Friday, February 28, 2014

Morning Routines.... Then and Now

So, I'm really trying to catch up on writing about my amazing job and accomplishments so far this year! First up, I'd like to say that I'm pretty proud of my morning routine. Especially when compared to last year. Last year, my self-contained class went to breakfast together, came back to the room, unpacked, and then we had a morning priming segment before beginning calendar and writing journal. Since I worked as a Pre-K teacher fresh out of college, I didn't know a better way to get the day started, besides a little M&M (music and movement). Ever heard of Greg & Steve? He's got some AMAZING sound tracks for little ones, if you didn't know. So we listened to Greg & Steve's Good Morning song EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. Yup, no joke. We listened to it for exactly 180 days (minus furlough). Following the GM song, I always had one more song to hype them up for the day. After a while, I found the songs that they liked. And I shortly figured out that it was easiest to play one song for each day of the week. So here's the schedule.

The only song that is not by Greg & Steve is the Gummy Bear Song. And I have no clue where that song came from. How did I keep up with this song rotation, you ask? Well.... have you ever heard of grooveshark?
 No? Well, grooveshark lets you set up a free account (or at least it did for a while.. I'm not sure if it's still free for the way I used it last year) and save your favorite songs to playlists, so that they are readily available for you to listen whenever you like. FOR FREE! The catch? I think you could only listen to your songs on one device. I used it for a few months, and it was great, but then our school district blocked that site, and I wasn't able to use it anymore. Sometimes I was able to play it through my cell phone, and hook it up to the speakers, but I couldn't always get cell reception, so I wouldn't suggest that idea. (I never liked having my phone out anyways.)

SIDE NOTE: I tried for the life of me, to take a snapshot of my playlists, but I still haven't gotten the hang of this windows 8. Ever since I updated the system, I couldn't figure out how to get out of the GoogleChrome app, and it won't let me open any other programs (like the Snipping Tool) side by side to the internet window. UGH. That's good ole technology for ya! I'm sure I'll figure it out sooner or later, but if anyone has a solution for me, please let me know! Thanks :)


 I've moved on from that. When I was interviewing for my current position, my administrators told me how the teacher did Morning Priming last year, and I was blown away by the inspiration! Since my kids don't have breakfast at school, they come to me straight for morning work, news, and sensory activities. It took a lot of consulting with parapros, first grade teachers, our occupational therapists, an instructional coach, and a program coordinator, but it's really come together. So here's what it looks like now:

8:20 - 8:45 Morning Work:

8:50 - 9:00: Social Skills lesson

9:00 - 9:10: Fidgets & Sensory Activities:

So, there you have it! That's about the first hour of my day! It's a pretty great way to start the day, if you ask me! I hope to soon share more about my daily routine, especially some of the social skills strategies that I use! But that will come... :) One day...

~Sarah :)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Liebster Award Part II:


I've been very productive lately, and I thought that I need to get back FINALLY into the blogging world to share some great stuff that I've been working on lately! Last year, I had a self-contained position where I just had TOO much on my plate to ever blog about it. It was a great year, but it was a struggle to keep up.

Then, this year I hit the ground RUNNING (literally). I moved during the same week that I was supposed to be packing for my wedding and honeymoon, I came home from my honeymoon, and immediately (I mean the very next day) started working at my new job!

So I left this...

to come home to this...

And I will say that adjusting to A) a new school district B) a whole new staff C) a completely different position, and D) all new students ....was pretty time consuming! Add in learning your new name to the mix - my brain was a little chaotic there for a little while - not gonna lie. It's no excuse!! But I've also been trying to be a decent newlywed wife and spend some time with my new hubby this year :)

So either way... it's no wonder that I totally forgot about Heather! Heather is an awesome blogger from A Special Kind of Place :) She's also a resource teacher, so I have lots to learn from her.
You can click her button above to go visit her blog! Anyway, she had nominated me for the Liebster literally the DAY AFTER Katie did! I have totally forgotten about it, but I remember now, that I had to write not one but TWO apology emails to these amazing ladies, explaining that there was NO WAY I could sit down and blog any time soon. I was hoping to get back into it after I moved, and got back from the wedding, but ... well... you know. (If it makes you feel better, many of my Thank -You cards from wedding gifts were at least about 3 months late!!)

So I thought this (being Thursday) would be a great time to turn back time and reflect on Heather's Nomination. Since I've already nominated 5 bloggers, I'm just going to add my answers to Heather's questions! So here they are! :)

1. What is your favorite memory?

The day ... or I should say WEEK ... that I got married. :) I couldn't imagine a better experience. My whole heart smiles EVERY.SINGLE.TIME I think about it.

2. If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?

Apart from husband? .....Ummmm, I really don't know. Meeting new people make me nervous sometimes!! I think I would be too shy to meet a celebrity!

3. What would you do if you won the lottery?

Buy a house. The #1 thing on my mind these days.. more about that in upcoming posts.... Secondly, I would spend a good chunk of money on a cause that would benefit children in some way. Probably Autism Speaks, or something. And lastly, I would be sure that my dad is taken care of for the rest of our lives.

4. What is your favorite movie? 

Favorites are so difficult. But our PTA asked us this question this week, and I answered with Pitch Perfect. It was the only (recent) movie that's had me dying of laughter (can't believe it's already more than a year old...), so I think that was a good choice!

5. Who inspires you to do what you do?

My Dad. He always told us growing up: "30% of people live to make the world a better place. 70% just live in it." Honestly, I made those percentages up. I can never remember what he told us. But seriously, how many people have desk jobs and clock out at the end of the day, and don't think about work again until they walk in the office the next day? NOT teachers, I'll tell you that! I chose to teach children with special needs about a month after I graduated from high school. As soon as the idea hit me, I KNEW it was the right choice, because it would improve the lives of families who struggle with everyday difficulties that come with having a child with a disability. There are so many children now with disabilities, that I knew it would be rewarding and make a difference at the same time. :) When times are tough, I always remember what my dad always said!

6. How many different jobs have you had in your life?

Too many to count. I started working at Coldstone at 16 years old, a pizza place at 17 (that's where my husband and I met), Ruby Tuesday throughout college, a school in Evans County, a couple of day cares (as summer camp counselor, and a Pre-K paraprofessional for a short time), and two different positions at a Richmond County School, and now here. But everywhere in between, I have been a nanny, baby-sitter, tutorer, ABA interventionist, and worked for my Dad here and there. And I feel like I'm missing a few....

7. If you could be a flavor of pie, what would you be?

Well, I don't like pie. I would say apple pie, but I think I'd much rather just be a slice of cheesecake :)

8. How many countries have you visited?

More than I know. All over Europe as a baby (which I don't remember, of course), and Italy in 1st grade, Mexico a few times, Bahamas many many times, and other Caribbean countries (from a cruise). I think that's all.

9. What is your best advice to a new teacher?

You will not survive without building relationships/ collaboration. I build relationships with families starting on open house (by bringing cups, juice, chex-mix, and cookies) and checking in via phone within the very first week. I also do a "Glow and Grow" during conferences, so it's mostly positive. Lastly, I meet with other teachers, therapists, and administrators to bounce ideas off of each other to help the kiddos. It's REALLY tough, but I try to meet with every teacher once per week. I build it into my schedule before and after school. And if we have nothing to catch up on, it's good to chat and vent every once in a while :)

10. If you could live in any time era other than now, what would it be? 

I'm not exactly a fan of history, and honestly don't care to live in any other era than this one. If I had to choose, I definitely wouldn't want to go back further than the 50's. I used to watch That 70's Show! I'd LOVE to experience growing up in the 70's. Plus, I grew up on Oldies. I'd be the kid that listen's to the radio 100% of the time.

11. What is the best thing about teaching? 

The very best thing about teaching is enjoying what I do. I get this feeling almost every day, and at the end of the day, it's not about who progressed in what, it's about ME accomplishing my lifelong DREAM of making a difference in the world. And if I have fun while I'm doing it, and if I'm able to share my knowledge with other teachers and parents, I'll say that's gotta be the best feeling. I may have suffered for 4 years throughout college, and endless nights working at a restaurant to afford it, but either way: I made it through, and it was TOTALLY worth it :)

Have a great night! Until next time....


PS: Stay tuned for some sneak peaks at what I'm working on, as well as a description of what I do these days :)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Liebster Award!!!

Well, since I'm snowed in....

I figured I'd FINALLY get back to this Liebster Award Post that I was supposed to write back in July 2013!! 

The Liebster Award is an award for new blogs. Liebster is a German word that means: BELOVED, CUTE, LOVELY, DEAREST, & WELCOME!

I thought I would hop on and accept since it was so kind of Katie to nominate me. She has a resource position, and some GREAT ideas. I love that I've found someone with a similar position to my own, so I really hope to gain alot of insight from her in the future! You can find her blog by clicking on her button below:
Resource Room Roundabout

Here are the rules of accepting the nomination-
To accept the nomination I must:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated me
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
3. Answer the questions posted for me by my nominator (Katie)
4. Share 11 random facts about myself
5. Create 11 questions for my nominees
6. Contact my nominees and let them know that I nominated them

**The Nominees**

- Butterflying through Teaching

Miss B. has a cute little blog and NEEDS to be recognized for it! She's got alot of great posts, too, so go and check her out!!

- The Land of I Can

Heather, from The Land of I Can, is a Kindergarten teacher who has been blogging for about a year now, but I've only just found her. She has a CUTE blog, and a bazillion awesome posts that I can't wait to explore in the near future.

- Teachers Are Terrific

                Teachers Are Terrific!

Carol, from Teachers Are Terrific, has a wonderful blog with tons of rich posts! Her blog has been active for a couple of years, but she is new to me. She has lots of experience in 3rd & 5th grade, and has just recently switched to a STEM Lab teacher (which must be amazing!) I can't wait to catch up on some of her posts, and continue to follow her in the future!

- A Classroom Full of Smiles
                A Classroom Full of Smiles

I found Mary through DoodleBugsTeaching's most recent Five for Friday! I was instantly drawn to her cute button, and I cannot wait to see what she has to offer, and follow her in the future.

- Last, but not least: 

                Proud to be Primary
Elyse, from Proud To Be Primary, caught my eye with her cute button (I'm a total sucker for chevron as well as pastel colors). She is an amazing blogger from Canada, and she has been around since 2013. I can't wait to explore her amazing posts as well as the others!

11 Questions I need to answer from Katie: 

1. What was the first teacher blog that you read/followed?

I honestly can't remember, because I got into blogging almost all at once. However, there is one blogger that stands out in my memory more than the others, and it makes me SO sad that I can't remember. But I'm pretty sure that I read all about her room set-up. I had stumbled upon her one day, and she was the first blogger to really suck me in and captivate my interest. I didn't pay any attention to it then, but began reading blogs when I found out about Pintrest much later. I've looked for her since, but for the life of me, I cannot find that blog. Believe me, I've tried, and I'm still looking for that blogger out there!! It makes me so frustrated, so I'll seriously have to update this when I find her!

2. What is your favorite lesson to teach your students?
Eeeeek, I really don't have one favorite. I feel like I never teach anything twice. If I do, it's so differentiated or vamped up from the first trial, that it's completely different! Last year, with my K-2nd self-contained students, I really got into Calendar, and it was definitely my favorite time of the day. This year, I have really found to like teaching social skills. And Andrea Cardenas has been an awesome resource that really makes social skills lessons FUN! Check out her blog HERE!

3. What are your top 5 school supplies?

*Post-it notes (the larger size-with lines!!)
*Colored Pens
*Paper trimmer

4. Favorite 3 classroom apps (if any)?Now, I had an iPad in my classroom last year, but I no longer have one, since I had to turn it in when I moved :(. However, it was used as an independent work station during our daily rotation (we had a 3:5 student/teacher ratio, so if they were not learning Reading, Math, or Spelling with a teacher, they were either at the computer, workstations, puzzles, listening center, or iPad.) and these are some of my favorites that I downloaded for them. Once they got to the iPad station, I usually opened up some program that I wanted them to practice on for a set amount of time. When the timer went off, they are allowed to choose their own activity.

* Agnitus
*ABC Phonics

5. If you have a TPT store what is your favorite product of yours? If not what is your favorite product you have found?I have not set up my own TPT store for my own products -YET. I definitely have plans to, though! Therefore, I'll have to rave about an amazing product I have found. And this is very difficult, as favorites are difficult for me anyways.

6. What has been your biggest challenge as a teacher?
Time Management. Always been a weakness.... *sigh*

7. Funniest thing you have had happen while teaching?
It's so hard to remember everything! But last week, it cracked me up when a child called me "Mommy!" That's always fun.

8. If you could have anything for your classroom what would it be?
An iPad... *sigh*... I had one last year, but had to give it back when I moved to ATL. I was really dreading that day, and I still miss it :( ....Next year, I am going to write a grant for one :)

9. Favorite "Professional Development"/teacher book?

Number Talks by Sherry Parrish. No doubt! She is amazing. I've known about the Number Talks program since I worked at my last school, and I've never implemented it, but I'm always fascinated to learn about it (that's the mathematician in me). Last week, she even got to come to our school and demonstrate a # Talks session for us! It was amazing. She did one session for each grade level, and so we got to observe in groups. After the session, she met with us in our professional learning room for a Q & A session. It was so exciting to have that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! *Click on the picture to order!

10. Favorite picture book?
It's so cute! The first time I read it, I thought it was the best picture book ever! Of course, I have a million favorites, but I don't think I've ever read a children's book that made me laugh so hard! :) *Click on the picture to order!

11. What is one thing on your bucket list you want to complete before summer is over?Well, it's funny since it was still summer when I was nominated! However, my summer was too crazy for me to answer back then. I could make a list of all of the things that I did wish to complete before summer ended, or the things that I actually did accomplish before summer ended, but seriously! That will have to go in a separate post!

11 Things About Me: 

1. I am extremely indecisive when choosing Favorites. Decisions can be difficult any time, but I'm always none for having 1,000 favorites. And they change all the time. One day, there will be a post highlighting any lines that say: "It's my favorite!"

2. I just got married on July 21, 2013 (yes, it still feels like yesterday) to the amazing love of my life, and I FINALLY feel like I'm used to my new married name (took long enough!)

3.  I LOVE shopping. It makes me the happiest person in the world. Mostly I love to shop for clothes, or shop online, and most of all, I REALLY love house hunting. There's nothing like finding your dream house :)

4. I LOVE to be lazy. Lazy weekend and summer days on the couch with my laptop are the best :)

5. I also love searching the web. Mostly on Pinterest. (hehe)

6. We have two dogs. Sasha and Milly. They are cute, and amazing additions to our little family. I couldn't imagine any other pets more perfect for us!

7. I am from Alpharetta, GA. A small rural town grown to a national favorite. It was small when my parents built our house there in the 80's. But now, not so much. Traffic is one of the main reasons why I decided to move as far away as possible for college.

8. And speaking of traffic.... I hate traffic! I know everyone does, but I learned how to drive in the suburban mess of roadwork traffic, and I got spoiled living out in the country for 7 years. And every time it hits me, the road rage comes back. I'm very fortunate to live 2.2 miles from work this year. And even then it drives me BONKERS every time I have to sit at the main traffic light for more than one rotation (I mean, come on. The ONE light will DOUBLE my commute time. No kidding.)

9. I like to think I have a gift with working with students who have Autism Spectrum Disorders. I've had a passion for the field ever since I first heard the word "Autism" and learned about it in high school. Definitely found my true calling.

10. I was born on Flag Day. Noone knows what that is until they meet me, but it's on the calendar. Look it up :)

11. I'm a middle child of two boys, I have 3 new sister-in-laws, and I love big families. I can't wait to start a new one of my own one day :).

11 Questions for the NEW nominees: 

1. When did you first realize you were going to be a teacher?
2. What got you into blogging?
3. How many amazing years of teaching experience do you have?
4. What is your favorite grade level and subject area to teach?
5. What is one thing you like most about your school or district?
6. What are your top 3 must-have teaching supplies that get you through the day?
7.  What is ONE huge thing that you wish legislators knew that could benefit the field of education?
8. What is the most beneficial professional learning/workshop/conference that you have ever attended?
9. Do you have a top blogger that you love following the best? (If you can't choose just 1, list up to your 5 favorites)
10. What is your favorite technology educational tool (website, app, etc.)? (If you can't choose just 1, list up to 5)
11. List one bit of "Chicken Soup" that gets you through when times are tough.

Head over and check out all these wonderful blogs!! I REALLY can't wait to read everyone's responses.

~Sarah :)