Frequently Asked Questions

These are all questions I receive with regularity from readers online, coworkers or parents.

[ON TECHNOLOGY]
Who designed your blog?
I designed my blog myself! I could sit at a computer and do anything with digital photo editing or writing html/css forever.  I taught myself how in the high school days of MySpace via many a Google search.

What do you use to edit your photos?
I like to use Adobe Photoshop or good old Microsoft Paint (yes, paint).  Online, I use picmonkey to create collages and fun effects.

Why aren't you on Facebook?
I despise Facebook.  I had it in college (back when it was a student-only site) but deleted it when it started to reach every aspect of American life.  I believe the only purpose it truly serves is to cause drama.  If you want to 'stay connected' to your friends, you should call or visit them. 

Do you make your own SMARTboard activities?
Yes! I use my SMARTboard constantly throughout the day.  I am going to start sharing my products on SMART Exchange this year. Keep an eye out for them!

[ON TEACHING]
What alphabet chart do you use in your classroom?
This year the kindergarten team and literacy specialists decided to come together and use the same chart, so we're all using the Houghton Mifflin Alphafriends.   In years past, I've always used the Wilson Fundations alphabet.  I prefer Fundations, but the kids seem to be enjoying the Alphafriends.

How do you set up your stations?
I follow Debbie Diller's set-up to a T. We currently have twelve literacy workstations around the room and will have twelve math workstations set up in tubs in the coming weeks.  Students begin with independent reading and rotating activities at their tables while we introduce new stations and brainstorm "I Can..." lists.  Now that we've got them all up and running, students go to 1-2 stations a day and meet with me for guided reading.

What does your behavior management system look like?
Students in my class are given many opportunities to earn stickers, positive verbal praise, and prizes for following classroom and school rules and expectations.  Students acting as good role models may be chosen as the weekly “Owl Star!”  However, if a child decides to break a rule, she will receive consequences.  My classroom follows a “1, 2, 3 strikes you’re out” system to reflect behavior infractions.  Each student has an owl that begins in the tree.  If students are doing well behaving in class, their owls will remain happy in the tree. A child will receive two verbal behavior redirections before her owl is moved.  As a child’s behavior begins to slip, her owl will move out of the tree, closer to the forest floor.   
Owls are first moved to “five minutes,” denoting time spent walking at recess instead of playing and then moved to “ten minutes” after a repeat of the behavior.
 
Owls at “five minutes” may be moved back to the tree at my discretion; if I feel a child is truly remorseful for his/her actions and will not repeat the offensive behavior, by all means it should be considered a teachable moment.  If a child moves his/her owl two times in one day, a note gets sent home. I
f a student shows continual defiance throughout the day, her owl will move all the way to the forest floor, and the student will lose all of her recess or other activity. Moving an owl three times in one day gets recorded and may warrant a phone call home. 

Stamps in my students' daily folders explain to parents how their child’s behavior was at school that day. Children can get one of four colors: red (could have had a much better day), yellow (okay day), green (good day) and blue (phenomenal day).  Blue owls are extremely rare and imply that the student went above and beyond the behavior expectation.

Do you give your students homework?
Yes! We call it 'homefun' in Kindergarten, but students have a Homefun Journal that gets updated weekly with new assignments.  Students have a nightly assignment Monday-Thursday and turn their journals in on Friday to get checked and updated.  The weekly assignments extend or review what we've been learning in class for each subject: Monday is Writing, Tuesday is Reading, Wednesday is Math and Thursday is Science/Social Studies. We have a sticker chart in our classroom to track who completes their homefun, and students who do their homefun consistently for a grading period get a special prize.

How did you get all the books for your classroom library?
MOSTLY thanks to generous donors on DonorsChoose! Though some were purchased with bonus points from Scholastic book orders and others with cold, hard cash.  Purchasing books is a minor obsession of mine!

[ON PERSONAL LIFE]
How do you do your hair in fishtail braids?
I seriously get this question every time I wear my hair in these braids. Along with comments about looking like Pocahontas. Please view the video below; this is how I learned!


How do you have time for three jobs and a blog?
I'll admit, it can be stressful.  But it's important here to make the distinction between job and work.  While a job is what earns you money, your work is your contribution to the world. While I need money to buy food and secure a place to live, I'm not holding any of my positions for the millions I'm raking in. (Ha, ha.)  Each role I play affects kids in a positive light and makes a genuine impact in my community.  I feel as though they're all significant. So I make the time. I wake up early and go to bed late. Having a Keurig at home and at school also helps...


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