Archive for July, 2010

R&R in the Rockies

Tom and I took a few days last week and flew to Colorado to beat the Texas heat. What a wonderful time we had! We spent a few days in Estes Park and stayed at the historic Stanley Hotel– the one where Stephen King was inspired to write The Shining. It is a beautiful old hotel with a great porch where we sat in white wicker chairs to peer upon the majestic Rocky Mountains. No ghosts seen… but we did watch The Shining on TV. It plays 24/7 at the hotel.
We also visited Tom’s sister, Sue, in Lafayette, CO where she owns a yarn/knitting shop. Tom comes from a family of talented women. His mother was an expert seamstress. Sue’s store, Mew Mew’s Yarn Shop, is named for one of her cats, Mew Mew.
Then we headed for Vail for a few more days. I love the charm of Vail Village where we used to take our kids in the summer when they were small. We hadn’t been there for about 20 years. The place has really grown! We had fun riding the gondola and strolling through the streets.
So glad we had some time to just relax before gearing up for the busy back-to-school season. Hope you’re having some R & R, too.

The historic Stanley Hotel

The view from the porch of the hotel

Sue and Tom at Mew Mew's Yarn Shop

Sue in front of her shop

View from the gondola in Vail

Another great view


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Work + Shop

Wouldn’t it be fun if all workshops involved just that… some work and some shopping! Well, that’s what happened in Dyersburg, TN where I met the nicest teachers! During our break, I was talking to one of them who was wearing some super-cute jewelry, and it turns out that she made it. She showed me some other earrings she’d made that were in her purse, and I offered to buy them. So, voila! I went shopping right there while working (during the break, of course!).
This teacher, Julie Morgan, makes and sells lovely one-of-a-kind jewelry locally and at her Etsy shop. She has a few things pictured right now at www.etsy.com/shop/juliemorgan82. Check it out! Tell her Debbie sent you. (:

Friendly faces from Dyersburg, TN training (Julie's the first on the left)

Love my new glass bead earrings from Julie Morgan 82 at Etsy!

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Walked into Target the other day and was immediately greeted by their dollar store bins, right by the front entrance. Gotta love it! Look at all the cool stuff they have for teachers setting up their classrooms. Get there quickly! The good stuff goes fast. Warning; buy ONLY what you need for this year… even if it is just one dollar! (:

Great containers! Bought some of the small dry erase boards with pens and built-in erasers for math stations (for students to record their thinking)

Stickers and stamps abound. Nice for your writing work station.

Totes work nicely to hold community supplies for table groups

Little stepstools are great for kindergarten classrooms. Place one by your pocket chart (for little ones who have trouble reaching the top pocket). A small can is nice to put in a writing work station.

These open up into sturdy cloth box-like storage cubes. I think they were $2.50 each, but still a bargain. (...only if they fit your color scheme)

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As I was strolling through the grocery store today (HEB in Houston), I ran into a couple of nuts! Oven-roasted ones, in fact. They waved to me from the shelf and begged me to take them home. So, here they are… my new best friends! First, I sampled the dark chocolate ones. Mmmmm. Kind of like eating a Hershey’s with almonds bar (without the bar!).

Then I cracked open the mint dark chocolate almonds. Wow! They taste like those yummy Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies. They were a burst of flavor, and healthy, too! Just to be sure this was a good idea to become acquainted with these new friends, I checked out their references online. Yep, it’s true. Eating almonds in moderation promotes lower cholesterol levels, prevents heart disease and can help with weight loss. Yahoo!

One last bonus. They even have portion control built in. Along the side is a measuring tape that lets you know you’ve eaten one serving. Too bad they don’t have a built-in whistle as well. You many never want to stop eating them once you start.

Yummy new chocolate almonds from Blue Diamond

Panel on the side lets you know how many servings you've consumed!

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Really enjoyed meeting new and old friends in Dyersburg, TN recently. While there, we examined small group instruction in depth. We discussed choosing books based upon students’ interests. Here’s a chart of what we came up with for topics kids have schema on (that we could find books to match). Hope you’ll make your own list as you meet your new students this year.

Chart we made about what our students have schema for

New friends from the Dyersburg area

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Names are the most important piece of print for young children. These words are usually the first thing kids learn to read and write. Tonight I saw an article about the up and coming names for 2010. Gee whiz! I’m going to need help pronouncing and spelling some of these in the next few years! For more information, check out www.parentdish.com… For ideas on using kids’ names for word study, see my book, Beyond the Names Chart from Really Good Stuff.

1. Tenley
2. Harper
3. Everleigh
4. Martina
5. Sookie
6. Navi
7. Charlotte
8. Eloise
9. Lorelai
10. Ursula

1. Castiel
2. Bentley
3. Eoin
4. Easton
5. Lucian
6. Aarav
7. Zion
8. St. John
9. Kaiden
10. Sterling

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I am so excited to find out that my friend (and poet), Betsy Franco, is on TV! She has a guest stint on General Hospital. How cool is that? Now, I never watch soaps, but I had to tune in when I found out she’s now a TV star.

“So, how does one get a gig on a soap opera?” you might wonder. It helps if you’re the real-life mother of actor, James Franco. James is doing some work on GH, and he got his mom a guest spot. My friend, Gretchen, tuned me into this phenomenon. She’d seen James on The View. She called me (since she knows Betsy and I are friends), and we watched our respective televisions waiting for Betsy to appear onscreen.

As soon as I saw Betsy on my TV, I called her. She’d forgotten to tell me about this. I would have told the world! So, here’s my one and only brush with fame. Betsy, I love you! See it for yourself here. She’s the first one in this clip.

And check out Betsy’s wonderful poetry books for children of all ages at www.betsyfranco.com.

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As you may know from my earlier post, I’m trying to become more technologically-advanced. Here’s a site I just learned about from my new friend, Nina Bible, in Killeen, TX. These women are two educators from TX (yahoo!) that call themselves “Two Tech Chicks.” Gotta love it! Here’s the link to their blog. Looks like a great resource! http://techchicktips.net/

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Official word from my editor in Portland, ME… my math book is now “in production.”

“What does that mean?” you may wonder. It was certainly a new term for me. In a nutshell, the whole book has been written and revised (many times!) and is done, all the photos have been sent in, permissions for kids’ photos are complete, and now it’s in the hands of the copyeditor and design team. Hooray!!! I won’t see the book for a while (and neither will you, sadly; but don’t worry— it’s in great hands).

When I next see the manuscript, it will be copyedited. That means it will be all marked up (kind of like when you were in English class), and I will agree or disgree with any edits suggested (usually punctuation or grammar or word choice). I’ll send it back as quickly as I can to keep things moving (usually this part only takes me a few days).

Soon thereafter, I’ll receive the “design” of the book. That’s like Christmas for me! I’ll get to see what an entire chapter will look like when it comes to your home or classroom! It’s my favorite part. Once I approve the design, it moves pretty quickly. The book is designed, and then it comes back to me one last time. I reread the whole thing from start to finish, make sure all the pictures and text are in the right place, and that the book is just like I want it. (I promise to do that as quickly as I can, too!)

Finally, it goes to the printer and binder. Then it will be ready to be shipped to you to use with your kids! I can’t wait!!!! I’ll let you know the dates as soon as I hear something. Until then, you can sign up on the Stenhouse website to get notified when the book becomes available.

One piece of news I got this week that I can share is that the book will have about 300 photos in COLOR!!! And it will have a lovely coil spiral binding. It’s going to be beautiful. Stay tuned for further updates.

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Rachel was pretty lucky this week. Not only did we organize her math materials; she also received a “1-hour classroom setup” transformation for her kindergarten classroom. In just 60 minutes, we planned on paper where to place all her furniture to set up her classroom for optimal instruction this next year.. and we worked together to move her furniture in place.

Seeing is believing! Here are some pictures:

Rachel's kindergarten classroom "before"

Rachel's room "after"

The classroom map we drew- note the sticky notes with spaces on them

We all pitched in to move the furniture after planning on paper where to put it

Back corner "before"

Back corner "after" is now going to be the classroom library

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