I've been "tagged" - 7 things:):):)

NASCAR FAN - I find that people are shocked when they find out that I LOVE to watch car races. It's not just NASCAR necessarily, however that is my favorite. But I just love watching and going to car races.

Scrapbook-aholic - Since I never have time to scrapbook anymore, i.e. have children:), I seem to have become a "scrapbook supply collector." This means I still buy the stuff but never actually scrapbook:):) Kind of like buying clothes that you never wear.

Tech Geek Wanna-be - I love all technology in all it's forms but I often need lots of help to figure things out. Bought a MAC because of peer pressure from @scottelias and still don't know all the bells and whistles of having one:):) Just because I podcast, blog, twitter, FB, etc. doesn't mean I know how to "program" :)

Starbucks Addict - Pretty self explanatory!

Homesick - My husband's family and my family are 4 and 6 hours away. Sometimes I just need a "mom-fix" to see my mom and hang out. I don't think I would ever move back but I wish I could see them more often. That's why we live for Skyping.

I am an indoors person - I wish we could afford to pay a landscaper to plant beautiful flowers and fix our yard up all fancy. Dirt, grass, bugs, extreme cold or hot, allergies etc. keep me from embracing my inner-"green." We support recycling and environmental awareness as long as I don't have to be outside:):):) Spring and Fall are my favorite seasons.

Harley Envy - I want a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Let me rephrase that and say I WILL SOMEDAY HAVE ONE. That kind of contradicts my last "thing." My parents have had Harley's for over 10 years now. I used to go on rides with my dad before I had kids and it was so relaxing. Only day long rides for me. Not road-trips and vacations.

There you have it! A once in a lifetime look into the REAL Melinda Miller:):):)

February Teacher Motivation

The month of February can be a loooooooong month! Sometime there are no breaks to look forward to. Judy Domeny Bowen sings about the February Teacher Blues in her album Teacher Therapy. What better way to liven up the month than to have a little fun?:)

The idea for Fabulous Friday's in February came from a colleague of mine that is a principal at on the other Willard Schools. Rhonda does Fabulous February and does something for each day of the month. I am not able to keep up with that so i just do Fridays. You would have to decide what works for you. With everything that is going on with our economy and all the job stress, we need something to lift our spirits. Maybe you can tweak this to work for your school.

This year we are going to have a theme.."Guess Who?" You may have done a rendition of this in your school but I am going to lump them all together into 4 Fridays.
Below is the letter to the teachers. I put this on fancy Valentine paper and then put it in their mailboxes.

"We have a theme this year!!! Below is a list of the Fridays in February and the PICTURE that you need to bring to participate. Nikki will be creating a bulletin board outside the office that we will change weekly to display our mystery pictures. This is meant to be as little work for you as possible. Just for fun!!!

You can start turning your pictures in to Nikki ASAP. If you do not have a picture you are welcome to check out my digital camera to take some.

Each week there will be a “form/test” that goes with each theme for you to guess and turn in your answers. Since this will be in the hallway you are welcome to have your students help or play along.

Feb. 6 - Guess who's...Feet?
Feb. 13 - Guess who's...Spouse/Significant other?
Feb. 20 - Guess who's...Pet?
Feb. 27 - Guess who's...on Vacation?

Secret Pals: We also have Secret Pals in February. This has been a lot of fun in the past so if you have never “played” let this be your year to try it out. Someone from Service Committee will come around for you to draw your secret pal Jan. 30 and the sneakyness begins Feb. 2nd. We will have the BIG REVEAL Monday February 23 after school. Everyone is welcome to come to the BIG REVEAL"

Assessment Wall Pre-Post

You may be wondering a "pre-post" is. Well let me just explain. I have been wanting to post about our assessment wall since November and it never works out. Yesterday I used my Flip video camera to record the wall and tell about it and now my Flip video camera doesn't work AGAIN!!! Already sent it back once.

An assessment wall is something that I heard about 3-5 years ago. Some of the schools that are going through the Missouri Reading Initiative have the walls. It is a very visual way to see where all the students in our school fall in reading ability. You can incorporate other subject areas into the wall but our focus is reading.

The picture above is our wall in it's infancy back in November. I have better pictures of it now that will be in my "real post" about this wall:):):) I hope to have close up pictures or a video that you can see and understand what it is all about.

Here are the basics: (Kindergarten is "yellow" and they are not on the wall in the above picture.)
  • I have 375 students and I am using 5 pocket charts. 4 on one wall and one on the end wall.
  • Each grade level is a different color index card.
  • There are dot stickers on each card to note charateristics of each student. (Red dot = girls, blue dot = boys, yellow dot = IEP, bright blue dot = new student and so on. I hope to be more clear in the next post.)
  • Students names and reading levels are on the BACK of each card.
  • I have 4 of each grade level so each card also has to have a designation mark for each teacher. (Sounds complicated but I think you will understand.)
  • At the very top I have sentence strips that show the range of where each grade level should be.
  • The black with red letters is the guided reading level.
  • The yellow row at the very top of the pocket chart is the DRA level.
Now I am going to go look around my building and see if I can find one of the teachers' flip video cameras that I bought them and try to record with one of their cameras. I may even have the "real post" up by the end of the day.

iPhone "App-Aholic"

I always wonder what application other people are using on their iPhones. Recently an article I read talked about how applications are being downloaded for the "wow" factor to show off to your friends. Having just done this by showing someone iFart (Yes I downloaded this moronic program for fun.) What are others downloading? I am not as interested in the "fun" programs as I am in the productivity type programs.

Here's what's on my iPhone: (That I use most often/regularly)

News - I read these in the wee hours of the morning or late night while I am laying down with my kids
  • CNN
  • USA Today
  • New York Times
Social Networking- This is for Twitter. I can't keep up very well but every now and then I can scroll back through to the past post I read and see what has been going on.
  • Twinkle
  • Tweetie - Love the "favorites" option so I can star tweets with links I can use later.
  • Twitterific

Productivity- I don't consider myself very productive lately but these are what I try to go by.
  • Things
  • Grocery IQ - This also has a "favorites" option so I do not have reenter everything every week
  • Fast Notes - I have been using this to document walk-through observations informally. It is for me to keep on track of being visible in the classroom. I can look back and see what classrooms I need to visit.
  • Evernote - This is awesome for taking pictures and writing a note on them.
  • Easy Writer - This is to write email in landscape mode.
Miscellaneous - I'll try to explain each of these.
  • The Weather Channel - This is awesome to help me plan mine and my kids wardrobes for the week.
  • Google - Use this for Google reader
  • Kodak Gallery - My family uploads to Kodak so I have to use this as my photo album instead of a paper wallet photo album.
  • Facebook - Need I explain. See previous post
  • Backgrounds - I change my background all the time just for fun.
  • Bankar...Lite - I am trying to keep track of every single dime I spend to see where my money is going (Starbucks, nails, donuts etc.:))
  • AceBudget - I can enter a budget for Starbucks and then see when I get to my limit:):):)
  • Lose It - Keeps track of your calories. Haven't used it much yet.
  • DarkSlide - Flickr App - Haven't used much but I think it is fixed.
  • LinkedIn - A MO Supt. started a group on LinkedIn but it hasn't really taken off yet.
  • WordPress - Just in case I want to post to my staff blog.
  • Flashlight - Since I never know where I am going to end up for the night (I have two daughters that don't sleep through the night) I sleep with my iPhone under my pillow as an alarm that I can take from room to room. I use this so I don't have to turn the lights on.
  • VoiceNotes - So far I have only recorded my daughters because their voices and laughter are so fun right now
  • Drinks Free - Need I say more:):):)
Games - I guess mostly for my daughter or long drives in the car.
  • LightSaber - One of my teachers has this and we are going to "battle" some day when her kids earn a reward for something.
  • Bejeweled - Game to play in car and at Board meetings
  • MotoChaser - I am terrible at this
  • Flick Bowling - My 3 year old can now play this a little bit
  • PaperFootball - Don't play much anymore
  • iFish - For my husband but he now has the iTouch.
  • Animals - For Alyson
  • Scribble - My 3 year old LOVES this one.
  • Dice - You shake your iPhone and the dice rattle. Very fun.
  • iFart - Just because it's funny, sort of.
Well there you have it! Maybe this will help you choose some programs. I haven't been keeping track of the prices of these which is why I need the Bankar programs. What are you using?

Facebook Junkie

Over the holiday break I added ONE MORE THING TO KEEP TRACK OF! AHHHHHH!!! Facebook. Now I am an addict!

Beginning - I actually joined Facebook last year at this time by peer pressure from Scott Elias my podcasting friend from Colorado. At the time I didn't really "get into it" because of the time factor and I already try to keep up with blogging and twitter. Well...my mom called me a couple of weeks ago and said that my younger brother's "status" on Facebook had changed to "in a relationship." Of course this is very interesting to me because what better way to make fun of your younger brother than online for everyone to see.(Just kidding) I guess that also intrigued my older brother into signing up too. So keeping with the competitive nature of our family, I HAD to sign on, of course:):):)

Having no idea what I was doing I posted some ridiculus "status updates" a few times. Of course I then downloaded the app for my iphone and all is history now. The really cool things is the amount of people that I have lost track of over the years that are now on Facebook. I can see their family pictures and what they are up to and everything. We are in the middle of planning our 20 year class reunion and it is a great way to make connections with old classmates.

Middle...I guess I will just continue to "be friends" with everyone. At first my goal was to have more "friends" than my brothers. But once I figured out what it was all about I don't really care how many friends I have I just enjoy catching up with old friends.

End...There is no end in sight once you are hooked on Facebook. I can see how people come and go to their accounts because it can be so addicting. There are a lot of people that I wish were on Facebook and I will now start mission of converting them:):):)

Happy New Year!!!

If I were any good at keeping at New Year's resolutions mine would be to blog post regularly. Unfortunately this year I have been so busy I haven't made any new year's resolutions. Yipeeee!!! Oh, I have some swirling around in my head...the old faithfuls...lose weight, save money, be a better wife and mother, be more thankful outloud, etc. I will work on all of these as will all of you.

(I haven't finished my project pictured to the left. If I wait til the cups are filled I won't have time to write this post. So this is a "post-on-the-fly"!)

Today I am working quietly in my office. B.C. = Before children I was so good at little "feel good" things for my teachers like treats on their desks and notes of thanks or good job. A.C. = After Children I am terrible with all that. I want to do it but I can't even get the diaper bag packed some nights. Well at least I am off to a good start...sort of.

With the all that is going on the world I feel it is going to be a challenge to keep my teachers motivated and keep their eye on the "prize," the children. I know it is even hard for me at times. Today I bought some "cute" border paper and wrote a Happy New Year's letter to leave on their desks for their return. I bought the plastic champagne glasses at the party store and will fill them with chocolate and place them with the letter on their desks. It is just a small motivational letter about remembering that we are making a difference.

After reading Dave Sherman's post about his blogging story, I have reflected on mine. The sole purpose I feel that I started blogging was to share tangible/doable ideas with other principals in hopes that they would share-back. It has worked! Lots of ideas come from my "network" and I am very appreciative of all of it. I just hope that I "give back" enough to them.