Sunday, January 25, 2015

Liebster Award

As a new educator, I felt that I needed a place to capture my educational journey, connect with other teachers and push myself to reflect on my teaching experiences. I decided to jump into the world of blogging, and surprisingly I am sticking with it. I was talking with my husband about blog post ideas, and low and behold I got an email that was exciting. The lovely Sarah Cole of Tales of Teaching with Tech had nominated me for a Liebster Award. It is nice to know that someone has noticed my little blog here. I am not doing this for readers, but it exciting that someone might be reading my posts. If you are indeed reading this, thank you.

As a nominee, I have the pleasure of answering a series of questions. I also get to nominate some lovely people as well. It is all about spreading joy and love in the blogging world. I love it!

1. Why and how long ago did you start blogging?

I started blogging in December 2014 (actually it was a month ago--yesterday!). My goal was to capture pieces of my educational journey during the first years of teaching. I know that it is going to be a wild ride, and I thought that it might be interesting. I had been connected with several teacher bloggers through Instagram, and I thought that it was about time that I started recording the happenings in my classroom.

2. What one word sums up the heart of your blog and why?

Relevance. I always try to connect all my lessons to the outside world. All too often we get focused on the happenings of the classroom, and students lose sight of real-world applications of their learning. During all my lessons, I strive to have real-world examples, bring guest speakers and lecturers, and have students create projects that have a connection to their world and their interests. It is challenging, but I'm making it work. We are moving beyond the classroom, away from the desks and into a modern, exciting world!

3. Is there something you learned late in your blogging journey that you wish you would have known before?

As I have only been blogging for one month, I am still new at this. I am so thankful that other bloggers are so kind and willing to help. The community is simply fantastic. When I started to seek advice on picking a blogging name, I am glad that I followed sage advice of other bloggers and picked something that reflected my teaching but did not include my grade level. There has already been talk of moving grade levels next year!

4. What is your favorite past time other than blogging?

I lead a pretty boring life. I am currently completing my masters, participating in California's required beginning teacher support program (formally known as BTSA) and trying to complete my first year teaching. Those veteran teachers out there know that I might be nuts, but I love staying busy. This year I have already been a county-wide professional development speaker (twice!) and I have led a handful of sessions at my district as well. I guess you could say that I am a teaching junkie. 

Outside of teaching, I do love spending time with my husband and puppies. We take walks, cuddle on the couch and go on road trips. You can also find me practicing yoga and juggling from time to time.

5. How many hours per week do you dedicate to your blog?

This is all still new to me. I want to start blogging regularly but need to still need to compile more ideas to make that happen. Ideally, I would like to blog once per week, but I'm not sure when that will happen. If you have any ideas, I'm all for it! 

6. What category of blog posts do you enjoy the most?

Most of the bloggers that I follow are middle school teachers. They serve as inspiration and offer me so much support. Some of my favorites are: Lessons with CoffeeLockers, Literature & Life and 4 Mula Fun .

7. Which post that you've written are you most proud of?

Honestly, I am most proud of my classroom page. Technically it is not a post, but it took a lot of thought and planning. I worked a lot in my room over the summer. The post captures the excitement, thrill and lessons learned after receiving my first set of keys. As most teachers, it is really a labor of love. I put my heart into all my classroom projects, and I feel that it now is something that I am really proud of and I hope my students welcome and comfortable in my room.

8. Is there a post that you've been planning to do but have been postponing?

Yes. I have a list of technology themed posts that I have been avoiding. I'm not sure why, but when I start writing, I start feeling that it is not good enough. I keep telling my self to put them out there, but I have not quite hit publish.

9. What is your favorite aspect of blogging?

I love that there is a strong community of teachers that support one another and share the amazing activities happening in their rooms. It inspires me to continue working hard in the classroom, and I am thankful that I can always turn to the blogging world if I need inspiration, help or advice. It is wonderful.

10. Which recipe, project, or idea from my blog would you like to try yourself?

Ironically, I am quite technology focused in my classroom. We use many of the same resources on a regular basis on my room. I would like to start posting about how I use these resources in my room (like your Kahoot post). I use Kahoot in an interesting manner in my room, and I would be nice to share.

11. What is your all time treat/thing that you hide in your desk..that you pull out..when you've had a tough day?

I hide a stash of dark chocolate, coffee and my yoga mat in my desk. There have been days where I spent my lunch period eating nothing but chocolate and doing yoga asanas. I've also been known to blast music in my room to improve my mood. 

11 Random Facts:

1. I never saw my self as a middle school teacher, yet was thrilled to be given the opportunity to be with my wonderful 6th graders.
2. I drive the long way home on a regular basis to spend more time in my Miata.
3. I lost over 50 lbs. through Weight Watchers from August 2013-June 2014. I've been at goal for nearly 8 months!
4.  Public speaking terrifies me, but I always say, "yes" when asked to present at professional development events.
5. I would rather cuddle on the couch with my puppies than go to parties with human folk.
6. I changed my undergraduate major during the end of my junior year (Political Science to Geology) and graduated with a bachelor's degree in Geology on time.
7. I hate having my face in the water but would stay in the shower all day if we weren't in a drought.
8. My shoe is a women's 11, which makes shoe shopping depressing and extremely difficult.
9. I worry that my students will remember me as a horrible teacher.
10. I go to my parents every Thursday to have dinner. It is one of my favorite traditions.
11. I finally can appreciate being tall (even though it is hard to find long enough pants and maxi skirts).

My nominations for the Liebster Award:

The Rockstar Math Teacher @ Rockstar Math Teacher

Here are the rules: 
 1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.
2. Nominate 3-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers (this part is at the end)
3. Answer the questions posted by your nominator
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Contact my nominees and let them know that you nominated them.

Thanks for the nomination, Sarah! 

The Sunday Scoop

Sunday's always feel like they are jam-packed with activities, a long to-do list, and sprinkled with a bit of relaxing. I wish I could have a few more hours, and I suspect that everyone out there would like that too. For this post, I am linking up with the Teaching Trio for their linky.

There is always so much to do, but I'm thankful that I have this glorious Sunday to check these items off my list. 

What is everyone else up to today?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Salmonids in the Classroom

Exciting things have been happening in room 17. On Wednesday, we received a delivery that has my students (and me) excited. Our 30 Chinook eggs arrived on ice and ready to be placed in our 5-gallon tank. I love this project. Prior to the arrival of our fish, we spent the first few days of January learning about the life salmon life cycle, environmental factors that have resulted in Chinook being placed on the endangered species list, and have started researching all things salmon.

I first participated in the Salmonids in the Classroom project last year as a student teacher, and after the experience last year, I knew that I wanted to continue to participate. The Classroom Aquarium Education Program is a statewide program that brings hands-on opportunities into the classroom. Through local partnerships, teachers raise fish in the classroom allowing students and teachers the opportunity to learn about the life cycle of salmon and habitat needs. Some of the project goals are to promote watershed stewardship and conservation of breeding ground habitat, and giving students the knowledge so they can make informed decisions in the future. It is a wonderful program, and I've never seen the level of student engagement that the Salmonids in the Classroom project brings into the room. Needless to say, our room will be focused on the salmon in every subject.

Our tank set-up this year:

My lovely husband is helping me in my room again. I think he enjoys this project almost as much as I do! Isn't he the best?!

Our tank is ready for our salmon to arrive.

The Arrival of Our Chinook (Wednesday, 1/17):

30 Chinook eggs arrived safely.
30 Chinook eggs await their dispersal onto our man-made redd.

And now we wait...

Next week we will be using temperature data to estimate when our eggs will hatch. One of the best parts of the Salmonids in the Classroom project is the ability to blend science and mathematics lessons together. We spend so much time writing, observing and learning about the fish that it becomes all about fish, all the time. Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Currently: January 2015

Well, the new year is upon us and I am still in awe that it is January. Last year was a busy and jam-packed year. I graduated from my teaching program, got offered my first teaching job, started a 3-year STEM teacher training program, enrolled in a Masters of Education program, and enjoyed the first half of my first year of teaching. I'm hoping that 2015 is just as memorable. To start the year, I decided to link up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for Currently!

Listening: One great thing about Winter break is that I get to snuggle with my two pitty puppies. They fully take advantage of me being home and cuddle whenever possible. Puppy snuggles are the best and often prevent me from being as productive as I intend to be. I think I'll turn on another movie on Netflix and enjoy the last few days of puppy cuddles.

Loving: For the past three years my husband has been continuing to pursue his PhD at UC Davis, while I return to our mountain home. I am thankful that we can both work towards our own dreams, but being apart during the week is difficult. I jokingly call him my "weekend husband" but I am grateful when I get to see him more than a few days a week. I am thankful that he has been home with me for nearly two weeks! It is quite a treat!

Thinking: I had a to-do list that was quite long. It is still quite long, but eventually it will all get done. Little by little it will all get crossed off that list. Right now, I'm just soaking up the last few days of break.

Wanting: While these past weeks have been a blessing, I would love just one more day. One day to do as a wish, sleep in late, and make the most of my puppy cuddles and my love being home. 

Needing: I have so many ideas that just need a bit of inspiration to make them come to fruition. 

Yes: This year I fully intend in enjoying each moment. I have so much to be thankful for, and I sometimes forget to enjoy it. I will enjoy the good, the bad, the challenges and remember to embrace the joy in my life. I will enjoy this year and all that it has in store for me.

Maybe: This whole blogging experience is still new to me. I have yet to fully discover a rhythm or theme to my blog posts. I'm thinking that this will be the year that I take the plunge and fully commit to blogging and recording the musings of my teaching experience.

I wish: Last year my husband and I did not travel as much as I had hoped. It was a busy year that quickly got filled up with school functions, volunteer camp obligations, classroom crafts and all the other things that seem to take up my time. Before I knew it, the year was carved out and our travel plans got pushed aside. That is not happening this year. This year, I wish that we will commit to at least one trip and then stick to travel plans! I need an adventure.