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March 31, 2021

What is Your Why?

Once upon a time there lived a young girl that wanted to change the world, so she became a teacher. 

Why did you go into education? What is your why? 

I think it’s easy to forget when we get bogged down into the nitty gritty. 

I want to make learning fun. 

I want kids to know they are special. 

I want them to know that they have someone in their corner. 

I want to make a difference in the next generation. 

I want to be part of their school story.

I want to teach kids to fall in love with learning.

What is your why? 

I just finished this 40 day Social Media fast... well technically I’m still on it because I just can’t bring myself to log into the different platforms. I really like the quiet.

Something I’ve learned in the last 6 weeks of not having the noise, is how loud the questions can get when nothing else distracts you. Those internal questions. Those essential questions. Those thought provoking questions that come when I’m sitting in silence. 

What is my purpose? What is my next step supposed to be? Am I supposed to do something else? I love being a teacher. But it does make me wonder.

What is your why? 

Happy Spring Break!

March 30, 2021

Getting Techy with It

It always amazes me how much kids know how to do on a device or a computer. While I struggle to figure out where to put what cord, they can navigate things a lot easier.

So I’m pretty happy I figured out how to get everything to work in the classroom and still have the kids be able to hear and see each other, home and school. I want to thank my wonderful team that let me practice on them. 

Figured today I’d write it down so that next year I can remember, just in case. :)

Right now I am blessed to have 2 laptops at school for my use, a ladibug, a projector, a webcam, and a pair of external speakers. There is also a vhs/dvd player, but I’m not using that right now.

I start the TEAMs meeting on my regular laptop, then I join the meeting on my second device. I start it before I head out to get my in person kids, home starts joining the lobby so we are ready to go when in person gets inside. 

My laptop is connected to the projector through a dock. The ladibug (doc camera) is also connected to the dock so I can switch back and forth for in class kids to see my workbook via the doc cam, and my computer screen with the kids at home. The projector pretty much stays on all morning long. 

On my laptop I keep my camera on so they can see me when I’m sitting there, or when I’m at the board directly behind. I have the computer microphone muted and my volume is down to 0 as well. 

The second laptop is on a table next to the main teaching cart. I couldn’t have the computers right next to each other, it made a ringing noise. The second laptop has the webcam attached in addition to the external speakers hooked up through the headphone jack. 

The webcam is on a tripod, short on the table, so I can move it to show the room. During the online meeting the webcam microphone is the one we use. Kids at home can hear all the kids in the classroom using just that. I also use the webcam camera quite a bit. It connects automatically to the meeting, and it gives an overview of the kids in class. I rotate it around when kids are coming up to share with the kids at home. 

I don’t have to be stuck right next to a computer anymore. It’s really nice after 29 weeks of not being able to lean back in my chair. 

By having the external speakers attached to the second laptop, we can easily hear in class when I screen share a video or to hear the classmates at home. I love how the volume is adjustable, so when we need it to be silent, I can turn the volume way down. 

As for their tech, this year each student was able to get a school device. It’s one of the things they had to pick up if they were coming to school for hybrid. They bring their device, their charge cord, and their headphones with them each time they come. 

So far, each day I have had my in class group log in to our TEAM meeting to do a breakout with the others at home. It’s not for very long, but I want them to keep having those small group conversations and building relationships. My in class stays muted unless they want to talk into their headset microphones. If they don’t remember their headphones, I have little cheap ear buds that will allow them to listen, but they have to type in their breakout room chat instead of talk. 

My in class has also logged in when they need to do an assignment on TEAMs, but I’m also giving them an option to do hard copies of assignments and then they take them home to snap a picture and upload. So far it’s working and every day is getting easier. 

Anyhow, just things I want to remember for the future. Hope you had a great day! 

March 29, 2021

What I Tackle After the Kids Leave

We all know being a teacher, especially this year, is a lot more than just teaching the kids. Here’s how I’ve been setting up my to do lists to keep on a weekly schedule. These are mainly things I've done all year, and now I'm adding in the in person items...

*Send reminder to tomorrow’s in class group about items to bring 
*Update Class Dojo points and give praises if reach certain milestones
*Respond to kid messages and questions in their private channels, answer emails, and host a daily Q/A afternoon meeting (where I can multi-task if kids don't show up).

*Give out weekly materials to Group A when they arrive at school.
*AM - Make all TEAM assignments active
*Send morning email to parents with weekly information (Weekly Breakdown and Weekly Focus). If something is happening to the schedule for Monday, then I send it out on Friday afternoon.
*Grade all the late work that came in over the weekend...

*Go through email and clean up mailbox
*Update parent portal with missing work
*Play catch up...

Wednesday: (Everyone DL day)
*Start making plans for next week
*Sketch out next week’s Breakdown of assignments 
*Update next week’s Focus for essential questions and I can statements.

*Fill out engagement log and be ready to upload on Friday
*Prep any materials for next week, including drafting assignments in TEAMS
*Start drafting next week's parent email

*Give out the next week’s paperwork to my Group B while they are there in class.
After class:
*Update whiteboard - Change out the essential questions, I can statements, and next week’s reminders
*Spray down front table and set up materials for Monday.
*Change out DL office crate to next week’s materials for pick up
*Upload engagement logs
*Turn in temp check forms to office
*Update Parent Portal with grades
*Update TEAM with new color teams, new Breakdown, new Focus 

Of course everything is subject to change, but this is my goal each week. 

Every Unit:
*I sketch out what the ideal pacing would be, knowing that things change.  But at least it's all in my plan book and I know where we're headed.  I also use the drafts in my email to have an ongoing list of unit web links for science, social studies, and math.  I update those links on a weekly basis as I find more resources.  I may not always use everything in my "menu" but it's just a click away.  

And to think... a lot of this random paperwork is new this year... I wonder if it's going to be something we have to do for a long time to come, or if it's a one year deal.  I miss the simpler days.  

Hope you had a great day!

March 28, 2021

Best Teacher Ever

A little about me...

I’m a wife, mom, daughter, sister, and aunt. This is my 21st year in the classroom as a teacher, but I basically grew up in one as a daughter to a teacher.

I think my mom was the one that inspired me to be a teacher. She was the best teacher ever. Mom taught Kinder through 2nd grade, and after 36 years she retired. 

She grew up in Michigan, and after sliding her car into 2 snow drifts that first year of teaching, she went home and told my grandparents she was moving to California. And she did. And they followed her out here. :)

Growing up we always had the big family trip to help Mom set up her classroom. It was in a different town, kind of a commute, so the family loaded up the belongings and would spend a day at the end of the summer working together, helping mom. My sister and I would move the desks and take things out of cabinets. Dad would move the big furniture and help with bulletin boards, and Mom would do everything else. Dad would always go pick up Togo’s sandwiches from down the street, and we’d have a picnic in the classroom. When we had helped, we got to play with the toys that were tucked away or out on the playground, right outside her door.

Back then, when we had a day off of school, Mom would bring us to help her in her classroom. I got to be her TA, mostly at home, but also sometimes in her classroom. She would make the magic come alive for her little kids. 

Oh, and the piles of papers... all those little readers we would fold and staple for her, the pages to rip out from the workbooks... There was always something to help with. I loved it. Every year Dad and Mom would sit down together to make the personalized name tags for her school kids.  Dad would design it and then hand draw them over and over, Mom would write their names with her perfect handwriting. But that’s just what my family did. Family helped each other. Good memories. 

When I got my first classroom, Mom made sure to come and help me too. I don't know if she ever understood why I gravitated to upper elementary. Her heart was for the little ones. But she still blessed me by coming to help. Both my parents did. I didn't have to be alone and be overwhelmed. She would help me find the next step.

Mom taught me a lot about teaching. How a career can be more than a job, it’s a passion. It’s a gift and to view it as a gift. How to be organized, how to be find your own nitch, how to be yourself. To love each kid, especially on their worst day.  To see them as Jesus does. To be His hands and feet.  To pray for them and their families. She taught me a lot about a lot of stuff. I miss her. 

I wonder what she would think about this year. It’s been kind of crazy. It’s been 3 1/2 years but I can still remember one of our last deep conversations. She told me she was proud of me. Today, I want to pass on Mom’s message to you too. 

“I’m proud of you, for what you have done and what you are going to do. For who you have become. You go out there and make a difference.”

I wish you could have all met her. She was the best. 
Love you Mom. 

March 27, 2021

Week 1 Hybrid Concurrent - What I’ve Learned

I’ve learned that I’m easily exhausted.
I’ve learned that I feel safe in the classroom with the kids. 
I’ve learned that we are easily adaptable. 
I've learned that it's easy to put your guard down.

I’ve learned that the routines we’ve made all year with using TEAMs have transferred to this new way. We are still doing breakout groups, the online kids log into our meeting for breakout groups. They wear their headphones to hear the classmates and then whisper into their microphones. They log into TEAMs to do online paperwork. 

I’ve learned that it gets hot teaching in a mask. My mini fan is coming in handy. I’ve learned that straw water bottles are the best thing since sliced bread. It’s wonderful to drink without taking off my mask. I've learned that the blue paper masks make my nose itch, but I really like the yellow ones.

I’ve learned there is so much joy that has come back with having kids in the classroom. Even with the reminders to give space. 

I’ve learned that the quiet kids online are not necessarily quiet in the classroom. That they have come out of their shell and it’s so neat to see their personalities. I’ve learned I made some assumptions that aren’t true. I’ve also learned that some assumptions are true... 

I’ve learned that the relationships we’ve built all year are so important right now. The kids coming to school feel safe and are happy. The distance learning kids know they can count on me. I’ve learned to ask feedback questions in their group channels, and remembered to send out individual notes in their private channels. It makes my heart happy to see their responses. We’ve made their days. 

I’m learning how to give the in class vs at home different tasks to accomplish the same purpose. In class have become my worker bees- the leaders in breakout groups to record answers, make posters, and my volunteers in front of the webcam. Its really nice to not have to direct teach every moment of the morning. 

I’ve learned the technology this week so that we can hear and see all the kids at the same time. I’ve learned the beauty of the webcam microphone that allows at home to hear all the kids in the classroom. I’m not stuck in front of my computer all morning. I’ve learned to check the volume on the projector when the webcam is on. I won’t soon forget that horrible sound... :)

I’ve learned to slow down and take a break when needed. The at home kids didn’t mind at all when we needed to go outside for a few moments to take a water and mask break. It’s a really long morning until recess. Along with that I’ve learned the importance of still having fun. Playing games, even if it’s only a few minutes of the day. 

I’ve learned that we go through a lot of hand sanitizer each day, and that a paper cut then has the constant reminder.  :/ I’ve learned to use my front table to put out materials that the kids can easily pick up, so I don't need to spend time going desk to desk. I've learned to plan way in advance. What day do I need to share or pass out this paper? What day do I need to put this on the whiteboard? What day do I need to do this? I already knew I need notes and checklists, but this week I learned how much I really need the reminders.  

Yeah, I’ve learned a lot this week. Which is probably why I’m exhausted, yet happy. Every day is getting a little easier. I hope you had a great week too! 

March 26, 2021

Spirit Sticks - High 5's

The other day my amazing teammate shared her idea of having the kids give high 5's in the classroom. I was first taken back... kids touching each other?  Major no-no right now.  

Then she explained about getting wooden dowels - 3 feet in length, and adding paper hands to the ends, and how the kids can high 5 each other... from 6ish feet away.  

My second thought was that they would become swords, or lightsabers.

But the more I thought about it, the more I really liked the idea.  It's not like the kids will be unsupervised, and I want to give them High 5's too. Something different. Something fun.  Something that would turn our classroom back into a magical place. 

So I ordered the bulk pack of dowels on Amazon, and pulled out the neon paper for the kids to trace their hands. 

I did it the first day of each group. I had the papers on the front table and they could choose their neon color from the options that were out. They decorated one side with things that they love, and their name went on the other side.  I laminated the papers and passed them back to them their second day in the classroom - well I stuck them on the table for them with a pair of scissors for them to cut out. I was prepared to do a hot glue and staple to attach, but plain Scotch tape seems to work well.

Back in the classroom, the hands will be placed on the extra desks around the classroom when not in use. In the morning when they come in, they get organized and will also pick up their hand from the desk. We will teach the kids to hold them from the end, so their "hand" stays clean. Since the kids have an extra desk next to them throughout the day, there is room to keep them nearby for the random celebration. 

Hope you had a great day!

March 25, 2021

Is it Spring Break Yet? Egg-citing Fun for Next Week

This year vacations have been much appreciated.  A chance to put down that extra load of crazy and just relax.  But we still have a week to go until blessed Spring Break.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my kiddos.  They make my day, every single day.  I feel like I need that disclaimer in this post.

Next week I'm making it a review week, and a week to have some fun.  I need fun.  They need fun. I'm taking a week off of major grading and giving them Kindness Homework instead.  It's a win - win. Especially since it's also progress report time... Kindness to their families, kindness to friends, and our classmates.  We will brainstorm things each day they can do.  

I am going to tackle an egg hunt for in person next week.  Not a huge deal since they will each grab only one egg outside on the grass near our line. Inside each egg is a review ELA task card.  Just printed it a little small and tucked it inside the eggs.

During class, they will take turns opening up their one egg, going up to the webcam, and presenting it to the kids at home.  Then I'll jump on my camera to give instructions as to how to review with each question.  In class and at home kids will respond over in our group channels so they can show off their work to their classmates.  Group A (Monday's questions) are all about fiction strategies - so we will use our novel to respond to questions about plot, character development, setting, viewpoint, theme, context clues, inferences, etc.., and Group B (Tuesday's questions) are all about non-fiction, so we will use our SS  textbooks as resources to review cause and effect, compare and contrast, problem and solution, etc.  

Keep it simple... but also have fun.

Now Thursday I want to have a fun day... well, mainly fun.  

As for a craft - I LOVE this Bunny Craft from Teach Starter.  The kids use Zentangle designs to personalize it.  We haven't done much art this year since the kids haven't had access to many printers or coming to school for pick up, but now that 2/3 of them are able to get it from their desk to bring home... well we are tackling it. 

It's super easy to just print and go.  I need easy.  You can also google Teach Starter Funky Easter Bunny Craft and a lot of designs pop up to give ideas to the kids.  Usually I have them do their own thing, and then if they get super stuck they can take a peek.  

I'm also focusing on ways that the kids can GLOW this week.  I always give out an egg to the kids, have for years, and this year decided to choose Glow in the Dark eggs as the treat.

I found Glow Eggs over on Amazon.  They just need to be put in strong light for 3-5 minutes and then they will glow for up to an hour. Focusing on showing kindness to others, preserving when things get hard (aka review), and their own unique characteristics.  

Here's what I wrote on my note...

Hope you had a great day!  

March 24, 2021

Cleaning Out My Pantry - A Math Activity

I love teaching volume.  It can be so much fun.  

One way is by cleaning out my pantry and recycle bin at home.  All those empty boxes, or almost empty boxes, I pull out and then tape shut.  I bring them to school and we play grocery store.

Because kids are still kids, and they like to play make believe.  

Some years I make a Supermarket and the kids pick and choose boxes from our "store" to figure out volume.  I leave out rulers and they have to measure the height, width, and depth.  Then they make a chart with the different measurements and we go over it later in the week.

This year I still cleaned out my pantry, but instead we did it full class.  

I brought it in one of my insulated totes and asked them what they were hungry for.  We took turns in class vs. at home, choosing items... They are always amazed that my family is just like theirs - we shop bulk food at Costco, my boys like Cheez its too, we all drool over the brownies box...  Anyhow, this year I measured with the ruler, rounding to the closest inch, and they did their part with figuring out volume.  

In a normal year we have gone a little further with the review and measured to turn into decimals and fractions, but there isn't time this year.  We've already done that in our regular lessons though.

Then I switched the online group to reviewing via task cards that I had uploaded to our TEAM, while the kids in the classroom created rectangular prisms using linking cubes from their desk pouches.  My in class were using their 16 cubes to create the many different ways to rearrange the cubes... then as they finished they took turns coming close to the webcam to show it off for the kids at home.  The kids at home were told the dimensions and solved the volume for the kids in class.  It totally worked and I had this moment that it was all going to be okay.  

That was Monday, and then on Tuesday my new group of in class kids used their linking cubes to come up with composite figures.  Same kind of thing, I worked with online doing review task cards while in class were building, and then in class was ready to share. 

Tuesday I pulled out the same pantry boxes again, and held up two of them to have the kids find the composite volume.  It clicked for some of my kids.  

I think this all might just work...  at least that's my hope.  

Hope you had a great day!

March 23, 2021

How It Went... First Day on the 135th Day of School

I don't know what I was expecting, but I didn’t realize I’d be so tired. It was so good to see kids in the classroom and on campus again. Also so many ways to have my attention pulled in multiple directions. I felt the smiles under the masks. I also felt the huge burden of responsibility that we have to keep these kids extra safe. 

School was decorated for the kids. Balloons on the gates, a big welcome sign on the hill. Music blasting from the speakers.  Signs for classes everywhere. Pathways marked with big red arrow stickers.

I met them out in our line and we did the temp checks right away. I snapped their first day on campus pictures. I joked how tall they were, they joked that I had legs. We went over how to give space in line. We had 30 minutes before we had to start the online meeting and we used every moment. 

We went inside and they sanitized. We went over what was in their desks and how to walk in the classroom. How to set up the desk shields. How to drink their water bottles. Using the aisles closest to their desks to give space. We went through their pouches and what was included, that those items were mine and needed to stay in their desks. To keep their things in their backpacks because they have to bring them home again. 

I had used the front table as a paper sorter. I called the kids up randomly to choose a colored stack. They took the colored paper and traced their hands for an art project. 

We went over some on campus rules - some were reminders from the beginning of the year. I had grabbed memes from a Google search to get exactly what I wanted to share. 

We then took a tour of the campus. Showed them our spot for recess, practiced walking around campus, where the bathrooms are, and where we line up for a fire drill. It was a very full 30 minutes.

Then we started our online meeting and I felt some classroom magic when both groups saw and heard each other. Webcam on the kids in class for the kids at home, and my projector on, showing my computer screen so the kids in the classroom could see and hear the kids at home. When I shared my screen the kids both home and school could see it too. 

We did tackle our novel, set up the Science Design Challenge situation, reviewed volume, and did a one pager for SS. Kids were following both places.  It was the normal Week 30 kind of things.  We had recess outside, online was inside chatting, and I got to use my new electric whistle. The kids had PE and then it was time for them to go home. Then it was a quick spray down and set up for tomorrow’s group.  Where I get to do a lot of it all over again...

I had a moment that I knew it was going to be okay.  It was during math.  I did this activity and at one point the in class kids pulled out these linking cubes that were in their pouches.  They were building, and then taking turns coming up to the web cam to show off their rectangular prisms to the kids at home - showing the measurements and the kids at home were figuring out the volume.  It felt right, both connected. We had some laughs.  That was nice.  

Spring is always my most favorite part of the year, when the kids know me, and I know them.  And now finally meeting them face to face was pretty special.  Having them in our space was pretty special.  It was a wonderful day, even though it was exhausting.  

Hope you had a good day too.  

March 22, 2021

Stickers Anyone?

I was the kid in elementary school with the sticker collection.  I loved stickers. I thought I outgrew it, then as a teacher my love of stickers came back full speed.  Then as a parent I have seen how my boys love those crazy water bottle ones... Today, I wanted to share the different sets that I've picked up this year for my classroom. But first, the why.

Because it's motivation to do something hard.
Because it's motivation to keep persevering and participating.
Because it's a reward for accomplishing a goal that costs barely anything.
Because they are fun and I am still teaching kids.  :)

Okay - the different sets I've picked up.  As always, if you order any of these, make sure to look through to make sure nothing inappropriate found their way into the pouches.  And as a disclaimer - I love these, my kids love these, but I'm not getting paid to share about them.  

and I also have picked up Food, Ocean, and Animal Crossing ones, but somehow those links don't look the same anymore...

Now why so many? Well in the fall my students started having their Class Dojo points add up.  It was one thing to make a big deal and award TEAM praises, but it's another thing to have a visual reference to motivate themselves to keep participating... and encourage others to do the same.  So I told the kids my idea, and asked them for ideas for themes of stickers to look for.  They came up with a ton of ideas, and I did my best to stick to my budget and grab some.  

For every 25 Class Dojo points (which it's possible for them to get 1-2 per day), my students get to choose a sticker.  Well, they get to choose a theme, and I get to choose a sticker from that specific pack.  So it's a mystery gift that they get to open.  I have put the sticker into a labeled envelope and stick the envelopes into our office class crate.  Now that some kids are back in class, I can stick it on their desk. It's a super small thing, but it's been a huge incentive this year.  I still do TEAM praises, but now there is something physical to remember their accomplishments.  

Hope you had a great day!

March 21, 2021

Am I Prepared?

I know the classroom is prepared, mentally I think I'm prepared, but am I physically prepared for the next phase? I got my second vaccine dose this week, so I have that going for me... I think...

This last week I practiced doing things that I thought I would be good at after a year.

Like wearing a mask and my glasses at the same time.  

But I wasn't.  My glasses would always fog up, so I had got in the habit of just pushing them up on my head when my mask was on.  But I kind of need them when I'm reading.... like those novels or even typing on the computer...  It's embarrassing my spelling mistakes when I don't have my glasses on...

Anyhow, I found this and it really does work (not an ad).  It makes my glasses stay clear when my mask is on.  I also found that I didn't get overheated when wearing a paper mask this week to practice.  Those cloth masks made my temperature soar.  

I met a friend a couple of Saturdays ago at Starbucks.  We sat outside, socially distanced, and while I had to keep taking off my mask to drink, she was really good at drinking through a straw with her mask on.  It's a silly thing, but it amazed me... seriously a little thing that then clicked.  Using a straw water bottle at school would allow me to keep drinking in the classroom without removing my mask. I easily go through 50 oz of water in the morning while teaching, so I kind of needed a plan.  

I found this water bottle on Amazon, and just got one to test out. It works so perfect.  My nose and mouth stay covered, but I am able to pop up the spout to take a sip, then tuck it away.  I just ordered a 2nd to get up to my 50 oz. without having to refill.  

The last thing I'm prepping today is something I do pretty much every Sunday afternoon now.  Freezer Meals.  It has made my life so much easier.  Over Christmas Break, I ran across the Passionate Penny Pincher sponsored post on Facebook.  It was for her planner, but then while looking into the company I found so many people recommending her meal plans.  She has quite a few plans, but I wanted to share our favorites from the Freezer Meals today.  I have her digital/pdf downloads. 

They are so easy and taste so good.  Even my picky kids really have enjoyed them.  Our family is still trying to make it through all of them at least one time, so we are still learning out favorites.  I have them printed in a binder, and then as we try them I move them into 2 different sections - Make Again, or Modify for Next Time...  

Here are the ones that we recommend:
Cheesy Baked Spaghetti
Chicken Taco Bowls
Cracker Barrel Chicken Tenderloin Sandwich
Grilled Pork Tenderloins
Slow Cooker Mesquite Roast and Carrots
Grilled Chicken Kabobs
BBQ Chicken Wings
Easy Peasy Baked Ziti
Pesto Tortellini Bake (my kids don't do Pesto - so we omitted that)
Sweet and Spicy BBQ Chicken
Hawaiian Grilled Chicken
Chicken Cordon Bleu Bake
5 Ingredient Grilled Pork Chops

There are a lot that we still haven't tried.  The directions are so easy to follow that even I can do them.  I keep them in my garage freezer, and then just pop one out the day before to defrost.  She has a bunch of the meals as freebies on her blog as well. I do now have all her sets, and many of the slow cooker recipes can also be frozen as well.  

Meal Prepping has allowed me to not have to worry about dinner.  It's been freeing up my afternoons and that dinner prep time has shrunk to barely nothing.  I have time to spend with my family, take a walk, and do something for me.  It's helping me to survive.  

Anyhow, I hope this helps someone.  Have a great day!  I'll let you know how tomorrow goes.  

March 20, 2021

Final Push to Hybrid

I think I’m ready for Monday morning.  When I get nervous, or stressed, I tend to overthink things. I've been creating checklists and powerpoint to help me process, and things that I can slide into their group channel with reminders, etc. that I have been able to send home to parents.  

Pack Your Backpack - the items with the ? are optional, but recommended.  I will post this in my Group A and B channels the afternoon before they are to come to school - at least for the first week so they will remember what to bring.  If something different is needed - like the other textbooks, well then I'll add a note about that as well. I printed a copy and it's laminated and posted on our classroom door.  Hopefully they will memorize the list and eventually by just seeing the visual that they will remember things that they forgot for next time.

The Classroom Checklist - I now have this laminated and near my computer at school.  Here's hoping that when I feel scattered that a list will remind me of what to do next.  

I also made a 10 slide packet that went over what to expect with my students this last week, and then sent them home to parents as well.  Our office had sent their information the week before, so last week was more about our own classroom.  

For the kids at home, my big things were wanting them to know that it's going to take some time.  They can't expect me to be able to answer their private channel question right away.  I also want them to know they are important, and that they still have the expectation of paying attention... 

For kids coming on campus - even though it's 2 days a week, that the rules really have changed.  Safety has to be top priority.  

Just our new schedule, in case it's not already drilled in their heads...

I explained the Group Channels once again.  We practiced with them this last week.  I started putting daily reminders and questions in there that the kids had to respond to.  It gave me a chance to see who I needed to remind to check, and who was actually paying attention.  It was also a place where I started group meetings so the kids could chat about things there were adding to recess bags, what their team nickname should be, and any questions they have...

The Daily Schedule started out with me having to visualize what our day would look like.  How I would move from one thing to the next.  That overthinking then seemed to help when kids were asking me what it would be like. This is the plan.  This is a sketch of our day down to the little details.  It's new for all of us, yet it's the same lesson routine we've done for the last 29 weeks of school.  

I also had the list of school supplies in the packet... before I made up the Pack your Backpack.  

The Recess Bag was a last minute addition.  When we are in our specific area outside, the kids are only allowed to remove their masks when they are actively eating or drinking. They have to still give personal space to others, and the recess bag can help to give them a mental break.  The office recommended legos or play dough, and my teammate also had the idea of a yo-yo.  It'll be interesting to see what kids bring.  Whatever they bring to school they will bring home the same day.  

There were a few other slides with maps on where to line up on our "first day", the pathways where to walk on campus, and where our recess spot is located.

Little things that I hope will help us keep organized.  I hope you have a great weekend!

March 19, 2021

Things that Have Made Life Easier

Last summer I used quite a bit of time to research how to be a virtual teacher and teaching with a mask. Part of learning was finding items from Amazon that could make my life a little easier. I wanted to share what has worked well with you today.

Disclaimer- I don’t get any money for this. I just want to share.

Headset: I love this so much I bought one for both home and for the classroom so I didn’t have to haul it back and forth. I don’t use it all the time, but it’s great to use for reading picture books and for anytime that I can’t be exactly right in front of the screen. 

Phone holder: This has helped with turning my phone into a document camera at home. I can log into my Teams app and show my workbooks, or I can use it to record with my phone and then post the video. 

Laptop riser: I like how this brings both of my laptops (school and home) up to eye level. I like how my neck doesn’t hurt because it’s up higher. I got one for home and then another for school, then my husband wanted one for him too- so yes, we now own three of them. 

Xlarge TV Tray: We have an office at the house, but when all 5 of us were working/schooling from home last spring we quickly learned that I needed to be up in our bedroom since it’s quieter. At that time my middle was also doing his school on the couch, so we got one for him too. I use this tray when I’m upstairs since it can easily fold away. It can fit my laptop/riser and a clipboard next it it. 

3 Tray Cart: Just like the TV tray, I learned I’m a slob that needs to contain all the random teacher materials at home. I grabbed one of these from Michael’s last summer and then we liked it so much we picked up these from Amazon to help organize my kids as well. The Michael’s one is made from metal, while Amazon’s is made from heavy plastic. 

Folding Portable Whiteboard: When I was making my little classroom for home, I found this awesome magnetic whiteboard that stands up. I keep it on the top of my rolling cart. It is kind of awkward to hold and flip back and forth to write on and then show on screen, but it’s a great size when you need something bigger than a clipboard whiteboard. Yeah, I have those too. 

Now that kids are coming back, I have these items ready too:

Electric Whistle: I picked this up last fall when we had been told the kids were coming.. and then they didn’t come. It just requires a battery to operate and it’s loud for the entire playground to hear. I tested it the other day and it’s like a loud smoke alarm beep.

Lanyards: I've used lanyards for field trips, but I wanted a fresh pack.  I was going to use these without the label so the kids have something to clip their masks on for recess and eating their snack.  They will keep them in their desk at the end of the day.  

Voice Amplifier: I don’t like to raise my voice, so I picked up a portable microphone to help me project. Another teacher had told me that her voice hurt from talking loud in a mask. I’m hopeful that my voice won’t be sore from all the talking. This can get loud too, so could even use it outside. 

Name tag Labels: I picked up a 500 roll of labels.  You know how much I love to laminate, and I did take a class set and laminate for their desks, but the others will be easy to prep for their pencil pouches, folders, composition books, etc.  Labels, Labels, Everywhere!  

Pencil Pouches: I know the kids will probably bring items from home, but they are supposed to bring everything they bring to class back home every day.  I want to do something for them that can include items just in case they forget.  These will include a couple of pencils, a highlighter, and a mini container of play-doh.  Play-doh makes stress go away...  


Waterproof Pouches: I was going back and forth between folders vs. pouches for the sole reason of the daily disinfecting spray. These won't go home, but they will contain some sheets of copy paper and binder paper in their desks so we won't have to pass things out.  We are asking the students to have a folder to take loose papers home. When I need to refill the pouches the kids will drop into a labeled bucket. 

I have bought other things this year for the classroom and school kids.  I'll share them in other posts and why I got them.  I hope that I'm prepared for the kids to come in person next Monday. I'm getting nervous and excited, and trying to think positive.  I hope you have a great weekend!