Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Happy Teacher, Happy Class

The Happiness Project

                               The Happiness Project by:  Gretchen Rubin

Are you happy today?  What about yesterday, last week, last year?  I read a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and wanted to share it with you.  Gretchen decided that she wanted to dedicate a year to researching happiness and being happy.  During that process she wrote a memoir.  I was interested in this book, not only for my personal happiness and family happiness, but for the happiness of my classroom.  Most of my days as a teacher have been happy days.  But, there are days that I wake up and I am grumpy, cranky, bad-tempered, sulky, peevish - what ever adjective you want to pick.  There usually is no particular reason.  It seems that if I woke up with that grumpy feeling, it stayed with me the entire day.  Poor me, poor children!  According to Gretchen's book it is not enough to want to be happy.  We have to work at it and take steps to change our grumpy mood.  Some of the steps that I am going to do are:

  • Go to bed earlier.  I get up at 6:00 on school days, so that means I should go to bed at 10:00 to get 8 hours. 
  • Exercise - I have started exercising three times a week - 2 days of Zumba and 1 day of walking.  I want to add a Saturday class for a total of 4 days a week.
  • DeClutter - I am working on this as we speak (I mean write).  I want to be totally decluttered and organized before school starts.  When school begins, I will do a minute or 15 minutes here and there.
  • Make To Do Lists for everything
  • Lighten up and sing in the morning.
  • If I wake up grumpy, check my attitude and think about having a light heart, and a loving and kind spirit.  
  • Act the way I WANT to feel.  I don't want to feel bad, so change my actions if necessary.
When I am happy in the classroom I am more patient and kind with the children.  I have more energy and am willing to give 100%+ to my teaching.  Creating a happy atmosphere in my classroom next year is at the top of my list! 

You can check out Gretchen's blog at

Warm Regards,



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Writing Everyday!


Good Morning!

One of the items on my bucket list was to write everyday.  The Teachers Write Summer Camp is making that very easy.  It is a free online workshop for anyone interested in writing.  I feel that if I am going to teach writing, I need to be writing too.  Just like reading.  I am a reader and I teach reading.  Teaching writing is more than giving the children a topic to write on and say go!  There is a process and we all have to go through it.  It's time consuming, difficult, and sometimes painful  If completed right, there will be an awesome sense of accomplishment.  As an added bonus, I am gathering many new ideas to inspire my students.  You can find this camp at  We are on week four, but you can just jump in or you can back track too.  Have fun!

With Anticipation,


Monday, June 25, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

First, I must say I have been reading blogs all morning and discovering new blogs devoted to reading books. These aren't children's books, just books for grown-ups to read for fun - Ha Ha!  I also found out some ideas for my book club that I can't wait to share with my group.  You can find these idea at:

Before I tell you what I am reading today and the rest of the week, I want to share last weeks reads.

One of my goals for next year is to get rid of the basal and use mentor texts for lessons and reading.  I found several resources for this purpose.  They are:

1.  Better Than Book Reports by Christine Boardman Moen
2.  Using Picture Books to Teach 8 Essential Literary Elements by Susan Van Zile, Mary Napoli & Emily Ritholz  - This one is for Grades 4-8, but I will use some of these idea for my higher level students.
3.  Reading Response for Fiction by Jennifer Jacobson
4.  Reading Response for Nonfiction by Jennifer Jacobson
5.  Cinderella Outgrows the Glass Slipper and Other Zany Fractured Fairy Tale Plays by J.M.Wolf

We are starting with a dragon theme next year so I read The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch.

For myself, I read The Book Club by Mary Alice Monroe.  I just discovered this author and look forward to reading more of her books.  I ordered The Beach House and Beach House Memories from the library.  Can't wait!  I also read Restore, Recycle, Repurpose by Randy Florke.  This was a fun book to look at and to get some ideas for my home.

Wow, this is getting long but, here is my list of books for today and the rest of the week.

1.  Essential Strategies for Word Study by Timothy Rasinski & Jerry Zutell
2.  The Fluent Reader by Timothy Rasinski
3.  I am re-reading, My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.  I consider this book to be a classic.  I can remember my teacher reading it aloud and I read it by myself, I don't know how many times.  I love this book.  
4.  I am also re-reading Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.  I think there are a lot of similarities to My Side of the Mountain.  I read this to my fifth graders every year and we would follow up with a class novel - Brian's Winter.  Gary Paulsen has several books with the character of Brian.  Again, a book I love.
5.  Lulu and the Brontosaurus  by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Lane Smith.  I ordered this book from Scholastic at the end of the year.  It looks interesting and has alternate endings.
6.The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White is another classic, but I may use it at the beginning of the year to discuss friendship.
7.  Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse is a story using prose.  Hesse is an award winning author.
8.  For me, Skeleton Letters by Laura Childs.  This is a scrapbooking mystery.  I scrapbook, so this is interesting to me.  I have read a few of her books and enjoy them.

I better start reading NOW!

Ta ta for now,


Saturday, June 23, 2012


Hi Everyone!

Rachel Lamb at The Tattooed Teacher is having a great giveaway to celebrate her 500 followers.  There are many ways to enter.  Check it out!

More to Come,


Friday, June 22, 2012

Header Trouble

Well, my son was able to get the header onto my blog, but it didn't look right.  We weren't able to center it or make the title fit into the space for the title - if that makes sense.  So, I think I am going to bite the bullet and pay for a template and have them install it for me.  Look for it soon.

My boys were making fun of my closing "later".  They think I am trying to be cool - LOL.  I am going to experiment with as many closings as I can think of.



Thursday, June 21, 2012

This and That

I have been following the directions and am  trying, trying, trying to get a background for my blog, but am having zero success.  I think I am going to ask my children to help me.  I have a feeling they will be able to do it very quickly.  I have been going to some garage sales lately.  I know a lot of you are doing the same.  I found two bingo games for homonyms and parts of speech.  Homonyms seem to be a big part of the Common Core for third grade.  I also found a book that ties in Children's literature with social studies themes.  I am planning to use many, many, many mentor texts with my lessons.  I am currently gathering information and sources.  I hope to post these mentor texts with my lesson ideas in a future post(s).

It is amazing how fast this summer is going by.  I am almost panicking, because there is so much I want to accomplish for school in the fall, for my family, and for my home!

Later -



Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Whatcha Reading?


I joined the Summer Reading Linky Party at and snagged this great button.

I am reading:

From the library and for fun - The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain.

On my Kindle - Porch Light by Dorothea Benton Frank, one of my favorite southern authors.  It was so fun to pre-order the book and it show up on my Kindle the day of release.

Professionally - In Pictures and in Words by Katie Wood Ray (blog study begins June 22, 2012) and No More "I'm Done" by Jennifer Jacobson.

Children's Literature - The Time Bike by Jane Langton.  This will be a possible read-aloud - genre, fantasy.

Until next time,


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bucket List


I know I'm late with my bucket list.  I enjoyed reading every one's list in May.  I just started blogging, so I thought, better late than never.  I tried to get some pics, but.....  here it goes.

                                                                      Home and Personal

  1. Spring clean - whoops, I mean summer clean and de-clutter.
  2. Yard work - I am going to try to recruit my boys to help!
  3. Trim my grape vines and make grape jelly.
  4. Start a raised garden.
  5. Finish my son's bedroom that I started in March - paint, floors, curtains, new rug, ceiling fan, and decorations. I finished the curtains and the paint will be finished this week - yeah!
  6. Make a downstairs bedroom into a scrapbook/craft room.
  7. Make an office/writing nook in my dining room.
  8. Read, read, and read some more!
  9. Write everyday.
  10. Continue my Zumba class and add another class on Saturday morning.  Walk.
  11. Cook healthy recipes and stock the refrigerator and freezer before school starts.    
  12. And, last but not least, spend time with my family!                                                                       


  1. Shop garage sales for items I can use at school.
  2. Read Professional Books and Children's Literature.
  3. Learn everything I can about blogging.
  4. Blog and explore blogs as much as possible.
  5. Learn everything I can about Teachers Pay Teachers.
  6. Plan Unit for August and September - Theme Dragons.
  7. Create games and activities for Summer School.
  8. Create an activity and/or game for review of the first week of Fundations.
  9. Create items for Tpt.

    Wow, that's a list!  Wish me luck.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Take Me Out To The Ball Game!

One of the best days of summer break is Sunday.  During the school year, Sunday afternoon is a time when I am starting to think about all of the things I didn't finish at home and what  I still need to do at school, to be prepared,  for the new week.  Today was different.  I went to my son's softball game.  It was a beautiful day.  Hot, but cool in the shade with the birds singing.  I  accomplished all of things that had to be finished today.  There are still many items on my to-do list that did not get finished.  Oh well, there is Monday at home!  More time for R & R and unhurried time to work.  I hope everyone is enjoying their time.

Until next time,


Saturday, June 9, 2012


It has been over a week since the students in my class left me for the summer.  I have already seen several of them at a local soccer camp, that my son, who will be a freshman next year, helped with. It was good to see their friendly, smiling faces.  It also was wonderful that they were participating in physical activity.  So, as the summer break moves along, I want to reflect about last year.  I teach two groups of students.  One group was very successful in learning everything they needed to learn in third grade.  They were well behaved and kind to each other.  I could count on them to do their job when working independently.  We had a very good year together.  When I think about the other group, I think, what could I have done, to better guide this group, to be more successful?  It was a challenging group of students.  There were several behavior issues and many of the children were at risk and part of the RTI process.  In talking with their homeroom teacher, we both feel that the higher level children did not give their best effort.  As a school, we use Daily Five as our reading management program.  The children make choices to work independently in, reading to self, read to someone, listen to reading, word work, and writing.  While they work, I can work with small groups of children or individual children.  With this second group of children, I wasn't confident that they were truly working independently.  Many times someone would blurt out and argue with another student.  How can I make them more accountable for their work?  How can I carve out more time, to conference with them, about what they did, during their independent work?  Another area that needs work is our writing program.  The children worked on writing during Daily Five.  They shared their writing on Friday's during Daily Five share.  We had several writing projects throughout the year that we published and made art work to go with the writing.  Unfortunately, when we were short of time, it seemed like it was writing that was cut from the lesson plan.  So, I look forward to working on these issues.  I want to build on the successes we had and improve on the issues.

I had an exciting work day with my reading colleague about a month ago.  We outlined our curriculum for next year.  Everything will be based on Common Core Standards.  We will put away the basal for most of the year and use authentic literature that goes with the themes that we have planned.  We will continue to use Daily Five and Cafe strategies.  We will work on accountability.  We will use the LLI program for our small group work.  Our principal is purchasing 5 e-readers that I can see all kinds of possibilities to use these with all levels of readers.  We will make time for writing. We will use the Six Traits Writing Program and model, model, model.  We will use mentor texts to teach the six traits and the Cafe Strategies. My plan is to start working on August and September curriculum during the summer break and I look forward to this work!  I look forward to finding solutions for difficult situations that find there way into the classroom!  Reflection is a good thing!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Hi!  My name is Kathy Johnson.  I teach third grade and am very excited to be blogging!  I am at a class to teach me how to do this.  I have a wonderful teacher from my school district who has created an excellent blog that everyone should check out.  Her blog is  Please be patient as I work on this blog.  I have lots to learn and big plans to make my blog informative and pleasing to look at.  I have been searching for templates, but want to make sure I choose the right one.  Happy blogging to everyone!