Wednesday, January 22, 2014

10 Random Facts...

It's Wife Wednesday, and I thought it would be fun to ask Hubby to give me 10 random facts about himself. We've been together for over 20 years, so let's see if he'll surprise me!

10 Random Facts About Hubby (as given by Hubby himself):

1. "I don't need glasses." Wait...he didn't need glasses until he turned 43.
2. "My 1st concert was Cool and the Gang at Six Flags."
3. "I'm the baby of my family."
4. "I've painted houses for over 30 years."
5. "My first car was a '79 Mustang that wouldn't run when it rained."
6. "My favorite color is blue."
7. "My favorite food is a Chick-fil-a sandwich. "
8. "My favorite restaurants at Disney World are The Flying Fish and Ohana's."
9. "I paid my own way to college."
10. "My family had about10 different breeds of dogs when I was growing up: golden retriever, English springer spaniel, Brittany spaniel, pug, German shorthaired pointer, sheepdog, vizsla, English bulldog, and Bassett hound."

And there you have it, not too many surprises for me. I guess I know him pretty we'll after all these years!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Teacher's Job is Never Done: Reviewing Curriculum Standards

Today I want to talk about curriculum standards on Teacher Tuesday. As educators, we teach using standards by subject area to guide instruction.  One of my favorite things to do is to analyze standards. That's what I'm doing tonight:
I have stacks of documents all focusing on teaching language arts in 2nd grade. I also have lots of devices across the table where I can have access to other electronic documents as needed. My goal is to compare the current Common Core Language Arts standards to the previous GPS standards and to standards from other states that are modifying Common Core. 
"Why am you doing that?"
I'm glad you asked...
Our school is preparing for a vertical team meeting on Language Arts soon. Since I am new to 2nd grade this year, I want to make sure I know where we've been and where we're going in Language Arts instruction.  
This comparing and analyzing the standards also helps me make sure I am being the best Language Arts teacher that I can be. Are my students getting the best education that they can receive in my class? 


Monday, January 20, 2014

Experience History: MLK, Jr.

When I was in the 6th grade in 1986, my class memorized a portion of the "I Have a Dream Speech" by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  My friend, Shelly, and I can still recite some of it: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
In 2011, Hubby and I were fortunate enough to take our children to the Lincoln Memorial. We stood on the very spot where MLK, Jr. stood when he spoke those words. There is a marker on the ground  where he delivered his speech.
 




If you can't make it to Washington, D.C., then you can visit the exhibition at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta. Here are some pictures from our visit in June 2013:

So on this Mom Monday, I encourage you to get out and visit historically significant sites. Help your children experience the history that they learn about in school. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

We LOVE Disney!

It's Wife Wednesday! If there's one thing you should know about Hubby and me is that we LOVE Disney! We love it in the sun! We love it in the rain! We loved it when the kids were little. We love it now that the kids are bigger. We love the rides. We love the food. We love the resorts. We love the characters. We LOVE Disney!
 Hubby loves to make a spreadsheet to plan out our visits. He plans the parks, restaurants, parades, extra magic hours, etc. months before we get there. If you need any tips, just let us know! Here are just a few pictures through the years:



Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Teaching Handwriting: Top 5 Handwriting Tips

It's Teacher Tuesday, and today handwriting instruction is on my mind.
I LOVE teaching handwriting! I've been teaching for 17 years. I taught 3 years in Pre-K, 13 years in Kindergarten, and I'm currently teaching 2nd grade. My love of handwriting instruction started my first year in Kindergarten. WAY back then...we had standards called QCC (Quality Core Curriculum). There was a long checklist that you basically looked over as a teacher to make sure you were teaching each item on the list. It was, as they said, "a mile wide, but not very deep." If you weren't careful, you could get caught trying to teach so many little things that you couldn't do all of them justice. At the end of the year, I was going through the checklist to make sure that I'd covered all of the things on the list. I realized that I had taught handwriting, but I hadn't really done it the justice that is deserved. I thought..."If I don't give them a firm handwriting foundation in Kindergarten, then who will?"
There are current standards under Common Core that require students to have nice handwriting, but I believe handwriting in many schools is getting pushed to the side. The current standards are stated as follows:
Kindergarten:  ELACCKL1a:  Print many upper- and lowercase letters
1st Grade: ELACC1L1a: Print all upper- and lowercase letters, ELACC1L1k Prints with appropriate spacing between words and sentences.
2nd Grade: ELACC2L1g: Creates documents with legible handwriting.
3rd Grade: ELACC3L1j: Writes legibly in cursive.
4th Grade: ELACC4L1h: Writes legibly in cursive, leaving space between letters in a word and words in a sentence.
I'm glad these handwriting standards are written for the current standards, but I would like for them to be a little more specific. Yes, students should print letters legibly, write legibly, and write in cursive legibly as these standards state. However, do you see how a teacher could be just looking for legible writing rather than actually instructing students on how to write legibly? If the teacher doesn't give students a firm handwriting foundation with direct instruction on how to form letters to make legible words and sentences, then how will the students learn?
I am lucky to teach at a school that recognizes the importance of handwriting for our students' futures. We had a handwriting committee meet to develop handwriting standards specific for our school.
Handwriting continues to be a favorite part in my classroom. This school year I am extra excited because I get to start teaching cursive. I created my own alphabet lines for my classroom using PowerPoint. We use D'nealian manuscript at our school. I have the print and cursive letters displayed, and I refer to them often.

 

 

I also remind students of these pointers during handwriting instruction. They are my Top 5 Handwriting Tips:
1. Sit up with nice posture.
2. Hold your paper with your non-writing hand: hold your pencil correctly.
3. Think about the size of each letter and where letter starts.
4. Wait for instruction on how to form each letter; do not practice letters incorrectly.
5. Practice and review letters you have learned.

Happy Handwriting!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Learning Multiplication Facts

It's Mom Monday, and learning multiplication facts is on my mind. Our Girl is in the middle of "Mad Math Minutes" at school. Here is the bottom line: every child learns multiplication facts differently. For some students, they come easily. For others, it takes a little more work. Our Girl usually doesn't have to do much studying. Learning comes naturally to her. Math facts are one area that make her work. The part that Our Girl freaks out about with the Mad Math Minutes is, as the name suggests, it is a timed activity. As a family, we are using different strategies to help reduce her stress:

We do flashcards,


websites,
Math Magician We like this site, but there is one downside...it is timed. Sigh...that's what brings Our Girl stress.
Fun4theBrain This site is fun, fun, fun. You can pick which skill you want to work on, and then select the game you want to play. Once you answer some math questions, you get to play a little, then you get more math problems.

songs,
To the tune of Jingle Bells (start with dashing through the snow): 3, 6, 9, 12,--15, 18--, 21, 24--, 27, 30,-- 33, 36--singing 3s is fun. Oh let us sing Jingle Bells, to learn our 3s on the run.

and games like sumoku. Do you know this game? You roll the number cube, and then find the greatest number from your 8 number tiles that is a multiple of the number you rolled. Guess who won the first time we played...Our Girl!


 Meanwhile, if you need Our Boy. He'll be the one yelling out the answers to the multiplication facts in the background before his sister can answer them. That is what brothers do to sisters (and what sisters do to brothers)...aggravate.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wife Wednesday: What's for dinner?

Hubby asks me a question almost every day: "What's for dinner?" It's not that he expects me to cook every night because we both cook. He just wants to know the plan for dinner. He already asked me this morning what is for dinner tonight.

I'm always looking for new recipes, and I love Pinterest for that reason and many, many more. I found a recipe on Pinterest for Loaded Baked Potato and Chicken Casserole. Here is the link, and here is a picture of how mine turned out:
 
It has chicken, potatoes, a little frozen onion, bacon, and cheese. I omitted the green onions, heavy cream, and butter from the original recipe. Here are some tips:
1. Do you use frozen, chopped onion in your recipes? I rarely buy a fresh onion because who wants to chop a fresh onion?

 
2. If you need bacon, cook it outside (or in the garage when it's freezing cold-that may or may not have happened at our house) to keep your house from smelling like grease. We use this electric Presto grill for bacon and sausage.



 
Well...until next time someone asks..."What's for dinner?"

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Teacher Tuesday: Snow Day!

There are two words that bring joy and excitement to students and teachers alike: Snow Day!

Monday of this week was supposed to be a teacher workday at school with the students returning Tuesday. However, the weather is COLD here in the south. There is no snow, but we have frigid temperatures. I'm talking negative wind chills here. So...school was cancelled yesterday and today.

Why do those two words~~SNOW DAY~~ bring so much excitement? Did you see all the students and teachers posting on social media about their excitement? We just had two weeks off for Christmas break. So why are we so excited for an additional two days off?

I'll tell you why for this teacher...
It's because those two words brings back memories of childhood. My sister says that I have no memory of our childhood, but I do remember this...

When we were kids, we'd wait by the TV for the school closing announcements. Then when it did snow, everyone from the neighborhood would come to our street because it was the biggest hill. We would get on our double layer of clothes and gloves. We'd put on our hats and sometimes tie plastic bags around our shoes. We didn't own any snow gear because we rarely need it. Then we'd go outside and use trays as sleds to go down our big hill over and over again. I wish I had a photo of that...us on our trays sliding down.

I do have a picture from our yard last night. It just makes you feel cold when you look at our bare pear tree:
Stay warm friends, and enjoy your Snow Day (or Days in this case)!

UPDATE:
Since adding this post, my mom sent me this Snow Day picture from 1977. That's me, my dad, sister, and neighbors. Looks like we had a tub and a swimming pool sled!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Mom Monday: On a Whim

We're planners...Hubby and I...We like to know what we're doing, when we're doing it, who is going. You get the idea.

But as a mom and dad, we've learned that sometimes you need to do things on a whim.

Yesterday, in the rush of getting ready for church...Our Girl asked, "Can we go see Frozen today?"

So after church, on a whim, we went straight to the movie theater. I'm talking...in our church clothes...ate popcorn for lunch kind of whim.

And it was great! The movie was great! The popcorn for lunch was great! The kids didn't even complain too much about wearing church clothes. Sometimes you just gotta do things on a whim.

Have you done something on a whim lately?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Sweet Plan for a New Year

I was thinking of a new blogging plan for 2014.

My blog is Three Sweet Teas and Me: that describes our family in a southern-kind-of way...the blog of a wife, mother, and teacher.

So...the plan for the new year is to blog about each of these areas in a more systematic way.. How about:
Mom Monday: Blog about being a mom
Teacher Tuesday: Blog about my role as a 2nd grade teacher, former Kindergarten teacher
Wife Wednesday: Blog about Hubby & me

Hmmmm...I think I'm liking this idea.