Thursday, June 28, 2012

Through The Eyes Of A 3 Year Old

So the highlight of my summer is seeing life through the eyes of a 3 year old.  {It makes me realize that I've lost tons of curiosity and creativity!}

Here are a few views:


Don't pick the flowers!

Where's the spider?

Great explorer!

Help me!

I'm a scientist inventing colors!

New painting technique (with a straw!)
What's the highlight of your summer?  What's enchanting you?

P.S.  If you're looking for something more or different, Visioning The Best Year EVER starts today, and I would be delighted to have you join us!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Writing With Picture Books

I live with a 3 year old.  I'm reading multiple picture books everyday.  I am a teacher.  I can't help but think about how some of these little gems could be used in my classroom!  Most of these books I would not have picked up for a 4th grade classroom, but I can always find some really good application.

From time to time I want to share some of those ideas here.

Today I've chosen My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza

 I really want to use lots more picture books in my classroom this year.  I read aloud daily to my students from chapter books, but there is something about picture books.

Anyway. . . My Lucky Day is a great example of how to add a twist to the plot that will surprise the reader.  I thought this would perhaps be too subtle for a 3 year old, but once we got to the meatballs and spaghetti he kept say, "That's so silly."  If he "got it," I'm pretty sure 9 and 10 year olds will, too!

I'm still trying to think of what writing prompt I will give them after this.  Any ideas?

How do you use picture books in your classroom with intermediate grades?

Sunday, June 24, 2012


I don't know about you, but I'm honestly way too affected by fear--both personally and professionally.  I'm also open to strategies and ideas other people have on reaching my fullest potential by taming some of that fear.

I'm participating in an AMAZING event hosted by Catherine Just.  {Just love her, and her work!  I dream of taking one of her photography retreats!}  It's a Soul-full Summit, and it's FREE!  There are just a few days left, but it's too good to keep to myself.

Here are some of the nuggets I'm gleaning:

  • Most of my fear is wrapped up in "what if. . " rather than what is
  • No one is without fear--the secret is learning how to fear-less
  • Feel the fear and do it anyway
  • Being fearless, intuitive, and intentional are all muscles that strengthen as they are exercised.
  • Marriage can be a vessel to work out personal foibles--without shaming or blaming self or others
  • Compassion for self is HUGE
I keep being amazed by what I'm hearing and how it's impacting me.  I finding compassion for myself and others at a whole different level.

What's moving you?
Are you feeling fear-less in some area of your life?

P.S.  Visioning The Best Year EVER starts 5 weeks toward BLISS on June 28.  If it's tugging at your heart, I hope you'll join us!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Brave Backyard Bash

I LOOOOVED having a couple brave teachers come over to get started on their Visioning The Best Year Ever.  I had such a good time putting together some decorations and lots of art materials.  Here's a little visual feast:
Cushions and table covers dressed up the backyard.

Stickers, chip board book, and binders for everyone

Who couldn't use some tissue paper flowers?

Love me some art supplies

bento box lunch box. . .

. . . filled with snack mixes--yum

Quotes flipped to the front of the berry box--portable inspiration

There is still time to join us for Visioning The Best Year Ever, beginning June 28 for 5 weeks of fun and creative self care.  While I can't offer you a cushioned seat in my backyard, there are many other cool surprises and treats just waiting for you!  I can't wait to share encouragement, inspiration, and empowerment.  Sign up HERE

Shadow Pix

I love a good shadow photo.  This was a leftover from the beach last week.

This was one evening in Delaware--South Bethany Beach

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What Is A Good Teacher?

What is a good teacher?  Who was a good teacher to you?

I bet if you asked a hundred people on the street that question, none of them would say it was the teacher with whom they passed the standardized tests or showed adequate yearly progress.

And yet, in just a couple more years, my state, Ohio, plans to assess teachers on just that--student performance.  While I do see value in standards and even testing, I do not think it is the only factor or even the most important one.

Here's the thing.  In my heart I know I'm a really good teacher, but the things that my students, their parents, and I believe make me good are not based on standardized test scores.  For example I had a student this past year who fell in love with reading novels, and this quiet girl is talking about these novels with her friends--but she didn't pass the reading test.  Shouldn't that count for something?  And what about kids who never do homework or read away from school?  What about the kids who live in chaos?  Or homes that place low value on the process of learning?

I'm reminded of the words I told my students the day before testing began:
I want you to try your best on the tests.  You have learned so much, and you have worked hard.  But it is much more important to me that you learn how to get along with other people and be kind.  I would rather have you find a book you love to read this year than worry about passing a test.

And then I saw the results today, and my belief in those values wavered.  For a bit I felt not enough.  I thought those scores determined my worth as a teacher.  As I processed I just thought about amazing moments of growth that I saw in my students--as they role played conflict resolution, as they planted a small garden, as they read novels in book clubs at the end of the year, as they learned to explain their mathematical thinking, as they moved to a new classroom at the end of January, as they led class meetings, as they took ownership of the classroom and cleaned the floors so well the custodian bought them pizza.

And as I wonder about this all, I wonder why other professions aren't judged and evaluated the way teachers are.  I wonder why we don't start paying dentists on the rate of oral health and lack of cavities in their patients?  Wouldn't that be the proof we need to recognize a good dentist?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Views From The Week

Try our video maker at Animoto.

Great Quote For Teachers

I just saw this quote, and it resonates with my teacher heart.  I often feel like this is exactly what we are doing to kids in the "high stakes" testing world that currently calls itself education.

 ‘Everyone is a genuis. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.’
{Albert Einstein }

What are you doing to shine your genius today?  What are you planning so your students can show their genius and not believe they are stupid?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Moments of Bliss

Here are some bliss--full moments over the past few days:

Fading heart made by jet at the Ocean City Air Show.

Wave jumping!

Bliss in the sand!

Wild ponies up close on Assateague Island

Self portrait with my love and the Atlantic Ocean

Doesn't this just think serenity?

Sam is filled with bliss in the ocean.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Official Start Of Summer

Today was the official start of summer--at least in my universe.  After a whirlwind couple weeks of wrapping up the school year, closing the classroom, and lots of other stuff

My little family and my brother, Tim, embarked on a 10 hour car trip to Ocean City, Maryland--with the 3 year old!  His longest car trip prior to this was maybe 3 hours.  He was a traveling rock star!

Fun dips turned his whole mouth green!  And glow in the dark insects were a huge hit.  

Books on CD were also great, but I must say, he rocked it out of the park.

So, he has never been to the ocean before, but I think you can tell that he loved it.  

I love the innocence of kids.  After this long anticipated and discussed adventure and fatiguing road trip, he thought we were going home after just a few hours!  Kids are so much more patient of small events than I am.  I want it to be worth it.  I don't think 10 hours for 2 hours is worth it, but he does.  Maybe a little lesson for me in all of this.

What marks the official start of summer for you?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Three Weeks From Today And A Giveaway

I am so excited!  {and nervous, too!}

3 weeks from today I am unleashing into the world the online workshop Visioning The Best Year Ever!

It's going to be an AMAZING 5 weeks!

Today I am sharing information and answers to some commonly asked questions.


Why Visioning The Best Year Ever?

2 years ago, the school year kicked my behind.  I was exhausted, frustrated, and heartbroken.  I knew I could not have another year like that.  I spent a lot of time thinking, walking, and crying.

I started to journal.  I started to make little art projects that started to heal me and empower me to never end up in the same spot again.  Then I shared some of that in a PDF document last year.

I used it this year.  I was amazed at the difference in outcome.  {My husband agrees.}  It is so much about being intentional and present.  I want to share the gifts I have received with other teachers and other brave people.  It's a great way to invest in yourself!

Ready to sign up?

How will the workshop be presented?

About a week before the workshop begins I will send you the blissful online location where all lessons will be presented and a list of materials you may want to use on the projects. Each of the 5 weeks from June 28 - July 26,  you will receive access to a video lesson, journaling prompts, and creative projects that you can use in any way you choose.  You will also have an extra wrap up week to access the materials.

I will share how I use each of these and ideas for how you might want to use them.  You might want to download everything to save for later.  You might want to print everything to combine in a folder or binder.  {I will be sharing my "Bliss Binder"}  You get to choose how much you want to do.  There is no right or wrong way to participate.

What support will you be offering?

I will send out a weekly email of encouragement and inspiration.  You have email access to me at any time during the workshop, and I will do my best to respond within a day.  At the midway point, I will offer a Livestream Live Chat event.  You will be able to see me talking, and you can ask questions and make comments in the chat.  I want this to be an AMAZING and INSPIRING experience for you!

I am also offering the Brave Teacher Kick Start Event where you can spend the day with me in my backyard, previewing the lessons and beginning the projects.

What if I'm not a teacher?

I think if this opportunity is tugging at your heart then you should participate!  The main focus is making intentional decisions about how we want life to look and feel as we move forward. There is definitely a component about how we want to be as we work. I use language like classroom and student, but if those don't feel appropriate, workplace and client could be substituted.  I welcome you!

Sign me up!

What if I've never taken an online class or workshop?

You're going to love it!  You can participate any time, day or night.  You can be in your pjs or sweaty workout clothes, and no one knows.  If you're comfortable opening emails, reading blogs, and printing pdfs then you have all the skills you need to fully participate in this online workshop.

How much time will it take--after all, it is summer?

You get to decide this.  You can probably move quickly through everything in about 2 hours a week.  You may get super involved in the writing or creating and double or triple that time.

How much does it cost?

$49 gets you get the lessons and ideas and resources and support and encouragement and inspiration!  What a great investment to make in your personal and professional life.

Register here!


I know the power of Visioning, and I want to share it with as many people as possible.  I am giving away a few spaces to the workshop.  If you want a chance to Vision The Best Year Ever for FREE, then leave a comment about why you should win this giveaway AND email address at the end of this post!  The lucky winners will be announced on Saturday morning, June 9.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Year End Gardening

What do you do with 4th graders the last few weeks in Science?  You begin a little garden!

I moved to a new classroom midyear, and I was surprised to see lots of hostas growing this spring.

I did not have lots of time or money to invest.  I think this is a great little start.  Kids decided they wanted a hummingbird garden, so there are a couple feeders in the hanging basket and attractive colors. While this was in process, the students also decorated little cups to take home other seeds to keep growing.

Science Students Garden Outside Room 14

Each student decorated a rock to add to the garden

The garden is a combination of containers from home, classroom plants, and the hostas that were already there.

Some of the uniquely decorated rocks in the garden

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Don't Take My Word For It. . .

Don't take my word for the worth of Visioning The Best Year Ever.  Take the words of my husband--the man who has known me my whole teaching career.  He has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, and here is his testimonial of the impact of my VISIONING work on our lives:

Virgil and Sam, Easter 2012

Virgil and Sam, Mother's Day Picnic 2012

Hello there, husband to Brave Teacher Mim here.

I have a confession to make. I've known Mim and have even been of assistance to her for all of her 14 years in the classroom, but I've always dreaded the end of the school year. Its hot, the kids are crazy, and everyone is exhausted while holding on with all their might.
However, this year something mysterious and a little magical has occurred. Everything seems so SANE! Yes my wife was still tired and the kids are a little loony, but I believe that the gifts of intentionality, generosity, and kindness that she fostered through her teacher support business has really worked an enchantment at Norton Primary this year. I am very grateful.
If you have similar end-of-the-school-year dread, perhaps this would be good time to look at some of the materials that my wife has put together at her website,