Friday, July 30, 2010

The Power of the Sharpie

Every July/August, I LOVE shopping school supplies!!!   There is something about the new box of sharpened pencils, the smell of a fresh box of Crayola crayons, with crisp points that have never been used.  There's the choice of decorative journals and spiral notebooks, fun folders, and now my favorite...the SHARPIE.  There is nothing like opening up a new package of sharpies.  I LOVE the ultra fine points for writing, the fine points for outlining, and all the vibrant colors.  In my classroom, I have stainless steel buckets filled with multi-colored and multi-tipped sharpies for my treasures to use.  Looking at them, its a bouquet of sharpies brightening any desk, any shelf, any project, and any work of art.  Sharpies make everything POP, and  have a definite purpose when used correctly.

    One of my first mini-lessons (besides making sure caps are on tightly:) when using Sharpies is to place scrap paper underneath because Sharpies can bleed through and leave marks.   Sharpiesare meant to be permanent and cannot wash away.  When I'm not careful I've been known to have Sharpie marks on my hands for days, or worse it leaves marks on the furniture.  Our words are like Sharpies.  Words can be teasing, hurtful, unkind, and with sarcasm that leave marks like black scribbles deep inside us.  Words that build up, words that are kind, words that show us we are special...these are like the beautiful masterpieces that colorful Sharpies make.  They are permanent, but we want to share with everyone.  Our words change those around us and are like Sharpies.  What color will your words leave?

I've been reading The First Six Weeks of School and The Morning Meeting Book from the Responsive Classroom this summer and will be working on slowing myself down, slowing my treasures down, and creating a safe, warm atmosphere in my classroom.  The whole premise is to begin with predictable structures and to teach everything, routine and structures beginning on Day One.  How to use a pencil, how to use sharpies, how to line up, walk in the halls, EVERYTHING!!  I do many of these things, but am prone to rush into curriculum too fast!   I found the Sharpie analogy on another "mom" blog I've been reading, and will use it to begin having discussions about the power of our words, and to think about the marks my own words leave on my students.

I'm also in the process of painting two sharing rocks for our Morning and Closing Meeting.  The morning rock will be brilliant, with bright colors to depict the endless possibilities that we will begin to learn and share throughout the day.  Each child will hold the rock,share something, and pass it around the circle  before we begin the day.  The Closing Rock will be colored in soothing colors like blues and purples because  I've  never mastered the end of the day, and it's always chaotic and CRAZY!  By having a closing meeting (with a "soothing" rock), each child will go around the circle and share something they are proud of for that day.  I'm excited to try a Closing Meeting and see how it works, and I will definitely be using the Sharpie analogy!  What are some ideas you are going to try this year to build your community?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thoughtful Thursday

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and proclaiming, 
'Wow, what a ride!!!'"

Monday, July 12, 2010

Changed Lives

Last year at this time I was volunteering at my church's Vacation Bible School, and wrote about a friend J, who needed teachers to recognize his special gifts.  Because my friend Debbie and I stopped to see how J was unique, he had a fantastic week.  I realized then that by serving and giving of my time, I made a difference in that one child.  It was my way of paying it forward.

It's that time of year again, and I had another one of those "special moments!"this morning at VBS.  A young man, much taller than I (who isn't?!) was picking up his sister, when he smiled and said Hi.  Smiling back, I heard him say to his sister, "Is that Mrs. Archer?"  So, I stopped and said, Yes!  I recognized him, but his name was on the tip of my tongue, but couldn't find it.  My first year in Dublin, I had this young man in my class and now he is in college, running track, and made the Nationals this year.  Amazing, on two levels:  1) He still recognizes me or I haven't changed since then! 2) He has come full circle and taken advantage of all life has and is making a difference in the athletic field.  His twin brother, from another class then, is playing football at another university.

What a great moment when he hugged me, introduced me to his sister, and shared with me his life celebrations.   Teachers, we are changing lives! We may not see the fruits of our labor immediately, but we are changing lives every day.  Remember that during those frustrating, overwhelming moments in September and recognize we are making a difference.
To Whom Much is Given, Much is Expected.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I Learned Something New!

Summers are all about family!!   I began reading blogs of families who have made a difference and are celebrating small and big moments in their lives. One mother used One True Media to create a montage that left me teary-eyed each time I watched it. I wanted to try it myself, yet the downloading pictures and cameras are challenging for me. (Perhaps it's the way my engineer husband set up the picture files and process! Not blaming, I'm just saying:)!!) So, I haven't been sleeping, not because of caffeine(I've cut WAY back!), just cannot quiet my mind and I find myself working on the computer at all hours of the night. I began working on this a couple nights ago, had too many pages open, and closed out without uploading all the pics. That's multi-tasking for you and frustrating to say the least. Tonight, I was able to upload them, find music that I love, edited and sequenced them, and finally learned how to embed it into a blog. I'm excited about the possibilities and so proud of myself>

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thoughtful Thursday

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
I saw this quote, and then played around with the formation.  While the message is strong and purposeful above, look at what happens when I add line breaks...

Finish each day and be done with it. 
You have done what you could. 
Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; 
Forget them as soon as you can. 
Tomorrow is a new day; 
Begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Powerful...something to think about...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Technically Speaking...

I am on vacation, technically speaking. As a teacher, I feel so blessed to have the summer to relax and refuel. Since school has been out, I have thought, planned and toyed with ideas for the upcoming school year, but not seriously because...I am on vacation!

Tonight, however, I met at a colleague's house with some really smart teachers to talk about how to use technology in our classrooms. I was able to play with an Ipad and a Kindle. I learned more about Flickr, Imovie, and Twitter. I even visited some kid created blogs. Two smart teachers in our group each have really smart, tech-savvy kids who created cool blogs about things they care about. We talked about our summer professional development opportunities and planned for upcoming events. I learned a lot and I had fun with my "tribe" even though...I really am on vacation!

Sunday, July 4, 2010


After complete relaxation on a beach vacation, minus internet, blackberry, and phone connections...more on that later:(, I've found I cannot sleep once I'm home and have access to the outside world!!! It's 2am and I've been keeping up with some family blogs and saw how darn cute their layouts were.  So...I explored and found a wonderfully easy site if you want to change up the layout of your blog.(I like these better than the new improved blogger changes!)

 The Cutest Blog on the Block offers so many options for changing the layout of your blog, adding banners, buttons, and these blinkee things (check out below:)... all for the low,low cost of FREE.  You can even change your Facebook or Twitter background if you want.   There's more I want to try at a later time, but I'm liking the changes I've made.  Hopefully, Lisa does too when she checks out our blog!!!  Happy Creating!!