Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday Made It {6-30-14}

I can't believe that this is the first time I've been able to join this fun linky party this year with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics.  Last summer, I was much more crafty...I'll have to work on that for the rest of this summer, once I finish all of my PD classes this week.
Recently, my mom was cleaning out her garage and gave me a small hose section that she didn't need anymore.  Being a Pinterest fanatic, I remember seeing a hose wreath awhile back and thought that it would make the perfect wreath for the garage side door.  I think I was right...

A perfect pop of summer color!

Thanks, Tara, for hosting this fun linky party every Monday!  I'm off to find some inspiration from everyone else to help get my craftiness moving!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Peek at My Week {6-29-14}

Welcome to this week's edition of A Peek at My Week, the linky party where we can all share our plans for the upcoming week.  I am glad you are here and I hope you will participate by linking up below.
I just finished up a whirlwind week with my sister and her family who were visiting from Dallas.  It was so great to see them!  My niece and nephew are growing like weeds.  (I'm sure my kids seemed like that to her!)  Here are some pictures I captured:

This week, I only have a few things planned.  I am finishing up my UWM-Writing Project Advanced Institute research project.  Last week, I wrote that I would be researching a persuasive piece about why it's important to teach writing.  However, after doing some research, I became interested in the topic of how to help struggling writers and am now pursuing that.

Speaking of struggling writers, have you seen this website from Jim Write at Intervention Central?  There are lots of great writing interventions and ideas he shares for free!

I'm looking forward to this week because I don't have a lot of other things scheduled.  Life has been so crazy since I got out of school.  I'm looking forward to just having some time to sit and relax too!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Positive Thinking Thursday {6-26-14}

It's Thursday, which means it's time for some positive thinking!
I could really use your positive thoughts this week.  I have been battling a terrible summer cold and I'm afraid it is winning.

OK, enough complaining....Here's my positive thought for this week:
So very true. We all tend to focus on the bad things in life, but tomorrow is a new day and life is beautiful
I am a big fan of Dr. Wayne Dyer.  In one of his books, he suggests that the key to a happy life is to end each day thinking about our blessings.  This way, as we dream and rest, the positivity will grow.  (This is one of the reasons I don't like falling asleep to the evening news.)  Try it, it works!

An InLinkz Link-up

Have a great Thursday!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Today with my writing group, I was in charge of planning the OWA (Opening Writing Activity).  This is a short writing exercise to get our creative juices flowing.

For today, I settled on some writing activities from the book Unjournaling by Dawn DiPrince & Cheryl Miller Thurston.

I love the writing prompts from this book because they are quick and fun!  In my classroom, I will often use prompts from this book for our writing warm up at the beginning of class if we need a change of pace.

Today we wrote on two of the prompts:

  • List the best reasons for doing nothing.
  • Describe someone only by the details their hands.
Each of us in the writing group wrote something completely different, yet wonderful!  

Last year, I used this prompt with one of my classes:
  • You have discovered an "orfenbellydorper." Describe what it is and what it does.
The kids had so much fun with this one that the orfenbellydorper showed up in stories throughout the year.  Talk about writing having an effect on students!

Journaling doesn't have to always be serious.  For kids who don't like to write, sometimes it takes 'unjournaling' to help them grow in confidence and creativity.

What other creative ways do you journal in your classroom?

See you back here on Thursday for Positive Thinking Thursday!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Peek at My Week {6/22/14}

It's that time again....Time to start thinking about our week!
I am just beginning to recuperate from last week.  I spent two wonderful days in Warsaw, IN at the All Write 14 conference.  If you'd like to read about my experience, you can find it here.

Week #2 of summer break looks to be busy as well.  Here's what I've got going on:

My sister and her family are visiting from Dallas, where they moved a year ago.  It will be great to have them all back home for the week!  Ironically, the week they decide to come back home to Wisconsin is the week where our weather is taking a nose dive back into spring.  Here is the picture she texted us last night before leaving Dallas to show they were ready for Wisconsin weather, which is predicted to be in the 70's at best:
Also this week, I will begin the UW-Milwaukee Writing Project's Advanced Institute.  Last year, I participated in the summer institute and it was one of the best experiences of my life.  You can read about it here if you would like.  This summer, we will be meeting for half days to conduct research that we will turn into either a conference presentation or a journal article. 

For my project, I will be looking at the research behind the importance of teaching writing in our schools. Remember back when writing was one of the "3 R's" of a solid education? That's not always the case nowadays.  I'm proposing that we return writing back to the prominence it deserves and I will explain why in my article. I'm excited to begin!

Have a great week!

Star Struck at All Write 14

What an amazing two days I spent in Warsaw, IN for the All Write 14 Conference.  If you live anywhere in the midwest (or don't mind travelling), you should definitely put this conference on your schedule for next year.

I met some wonderful new friends and the line up of speakers was a "who's who" of educational bloggers and the literacy world.

Wednesday evening began with a dinner that Ruth Ayres arranged at the hotel restaurant.  Imagine a small group of 60 teachers & presenters together in the back of a Benigan's Restaurant, moving around and chatting constantly!  I don't even know how our two waitresses kept it all straight.  I met some wonderful new friends who adopted me as their dinner company (I was travelling alone and many people already knew others) and had a great time.
Thursday began with a wonderful keynote by Ruth Ayres about how important it is to find celebration even in tough times. 
I learned so much from Franki Sibberson about digital literacy and have lots of new tools to try out when we go back to school in the fall.
In the afternoon, Colby Sharp of the Nerdy Book Club talked to us about why it is important that we tell our own stories. It was a great way to end the day!!

On Thursday night, we had dinner with Barry Lane and he entertained the crowd with songs about education. So funny!
 Friday was spent with the Book Whisperer herself - Donalyn Miller.

Donalyn shared an hour's worth of book recommendations with the crowd.  Listening to her speak was like having a conversation with an old friend.  She has such a wonderful presentation style. I could listen to her for hours!
I also saw Donalyn's presentation about reading conferences and came away with more great ideas.
Kristin Ziemke had some great ideas about how to use technology to enhance learning.

Whew!  That's a lot of learning.  There were so many sessions that I wanted to attend that I wished I could have cloned myself.  I heard Cris Tovani, Stephanie Harvey and Kelly Gallagher were amazing as well!  If you want to hear more of the conversation, check out the Twitter feed at #allwrite14.  (I took so many pictures and tweeted so much that my phone's battery ran down to 15% both days.) 

I already have All Write 15 on my calendar for next year so I can go back and meet up with my new friends. For being a smaller literacy conference, the organizers of All Write 14 did an amazing job bringing in some big name presenters and other literacy experts that were so inspiring!  Can't wait for next year! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Positive Thinking Thursday {6-19-14}

It's Thursday which means it's time for some positive thinking!  Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you will join in the fun by linking up your positive thought.
Right now, I am attending the All Write Summer Institute in Warsaw, IN.  (You can follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #allwrite14 or follow me at @laffinteach.  You never know what you might learn!) I have been looking forward to this conference for the past year and it is amazing!  I am learning how to be a better writer and writing teacher and have met some wonderful new people.

With this in mind, this week's Positive Thought is about writing:
24 Quotes That Will Inspire You To Write More (via BuzzFeed)
This is so true for me!  Writing is one way that I am able to reflect on life and figure things out.  One might even call it my therapy.  My goal is to write something every day.  Some days that is only a sentence or two and other days it could be pages.

Thanks for stopping by!  I wish you a wonderful day.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Peek at My Week -- Summer Edition! {6/15/14}

Ahhh....summer vacation.  I didn't think it would ever arrive, but it did!  Welcome to this week's edition of A Peek at My Week, my weekly linky party where we can link up and share what we've got going on for the upcoming week. I hope you will link up with me.
Like many of you, I am one of those teachers who uses her summer break to get ready for next year.  Sure, there is lots of rest (naps!), relaxation and FUN, but I also use these weeks to learn new things for next year. I love to read and I have a stack of professional books I hope to get through.  Here are just a few:
I have actually read about half of this book by Jeff Anderson already and it is so amazing that I am going to start over and take notes.  Seriously, if you are looking for some great ways to take your writing instruction to the next level, this is a must read!
When I saw this book on Amazon, I looked at the preview.  After the first five pages of the preview, I had already written down two ideas I wanted to use.  Can't wait to read the rest!
Since we are moving towards standards based grading next year, I want to do more with learning targets.  This book will help.

On Wednesday, I will be heading to Indiana for the All Write Summer Institute "Daring Greatly."  While this is a smaller literacy conference, the line up of presenters isn't.  Here is who I will see:
Donalyn Miller
Kelly Gallagher
Stephanie Harvey
Barry Lane
I will post about my experiences at the conference, but if you want to know what happens when it happens, follow me on Twitter @laffinteach.  

Not bad for my first week of break!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Positive Thinking Thursday {6/12/14}

Happy Positive Thinking Thursday!  This is the place to link up to share a positive thought or two.  Thanks for stopping by!
I am down to my last two days before summer vacation begins.  This has been a crazy week at school and tomorrow will be even crazier.  Our last day of school is on Friday the 13th AND it is a full moon!  Pray for me....

Next week, I plan on doing a lot of napping.  I am tired.  Darn tired.  I need to catch up on some much needed sleep.  So this week's Positive Thinking Thursday thoughts are dedicated to one of my favorite past times -- napping -- and also to my buddy Alison at Rockin' and Lovin' Learninwho loves naps just as much as I do!
I plan my whole day around the possibility of a nap.
Always a good idea to take nap. #MyRelaxingRituals #yankeecandle
Everything is better after a nap and a snack.
Can you relate?

Speaking of Alison, I hope you will stop by her blog and check out the giveaway she is having to celebrate 500 followers.  Her blog posts are so much fun to read and she has some amazing ideas!  With summer coming, I'm sure you could use a $50 Amazon gift card, right?

Have a great day!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Peek at My Week {6-08-14}

It's my last week!!!  Wahoo!!!  Sorry this post is late.  (Thanks to Ana at Mrs. Bentin's Blackboard for the text message and reminder that I hadn't posted this week's linky yet.  I guess that even though there's one week left, my brain has already left the building.  :)  So please link up your plans for the week.  I'm guessing most of you have "home" plans because you are already on break and that is good too!
Being the last week of school, there are a lot of end-of-the-year loose ends to tie up.  We will have our awards assembly, AR goal ice cream party, a talent show and field day.  Thankfully, there is something going on almost every day to help keep us busy.

In the classroom, we will be finishing up our read aloud of this wonderful book.
Product Details
Love this book and the beautiful story of August.  I also love how the story end on the last day of school, about the same exact day we will read this part and end our story this year.

We've done quite a few readers theater scripts this year to work on fluency.  This week, I'm going to have the students work in groups and write their own script.  It should be interesting to see what they come up with.

Today, I found this fun pin on Pinterest.  I love this project (anything that incorporates writing and art is awesome!) and will find somewhere to work this into our schedule.  Students write about their year then decorate their hand print and the border.  I think it would make a great memory of our year.
LOVE! Self portrait hand prints - dewestudio lesson Have the students write about their year.  What did they think __grade was going to be like, what was it really like? How have they grown? What new things about themselves did they learn?  Fill the hands with patterns and the background with their writing.
I'm working on making Goodbye Bags for the kids.  I went to Walmart and the dollar store this morning and loaded up on lots of fun things.  When I get it all together, I will post about it.

I was thinking of continuing the A Peek at My Week linky party throughout the summer, linking up to share our fun summertime plans, but I was wondering what you think.  Do you want to see A Peek at My Week continue?  Please leave me your thoughts in a comment below.  (Also, my Thursday linky party, Positive Thinking Thursday, will continue throughout the summer.  Thanks to all of you who encouraged me to do so!)