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Thursday, June 26, 2014

A New Journey... Where I Have Been and Where I Am Going

Two years have flown by for me. As most of you know I love my kindergarten classroom and took on a new challenge as a Common Core coach. What a huge learning experience for me. It was filled with new learning and many challenges. 
I was sent to a small, inner city school under the leadership of a well loved principal. I had no idea of what to expect and was filled with excitement mixed with a little  massive amount of anxiety. The only familiar faces were my kinder teaching friends that I have trained many times over the years.
It was an amazing experience for me. Teaching at a small school is very different. They are like a big family and most of these teachers worked here for their entire career! They are best friends and even travel together in the summer. The principal and office manager eat lunch with the staff every day. There is no drama. Yup, I said there is no drama. Teachers support each other, raise their kids together, and look out for each other.

I will never forget these two years. Teachers welcomed me into their classrooms. They shared their triumphs and challenges with me. Often we talked about helping the kids socially and emotionally. They supported me and cheered me through all the Common Core PD. We laughed together and cried together. I am filled with so many memories but leaving is bittersweet for me. 

I was showered with beautiful gifts at the staff breakfast where we shared a meal together for the last time. At the end of the meal the principal stood up and talked about me. The words almost washed over me because I wanted to hold it together. He was the best part of this experience for me. He is the most talented administrator I have ever worked with and is passionate about children and meeting their academic needs. He was patient with me and guided me as we explored this massive CCSS learning curve. I tripped and fell many times but he learned with me and guided my thinking.  We talked about each topic and went through the PowerPoint together. He asked hard questions and I worked hard to find the answers. 

The staff reminded me to come back often. My school is nearby. Will it be the same? No. I will have to adjust to another big change. I will go back for the celebrations and support when they need me. 

What was the best part of this ride? I was given a surprise luncheon and voted their support teacher of the year. I was shocked and overwhelmed by the love of this staff. Follow me on the road back to kindergarten. In the end, that's where I belong.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Camp Common Core: The Next Chapter

This is a new packet I created for the summer months ahead. It does not use any colored ink and can be run off quickly and easily. This version of Camp Common Core: Part 2 focuses on Language Arts with lots of engaging activities. The prep is simple. Grab a binder to store the pages, a baggie to hold the necessary supplies and you are ready to hit the road and head for the beach.  
This can also be used for summer school instructors or tutors doing intervention work. 

I hope this is something you have use for. The Table of Contents gives you the Common Core standard that is being addressed and includes an answer key. This is chock full of interactive activities that students can review and practice to prevent "summer slide." Click on any picture or here to find this in my TpT store. The theme is camping which makes it just a little more fun!
I only have a week to go and then I pack it up to go back to the classroom! Woohoo!
Happy summer friends,

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Remember This? Father's Day Throwback Freebie

I work in an elementary school where I am rolling out the Common Core K-5. This has been a real challenge for me this year but I have been told by my upper grade teachers that older kids are just bigger and they still love cute worksheets and anything that allows them to draw. Who knew? I decided that they needed a "pick-me-up" after the state testing and made them a special newspaper for Mother's Day. This was such a huge hit across the grades that I am bringing in a similar activity for Father's Day. I wish I had taken pictures of their completed work because they were spectacular. I forced my principal to stop working ( he was crazy busy) to look at them and he started reading them. Kids really expressed their feelings and gave you a window into their lives that was so touching. One child wrote that he loved his mom because she kept him safe and another child talked about his mom always telling him to do his best on the hard tests he had to take at school. Another child wrote that her mom loves to spend time with her and they dance together while she gets dinner ready. Students often have lives where they are faced with poverty and poor living conditions but they can always write about their love for their parents. It made me stop and realize that we offer them a safe haven and bring stability to their lives. If you would like this feel free to click here to download. Leave a comment and tell me any great ideas you have for this holiday. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Summer Reading: Fran's Picks!

I admit it. I am a reading junkie. I love books of all kinds and I would never admit how many I have purchased on my Kindle. Don't judge me. I love books of all kinds and crazy as it sounds I love professional ones too. Here are my top five suggestions that I have already purchased:

So now I have my hot little hands on these and I can barely contain myself. I know-crazy. I have really searched out the best reads for primary grades since I am a kindergarten teacher. I have been a Common Core coach for the last two years (k-5) but the grant is over and I am returning to kindergarten.  I am so excited to have a class again! This has been a long and valuable journey but my heart is still with students and their families. So now I need to get on top of my game! What are you reading this summer? Other suggestions?

I hope this has been a good year for you with implementation of the Common Core. Remember to forgive yourself if you didn't always get it right. This is hard and will be an ongoing process. We can help each other as we travel down this road. Look out for road blocks!