Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Sunday Scoop {7/26/15}

The Sunday Scoop is based on the popular 3-2-1 graphic organizers so many of us use with our students. Tell us three things you HAVE to do, two things you HOPE to do, and one thing you're HAPPY to do. If this is your first time linking up, check out all the details on our Sunday Scoop page, then link up below! If you're sharing your Scoop on Instagram or Twitter, use #thesundayscoop and #teachingtrio so we can find it!!

Here's the Scoop on my week...

I can't believe I go back to work tomorrow. This has felt like the shortest summer EVER! At the same time, I am excited to see what this year has in store! What's on your to-do list today?

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    An InLinkz Link-up

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Growing a Healthy Classroom Mindset

You know how you browse the internet while mindlessly watching something on T.V. Well one day I happened upon a video. That video really caught my interest. I just couldn't shake some of the things the lady said. That video led me on an extensive internet search. I just had to find out more. That video then led me to a book. And eventually led me to a change in my thinking about my students, my teaching, and myself.

The woman speaking was Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. And the title of the video was "The Power of Yet". She was teaching on mindsets - the fixed mindset versus the growth mindset. And what she was saying shook me to the roots of my being. No joke. It was like a classic AHAAAAA! moment. To summarize: fixed mindsets lead to failure and growth mindsets lead to success. Even briefer (use your best caveman voice)- fixed mindset "bad" and growth mindset "good". When I reflected upon myself, I realized I had a mixture of both mindsets. In some areas of my life, the growth mindset is absolutely embedded in my way of thinking. But in other areas, the fixed mindset ruled.

Here is a graph to help give you the basics of each mindset.

I couldn't help but connect what I was learning about mindsets with my Christian beliefs. It actually fits right in with God's way of thinking. The word is filled with people that were chosen to become more than what was expected of them. Examples are David, Gideon, Joseph, Esther, Ruth, Peter, and Paul. God helped each of them rise above their circumstances of birth. One of my favorite verses is Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  My question is, "Why have I not been applying this to every area of my life?"

I also started thinking about my students and their mindsets. I see so many students that fall into that fixed mindset category. They give up so easily. They don't try new things. They back away from challenges. How can I help them?

I came up with a plan- start the year off training my students in the growth mindset. I plan to teach my class about each mindset and why we need to have the growth mindset. I also want to instruct them in what I feel are the "tenets" of a growth mindset.

Of course I created a product to help!

Growing a Healthy Classroom Mindset is designed to cover at least 20 days of instruction. Teachers introduce the basic knowledge concerning mindsets and brain research. They then present a growth mindset statement each day. Discuss the statement and what it means. As each statement is covered, add the accompanying poster to a bulletin board to create an inspiring display that can be referred to throughout the year. Introduce concepts with a PowerPoint, posters, and student handouts.

Growing a Healthy Classroom Mindset!

 Here is Dweck's video that started my journey.

If you would like to know more, here are a couple of links to articles about Dweck's research and book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Educational Leadership: The Perils and promises of Praise
Scientific American: The Secret to Raising Smart Kids

What mindset are you?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday Scoop! {7.19.15}

The Sunday Scoop is based on the popular 3-2-1 graphic organizers so many of us use with our students. Tell us three things you HAVE to do, two things you HOPE to do, and one thing you're HAPPY to do. If this is your first time linking up, check out all the details on our Sunday Scoop page, then link up below!

Here's the Scoop on my week...
Can't wait to hear all about your week/day!! Link up below with your Sunday Scoop!

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Friday, July 17, 2015

3 Ways to Find More Time in your Day (w/ a freebie!)

Time. It's the one thing we all have the exact same amount of, and yet, so many people seem to have so much more of it than me! I've learned, through book studies, the TPT conference, and even my pastor, that the difference isn't how much time we have, but how we USE it.

Teaching, blogging, being a mom and wife... It all seems to add up to me being busy all the time, and never feeling like I have enough time to get everything done. This school year, I am committing to maximizing the use of my time so that I feel like I have all the extra time my friends seem to have. Ok, maybe not "extra" time, but I'm hoping I at least have enough time that I can accomplish all I want to and still have time to spend focused on my family at the end of the day.

Disclaimer: The following will be a list of what I *hope* to do, not necessarily what I am actually doing right now! We all need goals, right? And maybe putting them in print will help me stick to them! Here's my plan for increasing the amount of time I have left at the end of each day:

1. Budget your Time

John Maxwell says, “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” The same is true of budgeting your time. If we don't plan out our time, at the end of the day, we'll wonder where it all went.

On Sunday afternoons, I've started sitting down, with my husband, and looking at what's going on for our week. (Don't wait until right before bed, or you'll go to bed thinking about your to-do list and your schedule instead of peacefully falling asleep!)

When we figure out what's going on for the week, we start filling things in on our calendar. I schedule out all of our must-do's first, like work and appointments. Then, I start penciling in everything else: dinners, cleaning up, family time, TPT work time,  etc. When you write it all out, you might realize you have more free hours than you realized. It's all about being conscious of how you spend your time, rather than letting it slip away.

I made a weekly calendar in Excel to work from every week, and I have my school schedule and some of our "every week" items filled in already. I'm sharing it here as a freebie for you to use to get started! You'll need to install some fonts in order to see it the way I created it (because I'm a KG Fonts addict!): KG Strawberry Limeade, KG All of Me, & KG Drops of Jupiter. Click on the picture to download your freebie & get started budgeting your time!

2. When you're at work, work!

We all know THAT girl. Some of us ARE that girl! The one who comes into your room after school or during planning and distracts you from what you were planning to get done. I will readily admit that many days, I am that girl, and I'm the reason neither of us are getting any work done. (I'm sorry!)

This year, I am going to focus my energy during the school day on accomplishing all of the school tasks I can, instead of bringing things home. Truth be told, we have far more planning time at school than most of us are really using. Today, I'm vowing to change that. Here's the plan:

  • During planning time, spend the entire time working in your classroom, making copies, etc.
  • If you have to, lock your door and turn off the lights. Even if someone knows you're in there, nothing says "I don't want to be interrupted right now" like a dark room and a locked door!
  • Before and after school, go straight to your room, without making pit-stops to chat with coworkers and friends. If you're missing those chats with friends, save them for the last 10 minutes of the day, on your way out, after the work is done.
If you're from my school, and you're reading this, I love you all very much, but I have to get more done during the school day. Let's go out for happy hour on Fridays and catch up. It'll be more fun than gabbing in our classrooms during planning time anyway! P.S.: None of this applies to lunch! I need a break in the middle of the day just like everyone else!

3. Eliminate Distractions

Tell me if this thought process is familiar:
"I just need to grade a few papers tonight... And write that one blog post... I'll sit here on the couch and watch a little TV while I work... Ooh! I love this show... Was that a Facebook notification?... Aww! Look at how cute my son is playing with his new toy... I've been working for hours, and I haven't accomplished anything!"

I used to think if I had the TV on, checked my social media occasionally constantly, and had my family nearby, it wouldn't *feel* as much like work. In truth, though, it just makes the work take longer because I am distracted! Now that I've realized how much faster I can get my work done if I just focus, I'm doing things a little differently.

During those scheduled work hours I mentioned earlier, I sit at my desk, where I can't see the TV. I've turned off lots of the social media notifications I used to get on my phone that would distract me. When I am able to focus my energy on the tasks at hand, I get them finished so much faster. Better yet, the time I have left to spend with my family is quality time, not "distracted mama who is working instead of playing with me" time.

Along those lines, I hereby grant you permission to stop feeling guilty taking your child to daycare while you work at home! Here's my rationale for the way I handle daycare over the summer and on holidays:

  1. I have to pay for daycare every day, all summer, to hold his spot for the school year. 
  2. I have work I need to get done.
  3. He loves his class, and he will be much happier playing with his friends this morning than playing alone while I work.
  4. If I pick  him up as soon as nap-time is over, we still have several hours of the day left to play together, go on special outings, etc. before dinner. 
  5. I've found that if I get up, take him to daycare, and get straight to work, I can accomplish as much between 9am and 2pm as I would in an entire day trying to work and be the mama at the same time. 
  6. He's not feeling ignored. I'm getting more work done. Our time together in the afternoon is more meaningful because I can focus on him. It's a win-win!

How are you finding more hours in the day? I'd love some more ideas! Share them in the comments below!
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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Scoop: {7/12/15}

The Sunday Scoop is based on the popular 3-2-1 graphic organizers so many of us use with our students. Tell us three things you HAVE to do, two things you HOPE to do, and one thing you're HAPPY to do. If this is your first time linking up, check out all the details on our Sunday Scoop page, then link up below!

Here's the Scoop on my week...

What are you up to this week? Vacation? Visitors? Or maybe a pool day? Link up with us and let us know!

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Using Arcademics to Build Skills

Technology Thursday is a USUALLY a weekly linky dedicated to all things technology related. Check out our Tech Thursday page for details on how to link up!

During the summer Tech Thursday will be a MONTHLY link up! The link will begin on the 2nd Thursday of the month and stay open until the next month!

This month I am going to share all about a great website (that is also available as an app) that I discovered towards the end of the year.
Arcademics is a great website that has skillfully combined academics with fun arcade like games. Students do not need an account to play any of their 60+ FREE games that practice a variety of skills (both language arts and math). Check out what games are available... don't they all look like fun!
Did you look closely at that top picture? You can select games based on a skill or based on a grade level! There are times when I will tell my students to pick a multiplication practice game. They select "multiplication" and up pops 7 games for them to choose from. All of which practice multiplication. Sometimes I just want them to focus on language arts games but only focus on fourth grade standards. They would then select "Language Arts" and "Grade 4" and the website narrows it down for them! Pretty fabulous!

Here are some shots of some of the games in progress. All of the games are played with multiple players so students can play against friends, or they can just play against a computer player.
Those last couple games are spelling games which my students just LOVE. The computer tells you a word to spell. You type them out (they don't even realize that they are practicing their typing skills at the same time) and if you get a letter wrong it gives you another chance before quick flashing the letter. This allows some of my lower learners to still feel successful!

Another bonus to Arcademics, it is available as an app too! When we roll out 1:1 devices next year, this is definitely an app that I will be requesting!
I thought I would throw it out there that there is also a paid version of the website (I think the pricing is $100 a year for a classroom or just $20 for homeschool or small group). The paid version (Arcademics Plus) allows you to data track your students and customize game content. You better believe I will be asking our tech director if this is something I could pilot in my classroom! The data looks pretty fabulous and it is something my students could work on at home if they have internet access or access to smart devices.

Check out Arcademics, you seriously won't be sorry that you did!

** Remember, Tech Thursday is monthly for the summer. The linky will stay open all month long so feel free to link up whenever you get a chance! Can't wait to see your tech tips, tricks and fun new websites and apps!**

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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sunday Scoop - Vegas Edition

The Sunday Scoop is based on the popular 3-2-1 graphic organizers so many of us use with our students. Tell us three things you HAVE to do, two things you HOPE to do, and one thing you're HAPPY to do. If this is your first time linking up, check out all the details on our Sunday Scoop page, then link up below!

Here's the Scoop on my week...

Woohoo! So excited to head to Vegas on Tuesday. If you're coming too, let me know in the comments, I'd love to meet you!

Link up your Scoops below!

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    An InLinkz Link-up

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Favorite Things: Spending Time with My Teens

It is often hard to find time to spend with your own children once they reach a certain age. Mine have reached that age. They are teenagers. Yikes! My son is 19 and a sophomore in college, and my daughter is 16 and a junior in high school.  

It has gotten increasingly hard to find any time to spend with them and that they WANT to spend with me.  They have jobs, friends, sports, etc. Mom is just not as cool as she used to be! Movies are great- got them introduced to Jurassic Park- and they love to let me pay for dinner, but here are a few of the other things we do that help keep us "bonded" together.

I know some of them are T.V. related, but a mom does what she needs to when trying to catch a minute (any minute) with her uber busy teens!

The Favorite Things Linky is a great way to share your 3 favorite anythings! Grab the template and button and link up below! If this is your first time linking up, check out our Favorite Things page for more details!

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