're practically on vacation. You're not there to impress anyone. Don't feel like you need to wear heels and go all out. People will be there in tennis shoes, jeans, capris, shorts and so on.

There is some beforehand things that you need to take note of. Pack a tote bag to take with you to hold your session handouts. If you haven’t already printed off your session notes, get those printed. I made a binder last year and added some extra paper. This was great because I utilized the pockets for other little things that I picked up in the exhibition hall and during the sessions. It was hard enough for me to write on if I needed to. If you’re not a fan of binders, go get your handouts bound together to make a notebook. This will be super easy to slip down in your bag that you take with you.

On the note of packing, make sure to pack some tampons. If you know you don’t have those moments, don’t. If you’re rooming with other ladies, be sure to pack some. You never know who may need them and you might save the day.

From the airport to your hotel – I prepaid for a shuttle to take me from the airport and back when it was time to leave. I think it was around $8. There will be tons of taxis at the airport to take you to your hotel. This year, I think I will just get a taxi to do both. Don't forget to bring some actual money for this. I rarely have cash and it's nice to pay the drivers.

The conference area will be open for you to come in on Sunday to check-in/register. I think that’s what they are calling it. You will go in and get your bag, the SDE brochure will have all the sessions for the week, and your name tag with all the sessions that you signed up for. They also gave a binder with a notepad inside which is really convenient if you forget to bring your notebook. There may have been a pen inside, too! They give you a nice little lanyard to wear as well. It is VERY convenient because it’s hard to remember what you signed up for. Just look in the brochure to find the room numbers. I highlighted all of the sessions that I wanted to go to. You will be allowed to go in rooms that you did not register for if you change your mind. I found this VERY convenient. I changed my mind after signing up for the same presenter a few times. I wanted to see something different the 3rd time and liked that I didn’t have to go to what I signed up for.

So no worries if you’re having second thoughts about what you filled out when you registered.

The exhibition hall will be PACKED with tons of booths and vendors. These will range from TPT authors to big name teacher supply stores. They will be selling tons of manipulatives, teacher shirts, and some of the newest trends in education. It will make it a lot easier when you have money to pay for these things. This is the other reason you need a really sturdy bag. You WILL find something that you want. The past few years some of my favorites were dice and other little manipulative for my kiddos. I am hoping that the stamp people are back. I forgot to go back and buy these super cool ten frame stamps that I saw.

A+ Images will be there selling shirts! YOU WILL WANT A SHIRT! They made my shirt for the conference and all I have to say is that I LOVE it. They are so awesome to work with and the shirts are made extremely fast. They are an amazing company. I decided to have my blog name on the front and my blog button on the back. It makes it easier for people to recognize me if someone happens to be looking for me... *hint hint*

Save room in your suitcases when you are packing. After you spend that money on more shirts, manipulatives, souvenirs for your family, and tons of classroom goodies - you're going to need some space. I would leave at least a space inside a carry-on or part of your suitcase. You don't want to go over the luggage weight and have to pay any money, so make sure to save room. I didn't think about this the first year that I went. 
I'd like to take this time to give myself an award for being the MOST on point packer as I was leaving Vegas one of those years. YEP! 50 pounds on the DOT. I didn't have to pay any extras at the airport. THANK GOODNESS! This is all because I stuffed my carryon with most of my goodies that I purchased, lol. Just kidding.

SDE will give you a booklet with all the vendors that will be having a giveaway. There is close to 100, if not more. You will have to fill out your name, school name, school address and email. I knew to print out my information on labels beforehand. The Avery 5160 is the perfect size. If you can get in your classroom, I'm sure you have some to spare. Type all your information in and then just print. Take the labels with you to registration on Monday and then you can take a few minutes and place all the labels on each page in the booklet. When you are walking through the exhibition hall, it makes it a lot easier to walk by and drop in your information. Your hand will thank you because the space is SO tiny that you have to write in.

Who loves GoNoodle?! I do! GoNoodle will have a booth in the exhibition hall! I'll be hanging out with GoNoodle one day that week. You should TOTALLY come and have a dance party with us. You might win some goodies. You also can thank the amazing people over GoNoodle! They will be there with tons of swag!

I changed my lanyard to a GoNoodle one after I visited them!  I had to represent my love for them the rest of the week.

If you came alone or with a HUGE group of people, you should definitely mingle. As you're walking to sessions, stop and talk to other teachers. I went alone last year and I met SO many new friends. I posted this on instagram:

There is TWO wonderful women in particular that took little ol me in after I posted that. Vannessa and Claudia are amazing and I'm so sad they're not coming this year. Hopefully, next year we can have more fun! We had such a great time.

Instagram may be trouble for me... I also posted this:

And then Greg found me. I was so embarrassed when he did find me. He wasn't supposed to see my IG post... However, I am so happy that he did. I absolutely adore Greg. He is one of those people that has a true LOVING spirit and he's so welcoming and lovable and just awesome. I'm so happy that I met him in Vegas. I got to hang out in his classroom this year and can't wait to see him again in Vegas. He's amazing! Oh yeah, he presented last year and I'm bummed he's not presenting this year.

Even though you will be there with tons of stuff to do... take time every single day to just enjoy that you are in Vegas. I stayed up probably to 2 or 3 every single night there and got my tail up to be in my session by 8. TOTALLY WORTH IT! I plan to do that ALL over again in a few weeks. Live life to the fullest! I plan to do just that in VEGAS.

Blog Hoppin' had a really fun scavenger hunt that kept me entertained as well. I have read that so many people are going solo. Step outside your comfort zone and join in on all the social media fun that will be taking place. You will be able to find places to go, people that are going to eat and other things. If you're not in a Vegas FB group, you should be! There are so many teachers that you could spend time with. If you're going with friends, meet some more teachers and have a huge hangout session all week.

I totally asked this random guy in the airport to take a picture. Hey, I needed someone with tattoos, lol.

Eat all the food you know you shouldn't be. Drink all the drinks to make you happy and giggly. I even tried guacamole for the first time. NEVER. AGAIN. YUCK!

Kim Adsit was AMAZING. I would go back to her again this year if I hadn't already gone to three of her sessions last year. Our keynote was Marc Brown. HE WAS HILARIOUS.

And as a fun little note, here's what I'm packing. I've also provided you with a little checklist to remind you! Just print, write in, and CHECK OFF! If you're going to be in Vegas and you see me, come take a picture!

Clothes and Shoes

  • Flats (there will be a TON of walking)
  • Cute and comfortable sandals
  • Flip flops (can't go anywhere without my flip flops)
  • 2 pairs of wedges (for meet-ups in the evening)
  • 4 comfy dresses for dinner (I am going to an Educents dinner, Teacher/Blogger Meet-up, Pool Party/Secondary Meet-up, and the Primary Pack's Meet-up on Friday night)
  • Maxi dresses for the conferences
  • 2 pairs of shorts or capris
  • 2 lightweight tops
  • Jacket for the conference
  • Plane attire (as bummish as possible because that's when I'm the most comfy... hehehe. This will be lounge pants and a cute top possibly.)
  • Underwear
  • Pajamas
  • Socks in case my hotel is freezing
  • Swimsuit - doubt I'll get in a pool, but I need to be prepared
  • Swim cover up

Toiletries and Necessities
  • flight itinerary
  • license/ID
  • hotel information
  • money and debit cards
  • books for plane
  • blanket for plane
  • laptop
  • headphones
  • phone charger & PHONE!
  • wristlet
  • jewelry
  • make-up bag (plus comb/brush)
  • toiletries bag (toothpaste, soap, body wash, loofah, face wash, perfume/body spray, lotion, deodorant, razor, shaving cream, sunscreen, tampons, hair products)
  • medicine (I get really bad migraines so I have to be prepared)
  • sunglasses
  • snacks for room, conference, and plane ride
  • notebook for notetaking 
  • camera
  • pre-printed labels for the vendors
  • Notes notebook or binder
  • pens
  • materials needed for sessions (if you signed up for Make and Takes, it tells you what you need)
That's it! That's my list. Download a really easy and quick checklist to help prepare yourself for Vegas or pin it and print it off later. There's one for K, 1st, 2nd, and a general one for other conferences. Enjoy!

If you're going or wish you were going, what's something that you would HAVE to take? Let me know in the comments to make sure I didn't FORGET something. See you in VEGAS friends!

Learn Like a Pirate: Peer Collaboration

Are you loving this book as much as I am? Well we're all the way up to Chapter 3. Peer Collaboration. I absolutely adore when I notice my children are collaborating and I had nothing to do with it.

The author, Paul Solarz, teaches kids that are much older than mine. There is a huge difference in expectations for a fifth grader in comparison to that of a kindergarten kiddo. As I was reading this chapter, I tried to think of everything that he was saying in terms of how I could relate this to my classroom. I'm going to be honest, a few of these ideas will never happen in a kindergarten classroom. However, I think that most of it can be taken into consideration and used in a way that works for lower grades.

He asked 7 questions at the end of the chapter that I thought was a good reflection of what he wanted us to "get" as we read. Here's a few that stuck with me.

1. What is the purpose of giving students the power to interrupt the class when necessary?
When students have power in the classroom, it gives them a voice that they may have never had a chance to have before. The power to speak and let their concerns, ideas, and opinions be heard gives them a stepstool for confidence. This is also great practice for learning to respect others as they are speaking. Kids have a hard time realizing that it is disrespectful to talk while another student is speaking. This is a great way to teach them that everyone should have a chance to be heard in a respectful manner.

2. Why is it important for teachers to make a conscious effort to provide opportunities for students to lead the class?
Teachers should make an extra effort to allow every child to be a leader in some form because there are kids that have the capabilities of being great leaders, but are too shy to step up. This also makes the kids that are always willing to lead play a supporting role in the classroom. Students need to have time to learn how to manage their feelings and how they should act while in a leadership position as well as learning how to act when they are not. When students are able to take the lead in the classroom, I think they take more ownership and pride over their thoughts. They will learn to think before they speak as well instead of just blurting out.

4. Do you use Classroom Meetings to discuss life skills or classroom concerns? Describe how you (would) do that?
This is one my "need to do better" list. Yep. I said NEED TO DO BETTER. As a teacher, there is so many things that I can improve upon. Hence, why I read books. This is why I research new ideas. This is why I do tons of questioning to get a better understanding of things. I want my children to have the best experience the entire 175 days that they are with me. With that said, I need to be the best ME that I can be. I say all of that to say, classroom meeting time is one of my biggest struggles. I just don't know what to do. When I first started teaching, I didn't know anything about "morning meetings." We did calendar and went on about our day without just "talking."

With my AMSTI training, I was taught to do math workshop meeting time to discuss concerns and other small things. The students got time to saw what they did or didn't like and we discussed how we could fix it for either the next day or our next workshop. This is a very tiny form of meeting with my kids, but I'd like to have a full blown morning meeting every single morning. I can't say how I'm going to do it, but this year I want to meet with them every morning.

6. How do you teach your students empathy?
I never have. This chapter has added more to my to-do list as a teacher. I loved the way that he taught empathy to his students. Through the use of a book, his students' eyes were opened to an entire new world. They were able to step into the shoes of Auggie and realize how hard life can be at times. You never know what someone else has to go through on a day to day basis and a simple class read aloud allowed them to relate to the book.

That's it for chapter 3! You still have time to join us if you haven't already. Chapters 1-2 were easy reads and this one really gets you thinking, but wasn't too long.


Teaching with Intention: Chapter 3

I totally missed chapter 2's link up, but I'm back for Chapter 3! I'm linking up with this week's hosts! Thanks again to Greg to setting this entire thing up!

A few points that I LOVED about this chapter

These are key points in a classroom that I think are really important to think out. Every teacher should just sit down and think out their room mentally. It saves so much energy and time.

This week's chapter was RIGHT up my alley. Our of my teammates had to move down the hall. She had to move pretty quickly so the other person could move in and so on... people were waiting on her to allow about two more people to make the move. Before she even moved out, we had to clean out the room that she was moving in. The last day of school, I went in with another teacher and packed away everything. It was A LOT! This chapter made me think back to that day. We sorted things according to what grade level it could have been and took it to those grades. We threw away things that were decades old. We kept things that we thought another person might value. It is mentally draining.

As my friend moved her things in (the janitors eventually moved EVERYTHING else we were holding off on moving) and now there is just STUFF everywhere. I went to school one day to help her sort through the stuff. We did pretty much the same thing. We started by trying to get the same things in the same area of the room. Books here, math materials over there, teacher supplies here and so on. As we worked, I thought about how the room would eventually come together. As we were sorting away and PURGING, she was painting as well. The entire goal was to make the classroom feel like home. She has couches and other optional seating, a loft, muted colors and tons of storage to stay organized. These are all the things that teachers have to thing through to prepare their classroom for a livable environment. After cleaning out two classrooms, I thought, what about my classroom? Again, it's time to organize and purge. As I was shopping in Michael's I saw this CLEARANCE staring at me in my face. So what did I do? I walked BACK to the front of the store, got a shopping cart, and LOADED up.


I started with under my sink. Everything has to be in a container. A tub. Some sort of storage. If it doesn't fit into something, I'm getting rid of it. I got all of my paint from two different cabinets and put them into two containers. Now, when I'm ready for paint, I know they are sitting nicely in a tub. Last night, I started on the rest of my cabinets. This is all a part of the process for setting up the RIGHT environment. I move my furniture around SO many times before school starts and I do the same during the school year. If it's not working for us, I move around. Change is good. I don't change every week or every month, but if something doesn't flow - I try to fix it.

The next thing I'm going to do after I finish cleaning out and organizing all of my cabinets (and my restroom) is making sure that my shelving is student friendly.

Most of my bookcases are black from me previously painting them. I got this one when I first started working here and it was a very light shade of blue and VERY dirty. It was time for a beautification moment. I LOVE what it looks like now! If you follow me on Instagram (enchantedk), you've seen these pictures. Now, the room will flow. All of my furniture is going to be black and the little pop of color here and there won't be too much seeing as though my LIME walls take most of the attention. The rest of my bookcases are entirely black. I'm thinking about sitting this one at the front of the room.

As Debbie says in the text, I think out my spaces. I think this is SO important. My eyes flow through the room as if I were a child. Where would they walk to get glue? What if five people are trying to get a journal? Where should lunch boxes go? I ask myself tons of questions and rearrange to a layout that I think is both inviting and doable for the kids and myself. I could go on and on about environment because setting my classroom for learning is one of the most important things in my opinion. I get excited setting it up every year.

Couldn't find my original picture so I swiped this one from my EE post.

The library is one of my major TO-DO's this year. I've already made new labels this last school year that I really like. I am going to make stickers with the pictures for each and place them on every single book in my library. Yeah. This is my major need to do. I want to get this done so my kids and pull books and be responsible for putting them back in the correct place.

OKAY... this was LONG, but can you tell I really love my classroom environment? 

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