Fourteen in '14

Super excited to be linking up to Kristin, Traci, and Hadar's Fourteen in '14 linky party. 

 "Where does it come from? I don't know. It takes 17 muscles to smile and 140 to frown and I'm just kind of a lazy guy." - Arthur Lamoureux

My Black Gap Pants: Professional, versatile, and long. Plus I got them on sale (clearance, maybe?). 

Pitch Perfect. It became the soundtrack to getting my work done. As in: if you do your work, you can listen to Pitch Perfect on iTunes in the background. Worked like a charm!

Glee. I have been watching the old seasons a lot lately. I got hooked my junior year in college but didn't watch consistently till season 5. In preparation for the last and final season 6 I have been watching the old episodes. It also works as a motivator. As in ahh it's Friday! Ice cream and Glee!

Tim’s Bistro/Candy Shoppe. They're both in my hometown right next to each other with the same owners and it wasn't till this year that I went to Tim's and the Candy Shoppe only opened earlier this year. I LOVE them both.

Being a technology teacher.
If you had told me in college I was going to be a "specials" teacher as a my first teaching job, I would have chuckled. Little did I know the path I would take! I was originally planning on getting my Master's in Science Education or Reading, but ended up getting it in Educational Technology, which resulted in the job I have now!
In the beginning, during the first two months it was all about getting my feet wet and setting all my routines. By the beginning of month three, I loved it - I felt at home. And then the three weeks before vacation, it all clicked into place. My lessons went smoothly, the students were engaged, and I felt like I was finally clicking with some of my tougher students and classes. My fingers are crossed that this awesomeness continues after break!
I have also fallen completely in love again with the younger kiddos. I remember doing some volunteer work in college with K-2 students and loving it. Working with this age range again has made me re-realize how much I love it!
While working with grade 5-8 students is also awesome (the great conversations, the jokes, the higher level of learning), I found that a lot of those things are true with the younger munchkins - plus lots of hugs!

T-Shirts from my sister. She made up t-shirts that said "Stop Katie", "Stop Kehoe", and "Joan, Deena, Kara, Shalane....Katie" for me. The first two shirts were in imitations of the "Stop Pre" signs and shirt and the last was a list of all my favorite elite female runners plus me. 
Then to make it even more awesome she had students where she works wear them, she took their pictures, and uploaded the pics to Twitter where she declared they were my fan club.
When the notifications started coming in on my phone and email, I couldn't stop laughing. Best Prank Ever.

 In the best six months or so that I have had a teacher centered Pinterest, I've pinned almost 400 pins. And 50 of them are to a board called "Teacher Outfits". Whoops! But I love clothes and I'm trying to be as honest as possible, so my favorite pins are my clothes pins (haha clothes pins - okay sorry bad joke)! My goal for 2015 is actually to wear all the clothes I own. 

Hard to believe I wrote 64 posts this year, where I only wrote 3 in 2013 and 1 in 2012!
But my favorite one is impossible to choose. I like them all because they capture a little part of my year to create  a bigger picture.

Running a marathon/Getting my first teaching job/graduating with my masters
Sorry! I couldn't decide! 
Running a marathon was a dream I have had for a very long time.
At the same time, so has teaching! (For an even longer time in fact).
And I am super happy I graduated with my Master's in Educational Technology in August - I completed it in two years and debt free - two huge pluses to the accomplishment!

Here is my favorite (four) photo(s). Both running a marathon and teaching are things I've dreamed of for a long time: To have accomplished both this past year makes me really happy and a little teary.

This summer. I made  a montage video of this past year on iMovie and it made me realize how I have had such an awesome year but also how many fun things I did this summer - that I am living my dreams and still having fun.

To be a creative blogger/to be an effective teacher/to run faster and stronger.


Link up yourself here to join in on the fun!

Hour of Code: Teaching Elementary Students to Code

Code.Org hosted an Hour of Code campaign earlier this month in conjunction with National Computer Science Week. I am super excited to have finally (finally!) gotten a chance to have some of my classes complete their hour of code on Monday and Tuesday.

My second graders had been working hard on their holiday research projects and I wanted to have something fun for them to do before the break.  After unsuccessfully finding any coding websites for kids, I decided to use Daisy the Dinosaur, an app created by Hopscotch. I was initially just going to have my second graders use the app but ultimately I decided to try it with one of my first grade classes and see how it went. It went AWESOME. 

I introduced the concept of coding in kid friendly terms: I explained coders were the people who made the websites, apps, and programs they used on computers, iPads and phones. They told the computers what to do. I compared being a user, using what was already created on websites such as PebbleGo, to being a creator: with the app, THEY were the ones in change, telling the iPad what to do,

Then I walked the students through the first 4 challenges. The first challenge I explained and modeled: the different parts (the instructions, the commands, the program box, the play button) and how to complete the challenge. For the second challenge I had the students tell me what new commands they saw and how they thought we could achieve the challenge. After the students worked on the next two challenges as a class and I felt enough of the commands had been introduced for them to get a strong picture of how the app worked, I partnered the students up and they worked through all of the challenges before they went to the free play mode.

The students LOVED the app - they found it fascinating that they could control this dinosaur and loved discovering how by putting the commands in different orders and different amounts the dinosaur would take new and different actions. The students loved sharing with their partners what they figured out and collaborating to complete the challenges. The students were so excited to share with me and with the other partnerships what they figured out and discovered. 

An article I found on British news site helped to clarify for me the importance of teaching coding. Quotes that I found striking in teaching young students were:
1.       “Coding, in the simplest of terms, is telling a computer what you want it to do, which involves typing in step-by-step commands for the computer to follow. Computers are not clever things, however they are very obedient. They will do exactly what you want them to do, so long as you tell them how to do it correctly. Learning to code has been likened to learning a foreign language, or perhaps more specifically a family of foreign languages.” "Every website, smartphone app, computer programme, calculator and even microwave relies on code in order to operate. This makes coders the architects and builders of the digital age.”

I would strongly recommend using Daisy the Dinosaur app for young elementary students. One item I would add would be additional challenges that I would write as well as having the students writing their own challenges to exchange with other partnerships. Towards the end of the lesson, some of the students in one of the classes got a little antsy and I think writing their own challenges would have reengaged them. I also think as I continue to teach coding to students throughout the year, I'll introduce more complicated coding apps for students who are up for more of a challenge.


IMWAYR: So Excited for This Book Centered Link Up!

I recently discovered a Link-Up called: IMWAYR, It's Monday: What Are You Reading?

Like, woah! This is the most AWESOME Link-Up EVER.

I LOVE reading. To share that love and read what others are  reading is the best. idea. ever.

I'm currently in the middle of a book titled My Accidental Jihad by Krista Bremer. I picked it up to read from a stack of books my sister had because there was a picture of a lady and a surfboard on the front. Instantly made me think it would be a good book.

And thankfully, it is (although as far as I can tell it's only a little bit related to surfing?).  I'm about half-way through and it's about a woman named Krista who ends up marrying  a Muslim man. It's a true story and it describes their journey together and how their cultures mesh (or don't mesh). With the holidays upon on us, I especially found reading the parts about Krista's passion for Christmas and  all it's idiosyncratic, and sometimes un-explainable, traditions interesting. Ismail (her husband) says he is happy to celebrate Christmas with her, just to tell him how. But he doesn't quite understand the point of her family's annual gift drawing. And finds it strange that a random man dressed up like Santa visited her house as a child.

The How's turn into Why's and Krista had few answers. It made me realize that all the traditions we hold as communities and as families to someone who maybe grew up in a different country or in a different family culture might not understand. But to you, these sacred, and sometimes silly, traditions are what make the holidays real. They are bred into your blood from a young age and they stay there. The magic happens when the current you sparks against the magic in your blood, recapturing that excitement and joy. I love reading this book because I feel like I connect a lot with Krista and it puts into words feelings I often have.

And when I googled for an image of her book cover, what came up but a picture of her speaking this past October at the university I went to for my undergraduate and graduate degrees. Whattt? That automatically makes this book even better. Also bummed me out that I missed hearing her speak. But is long.:)


Five For Friday

Our school has a Santa Anonymous program run by a retired teacher. She provides a list of gifts for children in need and teachers pick a gift to buy. I choose a Elsa doll house not thinking of how I would find this gift - I googled it and several sites were selling it - Target, Wal-Mart, Toys-R-Us. Except they were all sold out! 
Duh! What was I thinking choosing a Frozen gift three weeks before Christmas? They were probably bought out before they hit the shelves!
Thankfully I found it at Amazon (for a bit of a mark-up, but with my credit card cash back bonus and free shipping, it was a comparable price).

 In a very rambly Currently post I mentioned how I was struggling having students transition from wondering (writing questions) to researching - I had students starting to research who hadn't finished wondering. I had the idea (as I was literally typing) to create tickets that the students had to have before they began researching. This worked WONDERS! It made it very clear that I expected them to be done wondering before they began researching.

Welp, then the students were all in the computer lab and are researching. Monday rolls around and I am showing the students how they are going to choose their two favorite facts, type them up on MaxWrite then add a picture. Yes, you guessed it. I had students who hadn't finished researching starting to use MaxWrite! Gah WHY can't my silly brain realize these things BEFORE the lesson. That afternoon I whipped up a set of Orange Tickets to MaxWrite cards - and batta bang batta boom - I only had ONE student go on MaxWrite before he was done researching and it was obvious to pick out because he didn't have a glaringly orange card in front of him nor had he checked in with me!

I used Dots of Fun ticket template to create these tickets. Best (free!) investment ever! ;)

 A teacher in my school introduced me to my new FAVORITE website: Thrift Books. You can buy awesome books for a huge discount and there is free shipping to boot. Whatttt? Can you say classroom library and/or winter vacation reading list? Yes, I can happily say that! 

 I finished my first TEAM module (TEAM is a two year process for new teachers in Connecticut)! I chose Module 1 about Classroom Management  as my first module and  I definitely wanted it done before the break! I wrote my reflection  paper this past weekend and my mentor reviewed it with me this past week. Frustratingly the website for TEAM where we are supposed to be uploading all our documents and paperwork is still not working! Gahhh. 

The specials team at my school meets about once a month (sometimes more often) to talk about various projects and/or problems that we are working on. I love having such a supportive and active specials team to work with!
Our December meeting was about creating buddy classrooms so that those students who need some time to think and need a break can come to one of our classrooms where we have a reflection sheet for them. Once they have finish reflecting, they head back to class.
Here are the two TPT products that we are using. The first one is for the kindergarten and first grade students and the second one is for the second graders. 
We have yet to use it but I'm very excited to see how it works and whether it will have a positive impact on the students. 


Holiday Wish List: A Vacation Themed To Do List

There are two and a half days of school then...WINTER VACATION!
(Side note: Remember when February break was Winter Vacation and this vacation was Christmas Vacation? Now we have two days off in February...weird...but it brings me to my next point!)
I have a full TWELVE days of vacation before I head back on January 5th...Whoa! Automatically I am so excited because...THINK OF HOW MUCH I CAN GET DONE! Then I think about how in the summer I think the SAME thing. I get so excited because I have all these weeks to get work done...and yet I do a minimal amount -mainly the items on my mental To Do list that have deadlines.

So I created this little To Do list, except I named it my Holiday Wish List, as in all the things I wish I'll be able to get done over the Holiday.

Writing this makes me feel like I am an OCD worker- but I'm honestly not! I still have 100% plans to have fun and enjoy my vacation - you don't have to plan for that, it just happens. But the productive, work related items? Well, yea, I tend to avoid those like a plague. So this is my attempt at a preemptive strike against my inevitable laziness. 

Below is the blank template which is also available at my TPT store as a free editable Publisher file. 

Fingers crossed that this keeps me focused and I get most of the items on my lists done!

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!


Wordless Wednesday: Speechless

Linking up to Miss DeCarbo at Sugar and Spice for my FIRST Wordless Wednesday (and to be honest - this post is about 90% less wordy than my normal posts, but it's not wordless!)

Last week I was headed upstairs to the second grade computer lab: it was early, I was tired, the stairs were steep (wah, wah, wah) when instead of staring (glaring?) at the stairs in front of me, I glanced up: and woah. All my tired, self-centered thoughts: whisked away. WILL YOU LOOK AT THAT SKY? Gorgeous! It helped brighten my day and give me perspective. :)

What brightens your day and makes you happy?


Five For Friday: Funny Tales (and Lessons) of a First Year Teacher

Do you ever have Five for Friday posts that you write then NEVER post? Yes. All the time.
This Five For Friday is a little TBT style with all the stories in it dating back to September (So when I say "Last Thursday" translate that to "Last Thursday...two months ago"). BUT then I read that Five For Friday is on hiatus until January...tear:,(
SO I figured I would post it anyways. :)

Last Thursday, I got dressed in a fairly new white print dress and a red sweater with matching red sandals. I felt pretty darn spiffy.
So as the day goes on I have the following conversation with a (7-year old girl) student.
Student:  Is your dress a dress?
Me: Yes.
Student: Well it's really, really short.
Me (a bit befuddled and embarrassed): Okay. (What else was I supposed to say?!)
Student: Well, do you have shorts on under it? (Like in a dead serious concerned for my health way.)
Me: (Um. What did you just ask me?): Honey, we don’t ask teachers questions like that.
Oh and this was in the middle of direct instruction with all the other students patiently listening. #nbd
So I promptly went and used my Old Navy cash to buy 7 pairs of leggings to wear under all my dresses.
(And in my defense, my dress wasn't that short! I mean it wasn't below my knee but it made me realize how I need to be very aware of these things, especially with little kids where you are much more mobile than with older ones.)
So now I ask myself three questions every morning as I get dressed:
    Do I look stylish?
    Do I more or less match?
    And could a student ask a potentially awkward or embarrassing question about my outfit?
Gotta be prepared!

Here is another oldie from the very beginning of the year:  Midway through the Open House, I was running my fingers through the end of my hair making sure it was all nice and smooth and I found… a paper clip. Black and White Striped. My hair is black and white striped anyways so it blended right in, right? Right?!
These next stories are all about the joys of seeing former students:
I was post run ice cream shopping on Wednesday and I saw two of my former students from working at the middle school. One of them had actually written me a Student Letter of Recommendation last year for my current job and I was very excited to share I had gotten the job. It was awesome seeing her and hearing how much she loved high school. The other one was a boy I had worked with for two years and he wasn't sure whether he'd be staying at that middle school or moving to one a town over. I asked him what middle school he was at and he gave me the strangest look and said he was at the other middle school now. About 5 minutes later I realized he thought I was still working at the middle school and was thinking 'Ms. K, you don't notice that I'm not there?’ That's why he gave a weird look! Gah! I felt so bad afterwards!

Then on Thursday I ran to “spy” on the local cross country practice and on my way there I ran into (almost literally! Scared them pretty bad!) two girls who I got to know through Unified Theater. They finally got over the fact that I gave them both heart attacks ;) . Then while at the practice, I saw several of the former 8th graders who are now freshman. Some people think it’s weird to work in the same town you live in, but for me the majority of the time I love it. I mean I admit that there are days when I want to just grocery shop or run in peace but this week was not that week. It also made me realize that while I loved working at the middle school, I’m equally happy working where I am now.
You know you’re a teacher're super excited to use the new laminator! Finally got around to laminating my number labels for my computers(above), each classes School Rules in the Library Checklist that they came up with and an Awesome Yellow Brick Road Retelling activity for ELL curriculum work.

Last Saturday at some unholy hour, I wrote a post describing how the second graders in my school, all 160 of them, created and put on their own Thanksgiving Day Parade for the rest of the school using the Inquiry Model and STEAM. It was a lot of work, a lot of fun, and it had AWESOME results. Check out the post for more details.

And this is from September: And I got new running sneakers. I seriously LOVE Zappos. I ordered a pair of sneakers from there on Wednesday afternoon. Thursday when I came home, they had arrived at my house. One day shipping! For Free! Repeat with me: Zappos is awesome. 
With a November Update:Still think Zappos is awesome..also it's time for some new running sneakers...Yes I go through a pair of sneakers every 2-3 months.


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