Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's Resolution

Are you the New Year's Resolution type?  I'm not.  However, every year I think maybe I'll give it a try.  So, I decided this year that I'm not going to have a "true" New Year's Resolution, but I'm going to set some goals that might suffice for resolutions.  Why am I so afraid of a true New Year's Resolution?  Well, probably because only 8% of people are truly successful with their resolutions (citation).  I guess if I set multiple, maybe I'll be more likely to reach one...this is what I like to call impossible to fail math.  Anywho, here are my "goals" for the year.

#1 - Use more technology in my classes.  Technology changes so much, that I feel like I struggle to keep up.  I encourage my students to use a wide range of technology, but I'm not always as good at taking those risks.  Two years ago, I instituted a rule in my class that you couldn't use PowerPoint for presentations.  You had to utilize something else.  However, it took me another year to get on that bandwagon myself.  So, I've downloaded a couple of new apps that I'm going to utilize this semester.  Honestly, they don't look too hard.  Here are the ones I've downloaded.

Socrative (Clicker)

Teacher Kit

Class Dojo


QR Reader

#2 - Dress up more often.  If I had my way, everyone would go to work in their pjs (preferably flannel at that).  However, nobody seems to be joining me on this endeavor.  So, I've decided to give in and dress up more often, albeit I'm doing this kicking and screaming!

#3 - Clean out my car regularly.  If you know me, you know the first thing I always say as you get in my car is, "Sorry, it is such a mess."  Recently, a friend of mine asked a good question, "Alyssa, why do you apologize?  It always looks like this."  Well, I guess I never thought about that.  So, maybe I could tidy up a little more frequently.

I'm also hoping to knock four items off my 20 X 40 List.  If you remember, this is my list...

Learn to can fruits and veggies
Sew a quilt
Sew something for me
Take a calligraphy class
Complete a triathlon
Learn to use power tools
Shop the World’s Longest Yard Sale
Write a children’s book
Make Gran’s cookbook
Adopt from Africa
Improve my digital photography skills
Learn to use Photoshop
Become a foster parent
Travel to 6 of the 7 continents
Write 365 thank you notes
Take 365 photos
Learn to UTILIZE my serger
Visit a fortune teller
Live in another country for 6+ months

I'm hoping to accomplish the following:
-Learn to use Photoshop (taking a class as you read)
-Make Gran's cookbook
-Travel to 6 of the 7 continents (applied for a conference on my final continent)
-Take 365 photos (got my Project Life materials ready to go)

That brings me to seven goals/tasks to complete by the end of next year.  Hopefully, when I look back in 365 days, I'll be able to mark off a few of these items.  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Top 10 Favorite Children's Holiday Reads

As a former elementary school teacher, it is impossible not to love children's literature.  I don't visit a bookstore without at least a quick browse through the kid's section.  Even as a college professor, I use children's books in class to represent a concept or theme.  Honestly, being a children's book author would be in the top three of my most dreamed about professions.

Last week, my sister called to tell me that she and her three little girls spent the evening snuggled on the couch in the pjs, reading our favorite childhood Christmas book (see #1 below).  This conversation made me contemplate my favorite holiday texts.

So, welcome to my top 10 favorite holiday reads...

By: Gloria Houston

When I was in fourth grade at Mableton Elementary School, Gloria Houston visited the school to talk about the process of writing a book and share The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree.  I left school that afternoon with a copy of her book, and I enjoyed reading it with my mom that evening.  The book still sits on my bookshelf today.

By: Richard Stack

The year before the visit from Gloria Houston, Richard Stack came to share his book and talk about being a children's author.  Hearing the story was the first time that I learned about the saint bernard dog breed.  I was fascinated by the this tale of rescue.  I remember taking home my autographed copy, and cherishing the book.  It, too, still shares a space on the shelf.

By: Barbara Robinson

I first read this book as a child.  Well, honestly I wasn't a big reader as a child.  So, to be truthful, I listened to the story as a kid.  After I left teaching, I ran a small book club of former students that met monthly.  It was a great opportunity for me to remain in contact with some very special families.  This was one of the first books chosen.  We read the book and of course watched the movie as a holiday celebration.  It has such a great story line and theme.  Who couldn't love The Best Christmas Pageant Ever?

By: Caralyn Buehner & Mark Buehner

This was a book that I stumbled upon while teaching.  This rhyming story encourages creativity by portraying what snowmen might do at night.  It is an adorable read.

By: Jonathan London

Froggy books are one of my favorite series.  During my first ever teaching job in Atlanta Public Schools, I had the most adorable young boy who absolutely loved Froggy.  I'll never forget when I would read him a Froggy story, he would act out each part.  I loved Froggy before that year, but I really connected when I saw the joy it brought to one student.

By: Eric Carle

This is another book from my teaching years.  I don't know how I came in contact with this book, but I loved the illustrations (who doesn't love Eric Carle illustrations?).  There is a clear plastic page with snowflakes painted that covers multiple pages throughout the book.  There are some great art/crafts activities that can coordinate with this text.

By: J.otto Seibold & Vivian Walsh

I learned about Olive the Other Reindeer after reading its cousin, Olive My Love.  The book is based on the idea that "Olive" is the "other reindeer" portrayed in the song Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer.  It is fantastic.

By: Janet & Allan Ahlberg

The Jolly Postman books were always great for teaching about letter writing.  A play on fairy tales, the book portrays characters from Goldilocks, Little Red Riding Hood, etc.  It is a fabulous book and reading the letters to each of the fairy tale characters is really neat.  The one negative about this book...I've lost some of the letters.  Well, let me rephrase that.  Some of my students "misplaced" the letters over the years.

By: Rachel Isadora

I never had this book while I was teaching, so I am sad I was never able to share it with my students.  Two Christmases ago, my preacher gave me this book.  He knew my love and passion for Africa and said he thought of me when he saw it.  It was the most thoughtful gift I've ever received.  The book features the traditional 12 Days of Christmas song, but the illustrations are based on African heritage and culture.  So, the five golden rings are actually rings around an African woman's neck.  The book is beautiful, and I love it so much.

By: Patricia Scarry & J.P. Miller

The Sweet Smell of Christmas is my favorite book for several reasons.  My mom was a teacher too, so as children she constantly read to us.  This book was always a favorite during the holiday season.  The book includes scratch and sniff stickers of different holiday scents.  There are gingerbread cookies, oranges, apple pies, hot cocoa, and others.  I always loved the orange sticker the best.  I forgot about the book until two years into teaching.  I was browsing through the children's book section at Barnes and Noble, and I stumbled upon it.  That day, I bought three copies.  I kept one of the copies, and I distributed the other two to my sister and brother's families.  I wanted my nieces and nephews to share in the tradition I remember.  This will always be my favorite book because I will remember the MANY times my mom patiently read it to me, and we shared the scratches and sniffs of the holiday season.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Worst Christmas Gifts

I hate to buy Christmas presents for men.  It is always so difficult.  Annually, I make these my last and final purchases, and typically I think they're my worst gifts.  I love to buy meaningful presents, but sometimes I feel like I fall short.  

Right now, I have one gift left to purchase.  Guess what...yup, it is for a man, and I'm stumped.  I honestly cannot think of anything good.  So, I've been perusing the internet for some ideas that might work.  During the search process, I've found some TERRIBLE gifts.  Some of them are funny, but most of them are downright ridiculous.  Of course, I have to spread the wealth.  

Actually, they'd probably be great white elephant gifts if you're looking for something funny!

(1)  Yes, a nose hair trimmer.  I mean who doesn't want that?  I think I would die if somebody gave me that.  (2)  How dorky...a beer holster.  That is definitely a gift for someone who has everything.  Frighteningly, I just went back to link up to the web-site, and it is SOLD OUT.  Seriously!  (3)  This is one of my favorites.  I do at least find some humor in this one.  It is a flask that comes right out of the front of a man's pants.  There is some benefit for this type of least at a college football game, but I think I'll leave that gift to someone else.  4.  This is just bizarre if you ask me.  A Bacon of the Month Club.  Honestly.  Do people really purchase that?

5.  I love a good thumb war, and I'll share a quick game or two here and there with my nieces and nephew.  However, I think I'll leave the thumb wrestling ring to someone who plays more often than me.  6.  Bob Ross and his happy little trees were always fascinating.  However, if I want to gift painting lessons, I'm going to find someone still alive to teach them.  7 & 8.  Yes, you can purchase an acre of land on the moon...and if that isn't good enough for you, how about Mars?  Who owns the moon and Mars and in turn has the right to sell this acreage?  Also, what are you going to do with that land?

Hopefully none of these gifts is on your "to purchase" or even worse your "wish list."