Well I started this little side adventure a little over a year ago, and I feel the same way I felt last February here. I felt that January had to have lasted at least 74 days. I actually think this January may have had 75! January allows the opportunity for a fresh start, or a book filled with 365 blank pages as some may say.
However, this past January was so rough on our family. We lost our Boston Terrier, Sweet Pea Sherman, and it was the hardest thing we have had to face. I’m ready for the rest of 2020 to get started. I hope February is kind to us. I’ve gotten back into my running routine. My mom and I are headed to London Fashion week for February break (lots of posts and information will be coming as we head out), and I think my caffeine tolerance has only increased these past few weeks. All things considering, I think February is looking up–or we can at least cross our fingers and hope!
What’s on your agenda for the month? The year?
Can I just say that spending the Christmas holidays in the sunshine and the sand was the best decision! We’ve spent the holidays in some unusual places, such as Ireland, Jackson Hole, and Tokyo; however, the beach was the best place we’ve spent the winter holidays! 2019 was a rough year around our household, as I know it was for many others. To take a week to just marinate in the sun, read books, sleep, and eat was amazing!
Also, if you have never been to the island, we highly recommend it! The people were super friendly, and the weather was great while we were there. The resort we stayed at was close to the hotel at Maho Beach where you can watch the airplanes land and take off. The resort we stayed at was Sonesta Ocean Point, and it is an adult-only resort with a family-side option. We enjoyed being able to hang out on the quieter adult side though.
Did you vacation anywhere for the holidays?! Favorite places to visit during the winter holidays? I know some people prefer colder locations for skiing and snowboarding, but I think the beach is the way to go!
When I started this blog journey this previous February, I began with thoughts about how we make goals, plans, and resolutions going into a new year. Right now many people are still caught up in the holidays of 2019 and haven’t thought about looking towards 2020 yet. However, some people are already working on 2020 goals or resolutions for the new year. What are you going to focus on looking towards 2020? Healthier lifestyle? Quit a bad habit? Start a new hobby? Make a connection with a new person or group?
Some people have a specific word for each year, such as gratitude or purpose. Other people may focus on short term and long term goals for different areas of their life, such as health or career goals. I am interested in hearing from people who make goals or resolutions–whatever you may call them!– for the new year and if you end up following through on these past January or not.
One year I decided no goals or resolutions because then I can’t feel like I didn’t achieve them because I never had a set goal in mind. In other words, everything I did was awesome, right?! Another year my husband and I wrote three short term goals and three long term goals and put them on our bathroom mirror. I felt this didn’t work because again if I didn’t achieve those goals then I wasn’t successful…even though I do A LOT in a year that can’t even be measured or turned into a resolution. For example, what about all the coffee I drank that year?! HA!
So how do measure a year? Short of busting into the song from Rent–should we measure our successes? Failures? Wishes?
As we gear up for the holiday season, many times I feel like the upcoming weeks are just downward spiral of fun, lessons, activities, and craziness all at the same time. I know that we only have three full weeks between coming back from Thanksgiving break and starting Christmas break. I would love to hear about the activities you have planned for your students. Below are a few activities we try to do or have done in the past with classes.
- American Symbol videos- These are videos we’ve done for the past few years with our kindergarten students. They complete a report about the bald eagle or another American symbol, and I film them sharing their report using the TouchCast app and our green screen. I then upload the student videos to the teacher’s Seesaw account, and we print QR codes to put on each student’s report. Parents can then scan and view their videos during the Thanksgiving feast. Students and parents love watching these each year. If you have parents coming into the building for events, any type of video would be a great idea!
- Christmas in the Trenches– I have done this activity with my fifth graders the past few years. Many times around December break the fifth grade students are studying trench warfare in social studies. The classes visit the learning commons, and we read Christmas in the Trenches. Afterwards we watch Sainsbury’s chocolate ad from Christmas 2014 that is based on Christmas in the Trenches with a short re-telling of the story. Finally, the students create their own form of warfare after we discuss how trench warfare wasn’t truly effective. The students get into groups of 4-6, each group gets a bag of supplies to use (supplies included popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, and pom poms), and the students then have to plan a model of their own warfare and be able to describe it the group.
- The Polar Express celebration- While I don’t have a train conductor’s outfit, we do set up the learning commons to look like a train, punch the student’s tickets with a hole punch, and we do a grade level reading and celebration of The Polar Express with our first grade students. Many times we plan this celebration on our school-wide Polar Express/pajama day, so everyone is in the spirit along with us.
- Holiday makerspace stations- During the month of November I tried to have a makerspace station involving different holidays or items students are thankful for them to incorporate into their projects. For example, stations included writing a letter to someone you are thankful for, creating your own holiday greeting card, designing an inspirational poster for someone else, or making a friendship bracelet to give to someone else. I hope to continue a variety of thankful/giving back or holiday celebration stations in the makerspace heading into December this week. If you have other ideas, please feel free to share them with me!
I’ve gotten a few messages about makerspaces on social media recently asking about our school’s makerspace and how I run it along with our media program. For those local and interested, I will be doing a session at GaETC on November 6th alongside another media specialist in the county about how we started, run our programs, and use our maker resources to teach curriculum-based instruction.
Essentially, there are three pieces to our makerspace. The first piece is our maker mornings option. I host morning maker sessions for our 2nd-5th grade students from 7:15-7:45 each morning. This is after hosting only maker Mondays last school year. By focusing on a different grade each morning, I am able to have more students utilize the space and resources. The morning sessions consist of four different stations or options for students to work on. I try to change the stations every week or every other week. The stations usually consist of some type of coloring option (we will laminate their finished color creation if the students want), some type of technology option such as coding or gaming, some type of building challenge with legos, magnets, or brainflakes, and then some type of craft or creation option. I try to keep the morning stations out during the day school day as well, so students can finish or work on stations they are interested in.
The second piece to our makerspace is open sign-in during the school day. This means students just need a pass from their teacher to sign in and work in the makerspace. Some students come to work on a project from their teacher, such as this choice board from Esperanza Rising (choice board is a freebie I created from a free template from Brooke Brown’s TPT). Other students may earn time in the makerspace as a behavior incentive from their teacher, and they are able to select the project they want to complete. Either way, we serve about 80-100 additional students through makerspace visits each week.
The third and final piece to the makerspace is whole group instruction. This is what my heart loves to see! I love it when a teacher comes to me to see how we can integrate the makerspace into their classroom instruction. While independent exploration of the makerspace is great, whole-class instruction that works to meet a curriculum standard is even better! For example, our fifth graders use the makerspace to complete their genius hour final product. Also, I have it in the works for the PE coach to make use of the space and resources to make jump ropes for our jump rope for heart school-event. This culmination of resources and teaching is essentially what drives my instruction and love of our makerspace!
Please feel free to reach out to me about questions or ideas for projects you have! I am always brainstorming different projects and how I can have our kiddos create in our makerspace!
For some school library media specialists, book fair season is in full swing. Our district had an early-release conference week this past week, and many schools host book fairs during this week in their media centers. Besides boxes of erasers, pencils, spy pens, and pointy fingers, Scholastic sent some great titles this book fair! They brought back some older titles like The Hallo-Wiener (one of my favorite Halloween books!) and many state award book nominees from last year.
Top Titles from our fair last week:
The Forgotten Girl, India Hill Brown: I haven’t read this book yet, but many students bought this book for the scary aspect. Our scary genre is my least favorite, so I normally only read the top titles. I see myself eventually getting to this one–maybe this summer when I can sleep with the lights on?
Dog Man, Dav Pilkey: The entire Dog Man series was a hit this year. I liked the fact that Scholastic sent the whole series (on the same cart, same shelf), so there was no searching for a missing title or only having the most recent one. Also, students were able to pre-order the newest title due out on December too.
Allies, Alan Gratz: Anything Alan Gratz is popular in our collection! I had two re-stock boxes of this title that I put out over the course of the week. Even parents commented how they like his titles or his writing.
Stick and Stone, Beth Ferry: This beautifully illustrated picture book examines bullying and how stick and stone became the best of friends. This book was popular for students and teachers.
Guts, Raina Telgemeier: The newest graphic novel by Telgemeier was a huge hit at our book fair! I’ve only read the first half, but it tackles some pretty intense topics dealing with anxiety and how our students may react to different high anxiety situations in their lives.
As we get closer to this holiday season, we get closer to my 30th birthday. I thought I would have it together by the time I was 30…I went out for tacos three times last week. I don’t have it together— maybe by the time I’m 40?
I did start thinking about all the things I haven’t done that I figured I would have done by now. We all have these wonderful, far-reaching goals that we never achieve by the time we’re 30 or even achieve at all in some cases. I know talking about your bucket list sounds morbid, but really we need a list of these ideas or goals that we may never actually do to drive us forward at times. OR should I say DO we really need this list to drive us forward? I love planning a trip for the coming summer or thinking about the next weekend of playing Netflix catch up. Does looking forward to the future of what is to come is what drives us from year to year?
What did you think you would have accomplished by the time you turned 30? Did you think you would have written a novel? Had a family of four? Driven across the country? Stayed up all night to watch the sunrise? I have done none of these things; however, if you search Pinterest for the list of 30 of before 30, those things top the lists! What in the world have done with my 30 years then?!
While I’ve never driven across the country (I max out around 6-7 hours in the car) or stayed up all night to watch the sunrise (I love sleep too much), I feel like I have done a lot in 30 years. I’ve completed three degrees, ran two half marathons, visited over 20 countries, and read more books than I could keep track of. These are still important achievements, right? Of course they are! Maybe I’ll make it to all seven continents by the time I’m 40?! Lofty goal indeed!
What is the one thing you thought you would have done by the time you were 30 that never happened? I’ve asked this question to lots of people, and I’ve heard all types of answers. They range from paying off student debt or mortgages, traveling to Europe, getting married or having a family. So what was is the one thing you just knew you would have done before the big 3-0, but it just didn’t happen? And what are you going to do about it?