Change is hard. And necessary. And awesome. 

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Change isn’t exactly my favorite thing. Beginnings are scary, and endings are sad, and I’m often too impatient to give hope a chance to float up in the middle.

Despite my hesitation, some of my best learning experiences in life (learning to walk, riding a bike, learning to swim) began with letting go, so I’m doing my best to be brave as I take a leap out of all I’ve ever known in education and try something new.

I have learned a lifetime’s worth of knowledge in the last nine years in my current district as both a teacher and a literacy coach, and I will certainly leave a big part of my heart at Greene Elementary. But earlier today, I officially signed my new contract with a new school district, where I will be a 4th grade Reading and Writing teacher. I’m thrilled to go back to the classroom and apply all of the stellar training I’ve had over the last six years, and I’m equally terrified that I won’t have a clue what I’m doing once I get there.

My new school is breathtakingly beautiful, and it’s SO much closer to home. And perhaps best of all, my sweet friend Rachel (whose anchor charts have always been your favorites, according to my Pinterest data) will be right down the street wading through all of this newness with me. We got our email addresses and badges today. No going back now! #parkinglotselfie #changeisgood #hahajkchangeishard

  
I’m not going away, but this page may change directions a bit. I honestly haven’t thought that far ahead yet. Stay tuned!
XOXO,
Julie


Finding My Why

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Do you ever have a moment when you leave school thinking, “What am I even doing? Why do I keep coming back here?” I’ve had a few of those lately. This work is hard, friends. I know you know this.

Last night I dreamed that I had an office job, and that I loved every little bit of it. I’ve had office jobs, and I know I’m using rose-colored glasses when I look back on them, but the idea of closing my door and checking off my to-do list like a champ is appealing. Leaving work not consumed by the defeat and brokenness that often comes with little humans sounds downright Heavenly. In my dream, it was. I woke up shaking my head at why I (or anyone) would return to this work that is so hard on the mind and hard on the heart.

And then I checked my email. I don’t know Sue from Warrawong, Australia (and I hope she won’t mind my sharing this). What I do know is that she gave me my why today.

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xoxo,
JB


Under Construction

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Hi friends!

I hope you had fabulous holidays full of lots of little moments that turn into big memories. If you started back to work this week like I did, well, I’m sure you’ll catch up on your sleep very soon. 😉

I wanted to let you know that I have FINALLY found an website-building program that I like as much as iWeb, so I will be rebuilding my site from scratch over the next couple of weeks. You may see blank pages and “under construction” text during that time, but I hope you’ll be patient with me. My biggest hope in this move (and the only reason I’m willing to start over) is that I will update more often since I can use this program on my laptop, and not just on my desktop. I promise to put all of your favorite content back up as soon as I possibly can. Thank you so much for you patience!

xoxo,
Julie


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I Love Legos!

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You guys, I think I’ve mentioned a few (or a hundred) times that I’m not so good at the consistent blogging thing. I’ll get in a good swing where I’m posting every few weeks, and that usually lasts oh, I don’t know….a few weeks, maybe?

My inconsistent posting is not for lack of wanting to share great stuff with y’all, nor is it due to a lack of great stuff to share. It’s just that this blog isn’t staring me in the face quite like the pile of books I’ve been dying to read or my almost-full DVR or my never-ending list of silly errands. (Cross one off. Write two more. Story of my life.)

But today, after WAY too long, I’m finally making time to tell you about some totally fabulous products that Lego Education sent me last year. (Yes. An actual year ago. Those errands are never ending, man!)

I have to first brag about the great staff at the Lego Education offices. (I don’t know if they sit in cubicles made of Duplo bricks or if their desks are grown-up Lego tables just waiting for creations, but I kind of hope it’s both.) They reached out to me so long ago and have been nothing but kind and patient as I’ve spent a year trying out the products they sent me with various groups of children (and more than a few adults) for a solid year. Thank you for all of your help, Lego Education friends!

Also, I feel like now is a good time to mention a few disclaimers:

1. I’ve been approached about a few product plugs in the last couple of years, but none of them has made me as excited as an opportunity to partner with Lego. I grew up with mountains of Lego bricks at my disposal, the bulk of which are still seeing playtime at my mom’s house.

2. I’m kind of an old-school Lego fan. These teeny tiny things that come with specific directions for building the Death Star are cool in their own right, but I’m a purist who doesn’t like to be told what to do. Classic Lego bricks are my jam. No directions necessary. You want a tower? You got it. A corral for all of your Lego farm animals? Coming right up!

All of that being said, I couldn’t have been more pleased with the products that I received. Lego Education sent me two sets designed for preschool students. (By the way, I’ve seen these sets fully engage students as old as third grade.)

The Playground Set

This set is designed for a small group or partners in centers. This is to encourage collaboration and language skills as they build, and boy do they collaborate! There are pictures to guide them, but there are tons of ways to set the playground up, and the majority of kiddos I worked with didn’t consult the pictures at all.
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There are so many opportunities for cross-curricular discussion here. The hopscotch pieces support number recognition and counting. The mini-figures brought out so many discussions of who might go to a playground and whether any of them were grown-ups. (They are all the same size.) This set also encourages some hands-on problem solving. How will you build your dream playground? Why did you put those structures together? The possibilities are truly endless!
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The Creative Builder Set:

Remember how I said I’m a Lego purist who doesn’t like to be bound by directions? Well, this set proved me wrong. It comes with two-sided picture cards that snap into a special tray with building mats on either side. Students can work on either side of the tray to try to recreate the picture before them. I can’t even tell you what a favorite this was with the kids! Just a few learning opportunities I noticed were number and counting skills, pattern identification/repetition, and use of position words (on top of, next to, etc.) in conversation. You could even have older students use the picture cards to guide each other to build a design blind – you know they’d love that!

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I just absolutely love these products, friends, and so do the kids that have learned with them this year. But don’t take my word for it – check out the Lego Education site for yourself. They are constantly coming up with new ideas (probably because those cubicles made from Duplo bricks inspire them so much). You won’t regret it!

Hope you’re having the most wonderful summer!

XOXO,
JB



I’m still here!

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Oh. My. Stars. Nine months, you guys. It’s been nine months since I updated my website. That is ridiculous, and while I completely understand that my excuses will help no one, I will offer a few updates on my life by way of explanation. First of all, there’s a technical hurdle. I build my site with iWeb, which has been dropped completely by Apple and is only accessible on my desktop computer, which rarely gets any love since I sprung for a MacBook. So updating often is a challenge because I just don’t spend much time at all on that computer. (Come on, who wants to be held down to one location by a desktop?!?) 😉

On a more personal note, 2013 was a trying year in a lot of ways, but some persistent medical issues forced everything else in my life to take a back seat. Honestly, to say that this blog was in the back seat is only really accurate if you imagine that I’m driving a school bus. I haven’t even logged on to look at stats, which was once a daily occurrence, in several months.

Many days, just doing my job was an act of survival, so this poor blog just didn’t make the cut. But still, you came. You looked at pictures, you downloaded anchor charts, you saved prompt cards, you pinned to Pinterest, you emailed me even when I couldn’t gather a response. You came because you too are trying to survive in a job that gets harder every day. I am so thankful for teachers like you (yes – you!) who are so committed to learning and refining the craft of teaching that you seek out inspiration from every corner of the internet. Whatever brought you to my little corner, thank you. Thank you for seeking out more information on your own free time, which I know is an absolutely precious commodity that is in too little supply in your life. Thank you for working your tail off every. single. day. If you’re heading back to work tomorrow like I am, know that I am wishing only the best for your classroom this year.

I am doing well from a medical perspective, so I am committed to posting more often. However, I am posting this from my MacBook, which doesn’t solve the iWeb problem. So for now, I’ll leave you with a big batch of unorganized anchor charts. I promise I will get them on the site in a more organized fashion some day!

What else have I promised you that fell through the cracks? What are you wishing you could find on this site? Let me know, and your wish might just come true!

In 2014, may you be blessed and be a blessing.

XOXO,
Julie


Overhaul

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Hi friends,

So, I’m thinking about overhauling my entire site in these last few weeks of summer. This has been in the works for a while, as I use iWeb to build my site, and Apple abandoned that software (with no replacement) several years ago. This means I can’t access it on my MacBook, which is my go-to computer these days. It also means that my site isn’t benefitting from the latest in website development tools.

To the visitor, this will hopefully mean a faster loading site that’s just as easy to navigate and pleasing to the eye.

I’m assuming if you’re subscribed here, you’re a returning visitor, so I just wanted to ask for your patience during any transition time. (I’m not sure yet what that will be like or how long it will take.)

Hope you’re all having a fabulous summer! Would love to hear what you’ve been up to!

Julie