Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Short, but Long Week

With Monday being Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Tuesday a professional day, this was a short week for me. Despite being only three days, this week seemed longer then ever. It may have something to do with the fact that I have been getting up between 4:30 and 5 a.m. to workout with my friend. That could be the reason, but I'm not quite sure. :)

When we have a short week, I hesitate to teach something completely new because our curriculum is set up for a five day week. So, I looked over my standards and thought, "How can I make the most of my time these three short days?" I decided that for Language Arts we would focus on researching and writing a research report. My kiddos can never get enough writing practice!

Anytime we research I attempt to make it about a topic that will keep my students fully engaged. So, because I LOVE Polar Bears and my kids seem to like anything I like, we researched polar bears. We read an article I purchased from TPT and my sweet kiddos began taking notes. We discussed why having a few reliable sources is beneficial too. The kids started to notice the same facts throughout our reading and I was impressed.

We also used World Book Online for Kids and read one of the fabulous National Geographic Books for Kids on Polar Bears. I think the pictures are really what mesmerized them, but they continued commenting that they LOVED this.

Once our notes were complete, we wrote the first three paragraphs together. You may be
thinking,"That many paragraphs in first grade???" Well, I believe in pushing my students and setting my expectations high, and you better believe they meet and even exceed my expectations.

My kiddos wrote the last three paragraphs on their own, with my help and support of course. They turned out fantastic. I did find that we need to focus on starting a paragraph with a main idea and using supporting facts throughout the rest of the paragraph, but I love finding something we can improve on.

To celebrate finishing our Polar Bear Reports, we did a fabulous directed drawing of a polar bear from the fabulous Jennifer White over at First Grade Blue Skies. They turned out pretty dang cute, if I do say so myself. I did have a few brightly colored polar bears, but my kiddos told me they were magical polar bears. How can you say no to a magical polar bear?

The creative liberties they take anytime we do art, showcases their personalities perfectly! One student (picture near the top) said his polar bear was wet. They all decided my polar bear drawing looked sad because my polar bear was a cub who lost its Mama! These kiddos crack me up and help me remember why I do what I do!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Plans and Goals for 2016
I am beyond ecstatic to say that I'm linking up with the fabulous Angie Olsen and Ashley Schroeder today to talk about plans and goals. I am also SUPER excited that it's a new year. New years make me think of new beginnings, which leads me into goal setting and planning. 2015 was one of the hardest years of my life. I will spare you the details, but let's just say, it was rough. So, here's to hoping my planning and goal setting will make 2016, 200 times better than this past year!

My first goal is to strive for progress NOT perfection. Hi, my name is Brynn, and I'm a perfectionist. Perfectionism is a blessing and a curse. It pushes me to be better, but also makes me my own worst critic. I used to be a lot worse. My first year of teaching I would cut something out and if it wasn't up to my standards of "perfect," I would throw it away and start again. Extreme? YES! I am not near as bad now, but my goal for this year is to focus on my progress not perfection!

The next goal/plan I have for myself is to BE ME! When I started blogging and creating products for TPT, I thought, "No one will read what I have to say. No one is interested in little old me. I can't create products like so and so, or blog as often as so and so." Well, guess what? It doesn't matter because I am me, and no one else is! I have to be myself, do what I can do, and know that is all that matters. I love people who are genuine and authentic, and those people aren't afraid to be vulnerable and BE THEMSELVES. So that's my plan and I'm sticking to it!

My last goal/plan is to make me a priority. I promise I am not trying to sound selfish here! BUT, as my friend Rachael would put it, "You must take care of the golden goose!" I have really struggled with health this past year. I was not taking care of me. I was staying up late putting time into things for teaching, but was compromising my sanity and health. Was it really worth doing that? Now that I'm looking back on it, I can say no, but at the time it seemed as if I had to do it.

So this year, I am taking time for me, because if I don't, how can I take care of all the other people who depend on me? My plan to accomplish this is to exercise daily (and not beat myself up if it doesn't happen), get enough sleep (8-10 hours), do things to help me relax, and eat things that will help me stay healthy! That sounds like a lot, but I know when I do those things, I am my BEST me.

So here's to sticking to my plan/goals and making 2016 a year where I am the best Brynn I can be!