This first week of January has been busy, yet motivating. I want to thank everyone that shared in the journey of my Blogs A-Z. It was hard work, but so much fun. Now, I have a new challenge: The 30 day blog challenge. One of my goals for the new year is to keep the momentum going with this blog and continue building my audience. This Blog Is Why I think I have found a new blogging family (or two) and I am excited for the journey.
If you want to participate or learn more about the 30 Days Blogging Challenge with A. J. Juliani, click the link below. In a nutshell, you will set a goal for yourself to write a certain amount each day and pledge to post X number of blogs per week. There is also a list of other bloggers who are participating (check out #52) so you can read and comment on their blogs for some support/encouragement.
30 Days Blogging Challenge
I will also be a blogger for EdChange Global Classrooms, an online conference. You can register to participate as well. The conference sessions run from February 28th-March 1st (24-hour event). I am excited for the opportunity to share with the #EdTech world about the exciting work in my classroom. Be on the lookout for my blog post in February.
EdCamp Global Classrooms
Last, but certainly not least, I am ecstatic to join the #CompelledTribe. From my initial interactions with this group of educators, the vibe that I get is extremely positive. I have joined and tried some other groups or "tribes" in the past with little success. The group members did not seem to be as dedicated and eventually just fizzled away. You may have heard or seen many people talking about their #OneWord2017. My initial word was "driven" because I am more driven than ever to accomplish the goals that I have set for myself. My discussions about the topic made me think about my runner-up word and "vulnerability" (I stumble over saying this word, even in my head!) was a great candidate. I am looking forward to being more vulnerable in 2017. Not only sharing my successes, but also sharing my stumbling blocks. Those events in life that have made me stronger, more determined and even more DRIVEN. With this new tribe, I am looking forward to sharing ideas, learning from professionals who have a variety of experiences, and of course blogging!
If you are an educator, then I know there are two things we all love: Food and FREEBIES. Well, in this post I will combine the two. Yep. You got it. Free Food!! This Blog Is Why I love celebrating my birthday, but free food makes it even better.
My family and friends really came through this year during the holidays. They know that I love anything with zebra print and red velvet cake. I was a happy girl. My way of showing appreciation and spreading love? For the past two years on social media, I share a post with restaurants that have birthday freebies. Well, since you all are now in my family and friends, I will share it here as well. Do you know any that I missed? Please share and I will add to my list for next year.
BIRTHDAY FREEBIES: I'm eating free all day on my birthday...lol
**New** Jason's Deli $5 off (eClub signup)
Baskin Robbins-free ice cream scoop (join email club)
Dunkin Donuts-free coffee
Dairy Queen-free... blizzard
Olive Garden-free appetizer or dessert coupon (eClub signup)
Waffle House-free waffle
Which Wich-free sandwich (Vine Club signup)
Jersey Mike's-free 8inch sub & drink (join email list)
Zaxby's-free chicken slider sandwich w/Zax sauce (email club)
Arby's-free sandwich w/purchase of sandwich (email signup)
Ruby Tuesday's-free burger (join Birthday club)
Starbucks-free drink (Rewards club members)
Texas Roadhouse-free Sidekick ribs or appetizer (email signup)
Firebirds-$10 off (eClub signup)
Nakato's-free cake & picture
Blogs from A-Z
A- A is For Administrator
B- Breakfast Club
C- Chicken Soup Is For The Mind, Body, and Soul
F- Forty and Fitness
G- Grant Writing
H- Hour of Code
I- I Wish I Had Thought of That (Repost)
J- Jeopardy in the Classroom
K- Keys to a Successful Hour of Code
L- Lessons Learned
M- Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIE)
N- Need a Gift Idea?
O- Oh, The Places We WANT To Go!
P- Principal Presents
Q- Quitting the Profession
R- Recharge Over the Holidays
T- Twelve Days of Twitter
U- Update: Oh The Places...Here We Come!
V- Virtual Sharing
W- What's New in 2017
X- Xtra, Xtra...This Challenge is DONE
Y- Year End Review
Z- Zebra Print, Red Velvet, and FREEBIES
For many, 2016 has left a bad taste in your mouth and you are eagerly looking forward to what lies ahead in the new year. Celebrity deaths seemed to hit an all-time high. As I was preparing this post, I looked over the list compiled by NBC News and was surprised at some of the faces that flashed before me on the screen. The loss of Alan Thicke, Craig Sager, Florence Henderson, and Prince (just to name a VERY few) will forever leave a hole in our hearts. I was listening to a television show that was recapping the year and the question was, "Which celebrity death hit you the hardest?" The answer overwhelmingly was the death of Prince and one of the anchors chimed in, "I didn't think he would ever die. He was supposed to live forever in my mind." But, switching gears, This Blog Is Why the end of the year is a time for reflection and a time to look forward to a new start in the new year. Happy New Year!
In this post, I really want to focus on my 3 Big Take-Aways:
1) The top 3 posts from This Blog Is Why:
Breaking the Ice
Blogs On The Go
Recharge Over The Holidays
I just want to say that these next two come from 4 Pillars Agency, Horace Mann Companies. Over the holiday break, I had a great time playing a game of Jingle, Jingle, Bells (similar to Duck, Duck, Goose) on Facebook. In a photo finish, I won $75 from the contest (some of which was donated to projects on www.DonorsChoose.org). Be sure to check out @HoraceMann services in your local area.
Jingle Jingle BELLS contest (video link)
2) Setting goals with your students using the 2017 goals sheet (link below).
New Year's Resources (freebie)
3) Will you join me in keeping a jar full of good events in 2017? I think this is a great idea!
I finally made it!! This Blogging Challenge is complete. Thank you for hanging in there with me. What a motivating way to make sure I keep blogging and I am happy for all of the events, shares, and holidays that gave me content to blog about! This last one will be short. This Blog Is Why I just want to leave you with two time-sensitive requests:
1) Hopefully by the time you read this, the link you clink on below will say "Hooray! This project is fully funded." Here is the story: Recently, Burlington Stores funded a project that would provide EVERY student in my class with a new backpack. Of course, they had limited funds, so I did not want to be greedy. I only budgeted for the 20 students in my class. Now, the backpacks are on the way and guess what?! Yes, teachers, I know you guessed it. I have a new student and no extra backpacks. This project is to get extra backbacks in case I get any more newbies down the line (and some supplies to go in them because there is a minimum dollar amount on projects, remember I am not greedy). Your support is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Extra, Extra! We Need Backpacks
(Click here to support)
2) Midnight...well 11:59 tonight (December 31, 2016) is the deadline to take advantage of Early Bird registration for the Tomorrow's Classrooms Today Conference at Rider University (May 20, 2017). Yes! I will be presenting at the conference. Hope to see you there.
Facebook LIVE feeds seem to really take off in 2016. At the start of this new feature, I got a little annoyed with seeing them pop up on my timeline (insert eye roll here...I really need emojis in my blogging options). Now, Live feeds can be found on just about every Social Media platform. Well, you know the old saying: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Sooooo, I am excited to announce that in 2017 I will host my own LIVE channel. This Blog Is Why I hope you will join me because I would love to chat with you.
Link for MsClassNSession LIVE
Social Media can sometimes get a bad wrap. But, for those of you who are risk-takers, dreamers, or just plain curious, it can be a wonderful educational resource. Since my journey started, I have made some wonderful connections and the professional impact is beyond words. Each day I come across a gem or two and I try my best to share them. This Blog Is Why I am ending the year with some virtual shares that I hope everyone can take advantage of in some way.
(I can see us now on that first day back!)
Thank you @edutopia!
Back to school activity: Post photo and ask "Which one doesn't belong?"
(Courtesy Ayodele Harrison)
Just for administrators. Don't want to leave anyone out!
I know in the past I have shared with you my new love for www.donorschoose.org, an amazing resource for teachers to get materials for their classrooms. Well, if you are familiar with the site (even if you are not) please note that they are not just a source for classroom materials. Teachers can also post projects for field trips, class visitors/speakers, and professional development. This Blog Is Why I am happy to tell you all about my new favorite DonorsChoose Giving Community #CaringClassrooms!
Recently, I collaborated with my grade level team to post a field trip project (see previous blog post; Letter "O"). This project's cost was over $1,000. The largest amount I have tried to raise to date. Of course, it was a task. I tried every avenue that I could think of and even those that were shared with me by colleagues/my PLN. When the project finally got a red clock and time started winding down, I got nervous (insert appropriate emoji here). And then, the wonderful Caring Classrooms community came to our rescue! On my birthday (the grade level project was in my name, talk about pressure), I received a message that our project would be posted on the giving page and guaranteed full funding. That was enough to satisfy me and I was no longer in panic mode. But it gets even better. The project posted around 8PM on my birthday and by 10AM the next day...full funding. Talk about results. AMAZING!
Here are a few additional comments from our donors:
"I love your project idea! From one Caring Classrooms teacher to another, best wishes in this new school year."
"My family loves plays and Dr. Seuss too. Enjoy!"
"We love reading our new baby boy Dr. Seuss-good luck in your production!"
"I love this project. I hope you and your class enjoy the show. It's a wonderful idea to give an experience as part of learning."
"As a retired 1st grade teacher, I know how much this will mean to your students. Enjoy!"
"Happy Birthday! Hope complete funding comes before midnight!"
"Good luck and happy birthday!"
"I love this project!"
"Happy Birthday! Thank you for supporting projects on the Caring Classrooms giving page! We have added your project to our page, and guarantee it will fully fund! That's a great way to celebrate your birthday with your students!"
Finally, I want to thank the MANY donors who have contributed to my projects this year (2016):
Neukom Foundation Caring Classrooms Amelia (Jackson Heights, NY)
Duke Energy AT&T Nicole&John (CA)
E20 and Jonathan Nalder Chrissie Devinney Warner Brothers Television
Advancement Courses Burlington Stores Tammy Golihew
The Wright Family Vanessa Jacobs (mom) Bill&Melinda Gates Foundation
Pam Hubler Jessica Lawson Marilyn Lowe
DonorsChoose.org Charlotte Sills Stephanie Brown
Mrs. Griffis Hillary Hobbs Christina Fastaia
Nicole Evers Helen Mitchell R. Reid
Sarah Thomas Gail Roof Dr & Mrs. Carlisle (Rock Hill)
Shannon Porter Francie Kugelman Nick DeMaster
MsClassNSession;-) Tanika Wallace Andrae Daniels
Linda Barlow Julie Landis Frank Jackson
Necole D Jerome Jefferson Lynn Wade
Justin Brown Anonymous donors (NY, SC, GA, OH, AR)
Bill&Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher2Teacher
Angela Watson (TheCornerstoneforTeachers.com)
Chester Park COLT's Giving Page
Where has the time gone? November just flew by. Anybody else feeling the clock spin out of control? Well, anyway, thanks for hanging in with my Blogs A-Z. Now, there is a new challenge to get us all in the holiday spirit. Are you ready for #12daystwitterchallenge? This Blog Is Why I just LOVE a good challenge. Let's Go!
You may already know about this challenge. I know, I am a little late to the party. Nonetheless, I am ready to see what this new hashtag adds to my PLN and my countdown to Christmas. There is still time to catch up, if you want to join in the fun. As a matter of fact, I am about to complete Day 2's tweet. I have seen a few visuals retweeted, but I am sharing the one that I thought summarized the challenge in one easy picture. I hope no one minds that I am including it in this post. Happy Holidays to all and I look forward to sharing with you on Twitter.
I was scared. I was nervous. I was anxious. But, I did it anyway. I did it to enhance the experience of my students in the classroom and the results did not disappoint. My students cannot stop talking about our Skype lessons during Microsoft's Skype-A-Thon event. And even though we had a few bumps in the road, I did not let that stop us. This Blog is Why even though Skype-A-Thon is over, take some time to explore this great educational resource.
Skype-A-Thon was a two day event (November 29th and 30th) and I was able to have my class participate during both. On Day #1, I was the most nervous. My kids had seen me Skype before with a co-worker as we prepared for a PD session with our school's faculty. There were lots of ooh's and ahhh's as they watched in amazement. But, this would be the first time they participated and our first time inviting "outsiders" into our classroom. The first Skype was a last minute addition because one of my other sessions was rescheduled. So, of course, I was scrambling. I tried preparing my students by having the camera displayed on our Promethean board so they could get all of the "sillies" out before our real session. When our scheduled time came and went, I began to get a sinking feeling. Is this going to fall through for my students? I redirected my students to practice the Mystery Skype "Guess My Number" with a partner while I did a last minute email check. Oh no! The teacher that we would Skype with was having some technical difficulties. So, we began to try to resolve the issues through email. Well, nothing else could go wrong, right? WRONG. As I am scrambling and going back and forth with my partnering teacher by email, who walks in? My principal. To do an observation!! Great. Well, at just the right moment our Skype video call begins to ring and we are all set! Just in time. (Whew!) Because otherwise, I am not sure how I would explain to my principal what she had walked in on. Anyway, she was able to witness firsthand our first Mystery Skype from South Carolina to Kentucky. My students were so excited. In the end, we were all smiles and made a plan to meet again.
On Day #2, my students were more settled and a little less intrigued by the camera (you know making faces, waving, etc.). First up, we traveled to St. Louis to Skype with a Microsoft employee that we were paired with for this event. My students were perfect! I was even impressed with how well things went. The day before they had come up with three questions to ask, we did another Mystery Number Skype and we shared a little about our town/state. Our final Skype session was with a class in Georgia. The class of second graders did a read aloud with my class and they had also sent us an assignment the day before. Although my students could not guess where they were from, we learned a lot from their clues. My students also enjoyed working on our shared assignment. We plan to Skype again to share our finished products.
My big take-aways from Skype-A-Thon:
1. During our two-day mission, we traveled about 1,265 miles by Skype.
2. If you plan to do a Skype, don't be too uptight! Just enjoy the experience, mistakes and all.
3. I learned how limited my students' view of the world is and this is a great way to open their eyes.
4. Always have a MAP handy!
Today, on Facebook, a memory popped up from a year ago where I shared an infographic (at least that's what I'm calling it!). It was a timely reminder called "12 Ways to Recharge Over the Holidays" and I think we all need this as the new year approaches. I know what you're thinking. Why am I working and blogging during MY holiday? But for me, blogging is my therapy. Now, when you see me take a blogging break, that's when you know I am somewhere stressing over something and THEN, I will probably need to refer back to this post. This Blog Is Why we all need a little reminder to recharge our batteries.
#1) No problem. Of course I am going to sleep in. But if I don't, plenty of naps on deck.
#2) If I must. Only because that's the only way to get to Nakato's, my favorite Japanese restaurant.
#3) Right now I am reading for pleasure The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae
#4) I love spending time with my family and loved ones during the holidays. Great time to catch up!
#5) Exercise?! No thank you. (See #7)
#6) I love arts and crafts. Soooo...we turned the fridge into a snowman.
#7) That's more like it. I am going to eat these 3 (yes, I said THREE) birthday cakes.
#8) Nerf gun wars at our house. Sorry if I offended anyone, but you should try it. Lots of laughs.
#9) Does "Inspector Gadget" count?? (Kid in me.)
#11) Double check. No, triple check.
#12) This Blog Is Why...HEY! How did that get on the list??
Happy New Year!
Blogger/Educator/Grant Writer/ Future Ready Presenter/Aspiring Administrator