Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Coding with College Students

*In my attempt to keep my students anonymous I used a lot of s/he, him/her, etc.  I know it's confusing but I need to keep this as private as possible.

A couple of weeks back there was an article in the newspaper about the (Half) Hour of Code club I do in my library.  I was super excited to have my school in the paper for something positive.  Having it be about something I was doing was in the library was an added bonus.

Because of that article an education professor from Stephen F. Austin State University emailed me asking if I'd be willing to demo my Code Club to her future teachers.

Ummm, YES!

I didn't really know what to expect during our time together. So as any good teacher does I wrote down some things I wanted to highlight about our club and planned to be flexible.

During this brainstorming I decided to ask 6 of my Code Club students to join us.  I wanted them there to help teach the college students and tell why they liked being in the club.



My students so far exceeded my expectations it's not even funny!  I had tears in my eyes and goosebumps on my arms. I saw so many awesome behaviors from them!  I texted my principal to come down and see the awesomeness and called my assistant principal too.

So let me back up a bit.  I'm getting ahead of myself.  Ha!

I picked the 6 students who had never missed a club meeting. I also chose a range of students from GT to those who have an IEP.  I wanted my students to experience being the one who knows the most in a situation and I wanted the college students to see a what a student with an IEP can do.

My initial plan was to highlight a few points about my Code Club and how I knew nothing about code when I started.  I wanted to show the college students code.org, have them create an account, have my students walk around and help and show the college students where they were at on their own courses.

My plan went as planned until I turned my students loose.

My IEP student immediately broke the college students into groups and picked the college students that s/he was going to work with based on the color of their shirts.  S/he worked with everyone wearing a purple shirt.  Ha!  S/he took control, showed them the website, helped the college students create an account then started walking them through the courses.

I was shocked!  S/he took control and became the teacher.  S/he did not hesitate.  S/he used her manners and his/her polite words.  S/he was a different student than I had ever seen.  S/he was in her/his element.

And it made me cry and gave me goosebumps.  Here's an IEP student that struggles.  Like really struggles. Learning is not easy for him/her.  And now this student was shining.  Shining brighter than any of the other students who we all expect to shine in any given situation.

And that's why I called/texted my principal and assistant principal.  I wanted them to see him/her in him/her element.  I wanted them to see him/her shine.  I wanted them to have a positive interaction with him/her.

S/he started a pretty hard course with degrees, pixels and left/right turns.  I worked with her through the first one. Then told her to go show the principal.  The next one was even harder and they worked it together (I was secretly happy I had suggested s/he show the principal! HA!).  It was awesome to see them working the course together and having a positive interaction.

After, my principal said he wished he recorded her/him to show her/his teachers what s/he can do.  I wish I had thought to record it too!

I've tried calling his/her parents twice.  I know they need to hear some positives about their child. Unfortunately I haven't been able to get a hold of them but I did leave a generic message saying how awesome this student did during the day and that I'd like to tell them all about it.  The student said her/his dad let her/him listen to my message last night.  If I don't get a hold of them soon I'll just leave the story on their voice mail but I really want to speak to them person to person.

This is my why!

Monday, February 27, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

For pleasure:

Always by Sarah Jio I am a huge fan of Jio's books! Since reading her first published book Violets of March I was hooked. Always is in my top four favorite list. The story did leave you feeling like something was missing. It left you wanting more. But I wonder if that was on purpose. The story is about traumatic brain injury. And a love triangle. I'm a sucker for love triangles!  Back to the TBI. We learn what lead up to the TBI but not the how or the why. I wonder if the feeling of missing something is suppose to be there so we as the reader know what it feels like to be Cade (who has TBI). Then again maybe I'm being too deep. Ha!

Like I said I'm a sucker for a love triangle. Kailey losses Cade when we drops off the face of the Earth then falls in love with Ryan. Then Cade shows up in the least expected place. And Kailey has to make some hard decisions. Some things were typical of a love triangle but there were still enough surprises to keep me happy. 

If you've never read one of Jio's books I highly recommend you do!

For School:

My Book Fair is in two weeks. So to get my students excited I read Book Fair Day by Lynn Plourde. Dewey Booker loves books! His class is going to the Book Fair but his class has to go last. And Dewey's so worried all the books will be sold!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Five For Friday-Random

1.  It's be a long 4 day week.  Having Monday off really isn't worth it.

2.  Jay got sick but seems to be recovering much faster than I did.

3.  Reagan's got her 2nd babysitting job Saturday.  I'm super exciting for her!

4.  It nearly killed me to have to go to bed last night when I only 20 pages left in my book.  If I don't get enough sleep I'm a grumpy pants so I had to "adult" last night and make myself go to bed instead of finish my book.

5.  It's pajama day at school today!  But I had to run into Walmart this morning... in my pajamas.  I was one of "those" people.  I wanted to announce I was in my pj for school.  I really didn't think that trip to Walmart through! lol

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

World Read Aloud Day

Thursday, February 16 was World Read Aloud Day.  To celebrate I set up two author Skypes.  One for  K-2nd and another for 4th grade.

4th grade Skyped with middle grade and picture book author, Molly Burnham.  She talked with students about her writing habits, how long she had been a writer, her past jobs and a little about her personal life.  She asked for questions from students.  I forgot to remind students to not ask personal questions.  So of course some one asked her how old she was.  Instead of answering she gave them a math problem.  She was 10 when her favorite movie Star Wars came out in 1977.  How old would she be now?  We had a few students come close to the answer.  She told students to work on it then to have their teacher email her their answer and she would respond back.

We did get some really good questions. One student asked her how long it took her to write her first published book.  She explained that it took her two years to write the first book in the Teddy Mars series but only one year to write the second book in the series because she already knew the characters.  Burnham encouraged students to email her questions and she would respond.

K-2nd Skyped with children’s book author, Stacy McAnulty.  She show students her picture books and then read part of her book The Dino Files.  She shared pictures of her family digging for dinosaur bones.  Her two dogs made an appearance during the Skype and had to be asked to leave because they were a distraction. Ha!  

I got our times confused for this Skype.  I was working with Central time and McAnulty was working with EST.  She worked with us and was able to postpone her Skype with us.  I really appreciated her working with us especially since it was my mistake!

At the end McAnulty encouraged students to go home and read a book to celebrate World Read Aloud Day.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Bullet Journal-Reading Challenge

I've wanted to do a reading challenge for awhile now but just never did start one.  Mostly the problem was I knew I couldn't keep up with the paper.

I know.  That sounds dumb.

But y'all, I hate paper.  I hate keeping up with it.  It's never where I am.  I ALWAYS have to go find it. It gets wrinkled and worn.  Blah, blah, blah.

But since I started my bullet journal I thought "why not glue a reading challenge in my journal?!?" So that's what I did.  I found this challenge on Pinterest, printed it out and glued it in.

My mother-in-law said she hadn't thought about gluing things in her bullet journal.  I got the idea from the interactive journals I used to do with my Deaf Ed middle school students.

I've really enjoyed doing a reading challenge.  It's had me read genres I don't normally read like steampunk.  I totally had to google the definition for steampunk. Ha!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

For School:

Secret Valentine by Catherine Stock, I read this book to Pk-2nd.  It's a sweet book about a little girl making her own Valentine's cards and passing them out.  She also gets a card from an anonymous person.

With 3rd-5th I read Valentine's Day poems from this website.  A couple of them are suppose to be sung to familiar tunes.  So I belted them out.  A little embarrassing but the kids loved it.

For My Book Club

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson is the winner for the 2016 Bluebonnet Award.  It's a graphic novel about the struggles of adolescents, friendships and new and different interests.  Two best friends start to drift apart as they enter junior high.  One is interested in roller derby while the other is interested in dance.  Hurtful words are slung and so's a drink....  Emotions run high.

My order of 2017-2018 Bluebonnet Books came in last week.  I read all the picture books and picked out 4 chapter books that I for sure want to read.  I haven't started those yet.

Follow The Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles by Philippe Cousteau is an activist book about loggerheads (sea turtles).  Vivi moves to a coastal town one summer.  She attends summer school where they are doing a service project.  With the help of another girl in her class they decide to present to their class the problem that baby sea turtles have after they hatch.  The class choices their project to work on and get everyone in town from the school to the newspaper involved.

Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood is a moving true story of children living in a city made of trash.  They live in the poorest slums in all of South America. Ada's grandmother, who loves rock 'n roll from the 1960s, signs her up for music lessons.  The only problem is there are a lot more kids than there are instruments.  So their instructor gets creative and makes instruments out of recycled trash. My favorite quote in the books is "They had discovered the surprise waiting in the landfill.  Buried in the trash was music."  There is good in everything even if it's buried.

Whoosh by Chris Barton, The illustrator of this book is Don Tate.  He did an author visit in our district a few years back.  I try to read every book he writes or illustrates!  Whoosh is a true story about Lonnie an African American scientist/inventor.  Lonnie started inventing things as a kid.  He grew up to work at NASA and left his job to work on his inventions.  The Super Soaker is one of his most fun inventions!  Make sure you read the Author's Notes at the end of the book.  Very interesting!

The Great Pet Escape by Victoria Jamieson, is a graphic novel chapter book about the great escape of the class pets in an elementary school.  GW is the brains of his little group of mischief caged pets.  He wants to escape the confines of his cage in the 2nd grade classroom and tries to get his furry fiend friends to join him.  But mouse is out to stop him and his furry fiends.

What book are you reading that I should add to my "to read" list?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday-Andy's Frozen Custard

Andy's Frozen Custard is my FAVORITE!  Everytime we go to Tyler we get some.  
But this time... 
I didn't tell my family I was going.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Author Vistit- Michael Anthony Steele

Michael Anthony Steele, author and scriptwriter, visited our district last week.  We booked him for 4 1/2 days to visit 6 elementary schools.  He was super down to earth and very easy to work with!

He did a show with K-2nd and with 3rd-5th grade. His shows are interactive and TEKs based.  He introduced basic vocabulary to K-2nd.  With 3rd-5th he expanded that vocabulary, talking in detail about scrips (parts of a script, how to write a script, how it's different than writing a book, etc).

He also had students repeat the phrase "I can do that!"  He talked about how he got into script writing and how even though we all have that voice in the back of our heads saying negative things we need to tell ourselves "I can do that" and do it.

I was impressed with his TEKs based show.  Not only was it educational, it was interactive, motivational and entertaining.  The students responded well to him  They are still talking about him and it's been a week since he was here!

Steele wrote about his time in our district on his website.  You can scroll through and read about each school.  Look for my school!

I also wrote an article on our school's website.  You can read about it here.  The hard thing about this blog and the article I wrote is you just can't include all the awesomeness!  There's so much to write about and so many cool things.  You just need to contact him for an author visit to see what I mean!

The school counselor and I took him out to lunch.  I LOVE going to lunch with authors!  It's "funny" to me that I can be sitting with well known authors but no one else in the restaurant knows this.  Mostly because authors aren't really visually famous.  I mean that most people don't know what an author looks so they don't recognize them.  They know their name but not their face.  So I'm sitting in a restaurant with a famous person but no one else knows that.  Ha!  That cracks me up!
Conversation flowed easily.  Our school counselor was not able to attend any of his sessions so she had some questions for him about how he got started.  We talked about ghost writing, publishers asking authors to write about specific topics, small town life verses city life and so much more.

I highly recommend Steele for an author visit!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Five for Friday-WOW

My BFF, Emily and I have been going Women of Worthiness (WOW) for a few years now.  It's a ladies Bible retreat.  It's this weekend and I'm super excited!

1.  I get to honor God with nothing but Christian women.  There's just nothing like the fellowship.  There's nothing like seeing 400ish women in one large room learning more about the Bible.

2.  Emily and I are mixing it up this year and staying an extra day.

3.  One of our other Houston Girls is coming.  She's moved to Lubbock and we don't get to see her much.  She'll be staying with us and staying all weekend too! :)

4.  Our other Houston Girl, Brandi, can't come this year.  :(

5.  It'll be an awesome weekend of praising God and being with most of my Houston girls.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

For Pleasure:

Clockwork Scarab: a Stoker and Holmes Novel by Colleen Gleason I'm doing a reading challenge this year.  One of the challenges was to read a steampunk novel.  I had no idea what a steampunk novel was so like any good librarian I looked up the definition.  Steampunk is not a genre I normally read.  So I went to Facebook and asked for some recommendations.  Clockwork Scarab was one of the books suggested.  I'm about 1/2 way through this young adult novel and I'm really enjoying it so far.  Mina Holmes is Sherlock Holmes' niece and Evaline Stoker is a vampire hunter.  Together they make an awesome team... even if they don't like each other much.

For School:

Sneezy the Snowman by Maureen Wright.  I do my lesson plans about 6 weeks in advanced.  Normal reasoning would say that in February it's going to be cold.  This year... not so much.  Here in Texas it's been spring like.  Which defeated the my whole idea of reading a book about snowmen in the winter.  But that's ok!  I recovered from the shocked of a 70 to 80 degree week and had fun with it anyway.

When I introduced the book to PK-2nd I said something like "I want to read you a book about snowmen on this cold day."  PK did not get it.  Kinder paused a moment, thought about it, then would holler out "It's not cold!" 1st and 2nd immediately corrected me. Ha!  So we talked about the kind of weather we normally have in February verses the kind of weather we were actually having.  Then I read Sneezy the Snowman.  Sneezy is a snowman who is cold and wants to warm up but every time he warms up he melts.  The children came up with an idea to keep Sneezy just the right temperature.

The story rhymes and has repetitive language that the students picked up on quickly.  I would pause and let them fill in the repetitive phrases.  We all enjoyed reading this book!

My Junior Library Guild subscription came in this week.  I've been reading my way through the box. Reading through the box is one of my favorite things to do!

Nanette's Baguette by Mo Willems, Nanette's mom sends him off in the streets of France to get a baguette.  The baguette is warm and smells wonderful and... he eats it.  He's most upset!  Mom's gonna be mad.

Xo, Ox A Love Story by Adam Rex, Ox sends love letters to Gazelle.  Gazelle does not love Ox back and sends him standardize letters back.  But Ox is insistent with his love letters.  Gazelle ends up so exasperated she writes a letter saying she will never write Ox back.  But never is a mighty long time.

The Princess and the Warrior by Duncan Tonatiuh is a legend about two volcanoes in Mexico.  The Sleeping Woman is named after the princess who was tricked into taking a potion that ended up killing her.  This volcano is silent or asleep.  The other volcano is named after the soldier who loved the princess, Smoky Mountain.  It erupts occasionally trying to wake the princess.

Is That WISE, Pig? by Jan Thomas is a silly book about making soup.  Cow and mouse add yummy vegetables to the soup but Pig wants to add umbrellas and galoshes.  But that doesn't seem wise!  In the end though the umbrellas and galoshes do come in handy.

 Mickey Mantle the Commerce Comet by Jonah Winter, My husband is a huge baseball fan.  I was a fan growing up but I kind of got out of following baseball once my daughter was born.  I said all that to say that I have a slightly more than basic knowledge of baseball but I still learned a lot about Mickey Mantle while reading this book.  The book mostly focuses on his boyhood and his start in baseball.  Though it does touch on the end of his career and life.

Narwhal Unicorn of the Sea! by Ben Clanton is a fun book full of punish jokes.  There are a lot of silly word plays.  Jelly and his friend Narwhal swim the sea together.  They create a pod that includes sharks and turtles.  Everyone has to wear a horn.  Jelly learns to use his imagination or... is he already using his imagination?

Bramble and Maggie Snow Day by Jessie Haas is a sweet easy reader chapter book.  A storm hits and brings lots of snow.  Bramble the horse loves the snow!  He stays warm and toasty with his fur. Maggie and her family get stuck in the house when the snow piles high in front of the door but Bramble helps dig them out as well as their friends in the neighborhood.

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen Two turtles find a hat.  The hat looks good on both of them but there's only one hat.  As they drift off to sleep one turtle starts to sneak the hat but the other turtle tells him that he's dreaming that they both have hats that look good on each of them.  The sneaking turtle has to make a decision about the hat.

a greyhound A Groundhog by Emily Jenkins is a tongue twister!  I can't wait to read this one out loud to students and see how many times my tongue gets all twisted up.  The greyhound finds a round hole. In the round hole is a round groundhog.  The greyhound and the groundhog go round and round. My tongue's all twisted just thinking about it! Ha!

A Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785 by Matthew Olshan, Dr. Jeffries, an Englishman, and his pilot Jean-Pierre Blanchard don't get along. About the only thing they agree on is they both want to be the first to fly to another country.  So they load up their dogs and some extra belongings and proceed to fly.  Only they start to sink so they have to throw everything, including their clothes, overboard to keep from sinking in the water.  All the lost weights helps them continue their flight and be the first people to fly to another country.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Bullet Journal-Prayer Page

I found the idea for a prayer page on Pinterest.  I thought this was a fabulous idea!

In our Ladies' Bible Class at church we've been studying different prayers in the Bible once a month on Mondays the last year and half.  One of the things I've noticed is that all the prayers are very specific.  And each one is different.

This got me to thinking about my prayers.  They had become repetitive.  I was praying about the same things over and over.  Sometimes the people I prayed for changed... if I could remember who was sick and who needed prayers but it was still the same basic prayer.  

So when I started my bullet journal and started searching Pinterest for page ideas and found Prayer Prompts I was super excited!  I don't use it daily but I do use it often. I've prayed about things I hadn't thought about praying for like "Prayer for a person you have a hard time loving."  Let that sink in a minute.  It's powerful.  To pray for someone you have a hard time loving is not easy.

This page has really changed my prayer life.  I'll definitely be including it in future journals!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday

This pictured popped up on my Facebook feed yesterday morning.
Oh the sweetness!  My heart almost couldn't take it.
It was 8 years ago.  Reagan was 5 years old and Maggie was 3 years old.
Oh how times have changed!
Reagan is now a teenager and Maggie is 11 years old (old for a large breed dog).

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Do you ever just need to hear that you're doing a good job?

I'm a pretty confident person.  I know my strengths and weaknesses.  I know what I like and don't like.  And I don't mind tell you.  I know what I need to work on and what I do well.

But sometimes it's nice to hear someone "higher" up than yourself say that you're doing a good job.

I had a principal a few years back who excelled at complementing teachers and paraprofessionals. Not just generic "You're doing a great job!", but complements that were specific to the work you'd done.  This same principal was also quick to point out things you needed to improve on.  Most, if not all the time, I knew what I needed to work on but it never bothered me when I was told to improve some thing because my bucket had been filled with some many "attagirls!"

I have a great principal now but his philosophy is more of the "If I'm not saying anything to you... that's a good thing.  You'll know if I'm not happy."  Which is good except during all the silence you kind of worry that maybe he's building up to telling you something you need to work on/fix.  Ha!

So when during a meeting with our interim superintendent and some other higher ups my principal said I was a distinguished teacher I about fell over with happiness.  And seriously y'all, as soon as the meeting was over I ran to my office and texted my Houston Girls, my Nac Girls, my mom, my husband and my lead librarian.

So maybe all the texts were overkill but I was excited y'all.  Ha!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Gospel Meetings

Reagan and I don't normally get to go with Jay when he preaches in Gospel Meetings.  Normally their during the week during the school year.  With me working full time and Reagan in 8th grade it makes impossible for us to go with him.

But this year most of his meetings have been in the area or on the weekend close by so we've been able to go.

1.  I like going because I know Jay likes having us there.

2.  It's nice to meet Christians in other areas.

3.  It's helpful to see what happens during a gospel meeting.  Jay of course tells me about them but it's different to experience it.

4.  It can be hard to "be on" for a whole week or a weekend.

5.  I'm just glad I get to support my hubby and his efforts to preach God's word.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

For Pleasure

I finished I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillian.  I've read 2 other books by McMillian, How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting to Exhale and loved them both.  I did not love I Almost Forgot About You.  The dialog didn't flow.  It felt forced.  In beginning of the book Georgia is seeking out past loves to tell them what they meant to her.  In the end she only meets with 4 of the men.  I was a bit disappointed to not meet more of them.  She also makes big plans to go on a train trip.  She only makes it 2ish days on the train before she decides she doesn't want to do the train ride anymore.  She ends up falling in love with one of the men from the past.  I don't know.  It was all kind of built up, meeting her past loves, going on this train ride to then just, kind of nothing.

I started The Clockwork Scarab (Stoker and Holmes #1) by Colleen Gleason.  I'm not far enough into the book to say if I like it or not.  I'm doing a Reading Challenge this year and this fits the steampunk requirement.  I had to look up the meaning of steampunk.  In case you need the definition too it's "a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology"  The sentence to help you understand is "If you like steampunk, this is a great book for you."  I'm not sure that sentence is really helpful in understanding the definition.  Ha!

For School:

I was still getting the students ready last week for author visit with Michael Anthony Steele (this week).  So we did not read a book.  I showed them the trailer for "Night at the Museum" then read them the preface of Night at the Museum: Nick's Tale.  The trailer gave them a visual and a kick to their background knowledge (if they'd seen the movie before).  So when I read the preface, which is pretty attention getting, they were very excited!  So far I've sold more of his books than any other author we've had visit.  I think part of that is the price of the book and part is the excitement of the movie-book connections.

Friday, February 3, 2017


Me:  You still have one book out.  It's called Uh-Oh.

Student: What's the book called?

Me:  Uh-Oh.

Student: What's the name of the book?

Me: Uh-Oh.

Student:  What's wrong?  Are you ok?  Why do you keep saying uh-oh?

Me:  (laughing... which turns into a coughing fit) The name of the book IS Uh-Oh.  And please don't make me laugh.  It makes me cough.

Student: (laughing) Oh!  I thought there was something wrong with you!

It's these little moments that get me though the day when I'm still not feeling 100%.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Wordless Wednesday-Geography Bee

Reagan made it to the school round of the Geography Bee.  
She tied for 5th place.