Sunday, November 11, 2012

Do the Cricut!

I had my first experience with a Cricut this weekend.  Thanks to my soon to be sister in law.  And... holy heaven was I impressed.  The options are endless.  I made two signs this weekend that are now hanging in my apartment, and using sticky letters it was so simple.  Check them out:

And EVEN though Christmas doesn't come from a store... I wouldn't mind if Santa dropped off a Cricut to me Christmas Morning!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

It's Reading Cats and Dogs!

Ever since I was a little girl, I have LOVED book orders.... like... loved them. I remember the excitement when my teachers passed out the little flyers, and I'm sure I spent a little too much time circling all the things I wanted in the evenings.  Then after I had JUST about forgotten I had even ordered books in the first place, a stack of new, unopened, fresh books would be waiting on the corner of my desk... thrilling.  As a teacher, I love book orders even more.. I still get excited to search through the orders and I feel so important putting the order together every month.

Although I love everything book order-ey related... I've never been a fan of the reading incentive programs.. you know, read 50 pages get a free personal pan pizza.. read 50,000 pages and get a free class party..  I am all for encouraging reading to happen, but I also don't think you need to be rewarded with a greasy pepperoni pizza and a cake.  However, in this months book order box an awesome surprise awaited.  

Scholastic is donating one book for every twenty minutes spent reading this month. Up to 500,000 books will be donated through December 14th through the PAWS for Reading program.  As I explained this and asked if it was something my kiddos would be interested in.. their faces lit up, which of course made me proud! So today each child got to decide whether they wanted to team with the cats -- or the dogs.  They each got a username and password in the chaos of our afternoon dismissal.... and then I sent them on their way home.  

Now I had forgotten all about this until about twenty minutes ago, when I decided to log myself in and see what this was really all about.  As I logged in, this is what I found:

We have already donated 11 books to those in just one night... how awesome!  Now others have the opportunity of having a new, unopened, fresh book and I think that's a great incentive to read for!  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What Keeps Me Going

An extra hour in the day.  That's sometimes all I wish for...  An extra hour to spend in deep discussion about that tricky fraction concept...  An extra hour for readers to build and connect their reading in their reader's notebooks...  An extra hour to experiment and question...  An extra hour to grapple with mentor texts to find that perfect opening sentence... An extra hour of sleep... An extra hour to clean off the piles on my desk that have been collecting since August... An extra hour to reflect.

A new school, new faces, new adjustments... just one extra hour.  As the end of first quarter approaches, I find myself overwhelmed with what we have yet to accomplish.  I find myself arriving at home later and later, and waking up earlier each morning.  I find myself squeezing things in, penciling arrows in my plan book over to the next day, and leaving our read aloud story unopened for "just one more day."  As I sit here overwhelmed, I have to stop and reflect on where we started that day in the middle of August. 

New friendships have been made.  A new teacher, new students, new relationships have formed.  We know who to turn to if we need a friend to make us laugh, we know who to count on if we need a listening ear.  We recognize the power of those willing to voice their opinions and we recognize the power of those who are observant.  We know who would like to read that new book about reptiles that just entered our library and who we should go to if we need help adding description to our writing.  We have learned to think about numbers in a new way... and that the floating one above the division bar isn't really a one at all.  We know the power of our science notebooks and how to collaborate digitally in the classroom.. and although it may not be visible to the naked eye with the piles on my desk and the arrows in the plan book, the foundation is slowly building.

As I find myself searching desperately for that extra hour, I realize again how important it is to slow down in the twenty four that we are given.  That rejuvenation can come from a quiet moment when you force yourself  to put off grading that stack of papers to add something to a blog you haven't touched in a month and a half...   to search deep in your heart and reflect on what you believe in... and to believe that it is right. To me, that's an hour well spent.  

So this is my promise to myself... to reflect a little more, be content with the yet to be accomplished, and to move forward with what I believe in.  To value the twenty four hours in the day and to slow down to make the most of what I have been given.  And to more importantly realize, that everything must start with a strong foundation.  

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Digital Learning

Currently at a digital learning conference.  Learning lots of new tidbits about technology, groups, collaboration and google.  So many possibilities with education in a digital world.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Last year, I spent most of the school year participating in Teacher Research.  I was able to collaborate with other teachers in my building to share research.  We explored many questions together, and looked closely at what was happening inside our classroom walls.  I decided to focus my research last year on the idea of perspective.  I tried to bring the idea of perspectives into many different content areas, and focused on creating an empathetic atmosphere in the classroom.  Throughout my research I discovered many books to use that would allow us to see from a different perspective.  I recently found a book that would have been perfect to tie into all this research:  Wonder by: RJ Palacio.... don't worry... I can still use it next year.  :)  This book weaves in different perspectives throughout the story and reminds us to be "kinder than necessary."

I encourage you all to give this a try.  I couldn't put it down!  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

As of Lately:

I'm still alive!  Where have I been you might be wondering?  Well.... I've been finishing up summer school, moving myself back to Kansas City, sitting on the floor in my new classroom wondering how this new space should look, ordering new books, laying in the sun, sleeping in a little bit too long, reading new books, rereading old books, dreaming up new bulletin boards, hanging new bulletin boards, riding roller coasters in Branson.. woof, crafting with the bestie, and eating a little too much terrible food.  Basically, I'm enjoying some me time for now.  I promise I will come back though!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Summer Reading... Happened so Fast!

Throughout the school year, I constantly find myself pushing things off until the summer.  "I'll clean _______ this summer.... I'll read _______ this summer... I'll become better at _________ this summer... I'll try ___________ this summer..."  It's a continuous process sadly, and what's even more sad is that I rarely accomplish one third of what is on that list.  And every summer, I make a stack of books I'd like to read.  Usually, I accomplish about... you guessed it... a third of said list...   But alas, here is my Summer 2012 fifth grade book list:

I'm currently reading The Potato Chip Puzzles By: Eric Berlin

Belly Up By: Stuart Gibbs

The One and Only Ivan By: Katherine Applegate

Out of My Mind By:  Sharon Draper

Theodore Boone: The Abduction  By:  John Grisham

Lunch-Bok Dream By: Tony Abbott

Now.... any others I need to add??

Monday, May 21, 2012


The joys of cleaning out a classroom.  :)  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

M&M's for all!

I know, I know... It's been awhile.  But... there is an explanation for my lack of posts.  You just have to wait for me to finish it first.  Hopefully just a couple days!  

Today was the last day we will have formal science in the classroom.  Our to-do list of things we need to finish up by the end of the year is way too long for the amount of days left.  But, where there is a will... there is a way, right?  Maybe.  Anyway, we did a fun experiment today that I did awhile ago in a district science boot camp.  And... it involved candy.  What could be better for this time of year?!  (God bless all teachers during this homestretch!)

In fifth grade, we talk a lot about water and the water cycle.  Especially, how molecules move in hot, room temperature, and cold water.  And how those temperatures relate to the three states of matter.  So, what better way to show this than to put M&M's in water and see what happens! 

FYI:  In order to do this, it's best to have really hot water, and really cold water, so you can see more of a change.  

My students set up the experiment a multiple of different ways.  It's nice that at this time of the year I can sit back and watch them take things into their own hands.  When I hear a child turn to another and say, "wait... that won't be a fair test!"  It makes my heart melt.....

Gathering supplies!
So scientific!  

 It was funny watching the changes happen to the water, especially in the hot water.  And if you wait long enough, look what happens!  The 'M' floats to the top!  Literally.. this resulted in a full blown scream/screech from a fifth grader....  It's the little things in life.  

And who gets all the left over M&M's???  You guessed it.  Happy Wednesday!  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

All good things come to an end!

There are twenty-two days of school left.  22!  It seems like just yesterday I was meeting the ten-year-olds for the first time.  And now the mostly eleven-year-olds are leaving me and heading on to the big ole' middle school.  My babies are growing up!

I'm a sucker for end of the year ceremonies, and the next few weeks will be filled creating time capsules filled with letters to our older selves, pictures, elementary school memories and things that are important to us now.  We will write letters to old inspiring teachers, talk about the best books of fifth grade and create advice for my future class in Kansas City.  (Whatever grade they may be!)  I found an end of the year ceremony idea on Choice Literacy from Franki Sibberson that celebrates the literacy we have loved in Room 209.  Starting last Friday, each child received a day.  (The last day is reserved for me, obviously!)  On the child's day, they choose one book we have read together throughout the year to re-read.  It could be a passage from a chapter book, or a picture book we used throughout the year.  Here is what has been chosen so far:

25:  Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick: (second to last chapter)  I won't ruin it for you, but during this chapter, I couldn't read it aloud without crying... I mean, I was a blubbering mess as they stared up at me.  Maybe this was their attempt to see me cry again... harr harr! However the fifth grader who chose it so kindly offered to read it for me to the class to spare me the embarrassment.  Sweet, huh?

24:  Crow Call by Lois Lowry: One of our favorite memoir mentor texts.  This is one of those books I get more out of each time I read it.  The language is beautiful and the fifth graders especially like to see my giraffe interpretation Lois' dad does in the story.  

23:  Things That are Most in the World by Judi Barrett:  We created a similar book for our first grade buddies at the beginning of the year, and we still laugh out loud at some of the superlatives in this book.  

So what does tomorrow have in store?  Who knows, and that's what is so fun.  It has been awesome to rediscover the memories attached to some of the books that haven't been noticed or looked at since September.  And we all get excited as the child searches our library for their special choice. 

 It has been a great year of reading in Room 209, that's for sure.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

God bless the imgagination!

Take ten minutes of your life to watch this.  Then, cry.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

It's a Monday!

As I put off writing my research paper for yet another day, I stumbled upon this tonight in Ralph Fletcher's new book Pyrotechnics on the Page:

"Teaching... is an ongoing series of microexperiments that extend and modify the repertoire of teachers.  When we stop experimenting, we stop living as teachers."  -Tom Newkirk

Maybe this is my cue to stop sitting around and begin making sense of my year long experiment.  
...maybe tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” 
-Robert Frost

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

It's not Easter yet, but I'm in chip heaven!

Before I start this, I would like to give a sincere apology to Walmart: I promise the next can of paint I buy will be purchased from you, as I took34 paint chips from you today.  Sorry! 

 I saw this idea online awhile ago, and tweaked it a bit to fit my color preferences/style.  I cut each paint chip so it was a 2x2. Then my wonderful roommate Rosie, who may be a bit obsessive on color placement and arrangement, got them all in order for me. I am forever grateful to her, as I have no patience for that kind of stuff! 

 I glued them down and put them into a 16x20 inch frame, which I found super cheap at Michaels.  Now, it is ready to keep my ever exciting and eventful life in order!  

Also, who is seeing Titanic in 3D tomorrow?!  
Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rocking the Water Cycle

45 minutes and a supply closet later, look what the ten year olds came up with!  Brilliant I say...

In other news:  One more sleep till spring break, 3004 reunion, and my birthday!!!   Feeling very loved already!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

When I dip, you dip, we dip

Friday marks this months faculty food day at MPK.  The theme this time: dips and desserts.  Which is basically my heaven.  (Don't worry.. I'm packing a bag of baked chips so I can savor all the delicious dips too.) This week, I stumbled on a recipe for Funfetti Cake Batter Dip.  How meant to be was that?  A dip AND a dessert!  I decided to be proactive this time around, and didn't want to wait until the last minute to make it. I couldn't wait any longer to try it.. so I made it tonight.

Funfetti Cake Batter Dip
1 box Funfetti cake mix
2 cups low-fat yogurt  (I used vanilla because the plain stuff is just disgusting)
1 tub light cool whip  (healthy, huh?)

Mix the cake mix and yogurt until smooth.  Fold in the cool whip.  

Two steps = My kind of recipe

Largest strawberry in the world!

Serve with fruit, graham crackers, animal crackers, your fingers... etc.  
This dip might not make it to school Friday......

In other news, look what Mase and I did this weekend  (Bet you can spot Ma$on's):  


Neat, huh?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Amen, Dr.

"It is better to know how to learn, than to know."  Dr. Seuss

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


We are currently in the shuffle of our memoir unit in Room 209.  Writing Workshop has looked considerably different this year under the slew of new materials, and it's been hard to find time to just write.  Memoir is one of my favorite genres, because it allows me to reconnect with each child as I hear their stories.  Each child was a buzz this afternoon as they waited to share their story with the class.  And, they always let out a few giggles as I share some of my personal memoirs.  (Yes, even Miss K has some embarrassing moments to share!)  As I was cleaning out some of the clutter in my bookshelf tonight, I found this memoir I wrote my fellows year.  Thought I would share it with you, before the ten year olds.  :)


My nose brushed the top of the water.  The smell of moldy mud seeped into my nostrils and began to tickle.  A warm pulse began to move up and down my spine, my body's way of telling me that I couldn't hold this position forever.  I waited.

By this time, my dad and I had perfected this skill.  A balance of being patient and knowing when to take a risk.  Letting your hand dip quickly into the water, wrapping your fingers around the goal, a tadpole.

My dad and I had made many trips to that smelly pond.  The water warm from sitting in the August sun, we would tiptoe into the water, careful not to startle the baby frogs.  Using our hands as nets, letting the tadpole rest on our palms before cuddling the tadpole with our fingers.  My dad could always catch twice as many, after all his hand was twice as big.  But he'd always let them slide through my hands, where I named them, before dropping them into the water with a gentle splash.  

Looking back I can see that it wasn't just tadpoles I was learning to catch.  I was learning how to catch my dreams:  a balance of being patient, and knowing when to take a risk.  

-Micaela Kazanowski

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Baked, not fried.

I gave up fried foods for lent.  Biggest mistake ever.  Especially because most of my diet consists of french fries, fried pickles and chips and salsa.  And it becomes especially hard when certain loved ones in my life order entire plates of fried foods while I am eating pita bread.... No. Fair. I decided today that instead of a frozen meal dinner for the bazillionth time, I was going to step up and make something worthwhile for dinner.  I found a recipe for buffalo chicken enchiladas on Pinterest this week and decided this would at least somewhat make me feel better... (somewhat).... and, it seemed pretty easy:

cheese (I did not add Gorgonzola.. woof)
wheat tortillas
green onions
enchilada sauce
Franks buffalo sauce.. yum

You can find the entire recipe here!

Not too shabby:

I also decided to buy baked chips today to curve my chips and salsa craving.... not as good, but at least it's something!  And, I'll be less of a grump!  

Happy Tuesday!  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I'll Take Two

Valentine for Ernest Mann
by Naomi Shihab Nye

You can't order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter, say, "I'll take two"
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, "Here's my address,
write me a poem," deserves something in reply.
So I'll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.

Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn't understand why she was crying.
"I thought they had such beautiful eyes."
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really 
liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.

Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.

Happy Belated Day-of-Love!  

Love, Micaela

Monday, February 13, 2012

That's Baloney!

There are many books in our classroom that are well loved.  The covers are ripped, pages bent and the poor things are constantly getting shuffled from one desk bag to the next.  One of our classroom favorites is Jon Scieszka and Lane's Smith's Baloney.  

Now if you haven't read this book, it's about a young alien, Henry P. Baloney. Henry finds himself late to school one too many times.  His teacher, Miss Bugscuffle asks for his reasoning, and threatens life long detention unless he has a reeeealllly good excuse.  Henry goes into detail about what has happened, using words from other languages to help him out.  For example, he misplaced his trusty Zimulus on his Deski.  

This books had all of us laughing as I tried to read aloud the weird words.  Some of them were even Polish, and I couldn't do it!  Ha!  Using an idea found in this book, students worked together to find the meaning of each word after we read it together.  They had to find proof from the text that helped them find what the words meant.  (Inferring!)  And at the end, we got to check our ideas with the glossary in the back of the book.  We had a ball, all while tackling a bigger chunk of reading comprehension.  

Now what's on the agenda for my snow day?  A full day of PJs, snacking, watching Bachelor, and maybe even a little book shopping.  Wooohooo!  Enjoy the day!  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Something to ponder..

"My request is:  Help your students to become human.  Your efforts should never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths and educated Eichmanns.  Reading, writing and arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more humane."  Haim G. Ginott

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A little of this, A little of that

It has been such a busy week.  In the midst of research meetings, the grading of assessments, and book review meetings there has been little down time!  Smack dab in the middle of this week was faculty food day at Paxton.  And I had to stick to that darn goal from the beginning of the year... I had to make something.  Although- at about 9:00 when I finally got home from the day, the idea of going out and buying a box of sprinkle frosted cookies was sounding preeeetttyyyyy good.  Anyway, I found this idea from my lovely friend Jordon, who made a Halloween version of these treats.  I decided to take the Valentines Day approach.

What you need:

Heat oven to 350, and cover a cookie sheet with foil.  Spread pretzels out and place a kiss on top of each.  (The unwrapping takes the longest)
 Put in oven and cook for about two minutes.  Take them out and press an M&M into the center.  (That's the fun part)  Chill in the fridge and enjoy!
Sweet, salty and crunchy.  Nums. 

Also, I got a chance to go to a book review of the new award winners for next year.  Basically-my heaven.  Oh gosh, that sounds so old lady-ish...  Crap.  Needless to say, my book wishlist on Amazon doubled.  Here are just a few favorites:  

Think I better start buying stock in publishing companies.  Now.. back to grading.   :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Giving Tree!

 I found this idea on Pinterest, but thought it was a long shot since my painting skills are pretty much non-existent, and the patience it would take to glue on all the buttons could potentially drive me crazy.  Alas, I had to give it a try.  I started with a blank canvas (thanks Kate), brown acrylic paint, and a jumbo box of assorted buttons.  Two hours later, this is what I ended up with:  
Naked tree!

And then....
Finished tree!
Very simple, and less frustrating than I imagined.

Now, cheers to a full week of school!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Where'd the money go?

So I have a friend, with an amazing voice.  Like.. real great.  And if you know me, I don't quite have the windpipes of an angel. But in my dreams (or car).. I would be able to blow the roof off this song, like 
Kat(e)(ie) and Sara.  

Thanks Kat!  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Whatever Micaela wants....

I know that Christmas is over... but I can't help but fill up the "I want" section of my Pinterest board lately.  I'm not sure what has gotten into me.   Ha!

 So here I give you what I like to call, "Micaela's birthday list... (72 days in advance.)"

That's right.. a bean bag bed with built in bean bag blanket and bean bag pillow.  

Dinosaur socks

So your crackers don't get soggy too soon.  


Perfect size!

To make grading papers so much easier.  

A tool AND a toy!
Now if anyone needs my address to mail gifts, please let me know.  ;)