Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015: Here I Come! {OLW & Nerdlution)

On the eve of this new year, I am looking forward to the experiences, challenges, and opportunities that are ahead.  2014 was a wonderful year -- my best yet! -- and I know 2015 will be even more amazing!

I used to be one for making lots of new year's resolutions...lose weight, watch less TV, be kinder, blah, blah, blah....You know how that goes.  Come January 15, I have completely forgotten (or chosen to ignore) my resolutions and I'm back to my old ways.

Then last year, I discovered the power of adopting just one word to guide my entire year, instead of making a million resolutions.  This one word is so powerful, so easy to follow, and it took me to amazing places last year.

For 2015, I have a new word:
If you'd like to use my button for your own OLW, here it is.  Feel free to copy it and use it.
Now, while I no longer make resolutions, I cannot resist being a part of #Nerdlution2015, thanks to Colby Sharp and the amazing people at the Nerdy Book Club.
nerdlution (1)
I'll admit it, this past year one of my most exciting discoveries was that I, indeed, was a nerd.  Nerds have over-the-top passion and excitement for something.  For me, that turned out to be books and teaching my 4th graders. (I am not alone though...I am finding many "nerd friends" that have been hiding out at my school, just waiting to share their nerdiness with others.  :)

As part of #Nerdlution2015, I pledge to write every day for the next 50 days.  This may be working on a story, writing in my journal, or blogging, but I will produce some kind of writing every day.


I've said it.

What will you be nerdy about in 2015?  Join the #Nerdlution!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I've Moved Forward {SOL 12-30-14}

Thank you to the ladies at Two Writing Teachers for hosting this weekly Slice of Life gathering.  It is an amazing opportunity for reflection and connection!

2014 was the year I gave up making resolutions.  Thanks to the book, One Word That Will Change Your Life by Jon Gordon, and various friends around the blogosphere who were doing the same, I chose just one little word as my guiding mantra for 2014 -- FORWARD.

As 2014 draws to a close, I reflect on my OLW and how much it has helped me move forward.

Here are some ways I moved forward in 2014:

* I moved my writing forward.  I wrote on a more regular basis which, while it's not yet where I want it to be, is farther than it's ever been.

* I moved my teaching forward.  My classroom is now a place where questions are asked, mistakes are made, and risks are taken.  We embrace a growth mindset and find power in the word YET. This teaching style is so foreign to me, yet so fun! I'm excited to see where it takes us.

* I moved my learning forward.  Whether it be learning about Genius Hour, the growth mindset, or improving my reading and writing instruction, I learned a lot this year!  Twitter has really helped with this too.

* I moved my health forward.  I began exercising on a (somewhat) regular basis.

* I took steps out of my comfort zone.  Attending All Write 14 in Indiana all by myself, driving four hours alone, knowing no one, was a big step for me.  It was worth it and I am looking forward to going back again (but this time I won't be alone because of all the wonderful people I met there).

2014 was a wonderful year!

Monday, December 29, 2014

It's Monday! Here's What I'm Reading {12-29-14}

Thanks to Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers for hosting this weekly reading check in.  It is my first check in in a long time (maybe ever???).
This winter break has really helped me reconnect with my reader-self.  One of my goals for 2015 is to read more kid lit.  With amazing book talks flying around on Twitter and in the blogosphere, I know I will be in good hands.

Here's what I've been reading:
A fun story of a young girl who struggles to fit in because she moves around a lot with her mom.  Finally, she and her mom end up living with her uncle and she finds the stability and home that she so desperately wanted.  Through all of this, she uses her writer's notebook as a source of strength and connection as she finally makes a friend in her new home.  This would be a great story to share with a student who is shy and looking for a way to connect with others.
After hearing all the buzz about this book on Twitter, I finally finished it last week.  I love that it is a graphic novel (my first one!) and is a story to perseverance and imagination.  Although there are some things I wish the author would have left out of this book, knowing that children would read it (teachers smoking in the lounge...), I do recognize that it is autobiographical and those things probably did happen back in the 70's and 80's.
Who knew there were so many jobs done by the simple feather?  This is an amazing informational text, packed with fun facts and tidbits.  I know my students will enjoy this one!

This week, I am hooked, hooked, hooked on this book:
There is a lot of award talk going on about this book and I can see why!  I will finish it soon and post next week.

My other goals for break are to read:

Ambitious, I know, but I do have a new goal to work on!  Wish me luck!

What are you reading?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Celebrate this Week {12-27-14}

It's been a long time since I've linked up with Ruth Ayres for to celebrate the week.  I'm glad to be here today!
This week, I am celebrating:
* My sister and her family were here for the past week from Dallas.  Wow, did time fly!  I'm glad I got to spend some one-on-one time with my niece and nephew who are growing up so quickly.  On Monday, we went to Chuck E. Cheese for some pizza and fun games.  
Then we spent the afternoon completing some "Top Secret" crafting projects which were gifts for the family.  My nephew said to me, "Auntie, I love doing this.  I remember last year we painted coasters."  I'm celebrating the memories we made.

* Books....lots of books.  My family knew just what to get me for Christmas.
So far, I have also finished El Deafo, A Long Walk to Water, Wonderstruck, and Hound Dog True.  I am currently working on The Night Gardener...Oh. My. Goodness...Amazing!

*This short break from the craziness of life that is school.  I truly love my class this year and enjoy the new things we are doing, but the break is doing me good.  It gives me a chance to live life horizontally instead of vertically for awhile, without rush and deadlines.

* Speaking of horizontal living, I am also celebrating naps.  Love them!

What are you celebrating this week?  Head on over to Ruth's blog and share. 

Have a wonderful week!


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Generosity {SOL 12-23-14}

My daughter, Kara, works part time doing chores at a horse farm near our home.  She makes about $15 (less taxes) for an afternoon's work.  

This summer, my husband and I decided it was time for Kara to get her first checking account.  Kara has always been someone who struggles with money management so we were hoping that this would help.  She opened her account with about $700 -- quite impressive!

Last weekend, Kara and I were at the bank to deposit one of her checks.  While we were there, the teller asked us if we wanted to know the balance in Kara's account.  Over the six months Kara had her new account, the balance had fallen to just $331, including the $148 she had just deposited. 

I was shocked.  Kara was shocked too.

We had the teller print out a statement of her withdrawls  which showed a regular stream of charges at McDonalds, Walgreens, Target, and Sentry.  Not big charges, just charges about the size of an after school snack, a morning donut,  or a new set of earbuds for her iPod.

This began my Mom Lecture about saving money. Blah, blah, blah.  Kara promised she would do better and would build her account balance back up.

I know she felt bad.  

I know this was a learning experience for her.

I know that my husband and I should have been watching this closer.

I felt bad too.

Kara & I went on with our day which included about six stops at various stores to get holiday gifts. One of our stops included a trip to Hobby Lobby.  I grabbed the holiday essentials I needed, and we left for home. I was tired.  The morning of stop and go, along with our conversation about spending money had worn me out.

As Kara and I walked out of Hobby Lobby, we walked past a Salvation Army bell ringer.  My arms full of bags, I passed by.  

Kara did not.

"Mom, wait," Kara said, and reached in her purse for her wallet.  Opening her wallet, she took out a dollar bill and put it in the red kettle.

"Bless you," the bell ringer said.

It was good that I had my sunglasses on, because my eyes filled with tears.  

That morning my daughter taught me an important lesson about how important it is to take care of others...even if your mom had just lectured you about saving money.