Sunday, January 18, 2015

Ending the day on time and in style


If your students are like mine, packing up and cleaning up at the end of the day could seriously take 30 minutes if they wanted it do.  You are watching your little ones dottle along thinking "What in the world are you doing? It's been the same routine for 100 days!"  
Unfortunately, we just don't have all that time.  I leave about 10 minutes each day for our end of the day routine. I recently wrote about our afternoon meeting that takes us about 5 minutes, so that means we have to pack up and clean up in FIVE minutes!  At the beginning of the year that would have been next to impossible but thanks to a little song to motivate them and lots of practice, 5 minutes is plenty of time!

What is our song, you ask?  Well it's our 2014-2015 theme song: Brave!


I absolutely love this song and I love watching them jam out to it at the end of the day.  It's a great way to end our day and no matter what happened throughout the rest of the day- they get to hear this everyday before they go home!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

P is for Pirate.....arrrrrrr

I don't know how in the world I have been so lucky and fortunate to be a part of so many wonderful things in education lately... Incredibly blessed, truly.




I wanted to share this incredible book with you written by Dave and Shelley Burgess.  The book is called P is for Pirate: Inspirational ABCs for Educators. It is exactly what the title says - A book that inspires you to make your learning fun, engaging, and unforgettable! 
Before they finished up, Dave and Shelley took to twitter to ask #TLAP (Teach Like a Pirate - Also an awesome book!! Seriously- if you don't have it you NEED to get it) educators what words they'd use to describe the classroom.  

Of course, I participated because I <3 TLAP and connecting.  I'm not sure how long it was after but I got a message from Dave asking if they could use one of my words in the book.

Uhm...YES!

I cannot believe I am a part of this amazing book and am so thankful for the opportunity.

Definitely go grab it now - it's a great, quick read - (& there's also a treasure hunt in it!! Who doesn't  love a treasure hunt??)






Thanks to Dave and Shelley Burgess for letting me be a part of this!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pushing the Edge Podcast

I was so very fortunate to be able to take part in a podcast by Greg Curran who is pushing teachers to become effective change agents.  The Podcast is called Pushing the Edge.  In each episode, Greg (Who is seriously awesome- by the way), talks to educators about how they are thriving in even the toughest of times in education.  Each episode brings new, amazing ideas and thoughts from even more amazing, inspirational educators. 




I can't even begin to explain how nervous I was.  I've never done anything like this before...but I was thrilled that Greg asked me to be a part of it.  And being the crazy risk-taker I am - I couldn't say no!  I hope this episode helps educators remember that we are Change Agents, even when we feel that we can't seem to do anything right.... and encourages teachers to stay true to themselves, be confident in their teaching, connect, and take risks in the classroom.

Head on over to listen! 


Oh, you can also Listen on ITunes!

If you like it, please leave a comment and share a link with friends, colleagues, followers! 

Thanks again, Greg, for letting me be a part of this amazing Podcast!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Don't Bite the Hook!

My students this year are HUGE tattlers & teasers...Anyone else?  I mean, they are 7 & 8 so I expect it- but boy I didn't expect this much.  We've spent a lot of time this year talking about respect-  but ya know- sometimes you just gotta tell em to ignore the annoying behaviors.  When our school counselor suggested the book Simon's Hook - I was so excited! She even came in to read it and did a lesson with them.  Have you ever read it?


This is definitely a book you need to add to your teacher collection.  It's about Simon, who is having a bad hair day and his friends tease him.   When he goes to his grandma, she teaches him how to deal with these teases and put downs by telling the story of a fish who learned not to bite the fisherman's hook!


After listening to the story, we sorted "Hooked" and "Free" fish responses to the tease"You're a Little Shrimp!"  



Last, we though about some thing that our friends might say to tease us.   They decided on "You're bad at math!" and "I'm stronger than you!" They then set off with a partner to come up with a FREE FISH response to either of these teases/put downs!...

"Yea, I am!"
 
"Maybe."

"Hey, what's that over there?"

"I'm just going to go play!"

Now, whenever someone comes to tattle, I remind them.. "How can you be a FREE fish?"  It works almost every time! Now I call that winning!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Some fun news!!

Scene: Friday night, November 28th. The dog is with the grandparents. The Christmas Tree and some candles are lit.  I *not so willingly* agreed to get Chinese for dinner (my favorite place is 45 minutes away and nobody comes close to topping them).  We decide to eat dinner on the floor on the coffee table because there is no dog to beg us *Hooray!*

Me: Being silly.... "Awww how romantic. A Candle lit dinner at home!"

Justin: *chuckle*

Little did I know, Justin had a plan for this night - and Chinese food was the first step.  Like usual after I finished my dinner, I grab my fortune cookie.  As I open it, I look at it and am thinking "How cheap, no Chinese word or lucky numbers? Fortune Cookie Fail"  I read it, hand it to Justin and say "Ha, I think this is a sign!" (We've been together for over 9 years- yes NINE!)

I bet you want to see that fortune cookie huh?


He reads it, then he tells me, "I think there is something on the tree. Go look."

I didn't believe him.  Still sitting on the floor I said, "I don't see anything on the tree!! Stop making things up!"  

Justin: "No, really.  I see something.  Right there! You don't see it?"

Me: "No, I don't!"

Justin: *gets up* "right here, look!"  Hands me this...



I looked at the ornament.  I looked at him.  Looked back at the ornament.  Looked back at him. "Is this for serious?"

Justin: "Yes! But I'm not getting down on one knee..."

Me: *still in disbelief* "This is like, really for real??  So I guess that means I'm supposed to answer the fortune cookie?...... Well, yes of course!"

*Hooray!*

Honestly, while a little nontraditional, this story completely describes us and I wouldn't have had it any other way. I cannot be more excited to marry this guy and start a little family of our own!

Hope you enjoyed our engagement story! :) 




The Zatt Family: Coming in Sept 2015

Saturday, January 3, 2015

My Word for 2015

Happy New Year Y'all!



It's been a while since I've dropped by this blog o' mine.  3 months to be exact.  I can't even begin to describe how incredibly challenging and exhausting this year has been.  Though it's been a challenge, I'm sure it will end being one of the most rewarding!

I'm hoping to stop by more often to share the happenings of Room 208 - it's challenges, risks, failures, and successes...but for today I thought I'd start off 2015 by sharing my word for 2015.

This was introduced to me by a colleague last year.  Justin actually did this "My One Word" with his 5th graders last year and it was such a great lesson for them.  It was a little hard to pick my word, there are many that I could choose.  Balance, Health, Challenge... but after a little self debate, I decided to go with....


I have never questioned my teaching abilities as much as I have this year.  There are many days when I'm driving home thinking that I am, in a few words... a terrible teacher.  While, of course, it's healthy and good to reflect on each day - the amount of self-negativity is not and has got to change.   So this year, I'm focusing on Confidence.

Confidence in my education...

Confidence in my professional knowledge & decision making...

Confidence in my management...

Confidence in my planning and lessons...

Confidence in my students...

Confidence that even when the days are rough, I am making a difference in lives of 23 tiny humans who need me, who thrive with a teacher who has confidence in not just themselves, but the students as well.

Cheers to a great year! (The year I'm getting married- What, what?!)


What's your one word for 2015?


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Circle Up! Why I prefer this to assigned squares

If you are like me, you probably have a carpet in your classroom that looks a little bit like this...


Perfect for giving kids their own carpet square.  A place to sit every time you meet as a class on the carpet. It's their spot and nobody elses.  Plus- you can separate those talkative ones, right?!

My first & second year- my whole group time looked a lot like that.  Students had their own carpet square and that was where I expected them to sit when I asked them to meet me on the carpet.  I sat the kids who had trouble staying focused up near me, separated the talkative ones, and the ones who tended to get into mischief if they sat together.

It was fine...except...
-My "Good" students got the shaft.  They got stuck between kids who struggled to pay attention, who were talkative...They sat in the back- and sometimes, some of them would drift off... It kinda looked like this- only probably with one child laying down, another talking to a neighbor, and another up walking around.  Yup...don't deny it...you know it happens.


So this year I decided to try Circling up instead of squares. Now, with 18 "Squares" on the outside of the carpet and 23 students + me AND my easel- this is a little bit of a challenge but we figure it out.


Here are the benefits I've noticed so far:

-Not only can I see every student, but they can also see each other- Keeping them accountable for their engagement and behavior (Yes this can also be a distraction- especially if you have a class clown - I had to ask students who were being a distraction to sit outside of our circle for a few weeks before they finally understood that their behavior wouldn't be tolerated)

-When someone has something to say- students can easily turn their heads to the person who is speaking to be an active listener rather than turning their whole body.. 

-It has more of a "family" feel.  Everyone feels and knows they are a part of our room and that they matter.

-It's harder for students to drift off because they know there are 23 pairs of eyes that can see them.

-It's easier to have group conversations.

All in all- I've enjoyed our whole group "Circle up" time and think it has had a positive impact on our class community!