Roses and Thorns for 2013 and Resolutions for 2014

For years I've been doing a little ritual at the end of the school day that we call High/ Low.  The children take turns telling their high point of the day and their low point of the day.

Read this blog post and this blog post to find our more about how I do High/ Low with the kids.

I saw recently that President Obama does something similar with his family at dinner each night, but they call it Roses and Thorns.  (I love being home during the day to watch The View!)

I think the end of the year is a good time to reflect back on the highs and lows of the year!
Plus, it's a great time to make goals for the future!

Let's start with the reflections:

There were a lot of highs this year!  Most of them were connected to my daughter, my gentleman friend, and my students, but I think the ultimate high of 2013 was the connections I've made with other teacher-bloggers, along with the trip to Las Vegas in July!

That was a whole lot of bloggers!
Unfortunately, my low of the year happened shortly after this trip.  While I was waiting in front of my hotel for the shuttle back to the airport, I got a call that my stepmother had a bad fall and hit the back of her head.  She was brought by ambulance to the hospital, then transported by helicopter to a hospital with a strong neurological unit.  When we visited that weekend, she was in good spirits, telling her great stories, and chatting away.  A few days later, she passed away.

Although she wasn't a young woman, she was young in spirit and very healthy.  
We expected her to be around a long time. She was a classy lady, and a big part of our lives.

For more reflections, see this post: 13 in 13.

Now for looking ahead!  There's a little linky going on at A Peach for the Teach, and it's all about New Year's Resolutions!

Personal:  I need to be spending less time working and more time looking out for me.  I resolve to go home a lot sooner than I have been.  I won't tell you how ridiculously late I've been staying, but it's got to stop!

Professional: Things are pretty stressful at school right now.  There is a lot of pressure on the teachers, and not a whole lot of support.  I resolve to be a positive influence to other teachers and keep smiling, no matter how tough it gets.

Classroom: I'm having a blast learning more and more about brain based learning and how the brain works by reading about recent research and how children learn.  I plan to continue to bring this into my classroom.  (There's a Whole Brain Learning Book Study coming up in January... I can't wait!)

Blog/ TpT:  I'm working to keep the quality of my blog posts professional and helpful. I think I have good products on TpT, but I need to get better at getting the word out.  I've never been good at self-promotion, but I've got to figure out how.  I'll start by more aggressive pinning! And of course, I'll work to get more good stuff out there!

Just-for-fun:  I definitely need to do more fun stuff!  I'll be making more plans to visit friends, go to the theatre, look for opportunities to sing, and I'll be visiting my other teacher friends in Vegas again this summer!

Be sure to check in on A Peach for the Teach to check out her Resolutions link up!

A Peach for the Teach: Behavior Supports & Multi-Age

13 for 13

Wow, can you believe 2013 is nearly over?  It seems as I get older, the years go faster!

As I reflect back on 2013, I think I can come up with 13 things about this year to share with you!


I got together with family a few times this year. 
This is one time my brother visited, and we went out for Indian food in Cambridge.

 One of the highlights of my year was my trip to Vegas in July.   
I got to meet up with all these awesome teacher/ bloggers!

 I even got to get up on stage during the amazing Debbie Clement's Keynote!  (Debbie asked us all to wear polka dots, but I'm the only one who actually did!  I blend with Debbie's socks!)

 After the shortest summer ever, I got a whole new crop of second graders.  I often wonder... will I ever be as close to this group as I was to last year's group? The answer is most definitely yes!

 Unfortunately, not everything was happy this year.  My stepmother, Pat, passed away in July. It was completely unexpected, and I'm still having trouble adjusting to her being gone.  This is our first Christmas without Pat.

 I've now been blogging for almost 2 1/2 years.  Honestly, it enhances my teaching and keeps me more focused about what is working in my classroom.  I've always been a reflective person, and often analyzed what I've done in the classroom, but now, as a blogger, I'm more reflective than ever.  I try more things, I read more, and I analyze everything I do in the classroom.  I often ask myself, "Would my readers benefit from this activity?" "Would they be interested in reading about this?"

 It's now been 3 1/2 years since I had a stroke. I really miss some of the things I can't do any more, like skiing.  (All the snow we've had lately has had me thinking about skiing!)  I also miss having the energy and stamina I used to have 3 1/2 years ago.  

The good new?  I have more time for blogging and reading about Brain Research:  one of my passions!

 I am still spending time with this guy!  He helps me forget all the stress in my life, and makes me laugh.  
You can't beat that!

 The Red Sox won the World Series!  I'm so proud of my Red Sox!  I actually got to go to a game in July with my daughter.  We had a fantastic time, even though the Sox didn't win that one.  

My cat Mia still entertains me!  She's fuzzy and completely snobby.  Plus, she's very demanding when she wants something.  But I still love her, even if she's not very photogenic!

 Here are some of my favorite blog posts from 2013:

 Here are some things I'm looking forward to in 2014:

Watching my class grow!
Making my blog more awesome!
Another trip to Vegas in July to see my blogging buddies!
Spending more time with family and friends!
My amazing daughter graduating from college one year from now!
One word to leave you with in 2014:


Six Ways to Survive The Last Week Before Christmas

Six Ways to Survive The Last Week Before Christmas: This blog post has several ideas for keeping the children engaged in learning during those VERY busy weeks before Christmas, including freebies for active learners!

I'm bracing myself for a challenging week.  
It's a busy time of year.
There are very few hours of sunlight per day.  
That really affects the spirit of many.
Kids are overstimulated, sleep deprived, and downright cranky.
Plus, did you realize the full moon is this week, too?  

Here are Six Ways to Survive the Last Week Before Christmas:

1.  Bribery Works!  Yes, I've been known to resort to bribery. I would hope that children want to be good just for that personal pride, but that's not realistic.  They need to earn something.  
This week, we're working toward a Christmas party on Thursday afternoon.  I've already planned the party.  We'll have entertainment and gifts to open, and food and fun stuff.  But I tell them those plans can be cancelled if they don't earn the party.  I've come close to cancelling the party in the past, but we've always had the party.  One thing to remember about bribery... the "bait" needs to be WORTH IT, or it won't work next time!

2.  Keep Them Active!  I've got some games (freebies!) that keep the kids out of their seats.
Try Golfing for Tens, 
adding tens

Or even a game like this one I found on Amazon.  (Click images for links to these games.)
for active learners

The key is to get the kids having so much fun, they don't realize they're practicing their adding skills!

3.  Try a Little Yoga!
book: Yoga for Children

Kids really adapt well to Yoga, and it really calms them down and helps them focus!  Honestly, it helps me, too!

4.  Add some music to your day!

I use this one in my classroom frequently and I swear by it! (Click image for link.)
music to help students concentrate

Any baroque music makes a great calming background for the classroom!
baroque music

Of course, my acupuncturist uses this background music, and I know it relaxes me!
ocean sounds CD

Or, if you're looking for holiday music, this one is my personal favorite for the classroom
Carpenter's Christmas CD

And who doesn't love this one?
A Charlie Brown Christmas CD

5.  Let them paint!
I am always amazed at how quiet the children become when I pull out the water colors!  Of course, one needs to have an educational purpose for painting, but I really don't think creative teachers like us would have a problem thinking of something, do you?Watercolor paint
6. Have a Game Day!

There are plenty of board games out there that are perfect for strengthening the children's reading and maths skills, and some great strategy building, but be sure to keep the "learning" part a secret... they'll think they're getting away with something!  Here are a few of my favorites:

Apples to Apples is my favorite!  It always makes the kids giggle, and ( some valuable thinking skills)
fun game (and educational, too!)

Scrabble works reading, writing and even math, as well as strategic thinking!
educational fun

Uno is a classic!

Plus, Yahtzee is a great game for strengthening math skills!
Then of course, regular playing cards will always entertain, and make mathematical paths in the brain.  (Seriously!)

playing cards

Well, there are six ideas to help you through this week.  I hope this helps!

But, as all teachers know, when all else fails, be sure to keep a stash of chocolate in your desk for those particularly stressful days!

And if you're still looking for holidays, I've got a whole bunch of freebies linked to my
  December Pinterest Board!

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