Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Our world travel unit continues...

We have now "visited" Mexico, Sweden, England, France and Italy. We are presently visiting Australia and then we will be off to our last country...Germany. As we have traveled we have made many things to help us remember our travels. We have read books, made flags for each country, tried many different foods, worked in special books that integrate math, literacy and social studies. We have participated in many special activities.


We had ham baguettes when we visited France. Kelly and I ate many of these during our stay in and around Paris.


We are already planning for our next unit... Winter and Penguins. I made this snowman game to use during small groups and as a literacy center extension.  Click on the link below to check it out!

Monday, November 21, 2011

I am so proud to announce that Kelly Parrott is now a Nationally Board Certified Teacher! I don’t think I have ever been prouder of anyone in my life. What a journey it was! J I loved supporting her through the process and having one of the most independent people I know rely on me for encouragement and guidance. I loved seeing the realness of the process by watching Kelly evolve as a teacher. She was already so great and how neat it was to watch a master teacher grow even more. WOW! It was amazing.
The “National Board Process” is so different for each person. Regardless of who you are, it is stressful, demanding and time-consuming. If you truly invest in the process, you will grow beyond your wildest dreams. I will never go back to the PERSON I was before National Board. I say person because it didn’t just change my teaching, it changed me. I am now deeply reflective and constantly analyze my life to make improvements in all areas. It is true, I still fall short in so many areas but I am a constant work in progress. Kelly has grown so much in the areas of reflection and writing. It is awesome to look back at where she was a year ago and then look at her today. She has become refined in so many ways. There were many sacrifices along the way but I would make them all again to witness her success. Through her experience, I grew even more. I am so grateful for that opportunity. Our friendship has changed since National Board... and I can honestly say that I never saw that coming. Today, I can tell you that we are more like family than ever before because of the road we have traveled together. National Board Certification is not for the weak or easily overwhelmed. It is for the committed and the determined. It is for teachers who KNOW they have room to grow and change for the better... who want to further develop as educators and people.
Congratulations Kelly... Welcome to the NBCT family! You are an AMAZING teacher! I am so proud of you!! J

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Top of the day to ya lads and ladies! J

Our students have been enjoying all of our adventures around the world and especially our stop in England this past week! We read all about Paddington Bear (and even sent him off for a trip of his own to England with a parent). We enjoyed Paddington’s favorite food... marmalade sandwiches for snack on Thursday.

Marmalade Sandwiches were a HUGE HIT! J

On Friday, we celebrated the English tradition of Afternoon Tea with Our SMART Community. It was amazing! We enjoyed tarts, tea, wassail, cucumber sandwiches, tea biscuits, mini cakes and scones with jam. The children absolutely loved it! Mrs. Parrott and I purchased china tea cups so we can make this an annual event! Our little lads and ladies were all dressed up for the occasion!


Kindergarten... where memories are made!
(Mrs. Parrott and I loved it as much as our students! It brought back such happy memories of our trip to England... and Afternoon Tea @ Harrod's!)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Welcome Gage... we have waited a long time to meet you! :)

Have you ever loved someone you had never met? Our SMART Community has loved a student that most of the students have never met... but we all finally met him last week. Some made cards, some drew pictures and all signed a banner for him. We had waited to add that new student to our community since school started and we have had his picture by the SMART board since August. We are so thrilled to have Gage with us!! Hooray! Welcome to SMART Community Gage... where you have been loved since the beginning! J

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cowboy Day!!

After learning about the farm, fall and visiting Livesay Farms in Porter, Oklahoma… we decided the students would love the opportunity to dress up in their knowledge! Farmers and cowboys came to school last week... we had SO much fun which included a cowboy picnic, cowboy games and some yummy s’mores for snack! It was a great day and I am certain our students will remember it FOREVER! J

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall Math Journals!

I am so excited to share my Fall Math Journal with you! It is an approach to math that I strongly believe in because it is literacy-based and visual! Click on the pic below to check it out!

This is my example on the SMART board!

Here are some student examples! J

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Down on the Farm

We have been learning all about farm and many new vocabulary words like irrigation and combine... we had some fun along the way making these barns! They were adapted from an original idea by TLC Art. When I asked the students what they have learned, I was thrilled with all they understand and remember!

Friday, September 30, 2011

SMART Parent Night was AWESOME!

Here is just a tidbit of what we shared with parents about our collaboration...

The benefits of a collaborative teaching team:

Collaboration in teaching is an up and coming practice that encourages teachers to work together to provide students extra support as they learn. It is the idea that “two is better than one”. Many educators “plan” together which typically means they teach the same themes or curriculum around the same time. Mrs. Weyher and Mrs. Parrott have done that for years but in all honesty, that is surface collaboration. How does that help a teacher to change and grow or evaluate his/her practice? True collaboration is working together for a common goal. Deep collaboration is a step beyond that, where teachers challenge each other to improve how they teach through a combined effort. J

How do students benefit?

~ They have two teachers who work together to support students in both classes.

~ They become flexible learners because they are taught by more than one person, sometimes using different methods or approaches.

~ They establish and build friendships that support them now and in the future.

~ They learn how to work in collaborative groups to complete projects throughout the year.

~ They have two teachers who love them and if one of us is absent, they know their “other” teacher is just down the hall.

~ They become comfortable speaking in front of a large group (40+) of students which boosts their self-confidence in all areas!

~ They will be placed in a small “flexible” groups according to their specific reading skill level where they will receive direct instruction. *Flexible meaning as the skill level changes, they will move to another group. J

When you collaborate with another teacher who you trust and respect beyond words, the result is student success beyond your wildest dreams... and teaching growth that surpasses all expectations! We are blessed to do life together as teachers and friends!

Friday, September 16, 2011

SMART Parent Night...coming soon!

Kelly and I are excited to offer the first ever "SMART Parent Night" on September 29th. It will begin at 5:45pm and last until 6:25pm. We are looking forward to sharing our vision for education and our combined love for teaching with the parents of both classes. We will demonstrate our morning message, used daily. We will have clips of students from last year and this year, involved in various literacy learning activities. Our field trip video (5 mins long) from last year will be shown to show collaboration across the curriculum and how we use vocabulary to teach all subjects. We plan to discuss our plans for Our SMART Community and answer any questions parents have regarding our approach to teaching in tandem. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to present our ideas to parents to further involve them in their child's education!

We teach to inspire... children, parents, our peers and each other.
I can't imagine doing anything else!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back To Kindergarten... SMART Community is in full swing!

Kindergarten is in full swing! We began our SMART Community on the first day of school this year. Our students are AMAZING! They are already reading several sight words and using them in oral sentences. It is so cool! Today, we started Word Wall Necklaces and Vocabulary of the Day. Kelly and I are so excited to see what this year will bring with our new students. Teaching together is the most natural thing we have ever done and our students are benefiting in so many ways already! We are currently in the middle of Literacy First Assessments  and then we are going to flex group our students in small groups. It is going to be a whole new type of community intervention and collaboration! WOOT!!!!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Where did Felix go in France!?

We traveled in the Chunnel on the Euro Star and Felix thought it was REALLY cool!

Felix came with us on the Big Bus Tour of Paris! He was very hot so he stayed in the shade!

Felix saw the Eiffel Tower!

Felix went with us to the top of the Arc de Triomphe! We saw the Eiffel Tower from there!

Felix saw Notre Dome!

Felix went to the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa!

Felix visited the Eiffel Tower!

Felix went to the Palace of Versailles!


Felix went everywhere in Paris with us!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

There is so much to reflect on...

It would be impossible to sit, reflect and write about the entire trip in just one entry. Guess what? I am not even going to try... I think I will begin with all the things I learned during our adventure. :0)

It is funny, really, but it is hard to plan just what you will gain, learn and understand from an experience you have never had. Most people ask, "What was your favorite part?" It is the hardest question of all because it is hard to pick just one thing. The truth is, I embraced the culture... from the people, to the language to the food. It isn't America and you can't expect it to be. That is the true beauty of foreign travel...learning to live and appreciate somewhere besides your own home.

So, what did I learn...

~Less is more... in relation to luggage, clothes, stuff, etc but not in relation to $... you will need a lot of $$ if you travel in Europe. I am beyond thankful that I only took a backpack and a carry on. I would never have made it otherwise. Thanks Marla for REQUIRING that of me! :)

~You need to REALLY live in the moment, embrace all of the differences instead of trying to "fix" them or work around them. I am one crazy ironing woman (for those folks who don't know me well) and we had access to an iron for 4 of 17 days. Guess what? IT WAS ALL GOOD!!!! I truly just went with it! You smile and spray some wrinkle release...Life is GOOD! Why spend time complaining about it... it is so not important.

~England is tidy, BUSY, SO much traffic, beautiful, full of history, it is a mix of old and new, loved the pubs with fish and chips (I had that 3 times), Harrod's is huge, afternoon tea was a dream come true for me, the underground is overwhelming at first but really not so bad, loved the open bus tour, Big Ben is not by the Tower Bridge... I so thought it was, everything is "brilliant"... this word is used often to describe everything wonderful, you should try hot tea with milk... it is very British! Most of all, I learned that there is so much to see in 5 days in England that you can't possibly see it all so choose carefully. Go to Windsor is so beautiful and I loved watching Changing of the Guard without the HUGE crowds. Travel the English countryside... it is like a storybook and so peaceful. If you have an extra day, visit Bath. It looks like a postcard. It is neat to see the Roman Bath and there are many cute little shops to enjoy. England really is BRILLIANT! :)

~France is full of amazing monuments, churches and experiences. Look past the dirty streets and find the beauty of the city! I can't lie... the Metro (subway) scared me silly. The people are not as posh as you think so just be yourself and they are really quite charming. Be sure to stop at a cafe`... my favorite was right across from Sainte Chapelle. We did the Open Bus Tour in Paris too... so worth it and a GREAT way to see all the highlights. The Louvre is totally huge... which I had heard but no really... IT IS HUGE! Pick your favorites and see those or you will spend 5 days there! The Eiffel Tower is beautiful... I think even more magical from far away. Don't hesitate to try as many sweet treats as you can... you will walk off the calories! My favorite treat was a waffle with dark chocolate on top AND chocolate mousse. Both were amazing! My highlight of Paris was hands down, the Arc de Triomphe. I climbed all 284 stairs without complaining... um, that is why I trained for this trip by walking at least 12 miles a week before going. GREAT plan and I highly recommend it! :)

~Germany is a breath of fresh air. It is incredibly beautiful, pristine, friendly and welcoming. The people are precious and helpful. We did 3 tours while in Germany and all were wonderful! We did the Dachau Memorial Tour... very heavy but so meaningful and educational. I learned a ton and I thought I already knew a lot. Castle tour was fabulous! We met a fun travel buddy named Jon who made our day a lot of fun! :) The scenery on the way was just amazing... mountains, huge trees and postcard cottages! It was breath-taking! We traveled on the Autobahn which was a complete surprise and it was TOTALLY AWESOME! I think I need my own BMW to drive next time! On our final day, we traveled by train to Salzburg, Austria. It is a beautiful place as well. We learned about history from our witty tour guide, Ian. We had lunch at Demel... a fabulous chocolate cafe`! I tried several German dishes, including pork sausages in sauerkraut. I am not a sausage girl but what Mom always said is TRUE... you don't know if you like or don't until you try it! I loved it!!! Lots of pretzels... of many shapes, sizes and a variety of different toppings can be found all over Germany. We visited a German school while there and learned so much about their approach to education... so different from the US. PS... in first grade, students still have and hour and a half of recess!!!! Hum... I would take just a third of that for my students! :)

So... what was my favorite thing? This is really not such a tough question after all. Annette Langen... meeting my favorite author and creating a lifetime friendship with her was, without question, the most meaningful part of my journey. It was a magical day, full of delightful and heartfelt conversation. I loved it! :)

I am so thankful for all of the learning experiences, personal experiences and eye-opening moments of this adventure. Fund For Teachers made all of this possible and I will always be so grateful.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Our last moments in Germany...

Just to give you perspective, it is right now, 11:00PM in Tulsa. It is 6:00am in Munich and we are up preparing for our longest travel day in history! We will arrive home tonight at about 7pm Tulsa time. It will be a long 20 hours but so worth it! I have so many more blogs to write about this trip. Our last few days have been filled with incredible adventures to a Kinderhaus and Primary School in Munich, an 11 hour journey across Germany to see 2 beautiful castles and a day trip to Salzburg yesterday.

I can say, without question, that we have met some of the most amazing people on this adventure which adds character and joy to all of our memories. I have huge plans for all we have learned... lots of new and engaging curriculum for students and a new sense of where we live as compared to where we have visited. Our experiences across Europe will not be forgotten and I will have several more blogs about specifics like our visit to the school, etc.

Just to hold to you over... here are a few of the things we captured over the last 3 days.

Some things are the same, even across the world. :)

Germany is beautiful!!!!! :)

See you ALL soon!!!!!!!