Thinking Teaching Creating

Thoughts, Tips, Ideas, and Projects from a Creative Teacher Mama

Summer: Time To Catch Up On Hobbies

In between all the schoolwork and impromptu trips to the pool, park, or local children’s museums to provide the copious amounts of gross motor activity 3 little boys need to ever fall asleep each night, I have some hobbies.  Shocking, I know.

I’ve already read 3 books just for fun (Quiet, a random YA novel that was the third in a series I started ages ago, and The Witch’s Daughter), I’m saving The Handmaid’s Tale for when I’m dying for something new while I reread an old favorite, AND I’ve preordered the next installing in The Pink Carnation series, which is due out early in August.  My neighborhood just updated the fitness center, so I decided to take advantage of that and have started exercising.  I got several new card and board games for my birthday that I’ve been playing a lot.  It turns out cooperative games are lots of fun, without the hurt feelings at the end because your husband put a hotel on Boardwalk when he KNEW you only had $300 left. (Talk about overkill!)  I highly recommend Quirkle, Forbidden Desert, Forbidden Island, and Chrononauts.  The “forbidden” ones are both cooperative, Chrononauts has 2 variations on gameplay, one of which is a solitaire version, and Quirkle is easy enough that my 6-year old can play, yet it’s challenging enough to still be fun for adults.

And then there are the many sewing and knitting projects I have either in progress or on my to-do list.  It wasn’t until this morning when I actually added all my crafty projects to Wunderlist that I realized how many I have!  And, of course, I want to finish them all before school starts and I get too busy to work on them again.  I have a shawl in progress (Follow Your Arrow Shawl), and I’ve barely started the second fingerless mitt in a pair to wear on those fall days that are cold only in the morning and evening.  I need to actually sew the next size cloth diapers I cut out months ago for my youngest; he needs to move up a size any day now.  I also got a sewing pattern for Christmas (Amy Butler’s Liverpool Shirt/Dress) to do some selfish sewing that I haven’t done more to than look at it wistfully.

I really do have a deadline for the knitting projects though.  My brother is getting married next year.  It will be an outdoor wedding, in October…in New England.  Translation: even if she chooses a long-sleeved dress, the bride will be FREEZING!  So I volunteered to make a warm shawl for my sister-in-law to be, whom I adore and would rather not see her get pneumonia.  I started the Rosana shawl once already, and completely messed up.  I had to rip out everything I’d done, and was irritated about it.  So I did what anyone would do; I procrastinated by starting a different project.  I vowed to restart her shawl at least a year before the wedding though, to make sure I had plenty of time to finish it, which means all other nonessential craft projects stop in October.

Leave a comment »

Summer Learning Plans

One thing I really love about being a teacher is that each new year on the job allows me to revamp things.  What other job out there gives a natural break that allows you the time to relax and reflect on the past year, deciding what to do the same, and what to change for the coming year?  Yes, of course I reflect and make changes throughout the school year too if something isn’t working quite how I want it to, but the easiest time to make big changes is the beginning of a new school year.  When you get a new crop of kids (and their parents), comments and questions about something you did last year that you plan to change can be swept aside with, “Oh, I’m going to change how I do that this year; I’ll be talking about that at curriculum night.”

On the last workdays before school ended, my team met and did a group reflection, making notes about what we want to do differently, and what we really thought worked well.  My only concern is that we’re having a change in leadership at my school, and we left for the summer without knowing what grade we would be teaching next year, nor the room we would be assigned.  In light of that, I’ve been trying to keep my reflections general enough that they could be applied to nearly any grade.

Some things I want to accomplish or learn more about (in between relaxing) this summer, are:

  • how to incorporate blended learning; I think this would be a great way to differentiate more effectively
  • close reading; I have the gist of it, but want to get to the point that I don’t need a pre-made set of close reading materials to feel confident implementing it
  • creating rubrics blending Lucy Calkins units with 6 Trait writing and common core standards…but I really need to know what grade I’m teaching next year (I’ve wanted to do this for awhile, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.)
  • read The Leader in Me

If you know of a great blog or article that would help with any of these goals, I’d love for you to leave links to them in the comments!

Leave a comment »