. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: August 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Year - New Lessons

I'm back in the saddle again.

I must admit, it's nice to once again surround myself with the smell of whiteboard markers and glue sticks.

I really have nothing too interesting to report regarding my first two days in school, but I have learned a few new lessons. (Gotta lotta "to's" in that sentence! I've met my quota.)

Lesson #1
Light-up tennis shoes are no longer just for toddlers. About 1/2 of my girls are prancing around in polka dotted Converse-esque tennies that flash colored lights with each step.



At All.

(I'm just hoping they don't start wearing the ones that squeak with each step!)

Lesson #2
Despite the fact that I apologized up front and about every 1.3 seconds for two days straight, my students show no mercy when I can't remember their names. They take it as a personal insult and are quick to roll their eyes or harrumph at me (both HUUUUUGE mistakes, they soon learn) when I have to ask them to tell it to me.




Lesson #3
No matter how many times you tell them, some kids don't grasp that when the teacher explains directions and then says, "Raise your hand if you have a question about what we are doing," asking "Can we start now?" does not qualify as an appropriate question.

That being said, they seem like a nice bunch of kids and I look forward to having another great year.

At the very least, I'll hopefully have some fun stories for us about kids who are having a great year!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ahoy There, Mateys

I've been busy

doing NOTHING!

But today I have dedicated myself to spending quality time with my nearest and dearest friends...

on the Internet. (Because you guys don't seem to mind that I'm always wearing sweats with holes in them when we get together.)

So many people out there have great ideas, and great ideas are what I'm searching for (since I am in short supply); so I've decided to spend the day combing my favorite blogs in an attempt to pillage and plunder my way to some New School Year Inspiration.

Let me ask you... When you stumble upon an idea for your classroom that you love, do you get so excited that you begin talking to yourself and planning aloud to no one in particular about how you can use that great idea in your room and how you can tweak it for your kids, and how you're gonna share it with everyone you know and which theme you can apply to it and what standards it meets?


Yeh, uhhh, me neither...

So here's an idea for group behavior management posted by Ginger Snaps that most certainly did NOT cause me to begin talking to myself...

at all.

In a nutshell, design a cute bulletin board with a path. Groups of students move a colored pin along that path as they demonstrate good behavior. Prizes are earned at various points. What I love about it (but haven't discussed with anyone including me because that would be weird) is that it's a long-term positive reinforcement behavior management idea. We've all done Table Points, Dismissing Tables First, Raffle Tickets, blah, blah, blah and they are effective for a while, but good teachers have bags of tricks that are as endless as Mary Poppins' Carpet Bag.

This one is going into my carpet bag.

AND then there's the super idea I am totally snagging from Miss Teacher over at juice boxes & crayolas that involves posting positive affirmations around your room. I don't know about you, but my students spend a fair amount of time staring at pencils, each others' ears, and walls. Why not give 'em something positive and motivating to stare at since they're gonna do it anyway?

Well, I can't hang posters on pencils (too small to read) or students' ears (illegal, I think), but I can hang them on the walls!

Now, if I can only find an artistic person to make these things for me and then put them up in my room...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Grammar Aside

Bored with your summer reading list?

Is Tolstoy weighing you down?

Ready for some good ole fashioned teacher giggles?

Then have I got the book for you!

John Pearson, aka Mr. Teacher, over at Learn Me Good has penned a sequel to his run-away hit of the same name. Only this one is, as my kids would say, even more better and it's called Learn Me Gooder.

Gifted in storytelling and quick with the wit, Mr. Teacher will keep you laughing throughout.

You KNOW you wanna read it!

So on August 22nd, boot up your computer and drive it right to Amazon to buy your copy.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I'm Where?

Do any of you like to number-crunch?

Love chewing on some data like a ham bone?

Sadly, I do.

It's scary to admit, but Excel is my favorite Microsoft program...

 (I know. It's pathetic that I even HAVE a favorite Microsoft program...)

because you get to dump in some data, move it around, compare it, color code it, put it in order and then reorder it in countless ways, average it, and then make a graph outta all of it.

A graph that you can pick the colors of the lines, the backgrounds, the floors, you can make it 3D, adjust the size, insert pictures, label things, blah, blah, blah...

I just LOVE it all!!

Putting Excel aside for a while, let me just say that the next best thing for me and my number obsession is to combine it with my blog using Google Analytics. This site gives me detailed information, in the form of numbers, about how my blog is doing, who is reading it, how they found it, how long they stay on it, where they're entering it from, how often readers return, what countries they live in (Hello, Germany!), etc.

Oh! Don't worry. There is no personal data on it. You are all just a number to me.

Which is why I LOVE ya, 'cause I can CRUNCH ya!

I pour over this site about once a month and stay on it for hours. (Sometimes I even dump some of the info into Excel and make a graph, just for sh!%s and giggles. Ssshhhh, my husband thinks I'm actually working when I do that.)

One of the most interesting aspects for me is to see just how you people found The Bits.

By far, the number one referral site I have is Scholastic. Thank you for naming me one of your top 20 blogs! It's an honor and has led readers to my cyber-doorstep many, many times and I am grateful.

The number two referral site was a new one this month and one I was surprised to be included on: The Teachers' Lounge Blog on Really Good Stuff. (!!!!!)

I love the stuff at Really Good Stuff (although I usually call it "Really Good Stuff I Don't have the Funds to Purchase" but I see why they go with the shorter name.)

I'm listed with nine other blogs in their "Related Sites" section.


Related to a blog about Really Good Stuff.


Really Sarcastic Stuff, THAT I can see.

Really Honest Stuff, THAT I fit.

Really Inappropriate Stuff That Could Get Me Fired or At Least Earn Me a Stern Talking - To Stuff, I'm a match.

Really GOOD Stuff?



But I am grateful nonetheless.

I am grateful that we found each other, dear readers, no matter how it happened. Your comments keep me motivated and laughing and I am awe of your great ideas and tenacity. Many of you are bloggers who share your stories and ideas and there is nothing more interesting for me to read.

Thanks for reading and for sharing!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Quiet! I'm (not) Thinking!

Have you been thinking about working again?

Worse yet, have you begun working again??

Not MeeeEEEee!

By now, I've usually busted out the flash drive and begun planning away for the coming school year that starts at the end of August. In all honesty, in years past I've had the majority of my year planned by now, but this year I have not.

And I must say, I feel a teensy bit guilty about it.

I met one of my teaching partners for lunch the other day, and he had just returned from a science camp for teachers. He LOVED it and for good reason. It was a week of non-stop activities with other highly-motivated educators from around the world. The activities developed team-building and science knowledge, all of which can be applied in the classroom.

Needless to say, he is...



about the coming school year.

Funny. None of his enthusiasm oozed over to my side of the table. (Maybe my empty beer glasses blocked it.)

He was also telling me about how the other 1/3 of our team has also been hard at work on ideas for the coming school year as well, despite the fact that she has two wonderful young children who keep her on her toes.

It is at this point that I begin to feel like the childless, non-science camp attending, beer-swilling, no excuses dead weight that is going to drag us all down.

And yet, guilty as I feel, I still can't bring myself to get working yet.

(But I do think that, "Childless, non-science camp attending, beer-swilling, no excuses dead weight" would make a great t-shirt.)

Am I still recovering from last year?

Maybe. (Possibly the easiest year of my career? Yeh, riiiight...)

Am I being lazy?

Probably. (Certainly.)

Should I get my butt in gear and start working as soon as I get back from this little family vacay I'm currently taking?

I really can't say. Committing to that right now would probably mean lying to you, and I'd hate myself for doing that.

Should we really be spending our vacation time working on school stuff? What motivates so many of us to dedicate at least a portion of our time off to school work?

Our reasons probably vary. I'm curious to hear why you do it (because I KNOW you do!)

For now, I'm just going to continue enjoying time with my extended family and keep procrastinating on that whole work thing that my team seems so busy doing. I can play catch-up when I get home.