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May 3, 2021

Virtual Mother's Day - 3 Free Ideas

Mother's Day is right around the corner! It's next Sunday, the day after my birthday.  I get the whole weekend to celebrate.  I'm just a tad excited.  :) It's probably because I'm a mom that I always like to make sure to do something for the parents in my class.  Or at least give the opportunity if kids want to create something.  

Last year when we were totally virtual and using Zoom, my class brainstormed ideas of things they could do around the house to help out.  They shared full class, gave us all ideas, and then they made a card or wrote a letter to their parents to say thank you.  I didn't have the option to secretly upload files into a virtual classroom for them to download.

This week while in class the kids are completing their math state tests.  That means that anything other than testing has to happen at home during their asynchronous times.  I wanted to share some resources that I've used in past years. This year I uploaded these files into our TEAMS account for kids to download if they need ideas for Mother's Day. They can print if they want, or just use them as inspiration. It's optional, but I do give them a spiel about how parents love to be loved.  Even by their 5th graders... or by their high schoolers... :) 

The Perfect Para has created this free Mother's Day resource.  It gives idea for kids to do with their mom and for their moms.  It's a challenge, and kids love challenges.  

Sarah Tighe has this Mother's Day freebie poem as well.  I always give the class a spiel about how as a mom I love this kind of stuff that shows what my kids are thinking.  Her sentence starters are absolutely great!

Amy Carver has this free Mother's Day Questionnaire. Questionnaires are just fun, yet they do bring tears to my eyes.  

I hope this helps. Hopefully next year we can go back to some art projects as well.  What are you doing for Mother's Day?

May 1, 2021

Deep Down Dog Tired

This time of year is not for the weak of heart. I’m exhausted, and just need to talk to people who totally get it. 

State testing vibes...

I know we are in the final stretch of this absolutely crazy year. I could barely drag myself out the door to school yesterday. I am just so done. 

I’m tired of pulling teeth. I’m tired of the apathy. I'm tired of having to be positive all the time. I’m tired with being on duty 24-7. I’m tired with all the paperwork. I’m tired of state testing. I’m tired of nagging. I’m tired of the Swiss cheese looking gradebook- full of holes.

It has never been this hard before.

It’s hard enough in a normal year to get kids to understand the importance of doing their best effort. Right now, virtually and with hybrid, it feels impossible.  I’ve gone from most turning in their work on time to now half my class. What changed? Spring break... they came back just done.

They are tired. Families are tired. I think everyone is over it.

We are 2/3 through state testing.

But we aren’t done yet. 20 more school days. 10 more days of grades then time to fill in the report cards. 5 more days until textbook check in starts. 4 more days of math state testing, then 4 days of Fast bridge testing. Then finally the last 2 weeks when we can have a little fun to wrap up the year.  

I ask them to finish strong. I put their grades in their private channels and remind them of their missing work. I hold afternoon question sessions to help with intervention, and no one shows up. I give opportunities to retake past district tests to show mastery. I email and Class Dojo. I don’t know if anyone reads what I write anymore. I’m so tired. 

20 more days. 20 more days to make a difference and shine a light with this group. To hold these kids accountable. Then they are in middle school. 

Every Thursday is Thankful Thursday. Every Thursday so many kids tell me that they are thankful for me. That makes me feel good. I’m thankful for them too. But I’m just so done. 

How can I finish strong?

I write that and verses pop in my head, things that I’ve read and memorized. I need to rest. I need to close the laptop and recharge. The Lord gives strength. 

Isaiah 40: 29-31 "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Isaiah 41:10b "I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Where does my joy come from? It comes from the Lord, Maker of Heaven and Earth. Automatic response, but am I really living like it? Or am I trying to do every thing on my own strength? 

Thanks for letting me just talk and for being real.  I needed that today.  I'll get back to sharing the positives next time. There are positives right now too. Even when all hard things seem to be overwhelming.  

How are you doing?

I hope you have the most restful weekend.  


April 26, 2021

Backdrops of My Life

My name is Emily.  I have realized I can't say no to a good deal, or a good sale, or a good backdrop. I also have a very supportive family that goes along with my crazy ideas.  

I wanted to share the backdrops that have made their appearance into my corner cabinet... you know the one in the classroom where things go to hide...  And by hide, I mean put away until I decorate for a mini room transformation.  

Oh no, you say, this is all about Room Transformations?  Why yes, I say... 

A couple of years ago I read The Wild Card by Wade and Hope King and it totally opened my eyes to the impact of the little things.  How it's so easy to throw a backdrop/banner up and create a new-ish environment and transport my class to somewhere new. I want to be known as Miss Frizzle, and take my kids on crazy field trips, without having to pay the bus fee.  So that's been my purpose over the last 3ish years.  To add to my menu of different ideas to spice up my teaching. 

Disclaimer - these are not ads, I don't get anything for sharing.  I just like to share.

The first backdrop that kids see during the year is this slide from Head Over Heels for Teaching.  I project this slide for our Book Tasting that Friday of the first week of school.  It's a way to celebrate the 5th day of 5th grade.  Projecting images onto the screen is so easy. We've also used the Olympic Medals and the NASA logo as well over the years.  

The next one is my global travel banner.  I use this when we go galavanting around the world on a Context Clues adventure by Teaching with a Mountain View. I also have the different flags of the world in a bunting that hangs around the classroom, and each country station also has some pictures of the location that I have printed for kids to feel like they are there.  I use this at the end of August/beginning of September when we are wrapping up our unit.

Another banner is the ocean/deserted beach one.  In October for Talk like a Pirate Day, we are also knee deep in our Explorer unit.  I use this for both. Pirate day and our Explorer Simulation.  

Then I have some other pirate, sailing, explorer items that I put on tables to decorate, and we listen to the theme song of Pirates of the Caribbean Disneyland ride over and over as background music.  

For reviewing roots, I have decorated the room as a hospital.  I hung plastic tablecloths on our hanging lights for the different operation rooms.  Kids wore masks (before they were cool), gloves, and I picked up syringe pens for them to use. They had paper people that they had to operate on to attach the roots to the prefixes and suffixes. I use this Affixes resource by Your Thrify Co-teacher. I play a heart beat over our sound to start us out.  It was so fun.  

Another one is a Minecraft one that I use for Volume.  Teaching volume makes me think of building blocks, and since the kids are Minecraft obsessed, it totally works.  We make a gallery of our volume designs.

I have a Game On banner that I use as the center of a bulletin board.  When the kids come back from winter break, we always have a talk about New Years resolutions and what they can do to step it up a notch.  This year I put it up when we moved from distance learning to hybrid. It's the final push for the new trimester.  Our goals usually hang around it as a reminder of what we want to accomplish. And yes, I know it says Leve Up, instead of Level Up.  It might be why it was such a good deal. :) The kids get a kick of telling me, as if I don't know, but it's so much fun that I don't really care.  

For review I love to make special days to spice it up a bit.  I have all the materials for a Glow Day.  I was gifted it from Donors Choose.  I use a banner to help cover my big window.  It blocks out a lot of light. I also was given black lights, reflective tape, glow sticks, and some cool pens that glow. This year my skylights have decided not to completely close, so it doesn't get dark enough to use it.  I'm super bummed... at least my neighbor can use them though.  :)  

My newest addition is a concert themed one for our Rock the Test review.  I picked up some inflatable instruments as well (that can easily be sprayed down). My son had a music inspired birthday a while back, and I kept his record decorations to hang on the lights.  It just makes it fun.  

I'm sure by now you are thinking that I have issues.  But it's fun and it's memorable. :)  Kids remember what they were doing and learning on these special days.  You know, when something is a little different than the ordinary. We have plenty of ordinary days too. Right now I have a bunch of these banners hanging back up in the classroom, to cover my boards for state testing.  All banners are found over on Amazon.  

Do you do theme days too? Hope you had a great day!