Reflect on 2015

Happy New Year

It's that time of year! 

It's time to reflect back on 2015, and be proud of the accomplishments. 

It's also time to plan ahead for 2016 and set new goals.

As a blogger, I'll reflect with my top ten blog posts of the year. 

Last February, when the New England winter started to get to the kiddos, I posted THIS  post.
Winter Blues
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I was thinking a lot about my dad back in March. I posted THIS on what would have been my dad's 97th birthday.
In April, I attended a Memorial Service for one of the best teachers I've ever had. I reflected with THIS post.


Later in April, I celebrated the start of the baseball season with THIS post.
Learning and Baseball

Later in the spring, I featured one of my most popular freebies, and gave some ideas on how to use it in THIS post.
writing ideas
At the end of May, I celebrated an anniversary of something that changed my life with THIS post.

In July, I reflected on how demanding the school day is, and shared some ideas on getting in those subjects that the kids enjoy the most with THIS post.
Science and Social Studies

In August, I started learning a lot  more about S.T.E.M. and S.T.E.A.M. and did THIS post about The Science and Engineering Practices.

S.T.E.M. and S.T.E.A.M.

At Back to School time, I shared THIS post about my Back to School promise.
back to school

In October, I came out with my most popular blog post of 2015, THIS one:

Those are my top ten favorite blog posts of 2015. HERE's one bonus: the links to all of my "Bright Ideas" blog posts for 2015. Enjoy these ideas to help your teaching!
bright ideas round up
My  next blog post will be ideas for 2016!

Random Christmas Questions

As I FINALLY begin my Christmas Vacation, a lot of random things are racing through my head!
Random Christmas Questions: Questions for teachers as we get close to Christmas such as... are you crazy enough to pull out the glitter a week before Christmas?

Here's the first one:  Does your desk get as messy as mine? 
Yes, folks, this is really my desk, and there's no room for ANYTHING on it!

I'll be cooking up a turkey and all the fixings for Christmas dinner again this year.  I used to make home made cranberry sauce.

It wasn't all that tough. It's pretty much just cranberries and sugar. Lots of sugar. But I don't do that anymore since I found out most people prefer the cranberry sauce that comes out of a can... and is shaped like the can.  

What's your preference? Home made cranberry sauce, or the cranberry sauce that comes out shaped like the can?

 making ornaments
Yep, we had the glitter out this week. I have to admit, the kids were pretty careful with the glitter. They made these awesome popsicle stick snowflake ornaments, which came out great! Plus, they loved doing them! Unfortunately, no matter how careful the kids are with glitter, the whole room shines for a couple of weeks.  But secretly, I admit, I like the little sparkles all over my class. 

I've learned NOT to cover my walls with Christmas items the last week before the holidays. I'm certainly no queen of bulletin boards or "craftivities", but I prefer art projects where the children can be creative. For this project, they painted snowmen. Then they wrote "How to Make a Snowman" procedures. When they finished their final draft, they could decorate their snowmen with felt, crayons, and colored paper. (I thought they had a brilliant idea to use the paper punch to make the buttons and the eyes!)

I learned that I need to find the time for the kiddos to do more of these creative "hands on" projects. They really enjoyed it, and their work was fabulous. Plus, it motivated them to do a good job on their procedures.

My favorite procedure was the one that started off like this: "In order to make a snowman, you need snow."

Here in New England, we're having record high temperatures, and definitely won't be having a white Christmas.

No complaints here! It might reach 70 degrees tomorrow!

Elf Laws: A Social Studies Activity

Elf Laws: A Social Studies Activity- Here's a fun activity to help get your children engaged in the process of law-making and what is really important!

I had my students do the "Elf Laws" activity, and I'm not sure who had more fun, the kids or me!
Elf Decision Fun

The first part of the activity asks the children to put the Elf Laws in order with the most important law being #1 and the least important law being #10. Once I convinced them that any answer was correct as long as they could defend their answer, the fun started. The children worked in pairs making their decisions and defending their decisions. I enjoyed some delightful conversations! 

I've developed the skill of pretending I'm working on something else while they work in order to hear those true conversations. I'm sure you've done it...pretend you're organizing books for tomorrow and walk by slowly. These are precious moments!

Well, one they got their laws in order, the real fun started: writing about why they put the laws in the order they did. Some children had a little trouble starting, but I prompted with some questions like, "Why do you think cleaning up the workshop is so important?" Or "why is tooth brushing more important than singing carols?" Or "why don't you think wearing hats is an important rule?" 

Their answers were priceless! 

Here are some examples of how they ordered their Elf Rules:

  • Elves  need to show respect to other elves, just like we do. 
  • It's not important to brush teeth, that's what dentists are for!
  • Elves don't need to wear hats. 
  • They work indoors. 
  • They need to clean up the workshop. What if Santa tripped over something? We want Santa safe.
  • Of course they need to care for the reindeer. Who else is going to do it?
  • Elves work very hard making all those toys. It's important for them to get a break after Christmas. Just like us!
Aren't kids precious?

This is the perfect activity for this time of year. It keeps them engaged, and it's a valuable learning experience.  For more activities like this, please see Science and Social Studies Printables for December.  These will get you through the last week!

My Silly Picture on a Tee Shirt!

Are you familiar with a company called A+ Images?

They are a great company to work with, especially if you're looking for custom made T shirts!

Look at the one I got from them!

Yes, That's my logo on the front, and yes, that's a blow up of my silly face on the back.

I wore this T shirt when I was in Las Vegas last summer, hoping a lot of bloggers would recognize my familiar photo and logo when we got together. Well, I was right!

It's amazing how many people recognize that picture from Facebook and Pinterest! 

Once upon a time, I was thinking I should have a professional looking photo on social media. At the time, I didn't have much, so I thought I'd give this one a try. It was taken on the first day of school in 2010. That was my daughter's senior year, the last time we got to take our traditional "first day of school" pictures. We always took 2 pictures of each other. A "normal" pose and a silly pose.  Well, I looked cross eyed in my "normal" pose, so I used this one, and I'm glad I did!

Honestly, this photo reflects who I am as a teacher. I tend to be very animated, and overly dramatic in the classroom. Yes, I tend to do just about anything for a laugh, and to hold the kids' attention. (Brain research tells us humor helps relax the brain, making it more able to take in information!) this picture also catches the eye of the reader, so I'm glad I used it. 

And I'm VERY glad A+ Images was able to reproduce this image for my tee shirt! I lost the original ages ago, but they were able to get a pretty good quality from a copy of a copy of a copy! 

I know, it's 5 years old, and it's time I got a decent copy of a more current picture. But I love this one! I'm seriously considering putting that red and white dress on and re-creating that moment.

If you are interested in more about A+Images and their products, see THIS link to their website!
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