Monday, July 29, 2013

Revamping Old, Ugly Clipboards

It's that time again...Monday Made it with 4th Grade Frolics!

Now I know this is nothing new...revamped clipboards with duck tape is all over Pinterest and the blogging world. I decided to give it a go, since the clipboards I have are 7 years old and in desperate need of some TLC. I think the kids will get a kick out of these clipboards and it will curb their impulse to leave their mark on the boards. One roll of the decorative duck tape lasted for about 3 clipboards.  I've got three down and 15 more to go....

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy~Such an Amazing Experience!

Phil Mickelson and his wife during our last group session!
 I just got back from one of the most amazing and inspiring teacher academies (let me add that it was all expenses paid)! Last fall, I applied to the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy. I honestly didn't think I would be chosen to attend the academy. I was so excited when my colleague and friend, Kristin, told me we were both chosen amongst the 1,500 teachers who applied! It was great to have her along to experience the adventure with me!
Me and my friend Kristin!

Before I get into the nitty gritty of MEMTA (Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy), let me start off by saying I wasn't sure how the week would go. We've all been to many different kinds of PD's/workshops/trainings and I haven't been to one that really knocked my socks off. Well, MEMTA was different! My socks were knocked off into another country!! It was truly an amazing and inspiring week. I walked away with so much more knowledge regarding pedagogy, instructional strategies, inquiry based learning,  etc. The week focused on Force and Motion. Which happened to be great, because up until this past week, it was my least favorite topic in science to learn about and teach. The instructors were the best! Truly amazing teachers themselves! We were treated with upmost respect and kings and queens the whole week.

Yes, you get homework. Thankfully only one night of it and I didn't mind with a view like that from my room!

So MEMTA is around due to the generous support of pro golfer Phil Mickelson (He just won the British Open!!) and ExxonMobil. We were involved in a week long all expense paid learning experience that helped us deepen our understanding of math and science content, as well as, helped us build expertise in facilitating student learning through problem solving and inquiry. The main goal of the academy is to provide 3rd through 5th grade teachers with ways to motivate students to pursue careers in math and science.
Some of my Yellow Group peeps!

Number Group 3! The Closing Dinner

The academy took place in Jersey City (a hop, skip, and a jump away from NYC). During the week we were randomly assigned to two different groups (number groups and color groups). Most of our experiences (as MEMTA calls it) were within our color groups. I met so many wonderful educators! The week is jam packed with activities, but the learning is nonstop, engaging, and fun! Everything I learned can be taken back and applied to my classroom. We also listened to some amazing speakers (Cathy Seeley, Barbara Morgan, Calvin Mackie, Bill Robertson, and Page Keeley) throughout the week. One of the most memorable for me was Dr. Calvin Mackie. His charisma was unstoppable! He was so passionate and brought tears to my eyes a few times. Barbara Morgan is a NASA astronaut and teacher who spoke to us about her adventures in space. I even spoke with her during our reception. A pretty neat experience.

Kristin, NASA astronaut Barbara Morgan and me!

Of course throughout the week there were whispers about whether Phil Mickelson would be making his way to the academy. Although some of us thought he may be too busy since he just won the British Open. We figured he would probably have a lot of public appearances to make. Well, low and behold at our last group session, Phil and his wife were the special guests!

Before we had to load on to our buses and head to the airport, all the MEMTA teachers got together on the steps of the Liberty Science Center for a group shot with Phil, his wife, and of course the trophy! My friend Kristin and I were a few of the lucky ones in the first row of the photo. We got to shake hands with and exchange a few words with Phil and his wife.

2013's MEMTA Educators! Phil and his wife are in the middle amongst all us red shirts! We will be sent a copy of this photo! This one was taken by a Liberty Science Center person. I'm hoping our copy will be more head on! Kristin and I are there in the front row. 

I'm so humbled and honored to have been a participant in MEMTA. I'm feeling so renewed and empowered! I can't wait for the school year to start so I can incorporate everything I learned this past week. I have learned so many invaluable things that will definitely affect my teaching practices in so many ways.

Eventhough the academy is jammed packed with activities, you have time during the evenings to explore Jersey City, Hoboken, or NYC. All really close to the hotel. The hotel we stayed at was along the Hudson Bay and had amazing views!

One thing that was reiterated throughout the week: As educators we have such important jobs! We must inspire and instill never-ending hope within our students. We have such an impact on our students, therefore we must teach with passion and ignite that fire of curiosity within our students!
View from our hotel! The Hudson Bay and NYC skyline!

They also gave us tons and tons of books and resources. From books to online resources the list goes on and on. If you do get the opportunity to go make sure you leave room in your suitcase! I think all the materials they gave us weighed 15-20 pounds.

All the free materials I took home with me!

The Liberty Science Center has a great selection of resources. Some of my purchases! 

If you are interested in applying apply HERE. The deadline for next summers seminar is October 31st. Good luck! I wish that all teachers could attend such an incredible professional development!

Some photos I took while on our adventure (Unfortunately I didn't bring my camera. I didn't want to lug it around since we were going to be in our sessions most of the day. Had to use my cell phone for photos.)
AKA: Cake Boss!

Hoboken, New Jersey

 Empire State Building from Hobeken, NJ

 The old train station in Hoboken. The inside was under a renovation, but it was gorgeous! I'm glad they are renovating it!

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday Snapshots: Sod is here! Finally!

We bought our house five years ago and did a lot that first year to make it "our" home. We repainted the house and garage (ourselves...never, never, again), painted every room inside (we like lots of color, no white walls for us), added wainsboard, switched out the light fixtures, etc.

After doing all the work (by ourselves...we saved a lot of money, but man oh man was it A LOT of work) we took a bit of a break. We had the best intentions to get the backyard ready for some BBQ action, but it has just never happened. So for the past five years, my pooches revel in their backyard oasis of weeds, that at times reach heights taller than me. I know...embarrassing! I finally got fed up with my pooches trudging in the weeds and dirt (I was sweeping/mopping daily-definitely not fun) and we hired someone to install sprinklers and sod.

Such a difference! We plan on planting a tree in the back for some shade and eventually (you know in five we will landscape the backyard with drought tolerant plants. We've been in the process of overhauling our front yard with native, drought tolerant plants.

My boys (Hans and Buster) love their new grass. I catch them constantly rolling on their back and playing in the grass.

Linking up with Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera for another Saturday Snapshots!

Our Backyard Transformation

This was what our backyard looked like when we bought the house five years ago. This photo must have been taken during the spring based on the green weeds.

The looks of our yard this summer. Inviting isn't it!

A few of the weeds that are taller than me and I'm 5'5.

 The sod has arrived! Five of these huge stacks were needed to fill our backyard.

Prepping for the sod. Wow! Not a weed in sight!

You'll notice we decided to ditch the Salmon/cream and red house color for an olive green, black, dark brown, gray scheme. 

 Buster checking out what the landscapers have done so far.

Ta Da! Grass!!

So now onto the side yard. I planted these Desert Museum Trees about 7 months ago. They have beautiful yellow followers that bloom during the summer. Ours haven't bloomed this summer. Maybe they are still acclimating to the planting. Any suggestions on what to do with the empty space?? We would like to keep with the native drought tolerant plants/flowers. I definitely don't have a green thumb and any suggestions would be welcomed!

 Time for me to unpack! Yup, I went on another week long adventure. I was in Jersey City at the Mickelson ExxonMobile Teacher Academy. It was beyond AMAZING! I will hopefully post a write up tomorrow all about the academy, how to apply, and so forth.

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Saturday Snapshots: Portland!

Gosh, I feel so out of the loop in the blogging world! I was out of town last week visiting some super awesome friends in one of my favorite cities (Portland) and didn't look at a computer or even log on via my phone.

My trip to Portland was super exciting because one of my best friends from childhood is getting married next year and she asked me to be one of her bridesmaids! Super excited for her big day. Her and her soon to be hubby threw a wonderful engagement party. I've been to Portland a few times prior, but this was one of the best times I've had there! We hit up the coolest bars and breakfast places ever! Another one of my longtime childhood friends lives in Bend, OR about 3 hours south. Her and her hubby drove up and took me to the most beautiful place ever...Silver Falls. We hiked the shorter loop of the Trail of Ten Falls. We saw 6 out of the 10 waterfalls. These waterfalls were amazing! They definitely beat the waterfalls of CA!

I don't know about you, but I grew up loving the Goonies movie! We drove up to the Oregon coast to Astoria and paid a visit the Goonies house. Super rad! Then we moved along the coast to Fort Steven's Beach to check out real wreckage of an old ship wreck that happened in October of 1906!

I know there are quite a few photos, but as I've said before my camera is never far from my arms reach!

Linking up with Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera for another Saturday Snapshot installment!

So my Saturday Snapshots tell some of the tales of my Portland adventure:

Silver Falls, Oregon

Taking a breather.
My friend Misty and myself in front of the second waterfall. Two of the waterfalls you could walk behind. 
View from behind the first waterfall. I fell in love!
Misty and her husband behind the first waterfall
 I just HAD to walk across the fallen tree!

Fort Steven's Beach, OR
Joy and myself on Fort Steven's Beach in front of the ship wreckage. Gorgeous beach!
Seaside, OR
The end of the Lewis and Clark trail.
Astoria, OR
The Goonies House!
View from the Goonies house
Portland, OR

Setting up for the engagement party!
Flowers from Joy's yard!
Dancing the night away...had to get at least one camera phone shot. Taken by my friend Julie!

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