Friday, April 27, 2012

End of year field trip...

Our end of the school year field trip was today.  We took our whole grade level to a place that's not too far from our town.  It's an Ecotarium, where they had some exhibits with live animals, and a very hands on, student-friendly science museum.  I absolutely LOVE the look you see on a child's face when they discover something new.  It's a huge part of why I've always wanted to teach, and I'm sure it's the same for many of us.  It was also a huge reminder of how important these trips are for students.  There are so many students, that for many different reasons, do not have these opportunities that many of us take for granted.  First I was shocked when we went to explore a pond ecosystem with our guides and were were less than two minutes into the walk out to the pond we had so many students who were tired from walking and ready to head back.  LESS THAN TWO MINUTES, you read that correctly.  It's so sad to me to think of these poor kids spending so much of their time inside and not getting fresh air.  Later on in the afternoon we were explore some animal habitats that were in separate out buildings.  In one there was a habitat with a couple of snakes, two skunks (stink-free of course), and a porcupine.  One of my girls had never seen a live porcupine before.  She stood there with her hands and face pressed against the glass, eyes wide open, staring in wonder at that porcupine.  Forget watching the animals, I couldn't stop watching my little darling.  Who knows if she would ever have been able to have this experience had she not had it today.  So, as hectic as it can be (especially when you take your seven busiest, most hyper, impulsive, challenging, students who need you the most in your group), it's an inspiring moment, and a great reminder of why we do what we do.  Overall I think the students' favorite part of the trip was the wind tube.  It was a stand up tube where you opened a door to get in (four kids could fit at once), closed the door, and pushed a button that pushed out air at hurricane force speeds.  Their facial expressions were priceless, and oh the hair!  I hope that you all have a happy, relaxing weekend!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Imagine for a moment if you will...

Running behind in the morning, a staff meeting morning no less, yet only by three or four minutes, so you're not feeling too stressed.  Fast forward to after dropping off a youngster at the before school sitter, and taking a different route to avoid the highway traffic at a standstill due to construction, only to find yourself stuck behind the s l o w e s t truck ever.  At this point, still not too stressed because there are some pretty good tunes playing (who can stay mad while singing in the car anyway?), and sweet, the truck turned onto a different road.  Then visualize arriving at school, parking, and lugging your always overloaded, neglected teacher bag (you know, the one that you bring home with good intentions each and every night, and almost each and every night you set it down never to give it a second glance) up onto your shoulder, while juggling your purse, jacket, coffee and water bottle as you scurry up to the front steps of the building.  At our school parents park all along the street in front of the school while they wait until they can drop their students off. I wonder if they planned on getting a show this morning? Are you still imagining with me?  Oh here's where the action really takes place.  Imagine this moving juggling act heading up the steps, and one foot not connecting efficiently with the second step.  I'm sure you can see where this is going.  I don't know what in the world happened, all I know is that I completely wiped out, falling up the concrete steps, and totally landed smashing down on both knees.  We're talking instant tear-filled eyes, agonizing pain, I was actually very surprised that I was able to get up so quickly to try to regroup mentally and get into the building to be on time for the staff meeting...yep, the staff meeting that was rescheduled to an upcoming PD day.  My wonderful cousin who is more like a sister to me has a cute country themed picture in her bathroom at her house that has an adorable cow, and the saying "Some days you step in it, some days you don't."  I guess this was just my day to step in it so to speak. ;)  I managed to get through the day, and it wasn't until I got in the car to drive home that it really sunk in how much my knee hurts.  So all of the productive plans I had for myself for when I was home this evening flew out the window.  To top it all off, I went to slice some cheese for my boys to have cheese and crackers as an afternoon snack, and I really should have known better.  I'm just glad that the knife didn't go through my finger deep enough to need stitches.  Needless to say I will NOT be touching any sharp objects in the near future!  Here's to hoping the rest of this week will be uneventful!  I'm just so glad that there wasn't anyone around (other than any parked parents who may have witnessed my epic clumsiness) to see how bad I wiped out!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sorry it's a short one...

Today has simply flown by, which compared to a typical Monday is a good thing for the most part.  I feel like we didn't have a spare minute all day today.  We started right off this morning reviewing an assessment we had taken recently and examining why we got certain questions wrong.  After our review session we worked on creating our special lines geometry foldable.  They did such a great job with these, I know I am going to have to incorporate them a lot more often.  One of the things I really pulled out of our review session today was that many students are not following through with certain steps of especially comparison problems. (Ex:  26-9 ? 5 X 3 )  Time after time I'm noticing that many students are either inaccurately doing the mental math, or are just looking at the numbers and guessing without going through the computation.  I'm going to have to create some more practice for these types of comparison problems. 
     Our readers workshop lesson today was great!  We read Humble Pie, which no one was familiar with yet.  They all really enjoyed the story.  We were inferring character traits, as well as watching for character changes.  You know I definitely had a huge smile on my face when listening in on a pair of students during a turn and talk I heard "Oh!  This is totally where the character change happens...he goes from being so selfish and demanding to actually caring about something other than just himself!"  =) YAY! =) 
     Off to bed...night!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I'm not ready!

To go back to school that is.  Sunday crept up so fast, but I have to say, it was one of the best weeks we've had in a long time.  We got in lots of quality time with family and friends, and that's one of the things that I think gets pushed off the most during the school year.  I don't know about you, but I can get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of school that it can be weeks at a time where I don't stay in touch with people the way I would like.  I've been trying to get better at leaving school earlier and bringing a few things home with me to finish up, but I have discovered that the essential "teacher bag" (or 2!) that we all have tends to get really neglected when I bring it home.  So, for now, my focus is to have a short checklist for myself each day of the things I really need to get done before I leave school for the day.  Hopefully that will help me better manage my after school time more efficiently.  I am most definitely a project jumper.  Hopefully I am not the only one guilty of this, but I tend to bounce from one thing to another and then back again trying to get so many different things taken care of.
     Today's goal was really just lesson planning.  We have finished our state assessment for reading and language arts, but I still want to keep our reading momentum going.  This week we're going to have an interactive read-aloud with Humble Pie, by Jennifer Donnelly.  We'll be focusing on inferring character traits, and character change as we read about the main character, Theo.  Students will be recording the character traits they infer, as well as examples from the text that led them to those inferences.  We will be paying close attention to how inferring character traits helps us to better understand the story.  Also this week we are going to continue our genre study with poetry.  Our class has been enjoying selecting different poetry books, and reading poems for enjoyment, as well as introducing our classmates to poems they are enjoying.  We'll work more on writing our own original poems this week, including some list poems, acrostics, and cinquains.
     Our next math unit is geometry.  This year I decided I wanted to approach this unit differently.  I created a special lines foldable to introduce parts of lines and special lines to the students.  As we learn about each different figure we're going to add it to our foldable.  After they are all created, the students will be able to use their foldables with a partner to quiz each other.  The cards that are used to create the foldable could also be used to play a memory game independently or with a partner as well.  I'm excited to get to work on this with my students tomorrow.  From there we will go on to angles, triangles, plane shapes, 3D shapes, area, perimeter, and volume, so much more to come!
    If you think this might be something you are interested in using, you can check it out here.
To everyone returning back to school this week after spring vacation I hope you have a wonderful week! =)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Vaca went by way too fast!

I just logged into my email and was wondering how it got so full...then I logged on here and thought "Whoa!  I haven't been on the computer since Tuesday?!?!  That hasn't happened in a long time. it's actually quite miraculous, and a sure sign of a week off well spent.  On Wednesday I got by baby fill when we drove up to meet my cousin's new baby...aww man, he is so adorable, and such a little peanut!  Thursday was spent with some much needed catch-up and girl time with my best friend.  This of course had to include a trip to Pier 1 and Home Depot.  The hubs was a little bit less than happy when I came home with a bunch of things (all necessity of course ;) !) and almost $100 worth of hanging flowers and a shrub I'll be planting.  What can I say?  I'm a sucker for those brightly colored, sweet smelling annuals, and they just happened to be located right outside of the entrance, it was fate! =)  Today ended a perfect week of perfect weather with perfect company with a visit to see my Nana for her 77th birthday.  She and my nine year old son share a birthday, so it's always extra special.  Happy birthday Nana! <3  The rest of the weekend shall consist of blog hopping, lesson planning, and baseball for our older son...all in all a very good week!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I am in love with this weather!  It's 72 degrees and sunny, can't ask for much more than that.  Today has been another very restful day.  I took my sons bowling and to lunch, and when we got home I had my hubby help me plant some irises that my grandmother dug up from her garden to give to me. <3  I didn't have time or things ready to dig it all out and put in a retaining border with them, but I wanted to make sure I got them into the ground at least.  This way I know I got them planted, and my goal is to gather the materials over the summer so that I can rearrange the flowers in the front of our house come the fall.  I'm still new to this gardening thing, and have to admit that I am a bit amazed that anything I've planted over the last year and a half has survived.  I came across a new blog today that I love, by Ms. Smarty Pants.  Her post today was all about plants and gardening.  I wish I could have been a student in her class growing up, she does such wonderful hands on activities with her students.  I wish that I had the space outside at our school where we could grow our own garden.  She so inspiring!  You can check her post out here.  What great activities do you do with your students when learning about plants?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ahhh...vacation... =)

Just knowing that I don't have to set my alarm clock in the morning makes me such a happy person.  Picture someone who wakes up easily in the morning, cheery and ready to go.  Now, picture the complete opposite of that person, and THAT'S ME in the morning.  I have never been a morning person, but it seems to get worse as I get older.  The alarm clock goes off each morning, although I don't know how it's still working since I pound on it multiples times each morning to stop the beeping.  Once I am up and going I'm okay, but there's just something about waking up to the alarm that drives me insane.  I've tried music or different sounds, but I sleep right through them, so the annoying beeping it is...but not this week!  I am very excited for our spring break.  Yesterday we had a birthday party for our youngest son who's turning nine at the end of this week.  It was a very nice day with family, and the weather was amazing.  Today we are laying low.  I was hoping that the forecast of record high temperatures would be wrong so that I could dig some flower beds.  My Nana brought me some irises from her flower beds to plant at our house.  That right there is a miracle.  Before my husband and I bought our house I never would have thought that I would be digging flower beds and keeping plants alive.  Every plant I have ever tried to keep alive in the house has perished.  Outdoor plants it seems have a much better chance of survival.  In my defense I believe it has to do with a lack of direct sunlight in the only windows I could use where the cats wouldn't be able to get to the plants.  Unfortunately the forecast so far has been spot on, so the digging will have to wait until this evening.  Bummer...I guess I will just have to pass the time reading the four novels that have accumulated over the past couple of months... =)  Happy Monday! 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Oh my's been one of THOSE days...

Holy cow!  Today was INSANE.  I swear, half of my class had to have been possessed by robots set on destruction!  It's absolutely jaw-dropping how nasty this group was to each other!  I heard a third grade boy using a word that completely appalled me.  Just the thought of them even knowing that word made my skin crawl, and they can't be kind to one another to save their lives right now...hence the creation of my Caught Being Kind incentive program.  I was at my wits end today, and that really takes A LOT.  One of the things that I am most proud of myself for is the patience that I have for the more challenging students that come my way.  I try to always be a glass half full person and look at it as the children that are the hardest to love are the ones that need it the most.  Today it was really difficult to keep that perspective.  I'm hoping that this will do just the trick.  I included an introduction for students and how getting caught for being kind works.  In a nutshell, students will be watching one another for acts of kindness.  When a student is spotted being kind, the spotter will fill out a form including the name of the person being kind, and what they were doing.  These forms will go into an envelope labeled "Out Class is Full of Kindness!"  I will go through the envelope each day and students who were spotted being kind will get an adorable birdie cut-out to put their name on and include on our classroom kindness bulletin board.  I'm hoping that they will jump on board the kindness train very quickly, and once they are back in the kindness groove we'll use it as an additional incentive.  Each Friday I will select two forms from the envelope and reward both the students who were being kind as well as the students who spotted them with a small prize like a pencil, sticker, notepad, etc. or a different reward like lunch with the teacher, additional computer time, or time to play their favorite game.  If this sounds like something you might be interested in you can check it out here.  Thank goodness vacation is right around the corner! =)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring Break-3 days and counting...

It has been a crazy couple of weeks. In the past five school days I have taught in total the equivalent of two full days due to meetings, professional development, and a personal day. I'm surprised that my students even recognize me this week! I returned back to school at the end of the day today after a full day of professional development. When my sub had left one of my students gave me a huge hug and said "Today went by so slowly, please tell me you don't have any meetings again for a while!" I'd say that's a sure sign that I've been out of the classroom too much lately! It's such a crazy time of year for us too, with the language arts section of our state test completed, and the math coming up very soon we need as much time with our students as possible. So, hopefully there will be no more meetings for a while! I am very much looking forward to our spring break which is coming up next week. Not only is my youngest son's birthday at the end of next week, but my cousin who is much more like a sister to me just had her second baby this Easter Sunday! So I am looking forward to of course much needed relaxation, but also to that wonderful new baby smell and lots of snuggles! <3

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Day one of relaxation...success! And a FREEBIE!!

What a nice day I've had so far today.  I brought my youngest son to school, he was super excited that mom was able to drop him off special instead of having to take the bus from the sitter's house like normal.  Then I spent a lazy morning with our pup catching up on my favorite blogs, browsing Teachers Pay Teachers, and watching shows that have built up in the dvr.  After lunch I took the pup out and then was able to rake my front yard, it was gorgeous out!  Almost fifty degrees and sunny, it felt so nice!  I've been so relaxed today that I've started working on revamping the reading log that I have my students use during their independent reading times.  I really want to get more caught up and get some more products made with all of the ideas that I have kicking around in my head!  For now, he's a little something I'd like to share.  This is a 3-2-1 Summarizer that I use with my students as a quick assessment.  We use them quite often in our classroom, they can be used for any subject/content you wish.  This one I designed for our weather unit, and it's for sale currently in my TpT store for $1.00.  You can grab your own copy of it here for the next few days for free! =) If you like this freebie please leave me a note and let me know, and be sure to follow me for future updates!

3-2-1 Weather Summarizer .

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hello "Mom-Cation" =)

I cannot express in words how excited I am to have the next two days off from school.  Thursday I have a personal day, and Friday is a no school day in our district.  While I have about a zillion different things to do in that time, my own sons have school both days so I will have two child-free days!  Now, don't take that the wrong way, I LOVE my sons, and I love teaching, but lately things have been so insanely busy I cannot for the life of me remember the last time I was alone with my own thoughts.  The only family member I will be responsible for during the day will be our pup, and I thinking we should definitely be able to work in a nice long walk around the lake. =) I can feel myself relaxing already!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ahh Monday...I am not sad to see you go...
It is a very short week for me this week seeing as we have professional development for the first half of our day tomorrow, I have a meeting in the afternoon Wednesday, I have a personal day scheduled Thursday, and we have no school Friday due to Good Friday.  I cannot tell you how much easier the week passes when you know that it's such a short one, at least that's how it is for me! =)  I haven't quite decided how I'm going to pass my personal day on Thursday, but it definitely includes an entire day of Mom-only free time!  Both of my sons have school Thursday and Friday, so it's like a mini "mom-cation" for me!  I am very excited for it (can you tell?) I was checking out some other classroom photos on another blog that I subscribe to and it made me even more determined to rearrange/reorganize my own classroom.  My classroom space is so awkward due to three different heating units (only one of which is functional mind you) that all take up valuable wall space, as well as the other side of the room being split up by two large built in cabinets and three classroom doors (???).  I've been in my current classroom for two years now and still don't feel as if I'm completely comfortable with the room.  I'm hoping to continue finding great inspiration to get it the way that I will be most comfortable with.  Here's hoping right?  If you have any great organizational tips/tricks, especially when dealing with a small/awkward room please feel free to share! =)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I know I say the same thing to myself every single weekend, but I just don't know how Sunday night creeps up on me so quickly! Friday morning at school they announced for staff that anyone who wanted to purchase tickets with the group from school who we're buying needed to make sure they brought down their money before noon.  My students almost never tune into our morning announcements unless they notice that the principal mentions a message is specifically for staff, they can be so nosy!  After they finished the announcement of course I had about five students who just had to know what the tickets were all about.  Is it a show?  A movie?  They kept coming out with different predictions (I really could have capitalized on a great inference lesson right there!).  I told them teachers were pitching in together to buy tickets for the Mega Millions drawing.  I have a boy in my class who likes to be the center of attention and thinks of himself as a really cool kid.  It was very surprising to me when he was the one most disturbed by the idea of me buying a lottery ticket. "Well, what would you do if you win?  Nothing would change right?  You'd still come to school right?"  Another student chuckled and said "Yeah right!  If Mrs. M wins the lottery she's going to retire!"  I chuckled at that comment and added "With a nice long vacation!"  My "cool guy" really couldn't wrap his mind around it, and said again "but you'd still teach us right?  You wouldn't leave before the school year was over would you?"  The other boy shook his head and walked away.  It just goes to show that we can never quite tell how much we reach our students, or how much some of them rely on us.  I reassured him that the chances of winning were very slim, that I'd be more likely to get struck by lightning.  That at least got a hint of a smile from him, and he said "I'm still going to hope you don't win!"  So, as I finish up my lesson planning this Sunday evening wishing that I were on a warm beach with a good book in one hand and a fruity drink in the other, I can face Monday more easily because I know there's at least one person I've made a difference to.  =)