Friday, June 26, 2015

How to Change My Teaching

How to change my teaching is a question that I am asking myself. Innovation is my key word. But how do I innovate? How do I do it and still meet my curriculum and standards? Here are my first steps:

Self Directed Learning:
How will I find time to have the students discover their passion and self direct their learning? We have a 15-20 minute morning warm up time where they come in and do a task I gave them. Next year they will come in and discover their passion in this time. Using our iPads as a tool not a toy they can unlock incredible information. I will come up with guidelines but I do not want to limit them. I will conference with individuals to track and monitor progress and I will set a finish date. Ideally I will do one "find your passion " (working title) per quarter. I want them to show case their learning at the end of it and I am thinking of letting them present in the way they come up with. Can 3rd graders do it? YES! Will it take modeling, time, patience? YES! I will get back to you about this one.

Changing The Traditional Classroom Setting:
Desks, tables, hard plastic chairs, sitting in those all day to learn? Check, check and check! How can I make my ideal learning for all learners and not break the bank? I am going to start little by little this year.

I want interactive spaces through out my room. I want the students to share their thinking and see mine! I love the idea of having constantly changing spaces to share thoughts and ideas. I am going to post "idea dots" around the room. I will use dry erase circles posted in various places to have the students write ideas. I want one about what we are learning, one for facts and then several on a work space table. I saw these on pinterest and then found them on Amazon.

Ditching the chairs! Now in my ideal world I would want a classroom set of cool chairs. They would not all look the same because not all kiddos need the same thing to learn in. Does the traditional work for some kids probably... does the different type of chair work for every student probably not. I am working on a little bit here and there and here is what I have found and they are coming!
I also want some lap desks for the kids who don't want a chair. I am working on this piece and how I want it to look. 

Is this innovative? A little... but I think it is a step in the right direction to transform my classroom. My next steps and how these ideas work and change I will share with you.  I do not think that this work space will happen all day. It will happen part of the day. I will get to know my students and see what works for them. I am not going to be stuck in a box for my students education. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Who Inspires You?

If you have read my blog a time or two you might have come across the fact that I was not a model student. I struggled academically and with my behavior. I meant well but I was too busy to stay still and not talk. I had my desk moved away from other students all of my school years except second grade.

I had my "favorite" teacher in 2nd grade. I walked in on the first day and she said "Ashley, I have heard all about you and I am so happy to have you in my class."  She made learning interactive and fun. She is who inspired me. I loved learning but she made me love school with her loving classroom and caring personality. Plus everything thing she did was so much fun. Mrs. Tabor is someone that I have thought about over and over growing up when I needed a positive educational experience. I moved schools after I had her and she moved out of state that same year. I would love to connect with her again to let her know just how much she inspired me even now. Thank you Mrs. Tabor for your patience, believing in my success and making learning so much fun.

Thats me right next to the teacher in the Brownie uniform

My mom is retired teacher. She taught special education in a self contained classroom. My mom wanted to insure that her students had the best tools in place to make them successful. A lot of this expertise filtered down to me and my educational experience. She wanted me to have the most successful education that I could have despite my educational difficulties. She was educated in the areas, knew the law, knew the policies and was not afraid to advocate for her daughter (Thanks Mom!!! Sorry Teachers!!!) Even now my mom is a daily sounding board for my classroom. She occasionally volunteers in my classroom but mostly she helps take care of my girls so I can teach! She continues to inspire me. I look back on what I took for granted or didn't understand and I realize how amazing my mom was as a teacher. How many students she lead to success. She even has students call her and check in that are now in their 40s. I feel so blessed to have her as resource and call her my mom!
A recent pic of my mom and I

I am attending InnEdCO which is a technology in the classroom for Colorado teachers. A few teachers from my school wrote a grant and our PTCO funded this for us! The keynote speaker was Jonathan Mooney . He rocked my teaching world. I can't express how much his story resonated with me. I was a crying mess during and after his presentation. I got it together and ended up in his question and answer session. I cried again. Then I called my mom and thanked her for advocating for my education and cried again. Here is why: Jonathan who is a dynamic speaker, published author and a Brown graduate was a student who struggled. He hated school, he had academic problems and behavior problems. He is now an advocate for how to use our technology to reach those learners. He credits his success to some of his teachers and his mom to me this was my mom and Mrs. Tabor. He has two books READ THEM!!!! He has two DVDs WATCH THEM!!!

Here is the biggest inspiration part: I asked myself if I was an effective teacher for students like me? Was I an effective for students like him? Why wasn't I? How could I change? My whole thinking shifted. Those parents that you dread an email or a conference with just became in my mind parents advocating for their children ( like my mom, like I will do) I want to develop the relationship with the parents at these difficult times. I want to say " I realize you are advocating for your child, I am too, how can we do this together." Not "I AM THE EXPERT LEAVE IT TO ME!" (Anyone else been there?)

Here to this next year approaching education in this way! I can't wait! ( Well I can until August, lets not rush summer!) Thank you Mrs. Tabor, thank you Jonathan THANK YOU mom! Please feel free to join me and link to who and what inspires you!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer Guilty Pleasures

One of the things about summer vacation is I actually have time to blog until my heart is content. I also have time for other "guilty" pleasures. I am linking up with my friend Nichole at the Craft of Teaching and  Miss V's Busy Bees to bring you some of my summer time guilty pleasures.

My first summer time guilty pleasure is Otter Pops! I love them, my hubby loves them and now my kiddos love them. I eat way more than I will ever admit. I LOVE them when they are just a little slushy too! Yum!!!! I think I need one now or.........six........

Wine on the deck is my other favorite guilty pleasure. On a nice summer night we will sit on the deck next to the fire, drink wine and listen to music. This is one of my favorite times with my hubby!

Thank you for reading about my guilty pleasures ( The ones I admit to.) I would love hear yours! Comment below!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tell All Tuesday: Teacher Bucket List

I am linking up again with the wonderful ladies at Teach Talk Inspire and My Day In K for Tell All Tuesday. This week is my teaching bucket list. I feel like this list could be a mile long, but I am choosing just a few!
Reading Specialist: 
Teaching reading is my passion. Working part time I split my subjects with another teacher and I teach reading. When we made the split I knew I would be willing to trade social studies for science but I would not budge on me teaching reading. I love to unlock that world for students that aren't wonderful readers. I love to build skills and explore with the kiddos that are strong readers. I have my minor in reading instruction. Someday I would love to be a reading specialist. I only need a few more credit hours to get there. 

Did I mention I love reading? For the same reasons as above I want to unlock this wonderful world for kiddos. The position is open at my school and I want it...... but I also want to still teach part time and 3rd grade. I have confidence that if its the right thing for me God will open this door again. 

Masters Degree: 

I would love to get my Masters Degree in one of these subject areas. I think having more knowledge in these areas would be so helpful. I also want to be a life long learner! 

What are some of your teaching bucket list items? 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Dare to Dream

I am linking up again this week with the Seller Challenge from Teach Create MotivateSparkling in Second GradeThird in Hollywood, and Peppy Zesty Teacherista.  This week is dream big! What I would like to see from my Teachers Pay Teachers business?
1. I work part time so I can spend more time with my girls. It is the best of both worlds! I would love for TpT to completely make up my salary meet my part time wage and my old full time wage. That way I could help contribute to my family and my sweet hard working husband would not have so much weight on his shoulders. 

2. My girls are wonderful and I would love to say they will get full ride scholarships to college but who knows what will happen in the next 16 years. I would really like for TpT to pay for their college! Any college they would like to go to! 

Thank you for reading about my dreams! What are yours?  

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Seller Challenge and Father's Day

I am joining up and taking the TpT Seller Challenge! This wonderful idea was from  Teach Create MotivateSparkling in Second GradeThird in Hollywood, and Peppy Zesty Teacherista week was make over madness! I worked all week making over 23 products from my TpT Store. Most of them were to fix the covers and some other updates that were way over due!  I am not going to show you all 23 make overs but I would love for you to head over and check them out!  Here are a few over them!

So what do you think? I really thought the the first covers were hard to read and now you can see what you are searching for! 

My Husband with our girls. 
Okay tomorrow is Father's Day! I am celebrating with my two favorite fathers! My hubby and my dad! 
My Dad with my girls and I 

My family in line at Cedar Point 
Here are some ways you can celebrate!

Father’s Day Freebies:

 World’s Best Dad Award Freebie
Here’s a great last-minute way to say “you’re awesome!” Download this FREE World’s Best Dad Award, print it at home, and serve it up with dad’s morning coffee. 

 Daddy, You’re the Best Freebie
Give Dad the unique gift of hands-on bonding time with this daddy song, quilt project, and fishing activity.  

 Dad-approved educational toys:

NEW on Educents
Tegu Blocks are quickly becoming everybody’s favorite magical blocks. Build a structure that can can defy gravity!  

Minecraft Summer Camp
Campers will learn how to mod, how to make their own YouTube videos, and have a whole lot of FUN this summer! 

Magic School Bus Science Club
Receive a ready-to-go science experiment every month for a YEAR.

Happy Father's Day! 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Coming Clean on About Tell All Tuesday

The Two Truths and a Lie has to be one of my favorite ever link ups! Thanks to the two talented ladies  My Day in K and Teach Talk Inspire that dreamed it up. I giggled to myself as I read each comment.  So now it is time to come clean:

Number one: My art work has appeared on a billboard. I won a contest and was featured, it was a highlight in my childhood even though they spelled my name wrong. I painted a pueblo. The crazy thing about it is that instead of blowing up the submission. I had to paint a full sized billboard in my living room.

Truth! I won a contest in 5th grade. All details are true too. Here it is: 

Number Two: I was in a short lived reality series about people who were amateur chefs Called Trying to Bake It. It was on Food Network a few years ago. I was chosen because I wrote my own cookbook called Tailgating Specialties.  I LOVE to cook and if I wasn't a teacher I would be a professional chef. 

Lie: Do love to cook and I would love to be a chef however I have not written my own cook book or been on Food Network. I love that several people thought this was real because it would be so cool if it was! Thanks to my sweet husband for helping come up with this lie. 

Number Three: I performed in my own rendition of Achy Breaky Heart on public access television. I was sure that Billy Ray Cyrus was the next big thing. You can still find me singing the one hit wonder any time there is a karaoke mic in front of me. 

Truth: I loved Billy Ray! I was part of a dancing and singing group that was given the opportunity to perform. Each of us choose our own acts and performed. I picked the outfit, made up the dance and went to town! The video was even shown at my wedding rehearsal. 

I even saw him in concert

Check out all of that sass and the stylish outfit.

I have sang it several times since. ( A fact I am not sure I am proud of.)

Another thank you to my wonderful mom who dug up all the pictures that I needed for this post! I am off to see what the other bloggers had to say about their truths and lies! Thank you for checking in and playing along! 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tell All Tuesday

I am linking up for a really fun linky from My Day In K and Teach Talk Inspire it is Tell All Tuesday and this week is Two Truths and A Lie! So you will read my three "facts" and in three days I will you whats what!

Number one: My art work has appeared on a billboard. I won a contest and was featured, it was a highlight in my childhood even though they spelled my name wrong. I painted a pueblo. The crazy thing about it is that instead of blowing up the submission. I had to paint a full sized billboard in my living room. 

Number Two: I was in a short lived reality series about people who were amateur chefs Called Trying to Bake It. It was on Food Network a few years ago. I was chosen because I wrote my own cookbook called Tailgating Specialties.  I LOVE to cook and if I wasn't a teacher I would be a professional chef. 

Number Three: I performed in my own rendition of Achy Breaky Heart on public access television. I was sure that Billy Ray Cyrus was the next big thing. You can still find me singing the one hit wonder any time there is a karaoke mic in front of me. 

Comment below with which one you think is a lie! 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Meet Up Recap

We had our Mile High TpT meet up last Saturday and it was so much fun! Last summer I got to meet some of the lovely CO bloggers and TpTers. I have been wanting to do another one ever since. Through out the planning process I was able to see how many talented TpTers there are in CO.

This meet up became a labor of love and we were able to add more people to our group and gain some awesome goodies! If you want to know more about the planning that went in to it you can read about that here. 

The Meet Up was at the Rio Grande Restaurant in Highlands Ranch, CO. I LOVE this place it is our go to spot for dinner. They were so awesome in accommodating our group.
Mary from Teaching With A Mountain View and I

We enjoyed a yummy lunch and had a chance to visit. I was able to sit next to a few ladies from last year and meet some new ones! I am so glad I did (did I mention the talent yet?) I have been blog stocking these ladies since the meet up (you know you do it... I just admit it!)

We did a favorite school supply exchange. You brought your favorite and left with someone elses. This was fun. I ended up with skinny Mr. Sketch and I brought giant post its because I use them for EVERYTHING. We had a fun variety of them from binders, staplers and whisky (HA!)

Then we gave away the awesome raffle prizes from our very generous donors.

Learning Resources was so generous! What a wonderful company with so many great educational supplies to offer. We got subject magnets and I am already planning a spot in my classroom for these. We got scented pens from scentco brand. A seat back pocket organizer, I have used these on several occasions in my classroom.  Some very cute magnet clips, I cannot wait to use these. I am constantly looking for a good clip to use in my room. They also donated some engaging games for the classroom. 

Little Knits has the cutest Etsy shop. The pencil scarf was a perfect gift for teachers. 

Lakeshore has been my go to for educational needs since I started teaching. It was so nice to be supported by them.

I love scented school supplies. Its the child inside of me that still is giddy about sparkly scented supplies. They offer great fundraisers for your school too. I did one a few years ago and the students loved it! 

BIC was another generous company. They have so many great school supply products and we got to sample four of the latest! They are also working hard on a campaign called Fight For Your Write. Read about it here.

Do you GoNoodle with your class? These fun brain breaks are great for every classroom. My class loves to GoNoodle and grow their creatures! 

I was lucky enough to win one of these adorable teaching shirts. I have been wanting a cute teaching shirt forever and now I got one! Plus she designed our collaborative blog shirts. 

This is a wonderful Etsy shop! It is full of great stuff for your classroom but I love all of her cute and creative items. She donated the cutest pencil banner which was a hit! 

I love my Classroom Friendly Supplies Pencil Sharpener. This is a must in every classroom, it eliminates all of the pencil drama. I have blogged about it a couple of times but you need one!

Kristy is the very talented designer of my blog. She also designed my logo, business card and banners. She is wonderful and so easy to work with. Leah the winner was so excited! If you need a design service she is the one to turn to! 

This is a great online planning resource for teachers. If you are looking for a way organize your classroom check this out.

We also raffled off goodies from our wonderful CO sellers!

We all left with an amazing bag full of goodies! We got pens and pencils from BIC. Magnets, clips, pens and seat back pockets from learning resources. Pens, a lanyard and the bag from GoNoodle! Guess what? You have a chance to win one! 

I am linking up with some of the other CO sellers to give you a chance to win one of five of our meet up swag bags! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I am linking up with several of the other CO TpTers. Check out their Meet Up Recaps!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

June Currently

I love June! To me it means it is finally summer and it is my birthday month so I love June! I am linking up with Oh Boy 4th Grade for the June Currently.

She would also like to raise some funds for the floods in Wimberly so check that out here. Donate to help if you can!

Here is my Currently:

I am currently really enjoying summer! I am hoping for lots of fun ahead this summer. Go link up! I would love to know what you are currently doing!

Monday, June 1, 2015

How I Started Blogging

I am linking up with I Heart 3rd Grade to tell you why I started blogging!

I started my blogging journey fourish years ago. When I took maternity leave my blog did too. Lets face it my blog took an extended leave which was kinda sad but I was pregnant with twins, teaching full time and I was tired. Then I had twins...... fast forward two plus years and I think I can finally blog regularly again.
My girls and I

It all started when I was teaching first grade. I was not comfortable in first grade. It wasn't something I had done before, I was at a new school with very little curriculum, I had to do something and I turned to the internet. Pinterest was just starting out and I knew I had to have someone "teach" me how to be a first grade teacher.

Through the power of the internet I feel in love with two first grade bloggers! I discovered more and I MADE IT THROUGH THE YEAR, thanks to Cara Carroll at First Grade Parade and Kristin at Teeny Tiny Teacher.

Since they helped me I thought maybe I had an area of expertise that others would benefit from. I was teaching at the nations first 1 to 1 ischool. So I started my blog with a technology in the classroom focus. That's where First Grade Smart Cookies was born. My firsties were Mrs. Cook's cookies and I blogged like crazy. It was before my girls were born and it was my baby! Then I moved to back 3rd grade (Can I get an AMEN? ) and changed to Teaching In Bronco Country. This was a name that would go with me as long as I was teaching and which ever grade I was teaching and was also very me! I am a diehard Denver Broncos fan and have been since birth!

This was also a place I could share my Teachers Pay Teachers store but it isn't the only focus of my blog.  Sometimes I forget that! Here is my very first post. 

I did my first two blog designs by myself. I was so excited when I worked with Kristy at KristyBear Designs to create a fun blog design that was truly me.  Here is what Teaching In Bronco Country used to look like.

Through the blogging world I have connected with other bloggers, had wonderful opportunities in my classroom and challenged myself to be a better teacher.  I love link ups, blog hops, instagram and all of the other great ways to discover the amazing teachers out there.

Do you blog? How did you start?