Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cute Clipboards!

I made these clipboards today after having pinned them on Pinterest for months. I can't claim that these were my idea, but they sure were easy! Here's how I did it....

Went to Hobby Lobby and bought:
Mod Podge (matte variety)
12x12 Scrapbook Paper - NO CARDSTOCK (it bubbles really bad!)
Thin, matching ribbon (each single ribbon is about 7" long after it is cut)
Foam brushes (one fat and one skinny)

Went to Walmart and bought:
wooden clipboards (with the long clip, not the circular clip up top)

Had at home:
Pushpin or Exacto Knife
Corner Rounder (scrapbooking accessory)

 I measured the paper to fit the clipboard, leaving about a 1/4 inch of the clipboard exposed.

I also cut out part of the top of the scrapbook paper to make room for the clip at the top.

 I then rounded the corners with the Corner Rounder (or you can very carefully round them yourself if you're cool with that).

 I then put the paper aside, and using the foam brushes, I applied a thin layer of Mod Podge starting at the top of the clipboard. I brushed from top to bottom. After the entire board was covered, I used the pushpin or Exacto Knife to carefully poke a tiny hole if I saw an air bubble. You can also use your hands and fingers to smooth the air bubbles out as well. I let it dry for about an hour. After an hour was up, I applied a small letter C (for Christi :) to the bottom left hand corner with a tiny bit of regular glue. My mom cut this letter out with her new Cricut. :)

I then applied another coat to the entire board, including the letter, and watched for bubbles again. I fixed any I saw with the Exacto knife, and I let it dry. I then gave it a THIRD coat and let it dry before I put on the ribbons!

After the mod podge dried, I tied a double knot with the ribbon on the clip, and lightly curled the edges. You might also want to cut the ends diagonally to help with fraying. I did this with the entire roll of ribbon I bought (3/8') @ 15 feet.

It was SO MUCH FUN! I must give a shout out to The Frugal Girls for the idea and the directions!

The finished product!
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Monday, June 18, 2012

Gettin' my Math On!

Wahoo! What a chapter!! :)

I really enjoyed the chapter, "Using Guided Math to Create a Classroom Environment of Literacy." I found it so packed of really great information, and now my head is spinning with all kinds of ideas of ways to set up my classroom and really create a classroom environment that values numeracy. Since I have been in the music classroom since 2002, this is my chance to start completely from scratch, and I'm so excited! I read the first chapter, and participated in the Stixy discussion given by Beth at Primary Inspired. My actual question to all of the posters there was how to set up my classroom to build numeracy in my students. Asked and answered!
Here are a few thoughts I had for those who've read or are reading the book:
1. Building a classroom community: We are a family! I love the value of respecting every single opinion and building on them. We learn so much more when everyone puts their thoughts into the mix. It gives me a chance to see how each little brain works!
2. COMMUNICATION: not just for literacy and LA classrooms! I loved the comment that when students stop to think about what they are saying and how they are communicating, their comments are more focused. This fits in perfectly with the "Quality Questioning" we are doing in our school! Teachers must allow a "wait time" before they accept any answers (and no blurting!). It's actually really difficult to do initially, but gets great results!
3. The whole "label everything" and having a designated place for everything made me giddy. I'm just sayin'. :)
4. I loved the idea of having actual measuring tools handy to use while in whole class or small group instruction was a great thought. Measuring cups, rulers, etc really enhance the students' comprehension of what they're hearing.
5. Anybody have a great list of math related children's literature? I am new to the math classroom and need some ideas. What are your favorites??

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Monday, June 11, 2012

A New Journey

Judging by this posts' title, I feel like I should have some theme music here. A little "Star Trek / Journey to a New Frontier" sort-of sound. Maybe later. For now, just some explanation.

For a while now, everything I had done education-wise had been to gear up for the elementary music classroom. I played the french horn from 6th grade on (yup, I'm a certified band nerd, and YES, I like it), and got a scholarship to the University of Texas (a teeny one compared to the amount it cost to actually go there), and to the University of Houston, where I ended up going to school. Go Coogs. My college and private lesson experience (YUCK) there only solidified my preference for teaching, not performing, so off to the elementary music classroom I went in 2002. I graduated in the middle of a school year, so the pickings were slim - so much so that I got to ask off for my own wedding / honeymoon DURING the interview. Good times. I worked there for a few years before opening a new school, and eventually quitting to take care of my first born. Fast forward to a few years ago when I went back to work while my 2nd child was only months old. I took a solo music position at what looked like a great school. I fell in love with the school and while I was on maternity leave with my third and last child, I started to think about going into the classroom. Of course, with all of the post partum hormones flowing through me, I left the feeling alone and waited for it to go away. It never did.

I began with talking to my husband about it, and he went through the normal line of questioning (being the devil's advocate). He's great at that. Most times he grounds me (YOU ARE SO GROUNDED....haha), and makes me realize that my crazy ideas aren't feasible, and for good reason! But, this time, I had done my homework, so to speak, and I made sure that I explored every possible cause for feeling like I needed to change the content of my teaching from music to the general classroom. He asked, "Are you sure you're not just bored?" I laughed and said, "If I'm bored, I'll color my hair." I talked to my principal about it, and surprisingly, she was on board. I studied and got certified, and was hired to teach the second grade. My first choice. :)

So began the shock on most people's faces and in most people's voices. I knew it was coming - from the music teachers who couldn't comprehend leaving the music classroom to the general classroom teachers who assume that I have *no idea* what I'm getting myself into. I have to say, though, when I explained myself, most people "got it." So here's the deal.....

I want my own class. It's that simple. It's nothing that is wrong with my school or district, but with Fine Arts in general. In music, I see my kids once every 6 days for 50 minutes, or if I want to see them more (every 4 days), I get to double up on the classroom size - sometimes up to 55 kids. That's not quality time. I don't know many of the kids' names, and while they like coming to music, they come and go without me having a connection to very many at all. And that wears on you. I watch teachers get attached to their students, have classroom parties, field days, begin and end the school year with them, and I'm jealous. I want to watch them grow from point A to point B. I'm looking to go from a shallow connection with 850 students to a deeper one with 22. I know I'm trading good and bad on both ends, but I realized over the past several years that I didn't just want to teach MUSIC, but that I wanted to TEACH.

I have never been so excited to be in my own classroom, and that's how it should be. I can't wait.

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

I'm sick. I mean, really sick.

I'm sick. I mean, really sick. I have several addictions, and I have only recently accepted that I have a problem and am willing to admit it. It is related to my job as an educator, and affects my students on a daily basis. Except, there are no laws against what I have. My name is Christi, and I am addicted to fonts and office supplies. I really do like fonts and colorful pens, spirals, file folders, and the like. There's no joke there. I could go broke at Office Max. But, honestly, and more importantly, I have realized in the last year that I am a Type A personality. I enjoy lists, timetables, deadlines, and spreadsheets. Think "Monica" on the TV show Friends. I'm not the clean freak she is (although I might be if I didn't have 3 small children), but every organization technique she loves makes me happy. YES, I own a label maker. YES, I get actual excitement from crossing off my To-Do Lists. And, YES, most of my apps on my iPad are in the category of "Productivity." Everything in my classroom is color coded, complete with a cute font (thanks,!), and there are file folders and notebooks for everything. And I LIKE IT that way.

Why is this such a big deal? Well, until about a year ago, I spent most of my adult life denying that I was that way. In middle school and high school, I studied for every test (complete with homemade flash cards), I practiced my horn a lot and systematically climbed my way up the competition ladder, finishing as one of the top horns in the state my senior year. I was the stereotypical nerd. Then, somehow in college, I got it in my mind that being productive, studied, and efficient wasn't cool. I don't remember when I started that downward spiral from being who I really was to someone who I thought was better. A sort of "fly by the seat of my pants" person who practiced just enough to keep my scholarship, studying just enough not to fail, and putting no effort whatsoever into my diet or health. The thing was, I didn't know I was doing this. I thought I was having fun, being this new person. It wasn't until some 8 or so years later, that during a conversation with a family member, I had a DUH moment.... I was, and always have been, a nerd. I had walked away from who I was, who God created, and was in reality working against myself, making everything I tried to do harder. When I couldn't accomplish something, I got down on myself, and in turn I tried to do less and less. It was a horrible, vicious circle.

You see, God made me this way. No, really. He created me to love lists, fonts, folders, and spreadsheets. And God doesn't make mistakes. Every single detail of who I am is a detail he *meant* to create in me. Good and bad, strengths and weaknesses, they are purposeful. Jonny Diaz has a song out on the local radio station, whose lyrics say, "You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do / There could never be a more beautiful you." We're supposed to use our strengths and work on our weaknesses and make them work for us. We were made exactly as He wanted us to be. You are not an "oops." Say that to yourself. I AM NOT AN "OOPS."

Our culture is inundated with countless ways to make us feel ugly and worthless. I honestly feel like God is calling to return to and appreciate the person I am, the person He created, and all of this all in His perfect timing, as my daughter is entering into an age in the next several years where she will look to the world for her worth. I've got a huge job ahead of me in getting her to look to her earthly daddy and her heavenly Father to know what she's *really* worth, but hey......I can always plan that strategy out, complete with lists, color coded folders, and cute fonts. :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Puttin' on My Big Girl Pants

So, if you were looking for a perfect mother, wife, and human being, keep looking. I'm not it. I don't even have time to write in this blog, but here I am while my kitchen is a mess, my hubby's sick, and I'm pretty sure my soon to be 4 year old (let's refer to him as C) and 7 year old (we'll refer to her as R) are tearin' it up in the other room. The little one, J, is 5 months old and fast asleep beside me, and he probably should have eaten a few hours ago. However, since I am mother of the year, I am instead typing on the computer. 

I am a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a teacher, and a child of God. Strike that - I am in transition. I know we are all children of God, but I've been stuck in that "baby Christian" phase for so long. I'm sure people thought I was further along, or maybe I'm thinking too much of what others think of me, but I've spent the last few years stuck in a self-induced temper tantrum. With God. 
I ate what I wanted (and look how it has worked out for me), I bought what I wanted (Dave Ramsey would be so ashamed), and I generally did what I wanted because, hey, I was an adult. Now, you know that moment that you suddenly see things a lot clearer and magically transform into an amazing human being? I didn't have that. But, I have had little victories that have led me to begin my transformation into the woman God created - someone who I am a little prouder of every day. 

I have recently gotten into Pinterest, other teachers' blogs, and have loved to scrapbook for awhile now. These are things I do in my "spare" time when I'm not changing diapers, checking homework, and making dinner. 

I will most likely have "random thought" posts, but hopefully I will have things here that motivate you, challenge you, make you laugh, and give you an insight into what makes me tick. Take it or leave it, but this is me. Enjoy.