I've been looking forward to this topic since the beginning of this blogging series. As the youngins say, "picture books get me feeling some kind of way." LOL My ELAR heart kind of took a blow at the end of this year when I found out I'd be teaching Science and Social Studies only this year, but I believe in a literacy rich classroom, no matter the subject. Picture books are a great way to integrate literacy into your math, science, or social studies classroom- it's a lot easier than you might think! So, without further ado, my current top 10 and how I use them in my classroom.
1. The Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein-
I love starting the year off with this amazing, Caldecott! I usually wait one or two weeks, depending on the class. It's a great resource to use when discussing classroom expectations, specifically talking expectations in the classroom setting. If you're super dramatic, like myself, it gives you great characterization opportunities as well... aka you get to use all your fun voices!!!
2. Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell-
Love using this text when we are reteaching Theme! It's a precious story about a young girl who learns to embrace her oddities and use them to show grace to other people! Often times, theme is a really difficult concept for students, so I try to start with something a little more obvious when introducing it at the beginning of the year!
3. Thelma The Unicorn by Aaron Blabey-
Y'all... I just love this book. I was Thelma for book character dress up day.... that's how much I love it. It's just a precious tale about a horse who wants to be a Unicorn, but she learns an important lesson after her dreams come true. I don't want to give it away.... but I'm gonna need you to add it to your classroom library ASAP!!
4. Dancing In the Wings by Debbie Allen-
This picture book actually holds some sentimental value with me. My mom used to read it to me when I was a girl. There are so many things you can teach with this true tale about Debbie Allen's own experience becoming a dancer. The illustrations are breathtaking, the girl power is inspiring, and even my boys loved the humor in it! Maybe it's my background in dance or maybe this book is just that great...
5. Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick-
In 5th grade, we do a lot of nonfiction... I have to admit sometimes I try to sneak in true stories in the form of a picture book- to make it more bearable for myself. Finding Winnie gives you all the good feels, it's the story of how Winnie the Pooh came to be! Students loved this one, because they already had background knowledge and connections after we finished the subtitle. Did you know that Winnie was originally... A GIRL!?!
6. The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt-
Ahhh. So many reasons why I love this one. It's absolutely hilarious, to begin with. You can end your lesson with a Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament (highly recommend...) AND it puts a great new twist on teaching legends and folktales. Again, because students already had a personal connection to the game, they were already hook! Again... highly recommend having them play on their way back to their seats!!!
7.Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins-
This is a hilarious twist on the old nursery rhyme, Mother Goose. Since we don't do a whole lot of nursery rhyme stuff in 5th grade, I use this comical version to work on our comparing and contrasting skills! We are a thinking map school, so this is a great one to use with a double bubble map. Watch the original nursery rhyme on Youtube, read Mother Bruce and compare the two. With hilarious, relevant references, this one will make your adult heart giggle, too.
8. The Book With No Pictures by B. J. Novak-
Now, I'm an AVID fan of The Office, but I'm an even bigger fan of this book when teaching figurative language. As you can imagine, if you're going to write a picture book and forego the pictures, you have to rely heavily on your imagery and figurative language. Students will die laughing when you says things like "boo boo butt" to which you'll reply, "okay, repetitive sounds! What kind of figurative language is that?!"
9. Let the Children March by Monica Clark Robinson-
Set in 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, this powerful story of thousands of children standing up to march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will get your students thinking heavily about the impact of the Civil Rights Movement. This is a great Social Studies tie in, but if you don't teach SS it's a great book for theme as well. It's a great conversation starter and reflective piece. We read it more than once in my classes and each time, you could hear a pin drop.
10. Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty-
Wowie I love this whole series. I don't know what it is about Ada that makes her my favorite, but she is. At the beginning of the year, it's important to discuss what a scientist is. This read aloud opens the eyes of students to the concept that you don't have to be a crazy Einstein lookin' old man to be a scientist. Ada Twist not only encourages girls to pursue their passions, but she symbolizes a large group of people. You don't have to be a middle aged, white man to thrive at science! It sounds silly, but it's important for students to grasp! Can't wait to share this and the rest of these amazing stories with my scientists next year!
Well there ya have it, my current top 10 favorite picture books! Check in with me a month from now and it might be different. But I think that's important. Keep reading, keep finding new favorites. It keeps our jobs interesting and students (big and small) love it when you share your new finds with them! What are some of your favorites?! Do we have any in common???
Also, it's not too late to join in on the fun! Check out our upcoming Teacher Tidbit Tuesday Topics! :)
PS. If you subscribed to my newsletter, I'm waiting to get a few more people on board and then I will do my best to send start sending them out! I have not forgotten you, thanks for your patience. :)
Welcome back to Teacher Tidbit Tuesday! I love today's topic, because it's so fresh for me. Just coming off of my first year in my own classroom, so I have LOT of recent memories and stories.
I got a teaching job fairly quickly. I'm what Michaela from @thetownieteacher, calls a "townie." I'm teaching in the same district that I graduated out of. Granted, the district is massive, with 40 different elementary schools! lol This year I taught with 3 other ladies. I taught ELA/SS while my awesome partner taught math and science. I had two sections that we split the day with. There were about 23/24 students in each class. I teach at a title one so there are quite a few who came and went throughout the year!
My classroom at the beginning of the year was FULL of personality, like bursting at the seams.... and not necessarily in the best way lol. Mid-september we had to totally overhaul our classroom routines and procedures. We started morning meetings and came up with our own set of class rules, which really helped when I had to redirect students, because we referred back to THEIR rules!
My biggest struggle as a FYT was finding where I fit in at school. In the beginning, I burnt myself out trying to please everyone. I quickly learned the value of saying "no" without an explanation. In the beginning of the year, I'd get to school around 6 am and leave close to 5. It was super unhealthy. So, I had to set several boundaries for myself. My second semester went WAY smoother on all levels.
All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better school, team, or group of kids to spend my first year with. It was filled with laughter, memories, challenges, and SO MANY STORIES that I will cherish forever.
It's Monday, I'm sitting on my couch in my swimmie watching some lame Netflix original movie, because it's a summer Monday... After I pour my heart out to you I plan on tanning and forgetting the social world for the rest of the day. So, keep that in mind when you're responding. Also, just a reminder that tomorrow is Teacher Tidbit Tuesday, I will be sharing all about my first year of teaching! Super excited to share that with y'all, but today I want to focus the mental health crisis that our nation is facing as we speak.
I posted the picture below to my personal and my blogging instagram. Both had funny, sarcastic captions. Both were a ruse to make you believe that I have my life together, spend my summer days adventuring with my super model husband. About 3 hours after posting that picture, I had a panic attack. I sat on our couch for 3 hours crying, feeling trapped, and repeating the phrase "I just need a way out. I just don't want to be here anymore."
Wow, that's heavy, right? My critics will roll their eyes and say I'm just sharing for attention, but I'm more sharing to be real and use my platform to be real about the fact that we're not doing enough. I've hidden my struggles for years, if I just wanted attention, I would run around buck naked and yell profanities in public, because even that would be easier than what I'm about to share.
I have to be honest and say that my mental health (or lack there of...lol) is a mix of genetics and me just being an idiot. From the beginning, I was a chubby girl. I was one of two girls in third grade who weighed over 100 pounds, girls didn't want to be friends with me, boys just thought I was funny, and I pretty much hated who I was starting at age 9. My parents were divorced and despite having a pretty ideal living situation, it still affected me. I watched my step dad leave my mom when I was in 2nd grade for no real reason explained to me. I went to 3 different elementary schools. In 4th grade, I started going to a private college prep school in Addison, Texas. This is where, looking back, I can really start to see where my issues begun. Not only was I the fat girl, but I was also the girl who didn't have as much money as my classmates. I remember only being allowed to invite 10 girls to my 4th grade birthday party. There were 13 in my class, I got in trouble for not inviting every girl... Crap like that piled up. In 8th grade, we took a trip to The Ozark's. We were required to hike from the bus to our campsite (about a mile, if I remember correctly) and at the end of the trip, hike back up to the bus. I was one of 4 people chosen to begin the hike 30 minutes early... along with 3 other overweight students. I remember sitting on the bus waiting for the rest of the grade to show up... totally humiliated. It was then when I began asking my mom to go to public high school. I thought that would help.
Fast forward to my sophomore year of high school. I began dating a boy, we'll call him Toby. (because if you watch The Office... Toby is the WORST.) I was so happy. I really remember being so swooned. (is that a word... we're making it one...) Like most high school, anxiety inducing relationship, this one was as toxic as it got. I gave him EVERYTHING. Then he'd walk away, cheat on me, or tell me I was boring. Then he'd come back... and the cycle repeated for four years. In between cycles, I would date around and flirt with other boys. Especially when I transferred school in 11th grade. My two years at LHS were plagued with crap. 13 Reasons Why crap... Traumatizing crap.
I went off to college, I thought that would help. I was still talking to Toby (while he was dating another girl...) and talking to pretty much any boy that seemed interested. Within my first semester of college, I found myself in two situations where boys locked me into their dorm rooms forcing themselves onto me. January rolled around and I was done. I found myself, for the second time in my life (the first being in high school after my 2nd or 3rd break up with Toby...) not wanting to be alive. I had sworn off boys, started going to church, and had big plans to transfer to a Texas school, because I thought that would help. Cue Colton Fairchild.
*flashback*I remember walking to work on a cold November morning, we were playing Baylor and College GameDay was in town. I saw the cutest boy holding a hilarious sign. I had no idea, two months later he'd be my saving grace. I got to work and was scrolling through twitter when I realized that cute boy followed me! *flashback end*
January 26, 2014 Colton Wesley Fairchild messaged me on twitter asking if I wanted to go to church and I told him no. Paralyzed by anxiety. Not sure why a guy who was so smoking hot would want anything to do with my fat, messed up self. ( I mean... y'all... he had abs.... and that JAWLINE.) Any who, we started dating. I thought that would help. But about 6 months in, the panic attacks started again. Colton was confused, I was confused. But we figured it out together. The rest of my college career was defined by happiness, connectedness, and for the most part, peace.
It wasn't until this year, being back in Texas, starting a new job, being newly married, and a living in a freakishly small apartment, when my anxious tendencies crept their way back in. Perfectionism, crying a lot, going from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds, being a vegetable most weekends, and having absolutely no motivation when it came to anything but work.... I gained 15 pounds and a lot of emotional baggage. I have it all... the perfect job, the perfect husband, near perfect coworkers and friends. My husband and I are so young but making plans to do amazing things. My blog took off in a matter of days. Everything SEEMS great. Everything seemed great with Kate Spade?
The problem with anxiety, depression, mental illness is that it's not a choice. I don't get to choose when I'm happy or sad. Every emotion is felt at 500% and my highs are high while my lows are embarrassingly low. Which brings me to Saturday.
"I don't want to be here. Everything would be better if I could just find a way to leave."
There is a voice inside of me putting those thoughts and feelings into my head. It's so real and if I could just snap out of it, dear Lord, I WOULD. I think sometimes, the only stories we read or hear are are recovery stories... I look forward to the day where I'm able share my story from a recovery perspective and I'm taking the steps necessary to get there. But until then, I'm going to be brave enough to share it from a warrior's perspective.
SO, what do we do?
I've tried several times to open up to people I'm close to about my struggles with Mental Illness. There are about 3 people who took me seriously and sought to understand. Some of my favorite responses when I tried to tell people were as follows:
1. You're just being dramatic, everything will be okay.
2. Are you sure you had a panic attack? Those are really serious...
3. I didn't know you were even capable of being upset! That doesn't seem like you..
4. That's just part of being a teacher! That's just part of life.
I'm here to tell you, no. No you're not crazy, that's not a normal part of life, you're worthy of being here. Thinking that the world would be a better place if you weren't in it, crying and feeling stuck all the time, wishing the rest of your life away, THAT IS NOT JUST A PART OF LIFE. PERIOD. If someone has ever tried to open up to you and your response was similar to those above, I'm afraid to say that you're part of the problem.
One of the worst parts about mental illness is how debilitating it is. You feel like a burden to everyone around you. You purposefully take yourself out of social situations, just because you feel unwanted. SO, if you're one who does not struggle with a mental illness and you notice that someone close to you is withdrawing, talking less, hiding more... you have to say something. Something as simple as, "hey, you've seemed down... everything okay?" BOOM. WOW. AMAZING. And then, after you ask, just listen and try to understand. Understand that it's not their choice to feel trapped. Understand that behind every overreaction there is a long, ass story like the one I shared above. And then, continue to check in and make sure your people are getting the help they need.
I truly think mental illness is not a taboo subject, until it's someone close to us who is struggling. That's the stigma we have to break. We can't just wait until someone we kind of knew commits suicide to pretend to care about other people's mental wellbeing. It STARTS with the people closest to us. This is where I think we're getting it wrong. I purposefully don't talk about my mental illness with specific people because I know they won't take it seriously, some of these people are people who I interact with everyday. But, when I posted to my 7,700 followers on instagram that I was struggling, people reached out left and right. That is so backwards. Why are we so hesitant to love on the people close to us who we know are struggling, but if it's someone we know in passing/ have a minor connection to... we all of the sudden care? We have to be more compassionate as a whole, because people are suffering. Give people the benefit of the doubt, love them relentlessly, and combat the lies in their heads telling them that they don't belong.
Mental illness is not one single persons fault, I wish I could pinpoint the reason or throw the blame on someone or something... but I just can't. I'm done talking, but on Saturday evening, I opened a google form for people to share their stories. The thing that spoke the most to me was what they wanted to say to those who don't struggle with mental illness. I'm going to let them speak for themselves. Thank you for reading this far. I challenge you to reach out, listen to someone else's story today, and then love the crap outta them.
Join me tomorrow for a lighter, way more fun topic: My First Year of Teaching!!!
Hey there! Happy Tuesday!!! Can you believe it's June already? Good gravy, I can't. I'm super excited for what's to come in this space, one of those things being Teacher Tidbit Tuesday!! I'm teaming up with some amazing women and educators to tackle a new topic each Tuesday this summer. Now, don't worry... it's summertime ya know? So obvi, not everything will be teacher related. Let's get this show on the road with Week 1: All About Me.
I figured, to make this easy for everyone, that I'd just list a few things and call it good. So here we go, 8 random things about me, Maddie Paige Fairchild.
1. First up, since my sophomore year in High School, I've lived with some serious anxiety. It really is a part of who I am, but it manifests itself in weird ways. For instance, humor at terrible times or perfectionism in stressful seasons. I try really hard to use it as a tool to reach and encourage other women who go through it, too!
2. My Husband DM'd me on Twitter... that's how we met. Does it get anymore 21st century than that? Nope. We dated for 4 years before we tied the knot. He's everything I'm not. Tall, super pale, but super handsome. He is gentle, forgiving, and very, very calm. I hit the hubby jackpot.
3. I'm a fifth grade teacher in North Texas. I love my job, but at this moment I'm typing this and my students are about to come into my classroom... and I have to be honest.... I love them.... but it's time for summer. I mean..... I need it. They need it.... We all need summer.
4. I have a golden retriever, HER HER HER HER HER name is Scout. She's named after Scout Finch from "To Kill A Mockingbird." Everyone thinks she's a boy. She's not. She dances to the beat of her own drum and suffers from some form of epilepsy. We can't quite figure out what her issue is, but we love her all the same.
5. My dream job is to own and operate a wedding venue with my husband in Hawaii... I mean, how fun would that be?!
6. I'm super into fashion and finding weird, but great deals. I don't claim to be a fashionista, I just try to keep up.
7. I hardly ever have my nails done. I seriously hate getting them done, I can't sit still for that long.
8. I'm passionate about being unapologetically myself and helping others do the same.
What do we have in common?! Thanks for reading this far!! I know that was short and sweet, but I think that's what an introduction should be!! Wanna join in on the fun?! Checkout the topics below!! We'd love to have you!