"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do." Helen Keller

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Fran Richardson
Welcome to my blog!I'm a teacher in a beautiful, small, rural town. I moved here a few years ago, but I have taught over 20 years in this same small town that is now my home. My experience is in teaching second, third, and fourth grades with one year in sixth grade. I am always reading, learning, and reflecting on what goes on in my classroom. I love the work that I do with the parents, my fellow teachers, and most all-my students.I hope you will enjoy reading my blog.
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The Scholar, Age 5

The Scholar, Age 5

I'm A Lifelong Learner...

I'm A Lifelong Learner...
My first and only microscope

I Still Love Learnin'!

I Still Love Learnin'!

Still The Scholar

Still The Scholar
Seriously getting ready for school: Our fourth grade summer team meeting ( 2009_

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Monday, September 5, 2011

More PINTEREST Inspired Work: The Teacher’s Closet

For the past month or so, Pinterest has been inspiring me in both my home and my classroom.  The ideas for my classroom are tremendous: centers, boards, lesson plans, and arts and crafts. The ideas for my home have been helpful: recipes for the crockpot,  crafts, organization, and seasonal décor that is easy. Another great thing that I discovered  are all the great clothing ideas that I pin for work outfits that are teacher and budget-friendly. I will admit to a clothing slump of late. My usual school unofficial school uniform is a polo or a plain tee-shirt paired with a cardigan and khaki pants with good hearty teaching shoes that are not always pretty.  Pretty plain, boring stuff. Thanks to Pinterest, I’ve ventured into throwing  on a vintage scarf or costume jewelry and fallen in love with a pair or two of new, stylish, and comfortable Crocs- one pair in animal prints! Jewelry and scarves were not my thing until I saw the many ways I could use the  old pieces  which belonged to  my Mama who always seemed to be stylin’ especially before I came into her life .Smile

My Mama had great style for the  librarian she became and was always looking for a bargain.

mama at unc-chapel hill 1944 My Mama at UNC-Chapel Hill

Mama Christmas 1953 002The necklace she has on I now own. It was a present from her brother James when he was in England.

wall richardson honeymoon pic 001My parents on their honeymoon in Pinehurst, NC in 1956. Check out my Daddy’s shoes!

With style and thrift in mind,  I decided to try my hand at making some scarves using some old clothing or as it’s called “upcycling.” Very budget-friendly to a teacher’s salary while fun to create and more fun to wear.

Here are the results:

VID03047 A skirt that easily converted to a circle scarf.

VID03048A trendy fringe scarf from a well-worn polo shirt

VID03050Another circle scarf made from a pair of shorts with very little sewing.

Proof of how easy it is to do this if I can do it! The plaid scarves I really like for everyday. The fringe scarf I would save for a jeans day or weekend although it would be very easy to make one of these for school colors or some other fun day.  Every time I look at this pink and green creation I am reminded of The Lorax!

You never know what you might see and be inspired by on Pinterest. Check out my boards here: http://pinterest.com/tabkatz/

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Thursday, September 1, 2011


Earlier this week I posted that  Sarah Emerling along with her husband Chris Emerling were both teachers in Aiken County  who were voted Teachers of The Year. ( I would like to point out that this is the second time Sarah has been honored by our school). Sarah “pushes into”  my social studies classes to provide her special education services to our students. And she is also technologically savvySmile . In my haste ( well, it was 5:00 AM), I neglected to see the other story in the Aiken Standard: Busbee Corbett Makes AYP  which mentioned my former teammate Tammy Swartz. Follow the link to find out how my school Busbee Corbett made AYP because of a shared vision of literacy.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

One Family, Two Great Teachers

Sarah and Chris Emerling,  a husband and wife team of teachers in Aiken County, are both nominated for our district's Teacher of The Year. I am lucky enough to work with Sarah. She's inspiring to me because she is always looking for new, fresh ideas to use with her students and works tirelessly to help her students succeed. Apparently this runs in the family! Read about the Emerlings in today's Aiken Standard.
Sunday, August 28, 2011

What I'm Reading Today: AWAKENED by Angela Watson

I am a HUGE fan of Angela Watson (formerly Powell) having followed her website mspowell.com for years and then becoming an even bigger fan after  buying her book, The Cornerstone. I have recommended both her new website The Cornerstone for Teachers and the book The Cornerstone to all first year teachers as a  MUST for setting up the classroom, teaching procedures, and management, but I also feel that many of us struggle with being organized and can always learn something new from her as well ( and I certainly did).

Today I will begin reading her latest book based on the blurb at Amazon:

Do the never-ending pressures of teaching drain you emotionally? Is a lack of resources and support stealing your enthusiasm? Are the small daily hassles adding up and overwhelming you? Effective teaching requires serious mental fortitude. This book will empower you to develop the resilient, flexible, positive mindset you need to:

* Consciously challenge the negative thoughts that discourage you
* Raise your tolerance for frustration so you become less 'disturbable'
* Live beyond your feelings to stay motivated when you don't see results
* Change your perception of setbacks so they feel less stressful
* Let go of unrealistic expectations, standards, and comparisons
* Realize a sense of accomplishment in a job that's truly never done

Awakened provides simple steps to help you feel peaceful and energized, no matter what's happening around you. Drawing upon principles of stress management, cognitive behavioral therapy, spiritual truths, and personal experiences, Awakened helps you develop thought habits that produce an unshakeable sense of contentment, motivation, and purpose. Learn how to renew your mind and take a fresh approach to the challenges of teaching! (from Amazon.com)
Yes, right now I do at times feel drained, emotional,  and exhausted, but I am always quick to point out that often the strain of teaching comes not from the children but from the relationships from other adults we deal with- co-workers, parents, and administrators whether it is consciously done or not on their part. The beginning of school is ALWAYS an adjustment for both the families and students but also teachers. This year we have many new faculty members which means that many roles and relationships have ended or changed. I am the kind of person who loves routine in my work. I love going to the same place seeing the same faces year after year. I find comfort in this arrangement, and it's been successful and soothing to me when the past several years have been a period of great change in my  personal life. It will take some time for me to adjust to what is new in a place that I am so familiar and comfortable with.

I am one who is always looking for new ideas and inspiration so I will report back on my thoughts on Awakened  . I am sure to be encouraged, renewed, and refreshed soon.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Organized Classroom Blog

Head over to  the new The Organized Classroom Blog. Same great ideas with a new look and design just in time for a new school year!:)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The “Back To School” Best Words To Motivate

A poem by Taylor Mali to inspire and remind teachers of what we do. Enjoy!



Taylor Mali video

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Back To School: Bulletin Boards

My summer is almost over ( sigh). Tuesday is my first official day back at work, but already  I have been  very busy preparing and setting up my classroom  even doing what I can from home with a few quick trips to my classroom. Last week I put my desks into a very simple arrangement while keeping the basic setup the same from last year so there was no need to move the cubbies, computer tables, or my little corner with my computer, my professional books, and files. Because I lucked up and bought two rolling carts that were used in a video store that went out of business last May, I didn’t not have to move and sort my classroom library that has over a thousand books. ( That alone has sometimes taken WEEKS  for me to deal with!) My carts have my books sorted into my social studies units so they are ready to go.  When I got into my classroom, I started working on what will go onto my boards based on how I can use them in instruction.   Because we use anchor charts in our classrooms throughout my school which are based on a balanced literacy model for reading instruction in my district, we do not plaster out walls with store-bought displays as I used to do in years past. My room will be decorative but not finished until the students arrive in about two weeks, and learning begins.

In the meantime, I've created some items for my two bulletin boards in my classroom, my dry erase board, and my door.Here’s  how the door to my classroom welcomes my students:


When my class comes in each day, they will do a warm-up based on what we did the day before as pencils are sharpened and the restroom is used by those who need to. The warm-up is part of keeping a social studies  interactive notebook. I’ve decided to use the middle part of my dry erase board as the place where we post our interactive note book work each day:


I have  also decided this year to have a focus wall into addition to posting my standards as we are required to do. I have posted essential questions, word walls, and rubrics before, but I like the idea that I could use the bulletin board where my  trade books  which are an integral part of my history  lessons  to serve as both a meeting area and visual  reminder  and focal point for what we are doing that day in class. It is also in the corner away from the door so the students will be facing me so they truly will be focused as the lesson begins. Looking at my standards, I also see how the focus wall will insure that I include elements of social studies literacy such as timelines, maps, and diagrams:

VID02877 VID02882

Finally, I will have  what I am calling a summary wall for the end of the lesson wrap-up. I chose the bulletin board near the door for two reasons: Here will be evidence of our learning, and because it is near the door, it will be easy to add post-its as exit slips as students line up and leave for the day. I have already posted a place where the rubric will be because this is also a requirement when student work is displayed.

Because I am the type of person that I think, reflect, and redo, I am already seeing some things I can improve. I am already realizing  that are some other things that are needed and better ways to use these displays. I will share those  improved displays when they are ready to go.

In the meantime, let’s enjoy these last few days of our summer.Smile

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"I bear the flame that enlightens the world. I fire the imagination. I give might to dreams and wings to the aspirations of men."
- Marva Collins, from her poem, "I Am Excellence."

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