What are your plans for professional learning this summer - NOTHING

I have been tagged on IG to join a summer blogging challenge...
and I was like what the heck... why not
plus I loved the first prompt
and I have been wanting to blog again!!!

So here I go...
This post is week 1 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators.

This week's topic is funny and ironic for me...

Oh gosh...
The only "professional" goal I have for this summer was to get my TAG 6 hour update that I ALWAYS  have to get.
OH and let's talk about this...
they always schedule this training like the week after school gets out
WHO THE HECK wants to do that?
Why can't they include this 6 hour training in our back to school training?
I mean come on we come back like 5 months before the kids...
ok dramatic but we do come back like 2 weeks before (if you round to the nearest week)
That would be smart... to include it into our B2S schtuff
I am sure there are school districts out there that do that... right?
not mine!!!  insert a sad face here

SOOOO I already did that training and it was fabulous (sarcasm)
I got up early on my first Thursday of the summer
and painted my face... put on a smile and went to a training that was more geared for
the majority of us in there were elementary teachers
when we had to raise our hands there were 3 high school teachers
there were 51 of us in all...

here was the training in a nutshell....
make a video for your kids to review prior to class about new content
load your video onto your you tube channel
and make a blog for your videos...
NEEDLESS to say I was done early...
and could NOT leave...
so I sat for almost 3 hours with my friends and helped them finish
and then we talked
- that training was fun-

ok NOW on to my real plans for summer

this is the first summer I have NO REAL plans
I don't have camps to teach
I don't have summer school to teach or run
no training to teach
no other trainings to attend
and it is sooooooo nice!!!!

and I am excited about that
my plans are to

RELAX -if you know me you know I love me some YOGA
with the end of the year schedule - I missed lots of classes
so my goal this summer is to go to at least 2 classes a week
yoga is a great place to work on me...
I concentrate so much on not falling on my face or tooting
(yoga makes you gassy)
that I can't dwell in my head about everything that is stressing me out
it is a complete hour of being out of my head...
and it is nice
if you haven't tried yoga
you should
it's amazing
tall, small, curvy, thin, rolly, skinny... all body types can go
that's the joy of yoga

I am also taking time to myself in the morning...
Hubs is at work and Bubs is a late sleeper so my morning time is
and my dawgs...
I get up clean up
real life ---- > we have a dog that is older than Jesus and well she has accidents during the night
so I clean up - light some candles
let the girls out to play and potty
and then turn on the Today show and chill.
I might get up and water the garden (no veggies - just a bunch of elephant ears and succulents)
it's just a time for me to do whatever I want...
I haven't had a summer to myself like this in a VERY LONG TIME
and it is soooo nice!!!

well the stresses of school and our family's busy schedule
definitely show in my house keeping
or lack there of...
and I have a house keeper come every other week - yikes
anywho -
I set goals for myself to work on one area of the house a day
and I have done that... YAY me
so far I have scrubbed the garage door... it was super dirty and now it is WHITE again
I also have spray washed our front porch and redecorated it for the summer
I have gathered every single article of clothing
from every corner
and organized it by colors for washing
I have a lot of washing to do ....
I have cleaned out our spare bedroom - which was a catch all for all things that needed a place
 and I had no clue where that place was...
I have made a run to Goodwill with a few boxes of donations
and see lots more coming their way

I also have reorganized my eating
I joined Weight Watcher... now called WW
whatever it is Weight Watchers
I needed something to help me...
something structured and that would help me portion control
and have more accountability
I was on it several years ago and did amazing...
this time it is do or die...
literally - my liver hates me and
has decided to act out
so he needs to lose some fat which means I need to lose fat
and so WW is here  to stay.
So far it is easy and breezy...
I mean it takes some time to figure out the app
and portions BUT it really is easy
and I am down about 10 pounds my first week
so no complaints here...

I am really taking this summer to find myself again
and rejoice in my blessings
school can be a toxic place
mean girls
crappy teachers
stubborn kiddos
test stress
I could name tons more BUT that would take my whole morning
and I'm not here for that!!!

this summer I need to take time for ME
and I am going to rejoice in my accomplishments
cleaning out the pantry - YES
losing wt - YES
meditating in the morning - YES
how often do teachers REALLY take the time for themselves during the summer?
I am pretty sure in my 18 years of teaching...
this is a first for me
and it is so refreshing for my spirit

so no...
I am not planning my classroom decor - I am planning on redecorating my spare bedroom
I am not taking an online class for reading - I am taking an online class for abstract painting.
I am not reading a book about guided reading - I am reading a book about a steamy romance
I am not making plans for the first week of school - I am planning out a Mamma and Bubs trip
I am not going to another writing training - I am going to a how to meditate class
I am not creating new things for my class - I am creating new meals for my family
I am not stressing over next year's class - I am living in the now and loving it

Boosting Morale... ONE squad at a time

Over on my Instagram (@farleyfarleyfarley)
I have had lots of questions about my school's
I tried answering the questions
BUT the overall consensus was I needed a blog post.


What the heck is this MORALE SQUAD you speak of????
Well basically it is the entire school pitching in to boost MORALE
but in shifts...
Here’s what we did…

ONE -we divided the school into 4 groups…
we are lucky because our school has 4 major hallways and they are color coded…(blue, yellow, red, and green) so no use in making it difficult
 we broke it down by hallways
labeled the squads according to the color of each hallway
and asked those not located in one of the major hallways to sign up with a hallway
so for example my hallway
is the green hallway
SOOOOO we are the green morale squad… duh
in my hallway we have 4th and 5th grade
the dyslexia teacher, 3 rti teachers, and the music teacher
PLUS the best school secretary in the world joined our squad and the 2 gym teachers… because they aren’t located in a particular hallway.
so we have 4 squads… and to the best that I can remember they are pretty much even
on to TWO
at a faculty meeting we passed around a sign up sheet…
it was divided into 8 sections
4 on top and 4 on the bottom
nothing fancy… I just folded paper and wrote in marker
each section was labeled with a month starting with September…
obviously if you are going to do this now you would only use the remaining months…
I explained what we were doing and asked a rep from each hallway to sign up for a month on the top and a month on the bottom…
we also asked staff and teachers that are not located in one of the main hallways to sign up with a squad on their months
NOTE*** my squad took  September to be an example of the various things that could be done
and then we passed it around and we took what was left on the bottom…
which ended up being February… Holla that’s a great month to have
and THREE-
so what do we do????
there is only one requirement your squad has to do…
that is provide snacks at one of the faculty meetings… that’s it
YEP that’s the ONLY requirement… not hard right…

dont be like us and forget the faculty meeting was changed
and I had to call my parents to grab cookies at the last minute…
way to set an example right????

the other squads have done a grand job of snacks…
no pics of this
BUT for October… the blue squad
made a popcorn bar and witch’s brew
they gave us a bag of popcorn and then had lots of bowls out of various candies and you sprinkled your choice of yumminess
in your bag… it was awesome
the witch’s brew was a lime sherbet – 7-up punch
but they added dry ice to make it bubble… so cool
and then for our November meeting 
(yes we only have once a month meetings)
that squad did a nacho bar…
queso can turn a frown upside down for sure
soooooo  providing snacks is the ONLY requirement…
if you want to go above and beyond
then GO FOR IT

and that is exactly what we did…
my squad decided to do something special every week of our month...
 one of the biggest hits is our snack cart...

and here is what you need for that...
1- get a list of all faculty and staff members so your #2s will be sure to deliver smiles to everyone

2- some cutie patootie delivery kiddos is a must... I made sure they KNOW the school and have personality and manners... I mean you don't want your delivery team to be shy and clueless.
I had these boys last year and adore them... they have been at our school since kinder soooo
they obviously know the school and most of the teachers.
they also are well mannered and can follow directions (one big snack or 2 little snacks per person and one water)
and the BIG THING... they have personality
so when they walk into a teacher's room they are going to bring smiles

3- found an old cart... I want to paint it BUT...
no time
soooooo I just put some nice colorful baskets on it and made a snack cart banner with some left over ribbon
its still an ugly beige-grey color but the banner distracts from it
Hubs has offered to come and paint it for me (insert big happy face here)
plus teachers aren't looking at the cart as much as the SNACKS...right?

4- I asked every teacher in my squad to bring in at least a dozen prepackaged snacks...
anything they wanted
they could spend as little or as much as they wanted...
someone even brought in tiny waters... which is on the bottom shelf of the cart
the middle shelf is the "extras" just in case we run out of a snack on top the kiddos can refill it

5- add a cute banner
and because I want to help you on your journey to boosting morale...
I have added the banner into my store...
as a FREEBIE!!!
click HERE to download it!!!

**** NOTE****
after the kiddos delivered to the entire school
we had a ton of snacks left over and so....
we did another delivery on the last day of our month
 the snack cart was such a hit...
the Blue Squad decorated one up for Halloween and delivered spooktacular treats...
they kept the same delivery team... because... why not... they know what to do!!!!

Snack cart deliveries were not the only thing we did to deliver smiles...

 my squad divided the faculty and staff list up
and we each got 3-5 people make their mailbox happy...
we made sure to include our squad members on the list too
because... HELLO we deserve smiles too.
so we could do whatever we wanted to bring smiles using the faculty mailboxes as our delivery
as you can see... the person that had me... decorated my mailbox (and 3 others too) and everyday I had a little treat inside... I still have my little pennants up!!!
I delivered little treats with messages to my recipients twice that week
and I know some others got hand written notes of appreciation and thanks
and others got a survival pack for the week full of snacks and treats...
I loved this idea because it doesn't require a lot of money
and each of us could put our own spin and personalize our deliveries

another fun idea is...
 the blue squad... had a guess the number game set up in the office area...
super simple BUT so much fun!!!
and some other ideas...

for Fire Prevention week we got tootsie roll treats...
for Halloween the Blue Squad talked with our admin and were able to gift us JEAN PASSES
and right before Thanksgiving break... Yellow Squad delivered turkeys with popcorn.

Morale is such a hard thing to keep up and running... by breaking into Moral Squads... my school's morale has been boosted
it's easy to do and the rewards are beyond measure...

I am going to keep posting what my school is doing to boost morale over on my instagram so you can get some more ideas... I will also hashtag it #teachermoralesquad 
if you have ideas for boosting morale at your school feel free to leave a message here... or even use the hashtag... and tag me TOO!!!

Why my rubrics don't add up to 100

So I have been thinking about doing this for a few years now and BAM
this year is the year I decided to do it.

It all started with our READING LOG…
I only require my kiddos to read 20 minutes a night…
and that is Monday - Thursday so if I added all that up…
it would equal an 80…..
SO I decided to add that the highest grade you can earn is 105
if you do the bare minimum you get an 80… go above and beyond and you can get up to 105
It has really worked out well and it is quite EYE OPENING to see which kiddos
DO NOT go that extra minute or two to earn a higher grade.
If you truly TRULY think about it… it ONLY requires them to read an extra 5
YEP FIVE minutes a night to earn the 100!!!
some seem to be totally OK with the 80…
while others not so much and are always getting the 105
some even read up to 200 minutes

I even tried it with one of our projects.
I made it very clear the rubric only added up to 80...
and going above and beyond would be the only way to score above an 80.
I also made it clear... they had to think OFF the rubric.
For example... a title was needed to get 5 points...
I did not give extra points if they had a light up title with glitter... that isn't going off the rubric.
The rubric didn't state "to get 5 points you need to have a WOW factor"
it said... 5 points for a neat and correctly spelled title
if little kid A wrote his title on his box in pencil and it was neat and spelled correctly he got 5 points...
just like little lady B with lights and glitter.

You are probably thinking WOW that's harsh...

little kid A doesn't get help from home bc his mom and grandma work 2 jobs each and his older siblings take care of home stuff
... his family is on free and reduced lunch and they live pay check to pay check...
I am not about to compare his project to little lady B
who comes from a totally different home environment.
Her mamma could have her own crafting channel... heck so could little lady B...
this family enjoys at home projects and puts education as a priority...
these two little kiddos have different home environments as do ALL of my kiddos...

In the past I would send home a rubric that aded up to 100 and give bonus points for "WOW"
but what was I giving "WOW" points for... glitter, lights, the cool things....
I know I did give points for amazing presentations
BUT that is where it stopped... really since I was telling them how to get 100
all the projects kinda looked the same...
I could totally tell you before the rubric was handed out which kiddo would get the 100 plus WOW
based on home life...
I was giving WOW points for looks and not content
I started thinking... year after year... and project after project...  what can I do to spice this up...
change this up...
instead of me telling them here is your 100... let them decide how to earn those extra points...

and after reading a book by Ron Clark I was like YEP
make my rubrics worth 80...
the kids at first were not happy...
they were like... WTH really
kids these days are use to getting the here's your 100 rubrics... it doesn't really require them to THINK

wow imagine that...
so I began to tell them... you have to THINK off the rubric...
you can do the rubric to the best of your ability BUT that only gets you a 80
BUT if you think off the rubric... that will get your WOW points

this was a hard concept for the kids and parents too...
my hope for this was that each kids' personality would shine

some kids' projects tried the whole glitter and lights to the title thing
BUT that wasn't off the rubric...
a title spelled correctly and neatly was on the rubric...
so little kid a and little lady b scored the same points

also on the rubric was to create a map showing the location of their indian tribe...
and it had to include a key and compass
little kid a - drew his own map of Texas (kinda wonky but still Texas like) on the side of the box...
it was hard to see it through the giant Nike Swoosh, but everything required on the map was drawn in brown colored pencil...
he even put a spiderman sticker where his tribe was located
and then he showed the migration pattern of his tribe with glued on string
labeled his map as winter grounds and summer grounds and then had pictures of the animals that were hunted in both winter and summer homes around his Texas drawing... he had a correct key (with a spiderman) and a nice compass
little lady b had a beautiful map of Texas that was printed or purchased...
It was a beautiful map and it was displayed perfectly on top of her box with a piece of foam board...
everything requiring a label was done with sticker letters and
 it had a pin where her tribe was located... her compass rose was done beautifully in puffy glitter glue...
and her key was color coded with metallic paint
it was stunning...

which kid got bonus points???
little kid a- he went off the rubric he had migration patterns and pictures of the animals hunted
little lady b - did what the rubric asked for

another requirement was they had to make the dwelling in a diorama with examples of their food, transportation, and clothing
little lady b -  wowzers... looked like the best teepee diorama ever...
looked like real animal skin teepee, had a little fake candle thingy to represent the campfire, the clothes were hung on a line as if they were drying and over the fake flame was a sculpted out of clay carcass to represent the food
she also had a fake plastic horse to represent transportation.... did she go off the rubric??? no
did it look amazing.....YES

little boy a... used writing paper for all of his things... so everything had blue stripes
he divided his box in two with tinfoil
and on one side had the winter home... again made out of writing paper that he had colored
and on the other side he had the summer home
both sides had writing paper animals that were taped to the back to represent the animals they hunted and
he had a travois made out of toothpicks... he also had his tribe members clothed appropriately for each season... again done with striped paper but colored with crayons or colored pencils
sounds like he stayed in the rubric too right...
NOPE... he added labels for everything... and put the months when they would stay at each home.
his project wasn't as pretty and neat as hers BUT his was off the rubric

when I was doing projects and grades the old way...
I realized I was giving bonus points to those that had the means...
they had parents at home that would help them
those parents probably had extra money to make it shine and sparkle
they could purchase the extras


was that fair to my kiddos who do not get that type of support at home?
my low income families do not have the means to purchase glitter, stickers, maps, and other crafting supplies....

by requiring the above and beyond OFF THE RUBRIC points...
my kids are on an even playing field...
everyone has to think off the rubric...

even though little lady b's project could put Martha Stewart to shame...
she scored an 80

and even though little boy a's box looked like he scrounged all his supplies off my floor at the end of the day (which he did) he scored a 97... his project might not be a cover story picture on a projects magazine BUT he went off the rubric and went above and beyond

I will leave you with this...
are you giving bonus points for glitter and glam?
is that fair to all of your kiddos?

let's be sure we aren't giving extra points for flash and flair...
and we are giving extra point for going off the rubric and doing more than expected
it shouldn't be about looks it should be about content...

I am interested in what you might have to say about this...
type your ideas or comments down below...

Farley Reviews The James Dyson Foundation Ideas Box

I haven't blogged in forever… so you know this has to be good!!!
I was contacted by DYSON…
yes the DYSON… ya know the people that make the most incredible vacuums!!!
They really SUCK!!! *wink*
well after getting over that shock and calling my mom to brag
and then my husband
yes in that order because
mom gets super girly excited with me
and hubs is like…. oh cool
so after getting over the initial shock that THE DYSON PEOPLE contacted me!!!
me… little ole Farley…
I quickly agreed to try out one of their Ideas Box
and just an FYI…

I have been given compensation for this review…
however the amazing Ideas Box that I get to keep
along with the DYSON Air Multiplier Fan
has not swayed me in my opinion!!!
this BOX rocks

A little background on this Ideas Box
it is brought to us from the James Dyson Foundation
they are "dedicated to encouraging young people to think differently, make mistakes, invent and realize their engineering potential."

The Ideas Box is loaned to a classroom for 4 weeks and is completely free.
Did you hear read that… FREE!!!
It is better suited for 4th-6th grade BUT can be adapted for any grade.
It comes delivered in a giant box and contains EVERYTHING you need to challenge your kiddos to improve everyday objects.

The Ideas Box comes with a Teacher's Guide, CD, and posters… OH and let's NOT forget
this fan is the catalyst to the box…
it is what gets the kids thinking
they are completely in awe of the fan and its bladeless technology.

If you want to do what I did… I placed the fan out a few days before the activity began
behind my desk
out of their reach
and let them just simmer in their curiosity!!!
genius I tell ya!!!
their questioning was hilarious and higher order…
this is why STEM activities are so important in the classroom.

When I started the activities…
I followed the Teacher's Guide… which is super easy to follow
we worked our way through each of the main sections using the CD and the posters
to give us support in our understanding and thinking
There are 5 sections...
1- What is a design engineer?
      * here you are introduced to DYSON himself in a very cool video on the provided CD
2- Design Detectives
      * here the kids are shown (on the cd) the developing of the Air Multiplier… they loved this part
3- Design
     * here is where their little brains go into action…
        - I split the kids into groups of 2 - 4 and this is where they got to sketch out their new ideas for
          ordinary objects

     * we took full advantage of our CARDBOARD CHALLENGE DAY to build our prototypes
         - we asked for donations of cardboard and all sorts of tape a few weeks in advance and we had
            plenty… I wanted to make sure their imaginations were not limited by lack of supplies
 and now the finished products...

5 - Test and Evaluate
      * many of our inventors went above and beyond in their inventions…
         as you saw above…. so this needed to be adapted
         and we discussed what the next step would be to get to the final step… one kiddo reminded us
         that Mr. Dyson had over 1,000 attempts at perfecting his fan…touché kid touché

I could not be a luckier teacher to have been given this opportunity!!!
The Ideas Box was so inspiring to my students and was such an unforgettable experience…
they were able to SHOWCASE their inventions to the younger grades and were able to explain how their new take on the ordinary was better… it was MAGICAL!!!  It just proves that STEM is an important part of education.  The smiles on their faces as they explained their new inventions, and the COOLS and OOHs and AWWWWS from the little kids made their day!!!

Now I know you are wanting to try this box in your own classroom…
and you are thinking
COME ON FARLEY give my the link already…
so here it goes…
if you want to try the Ideas Box out in your class… for FREE… for 4 weeks…..
all you have to do is visit….

 Thanks again to The James Dyson Foundation for contacting me!!!
I am so grateful my kiddos were given this opportunity… and not to mention our HOT Texas classroom totally LOVES the Air Multiplier!!!

The Final Currently… May 2016

Hey Hey Hey it is May!!!

This May holds a lot of big changes for me...
I am turning the BIG 4-OH on the 8th
and I am NOT
I repeat NOT taking it well…
for 30 Hubs threw me a FAB party
and it was a blast
for 40 I want to crawl into my bed and stay there
BUT it falls on Mother's Day so I have to actually get up!!!
I am also making a big change with my blog…
I feel like it is time…

let me add to the TRUTH
I have been hosting the CURRENTLY Linky Party for years
and because of it…
I have gained
and loyal followers…
I cannot thank all of you enough for coming every month
and linking up with me…
it has been a true blessing to have all of you come on over and join the CURRENTLY PARTY
and in the name of TRUTH…
in my heart I just feel like it is time to retire the CURRENTLY Linky
I have thought
and contemplated
and discussed with friends
and thought some more
for months now and finally decided that MAY 2016
would be the last one!!!
thanks again for being my bloggy buddies and reading the links and following the RULE of THREE
and thanks for leaving comments
of encouragement
or compliments
or a simple thank you
this linky party has blessed my life in more ways than I had ever imagined
and for the most part I have you guys to thank for that!!!

and with that said...
I hope you understand and will join me for the final PARTAY!!!

for truth…
write something you need to come clean with…
maybe you haven't done lesson plans the last few weeks
or maybe your WHOLE 30 lasted all but 3 days
or maybe your new neighbors are WHACK and leave cray notes on your car
(all of those are more of my truths)