Image Map

August 29, 2012

Quit Taking It Personally - State Testing Results

I've been depressed.

You see, today I saw how my class did last year on State Testing.  I went into State Testing knowing that I did everything in my power to help the students get it.  We learned that material until we were blue in the face.  I taught intervention after school all year long.  I sent home tons of resources, and I had as many small groups as I could have had.  I utilized parent helpers and my wonderful push in ELL aide.  The year before I busted my tail doing the same types of things and the results were fantastic.  Last year's group did not have the same results.  

At all.

So I've been reflecting on what happened.  I looked at the results and sorted the different proficiency levels so I could see the different students.  I saw that the kids that struggled all year still struggled on the test.  That wasn't a surprise.  The kids that did a great job all year did a great job - Advanced level - not just proficient but Advanced!  Then there were the kids that school wasn't super hard, but it wasn't easy either.  Some days the light bulb stayed on all day, and other days it flickered - it really depended on the mood of the child...  I mean some were 2 points away from proficiency.  That stinks... so close...

I know every year has it's own challenges.  I know that I did my best.  I also know that I provided all the same resources both years for families to continue to work with their children at home.  I also know that as a class, last year they didn't do those "extras" like the year before.  It was like pulling teeth at times.  Some of the kids didn't have the same support system working for them, and they didn't believe in themselves either.

So after being sad this afternoon about the scores, I looked at my own child's first State Testing results.  It makes me so proud to be able to say that my child scored Advanced on his assessments.  Yes, I know I'm bragging.  I'm so proud of him.  

It makes such a big difference having families work with their children at home.  Every year I try to emphasize that to my families.  Not that everyone always listens, but I try.  That the intermediate elementary aged student, even though they are older, they still need the same support that they did back when they were just starting to learn to read, write, and compute.  

The other day on my Therapeutic Thursday post, Wii Fit and a Bet wrote me a comment.  She mentioned a friend had handed her an actual QTIP and reminded her to: 

I love that.  It has gone through my brain over and over the past week.  I can't take this personally.  I know that I did my best.  I have seen first hand the power of supportive families.  I know what my students struggled with last year and I know that I worked my tail off (just like I did the years before.)  I want to encourage you to not take it personally if something doesn't go the way you imagine - even if you did everything right. 

Hope you are having a good day! 

August 27, 2012

Summer Sandwich Writing Activity

So I mentioned the other day about the kids writing a Summer Sandwich. It wasn't my own idea, but one that my neighbor graciously shared with me a couple of years ago.  I love this project!

In 4th grade the kids have to learn to write a multi-paragraph essay on a single topic. At the beginning of the year the kids gasp in horror when I tell them that we are going to tackle this feat every week for the school year.

When I mention the first assignment's name they get excited. They really believe I'll be bringing in bread and the fillings...after they realize what it will really be they are still excited since the end product does look like a sandwich.  Something about writing on colored paper makes ALL the difference in the world.

This assignment takes about 2 weeks to complete (at least in my class it does). In my class we do a brainstorm session to begin with.  Then for each page they do a one paragraph rough draft on binder paper, edit (introduction to the Rainbow Edit), and final draft on a colored half sheet of paper.

Now, in the good old days when copy budgets were large, (I'm laughing as I type this) I would trace the border of lettuce, cheese, meat, and bread onto a master and copy onto the colored paper.  This year I took colored copy paper and white construction paper, and cut it in half.  It's all about using resources carefully and the end result still looks pretty good.  

So here's the set up and the order that I have the kids write:

Lettuce (green paper) - The kids have to write about how they began their summer. What did they do to start their summer?

Cheese (yellow paper) - The kids write about 2 fun activities they did over the summer. They need to add details.

Meat (pink paper) - The kids write about the people they spent time with this summer.  Did family come to visit?  Did they go to visit relatives?  If they stayed home they need to describe their family and/or babysitter.  

Back bread (white construction paper) - The kids write about how they ended the summer.  How did they get ready for the school year?  

Front bread - (white construction paper) - The kids come up with a cover for their sandwich.  They must remember to include their name and they can decorate it.

It really does turn into a nice beginning of the year piece of writing.  By the end of the 1st week they need to have completed both the Lettuce and Cheese final drafts, by the end of the second week everything else must be done.  As students finish at different speeds they get to choose the different activities from Work on Writing time.  That alone is motivation to keep moving forward with their work.  Hope this helps someone.

August 25, 2012


I know it's a second post for today, but I've been convicted. I had to head out to the grocery store for milk this afternoon and the Christian radio station was on in the car. Usually we have the CDs going or a kid movie in the DVD player. Anyhow, as I was driving there the guy came on and spoke about it being a stressful time of year and the reminder to Trust God. He mentioned the verse - "Trust in the Lord with all your heart..." Maybe you know it? Well, it reminded me that I didn't include a big portion of my life in my post the other day.

Last Thursday I wrote about being stressed out and how I combat that. I wasn't completely open with all of you.

You see, I'm a Christian and of course spending time in my Bible, listening to my praise music, and praying for strength is ultimately what calms my nerves.

I've been a believer for 31 years, spent the majority of the past 10 years being a pastor's wife, so those things are pretty second nature to me. Of course there are times that I do get stressed out, but then there is the reminder that I'm doing things on my own strength instead of relying on God.

I teach in a pubic school and though I will talk about my faith with anyone who asks, I'm not used to bringing it up when I'm talking about school. I'm sorry that I didn't share that part of my life with you.

Maybe knowing that God has always been there for me, has carried me through the hard times, and walked with me during the the easier years would have helped one of you out there. He really won't give more than you can handle - but that's with Him in the driver's seat.

I don't try to have all the answers, and I'm sorry that I didn't share that major part of my life with you the first time around.

Hope you are having a good day!


Reading Assessments, Daily 5, and my Future Sanity

I did some assessments this past week - the STAR assessment through Renaissance Learning and a beginning of the year Fluency test. The results were more spanned than any I can remember of previous years. Out of the 30 kids that I tested (2 new ones came on Thursday and Friday that I haven't had a chance to get to), 21 of them are reading below grade level. The other 9 are either at grade level or advanced. Basically the range in my class is from preschool level to middle school.  Remember, I teach 4th grade.

At least I have taught primary grades before and had the materials to pull out of the garage. I knew what resources to ask to borrow from the primary teachers at my school. This weekend I need to get organized.
Daily 5 is going to be the perfect resource in my classroom this year. I see no other way to tackle all the needs other than working with individuals and small groups. So far, in the past 2 weeks we have built our stamina with Read to Self, Work on Writing, Listen to Reading, and Read to Someone. This next week we are going to start Word Work activities. It's still going to be a while before I can set them free to make choices with all the areas- but this class loves being able to make choices when they have 2 or 3 options.

Read to Someone is something that I do only on Wednesdays when we reread our weekly story (with the checkmarks), and again on Friday afternoons when I give that option during Read to Self time.  I won't be giving them this option anymore than this amount of time because it gets too distracting for the other students that are doing an independent option. 

As for Listen to Reading- well the choices at present only include the mp3 players with our weekly story, or working on the computers. I haven't pulled out the Kindle Fires yet.

Work on Writing is only an option if they finish the required writing assignment - but it's motivation to get going.  This past week we were working on a Summer Sandwich story - it's a 4 paragraph essay that gets stuck together in a sandwich looking format.  I'll share more about that on another post.  Some kids just finished it yesterday, and others are only half way through.  The finishers will get to choose their own option next week.  I'm excited to show them everything they can do.  

Lastly, Read to Self is working beautifully. We started it the first day with our anchor chart and the shoe lesson (IPICK), and we are up to 20 minutes after 10 days of working hard at it.  We started at 3 minutes and add 2 minutes each time if they complete it without issue. They seem to love laying on the ground curled up with a book, relaxing with my t-shirt pillows, or lounging in the random seating that I have throughout the room. I'm giving them the option of keeping their book boxes under their desks throughout the day - so they always have a book handy to read when they have a free moment. (Thanks Book Whisperer!) Reading is the only option if they finish something early.

So what do I need to prepare this weekend? Well I have fluency stories that are 4th grade reading level, but I needed to borrow some to scan/copy material from the 2nd and 3rd grade intervention books. The kids that scored pre primer & first grade will tackle the 2nd grade passages, the 2nd will tackle the third, and the 3rd and 4th levels will start on the grade level stuff.

I also need to print out specific sight word lists, and make special folders to hold all the materials for the 4 different groups in the classroom. I'm thinking of using the names of the 4 regions in California to name the groups. Doing that mainly since we have been tackling regions for the past 2 weeks and the kids are so excited about them - we are making our Salt Dough maps this coming Friday!!  

The Desert will be my group that needs a lot of extra "water" and resources to thrive. 

Mountains still need extra assistance as well to grow though they won't need it as much as the Desert.  

The Valley group will be the group that is at grade level - it is "home" to us and are producing a lot of "crops" already.  

My Coast group will be the group that is able to relax a bit since they already know the basics.  They get to "sail" the ocean with what they have already learned.  I just need to challenge them this year.  Of course I won't tell the kids all this stuff - all these puns are just for me to have a picture of what I need to do to get them all as far to the Ocean as possible.  I really do love the Ocean.  :) 

For my advanced readers I need to pull material that will challenge them without making more work for them to do.  I'm so used to intervention that this is something a little new for me.  Any advice of activities that will get their minds working?  I know I posted the same question on Facebook - I need help please!

Yeah, I have my work cut out for me this year.  It's going to be a good year, though a challenging one.  At this point in time I'm really not worried about the spring test scores - I know I will do my best, and I will push them as much as I possibility can.  Start praying for my sanity!

August 23, 2012

Therapeutic Thursday

Did you miss me yesterday?  
After a summer of not missing a day I just couldn't make it on here.

I know what stress feels like.  

I had to teach about concrete and abstract nouns today, and I know that stress is supposed to be an abstract noun - you know, something you can't see or touch - but I know exactly how stress feels.  

It makes me think I'm having a heart attack.  

Of course I'm not, but my chest hurts so bad at times that I want to crawl back into bed and forget about  completing anything on my to do list.  It's my own little stress meter, something that I learned about my first year of teaching.  Back then I really thought that I was having a heart attack and went to the emergency room, where they hooked me up to all the wires and told me that I was just stressed out.

I'm supposed to relax more.  

I really should sign up for monthly or weekly massages.  But I can't, so I won't.  Now it's 13 years later and the stress-o-meter has been going non stop for the past 9 school days.

Putting on my makeup in the morning feels like I'm putting on war paint.  
It's that kind of year - already.

So how have I combatted stress in past years?

I bake.

I shop.

I ask for Massage Envy gift cards for my birthday...

and Christmas...

and our anniversary...

and Valentine's Day...

and Mother's Day...

and then I use them all - or I forget to use them and my back ends up so tight that my shoulders are literally touching my ears.

Chocolate helps.

Motrin and Tylenol help.

Chick flicks help.

Playing with my boys help.

Venting to my husband helps.

Blogging helps.

This year I have found that my puppy is already helping.  She begs me to take her for long walks at 6:15 am and I give in.  We tackle the different routes around our development and I feel so good afterward... 

That is until I have to put on my war paint and 
head to the classroom that I love.

I really do love my class... and my school... and my grade level team...

It's just a stressful time of year.

I don't know if this is helping anyone out there - maybe just the fact that I'm describing your very thoughts as well, and we can commiserate together.

I'm linking up again with Blog Hoppin'!      

August 21, 2012

Comparing Numbers - A Silly Little Game

Today my class compared numbers up into the millions.  I think it's amazing how 4th graders think it's such a big deal to work with numbers in the millions.  Maybe they believe it because I relate millions to money - though I've never been close to a million dollars in my life...  

Anyhow, we compared... and compared some more... and then I told them that we were going to play a game.  Of course this is the first official math game of the year, so they got all excited about the possibilities.  Then I told them that one person would win each round, and they got even more excited.  

They all wanted to win.  

So with a partner they took 2 whiteboards (they each have their own whiteboard), and they had to draw 7 place value spots on it - complete with the commas in the correct place.  

___ , ___ ___ ___ , ___ ___ ___

Then they had to each hide their boards and write a number on those little lines that they thought might win the contest.  For each round they had to both be ready to share, they put down their boards so they could both see, and had to compare the 2 numbers.

Some rounds I told them they had to find the greatest number between the 2, and that person won the round - the winner put a little star on the top of their whiteboard.  

Other rounds I called out that the lesser number would win the round - and the person would win.

They worked together and they had fun.

The best part for me?  Other than them reviewing the concept was there was NO PREP involved!

So tomorrow we will be ordering numbers and guess what?  We will be playing it again in groups of 3.  At least I know they will have fun!

August 20, 2012

Must Have Monday!

I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' to share my 5 must haves to start out the school year.  I know I probably should have chosen something else to share, but I really love my technology.  

So here are the things that I'm thankful I don't have to live without.

*I should mention that my classroom has these awesome items because my past classes have been very generous and raised the money for technology, my family has given me money for my classroom, and my school has been given EIA money that I have been allowed to spend on these items.  

Kindle Fires provide additional internet access.

MP3 Players provide listening centers.

Easi-Speak PRO Recorder provides the ability to record my students reading, and gives me the opportunity to "file" it on my computer.

Now Board turned my in focus projector and screen into an interactive whiteboard.

<br><i>Ideal for simple activity instructions, daily reminders, word or sound practice and more!</i><br><br>
Talk Points help with being a simple way for me to share directions 
over and over without going crazy!

Go link up!


August 19, 2012

Learning About My Kiddos (Student Surveys)

This past week at school I had my students fill out surveys and we discussed them whole class.  I didn't do it as a time filler, though it did take time.  I had them fill them out to learn about them.  I wanted them to have to share what was on their brains as they started in our classroom.  I'm so thankful for other bloggers sharing their ideas with the rest of us.

Who Am I?  
Stephanie over at Teaching in Room 6 shared her document last year (then she shared it again this morning on Classroom Freebies).  
I chose this one for the first day of school as they came into the classroom.  This was a little bit of everything to share with me.  This one includes favorites, wishes, home information, and one thing they thought I needed to know.  We did a little mingle to music thing to share with others.  

T is for Teaching shared a bunch of different surveys as well.  I chose 2 of them for the students to complete - one during morning work time and another for an easy homework assignment.  
I chose the Reading Survey for the students to do on the 2nd day of school as we were discussing our favorite books and Reading in general.  We discussed the questions in class before they received the paper (pair/share, full class response), and they took home the paper to do for a homework activity.  Yes, I gave real homework on the first week of school - but it was mainly to get them into the routine of being responsible.

I chose the School Survey for the students to complete during the 4th day of school for morning work.  By the 4th day of 4th grade they had started feeling comfortable in the classroom, had begun to learn the rules and expectations, and I wanted their honest opinions of how they best thought they learn.  

These 3 pages I sat down and went over yesterday as I was putting them into my student information binder.  I want to have this information handy so I can use it as a jumping off spot for my Reading conferences this coming week.  I want to use this when I write in their journals, and when I write them little encouragement notes.  I want to remember who they were the first week of school.

Please click the above links to go to the blog posts written by others.  They have freebies to share.  

Hope this helps!   

August 18, 2012

3 Summer Memories, 2 Favorites about Back to School, and 1 Career

I'm joining up today with 4321's linky party.  I love the idea of a 3, 2, 1 - I do it with my school kids all the time.  So here it goes...

3...2...1 Linky Party!

3 Favorite Summer Memories 

2 Favorite Things about Back to School

1 Career you would like to try if you weren't a teacher

So... here's my information:

3 Favorite Summer Memories

*I loved going to Pismo Beach and Monterey with my family.  There is just something about getting away from the house and being able to completely relax.  Not that I didn't love my time at the house, but there was always something to do - some kind of project to tackle.  

*I also enjoyed having no rigid schedules to have to stick to.  My youngest son still had his teachers that came to visit (Physical Therapy, Speech, and a Cognitive Teacher), but this summer we didn't try to pack the days and weeks with so many different activities that we were wiped out.  Last summer we had so many day trips and topped it with different Parks and Rec. department activities for the boys that it was like we didn't have a choice anymore - not this summer. 

*Another favorite summer memory is looking back 15 pounds ago.  It's been a lot of hard work but I'm so thankful for the summer to be able to concentrate on eating right, sleeping enough, not stressing, and being able to enjoy exercise.  I just hope to keep the habits going into the school year.  

2 Favorite Things about Back to School

*I love setting up my classroom.  I love buying school supplies, decorating, and reorganizing.  I love that I had all summer to create what I wanted to create and had the time to do so.  I love going into Back to School with my to do list being a manageable size.  

*I also love preparing for a new set of kids, and that I have an opportunity to do the same favorite lessons from the year before. That I can keep learning and growing as a teacher to learn different ways to teach the difficult to grasp lessons.  I love the chance to be able to keep doing what I love.

1 Career I would try if I wasn't a teacher...

If I wasn't a teacher I have always thought I would love to be a school librarian, or a librarian at the public library.  I have to be around books, to help a child develop their passion for reading.  But I never really ever thought I would be something other then a teacher - ever since I was in preschool, being a teacher is really the only thing that I ever thought I would be when I grew up. 

It's Saturday and I made it through the first week of school!  It's time to celebrate!  Go link up too and let me learn about your 3, 2, 1's! 

August 17, 2012

School Tube

Another website that I just learned about... Seriously, why isn't there professional development that just shows off what is free on the web for resources?  I wish!

So, I was looking around for Bucket Filler videos the other day, and I saw this website: 

Not a lot of video based websites are allowed in my school's network, so I was hoping beyond hope that it would work.  It does!  It seems to be a cross between Brain Pop and You Tube - but designed for the classroom.

Everything that I typed into the search box popped up - Bucket Filler examples, Math videos, Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing, Daily 5... there were so many great examples of things that have been shared by other classrooms.  

I was browsing at home, and it was easy to just copy/paste the links into an email format for me to send to myself through my school email.  At school all I did was open up my email account and they were right there for me to click on.  Since there is SO MUCH information on there, I would suggest looking at it before the final moment of teaching - just in case the videos aren't exactly what you are looking for.

Another great free resource out there!  I know it says to log in and sign up, but I haven't yet - and I can still see so much.  Does anyone have an account?  Is there more to see after you sign up?  Perhaps the account is more to save your information or add the videos into your own personal database.  

I'm just excited about it!  More to explore on there...  Just wanted to share it in the meantime in case you were like me and didn't know about it.

Happy Web Surfing!    

August 16, 2012

The Power of the Plink

It's all about positive reinforcement in my classroom.  Yeah, I have a behavior chart, but I'd rather reward the good behavior and have the kiddos want to be on their best behavior than discipline the unruly ones.  Not that I don't do both.  I'm just saying how I feel...

So, behavior wise I have a lot of positive reinforcement going on that I love for my class.  We've gotten it all started the past 4 days, and it's working so well.  My class has been staying on green (well, almost all of them).      
So, what am I doing?

*Tickets for individual praise

*Team Points (glass gems in a cup) for group praise

*Warm Fuzzies for whole class praise

*Mystery Hero

So, what's with the power of the plink?  When the class has been doing any independent work coming off of summer, they start to chat.  I think it's in their DNA.  I'm not against chatting as long as they are moving forward with their work and as long as other students are still able to concentrate.  It's when students start getting distracted that I have an issue with it.  


I drop a glass gem into the plastic cup and the sound echoes throughout the classroom.  In past years I have used tally marks on the whiteboard - it works too, but that doesn't have the sound aspect to it.  A drop of the glass bead into a plastic cup that happens to be positioned on the metal whiteboard tray gives off a lovely noise that stops the chatterers in their tracks.  

You can almost see their minds start to whirl with questions - "Who won the gem?"  With the immediate follow up thought of - "I want one too."  It's such a little thing that has made a big difference this week in my classroom. 

Happy Moments!     

August 15, 2012

Back To School Night is TONIGHT!

I'm a little nervous about tonight.  I'm not so nervous about talking with the parents because that is on my own turf (so to speak) - though that might change by the time that it's really time to share... it's the part of standing up in front of a packed auditorium at the beginning of the night and having them introduce me that makes my knees fall apart.  Even after all this time... does this feeling ever go away??  

For my two 30 minute speeches that I give my parents I have my Back to School Night packet on the students' desks.  I also have their STAR assessment results, and the Home Connect paperwork ready to go and printed out for each child.  In past years we have had Back to School Night the night before school begins - which then I had so much other stuff... but those items have already been sent home.  I sent home the Parent Questions on the 1st day, but I have extra copies ready so parents can fill it out.  

On the side table and on the whiteboard, I have my helper parent jobs.  I have my desperate plea to become a copy parent, an art docent, a classroom parent helper, a home helper, a water bottle refiller (yes, I know that isn't a word - but I think it should be).  I also have my wish list posted in case parents are interested in what we need.  

Since I have to do my spiel 2 times for a half hour each time, I have a powerpoint that helps guide me through what I need to cover.  It keeps me moving forward and helps me to stay focused.  I don't like others to read to me when the material is up front easy for me to read myself, and I expect my parents appreciate me not reading to them as well.  I save my "read alouds" for my students.  Anyhow, I wanted to share my BTSN powerpoint with you.  This is what will be up on the overhead as I walk through it.  If nothing else maybe it will give you an idea of what to add to your own... or else you can just think of all the things that I don't have on mine.  I know it's pretty basic, but I just add to the basic stuff and give my own details when I talk.  

Of course before I even begin any of this I introduce myself 
and share a little about my history.  

 I think every meeting should have an agenda.
 We also go through the expectations for homework, projects, rubrics, what to expect with bringing books home every week, showing them the texts, typical schedule, etc.  
 I do a big time push for parents to be checking their child's grades online on a weekly or at least biweekly basis.  Even though I send home their assessments every week, I still want no surprises at progress report or report card time.  
 Pretty basic behavior stuff - It's all about keeping the kids responsible for their actions.  
 The kids aren't in the primary grades anymore, it's a big year and just being able to fill in a scantron is SO HARD for some of them.  They can get the question completely correct, but transferring it is a skill in itself.  
 Can you tell that I like to share?  Do any of you have Facebook pages for your class?  I have 2 accounts on there - one is my personal one, and another one is through my school email.  I'm thinking of setting up a page that is invite only for my class families...just a thought though.  Any advice would be great!

 I want to be able to tell their parents about their goal sheets.  

So at the end I tell them all the "fun" stuff that goes along with being in 4th grade, the field trip, the fundraiser, that we love birthdays, the wish list, and the importance of all their support and help.

I hope this helps someone out there!  

P.S. (as of 8/2013) - Last year I was a baby blog and I started emailing this out... it's gotten out of control emailing it (I'm really sorry if I didn't get your email - some have been caught in my spam filter), so I uploaded it to Google Docs as a ppt.  The background was just in my old (don't even have it anymore) computer as a powerpoint slide.  I used LD Elementary as my font, but Century Gothic has the same type of look.    

August 14, 2012

My 1st Day of School (Lesson Plan)

So, yesterday was my first day of school and it was overall a good day.  I guess the big thing is remembering their names - I'm not good with names and it bugs me how long it takes me.  Do you have a method that you do that helps you?  I'm open to advice!

So, here's what I did on my first day.  Just my simple plan.  I always write out my first day as a checklist - too many details to try to fit inside the little boxes in my plan book.

1. Opening - Who am I? worksheet - they did this when I was doing the paperwork type thing.  I collected it and will add to their student info area.

2. Introduce myself - started off with what do they know about me, what do they want to know about me... (basically a K,W, L type thing)

3. Showed them my Snapfish book about 4th grade - pictures from the past year of activities we completed.

4. Tour of the classroom - where things are, what the different areas of the room mean.

5. P.E. prep/Welcome back assembly/Recess time (took 90 minutes of the day)

6. Find Someone Who game and share time about the different things.

7.  Practice Whole Brain Teaching of "Class? Yes!" - That was fun!!!

8.  Over 3/4 of my class brought all their supplies, so we unloaded their backpacks and organized as much as we could.  I love the fact their families looked it up on the class website and knew what to expect.

9. Read Aloud - Did you fill a bucket today?  Brainstorm about our classroom, discussion about behavior, behavior chart, etc.  Talked about how our bulletin board buckets work, then students took an index card and wrote a note to someone in the class to fill their bucket - they turned them into me for me to pass out after I read them.  

10.  Team work Puzzle Challenge - took the idea straight from Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies.  We only had a 1/2 hour to do this activity due to lunch, so it was more to see how much they could accomplish in that amount of time.  Out of the 6 groups, only 2 got far enough along to see a puzzle really forming.  It was a good discussion with those 2 groups sharing what worked to work as a team, and the other groups mentioning what they could have done differently.  As they were working on the puzzles I was wandering around listening, putting office papers on their desks, and taking their first day pictures.

11.  Lunchtime!!!  

12. I had every intention of having a brainstorm of what Read to Self would look like, but that didn't happen... we had to organize the huge pile of office paperwork into 2 piles - the stuff they needed their parents to fill out and the stuff their parents just needed to see.  So we tackled that task, then I had to explain how the Classroom Library was set up.  Then it was just the basic write down your homework (Read 20+ min, Office Paperwork, Agenda $), clean up your area, and head out the door end of school moments.  Mondays we are dismissed at 1:30 - so it's a pretty early day. 

Some things that I realized or remembered about myself... I love having a routine, a real routine, and starting over having to tell them every little thing bugs me.  I don't like talking up a storm but I know it's necessary on the first day.  I loved being a part of the action with playing Find Someone Who... and I loved having my students tell me something they enjoyed about the day as they exited the classroom.  It might be a challenging year, but then again it could be the most wonderful year ever.  We'll see how today goes...

August 13, 2012

Monday Made It: Making Connections and Story Maps

Tara is hosting her Monday Made it once again, and to be honest I didn't think that I would have anything to share.  I've made so much stuff lately... I'm kinda sick of my glue gun, but still in love with my laminator, Google free clip art,  and the Fontmoochers font!  So today I'm sharing my new reading posters with you.  I had these same type of things last year in my classroom - just on a plain anchor chart paper, but I wanted to make them special for this year (and hopefully hold up throughout the year).

So here is my Story Map poster and here is the kid's version.  I did try to upload my poster stuff but I can't make the font stay the same on the upload... any advice?  These story maps are in sheet protectors for their binders.  They won't write on them, but it will be a reference for them as they make their own on copy paper.  This was created after we had a training last year on nonlinguistic representation where they mentioned that even the older kids should see as many visuals/graphic organizers as possible, and have the option to draw.  After we go through the stories, my kids have the option of drawing or writing the different parts of the story - Setting, Characters, Beginning, Middle, End of the Story (at least 5 - 7 different details), and what the link to the theme is.  It's just a quick thing we do to be able to retell the story in our own words or pictures.    

Here is my Making Connections poster.  Same thing - after we preview and learn about the story, the kids create a Making Connections paper on the back side of their Story Map.  They relate the weekly story to other texts, their own personal story, the World (news stories or real life stories), and media (TV shows or movies that it reminds them of).  When they are doing theirs, I'm also creating one using the document camera so they can see, of course my paper will look different than theirs...  then we share... It's interesting to see their world through the use of the different class stories we read.  

Well that's it!  I hope you had a great day!

August 12, 2012

Twas the night before school...

Tomorrow marks my 32nd "First Day of School".  I have not had a break in first days of school since the year before I started preschool.  I'm feeling a little old at the moment.  :)

What am I doing to celebrate my incoming first day of school?  I made up 34+ bags of crockpot meals to share with my school buddies.  Yeah, you read that right... it was an assembly line of ingredients... 5 different recipes... and it tickled me silly that I was able to show my friends how much I care about them.  Not trying to brag, but I really do have a great friends at my school and in town.  

What else have I been up to?  My puppy decided to wake up at 5:45 this morning and we were out the door on our morning walk by 6:45... I was then at the grocery store by 7:30 buying the rest of the ingredients for the crock pot assembly line, and then hurried to get 5 of us ready to leave for church by 9:15.  It was my morning to teach the 4 year olds... they are a precious group of kids.  One of the little boys prayed for snack this morning and was so adorable as he went on and on and on.  That alone made my morning.

I still need to finish up laundry, start the dishwasher, clean the house, finish up my school projects (none are due tomorrow), help the boys choose their clothes for tomorrow, and pack lunches with a little note tucked inside.  I should probably also try on my dresses to see which ones still fit from after the summer... want to make a great first day impression.  You know how it is.  I need to make sure the camera is charged for the official picture by the front door tomorrow morning for my own 1st and 3rd grader, and to bring with me to take pictures of my own students' first day of 4th grade.  I want to make sure that my Monday Made It post will be ready to go, though I will be so sad tomorrow morning as there will be no time to read anything until tomorrow night.  I should probably also log on to get my new families' email addresses out of the system and let them know some reminders about being now one of the "big kids" at school - different dismissals, different gate options, where to line up, etc... why didn't I think of that a little sooner than at 2:45 in the afternoon??? Oh yeah, I was busy laughing and singing along with my music in the kitchen as I was making up those meals.

I know today's post is not the usual information that I dole out - but I hope you forgive me for this moment in time.  It might be the stress talking - too much to do and I'm not motivated to do anything except type at the moment.

Hope you have had a wonderful weekend!