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Monday, December 1, 2014

Cyber Monday Sale

As you may know already, I have a small business called Lowery's Loft LLC while I am taking a break from teaching.

There is a wonderful sale going on right now!

Check it out here!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Holidays

It feels strange not being in the classroom around the holidays.  Last year I went on leave of absence around this time due to many reasons.  It was the hardest decision I ever made.  I had such a sweet class.

Having this time off should have been heavenly but it has been draining.  I miss losing myself in the classroom.  When you walk in the door as a teacher, everything else fades away and those children are your priority for the next several hours.

My time off has been emotionally challenging.  I lost my favorite uncle three days before Christmas last year and my Dearest Dad just three months later to the day.  While still grieving for my Dad, my short term disability insurance decided to stop paying and that has led to a whole new array of stressors.

I've been blessed to have extra time with my darling daughter and to be off when I lost my Dad.  All these dramatic changes has prompted me to chase my dream of my own small business.  I do miss the structure of teaching.  It had been my life for so long.

This used to be my favorite time of year in the classroom.  Now my perspective has broadened some because I realize that for some children (and adults) the holidays can be painful.  With this being the first holiday without my Dad it will be quite emotional.  It makes me think of the children whose parents are deployed or ill or divorcing.

The holidays are a time to celebrate and hold dear ones close but please open your eyes to see those who may be hurting and try to reach out and do a little extra to brighten their day.

Just a thought...

Boy I miss teaching...

Saturday, October 11, 2014

New Job!

Hello All!

It's been a while since I've posted a blog.  Since my Dad passed away in March, I've been in a "funk" for lack of a better word.

I am very excited that I start a new job in the next week or so.  It is part time so it will still allow me to pursue growing my jewelry business www.LowerysLoft.com.

Teaching has always been close to my heart.  I will be working with the Florida Center of Reading Research as an assessor and possibly an interventionist later.  This is only a temporary position that is funded by a grant but it is heaven sent for me.

How often do you get the best of both worlds?  This is the type of position I wanted when I sought my Master's Degree in Reading.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Groovy Discounts-Super Savings-Great Gift ideas

Super Savings going on right now in my eBay store.  Teachers this is a great opportunity to find thank you gifts, holiday gifts, and accessories for your teaching wardrobe.

$5 off every $25 you spend now through September 15th.  I have tons of auctions running too so there is an opportunity for extreme savings.

Please check this out and share with the teachers at your school.


Ebay Seller:  groovyeducator

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Groovy Educator on eBay

I've been GroovyEducator on eBay before but earlier this summer I changed my user name to lowerysloftllc.  I started my own business Lowery's Loft LLC and switched everything that was Groovy Educator to Lowery's Loft in my excitement.

I know it sounds silly but I've been blogging as Groovy Educator for so long and just love the handle so I switched my user name back to that on eBay.  I hope it's not too confusing.

Anyhow, I'm back to late night ramblings...

Tomorrow my friends are starting their second week of teaching (for this school year) and I am still missing the classroom.

It's hard to believe I'm trying to work from home rather than being an educator.  Please share if you have had or know anyone who has had success working from home.

It is much lonelier than the classroom.  I miss the camaraderie an collaborations with the other teachers.  I still enjoy pursuing my dream...

That's it for tonight's late night ramblings... Maybe I should do this more often?  Or not!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Behavior...Really? How to Respond When a Child Acts Up...

Yesterday was the first time I have not had a "first day of school" in fourteen years.  I started teaching in 2000 and last year had to go on a leave of absence after the first nine weeks.

It was very emotional but at the same time I was very excited that my family member's son had his first day of school.  This little guy was amped up.  He attended VPK (voluntary pre-k) and has been super excited about kindergarten.

He came home on red his first day of Kindergarten.  That makes me so angry as a former Kindergarten teacher.

Every year I made sure that the first day of school was positive for my students.  Yes even when I had to redirect them.  The first day of school sets the tone for the school year and Kindergarten sets the tone for their school career... At least that's my philosophy.

Now when I had a child in my class that acted up...

The first thing I always did was kneel down to eye level and ask in a quiet voice "Is everything alright?"  You would be surprised how many kids start crying and share their concerns.  It might be something as simple as they forgot their crayons at home.  Now this seems minor but to a young child it's major.  By asking if everything is alright it serves several purposes.

  1. It shows you care.
  2. It lets the child express any concerns and allows you to alleviate the worry.
  3. It guides your classroom management.  (I can delve more into this if you are interested)
The second question I would ask is "Did you get enough sleep?"  You might be surprised to find out that the police picked up daddy last night or the new baby sister (who the child shares a room with) work up to be fed in the night.  These items do have a bearing on how well a child behaves.  Oftentimes I've observed my own daughter get more active when she is tired in an effort to stay awake.

Finally I ask "Are you getting enough attention?"  Some children are used to having more attention and will do whatever it takes to get attention.  Some are used to getting negative attention at home so that is how they seek attention in the classroom.  Is it a good thing? No but at least you have an idea on how to create a management plan that will fit this child's needs.

Now my family member's son did not get asked these questions.  He was the only kid on red in his class on the first day of Kindergarten.  If he was asked these questions the teacher would have learned that his grandma (whom he spent a lot of time) had brain surgery and almost died this summer.  She is still recovering and it is a long journey.  In addition in the last year he lost two family members who were close to him.  A child deals with loss or change differently than adults.  They do not always know how to handle these situations and it manifests itself into "behavior."  Some compassion really does go a long way.  The teacher also would have learned that he has a little baby sister who he shares a room with and doesn't always get adequate sleep.  By asking if he is getting enough attention also shows that you care.  If a child needs a little extra... Having a secret thumbs up or eye wink symbol representing "you are on track" just for that child makes him or her feel special and takes a second.  A little effort goes a long way...

I know it is not my son but the "mama bear" is coming out because as a veteran teacher, I have strong feelings about compassion and knowing your students.  Before sending home a red the first day of school, I would have sent home a questionnaire or set up a conference.  I would have sent home information about my classroom management system and had the parents sign off on it.  I would have told the families that we are "practicing this system this week" and that citizenship grades will begin next week.  I would not under any circumstances sent a child home on red the first day.  Period.

What are your thoughts on this topic?


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Groovy Educator Forum (Anything and Everything Education)

My daughter is napping and my fingers are clicking away at the keys on my laptop.  

I just opened a new forum for educators

 New topics will be gradually added.

Right now there are topics on:
  • Back to School
  • Best Reading Tips/Tools
  • Great Books for Educators
  • What Do you Like to Collect? (Just for Fun)

Thank you so much for visiting!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

VOWAC - Vowel Oriented Word Attack Course

VoWac is an incredible program for direct phonics instruction.

When I began teaching in Arizona (back in 2000), my school purchased the VoWac program and it was used across all the grade levels.  As a Reading Specialist, I feel strongly about the power of this program.  I used it for two years in Kindergarten and then for two years in Second Grade.  I was amazed at the growth in reading skills back then and I still reflect on it today.

When I moved to Florida, VoWac was not one of the programs that my school used.  I taught with fidelity the program that was adopted by my district but felt that there was still a need in strong phonics instruction.  I added little snippets to my lessons, the powerful snippets and my children responded.

Even though I was not at a VoWac school, I was able to use the blending shelf, phonics cards, and CLOVER method.  You have to check out the CLOVER method for syllabication rules.  It is AMAZING!!!

I strongly recommend you look through their catalog and consider some of their tools for your classroom.

If you are in administration, I strongly recommend you try piloting VoWac in your school.  It's free for two classrooms (you just have to pay shipping).

I know everyone says there is not enough time.  VoWac's lessons run about 30 minutes.  There needs to be time to use something like this to HELP KIDS READ.

By looking at how words are built the kids also learn how to SPELL.  It's WONDERFUL!

I wish I had a pushier nature because I would be knocking on the door of every school to really push the VoWac system.  I've experienced it.  It works better than any other program I have tried in the area of phonics instruction.  Whether you like it or not phonics is essential for reading instruction.  It is one area of the complex task of reading.  I like to think of it as the walls of in the house of reading. Phonemic awareness is the foundation but phonics is what holds the structure up.

But that's just my opinion.

Even if you homeschool this is worth looking into.

Please visit and share www.vowac.com

Right now they are improving their website so there is a phone number you can call.  You can also Google VoWac to learn even more about it.

If you do happen to look into VoWac and like what you see, please mention that you were referred by Andrea Lowery.  Thank you!

Eek! Where does the time go?

Time seems to be going faster and faster.  I am sorry for neglecting this blog.  Some people can have many hats and wear them all well.  I used to be that way but lately a few of those many hats are up in the closet.  Groovy Educator is near and dear to my heart but I am trying to grow my Lowery's Loft LLC home business selling mostly vintage and collectibles.  It is relatively a new business so I need to spend a lot of time trying to build a customer base and learning the ins and outs of a new career.  

Please keep checking back with Groovy Educator, I will periodically post teaching tips and new TpT products.  BUT for the time being I am taking a detour and pursuing a new adventure all in an attempt to be a stay at home mom.  

I know there are still moms out there that do it.  Right now I wonder how...because going from two incomes to one is daunting.  

I do want to make some back to school items for TpT.  I miss not going back to school this year.

PLEASE, please, please share any ideas for things you would like for me to create and put on TpT.  

My project for the next few weeks is a welcome/rules powerpoint and basic checklists for teachers to be organized.  I will also work on beginning of the year welcome activities.  I appreciate your insights and suggestions.  

Thank you for visiting Groovy Educator.  Please take a moment and visit www.LowerysLoft.com.

It has links to most of my ventures.  I will be adding my TpT link.  If you see anything you like on Groovy Educator or Lowery's Loft, please help me build traffic by sharing on social media.

Thank you so much!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Common Core Standard (CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.1.OA.A.2) First Grade Word Problems

Hello Blog World!

I've been lax on my posting, I'm sorry.

Tonight I was toying with the Common Core Math Standards for Grade 1 and created this activity.  I wanted to pick your brains and see if it is something I should produce for TpT or keep reworking the idea.

Here is the sample Word Problem Activity.  It is the first in what will hopefully be a series of activities that teachers can use as a teaching tool (projected on the big screen) or as center work.

Please give me feedback so I can ascertain what direction to take this project.

Thank you so much for your time!



Thursday, June 5, 2014

Emotional Goodbye

In case you didn't know I have been on a leave of absence since late November.  When I left, I knew I would be out through the end of the year and possibly the next year.

My amazing grade level teachers helped me pack up my "teaching life" in a day or two and I've kept my distance mostly due to the emotion of it all and to let the children bond with their new teacher.

I had promised when I left that I would come back and see them so that last week of school, I stopped by and saw my "babies" again and my heart swelled.  It was a nice visit and made my heart hurt when I left.  I loved these kiddos!

The sweet teacher who took my place asked me to come the following week to pick up the rest of my belongings.  I thought it would fill the trunk.

Boy was I wrong!  Two days and three more carloads later, I had most of my "stuff."

Today, I had some alone time in my "home away from home" and it was almost too  much to bear.

I resigned in May with a heavy heart but knowing I needed to embark on a new chapter.  Even though I had been off for so long, this was the "long" goodbye.  I had moments of quiet introspection and sweetly remembered the joys this profession has brought me through the years.

Soon after, I had the long good-bye with coworkers.  The reality set in that I was not coming back.  I was not coming back...

At least not for now.  I love teaching but I love my family more.  If I was healthy and energetic like I used to be, I could have better balance but I'm not and something had to change.

I may return when my daughter gets older but for now I will enjoy school from a different perspective.  I will be the volunteer, the room mom, the parent with questions.

The joys of teaching without the pressure.  It may not seem so but I am a perfectionist when it comes to work and am my own worst critic.  Now I can come in help remediate and read with students who need the help, knowing I do not have the endless paperwork and data entry that has infiltrated the profession.

Yes there is a place for this but not when it impedes creative thinking, lesson plans, and the ability to differentiate instruction to meet the many ever changing needs of children.

So forgive me know if I start posting more... Letting go is hard and Groovy Educator is my outlet to a career I never thought I would step away from.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Change is Never Easy

Last week I resigned from teaching.  I love the profession but decided to pursue a dream.  With my Dad's passing I realize how precious and short life is...

Ever since I was in elementary school I wanted my own business.  Back then I dreamed of Andie's Place.  I even drew layouts in a notebook.  My earliest memory was wanting to own my own dress store when I was in first or second grade.

Flash forward thirty years and I opened Lowery's Loft LLC (an online business selling on eBay).  Being a small business owner is a lot like being a teacher in several ways.

  1. You have to be super organized.
  2. You have to manage materials.
  3. You are always learning.
  4. Everything consistently evolves.
  5. There is a lot of documentation.
  6. Kindness counts
There are many more items that I could add to the list. 

With that said...Change is never easy.  There are things I am giving up to pursue this dream.

I will miss my students and my coworkers.  Nothing can replace the spark that kids create when they are learning.  That is why I am telling myself that nothing is forever.  I can go back to teaching.  

Even though change is hard, it is freeing.  Money is tight right now but I feel more free than I have felt in years.  I am so excited and giddy like a kid the night before going to Disneyland.  It's good to step away sometimes and remember those childhood dreams.  I feel like I will be a better teacher when/if I go back to teaching because I am true to myself and my dreams.  It may sound selfish, especially in such a caring profession, but it is important to remember that you are important too.  Somehow I had forgotten that along the way...

My Dad always believed in me and always made me feel special.  I can't bring him back but I can pursue the dream I shared with him many a time and remember his advice and his words of wisdom.

The hardest part of losing a parent is that you are losing someone who has loved you unconditionally and has known you for your whole entire life.  He knew me, rough spots and all, and still loved me and still believed in me... for that I am forever grateful.   I am pursuing this dream in his honor.  I think back on all those years of encouragement...All the you can do its... I'm going to do it by golly!

This blog will continue to be my link to education.  Even though I will not be in the classroom, I will always be a teacher at heart.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Life

It's been awhile since I posted.  This post is especially personal.  Blogger world out there I need advice.

I am faced with a tremendously difficult decision: whether or not to return to teaching.  Now for some this is a relatively easy decision but I am very torn for several reasons.  Last year I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia which is not life threatening but makes life very unpredictable.  One day I am fine (tired and a little achy=fine) and the next I am itching all over and hurt so bad I can barely walk.  If I manage my stress well then I stay in a tired and achy state which is livable but my stamina is not what it once was.  I am only in my mid-thirties so this is rather disheartening.  

I have a toddler, a husband, and too many pets and I need to have enough of me to make it around to the end of the day.

Even though I gripe about the politics, when it comes to the end of the day I LOVE teaching but I don't know if I can do it anymore and I don't want to do a disservice to the children in any way.  I thought... well I can volunteer and help teachers and students but not be faced with the stress of accountability and documentation.  BUT...what can I do to have an income?

I am exploring ways to work from home but am fearful that it won't be enough to get by.  Has anyone else ever been in this situation?

In a perfect world I would be able to work from home, have time with my munchkin and be able to volunteer and help kids discover a love of reading.

More back story...

In late November, I went on a leave of absence because my body wouldn't cooperate and the pain was just too much.  I was getting weepier, especially on the weekends and having a lot of anxiety about not being able to keep up with everything.  Almost immediately after going on a leave of absence, my dear Uncle went into the hospital and for the next month slowly deteriorated until he passed away a few days before Christmas.  After the holidays, my father-in-law had a massive stroke and lost the ability to use the right side of his body.  He is still undergoing physical therapy but will need to go into a nursing home.  My Dad was in a lot of pain, sad about the loss of one of his best friends, and sick.  He died suddenly about a week and a half ago.  It's just too much some times.  This time on leave has been a blessing because I was able to have precious time with some of my most favorite people but it has not allowed me to destress and find the balance that I really need.

I miss my dad.  I will always miss him.  My daughter will miss her Namps.  She's still too little to make the "gr" sound.  I miss my uncle.  Life continues on.  I used to think leaving the classroom was impossible but everything's continued on without me.  Perhaps it is time to explore my options and possibly return to education later in life.  

This Groovy Educator is not giving up on education.  I have been an educator since I graduated college.  There is a whole big beautiful world out there, outside the classroom.  It's okay to explore outside and return to it later.  

Now I am beginning to ramble on and on.  I guess this post is cathartic (just thinking out loud).  I would love comments to offer any insights you may have.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

SALE!!!


I am running my sale through March 1st 20% off.  If you take advantage of this sale on the above dates you can get 28% off.  My best seller is the Addition and Subtraction Mad Minute.  This would be a great time to buy ahead my end of the year class yearbook.  It is my favorite product!

I'm sorry I haven't been blogging as much.  Long story...will update soon...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Teaching with Silverware - How to Help Children Learn by Using Everyday Objects (Part 4)

It has taken me longer to write this post for some reason.  I have been under the weather with bronchitis and a double ear infection.  That may have something to do with the delay. (grin)


There are many ways in which silverware or dining utensils can be used to teach children.   Before getting started, it is important to discuss safety with your child.  Knives are sharp tools.  For these lessons I recommend using butter knives, not steak knives.  I would also bring up how to safely hold the utensils when walking.  If they are vertical and pointing up, what would happen if your child tripped?  What would happen if the utensils were horizontal with the floor?  Discuss this with your child.  Model and demonstrate what would happen if you fell on a pointy object versus a flat object.  Now this may seem obvious to you but one thing I have learned in education is ASSUME NOTHING.  Never assume a child knows how to do something.  EXPLAIN EVERYTHING.  I cannot stress these words enough Assume Nothing-Explain Everything. 

Please note that by explaining everything does not mean you lecture, lecture, lecture.  It means you TEACH.  Find out what the child knows through questioning and fill in the gaps.  Sorry but I am passionate about this.  We want children to be able to think but we also need to realize that they need a basis for understanding...

With that said, here are some ideas on how to teach with silverware...

Sorting/Classifying/Categorizing
After washing the dishes or while emptying the dishwasher, have your child sort the utensils into groups.  Discuss shape fork, knife, spoon and size tablespoons vs. teaspoons.

Everyone's drawer is different.  You may have a mismatched set with different patterns or you may have some baby utensils.  Have your child sort and then have him/her explain how he/she grouped the objects.  Ask if there is another way to group them.  Come up with a couple of ways to group them and then decide which one makes the most sense for your purpose.

Purpose
Each utensil has at least one purpose.  A knife cuts so that larger pieces can be broken down into smaller pieces.  A fork pierces the food.  It allows you to pick up odd-shaped food or slippery food.  A spoon scoops so you can eat softer items.  There are just some of the possible purposes a utensil may have.  There is also stirring, whipping, smoothing...  Again this is a great time to play with your child and discuss and explain.  You can use playdoh to test each utensil and determine its purpose.  Discuss what would make sense.  Is a fork used to comb hair?  Why or why not?   Is a spoon used as a shoe, why or why not?  Sometimes the sillier you get with the questions the more engaged your child becomes.  Even though you are having fun, he or she is still learning.

Measuring
You can used a spoon or a fork as a nonstandard unit of measurement and go around predicting how many spoons long an object is and then test it out.  For example I think the TV is five spoons long.  Next line up five spoons and see check your prediction.  This is where you can adjust and determine if it will be more spoons or less spoons.  Talk about how to line up the spoons with the edge of the object and how the spoons cannot overlap.

You can also measure dirt, water, sugar, salt, you name it with teaspoons and tablespoons.  Have a bowl of salt and have your child scoop out five teaspoons in one pile and five tablespoons in another.  Compare.  Do the same with dirt or sugar...Was the result the same?

Shiny/Dull
Introduce the word shiny and then go around the house on a a hunt for other shiny objects like the silverware.

Curved/Straight
Write about why a spoon is curved and not square or straight.  Draw pictures to explain.

Sharp/Smooth
Discuss different type of knives and their purpose.  REVIEW Safety.

Metal/Plastic
Talk about the differences between metal and plastic.  Introduce the word sturdy.  A metal fork is more sturdy than a plastic fork because...   Also discuss how silverware is more durable and will last much longer than the plasticware.

Tools
How is a spoon a tool?  Is it like a shovel?  How is it the same how is it different?  What is a tool?  Design a new kitchen tool?  Explain its purpose.

Viscous
When it comes to liquid a fork is not very effective.  It has to be thicker to not go between the prongs.  This concept can help explain viscous...Just a thought.

As always, I appreciate your input.  Thanks for taking the time to read this.