You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello

Goodbye All My Children (I took it hard back in September). Goodbye One Life to Live (I'm really very sad about this). Oh and goodbye Robin from General Hospital (I know, really it will be 2012 when she finally leaves, but I've been in mourning). Maybe my afternoons will be filled with more time, however less entertainment.

Goodbye Stabler from Law & Order SVU.

Goodbye Blackberry; Hello iPhone.

Goodbye living with the parents; Hello glorious own apartment.

Goodbye old blog template, hello NEW one. Doesn't it look great?! Clean and simple. Designer Blogs does a great job.

Hello new Teacher's Notebook shop - see that pink circle in the upper right corner, click on it, it takes you there. Right now there are just some freebies while I feel it all out.

Hello new Facebook page - see the teal circle in the upper right hand corner, click on it, it takes you there. I'm still struggling on that one. I used to remember how to get the blog linked up and get my blog button image, and now nothing's working.

Hello to teaching a Professional Learning to my coworkers (stay tuned about that) and after-school to 4th graders.

Hello to turning 30 (yikes, I may take that harder than I think).

Hello swimming laps again (I love it).

Hello organizing - can we say - Container Store

I hope you've enjoyed this small little introduction to my new surroundings in the blog world. In the real world, my cousin sent me this (it's quite interesting, the ways in which our world is changing) article titled:

 21 Things That Will Be Obsolete in 2020

The 21st century does not fit neatly into rows. Neither should your students. Allow the network-based concepts of flow, collaboration, and dynamism help you rearrange your room for authentic 21st century learning.
Foreign language acquisition is only a smartphone away. Get rid of those clunky desktops and monitors and do something fun with that room.
Ok, so this is a trick answer. More precisely this one should read: ‘Our concept of what a computer is’. Because computing is going mobile and over the next decade we’re going to see the full fury of individualized computing via handhelds come to the fore. Can’t wait.
The 21st century is a 24/7 environment. And the next decade is going to see the traditional temporal boundaries between home and school disappear. And despite whatever Secretary Duncan might say, we don’t need kids to ‘go to school’ more; we need them to ‘learn’ more. And this will be done 24/7 and on the move (see #3).
The AP Exam is on its last legs. The SAT isn’t far behind. Over the next ten years, we will see Digital Portfolios replace test scores as the #1 factor in college admissions.
The 21st century is customizable. In ten years, the teacher who hasn’t yet figured out how to use tech to personalize learning will be the teacher out of a job. Differentiation won’t make you ‘distinguished’; it’ll just be a natural part of your work.
Wikipedia is the greatest democratizing force in the world right now. If you are afraid of letting your students peruse it, it’s time you get over yourself.
Books were nice. In ten years’ time, all reading will be via digital means. And yes, I know, you like the ‘feel’ of paper. Well, in ten years’ time you’ll hardly tell the difference as ‘paper’ itself becomes digitized.
Bio scans. ‘Nuff said.
A coat-check, maybe.
Ok, so this is another trick answer. More subtly put: IT Departments as we currently know them. Cloud computing and a decade’s worth of increased wifi and satellite access will make some of the traditional roles of IT — software, security, and connectivity — a thing of the past. What will IT professionals do with all their free time? Innovate. Look to tech departments to instigate real change in the function of schools over the next twenty years.
School buildings are going to become ‘homebases’ of learning, not the institutions where all learning happens. Buildings will get smaller and greener, student and teacher schedules will change to allow less people on campus at any one time, and more teachers and students will be going out into their communities to engage in experiential learning.
Education over the next ten years will become more individualized, leaving the bulk of grade-based learning in the past. Students will form peer groups by interest and these interest groups will petition for specialized learning. The structure of K-12 will be fundamentally altered.
This is actually one that could occur over the next five years. Education Schools have to realize that if they are to remain relevant, they are going to have to demand that 21st century tech integration be modeled by the very professors who are supposed to be preparing our teachers.
No one knows your school as well as you. With the power of a PLN (professional learing networks) in their back pockets, teachers will rise up to replace peripatetic professional development gurus as the source of schoolwide professional development programs. This is already happening.
There is no reason why every student needs to take however many credits in the same course of study as every other student. The root of curricular change will be the shift in middle schools to a role as foundational content providers and high schools as places for specialized learning.
Ongoing parent-teacher relations in virtual reality will make parent-teacher conference nights seem quaint. Over the next ten years, parents and teachers will become closer than ever as a result of virtual communication opportunities. And parents will drive schools to become ever more tech integrated.
Nutrition information + handhelds + cost comparison = the end of $3.00 bowls of microwaved mac and cheese. At least, I so hope so.
You need a website/brochure/promo/etc.? Well, for goodness sake just let your kids do it. By the end of the decade — in the best of schools — they will be.
Within the decade, it will either become the norm to teach this course in middle school or we’ll have finally woken up to the fact that there’s no reason to give algebra weight over statistics and I.T. in high school for non-math majors (and they will have all taken it in middle school anyway).
In ten years’ time, schools will decrease their paper consumption by no less than 90%. And the printing industry and the copier industry and the paper industry itself will either adjust or perish.

Happy 2012!


Resolutions Linky

So yesterday it was 11 in '11. I really wanted to do a 12 in '12 linky (cause '12 is kind of a big deal with me - I turn 30 in 2012, on the 12th of February) but A Teacher's Treasure kind of beat me with her resolution linky. So here goes: 

1. start exercising again (why is that one so hard? Seriously, anyone?)
2. do the aforementioned, so I can lose weight. I did such a good job keeping it off for 2 and a half years and then what happened?!
3. cook more. a bowl of cereal is inadequate. and I am a good cook. 
4. clean a little bit every day, not just once a week. 
5. meet more people (this is hard for me - believe it or not, I am shy).

1. don't procrastinate (ha yeah right! - My dad even gave me a sign once that says "don't rush me, I'm waiting for the last minute.")
2. create more.
3. be more organized (if that is even possible - I am anal and ocd to the nth degree).
4. continue to go with the flow.
5. continue to accept that things will not be perfect. 

Now you go link up if you haven't already!

I'm Part of The Crafty Community! & Erin has a Giveaway

Hi everyone! I'm very excited to be joining The Crafty Community! When I talk about storage in my house and I say, "Well crafts can go there," no one even flinches. Well, maybe my dad flinches cause he thinks it's all just too much, but otherwise, it's just part of life!

Tell us a little bit about your blog and why you started it.
My blog Lessons Learned is just that - as it's little subtitle says, from the classroom and beyond. We are the teachers, but the truth is we are still learning little lessons every single day, from our own students or just in life and it is up to us how we choose to apply those lessons. 

Tell us about yourself.

This is my 5th year in a classroom but my 2nd year with my own (took a long time to get there, which you can read about on my blog). I work mainly with 1st graders. Last year I taught a class of 19 1st-graders. This year I see almost 50 something students throughout the day in small groups, assisting them in either math or reading. I absolutely love taking creative and hands-on approaches to my teaching and I am always looking for new ideas. 

I am also a contributing author, as well as administrating author at Teaching Blog Addict.

I am in charge of the linky parties over there, and all those wonderful Freebie Fridays - you know, these?

I am also a proud aunt, sister, and daughter. I love to have fun, relax and most of all I try not to take myself so seriously. 

What do you think makes your blog different from others?

I believe my blog is a little different from others because of what I offer - a little bit of seriousness, a lit bit of humor, and most of all I tell it like it is from my perspective. I offer ideas that have been tried and tested. 

that's my pic with Legos!

While you are over there be sure to check out the giveaway Erin has going on for making it to 100 followers. Good Luck. 


11 in '11 Linky

I'm linking up with Hadar and Kristin. Com join if you haven't already!

11. Favorite movie you watched:
Okay, seriously, I think it is sad that I cannot remember a single movie I may have seen this year in a movie theater. Sad and pathetic I know. But when on a budget movies these days are a no no. Add that to being stressed out and I can't concentrate on much. I know when I was babysitting I saw: 
Just Go With It

oh and of course, I do remember seeing: 

Bad Teacher
I dare say these are my favorites, but they are two I have seen that made me laugh!

10. Favorite TV series:
Law & Order: SVU


Everybody Loves Raymond

9. Favorite restaurant:
This is hard for me, again because I don't eat out much unless someone is taking me out. However, I am very fortunate to live in a complex where there are restaurants right below my building and I have enjoyed two new places I had never heard of - 
Newk's Express Cafe


8. Favorite new thing you tried:
Fear not, I am not extreme, but I do like the thrill of savings!

7. Favorite gift you got:
That I am going to be an aunt again! I just found out last week. :)

6. Favorite thing you pinned:

5. Favorite blog post:

4. Best accomplishment:
Sticking it out, persevering and finally getting hired.

3. Favorite picture:
these adorable cupcakes I made for my niece's 2nd birthday!

2. Favorite memory:
Hearing my niece say my name for the first time. She can't say Sydney (well, she can now, but I want the nickname to stick). She calls me Ney (knee)

1. Goal for 2012: 
lose weight and budget better (payoff debt)

A Holiday Story

Last year I was very good about updating another blog of mine that has definitely fallen by the wayside now. It seems we always fall behind in blogging around the holidays and last year was no exception - At least last October this is what I was busy doing....

Last October my long-awaited wish had become a reality. After years of searching due to the turn in the economy I had been given a wonderful opportunity to teach in a first-grade classroom at Hopkins Elementary School.

Hopkins is a Title I school and the largest elementary school in its county with approximately 1800 students. I would become one of 16 first-grade teachers. I was up for the task, though beginning in the middle of the school year was a bit daunting. I gave it my all. I spent between $500-$1000 of my own money before I ever saw a paycheck, and not to mention the other teachers donating supplies from their own classrooms to help mine. They could not have been more helpful. If I needed a superman then I had indeed just found 15 of them. However, to no fault of theirs, or mine, it still was not enough. 

As luck would have it just two prior I was getting a haircut from a friend of mine, K (for my own good deed, to donate it to Locks of Love) when she asked me how school was going. Naturally, I said it was going really well. Though as I watched her daughters, who happen to love art I did mention that at times I alter the homework I send home because not all of my students have crayons at home, or they cannot do cut and paste because there is not scissors or glue.

The next morning I received a text message from K asking how many students were in my class because her daughters were going to pool their money together to buy each student their own pack of crayons for Christmas. Before I knew it, K had sent out an email to several families asking if they wanted to get their children involved. By that afternoon there were over 13 families willing to participate. The kids went shopping with their parents for the supplies, or donated their own money, and then had a get together to put it all together for my students.

As we dismissed for the holiday break each of my students went home with their very own pencil box complete with their own pack of crayons, markers, scissors, glue, a ruler, and colored pencils. Plus, many other supplies such as paint sets, construction paper, ice cube trays (for sorting and pouring paint into), notebooks, and hundreds of dollars in gift cards have been donated to my classroom.

A result like this is beyond anything I ever could have imagined. Our story does not end here. It is just the beginning. It began as just a conversation between friends and has grown into so much more – it has grown into people helping people, and children helping children, if for no other reason than it is the right thing to do.

I’ll never forget the faces on my students as K entered my room with her hands full of gift bags, let alone when they were each handed their own. Never shall I forget the voices of excitement over items we so often take for granted. Yes it’s true, in some places and in some schools we may be waiting on a Superman. Yet, I’d like to think that one lives in each of us, and I am pretty certain there are many circling over my classroom. 

This story went on to get published locally.

Ever since I have been thinking of ways to keep this going yearly, in a non-profit fashion. I have the support of some who contributed last winter, but I know I need more. If any of you have suggestions, I would love to hear them. Or, otherwise, hopefully the story just puts a smile on your face.

Happy Holidays - Happy Everything.

If You Believe, You Will Receive - It's Official!, ch.12

 The title of this post came to my mind because a coworker of mine always says to the kids around this time of year "If you don't believe, you won't receive." Every time I hear her say it, I laugh hysterically (on the inside of course, because I wouldn't want the kids to see). Every Time. She does it in the most fun loving, these are kids, lets preserve their innocence kind of way. I just love it. 

Well the other day when I was sharing some news with her I told her that I kind of new for a little bit but didn't want to say anything in case it didn't happen. And she said, but if you believe you will receive! We all laughed!

Okay, okay, so what's the news?! drumroll please.....I am an official employee for the remainder of the 2011-2012 school year. 

So for those of you catching up, you can read any or all of chapters 1-11 in the posts labeled "getting to know me." But, to summarize - I had a class last year. I taught first grade and I loved it! However because I was hired after the first day of school I did not have a contract for this school year. Since the end of August I have been substituting. I believe substituting is a humbling experience that most teachers should have to experience. Yet, I was also starting to lose my patience with the system by the end of November. I had been getting impatient. I knew my principal's plan had been to wait until the maternity leave I was covering was complete and then she would hire me in that position (because that teacher was not coming back for the rest of the year - not to mention the way our points worked out was a whole other story). People were asking me what I was going to do in January and what would happen to the 50 something kids I serve each day. I knew, but I couldn't say anything because I felt that was my principal's business. 

At our holiday party (we went bowling) as she was leaving my Principal leaned over in my ear and said "I'd like to offer you the position." I knew it was real them. I was sitting down and her hands were on my shoulder. I just leaned on her hand with a sigh of relief and said THANK YOU! I didn't know any other words. My official hire date was that following Monday on the 12th. I began to tell some of my 1st-grade coworkers whose kids I see, and then on that Friday right as we dismissed for break she announced it to the staff. I'll worry about next year in the summer when and if I have to. For now, this has been an even more celebratory vacation! 

What I've Learned (from the Holiday Season)...a Top 10 of sorts

In an homage to the Top 10 lists going around of knowing that it is Christmas time, I wanted to compile this list. I celebrate Chanukah, but trust me, I have a LOT of Holiday spirit. I wore a shirt this past week that read: "Don't be a GRINCH!" My kids loved that I had his picture on my shirt. Since last year after reading How The Grinch Stole Christmas for the first time one of my all time favorite holiday quotes has become: 

"Maybe Christmas, 
he thought, 
doesn't come from a store. 
Maybe Christmas, 
he thought, 
means a little bit more."

Some of my list is humorous and, of course, some is heartfelt. Regardless, I hope somewhere, some of it resonates with each of you. 

And so without further ado: 

1. No matter where you live, each year the decor will be put out just a tad bit earlier. It used to get put out at Thanksgiving. Then it would get put out at Halloween. Now it gets put out in the beginning of October. Soon we will skip fall all together and really will have Christmas in July!

2. I LOVE all the colors there are now, not just green and red, there is truly something for everyone. 

3. Speaking of something for everyone, I must comment about the amount of Chanukah items out there. When I was growing up you were lucky if you could find some gelt (the chocolate coins) and candles at a regular grocery store. Now Target, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel and many others help us decorate as well. It is so nice to be included. 

4. Some may only know Chanukah because of Adam Sandler and his song -- and that really is okay with me. He is funny. 

5. Chinese food, movies, junk food, being lazy, organizing, and somehow cleaning all fall into this crazy time.

6. There is a time to be lazy and relax  and there is a time to give of yourself. 

7. Toys for Tots is a fabulous cause. If you have never participated or don't know what it is all about I urge you to find out more. At my school of over 1700 kids we had tons of families fill out forms. This past Thursday night a group of about 30 teachers stayed after school and starting at 4:30 began unloading a giant U-Haul truck with toys and books for ages baby -teen. We then bagged them back up appropriately for families according to the age of their children. We were there for several hours, but can you imagine those kids' faces?!

8. I can tell you their faces are priceless. For the past 3 or 4 years I have volunteered at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (our children's hospital) on Christmas morning. We start at 7:30 in the morning sorting out the bags of toys, making sure there is one for each child who is a patient and then going around with Santa and delivering them. No one should have to be away from home on a holiday, but if they are - we are there with a smile (and even a toy for a sibling if there is one). 

9. It is important to remember that as we sit down for our holiday meals, whatever they may be, not everyone, including some of our very own students, are not fortunate to have enough food at home. Coupon. Donate. Find a food bank. Do not take what you have for granted. 

And last, but certainly not least

10. Please remember to appreciate this time with your family and friends. Appreciate the fact that our world stops on Christmas and that we have an excuse to sit and embrace those we love and may not always get to see. It is truly something rare. As a child, and a child of people, in which the world keeps moving regardless of the holiday you celebrate so that you are always playing catch up, you learn to value the importance of this idea (even if I didn't understand it as much until I was older). Our society doesn't stop on any other holiday, for any other religion, and not even on Thanksgiving anymore. Christmas is, in a way, a holiday for all - because we all just stop; We just breathe; We just are - wherever we are, with our family, whomever we choose them to be. It does not matter the way in which you honor it - be it with potato pancakes, chinese food, ham or turkey - appreciate those with whom you share it. 


Coulda, Woulda,, um Currently

I coulda just posted this hours ago in a boring ole post like I have done in the past. If I woulda done that then I wouldn't have had to eat that rice krispy treat (or two) that I just had because I woulda already been in bed. But no, stubborn me I wanted to use the fun template that Farley provides. I shoulda followed my first instinct. It woulda saved my computer some memory, and I am pretty sure it is trying to die. I speak so kindly to it though and tell it that I  know it can make it. (what's that? Oh c'mon, you know I am not the only one who talks to their computer!)

So anyways, here's my currently, the best I could do, but clearly it should be called Clearly Sydney Needs Some Technology Help (which really makes me worry, cause I thought I was kind of good with this but for whatever reason, mac computers like to be different). 

I love Lindsey @ The Teacher Wife for her amazing units she puts together. I have so many ideas and no clue how to put them together so I always stalk and hop one day it will sink in. I also do the same with Kristen @ LadyBug's Teacher Files (see how I broke one of Farley's rules without really breaking it? I mentioned two blogs, but not directly on my currently?! sneaky!)

Oh, and I really appreciate Jen R. @ The Teacher's Cauldron for trying to give me pointers for how to get my Currently posted. 

Go link up over with Farley at Oh Boy Fourth Grade!


Catching Up and Slowing Down

 Are you still out there? Do I still have readers? Maybe you all have been as crazy bust and as overwhelmed as I have. Yep, that's what I am going to go with. It's been so hectic in your life that you hardly noticed I went AWOL. Or maybe that's not so good either. You should miss me, right?! Eh, whatever (seriously, if you knew in real life - ha it cracks me up when my little kids at school say "for real, for real life!" - but if you did know me, I am the whatever gal, in the most sincere and heartfelt way of course. 

So it really has been a whirlwind. We got out for Thanksgiving but not before we had time to learn all the steps in order to graph and survey. Just look at how cute it came out on my two different first grade halls!


they had so much fun going around and making tally marks on their little survey, and even getting to ask our principal!

my favorite response from this hall: pickt = picked :)

AND the other hallway group:
With this group of 7 I was able to truly go through the process step-by-step, which I knew their math teacher had also been emphasizing as well. I also really let go and let it be as much  done by the kids as possible (huge step for me). 

 the graph (see the uneven spacing kills me, but they did it!)

step 1: Ask a question; step 2: Collect data; step 3: Sort the data; step 4: Graph it

step 5: Think - what did I learn?

And again, my favorite response is the one in the top left: "I learned that no (now=no) teachers pikt (pikt=picked) chicken."  Oh my gosh this little girl is so adorable. She was missing a period at the end of her sentence when she first wrote it, but note that at the end she was sure to write her name on the side. To prompt for the period I always say, "what goes at the end of the sentence?" She looked right at me and in her small little voice said "Kelly!" Oh, they light up my life. 

With my reading groups I just wanted to show you how adorable our little Bossy R Books came out: 

The kids were so excited about these books. You have got to go check them out over at Funky First Grade Fun!

Now I am thrilled we made it through the holiday fun (don't worry, I've got more to post). Stay tuned for a little exciting news in my life (some of you have been waiting for it). In the meantime, thank goodness for winter break and some break time!

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