Phonics Writing Bulletin Board: -ow/-ou Houses

I'm proud of me today!  I changed the students' work on my primary bulletin board this afternoon!  (It had been about 6 weeks since I'd put new work up. I know, it's quite embarrassing.)  As I've written about before, it's very easy for my perfectionist tendencies to keep me from accomplishing tasks, because I always want to wait to do things until I have time to "do it perfectly."  Well, the problem with that kind of thinking is that those times never come.  So I can get behind on a lot of things.  Like changing my bulletin boards.  

But I'm trying reeeeallly hard to let things just be good enough. For example, it has to be okay that the spacing between the first and second rows is larger than the spacing between the second and third rows.  (Don't act like you didn't notice!)  And I'm not going to let myself freak out about the fact that the bottom row is curving upwards slightly towards the middle. With 35 kids this year, I need to let myself just be proud that 1.) they all understood the assignment, 2.) they all (with a few exceptions) completed it, and 3.) for the most part they all did a really good job!  After all, isn't that what teaching is supposed to be about?  I mean, instead of beautiful bulletin boards that look like the Paper Source windows?  (Not that I don't still dream of creating beautiful bulletin boards that look like the Paper Source windows . . .)

Check out some of my students' writing!  I am so proud of this student!  Listen to that incredibly interesting writer's voice!  And this is a student who is in one of my lowest reading groups!  Granted, he misspelled his sight word said, reversed his b in boy, and forgot to capitalize the first letter of most of his sentences, but those are just mechanics! I can EASILY teach him to fix those simple errors. It is  much more difficult teaching students how to choose interesting subjects, and to then create something that people want to read more of. 

And what about this little gem?  Reading things like this makes my heart smile.  

This happy little student not only wrote a wonderful little narrative, complete with characters, setting, and sequence of events, BUT, he capitalized his proper nouns!  (I just need to teach him that the word king in King Cowder is part of the name, and therefore needs to be capitalized as well.)  And, he made up a word (Cowder) using his new spelling pattern!  (Unless he meant to use his spelling word chowder, which is definitely a possibility.  I'll have to ask him to read it to me tomorrow to know for sure.)  And I love that he didn't just write "Once upon a time," he wrote "Once upon a long long time"!  Yay!  This is so exciting!  My firsties are becoming writers!

Things I Realized About Me (During SCKC)

Southern California Kindergarten Conference 2015
I have just returned from two very long (but very productive and inspiring) days at the Southern California Kindergarten Conference in Pasadena, and I find myself reflecting on a few things that I've realized/newly remembered about myself over these past few days:

My chair during the last session,
with all my bags spread out
around me on the floor.
  1. I like to spread out.  Like, literally.  I use up a lot of physical space.  Well, I'd like to think I'm not that huge, but all the junk I carry around with me certainly is.  From the two bags around my feet (my purse aka Mary Poppins' carpet bag, along with my bright red conference freebie tote) and my Staedtler 20 pack of marker pens, laptop, & Starbucks cup taking up the seat next to me, and my notebook filled with notes splayed across my lap as I wrote, my fellow conference-goers were tripping all over me and my stuff before and after every session!  It was a tinnnyy bit embarrassing.  
  2. I heart handouts.  I just love, love, love them.  Even though I'm taking copious notes anyway, I want to see all the major points outlined in a clear way, and in an adorable font.  Handouts help me follow along with the presentation better, even if they're just bullet points on what's being discussed.  And if there's a teaching idea being shared that can be copied and put in the packet, I want that as well so I can remember it later.  Which brings me to my next point:
  3. I have always been, and am still very much, a visual learner.  I must see it to learn it and to remember it.  If I just sat and listened to each session's presentation without taking any notes this weekend, I'm not sure how much I would retain by the time I got home.  I just don't remember things that I hear as well as things that I see or read.  (Which is probably one of the reasons I love handouts.  See how everything just fits together?)  I have to take notes so I can review them later and remind myself what I learned.  Which segues perfectly into point # four: 

    This photograph really covers bullet
    points 2, 3, and 4, doesn't it?
  4. I am a fantastic note-taker.  Taking notes is my jam.  I love using all different colors, lines,  and boxes to separate ideas and outline my thoughts.  I really enjoy making each page look pretty, while still being useful.  {You could probably say I seek that in all areas of my life: to make things around me simultaneously beautiful and functional.}  
  5. I'm really good at what I do.  Now, I'm most certainly not the best teacher I know, nor the most experienced.  I've learned from some incredible master teachers who still leave me in awe of their talent.  But I am certainly not the worst teacher I know either!  Hearing from some of the most renowned teacher-bloggers, and realizing that I'm already implementing a lot of the ideas they shared, was very encouraging for me and definitely gave me a self-esteem boost.  I don't mean this in a boastful way, but simply as a reminder that as teachers, we all need to remind ourselves of the things we're good at.  I had been feeling like I was in a bit of a teaching slump since returning from Christmas break, discouraged about how far along in the curriculum I've gotten with my current class (as compared to last year's class). But sometimes a day away from school, with other teachers who also love to teach, is all it takes for me to become newly inspired and excited about my profession.  It's easy to forget that this is what I was put on earth to do.  
So on that positive note, it's time for me to begin writing 35 (yes, thirty-five!) report card comments.  Which are due on Tuesday.  And I haven't even started.  Not even a little.  And I have an enormous stack of assessments that also need to be graded and entered into the grade book.  What was I saying before about being excited and inspired???