Thursday, May 24, 2012

13 more days...13 more days...and 1 personal day left!!! =)

Hopefully I don't sound too excited about that last personal day that I have to use ;)  I am definitely feeling the end of the school year much more than in years past.  My kids are wonderful, but they are challenging, and while I like a challenge as much as the next person, I am ready for a break- a LONG break! As our year is winding down we have about a zillion different things to finish up.  Our school-wide Pride Night is coming up, so we have many projects that we are completing in time for next Thursday evening to share with our families.  Mixed in with that we are still completing our unit of study on space. and tomorrow we are going to be making phases of the moon flip books after our Memorial Day program.
     I haven't quite decided if we're going to use black construction paper and white crayons to draw each of the phases, and include descriptions of each on the inside, or if I want to use a handout I came across online.  It has great images of the lunar phases from the Lunar and Planetary Institute.  You can check it out here.  I love that it's satellite images rather than just a drawing, so I am sure that I will use it somehow.  I also think that this one is interesting because it's animated, and I know that my students will enjoy many choices!
     Also I wanted to pass along some information I received in an email this afternoon from one of my favorite places on earth- Barnes & Noble.  I could literally spend an entire day in that place and not tire of it, as I'm sure so could many of you!  They have a wonderful summer reading program where students read 8 books off of their summer reading list, record the title, author, and who they would recommend the book to and why, and they can choose a free book!  Who doesn't like free?  Who doesn't like getting books into children's hands?  I thought that I would pass this information along in case someone else would like to pass it along for their students.  (Just so you know my intent isn't to advertise for Barnes and Noble, I just adore them!)

You can click here to go to their site.  They have included the letter home about the reading incentive, as well as the log for students to track their reading on.  Happy Summer Reading!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Exhaustion has set in...

But the state testing is DONE!  Thank goodness!  Our math coach came in yesterday morning to give the class a pep talk before they started their second day of math testing.  He told them "You've done over 300 hours of math practice, you're READY!"  I wish I had a camera for the looks on their faces when the number of hours was tossed out at them. (Picture eyes wide and mouths hanging open.)  Since state testing ends up stressful on students no matter how hard we work to make it not be, I wanted to completely switch gears as soon as it was finished.  I purposely saved our unit of study on the solar system for this time of the year.  It's one of those units that everyone loves and is interested in, especially the boys.  I don't know about you, but my boys are definitely more than itching for summer right about now, and I needed something to totally hook them in.  It has been a great two days of study so far.  Even my normally "too cool for school" guys who think they can't appear interested in anything are hooked.  That completely makes my day!  The two boys that usually compete to appear the least interested are two of the most engaged students in the classroom, and I am loving every second of it.  One of them was even so caught up in research today that when he went to ask me a question he said "Mom...oh wait, sorry, Mrs. Michaud..."  He didn't even get embarrassed, he was too eager to have his burning question answered. =) 
Spread out on our back table are a few student books, and their solar system models for our classroom display.
 The back cover of a student's book...
 The front cover of a student's book...
 More planets for our display...
 Two inside views of a student book...
     Along with learning about the sun, our moon, the moon phases, and the earth we are learning about each of the planets in our solar system in order.  They have different articles about each planet that they are reading, and there are a few short questions on each planet to answer.  They are then using these sheets as well as tons of books in the classroom to create their very own books about the solar system.  I purchased a blank book for each student from  They are a bit pricey, I ended up spending just under $50 for them in all, but I truly feel it's worth the cost.  This way each student has a final publication that they are proud of, and it's something they can keep forever.  Not to mention it's sturdy, and should last a long time.  We started by including a table of contents on the very first page of our books.  From there on the sun, all the planets, etc. will have their own two pages.  One page is for students to include at least ten facts they learned that they think are most important.  On the opposite page students are drawing their own representation of the planet using books in the classroom as a guide.  We will display these at the end of the month when our school has its end of the year Pride Night.  It's like an open house at the end of the year for students to show off all of their hard work that they are most proud of.  I can't wait to see their families enjoy their books! 
     I'm off now to spend some time playing with our pup.  He's technically not a "pup" anymore I suppose as he turned a year old today...but he sure does still act like a puppy! <3 
The weekend is almost here, and I hope that it is restful for everyone!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day Moms!

Over the past few years I've forged this new tradition with my mom.  Growing up I HATED, yes you read that correctly, HATED anything to do with home maintenance or gardening.  My parents' favorite places always seemed to include these types of things, which I never could understand.  Spending an hour in Home Depot was the cruelest form of punishment for me, and I would literally hide out in the piles of lumber to not have to walk around that place with them!  When it came to gardening things, all I associated that with was having to pull those darn weeds, a chore that I despised.  Now that I am older and have my own home I understand finally the appeal.  So, last year I went with my mother to my favorite nursery to pick out a shrub for our yard.  I love that something that I hated while growing up is something that I can now enjoy with my mother now that I am an adult.  A few years ago I had purchased a gift card for my mother for her birthday to this same nursery.  She's held onto since then, not wanting to spend it until she found something she really, really liked.  I clearly don't get my impulse spending gene from my mama!  We went to the nursery again this morning, and she was able to find something that she really liked and wanted for her yard.  I was able to pick out a weeping cherry tree that I hope will grow into wild awesomeness like this:

     Isn't that beautiful?  I've got the place all picked out in our front yard where I want it to go.  I've been so excited for weeks, looking forward to Mother's Day to go and buy my tree with my mom with me.  We were having a great time until we reached the register.  The owner took care of my purchase and was then working on ringing up my mom's purchase.  She took out the gift card that I gave her a few years ago, and come to find out, that even through the name of the nursery hasn't changed, apparently ownership changed very soon after I purchased that gift card for mom.  The previous owner had drained the account that all money was to go in for gift cards, and long story short, my mother's $60 gift card was worthless.  They were very kind, they gave my mom $25 credit towards the purchase, and she still got the shrub that she had finally decided upon, but I am so bummed for my mom.  She feels so guilty, like she threw away money of mine because she didn't just rush out to spend it.  So that kinda put a damper on our day.  We're getting together again this evening to bbq and have ice cream, so it will end on a fun note at least.  Can't go wrong with ice cream right? =)  I hope that all of you moms have had a wonderful day!

Saturday, May 12, 2012


To Math Coach's Corner for the HUGE blog hop!
I am so excited to have so many new blogs to explore!  Being very new to blogging myself I absolutely love to surf other teachers' blogs.  I truly find it so inspiring, and I have found so many new and refreshing ideas to try in my own classroom.
     This week we spent doing a ton of math review as our state test is coming up this week.  I have to say this year I feel much less stressed than I have in past years.  I feel we did a good job of covering the curriculum, and I definitely felt like my review was more purposeful and relaxed than in years before.  Some of the great ideas that we used in class this week came from the amazing Teacher Appreciation Giveaway that was going on last weekend.  My students absolutely loved "hunting for treasure" when we used Katie Smith's Story Problem Treasure Hunt.  Check out her awesome blog I Want to be a Super Teacher if you get a chance, she always shares such great ideas!  This week in fact I plan on trying out one of her recently shared ideas where students created math mosaics of themselves using small squares of colored paper, and then found the fractional parts of their mosaics, as well as finding the area and perimeter.  What a creative way to practice these important skills.
     Friday afternoon we finished up our day reviewing symmetrical patterns while creating Mother's Day cards:
They really enjoyed figuring out how they wanted to set up their symmetrical patterns, and they wrote such sweet messages to their moms inside. <3  They even insisted that I needed to work on one for my own mom saying "Mrs. M, you want to make sure that your mom knows you appreciate everything she does right?"  Holy cuteness!  I hope that all of the mothers out there have a wonderful day with their families.  Being a mother is one of the most difficult and most rewarding jobs a woman can have.  Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Late Work System?

A major focus for our week of course is centered around math as we continue prepping for THE TEST.  I set aside some time during our afternoon for those students who have late work.  This is one thing that I really want to revamp for next year.  Things that I have done in the past just haven't worked as I expected this year.  We have a system where a supervised classroom is set up during recess where we can have students go to finish up incomplete work.  Have you found a system that works wonders for you?  I saw recently on another fabulous blog, dandelions and dragonflies, a management system where she has pocket charts with folders for each student.  Students who finished their work put their folder in a designated place, and it really seems like it would help to better manage student work.  I'm looking forward to incorporating something similar in my classroom next year.  I hope it will help to better regulate those students who always seem to struggle to get their assignments passed in within a reasonable time frame.  Has anyone tried anything similar, or have a tried and true successful system? 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Man I totally missed the boat on the teacher appreciation giveaway, but I still want to do something to share the love! <3  This week along with TONS of math review/test prep we're going to be working on words with silent letters for our spelling skill.  I keep continuing to try to find additional ways to get my students to work with their words other than our daily phonics/spelling lessons and homework.  I have found that my class this year really enjoys sorting their words, so this weekend I was working on a few activities for them to use this week.  I've included a sorting mat, word cards, cards for a memory matching game, a cloze reading activity, and an additional sort for students to separate their words into those that have silent letters in the beginning of the syllable, and those that have it at the end of a syllable.
You can download a copy here for free!   Have a great week!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Welcome to crazy town...

I cannot believe it has been so long since I've posted, that's a sure sign how nuts it's been in my neck of the woods lately.  It's been an exhausting week for sure, and it's only half over.  We're smack dab in the middle of preparing for our state test in mathematics, and we had a professional day today.  Our morning started out with a presentation from our state teachers' union informing us of the new educator evaluations that will be implemented this coming fall.  It was meant to reassure educators I believe, but it really left most of us wondering how this will all come together.  It seems that they're going to be implementing the new evaluations yet don't have everything in place for them yet.  We shall see how that plays out I suppose.  It definitely sounds like a significant increase in work for us educators.  We spent the rest of our day struggling, stressing, working very productively on inputting standards and curriculum into the new mapping program that our district has decided to go with.  That in and of itself is going to be an enormous project.  Anyway, in preparing for our readers' workshop lesson tomorrow, I decided to make up a fun sheet to help my kiddos with brainstorming ideas of an adventure they would have if they found a magic, talking bone.  This is going to be used in connection with William Steig's story The Amazing Bone.  I'm hoping that along with their writing their original stories we'll also have some time left to illustrate them as well.  I'll have to remember to bring my camera to school tomorrow so I can snap some pictures.  (I wonder if it would help if I tie a string around my finger?)  You can download the graphic organizer to assist brainstorming and the writing sheet as well here.