Winner, Winner, how do I put the Generator in here?

Okay, so I can't figure out how to show the little picture of the random number generator that showed me plug in 1-27 and it come up with the number 3. Congratulations, Mrs. Parker!
Thanks everyone for stopping by and participating and especially for all the kind words. I wasn't expecting them, I just wanted you to tell me what you'd buy - but thanks, it lit up my week.  Mrs. Parker send me a message letting me know if you would like the certificate mailed to you or via email.
S. Parker said...

I love your blog. It is one of my Top 10. I love the stories. In fact, when I read it, I think you should think about writing, publishing a book. A good ol' fashioned teacher inspiration story. :).
You are an inspiration.

How Schools are Stifling Creativity

 One of the fun things about receiving comments on my blog is getting to go link/look back to yours (if I don't already "know" you) so I can learn about a new buddy in blogland. Have you seen Mrs. Lazenby's blog? You need to head over there and watch a video (it's the middle one) she was shown while getting her gifted endorsement. I was so inspired and enjoyed it so much I immediately went and googled the man's, Sir Ken Robinson, name. I found the updated editorial (below), which is just as interesting. He makes me think about what we are doing and sharing our creativity, as well as how I help my students' creativity shine through and flourish throughout the school year (more on that to come).

(CNN) -- I spoke at TED in 2006, the year they started to put the talks online. I'm told that since then, the talk has been downloaded more than 3.5 million times in more than 200 countries. The number of people who've seen it may be 20 times that or more.
I have a stream of e-mails, tweets and blog posts round the world from young people, parents, students, teachers, cultural activists and business leaders of all sorts. They tell me how deeply they relate to the talk and often that they've seen or shown it many times at meetings, conferences, workshops and retreats.
Parents tell me they've shown it to their children; young people tell me they've shown it to their parents. They say they've laughed and sometimes cried together and had a different sort of conversation as a result. Changing the conversation is one of the primary purposes of TED.
Why has this talk had such an impact? I think there are several reasons.
To begin with, the talk is short. The 18-minute talk is part of the genius of TED. In a world of instant messaging, rampant data and overspecialization, brevity is a virtue. (Even so, I've seen blogs that strongly recommend the talk but warn that it's almost 20 minutes long.)
A second factor is that, based on the audience's reaction, the talk is entertaining and funny at times, which always helps. And I'd just had my hair cut. We may never know how much that simple act contributed to the global appeal of the talk. But the real reason for its impact is that what I'm saying clearly resonates deeply with people of all ages and across many different cultures. I believe that the argument is becoming more urgent by the day.
What is the argument? In a nutshell, it's that we're all born with immense natural talents but our institutions, especially education, tend to stifle many of them and as a result we are fomenting a human and an economic disaster.
In education, this vast waste of talent involves a combination of factors. They include a narrow emphasis on certain sorts of academic work; the exile of arts, humanities and physical education programs from schools; arid approaches to teaching math andsciences; an obsessive culture of standardized testing and tight financial pressures to teach to the tests.
The result is a disastrous waste of talent among students and their teachers. To sense the scale of this disaster, you only have to look at the alarming rates of turnover among faculty and the levels of drop out, disaffection, stress and prescription drug use among students. Even for students who stay the course and do well in education, the rules of success have changed irrevocably. Just look at the plummeting value of college degrees.
The waste of talent in education is not deliberate. Teachers are as anxious about this as everyone else, but many of them feel trapped in the awkward groping of national reform policies, many of which misunderstand the problems as well as the solutions. The waste of talent isn't deliberate, but it is systematic.
It happens in part because the dominant systems of education are rooted in the values and demands of industrialism: they are linear, mechanistic and focused on conformity and standardization. Nowadays, they're buttressed by major commercial interests inmass testing and by the indiscriminate use of prescription drugs that keep students' minds from wandering to things they naturally find more interesting.
The tragedy is that meeting the many social, economic, spiritual and environmental challenges we now face depends absolutely on the very capacities of insight, creativity and innovation that these systems are systematically suppressing in yet another generation of young people.
Reforming these systems is not enough. The truth is that we are caught up in a cultural and economic revolution. This revolution is global in scale and unpredictable in nature. To meet it, we need a revolution in the culture of education.
This new culture has to emerge from a richer sense of human ability. To shape it, I believe we have to leave behind the manufacturing principles of industrialism and embrace the organic principles of ecology.
Education is about developing human beings, and human development is not mechanical or linear. It is organic and dynamic.
Like all living forms, we flourish in certain conditions and shrivel in others. Great teachers, great parents and great leaders understand those conditions intuitively; poor ones don't. The answer is not to standardize education, but to personalize and customize it to the needs of each child and community. There is no alternative. There never was.
The good news is that all around the world there are wonderful examples of people and organizations that are making determined efforts to do things differently in education -- and in business, health care, architecture, communities and cultural programs.
There are examples of these all over the TED Web site and in the expanding ripples of the TED prizes. TED itself is a great example of the spirit of collaboration and inter-disciplinarily that is the essential to a genuine culture of creativity.
What are the principles of this culture? Towards the end of my talk, I mention a book I was working on called "Epiphany."
It was published this year under a much better title, "The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything" (Viking) and is now in 11 languages. It draws on conversations with people in science, business, education, the arts, sports and more on how they found in themselves the talents and passions that have shaped their lives. But the book is not about them: it's about you and your children, if you have any; and your friends too, if you have any of those.
There's a wealth of talent that lies in all of us. All of us, including those who work in schools, must nurture creativity systematically and not kill it unwittingly.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Sir Ken Robinson.


Remember: I said I'd do a GIVEAWAY

You've got 24 hours left. 
Go to this post to see what I'm talking about.

Teaching Tolerance- One Clip at a Time

Have you ever heard of or seen the movie Paperclips?  If you haven't, then you need to get on Netflix or to a video store or whatever method it is that you use these days and get yourself this DVD. Paperclips is a documentary set in a small town - Whitwell, TN where a middle school teacher wanted to teach about tolerance and prejudice. She wanted to use an example so she began with the Holocaust - she educated herself and then her students. Then a child asked what six million looked like - they couldn't envision that amount of a group of people. Thus began the Paperclip Project. 

For me, when I watched this for the first time about 5 or 6 years ago, I watched it alone after mentally preparing myself. Tolerance is something I understand. When I was just 15 years old I went on a trip to Poland, visiting many of the concentration camps. On Holocaust Rememberance Day myself, along with 7,000 other Jewish teenagers from all over the world marched from Auschwitz to Birkenau. What was once the 'march of death' had become our 'March of the Living' - giving the name of the trip its title. 

That experience changed my life. I came back and looked at things differently. I didn't want to deal with petty things in high school. Still to this day I try my best not to use the word 'hate' and likewise I do not allow my students to use the word 'hate.' I know first-graders are young but what I say to them is "we don't need to say 'hate' that word can hurt people's feelings." When I taught 3rd last year I told them something to the effect of, "hate is not a kind word, there are other ways to say you don't like something." Other (older) ages I have said that "sometimes people get hurt because of the word hate."

The reason for saying this is because Paperclips - the movie and the result of the movie (I don't want to give it away) has always stayed with me. I am inspired by that teacher. As I was looking around this afternoon I came across this project:
This is a non-profit organization in Chattanooga, TN that began as a result of the Paperclips Project. They have SUMMER INSTITUTES! I clicked the link immediately. Then I saw the word FREE - yes, it's for teachers, and the $400 fee is waived. This is geared more towards 5th graders and older, but I believe tolerance is something children are never too young to learn. The first day is in Chattanooga where you are taught the curriculum on teaching tolerance (and you are provided the detailed lesson plans). The second day you go to Whitwell. You also receive a One Clip Kit. I was certain that this would be full for this summer, but there was room for the July one and I am thrilled to be going! What an amazing resource and experience!

If anyone else is close by and wants to come, you should look into it: 

Have you seen the film? What were your thoughts? If you watch it soon, I'd love to hear!


Did you think I would ever GIVEAWAY something?

I know! I know! My blogging friends may disown me. In fact one has. But that's okay. I can take it!

As I mentioned last week, I reached over 100 followers last weekend. I realize to some 100 is nothing, some are honoring 300 and 600, 700. Truly those numbers are amazing and do inspire me to continue blogging and learning how to do more. However, I appreciate that it took a little more time to reach my number of followers. I don't always have fun, printable, freebies for you. I don't have a TpT store. What I do have are my stories, my experience, and my ideas. Sometimes you get some of my deeper thoughts or my ramblings. I thank you for listening and reading. I love this community. 

Since all of you have supplied me with more materials and resources than I ever could have imagined I wanted to gift you a little something fun - 

How about $25 funky bucks? Lol. Okay, so have you heard of EmTanner Designs?
I am telling you, we - and by we I mean my friends I have made on her facebook page - joke about how we could be her customer service people because we have so much of her stuff we are able to answer other facebooker's questions -but I am telling, I am tons of her stuff and I have given a lot as gifts. Here's just a small sample: 

see the two plates - the brown one comes in just about any color you want and is totally customizable; the initial one is just that - pick your initial and color. These are melamine, durable, and dishwasher safe. 

(ummm, ignore the wine, teachers don't drink) ;) see the calendar and the notebook looking paper - you can have them say whatever you like. They are dry erase AND magnetic. My calendar says, 'so much to do, so little time...'; see the clipboard - days of the week on the front and the month on the back - it is wet erase (meaning you use a vis-a-vis) on it. If you look on her site I also have the 'Grocery Getter' clipboard.

dry erase calendar-this one with grommets, hanging by my desk at school

lunchboxes - or crayon and marker boxes, whatever - these are durable and totally wipe clean.


She does cutting boards (wedding gift); waterbottles; on the go mugs (awesome teacher gifts); I mean she has something for any age, any size, oh and the most adorable cell phone cases. You have to see them. And of course this: 

I actually had her do this for me on a tote bag. I love it! Okay I could post tons more, but you go over there and check it out for yourself. Oh and there are sales all the time - if you like her on facebook (I'll warn you, on fb she tells it like it is and is no-holds barred) but she passes out coupon codes for 20 and 30% all the time. 

I'm not going to have you go through hoops on this one. I just like good ole' sincerity so if you follow me fabulous and thank you. I appreciate your readership. If you feel like telling someone about what I do over here, cause you've been inspired or learned something, that's great, too. If you are bummed I don't have more printables for you...well there are some amazing blogs listed to your right (haha). If you want to enter, leave a comment letting me know what you would get. I love to get ideas from others. You have until Wednesday night at 9 p.m. est. 


Fill in the blank Friday - on Sunday :)

I stumbled across the cutest blog at the end of last week, the little things we do, and every Friday she provides new fill-in-the-blanks and invites us to link up. I'm liking it. What a great way to get that (creative) writing going! Head on over and see what others had to say or give a try this coming Friday. It's fun!

1.   The last movie I saw was       Just Go With It -very predictable but I hadn't seen a movie, let alone a fun romantic comedy in a while. Very good!

2.  I want to    be done with the moving process - unpacking,organizing, all of it. Is there anyone who likes moving?

3.  Surprises are     so sweet and fun if you truly have no idea it's coming, but usually I have to hint at anything. My 22nd bday was a surprise party, senior year of college. My friends did good - it'll probably be my last. haha

4.  The best accessory is   a clutch or purse because if you don't want to have a drink you are still holding something really cute and cool while everyone is holding their drink.

5.  My favorite warm drink is     ohhh it's a toss up, I do love hot chocolate, but on a cold winter morning when I am going to teach I like my hot tea.

6.  My favorite cold drink is       water or tea (I guess I do like tea, huh?) .

7.  Currently loving       the life I am living.


Wonderful Workbox System - Homeschooling

Happy Thursday!

Okay, so if any of you haven't figured it out by now I am a definite artsy fartsy, craftaholic. When I moved I had just as much craft supplies to pack as I did clothing probably. My dad shakes his head. My mom, she gets it (maybe). Anyway, I digress. However the point is just like teaching blog land, it has lead me to befriend some wonderfully creative and inspiring bloggers and artists/creators in that land who actually make a living doing their passion. 
image source: Lindsey, The Pleated Poppy

I'd like to introduce you to Lindsey from The Pleated Ploppy. Not only is she incredibly talented (just check out her shop to see), but she also raises three children and homeschools them!   She has a blog on her page as well and her post today is about the workbox system she uses with her kids. I thought several of you may enjoy it. Go have a look. 

For Now...

Anyone else humming the tune from the musical Avenue Q? Has anyone seen that show? I have seen it twice and love it! I would see it again in a heartbeat. Actually, quick story about the first time I saw it - I had just moved to NYC after college and was searching for a job (in book publishing at the time) after making it through my first week I decided to treat myself. On a Friday night I went to the theater and stood in the cancellation line. All the people right up through the front of me got a ticket. It got to me and nothing. Then the people who I had made friends with standing in front of me came back up to me and asked if I wanted to buy one of theirs because their friend couldn't make it after all. Did I? You bet! And for $50? That's like a steal for a Friday night on Broadway. I was in heaven. And so the show began
"What do you do with a B.A. in English,
What is my life going to be?"
Yes parts of it are risque and sure they are poking at some p.c. things, but there's also some things to think about.

What really got me thinking about this was when I read a commencement speech today that was delivered by Conan O'Brien. Again there was a lot of humor in it, but when he got down to the seriousness of it. it made you stop and think: 
"Nietzsche famously said 'Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.' But what he failed to stress is that it almost kills you. Disappointment stings and, for driven, successful people like yourselves it is disorienting. What Nietzsche should have said is 'Whatever doesn't kill you, makes you watch a lot of Cartoon Network and drink mid-price Chardonnay at 11 in the morning.'

Your path at 22 will not necessarily be your path at 32 or 42. One's dream is constantly evolving, rising and falling, changing course. This happens in every job,

In 2000—in 2000—I told graduates to not be afraid to fail, and I still believe that. But today I tell you that whether you fear it or not, disappointment will come. The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality.
Many of you here today are getting your diploma at this Ivy League school because you have committed yourself to a dream and worked hard to achieve it. And there is no greater cliché in a commencement address than "follow your dream." Well I am here to tell you that whatever you think your dream is now, it will probably change. And that's okay. Four years ago, many of you had a specific vision of what your college experience was going to be and who you were going to become. And I bet, today, most of you would admit that your time here was very different from what you imagined. Your roommates changed, your major changed. But through the good and especially the bad, the person you are now is someone you could never have conjured." 

Here is a link to the speech in its entirety if you are interested. I blog about this because I know this summer we all reflect as teachers and as people - what can we change? what can we do better? how can we make our teaching better; our lives simpler? Of course, some of us are still figuring out what our paths will be (myself included) as the fall brings uncertainty with it - where will we teach? what grade do we prepare for?

I know it makes it a little easier with a community of creative bloggers and to remember the words from Avenue Q: "Everything in life is only for now," the words from Conan (posted above), and the words from my own commencement speaker after telling us of a near death experience (interestingly enough I have tried for years to get a full transcript of his speech, and I just learned he passed away 3 months ago): "“understood with great clarity that nothing in life, except death itself, was ever going to kill me. No meeting could ever go that badly. No client would ever be that angry. No business error would ever bring me as close to the brink as I had already been.”
He also said: 
Remember to laugh, try not to be cynical and remind yourself every day that you are responsible for whatever happens in your life.
That, my friends, is Tuesday's Tips for Life :)


Fun, Followers, & Giveaways!

I hope everyone had a Magnificent Monday. It is just hot beyond hot here in the south. I think it's like that almost anywhere in the country, although my brother who lives in Alaska loves to point out that it is not hot there (we are keeping track of the fires though).

Let's get this day rolling...
Anyone up for reading by the pool? On a float in the pool? I've got a book for you - The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.
Lots of the authors from TBA will be hosting this read along beginning on June 27th. You've got plenty of time. Thinking of Teaching is the brains behind this operation who pulled this all together.
She'll be participating and leading everything. Jennifer from Rowdy in 1st and myself are hosting the first week with the Introduction and Chapter 1. 

So come on, you've got plenty of time! Join our read along and book club. 

As long as we are listing off other's blogs, I am sure you know of Ladybug's Teacher Files. She's one of the ones who got me going. She has some amazing technology tips for adding numbers to your comments, flair to your comments, and even shadows to your pictures. I've tried them all this morning. I am not so sure on the shadows because it even added a shadow to my signature. Thoughts? We'll see. You should try some of her tutorials. 

Now here's a blog that is relatively new, she's already reached 100 followers, has a giveaway going on NOW, but more importantly is an amazing resource, so definitely go Step into Second Grade with Mrs. Lemons

(I learned about her from our own Miss Kindergarten - who I think is just fabulous)

And, finally, if you hadn't noticed - I reached over 100 followers this past weekend. That in and of itself is unreal to me. I know others have a lot more, but I appreciate that it's taken three months and it's been slow and steady. Hopefully those of you who follow come to read.  So yes, it has not gone unnoticed and I will show some more love a little later in the week. Stay tuned...and thanks!


These are a few of my favorite things...

I'm back! I mean it this time. I was moving last week and between the packing and the unpacking and the picture hanging and the cleaning and the finally being reunited with my things after two and a half years it took a lot out of me. Since I was reunited with some of my things I definitely want to participate in Little Miss Kindergarten's Linky Party.

Now, in no particular order:
Cupcakes and bakeries - if there is a Red Velvet cupcake to try I will let you know who has the best, or who serves the best Chocolate Molten cake! Likewise I love to bake.


New York City - I lived there for two years after college and worked in book publishing, Simon and Schuster and HarperCollins


Pottery - any and all, but especially from my favorite studio right where they make it in Athens, GA

Art Festivals - I love to decorate with unique pieces that you cannot find just anywhere. In the spring and fall I do not miss a weekend. For the particular festival above I have a certain friend I have gone with for the last three years and we already have our date set for this coming September!

Walking for Breast Cancer (or any cancer) - this is especially close to my heart. Four years ago I completed the two-day walk (30 miles) and raised over $5,000. The following year I did it again. I was only able to walk one of the days, but I still finished 10 miles. I try never to miss a Race for the Cure.

Tennis - Yes, I really got to see Melanie Oudin play that close! I also went to the U.S. Open both years I lived in NYC. I really want to go back. 

Anything handmade or handwritten (it's a lost art and form these days) - from an artist, a friend, a child, a teacher; this articular artist above is Lisa Leonard.


I am learning how fun these can be, and how addicting they can be. Fortunately, I live in an apartment so there will not be a stockpile taking over my entire place. 

The ability to be creative and write and have it be respected. It is such an outlet for me and a large part of who I am. I've made so many friends through my creative outlets. I love it!

My friends and family. There isn't anything I wouldn't do for them, and I am pretty sure they would agree to that (hopefully) :). 


Yay for Savings Linky!

O-M-Gosh!! Okay, I'm Sorry. I know I was away all week. I was Sss-ICK! I don't know if my body has this weird sixth sense about knowing the instantaneous minute school is out and it can let down or if I have just built up zero immune system so far or what, but it was terrible, by Friday afternoon after seeing my doctor I was swallowing three different pills, using two nose sprays and sleeping like I didn't know what day it was. Well, I still don't know what day it is, but I did wake up this morning super excited to go cut some coupons from this Sunday's paper (once I realized it was Sunday). I know we think these are all teaching blogs per se, but for me it's more about the learning process - in the classroom and out, about ourselves and others, about daily life, and well ya get the point.  

So here is chalkboard confessional number two: I think I have just become obsesssed with couponing. Now not like mad obsessed like those people on TV who start stockpiling their items under their beds and in their bedrooms. However, this coming week I am finally moving back out on my own (WoooHoooo). I wanted to make a challenge to myself that when it comes to groceries and household items I will not buy them unless they are on sale or I have a coupon and when both happen, even better. I started building a stash this weekend: 

Now I will try and break it down for you (please do keep in mind, a few items in the box I did have, like the tea you see above, but I am packing). I did a loop of three stores Walgreens, Target, and Publix.

3 bags of Chex Mix for $3 -$.99coupon
Bayer Advanced$3.49 -$1.50coupon
Benadryl$6.49 -$2.00 peal off coupon
Palmolive$1.99 -$1.10WAGScouppon
Paid: $11.79 Saved: $11.10

Publix (always love Publix for their Buy 1, Get 1 - they will still take a coupon on it, plus they will double any coupon that is $.50 or less. - so today was great for me):
4 boxes of Ritz Whole Wheat crackers, B1G1 2 coupons for $1 off
2 packs of cottage cheese - 2/$4
liners $3.49 -$.50coupon, dbld
Newman's Own Sauce $2.39 -$.50 coupon dbld
Aunt Jemima Syrup, B1G1
Paid: $16.47 Saved: $15.94

Hershey's 6 pk. candy bars, on sale for $2.49 -$.50coupon
Gulden's mustard $1.19 -$.35 coupon
McCormick Seasoning packets (2) $.52 ea
Barilla Pasta $1.09
Barilla Pasta $1.84
Jamba Juice Smoothie (2)$2.49 ea -$1.00coupon ea.
Tropicana Apple Juice $2.39 -$.50coupon
J-ello pudding box mix b3,g1free
Oreo, B2,g$1.00 off coupon
used 2 of my own bags, saved $.10
Paid: $25.73 Saved: $8.72

Again, this isn't miraculous and I am sure others can do much better, but for my first weekend of giving this a true shot I was pretty proud of myself. I welcome all tips. Thanks Thoughts of a Third Grade Teacher for hosting!

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