Saturday, July 13, 2013

School is FINALLY Out + A Liebster Award for Me = Yippee :)

Sweet sweet summa' time has officially arrived for me! Yippee!  Yesterday was my last day of school with my kiddos.  While I'm sad to see them go, I am ready to relax for a few moments after a whirl wind of a year.  I loved my class this year, they had so much positive energy, but it was definitely a challenging year for me in so many other ways.  Living in CT and teaching in NY made the start to this academic year a roller coaster of emotions. Between Hurricane Sandy impacting our school and Sandy Hook having a personal connection, I struggled to establish a rhythm in my classroom.  Throw in preparing 3rd graders to take their first state test, a CCSS aligned test no less, and I think I can whole heartedly say that this year was one I am happy to bring to a close.  I would have never made it through without the love and support of my friends, family, and especially my 20 sweet kiddos who no matter what, always found a way to make me laugh or smile till it hurt everyday.  One of my gems wrote me this letter yesterday and I broke out into tears right in front of all of my students.  I couldn't help it, she literally melted my heart.

Moments like this make me realize that no matter what obstacles life presents you, you still have a responsibility to yourself and to others to put positivity back into this world.  This letter was that positivity coming back full circle.  So with all of that emotion put out there, I must say that I am ready to welcome this summer and all the goodness it has for me with arms wide open!

What better way to kick off my summer vacay than with a Liebster Award?!  I was ecstatic to find out that both Mr. G at Teaching with Mr. G and Renne Growing a Teacher nominated me for this award!
You two are so incredibly sweet so thank you so much! This is such a treat for me!  I broke out into a happy dance very similar to Mr. Carlton Banks here ;)   I had never heard of this award, so if you haven't either let me make like a Craig David and fill you in - if anyone gets that reference you deserve a cookie ;)  This award is a way to bring attention to new bloggers you love who have under 200 followers.  I am so honored that after only a month of blogging, I've already been shown so much kindness and support from so many fellow bloggers.  You all are so sweet and I absolutely adore how much love everyone is putting out there into the blog-o-universe : )

In order to accept this nomination I must:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated me
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
3. Answer the questions posted for me by my nominator
4. Share 11 random facts about myself
5. Create 11 questions for my nominees
6. Contact my nominees and let them know I nominated them

Here are the blogs I am nominating:

1) Mandy at Caffeine and Lesson Plans
2) Meredith at Diary of a First Year Teacher 
3) Mrs. Johnson at Mrs. Johnson's Little Prowlers

These ladies are sharing so many great ideas, resources, and link-ups for their fellow blog readers so make sure to follow them and introduce yourself!

My 11 Questions & Answers

  1. Why do you blog?    I get so much inspiration from reading various teaching blogs! Not only do I find a way to fire up my creativity, but I also gather a lot of support reading about the every day ins and outs of other classrooms.  It's really great to see honesty about triumphs and fails, because we are all learners and     these moments give us an opportunity to learn from each other. When working with my colleagues I have found that some of the BEST ideas I implement in my classroom have resulted from a conversation with a fellow teacher that led to a whole new level of brainstorming and thinking for us.  I knew that starting a blog would be an amazing way for me to share my stories and ideas, while learning and growing from others.  Plus, everyone is so stinkin' nice and wants to collaborate to make our lives easier and our students' experiences more fun, so who wouldn't want to blog?! 
  2. What is your favorite book for a read aloud?    Absolutely anything by Shel Silverstein.  "A Light in the Attic" was literally super glued to my hands when I was 8 and it sparked a love for reading that has never left.  Shel Silverstein has a magical way of igniting the imagination of his readers, young and old.  I actually just read his book "The Missing Piece" a month ago with my friend and fellow teacher Lauren. We had a read aloud at her apartment, couldn't be more teacher-like if we tried.  As she read this story, it literally brought me to tears.  I haven't read any other books in my life that allow me to feel as much as I do when I read anything Shel Silverstein.  So of course, every year, the first book I read to my new kiddos is "The Giving Tree".  You need to buy "The Missing Piece" it may change your life. 
  3. Are you a good dancer?  Um... did you see my Carlton Banks gif?  Duh. I am a phenomenal dancer.  With moves like his how could I not be?
  4. Do you have a favorite teacher/education website?    I would say Pinterest is my go to for anything inspiring regarding teaching.  A website I found this year that I LOVE and my kiddos LOVE is Flocabulary.  It is awesome and so engaging.  They have educational raps and videos on so many topics!  The kids can't contain themselves when I put it on.  Also, they have weekly videos covering current events and additional worksheets/lesson ideas to supplement each video.  It's pretty rockin. 
  5. What are you most excited about for the new school year?  I am super excited to start this year because I have SO many ideas of what I want to do DIFFERENTLY! This year was a bit tough because we had to constantly keep re-aligning our former curriculum to the CCSS and NYS previews of what to expect on the state exams.  It was a tizzy.  I am SO excited that my principal is pulling away more from all of the test-prep books we were using so that we can flip our classrooms, focus on inquiry based lessons, and allow our students to really develop their critical-thinking skills.  I'm planning on spending my time off organizing and creating cross-curriculum units to use throughout the year, in addition to a "Thinking Critically" and "Phonics" PD my friend Jess and I are organizing.  It's going to be a busy summer.  Wish me luck! 
  6. What subject do you love to teach the most?  I love teaching ELA and Science together.  I have the most fun teaching these subjects and I find it super easy to integrate them.  I love dressing up as different characters to keep my kiddos engaged, so I tend to do this with my science and ELA topics.   MR.FAB (AKA me with a mustache, glasses, and animal photo covered coat) came to teach the class how to classify vertebrates.  After he left, we completed research projects on our favorite vertebrate group and made our own MR. FAB's.  It was by far one of my favorite memories from this year.  (I tried to post pictures of this, but it's not allowing me to move the photos I uploaded...Boo!) 
  7. How do you handle a tough day on the education field?  After a tough day, I get in my car, roll down the windows, and blast my music as loud as possible.  I proceed to drive like this for the next 90 minutes of my commute singing till the hurt dissipates and I'm left feeling good.  If I still feel tense after that, usually a little vino, chocolate, and a hug from my sweet fiance does the trick.  
  8. Which holiday break is your favorite? Without a doubt my May break.  Since we teach through the middle of July we get the week of Memorial Day off.  At this point in the year I am a hot mess.  This is usually two weeks after our state testing has been completed and teachers and students alike are exhausted.  It's just the right amount of time to re-energize ourselves to finish the year strong!  
  9. Which is better... pens or pencils?   Pencils 100%  They come in so many fun designs, shapes, colors, quotes, etc.  Want to see a kid love and treat a pencil like it's 100 bucks?  Purchase pencils in the beginning of the year for your students with their names on them.  You won't have to worry about those pesky pencil monsters stealing and eating all of the class pencils until at least December. 
  10. Favorite type of music?  Anything and everything that makes me feel something real and I can connect to.  I love country, rock, alternative, early 90's, pop, I LOVE IT ALL as long as it is something that pulls a memory or emotion out of me. 
  11. Favorite piece of advice to share with educators?     It's the same thing I share with my students.  It's not always going to be easy, but it will always be rewarding as long as you give it your all.  Love what you do and whatever you do, do it with all of your heart.  
My 11 Fun Facts 
  1.  I love chocolate, music, sunshine, and the beach.  Give me all of those in one place    and I may explode with happiness.
  2. I'm named after both of my beautiful grandmothers - Kate and Dorothy which is how I arrived at my nickname Kdot. 
  3. I studied abroad in college and lived 4 glorious months in Florence, Italy.  The experience was life changing on so many levels.  I feel like I left a young girl and returned a confident and determined woman.  May sound cheezy, but I'll always cherish my experiences there. 
  4. I love to cook!  While studying abroad I took a cooking class with a woman named Jean from Nebraska who studied abroad in Florence in the 70's, met a Florentine named Fabio, married him, and never returned to the states.  My mother and father warned me not to get any ideas from her other than cooking ;) 
  5. I had ACL/meniscus surgery on my birthday last summer.  Worst birthday present ever.  
  6. I played softball and field hockey in high school and for a bit in college.  I love to snowboard too, but since having my ACL surgery, I haven't returned to any of these sports just yet. Wah wah. 
  7. I went to 7 *NSYNC concerts between 6th and 8th grade. Slightly embarrassing, but I loved every minute of it.  My awesome mom took my sister, best friends, and me to several of these concerts while we sang "Tearin Up My Heart" at ungodly octaves and let out screams that nearly deafened her.  That's love. 
  8. My fiance is from Minnesota and a HUGE Twins fan.  I am a Yankee's fan till I die.  Our future children will choose a side and I slightly fear that he'll win them over to be Twins fans.  EEK! 
  9. My favorite color is aqua blue/teal like the O in my Kdot signature. 
  10. My favorite quote from a student this year was when my sweet ESL kiddo who has a hard time articulating his thoughts clearly told me, "Ms. OC, you like the Oprah Lady.  You make loud noises and funny faces when you get excited and happy in here."  I told him it was one of the best compliments I've ever received. 
  11. I want to visit Ireland and reconnect with my ancestor's roots in County Cork.  
 Questions to my Nominees
  1. What is your favorite aspect about teaching? 
  2. What is your funniest classroom memory? 
  3. What inspired you to be a teacher? 
  4. If you could teach-abroad for a year, where would you?
  5. What is your favorite piece of technology to use in the classroom?  
  6. What is your favorite quote? 
  7. What is your favorite non-teaching hobby or activity to do? 
  8. What is one new goal you have for this school year? 
  9. What is your favorite book/author? 
  10. What is your greatest accomplishment? 
  11. If you weren't a teacher, what would you be?  

Thank you again so much to Mr. G at Teaching with Mr. G and Renne Growing a Teacher for my nomination! I can't wait to see what my nominees have to share! Make sure you check all of these gems out! 


  1. Thank you SO much for nominating me! My post is up on my blog! :)

    Mrs. Johnson's Little Prowlers

    1. And I've been blogging that you are my new MN blogging friend and I guess I don't even know for sure- do you teach in MN, or is it just that your fiance is from there?? :)

      Mrs. Johnson's Little Prowlers

    2. I actually teach in New York, but live in CT. My Andy is from MN and I am holding him hostage on the East coast lol! We visit as often as we can and it is SO beautiful there! He's trying to convince me to move out there, but I'm ok with just visiting ;)

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Oh! Well for pete's sake, I better go take out everywhere I said you were from MN! Not exactly sure how I got that in my head! I'm still glad to have a new 3rd grade blogging buddy! :)