Friday, July 18, 2014


It's summer time and the living is easy.  The pressure from the long school year is finally leaving me. I love the sunny days and warm nights.  The relaxed atmosphere of my new patio is heaven.

I told myself that I would work one hour a day (if I'm home) on school work.  It really has been a great plan.  There is no pressure if I miss a day or two and I'm accomplishing tasks that I always say I'm going to do.  Hopefully, I'll be getting a new Smart Board this fall so I've been doing lots of research to be prepared for it, like watching videos and webinars, reading blogs, and articles about the cool things you can do with the board.  I found a treasure trove of  free Smart Board Lessons Plans already created at   Check it out if you haven't seen this.

I made a stop at my favorite store last week Barnes and Nobel and picked up a couple of great books. Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

........a great book to get kids thinking about engineering.  My plan is to read it and put out all kinds of materials to have the kids engineer some kind of toy.  Love that little Rosie with the hair across one eye.

Another book that I just had to have was Books Always Everywhere by Jane Blatt

.....a very simple book with a simple can read anywhere and that reading is important and fun.  I think I might try to recreate this book with my class using the iPad cameras.  I will have my kids brainstorm ideas of similar pictures and have them take the pictures.  It might make for a great Open House display in the fall.

 Book Talk Tuesday
I've linked up to Book Talk Tuesdays on Mrs. Jumps Blog.  Check out all the reviews of great books here.

 I hope you are enjoying your summer.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Annual Project Tee-Shirt

        It's that time of year again.  My Annual Tee-Shirt Project has arrived again.  I ask my students to send in a new white tee-shirt, usually from Walmart.  I design a tee-shirt using self portraits of my kiddos.  Then I use tee-shirt transfer paper and iron the design onto the tee-shirts.  My class wears them on our field trip to the Tyler Place.  It will be a day to celebrate the end of first grade with loads of fun, swimming, boat rides, hiking and games.  We'll picnic together, too.  We love our time at the Tyler Place every year.  I love that my class is united by our shirts.  I bumped into some parents of former students that I had many years ago in Walmart.  I was getting a few extra white tee-shirts to complete this project.  They mentioned that they still had the tee-shirts from many years ago.  They are cherished mementos from first grade.  That's why I do it.  I'm making memories.

 My cat Ziti apparently loves them.

 Enjoy your week!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

What a Week!

First off Happy Mother's Day everyone.  I hope you were all able to spend some time with or thinking about your moms and hope your kids remembered to honor you today.
    On Tuesday was were treated to a wonderful presentation on farming by our new superintendent Winn Goodrich.  It was exciting to hear him speak of all the things we have been learning about in our unit on farming.  It was great to hear about the different kinds of cows and where they originated in the world long ago.  Mr. Goodrich shared a video of his parents on the farm from a local tv station. It was fascinating and fun.  We enjoyed some yummy Cabot cheese snacks, stickers and booklets about cheese.  Mr. Goodrich had a hand in making the cheese snacks earlier on in his career.  It was a great way to illustrate farm to table for our students.  We welcome Mr. Goodrich to our district and look forward to sharing more first grade events with him.
Check out Mr. Goodrich's Family Farm...Molly Brook Farms

     On Thursday of this week I had my annual Mother's Day Tea.  It was well attended.  I love seeing all the smiling moms.   We sang, served, spoke great thoughts, and created for our moms.  It was an afternoon of genuine love between mother and child.  I would like to thank our fabulous assistant principal, Ms. Casavant who spent time with our class helping to learn the song  Sing (Karen Carpenter).  You know the song....."Sing.  Sing as song.  Sing out loud.  Sing out strong.  Sing of good things not bad.  Sing of happy not sad." .......  It was adorable!
     Part of our event was a slide show of our year together.  Then a video with kids declaring their love for their moms and the special things they do for them.  I get choked up just listening to my kiddos speak about their moms.  It was a special afternoon.  Thanks to all the moms for making an effort to come.
Check out our Slide Show of our year HERE.

Sweet declarations of love!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Non-fiction Writing and Immersion

      The importance of non-fiction materials in the first grade classroom has outweighed fiction for many years.  It has taken me eons to gather non-fiction books and magazine for kids to get their hands on.  I believe that I now have more non-fiction materials than fiction in my own personal collection.  I do have to say that I have an addiction to children's books.  I can see the delight in my students eyes as they open a beautifully written book.  When that book happens to be a non-fiction one the excitement of seeing and learning new things brings the noise level up.  That bit of happiness is what keeps the smile on my face.  I have called my class "smarties" for a long time and write the statement: "Let's Get Smarter!" every day for a class goal.  Non-fiction books make my job easier.
Before the Common Core first graders wrote "reports".  They were very scripted.  I think I did a poor job of selling the importance of the task.  I just wanted to get it done because it was on the list.

I have a whole different view on first graders writing an informational piece.  Though I had all the right materials I wasn't using them to their full potential.  Last week I had the pleasure of attending a great writing workshop with the fabulous Leah Mermelstein.   I love Leah's writing workshop style.  The importance of mentor text is changing how I will teach this genre of writing.

We all know about immersing kids in the content of a topic so that they'll have something to write about.  Leah's focus with us was to focus the immersion on what makes good informational writing in the mentor text. An  aha moment for me.  Yes yes yes....get out those books and scan them for great openings, or topic sentences or the style authors use when writing informational text.  I am completely changed.

Here is Leah in our workshop in Burlington, VT last week.  We love it when she comes north to be with all of us.  Thanks Leah.  Great workshop.  Can't wait to dive into a better session with my kiddos and helping them to "get smarter."

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Grit Do your students have it?

Every day is a new day for me.  I start out fresh with a new outlook on how to create a great day for my students.  It's not easy with all the demands of the curriculum, student lives and daily problems.  Being positive helps to get me through the day.  Some people would say I have grit.  I think it's more of my determination to have a successful day.

The Common Core State Standards is the latest buzz word in education.  Ok so it's really four words but you know what I mean.  One of the skills the CCSS is promoting, is rigor  for  work within the classroom.  Rigor requires determination, stamina, and grit.   Students need that can-do attitude and with a Never Give Up mantra.  Our kids love their tv, iPods, computers, and video games.  The rigor and determination is not part of their daily lives but it needs to be.   My students need to be pushed master skills.   I know that with out the rigor in their daily work they may fall further behind their peers.

I came across this great TED video of Angela Lee Ducksworth speaking about The Key To Success: Grit!  Just the inspiration I need to continue my push in the classroom for more rigor and grit.

Do your student's have it?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

St. Patrick's Day is my favorite holiday.  It's not just because I'm Irish it's because St. Patrick's Day makes me happy.  Everyone seems happy on this day.  There are parades all over the country to celebrate the Irish heritage.

Every year I give my kiddos a project to complete over our winter holiday at the end of February.  I have them create leprechaun traps.  Some kids have a great time creating contraptions with their families.  I love their inventiveness.  Check out 3 contraptions from our class.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Erin Go Braugh!

Oakie Saying Goodbye

Francis J. O'Connor, MD
12-12-24 to 03-08-14
Ireland is a beautiful country with wonderful people.  My grandparents were born and brought up there.    My dad choose to live there for the last 10 years.  He was in love with the country of his ancestors.  Growing up in our family we learned all the old Irish songs and would sing with dad around the piano every Sunday after church.

    This past week I celebrated my dad's life with my 11 brothers and sisters and 12  Irish step-siblings. (That's 24 for those of you who like numbers.)   My dad touched the lives of many as a radiologist/oncologist, a naturalist, a teacher, and as a community leader.  He had happy demeanor and zest for life.  People marveled at his storytelling and loved to be around him.

Two wonderful things happened this week to me.  With the beauty of technology I was able to attend my father's funeral through Google Hangout (Skype) along with my daughter,  2 sisters and a brother.  All my other siblings were able to attend the funeral in Ireland.  It was comforting to be part of the ceremony.  My dad lived an amazing life.  It is his time to rest now.
     Just when I was trying so hard to hold it together my youngest brother Mickey sent us all a video.  He created this video in 2007 of my dad saying goodbye to all of us.  It was just what I needed.  His happiness for life came through.  It was truly a beautiful gift.

Rest in Peace Dad!