Sunday, September 11, 2016

Passion in Portable Land Joins the Ron Clark Revolution!

In my opinion, there is nothing more exciting to a passionate educator than being invited to visit The Ron Clark Academy!  I had been dreaming of going to RCA ever since Ron Clark started inviting educators to tour his Amazing School.  I also love reading blogs about the life changing experiences that other teachers had after their visits, and how they were impacted by what they saw at RCA. Since I simply didn't have the $$$ to sign up for a visit myself, I tried to participate in several book studies featuring Ron Clark Books.    

Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to participate in a book study of The End of Molasses Classes by Ron Clark facilitated by my principal, Mrs. Young last spring.   I love Ron Clark books because they are full of fun and exciting ideas, strategies, and solutions for teachers, so I quickly jumped at the chance to participate.

I loved this book and the "extraordinary solutions" that Ron gave to help kids enjoy learning and achieve greatness in your classroom.  Here is one of my favorite parts of the book...

Then after our first group discussion about the book, my principal announced that she was going to take a group of 10 from the book study to visit The Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, GA!!  SHUT UP!!  My heart stopped beating and I had to catch my breath as all of these crazy thoughts ran through my mind.  "How is she going to decide?"  "What do I need to do to become part of this group?" And then fear struck... "What will I do if I'm not chosen?" 

As I looked around the room many of my friends, and coworkers had similar looks on their faces.  I began to imagined all of us fighting over the tickets like crazy Black Friday Shoppers you see on TV! Oh my!

Mrs. Young then announced that she would have a random drawing of names from a hat in front of all of the book study participants.  My heart stopped again as disappointment filled my heart.  I'm just not that lucky and I never win anything.  A few moments later all the names had been drawn and my name was not.  I wanted to cry.

That's right, I wasn't going.  My heart sank so low that I thought I was going to throw up! It was devastating realizing that I wasn't going to get to go.  I was so jealous, but I tried to smile for my coworkers as I fought back the tears of disappointment and told myself that I would just have to save my pennies and go myself eventually.  

Then the unthinkable happened.  One of the lucky winners became ill and wasn't able to go on the trip. The good news is that she is all better now, but last May she was not able to travel.  Mrs. Young was was going to hold another drawing!  This time I didn't get excited and wasn't even remotely hopeful. I couldn't bring myself to attend the second drawing.  I had made peace with the reality that I wasn't going at this time and I was alright with it.  

Guess what?? My name was drawn! Thank goodness you didn't have to be present to win!  After hearing this news I was a little shocked, and felt like it was all too good to be true.  I tried to keep my excitement contained, just in case something went wrong.  It wasn't until we were all standing in front of The Ron Clark Academy Gates that I let the excitement take hold!! 

My view upon arrival!  The front gates of RCA!  I felt like a crazed Elvis Fan in front of Graceland.  RCA is to teachers what Graceland is to Elvis fans! WOW!

Here we all are waiting to enter!  I'm in the front holding coffee!  Mrs. Young is on the right and Rosey is on the left holding the book!

I was so overwhelmed by the whole experience that I didn't get any really good pictures! Everything was so fast paced and full of energy that I simply tried to take it all in like a sponge! The only regret that I have is that I didn't get a picture of me with Ron...but I did get "Slide Certified" and I jumped on the trampoline! Thank goodness one of my coworkers recorded me on the trampoline.  Its a hoot!  This was the first 30 minutes of entering RCA!! 

I encourage every educator to read Ron Clark's books, visit his website, watch his school's YouTube Videos, and try to save your pennies to visit his school.  The Revolution is growing and you are going to want to become a part of it!  

Stay tuned to Passion in Portable Land throughout the 2016-2017 school year as I document my part in the Ron Clark Revolution!    

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Currently April 2016

April already??? I missed February and March! So much for my New Year's Resolutions to blog at least once a month! Ha!  Time flies when you're having fun!  I'm linking up with Oh Boy It's Farley for her monthly Currently Linky Party!

Here's what I'm during currently...

I'm listening to a large flock of Sandhill Cranes flying overhead searching for a large field or yard to begin their morning feeding.  It's early on this Saturday morning and my husband is still in bed and I'm enjoying a bit of fresh air before the rain arrives.   It's a comfortable 70 degrees with thunderstorms looming in the distance.  You know what they say, "April showers bring May flowers."  

I'm loving the fact that spring is here and soon my pool will be warm enough to swim in.  It won't take long now that we are having temperatures in the high 80's and low 90's on a consistant basis.  I can't complain really. I live in paridise! I do wish my pool was heated so I could enjoy it more during the winter months...maybe someday.  

I'm thinking about which book I should start reading first this morning.  The only thing I love better than reading/napping by the pool is reading/napping on the chase lounge when it's storming! Here are my options...

Nicholas helps me to relax and unwind, and 
Ron motivates me to lesson plan & create!

I've already started the Ron Clark book, but love to reread his wonderful words of encouragement and ways to bring excitement into the classroom.  Lord knows we all need it right now with all this crazy mandated FSA (State Testing) here in Florida! 

I'm desperately wanting to know when my son will return from his first deployment overseas.  My daughter knows, but she's not telling!  They are trying to surprise me, but the suspense is actually killing me inside!  This is a picture from the last time I hugged my boy...sniff.

I'm needing to finish lesson plans for next week and to clean my house!  All this state testing has me down in the dumps! Its zero fun!  I hate it and so do my poor students! YUCK!  Oops, there goes my blood pressure right through the roof!  This is why I NEED to plan fun lessons for my kiddos!  Then there's the whole house cleaning problem...ugh.  I don't want to talk about it...

Whatever!  Who cares about needing to clean the house because my pool screened in area is going to receive a face lift this week!  Whoop! Whoop! We've got some serious screen rips and holes going on out there, and with the amount of insects, snake, and other critters here in Florida you don't want that!  It will be perfect for when we throw my boy a huge pool party when he returns!  I can feel my blood pressure starting to come back down to normal.  

What are you currently doing this April 2016?  

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Currently January 2016!

Today I'm joining Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for her Currently Linky Party!

Currently I'm enjoying having the time to read, blog, and create without feeling guilty about not spending time with my hubby.  He is content with watching an English Premier League Soccer Game across the house.  I can hear the announcer in the background, but the rest of the house is quiet...

I love having appointments, no demands, just time to do what ever I want or nothing at all...

I'm thinking that I should really begin to lesson plan, I'm wasting this time, and that I won't have anymore time once the alarm clock sounds Monday morning. But, I just can't bring myself to start yet...

I'm hungry.  I've had a cup of coffee, but I'm wanting something sweet. There is a piece of coconut cream pie calling my name, but I've had so much junk over the last 10 days...I also want to fit into my pants on Monday...

The Holidays are over so I guess I need to take down all the decorations.  If I don't do it today, then it won't get done until...Lord only knows!

My one little word is balance because that is the word that I need to try to capture in my life.  I try and try, but balance never seems to stay within my grasp...

Friday, January 1, 2016

Five for Friday Link up 1-1-16!

Happy New Year!  I'm starting 2016 off with Kacey @ Doodle Bugs Teaching!   for her Five for Friday Linky Party...

I'm having my own New Year Linky Party and I want you to join me as we remember & reflect on the best and worst of 2015 and set new goals (resolutions) for 2016!  

I managed to cross two home improvement projects off my list over break.  First, I finally finished painting the Pantry in the kitchen.  It was a bright blue and didn't match the rest of my kitchen and needed to be cleaned out and organized! What do you think?

Second, My husband and I finally purchased a new bed!  We went from a queen to a king sized bed and with a Hybrid Mattress!  My husband has serious back problems and I believe our old mattress was causing 80% of them!  We are finding it very difficult to get out of bed in the morning it is soooooo comfortable!  Ahhh, Heaven!

My son was recently meritoriously promoted to Cpl while on deployment in the Middle East.

I'm having a sale!  Everything in my TpT store is 20% off until Monday!  

I'm going to end with fun pictures of my New Year's Eve!  

First, a picture of my mom & me. Mom recently came to live with us and I'm so glad she is here!  

Mom has the cutest little dog, Sammy!

I can't leave out my hubby, Al and our 4-legged child, Charm!

Both dogs were afraid of all the loud fireworks exploding in our neighborhood last night. 

Hope your New Year is Bright!  

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2016 New Year Remember, Reflect, & Goal Set! Linky Party!

Good Bye 2015 and Hello 2016!  It's hard to believe that another year is coming to a close and a New Year is about to begin.  

I created this Student Goal Setting Packet last year for my 4th Grade students, and they loved setting goals (New Year Resolutions) for themselves.  I decided to update the packet for the 2016 New Year!  It's an excellent writing activity to help students get back into the swing of things after the long winter break. You can find it here at my TpT Store!

I also find myself wondering where has all the time gone, what did I actually accomplish during 2015, and what goals can I set for myself in 2016? 

 Sounds like it's time for ANOTHER NEW YEAR LINKY PARTY!!  

I really enjoyed last year's Out With The Old & In With The New Linky Party, so I thought maybe I would give it a try again this year. It is my hope to inspire more bloggers to spend a little time remembering and reflecting on 2015 then going ahead and setting new goals for 2016!  I'll start...

Questions to ponder as you remember...
1.  What were the best memories of 2015?
2.  What do you remember most about 2015?

My best and most powerful memories of 2015 are...

First, my husband & I celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary!  We had a magical night! My husband, Al, made sure everything was very romantic.  We spent a lot of time talking about our future as "Empty Nesters" and what we wanted to do.  My sweet hubby wanted to spend more time together because he was worried that we would grow apart. 

25th Wedding Anniversary 1/6/2015

 This warmed my heart, and of course I agreed.  As I look back on 2015 here is what I remember the most...I blogged only TWICE!  What?  Yep, you read that correctly.  I went from 34 blog posts my first year to only 2 during my second year.  However, I spent a lot of time enjoying my husband, family, and friends.  We didn't do anything super amazing, just enjoyed each other, family, and friends.  It was wonderful! 

Trips to Disney World

Orlando City Soccer Games

We were invited to hang out with my daughter and the "Cool Kids"

Enjoyed Several Craft Beer & Wine Walks

Spent time together being silly or hanging with friends!

Then my son came home for a visit before his deployment to the Middle East

I'm crying in this picture...trying to stay positive, smile, and say good-bye.  Not easy for this Marine's Mom!

Thank Goodness my daughter is close by for frequent visits that make me smile!!

Now it's time to Reflect on 2015.  I went back and looked over the goals that I had set for myself.  They were...

1.  My first resolution of 2015 is to try and not break any resolutions that I make here today.  Easier said than done, right?  (EPIC FAIL!)

2.  Blog at least once a week in 2015!  Even if it is a quick post just to say hi to my blogging friends.  (Again, EPIC FAIL!)

3.  Publish at least one new TpT product each month.  That's only 12 new products!  I know I can, I know I can!!  (I created and published 6/12 items for my store!) 

4.  Walk/Exercise at least 5 days out of the 7 day week!  (Notice I couldn't give up my M & M's just yet?)  Maybe for Lent...  (I was able to accomplish exercising 3 days a week, and I eventually gave up the M & M's in order to lose 10/20 pounds!)

Questions to ponder as you reflect on 2015...

1.  Did you accomplish any of your goals?
2.  What was good/bad?
3.  What do you want to do differently?
4.  What do you want to change this year?

In summary, I accomplished some of my goals and I had a fantastic year.  In truth, I had modified my goals on 1/6/15 to include spending more time and having fun with hubby! (This was a huge success!!) 

In 2016 I will...

1) Continue to spend time and have fun with my hubby, family, and friends! YOLO!!

2) Try to return to blogging because I really missed it.  Maybe once a month?

3) Continue to create and publish products for my TpT store.  I'm going to keep my once a month goal for this as well.

4) Enjoy life and make the best out of what ever comes your way!

Link up and share your 2015 memories,  reflections, and your 2016 Resolutions!  

Friday, July 3, 2015

Stop!! Don't let your Brain Turn to Mush!!

Summer is in full swing down here in The Sunshine State.  Many teachers & students are enjoying staying up late, sleeping in, swimming in the pool, theme parks, traveling, and of course the beach! As a teacher, I look forward to the summer as a time to unwind, relax, and recharge my teacher batteries.  I try to let go of all the stress and demands of the past school year, but I still worry.

I worry about this very real threat to all students everywhere during the summer.  It's called Summer Brain Drain and it is real!  Google it and see! The results are Shocking!!  An average student can lose between 2-3 months of academic learning during the summer!  That's an average student so I'm afraid to know what happens to a student who is at risk or below level. YIKES!  This is why we spend so much time trying to whip our students' brains back into shape each and every school year.  By the time we have gained back what was lost over the summer a quarter of the school year is gone!  

What can we do to keep our students' brains from turning into mush?  Well, this summer the teachers at my school are working together to try and fight this battle.  First we invited PARENTS and STUDENTS to an End of Year Summer Resource Fair at our school.  

Each Grade level was represented and filled their booth/table with fun activities, websites, games, and other ideas to send home with parents over the summer!  
 3rd Grade Teachers Rock!!

2nd Grade Teachers are so much fun!!

Our school district purchased every teacher a Reading A-Z license and all of our students have access to RAZ KIDS!  Shut-UP!!  No Lie!  For those of you who aren't familiar with the Reading A-Z reading resource website check it out!  Long story short, my students have access to a leveled reading library all summer long and I can track their progress, see what they are reading, and monitor their quizzes! 

For Math we set up our students on the Prodigy Math Game website! This site is free for teachers and students!  They make their money off of parents that purchase game upgrades, but you don't have to purchase anything!  Teachers can track student usage, skills, give assignments, etc...It is amazing and fun!!  

For my rising 5th Graders, I am keeping in touch with them over the summer using Edmodo!  This morning I posted a big shout out to those students utilizing RAZ KIDS & Prodigy so far this summer and praised them for helping fight Brain Mush!  I also told them that we would have a pizza party for all those that participated this summer during the first week of school in August!  

I've also challenged my students with trying to read all 15 Sunshine State Young Readers Award Finalists for 2015-2016!  We are sharing out which books we have read and recommend on Edmodo!  Here is a picture of my Wild Reader SSYRA Book Stack!  I'm starting with Nerd Camp, which was recommended by one of my students!  

Hope your summer is full of fun & sun, but don't forget to help fight Brain Mush!