Friday, April 26, 2013


Are you ever amazed what we can learn from kids?
I sure am!
Today I learned that it was a whole lot more fun going out to recess and playing soccer than staying in my office to do some computer work (which by the way was patiently waiting for me upon my return).
From my recess soccer game today I learned: 
*that I had fun getting on the team that wasn't doing so well.
*that the kids were doing a great job playing by the rules.
*that the kids were showing great sportsmanship!
(I even got some high fives!)
*that 2:00 recess energizes you more than a diet Coke!
*that I could compete with 4th grade boys!
*how it felt to be a kid again!
*teamwork is awesome!
*that I need to improve judging a soccer ball flying at me.
*I still have a pretty good kick.

So, take time to "play soccer" today with a kid.
It might not be actually playing soccer, it might be going fishing, playing catch, shooting hoops, jumping rope, or just going for a walk.  You will be amazed what you learn and just how good it feels!

PS--Thanks to Riley R. for inviting me out!  YOU ROCK RILEY!

PPSS--I can't wait until next recess!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lessons from Dakota

Dakota is the wolf who has taught the 3rd graders many lessons this year.
It has been great reading about the different adventures Dakota ends up on and the animals he meets in the forest.  The students have learned many things from Dakota.  Our lesson topics have included:
Spreading Rumors (from the foxes)
Bullying (Bobbie the Bobcat)
Understanding Differences (Sammy the Skunk)
Discovering Personal Strength (Grinner the Flying Squirrel)
Grief and Loss (Dakota loses his friend Nakoma)
Resolving conflict, sharing, taking turns (Badger the Badger)
Prejudice (Nikki the Wolfdog)
Fearing the Unknown (Dakota faces his greatest fear--humans)

The class also learned to work as a team in their Wolf Packs.  It was cool to see how they bonded as a group and got to know each other better.  They also worked cooperatively very well.

Today was the recognition for completing Dakota's program.  The kids received their certificates and were able to meet in their wolf packs one last time.  I can't say "all good things must come to an end" with this.  BECAUSE they will carry what they learned from Dakota with them forever.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Attitude of Gratitude

Hmmm,  what are you grateful for?  This is the question the 2nd graders pondered today as we discussed our Auto B Good lesson we started last week.  Today we worked in groups to come up with a classroom Top 5 list of what we are grateful for.
First, we talked about what the word grateful means:
it means being thankful for something.
We also talked about what gratitude means:
showing what we are thankful for.
I am grateful for my students and being able to teach them.
I show my gratitude by thanking them for letting me teach them and share character information with them.

That being the basis of our lesson, here is what the 2nd graders came up with for the 
1. Family
2. Food
3. School/Education
5. Homes
Other things that made the top lists of each class included:
clothing, pets, glasses and cars
What would we do without these items?
What could we live without and what could we not live without?
I think they did a great job!
So....what are you grateful for?
Do you have an attitude of gratitude?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Save the Drama for the Stage!

WOW!  A lot of great things can happen when you get 37 girls  (3rd - 6th grade) together to spread the messaged about bullying.  Last night our GIRLS Empowered 2013 group put on the play Save the Drama for the Stage for an almost full house of parents, family and friends.  These girls worked so hard for the past month and even when we had unpredicted snow days (3 to be exact!)  we decided the SHOW MUST GO ON and so it did.  You want to hear something strange?  We never got all the way through the play until our last run-through which was right after school yesterday.....and we finished that run through and hour and a half before show time!  Each girl amazed me---from those having to work out the details of the set design and costumes, the speaking parts, the way they all got into character, and all the behind the scenes work!  I also had 2 moms who helped with the directing and there is no way I could have done it without them!  THANKS MELISSA AND JAIME! 

One never knows what to expect from something like this.  The main goal was not to entertain but to learn from this and teach others.  We based the play on Trudy Ludwig's 2 books, My Secret Bully and Confessions of a Former Bully.  These books tell a story of how even girls who consider each other friends can be mean to each other.  And the best part was when Katie (the role who discovers she was being a bully to her friend) figures out how to help others because of what she learned.  
The girls presented 8 Tools from the tool belt you need when you are getting bullied.

Tool #1:  STOP!  Look the kid in the eye and tell him to stop talking to you that way.

Tool #2:  Why? Why? Why?  Ask a “why”  question  after someone says something mean to you.  It distracts the kid who is trying to push your buttons.

Tool #3:  Walk Away .  If someone is being mean to you, you don’t have to stand there and take it.  Walk or run to a safe place and hang out with grown-ups and kids you trust.

Tool #4:  So, Whatever, Huh, Who cares?  Say one or two words in a neutral tone.  make sure your words aren’t cruel or hurtful.

Tool #5  Change the Subject--Distract the kid by talking calmly about other things.

Tool # 6 Act Silly or Goofy.  Use humor in a harmless way.  Don’t put someone down to build yourself up.

Tool #7:  Turn an Insult into a compliment--turn the negative into something positive--ONLY if it does not bother you to do this.

Tool #8--Agree with the bully--Go along with what the kid says--- ONLY if you don’t feel bad doing this.

These all come from Trudy Ludwig's Confessions of a Former Bully.

We talk about these and practice using these in classroom guidance as well as small groups. They really do work.

Statistics about bullying, why kids bully and what is considered bullying was all presented.

So, today as I relax after much hard work, I want to give a very LOUD shout out to the GIRLS of GIRLS Empowered 2013 and the dedicated volunteers who helped me direct this!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Is it spring yet?

Today was our third snow day this month. Yup, in April. Well, last week's snow days were actually ice days. The result of these days were people without power and lots of tree branches all over. As you can see from the picture, my neighbor ended up with quite a pile of branches. I'm not sure how we faired so well but we lost a few branches and they landed right at the curb where they are to be placed for city removal. So what does this all mean? Why do we get this winter weather in April, 12 days from May? Well, I come up with a few possible reasons. Maybe because we need to be reminded that we are not the ones in control. Maybe this was God's way of saying, "Slow down. Spend some time with your family. Help your neighbor out." It also gives us the chance to practice some citizenship and help out the community clean up. The high school students are planning to do community clean up tomorrow. What a great way to give back to the community.

I know one thing. It won't make me sad to see the Ice Princess and Suzy Snowflake head out of town.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Word power, part 2

I just attended a parent seminar tonight that was sponsored by our county ministerial association. I was excited to see that it was well attended. The presenter was Jim Garnett from Ankeny, Iowa. He is a certified trainer for Smart Discipline. He presented a plan for parents to use to help get their kids to make good choices and what they can do when they don't make good choices. He had shared a tool to use by using a chart and taking away privileges when they do things wrong. I almost said "Amen!", When he said that kids feel that toys, going places, tv, etc, are God given rights. Of course good parents know better and realize they are privileges.

The second part of his program talked about the power of our words. (Is that a coincidence that I just wrote about that in my last blog?) He shared a couple of great quotes that I felt we're good to share:
1. Children have a tendency to become what we think they are.
2. "We do what we know, but once we know better we ought to do better." Dr. Phil. (I may have to paint this one on my wall!)

He also shared the following 3 L's as the steps to follow with your kids when choosing the words you use:
1. List--create a list of the character traits you want your children to have (What a great plug for character counts!)
2. Look--watch your kids and catch them when they exhibit these traits
3. Label--use the power of your words and label that child when you "catch them" --for example, say to them, "I noticed how honest you were about breaking the vase. You are an honest child. When a kid hears a label, they don't weight it for accuracy. They believe it. Even when it is negative. Be sure you are using words that are not going to leave an emotional scar on your child.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Power of our Words

Have you ever thought about the power that our words have?  With our words we are able to do many things:
share a feeling
give information
ask for information
teach others
share gratitude
build somebody up
cut somebody down

Oh my, the list could continue.
I visited with some kids today about how our words affect others...
and we are the ones who make the choice of how our words are used.
We have the choice to give our words power.
It can be used in a positive way or a negative way.
The choice is ours.
How will you use your words today?

Please watch the following video I came across today.  It made me think about how I say things and the difference it can make for others.

Choose words that can make a difference.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Ripple Effect--Each Kindness Book Review

Sometimes we do kind deeds and they go unnoticed.  And sometimes we never do see or know of the effects of a kind deed or act.  Well, I have to say that the librarians at our school and our public library are always watching our for me.  Let me share....
Our school librarians were going through a shelf full of books that I consider in the "self-help" section of Barnes and Nobles or Amazon or wherever  you shop for books.  Anyway, they had them in a special section in the library for teachers and myself to check out as students might need them.  They told me they weren't getting much off the shelf time so they chose to share them with me on my shelves since I might find use for them easier.  I already shared one book with a student---who, by the way loved it and can't wait to read the last 3 chapters next week with me when she comes back.  It was a book about divorce and it opened up some great conversation for us as to how she felt during her parent's divorce.  This is where the ripple effect takes place---the books they passed on to me are going to help many kids who in turn can share with their families and friends about what they learned.  Below you will see the stack they shared with me.  THANKS to Mrs. Earll and Mrs. Pedley!

The Sibley Public librarians shared that they had a new book they thought I might like to share with my students.  I trotted right down there to pick it up and I loved it!  I am anxious to share it with my students this week.  The book is called "Each Kindness" by Jacqueline Woodson.

What I loved about this book is that it opens itself up to some great discussion on how we treat others.  AND that it doesn't have to be big ways to show kindness but little things too.  The story is about a new girl to school who is not accepted by others because of her "used clothing".  The new girl, Maya, continues day after day to be kind and maybe just try to fit in but is ignored and rejected.  It isn't until she doesn't return to school that one girl in particular realizes that she didn't do anything kind to help Maya feel welcome.  The teacher in the story has a great classroom lesson that involves the students dropping a pebble into water to see a ripple effect.  She explains that is what our kind deeds and actions to others have.  What a great way to teach kindness to any classroom!  And THANKS to the librarians for sharing it with me---the ripple effect of this book will touch all of my kiddos here at school as I share it with them.  I am definitely adding it to my Wish List but know where I can find it if I need it.

What ripples have you started lately?
AND think of the effect those ripples will have on others!