Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Scoop

I should be finishing my lesson plans for the week, but am blog stalking instead. I found lots of wonderful freebies on the Teachers Thanking Teachers linky. So many good things. Hope I can find room to squeeze them into my plans. While I am at it, I have decided to link up with the Teaching Trio and their Sunday Scoop linky. (Seems linky parties are all I am motivated to blog about lately.)

I have most of my plans finished. Just need to tweak the video for my math lesson for tomorrow, and add math plans for Thursday. I copied all my work for the week last week, so I just need to sort it by class and day. That shouldn't take long. My laundry pile is growing, so that cannot wait. I need to throw in a load or two tonight while I watch television.

I am building co-chair for school improvement, and also serve on the district team. I am presenting Standard 3: Teaching and Assessing for Learning. I should be able to do this standard in my sleep. It is who we are as a building and a district, besides who I am as a teacher. My biggest fear is that I may not know the other buildings (Middle and High School) well enough, or that my team mate is too laid back in his part of the presentation. Those fears will probably keep this perfectionist from falling asleep at a decent hour.

I give lots of choices to students to showcase their book knowledge to go with their independent reading. One student has a sibling that recorded so many "Talk Shows" three years ago, that I couldn't upload them to my website. The talk show (think Oprah's Book Club) is also the favorite activity of the younger sibling. Lunch with the two lovely girls will be a highlight of my day. It is fun to watch them take on a new persona and to hear about the book they read. They pack so much into the 5 minute video! Then we are eating lunch, away from the cafeteria and the lounge. It makes my lunch so much more enjoyable. The only problem is it is right before my presentation. Hope my nerves don't get the best of me while I am enjoying their company.

Hope your week is fast and fun! 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Veterans Day

November 11 is Veterans Day. In the past my teammate did a wonderful program with our fifth graders at the area cemeteries. She invited parents, past and present members of the Armed Forces. The older veterans looked forward to every year. They came to participate with playing Taps and giving the Twenty-one Gun Salute. She retired last spring. The tradition has ended.

I don't teach Social Studies, and haven't for five years, but do teach writing. I decided I needed to do something special for my students to show their appreciation for all those who have fought for our freedom, and continue to fight our fight.

I created this freebie. Students are going to listen to the song "In Flanders Fields" and read the poem by John McCrae. We will look at photographs of the Tomb of the Unknown,

and Arlington Cemetery, among others.
(Photos from Wikimedia)

Then, they will write a thank you to a veteran or member of the Armed Forces. We will display a copy of the letters, a copy of the poem, and a Poppy Craftivity. The original letters will be sent to veterans in our community, or family members.

Click on the link if you would like a copy of the Freebie.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

If you don't have anything good to say...

It has been forever since I posted with any regularity. When I look at my posts since school started, I have barely posted anything. My only "regular" posts were part of a linky. Not good! My mother used to tell me that if I didn't have anything good to say, then I should say nothing at all. I guess I may have taken her words literally as of late. It was a rough start.

My mother has been on my mind a lot lately. Tomorrow, my siblings and I are dividing the antiques and valuables that she painstakingly cleaned, repaired, and refinished. She has been gone for twenty-nine years, but my father had maintained the house with her treasures in place for these many years. He has been in a nursing home for almost two years. He needed daily care that we could not guarantee would be given at home. He is still in relatively good health. He still goes out to some sporting events, dinners, and outings with the nursing home. It is time to close out the house and settle some estate issues. It won't be easy.

Lately, most things haven't been easy. My class had two students added at the beginning of the year that put me over contract. I wrote about it here and here. One of those extras left the state a couple of weeks ago, Thursday was M's was a sweetheart. She worked every day with my aide, as she needed directions restated, and information given in other ways because of a language issue. M and another student had been in unique situations in other schools. My aide was a true advocate for them in my room and the other classes.

I will be without an aide beginning Monday, as I am no longer over contract. It will be a difficult transition. My students and I have grown to depend on DE. She integrated herself into our routine, helped with students without needing prompting from me, and became a friend. She would read me, and knew just what to say to lighten my darkening mood. She regularly issued me theme songs for the day.

I know she read this blog, by a comment she made in her email to me Friday night, after receiving notice from the principal that her position was over. (She was suppose to have had Monday to tie up loose ends, and to give us time to talk with the kids.) I misjudged her. I know my comments in the post hurt her. I regret that I did not make it easier for her. It must be hard to take on a role of aide, when you can be a substitute making more money. As a Christian, I think she has a true desire to make a difference in the lives of students. She did just that, daily, hourly, and by the minute in my room. I will miss her laughter, her friendship, and her songs, but know "I will survive."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Currently November

It's November. Time for Farley's linky.

I know living in southeast Michigan means cold weather and November go hand in hand. It was relatively warm Wednesday and Thursday. Friday brought colder air and some snow flurries. Today was cold and windy. My furnace is cranking out the heat. A register is by my feet. Toasty!

It was the coldest Cross Country State Meet I can remember in 13 years. We have had 4 girls teams, many individuals, and today our second boys team ran at Michigan International Speedway. The CC State Meet is held there every year. It is one of the few places that can accommodate all divisions of competitors, the spectators and parking. It isn't very spectator friendly, I watch the start and wait at the finish for the runners. I can always pick out our runners. Funny, because it is usually through a camera lens that I watch them run. Today was no different. We had four of our seven boys finish in the top half of the 3.1 mile race. They are All-State Academic recipients. So proud of them, and my hubby, the head coach.

I should be working on grades. We were told we had until November 9th for grades to be submitted. Friday afternoon that directive was changed to Monday morning. After reconsideration, I now have until 3 PM Tuesday. Think I can procrastinate a little longer. I have to finish a few sets of papers and projects first. I don't "quit" taking grades until the last day of the quarter. 

I am looking forward to that extra hour of sleep tonight with the time change. My only regret is that the change throws off my body clock. I also hate that it is almost dark by the time I get home most nights. Yuck!

I always read Andrew Clements' No Talking to my kids in November. We even try the contest between boys and girls to see which group can go the longest without talking. It gets them thinking about rules and they hold each other accountable. I hope it helps with this group of talkative kids.

Well, time to wrap up. What is happening in your life Currently?

Thursday, October 2, 2014


I cannot believe it is already October. I feel like I am never going to get back on track or blogging regularly. Maybe this will be the month. I am approaching my 3rd anniversary of this blog, so I need to get busy and think up some way to celebrate.

In the meantime, I am linking up with Megan Farley at Oh Boy, 4th grade! for her Currently October linky party. My kids are doing their Currently in the Classroom tonight. I love using it as it gives such insight into what they are thinking and glimpses of their life outside of my classroom.

I started this post earlier today. My husband was watching sport center. You can always tell who the last one was watching television at my house. Hubby leaves it on sports channels or WGN, while my choice is HGTV, TLC, or Food Network.

I rearranged my room, but haven't shown pictures yet. A simple change suggested by a friend has made a huge difference. It feels bigger. Now if I could only get rectangular tables! I'll show pics soon. 

I had a pile of grading to do. We are sending progress reports on Monday. I burned through a stack while waiting at the doctor's office this morning. Now I just need to post those grades.

Hubby took a new job in December. He works almost every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We get little quality time together. He has Saturday off. We have a Cross Country race that morning, but hope to get dinner and a movie later. 

I had high hopes of finishing lots of projects this summer, but didn't get them finished. Then I started back to school with my most difficult start ever, and my house suffered. It needs a thorough cleaning of all rooms, but I will settled for the ones I see, bedroom, bathrooms, family room. 

My treat is that I am offering 20% off my math products through Sunday, or you can get my reading poster in the color of your choice. For the discount go to my store. Want the poster? Just comment below, telling what color, and give an email address.

Have a good rest of your week. It is homecoming in my district and home district. Only thing that would make it better (besides a two-hour delay like today) would be jeans, but jeans are not allowed any more. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

I'm Making Lemonade

This has been my worst start...ever?

We hired a permanent (or semi-permanent) aide. She has been very helpful. Her keen eye has caught many learning errors kids have. She works very closely with two of my kiddos, and the rest of the alphabet kids. The downside is she is a Type A personality that likes to be in charge. She is capable of running over my teaching partner, my teammate (during Science and Social Studies) and me. I know she means well, but sometimes it is hard to take.

On top of all of all the usual stuff, yesterday arrived with a two hour delay. Yippee!  Two hours of extra sleep, didn't come. I had been up late grading papers. Hubby thought I had overslept, and I needed to get grades entered. I arrived at school to a pancake birthday treat for a student, a tattletale situation that was the last straw, and hungry kids that missed breakfast. (We don't serve on delays as the kitchen has to get lunch ready). I had the behavioral specialist come talk to my kids that hate each other. I know, hate is a powerful word, but when last year's teacher(s) didn't stop their hatred, it continues. My teammate interrupted to say he had to have my kids, (didn't even discuss our adjusted schedule yet), and off they went. The pancakes would have to wait.

A half hour later, when my kids were back just getting settled, here comes the principal for drop in eval number 1. I wanted to tell him to go away.  Ten minutes in and our tech coordinator walks in with a reporter to interview and get pictures of my kids using iPads a grant had bought. The secretary buzzed in (three separate times), and my room was chaotic! Kids were taking AR tests on our novel, finishing a review and finalizing their interactive journals for the book, and taking one of four different levels of spelling tests. I was helping a student catch up (missed 6 days with that horrible virus!). Really! Why come observe on a two hour delay?

I wanted to close my door at lunch and cry. My aide wouldn't leave and I had kids in reading at recess. I had three lovely ladies show up to do a Lunch Bunch on the book Liar, Liar by Gary Paulsen. They had made my day. I still had an IEP, reading buddies, a stack of papers to grade and copying to do during planning.

Dismissal couldn't come soon enough. I whined to my teammate about how hard the day had been, and went back to grab my stuff to go home. A quick check of my email caught me off guard. The principal had already sent notes on the visit! From what I could gather without his interpretation is "He gets it!" My attempt to salvage my crazy morning with my differentiation looked better than it felt to me. That, or my aide had told him she was worried I was packing up never to return. TGIF!

Hope your week was better than mine, and may your lemonade be only as tart as you like!

Monday, September 22, 2014


Today is the last day of summer, although for most of us we consider summer to be over when we head back to school. The last time I felt this submerged in September was when I was on bed rest with my youngest. She turns 19 tomorrow. She is our last one at home, and it is often just the two of us, or her and hubby. They share many interests and a quick sense of humor. Both bring so much joy to my life. That is critical this year.

Last spring, I agreed to go "over contract" to be able to be an inclusion classroom. I have taught inclusion eighteen of my twenty years in fifth grade. I don't know if I can want to teach without my partner.

Our contract reduces the students in an inclusion classroom by two. When I got my class list this summer, I was nervous. I knew my list was stacked. Besides my alphabet kids, many of my students are from broken homes, or are at risk. I will get any new students, although we are all at capacity because I also have a full time aide. Last week, we interviewed for the aide to help ease my burden. With my large, needy group, I am overwhelmed with remaking things I usually use, for differentiation. I have barely had time to grade papers. I am hoping things fall into routine soon.

I have a few pictures to share of some things we have been doing.

We have been reading, lots of reading. When it was hot, our benches and milk crate stools were favorites.

 Sunday, September 21st was International Peace Day. Our school made 500 pinwheels to mark the occasion. They were rained on Saturday night, but the display looked good for a while.

A favorite
-this student had art lessons outside of school.

We stacked Oreo cookies for O.R.E.O. Project by Jen Wagner. She has been hosting this project for more that ten years. I think I only missed the first two. We love to do this activity as it gives us a Math in Real Life activity. We also stack the Oreos with our K-Buddies. It makes for a great intro activity. We stacked an average of 19 cookies. You can see in the last picture, my friend is still stacking. I think she got 25 or 26 cookies. Our best stack was thirty! 

I hope to be back on a more regular blogging schedule soon.
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