Reflections on 2015

Last year I linked up to the 14 in 14 Linky and recently reread my post - I loved remembering everything had happened last year!
I hopped over to Kristin's blog and saw they are doing a Reflections on 2015 post and decided to join them! Here are my favorite things from 2015, starting with some of my favorite memories!

I started last year running a 5K setting a PR by about ... 1 second!

 Then  I FINALLY ran my local half marathon in February which is hilly filled with icy roads, dirt roads and lots of cows! But I broke 2 hours, which was super exciting for me!

In March I finally went to a Teachers College Saturday Reunion which I have been dreaming about going to since I was in college. I loved it! It was super crowded and it was my first time in NYC (I know...embarrassing!) but I loved it so much I went back this October. 

My sister had been asking if I wanted to help chaperone her STEM field trip to NYC in May and I kept saying no. After going in March, I texted her saying Yes!! I was initially scared of the city but the TC trip cured that! I loved spending the day with my sister running around (sometimes literally), exploring the Museum of Natural Science, buying ice cream from Whole Foods for lunch, visiting F.A.O. Schwarz before it closed its doors...oh and keeping 30 high schoolers safe!

I officially finished my first year of teaching! A complete dream come true and slightly surreal!

I joined the Oiselle Volèe flock! I love the support from the other runners, getting to meet other birds, and participating in Secret Santa with them! I can't wait to see what next year brings with this awesome, inspiring, supportive running flock.

  I ran the NYC Marathon! Entered the lottery in January, found out my sister and I both got in in March, visited the city in March and May, started training in July, visited again to get our bibs in late October, then finally raced November 1st! The whole process was a lot of fun but I'm definitely sticking to the Hartford Marathon next year! It was a bucket list item I checked off ... And maybe someday I'll do it ten years...for fun...or if I'm an elite and don't have to deal with the crowd! 

I spent time this summer making sure my classroom was prepared for the year ahead and I'm super grateful I took the time! It was kinda a pain then (come on its summer! Why are you at school!) but it made transitioning to the school year easier. I'm hopeful that this summer I'll just be fine tuning lessons and I can really relax.I also am super proud of how I am constantly fine tuning through out the year, especially with classroom management strategies. 

I finished three modules of TEAM, just submitted by fourth module (waiting for results! Fingers crossed!) and just have one more module to complete this spring! 

 I finished the 2015 miles in 2015 challenge today! I joined the Run the Edge challenge doubtful I'd actually run all the miles. After month 1, I thought I was going to die running 171 miles in one month. I ended up running that many times, even running 200 miles one month! Comparing my miles and pace to last year, not only did I run more, but I've gotten faster! 

My one little word for 2016 will be .. Breathe. It's a good reminder to me to take a moment and relax. I know next year will be busy and tiring with two marathons, a half marathon, a 5K and a trail race plus work, family and friends, but I want to appreciate every moment. I started doing yoga in October when I was fighting some minor running injuries and even though I have never had the patience before, it's clicked for me now. My go to is the Run Ready Yoga routine on the Nike Training Club app. 

Which brings me to one of my favorite quote of 2015:

"Once you make the decision that you will not fail, the heart and body will follow." - Kara Goucher

Goal for 2016 is to: beat 4 hours in the marathon, then beat 3:30 to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I'm running a marathon in April and another in October...hopefully between these two I'll succeed at my goals! 

So my quote for this year is:

I'm going to end with my favorite song: Andre by JoJo. JoJo is BACK in 2015 with her tringle and I was able to pretend I was 13 again. All jokes aside, this is my favorite JoJo song because it's awesome for speedwork (you knew it had to be running related right?). Enjoy:)

Join the linky party here!


Five for Friday: 12-18-15

Happy Friday! Linking up to Doodle Bug Teaching to share my Five for Friday:

 This week my second graders finished up their holiday research and once they finished, they created a song about their learning on Garage Band. I started off by showing the video "5 Year Old Jordan Writes a Hip Hop Song in 30 Seconds" which broke down in a really cute way the different parts of making a song. Then we went on Garage Band and created a class song about Kwanzaa. Students worked with their partners and created their own songs, using the pink lyrics sheet to first write out their songs before creating the music for it. 
They LOVED it and I LOVED it. I teach using the inquiry process and I get stuck in the investigate section of the process a lot which is really boring when that's all you do. But the beauty of the inquiry process is that when you really follow the process it has natural variety and students see the purpose for the research (You can't write a song about Kwanzaa if you don't know anything about it!). 

I created labels for my iPads!
 I number my computers but I never saw a reason to number the iPads since I only have ten. A problem I had last year was keeping track of whose projects were on what iPads for multiple classes. I decided to number them, then create a numbered list to use for each project (and yes, I have 13 numbers because I like to dream big!). The students write their name next to the number iPad they have and it makes it so much easier to keep track of where each project is located for multi-week projects.

 With my kindergarten students, we read Why is Blue Dog Blue by George Rodrigue, then made our own colored animals on PaintGo on ABCYa. They had to fill in the sentence frame: ________(color) ____________ (animal) is _____________(color) because _______________. The example from the book was Blue Dog is Blue because blue is the color of the sky. I modeled drawing an orange rabbit with the sentence "Orange rabbit is orange because she ate too many carrots!" The students were so creative thinking up animals and the reasons for their color! I loved this lesson because in kindergarten we do a lot of more basic skill acquisition with technology but with this lesson,  I saw their creativity and I was able to introduce them to questioning. 

My first graders had their mid-year assessment this week so it was fairly unexciting. But next week, I have a three day week and first graders are going to use Animation for Kids on ABCYa. I found it by accident when Googling "Animal Drawing ABCYa"....because animals = animation. It was one of those serendipitous moments where the wrong result ended up being what I was looking for!
 I've wanted to introduce students the concept for awhile but I couldn't find a free, kid friendly way of doing so...this website is perfect and I'm super excited to use it next week.

I'm still training for my 5K! I had a speed session this week and I was really tired going into it. I honestly am as pooped as when I was training for the marathon. Running to the track I debated the merits of tossing the workout and making the day into an easy run. Wellll,..I ended up deciding to try to at least start the workout and see how I felt from there. An hour later, my workout was done, and I had set a 10K record! I am so proud of myself! When it comes to 5Ks I've never really trained for them like I would a marathon. I run some miles, toss in a couple hill workouts and speed sessions sporadically and call it a day. I always do okay but I honestly feel like I'm squeaking by. I decided  for this 5K I'm actually going to train and see where my body leads me. 
I'm also about 70 miles away from running 2,015 miles in 2015. So training helps me get to my goal faster! (Also I have great knees...lots of scars!)


Five for Friday 12-11-15

I have fallen in love with Angela Watson's podcast Truth for Teachers. If you need reassurance, ideas, or to be refilled after long days, she is your go to gal! I was struggling a bit with the teacher-life-athlete balance and she has been so helpful in centering me. Sometimes I swear when she is talking about classroom clutter and work hours she is peering over my shoulder. Her advice is spot on and super motivational. Give her a listen! You will be hooked! 

My second graders started an inquiry cycle about holidays. They could choose any upcoming holiday to research. A lot of them chose Christmas. Most of them know A LOT about the holiday but they don't know a lot about Snata....they asked questions like "Where does Santa get his magic from?" and "How does Santa eat 5,500,500 cookies and not fall down?". Pretty great and hilarious questions. Which of course they wouldn't find their answers to in any database! The first day I was caught off guard but by the second day I talked to them about how Santa was magical and he had lots of secrets. Did they think that Santa would tell all his secrets to PebbleGo? He wouldn't spill his secrets to the Internet! This helped a bit for students to focus on the more factual side of the holiday! 
This reminded me two things: one, these kiddos are SO young! They think of holidays and think Santa! Which duh! They're in second grade. But I expect SO MUCH from them academically and it hit me how much I really am expecting. The second thing is how to complete inquiry when these kiddos are interested in areas that are a hard to inquire about. They want to learn about Minecraft, and Legos, and Star Wars, and Santa (my little kindergartners have such a hard time with the concept of fiction v nonfiction when it comes to books about REAL THINGS like Legos and Barbie...Legos and Barbie are REAL so how come this book is fiction?). How do you bridge the space between being a child and solving those real world problems they're supposed to solve? Are they the same? Does there need to be a bridge or just a shift in the way I think? I almost would LOVE to do an inquiry project of the above mentioned topics to create the framework for what inquiry is while also engaging them where they are. I just haven't figured out quite how to do that yet. 

I finally replaced my Wonder sentence starters sign with something prettier and easier to read. You can see the original on the left was literally a bare bones anchor chart I laminated and stuck on the wall. I finally sat down this week and made a new sign so it's nice and pretty and matches the rest of the classroom decorations! 

I did some MAJOR (for me) cleaning in my classroom. I know I said in an earlier post that I'm only messy at home, but the truth is I'm an organized stacker at school. Look in any cabinet and shelf and you will see a stack of poster, papers, etc. I'll group things by the type which makes me SEEM organized but really I was holding onto a lot that I didn't need anymore. Listening to some of Angela's podcasts made that sink in. During a podcast about clutter, she finished by sharing a quote from Barbara Hemphill - "Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions." Yes! I had all these "neat" stacks because I couldn't decide what to keep and what to throw away. The first picture (above) you can see the stacks that I literally pulled off my shelves and dumped in the center of my looks organized at a glance but when you really look, you realize...wait...!

After dragging everything into the center of my classroom, I started to sort: what was I really going to use again? What wasn't mine, but I could stored elsewhere? What WAS mine, and could be stored elsewhere? And what were things that I didn't need or things that were ugly and I would never ever use again? These last items went in the trash. Before chucking them, I took pictures of each poster to have as a reference if I want to recreate them.  
I ended up filling both the garbage can and the recycling bin! Now my classroom has a much more zen vibe to it because there aren't stacks of paper and posters sticking out every where. There is more room for students. So happy I did this cleaning!! 

I ended up finding two posters the librarian made last year and hung those up. 
Yep that means out of 30 posters I had saved and stored to "use" I really only wanted TWO of them!

Happy Hour of Code Week!! My students have been celebrating ALLL week and I have been loving it!

In kindergarten, we used an app called KodableFirst grade used an app called Daisy the Dinosaur, and second grade used Scratch Jr

The librarian used the website ( with students who wanted to learn more. This website has themed coding lessons - including Minecraft, Frozen, and Star Wars and the students LOVE them. 

Happy Friday! T-minus 8 days till vacation ... but who's counting;)


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