Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ron Clark Academy

At the beginning of my teaching career I remember coming home and my mom telling me I needed to watch Oprah. There was a teacher named Ron Clark on her show and he had an amazing story and a new book. I was so inspired, and as Ron said in our training, "Oprah held that book to her bosom and told me to buy his book", and I did.  I bought his book, The Essential 55 the very next day. 

When my friend Hope King told me her sweet, talented husband was going to work for Ron Clark Academy, I wasn't surprised.  If there ever was a teaching power couple, it would be the Kings. They are downright amazing!  And of course... Hope was in Atlanta for a hot minute before she was working for the Academy as well.  

I have been blessed through blogging in many ways, but the biggest blessing has been the friendships I've made.  These girls aren't my "blogging" friends, they are some of my best friends.  Each year, as good friends do, we take a girls trip. This year just happened to be the perfect combination of our love for teaching and our love for spending time with each other.  

So we headed to Atlanta to visit our friend Hope and watch Hope and her husband Wade in action, at Ron Clark Academy.  And let me just tell y'all, it was one of the most amazing teaching experiences of my life. 

As we stood outside a large iron gate waiting to enter, an energetic man in blue came zipping out of the gates to lead us in.  Just picture Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, because folks it was straight out of the movie! He led us into a beautiful library complete with a trampoline and students cheering, singing and teachers jumping!  The energy at the academy is contagious. 

After an introduction from the sweet Kim Bearden, cofounder of the Academy and a powerful speech from Ron, we were on our way to observe in the classrooms, attend workshops and take in the magic that is RCA.  

Can y'all imagine if this was your school? I mean, how could you not love to come? 

The teachers at RCA are beyond talented, the students are downright amazing, and the lessons I learned were so powerful.  It was one of those times, where you never want to leave, but can't wait to get home and share everything you learned with every teacher you know.  I felt so inspired and empowered I wanted to run back to my classroom, jump on a table and teach my heart out.  And lets just talk about the students! The most polite, witty, smart kids you'll ever meet. Friends, the math these kids were doing in 5th grade, made me darn glad I taught 1st grade. They are brilliant!  I wanted to grab them up, put them in my pocket and take them home.  

Kim and Ron both did workshops that were so inspirational and of course I cried.  And I must say they bragged on our sweet Hope and I cried again.  I'm just so darn proud of her! And this is why... 
Yep... That's the door to Hope's classroom.  Her creativity is endless.  Her passion for teaching is beyond compare, and work ethic is unmatched.  She gives Ron Clark a run for his money. They are seriously somehow related.  And this would be her room...
And it's still not finished. I can't wait to see when it's complete. 

At the end of the school day, we got slide certified.  Thank goodness this girl didn't flip upside down, because darn y'all, that slide is slippery. But,  I love what that slide stands for.  It stands for being different, being a risk taker, teaching with passion and motivating your students.  It reminds me to not take the stairs, think of new ways to teach the mundane and make it something every student is excited to learn.  

And then you'd think our day would be done... but friends, we're at RCA with Hope King. And if y'all didn't know, that girl doesn't sleep.  So we kept right on and followed her to the very first basketball game in their new gym.  And in Ron Clark and Kim Bearden fashion, there was nothing ordinary about this middle school basketball game.  And I mean nothing! From a floor that was on fire, to smoke, score boards the size of my classroom and kids running the music, this game was nothing short of amazing.  I'll warn you though, DO NOT SIT DOWN! Ron Clark will fuss you out! You better stand, cheer, sing and dance at all times.  It's hard not too anyway. It's such a powerful crowd and their energy is contagious.  

So y'all! Tell Starbucks you'll be back later and start saving, because this trip is worth every penny! Every teacher in America should go.  Run...don't walk! It will change your teaching forever and make your teaching heart so full! 

(Photos courtesy of RCA)

If you want more information on RCA:

Monday, January 19, 2015

Are y'all still there?

Seriously, with as long as it's been since I've blogged I'll be surprised if anyone even reads this post, but here it goes.  This is what we've been up to in first grade. 

The past two weeks have been filled with snowy fun.  We used my Snowy Day reading unit.  The kids love this book and I love that the reading level is so appropriate for my kiddos.  Here are a few of the activities we completed last week. I broke my kiddos into ability groups and they completed a sequencing activity.  They love working together and I love how serious they are when they are working together.  It makes my teacher heart so darn happy. 

We also worked on Main Idea. My kids are rockstars at using the details in the story to determine the main idea. 

We also talked about cause and effect. What I love about this, is when we finish these group activities I often send them off to get their book boxes, full of books on their reading level and they practice these skills with their books.  This is a great way for me to assess how I well they understood the lesson.
 This compound word activity was also fun. I hid the word around the room and after they found them, we made matches.  

And no snowy week is complete without a snowy making words activity. 

A hot mess, why yes! But we like to have fun.  

This coming week we'll be learning all about Martin Luther King Jr. 
I just created a unit using Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King.  I can't wait to start this unit.  
It not only includes step by step lessons, anchor charts that are needed and printable for each lesson, it also includes an emergent reader to be used during social studies time and worksheets that can be used a fillers or morning work.  
I hope you have a wonderful, short week! 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sunday Sneak Peek!

I'm trying to get my game face on and prepare for tomorrow.  I'm not going to lie, it's hard to get back in the groove. I've enjoyed these past two weeks with my boys. We've had lots of fun this break.  Making memories and enjoying my family are going to be big for me this 2015. I've also started a new round of Whole 30, so getting fit and healthy are also high priority.  

Here are my plans for this week.  I'm excited for some snowy fun! I just hope we don't get actual snow. In fact I'm planning on using our snow cone machine for our snow experiment this year and that's perfectly fine by me.  The less wintery weather, the better! 
Click below to download my plans and then click on images for more info or sources.

For more information on my morning work or shared reading units, click the links below. 

Have a great week! 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Years Sale and Freebie

Happy New Years Eve friends! My Blog Hoppin' friends and I are throwing a New Years Sale. So you can hop on over to any of our stores and get lots of goodies at a discount.

If you are looking for ready to go reading plans or just tasks that are meaningful for morning work or fast finishers, check out the videos below.  I also created a little New Years inspired To Do printable. Click to download free!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Christmas Questionnaire: 2014

Last year I set up this fun little linky party, so I thought we'd do it again.  I love hearing about fun Christmas traditions and seeing how everyone celebrates the season.  
So here we go! 

1. When do you decorate? 
We usually decorate the day after Thanksgiving but this year I just couldn't wait.  I was so excited for lights and stockings. Here are a few of our decorations.  

2. Elf or no elf? 
I have an elf both at home and in the classroom. They are a bit of pain to keep up with, but the magic for my kiddos is totally worth it.  Here are few of our elf photos. 
Our School Elf Jingle
Our elf at home, Elfie.
3. Christmas Cookies or No Baking for You? 
I remember making cookies each year with my mom and I still carry on the tradition with my boys. But I also have an annual baking night with two of my sweet friends. This year we included the husbands. It was a Bourbon and Baking night. You can probably guess what the men did.  We love these cookies with holiday M and M's!

4. Favorite Holiday Tradition? 
Mine would have to be a tradition we just started a few years ago.  We do Random Acts of Kindness each day in December before Christmas.  Yesterday the boys took Christmas cookies to an elderly neighbor. We often pick up the tab for someone or hand out gift cards as people enter a store. Sometimes we just draw pictures and say thank you.  We also started this new tradition. The boys pick one book a night to unwrap and read each night. They love it and I cherish our bedtime routine. 

5. Favorite Christmas Movie? 
I have to say I have many.  We always have to watch the Elf on the Shelf Movie to kick off the season, as well as Elf, Christmas Vacation and The Grinch. How cute is this Elf shirt? Love Crystal's t-shirts. 

6. Snow or No Snow? 
Do you like a White Christmas? I think Christmas is the only acceptable time for snow. After Christmas, I'm so over cold weather.  I would love to move to Miami just for the months of Jan.-April. 

7. Favorite Christmas Song? 
Mary Did You Know? will always be my favorite. I especially love the Pentatonix version this year. 
8. Favorite Gifts to Give and Get? 
Here are some gifts I've purchased this holiday season and a few I'd love to receive. In fact, a few I purchased and kind of want to keep.  You can click any of the pictures below to check out the items. 


If you want to link up your Christmas Questionnaire I would love to read it! Just add my button above and link back to this post. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sunday Sneak Peek!

I'm linking up with my friend Deedee! You can check out her linky party here! Here is a peek at week and a look back at some of the things we did last week. We'll be continuing our Holidays Around the World unit, reading If You Take a Mouse to the Movies and going on field trip to the Children's Theatre. I also have my big OTES evaluation on Tuesday.  It will be a busy week for this teacher.  Check it out by clicking the image below.  

Last week we had a week full of elf fun. We used my Santa's Little Helpers unit during Shared Reading time.  

 We compared the Littlest Elf and the Little Christmas Elf.
 We also discussed character traits. 
 We also talked about data collection and ways to represent data. 

We also continued our travels to Sweden. Here are my St. Lucia and Star Boys.  
 We also traveled to Mexico. Here are our pinatas.  
I hope you all have a festive week!