Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Student Teachers

Maybe not the kind you're thinking of...

Mrs. Barr's been sick. Like, really sick. Lying in bed all weekend with a hundred and two degree temperature, tummy pain, headache, sore throat, rattling cough, watery eyes, aching joints sick.

Because of the disaster that was Friday, when I had to go home due to the dying, I went back yesterday. I couldn't stand to have someone else cover the class again. So, I rallied. The fever had broken, so I figured the kids were safe, but talking all day left my throat raw.

Today, I decided to take it easy and an idea born of necessity turned out to be something I'll use regularly in class in the future.

To save my voice, I had the kids teach. Multi-step word problems were introduced yesterday and I had planned to go over a practice set (from Front Row-are you using Front Row yet? If not, I strongly recommend you get on it!) with the kids. I was going to guide them through a few and then send them off on their merry way to complete the rest independently. Instead, the kids formed groups of three or four, were assigned one problem from the practice set, and spent 20 minutes solving the problem with their group and figuring out how to teach it to the rest of the kids. Then each of the seven groups taught the class.


Please excuse the blurry photo. It's a still from video. I recorded each presentation because I was so excited and wanted to share it with my teacher buddies at school!

I realize the idea is not super revolutionary, but I'd never tried it. I'm so happy I did!

My only slight disappointment was the learners' engagement. It's really hard to pay attention to someone who's trying to teach something they just learned themselves. The only thing I can come up with is to have the audience follow along with the work on the board on their personal whiteboards.

Otherwise, it was a great success and I just had to share it.

If anyone has any ideas for audience engagement, I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Sunday Scoop

I am so happy to be linking up with Teaching Trio for their weekend linky: The Sunday Scoop!

I've been caught in a whirlwind of work, so what better way to get back in the blogging groove than a super fun, low pressure linky?

Things I have to do:

All boring, domestic  stuff! I've been a workaholic recently and haven't been taking very good care of myself, so I'm going to make sure I prep everything for the week on Sunday so I have what I need at work Monday-Friday. That means healthy food and clean and cutesy clothes to make me feel good about myself.

Things I hope to do:

Ugh. This cold. I've been useless the past few days. Most of the weekend has been spent asleep or trying to sleep. I think it's the end of the illness, but I hope it's completely gone by tomorrow. Regarding the vacuuming, I really do hope I can find the energy to do it. Our bedroom floor is covered in a solid inch of dog fur right now. He's shedding like mad. California has not received the memo that it's fall!

Thing I'm happy to do:

Read something just for fun. I finished This Is Where I Leave You on the very first weekend of Megan's book club because it was SO good. So, I haven't read anything for fun since then. I'm going to choose a new book today to unwind with and get to reading!

I hope you all have a wonderful week!


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Self-reflection 9/14/14

Each morning at our meeting, one of our discussions revolves around self-reflection. What went well? What can we work on?

Not everyone is required to participate, but if someone wants to share, they may. Daily, even in 3rd, we have kiddos who think they can do better. I should work on listening to the speaker. I did better yesterday, but I can still get better at raising my hand to leave my seat. I join the kids in self-reflection, but it's a kid-friendly version and I thought it could do worlds of good for me to actually be completely honest and self-reflect once a week. 

Here we go.

What went well:

*Our introduction to what characteristics a good citizen has to tie in with social studies and first week expectations. On the carpet, we talked about what a good citizen does. Partners shared, we added ideas to our chart, and each kiddo went back to their seat with two Post-its in the shape of a heart. They were to write one good citizen characteristic on each heart. 

While they worked, I hung up a chart split into three categories: Respectful, Responsible, and Ready to Learn. As they completed their hearts, they came up and decided what category their characteristic belonged in. Friends were at the chart at the same time, so discussions were had when individuals weren't sure. A couple kids came to me saying they just didn't know where to put their heart. I told them the class would help them decide and we did. 

As closure, we discussed how most good citizen characteristics belong in one if these three categories and that if we're to be good citizens, we try always to be respectful, responsible, and ready to learn. The lesson also led nicely to a paragraph writing sesh later in the week about how the kids have been good citizens by doing something in each of the three categories. 

The whole lesson went beautifully. 

A good citizen "makes as much peas as possible". Did you hear my heart melt?

*Multiplication! I am so amazed with my kids this year. Multiplication the second week of third grade! And they get it! We started with equal groups last week and are moving into arrays this week. 

What to work on:

*I'm struggling most with work/life balance. I'm giving about 95% of myself to work, 5% to home, husband, and pup and 0% to me. I'm a big "just one more thing!" lady and can already feel its negative effects. 

Any advice on finding time for your spouse and yourself when the to do list is so massive you need to organize your to do list? How do you take a moment for yourself or spend time with family when you're constantly thinking about what you need to get done for work?

Here's to a productive, healthy, happy week! 


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Classroom Reveal

I'm realizing now, as I lie in bed late at night exhausted from the week (it's only Wednesday?!) that the only way I'm going to blog regularly is if it's from my phone. This way I can be in bed without a hot laptop on me in this ridiculously hot summer. 

I also realize that I've been asking too much of myself blog-wise. I require myself to write a long, witty, inspiring post, so if I know I don't have that in me, I do nothing. My new goal is to post something for myself so I can revisit my year in June. 


Here we go. 

I love my classroom. You all should have seen it three weeks ago. My oh my. We just moved into this temporary site while our permanent site is being built. I would post before pictures, but they just make me sad. Thanks to a few lovely parents, my inside walls were painted a cheery blue, which gave me the strength and motivation to make my classroom amazing. It's still a work in progress, but it's a warm, welcoming environment for my kiddos and that's all I really needed it to be. 

My front door will always feature an inspirational quote for myself and the kids. It will change each week. This is one of my favorites and I've had it since my first year of teaching. I'm currently working on getting a year's worth of quotes together in a much more darling display for TPT. 

The back of my library serves as a Where Am I station. Kiddos move their numbers to the left if they're present for the day. They also move numbers around if they individually leave the room, such as to the restroom or to resource. 

My space. I decided to follow a bunch of educators I respect and move away from a desk. I love this area for everything: grading, reconciling paperwork, and meeting with small strategy groups. 

The in progress library, with a beautiful rug which was generously donated by a parent. 

I'll track multiplication facts mastered here. Students will clip along as they pass quizzes. 

Each table has a bin that matches their table color. The bins hold their reading and writing notebooks, as well as their cursive folders. Captains are in charge of taking and returning supplies in these bins. 

I l-o-v-e the way this turned out, but my fans + humidity made the circles curl up. I'll laminate in all my spare time (ha!) to fix it. 

J'adore the focus wall so much! I have the I Can statements in sheet protectors and I just pin them up as they're relevant!

I have a little bit of storage at the front of the room and this has turned out to be a great place to keep my Monday-Friday copies. 

This is Alaska, where kids come to cool off. It is not a punishment. Kids decide when they need a break and they take it. They fill out a form about how they're feeling and try one of the calm down activities in the basket. The Take a Break set can be ordered from Teaching in Progress' TPT. 

View from the front. 

And, while it's not in my classroom I just had to share this photo of our school's garden. It adds something so special, don't you think?

I hope you enjoyed the tour! 


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Back to School Night

Hi all!

I wanted to do a super quick update about how I set up for Back to School Night, since I was super happy with how smoothly everything went, other than everyone dripping sweat due to the extreme heat and no air conditioning combo.

I decided to go with stations since I'd seen a lot of similar set-ups on Instagram. It makes sense to design BTS this way since it's low pressure on the teacher, there's not necessarily a formal presentation, and parents can move at their own pace.

Station 1 was a supply sorting station. I made it station number 1 so folks didn't have to lug their bags around the room with them. I had parents and kids sort their own supplies to save some time for me later on. I used Ashley's supply bin labels on the Sterilite containers. There was even a "money" label, which I'm sure is for math manipulatives, but I was verrrry tempted to put it on an empty container to see what I could get. ;)

Station 2 was for Remind.com sign-ups. I want to stay in contact with my parents and make sure they're up to date on all announcements, so I've encouraged them to sign up. I provided an information sheet, an explanation of the service with a QR code and just a regular, ol' sign-up sheet for folks who wanted me to add them to my list.

Station 3 contained a QR code that takes parents to my Volunteer Survey. I created the survey in Google Forms and assigned a QR code to it to make it easy to access. I also have the survey on my website and a link to a printable version. It's all about the options!

Station 4 was essentially the same as 3, except that it directed parents to a Student Information Survey in Google Forms.

Station 5 was where parents let the school know they'd attended BTS Night by signing in. The adorable tray (from the Target dollar bin) collected the signature page of the Parent Handbook.

At station 6, students and parents chatted with me and grabbed their gift for the night. These delightful pencil tags are a freebie and can be found here. At this point, I also made sure parents grabbed one of our informational flipbooks, which can be found in Lindsey's store. I will, for a fact, be making these flipbooks every year. Not only do they include the information I need parents to know to start the year off on the right foot, they are also so pleasing to the eye and so well-organized. They were a huge hit!

BTS Night was a huge success and I'm so very excited to start the year! I'll be back soon with a classroom reveal.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Teacher Week: Who Monday

Good afternoon, all!

I'm linking up with Katie from Little Warriors and Stephanie from Falling Into First for Blog Hoppin's Teacher Week!

My name is Dawn and I'm a third (and 1/3) year teacher. I taught Kinder in 2007, 3rd in 2008, Middle School English for the last trimester of the last school year, and this year, I'll be back in the 3rd. Phew. My entire professional story is here, if you're interested in all the details, but the short story is that it's been a whirlwind and I'm so SO happy to be back in a classroom and even happier to be back in 3rd.

I live in beautiful San Diego, CA, and have my entire life except for two years when I moved a couple hours north to teach.

Speaking of San Diego, I'm a huge Chargers fan (GO BOLTS!). As a San Diegan, I also love to take advantage of the regularly sensational weather by getting out and hiking. Beyond that, I'm pretty physically inactive (and to be completely honest, I haven't even been hiking lately because I've been working and generally being a lazybones Jones.). It is my hope and my goal to get in better shape.

Here's a photo of my hiking partner and me after a hike.

Outside of teaching, I am a wife and a puppy mama. 

My husband, Dylan, and I have been married almost a year and a half. We've known each other since 2007 and reconnected when I moved back down to San Diego. It was love at second sight. Check out the ornament he made me last Christmas.

The love of my life, other than Dylan, is my pup. Murphy is a rescue and we've had him for a little over a year. He is a source of endless entertainment and frustration and I couldn't imagine life without him. 

He loves when I hold him. It's pretty obvious.

Murphy's favorite place to relax is my face/neck/shoulder. He seems to think he's the size of a Yorkie and snuggles in.

He's not spoiled. He's well-loved.

I can't wait to read through everyone else's contribution to this blog hop!


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Back to School Wardrobe Linky

I'm linking up with Lindsey from Thriving in 3rd for this back to school wardrobe linky.

Before you read on, a few warnings:

1. My hair is terrifying. I went on a lovely hike this morning, followed by acupuncture, so I'm a sweaty mess. But, hey! Authenticity! I'll be a sweaty mess the first day of school, too!

2. I have a stripes problem. I'm aware of it.

3. There are wrinkles. Some of these clothes have been sitting around since June. I've been in yoga pants all summer.

Outfit #1:

Outfit #2:

Outfit #3:

Outfit #4 (with or without sweater):

Outfit #5:

Outfit #6:

Won't you help me decide what to wear the first day of school? Leave your vote in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A (Slightly) Unconventional Path

My career path turned out to be a little different than the standard path. I'd like to share it to give you a bit more background about me.

I knew after a couple of years at a junior college that I wanted to teach. I KNEW it was the perfect profession for me. I loved kids and I loved learning and school, so what else could I possibly be satisfied doing? I began to pursue my Bachelor's in Human Development and a Multiple Subject Credential and was hired a couple months after receiving my credential in a town about two hours north of my hometown.

I was hired to teach 3rd grade, which was my preferred grade, and I spent the summer buying all the cutesy things I thought I needed to be a great teacher. I started teaching at a low income school in August 2007 and, though there were ups and downs, I LOVED it! Fast forward six weeks. Our enrollment numbers weren't great, so I was moved to a different school to teach. Kindergarten. I was...anxious, to say the least. Luckily, everything else went swimmingly after that. My Kinder team were absolute angels and took such great care of me. Look at this gorgeous standards-based (HA!) dress your own turkey project!

I made it through Kinder somehow and was offered a third grade position at the end of the year. I thought everything was fine. I had challenges and was learning from them. My principal and I didn't see eye to eye on everything, but I'm not a troublemaker and I kept my head down. 

At the end of my second year of teaching, I was let go, along with several other teachers from my school. Most of us were in our first or second year of teaching. No real reason or explanation was given to us and it was a shock. Aside from the professional disappointment, my principal said several things in our final meeting that haunt me to this day. They were personal attacks and could not be considered constructive criticism. Most importantly, they were completely untrue. The most hurtful (and the sentiment that runs through my head in times of doubt) was that she was most concerned because I didn't have a relationship with my kids.

I was floored.

Is there anything more painful for a teacher to hear than that?

After the end of the year, I returned home to San Diego and to the job I'd had before teaching: working in the business office of a car dealership. To keep this portion of the story short, let me just say it was not the environment for me. I don't belong in the corporate world, but I stayed for four years because I bought into the idea that I couldn't teach. That I couldn't form relationships with kids.

In July of 2013, I was aching to get back into education. I began to apply for every office job in a school that was posted. I knew I wouldn't teach again, but since I wanted to be back in a school and my background was in an office, I figured that would be a great fit.

I got a response from a little K-8 charter in San Diego a couple of hours after I applied. I went in for a first interview and a second interview. I got hired and I fell in love. I have never in my life been around such warm, caring, energetic, positive people. Never not ever. This was my home. This was where I belonged.

I plugged away at my job, kicking butt in my office duties. Then, after a series of crazy events, I ended up teaching Middle School English for our school's final trimester last year. This year, I'll be in a third grade classroom again.

You guys, I'm tearing up as I type this. Things happen for a reason. If I hadn't been let go in 2009, I never would have left that district. I wouldn't be back in San Diego. I wouldn't be married to my love. We wouldn't have our perfectly imperfect puppy. I wouldn't be so close to my family and my dearest friends.

I wouldn't be where I belong.
At a wonderful school.

Full of bright, shiny, charismatic teachers.

Teaching again in a 3rd grade classroom!

Forming lasting relationships with kids.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Meet the Teacher Blogger Linky

Hi all!

My name is Dawn and I am *justnow* getting started as a teacher blogger, so I'm elated that this linky came along so I could read about all of you and hopefully make some new connections.

My professional path has been a bit unconventional and, as I began to type it out here, realized the length and detail were a bit inappropriate for this post, so I'll bore you another time.

So, here are the basics. I live in San Diego, CA, and have for all but two years of my life. I'm 34 and have been married to my perfect match, Dylan, for about a year and a half. This is the two of us on our wedding day.

We have a puppy named Murphy, who is our greatest joy and simultaneously our greatest frustration.

I'm thrilled to be back in education and to have a third grade class this year!

I can't wait to get to know you all!



I'd feel negligent not mentioning the husband and dog, since they're my life. I also love planning and cleaning (but not dusting because allergies). I'm sort of addicted to Instagram and Pinterest. I also read way too many young adult novels. Hiking is my only athletic pursuit and I love to cook and bake.

If I weren't teaching, I would love to be a personal chef. I get a great deal of joy from feeding people and watching them enjoy what I've created.

Goofy. Intelligent. Loyal. 


"I just need to finish ONE more thing", said no teacher ever. At least not a teacher who meant it.


Anna Kendrick, Richard Brautigan, Winston Churchill.


With a Little Help from My Friends  

 The ability to freeze time, for sure. 


We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. -Kurt Vonnegut


 Gunpowder and Lead by Miranda Lambert because it's so much fun!


Night Owl all the way. Mornings are my enemy. 


I haven't taught since 2009, so my shop is mostly bare right now. Two products! Woo! Since I'm teaching again, I expect to have lots added throughout the year.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to Create a Survey in Google Forms

After reading Jess from I {heart} Recess's post about using Google Forms at Open House, I decided that I need to start blogging since I've started teaching again (yay!) and what better way to start than with a super easy Google Forms tutorial?

The Google Forms I created for back to school night are a student information survey and a volunteer survey. Since I've been out of the teaching game for awhile and have zero resources currently, I used The Teacher's Cauldron's parent survey information for my student information survey and volunteer survey from a variety of sources. Of course, none of which I have available to me now since I gathered the information months ago and had no plans to share. Lesson #1 for me: start keeping records of everything I use that belongs to someone else.

To start a Google Form, simply be signed into your Google account. You'll need to be in Drive. You can either get there from your Gmail homepage:

or just do a Google search for Drive and sign in.

Once you're there, press the Create button and select Form.

You'll be led to a brand spanking new form.

Choose the title and theme you'd like. Let's say that we're creating a volunteer survey. I'll want to make it stand out a bit, so I'll choose a fun, yet professional theme and title it Volunteer Survey.

"Volunteer Survey" and White Poppies it is! (I just realized this, but please don't be alarmed by the number of tabs I have open. This is actually not as many as usual...)

Click OK and you're on your way! The next screen allows you to begin your survey (or quiz or whatever you decide to use it for).

I always make my first question "What is your first and last name?" If you don't, you won't know who your volunteer is. There are many options for types of question, as you can see, but we'll want it to be a text answer for these purposes. I'll show you how you might use another type in a moment.

When you're ready to move on to the next question, add another item.

I use a checkboxes option when I want the options to be predetermined and limited, such as how a parent would like to volunteer. This option also allows the respondent to select all answers that apply to them.

Other options for answers are:
Paragraph Text, which I'll use when a longer answer is required, such as an upper grade essay question on a quiz or on a student information sheet on which you ask the parent if there's any additional information I should have about their child.
Multiple Choice mostly for quizzes. If you think only one answer will apply for your survey, it would also be appropriate there.
I haven't used other options for answers, but please comment if you have and let us know how you used them!

When you're done adding all of your questions, click Done (duh) and your survey is complete!

If you're antsy, you can send the form to your parents/students/whomever right away. If you can hold off, I strongly recommend viewing the live form first. By doing so, you can take a first look at what your respondents will see. Sometimes you'll catch a spelling mistake you missed in editing.

Isn't she GORGEOUS? ;) From here, if you're crazy like me, you can take the survey yourself to make sure everything's running smoothly and then you can send the form out to folks.

The first time you make a survey, you'll want to choose the response destination settings. The default setting is to create a spreadsheet in Drive titled Your Survey Name (Responses). So, in our case, it would show up in my Drive as Volunteer Survey (Responses). Once you have the response destination settings selected, they will automatically be sent this way every time, until you change them. This works for me; you find what works for you.

Here's a glance at that response sheet.

And BOOM! That. Is. It!

It's easy for parents and it helps keep me organized. There's no reason not to try it. I promise the process is not as long and tedious as this post turned out to be. Play around with it! Have fun!

Please let me know in the comments if you have suggestions or questions.