Thursday, March 29, 2012


Things around here have been c-r-a-z-y!! Our marking period ended last Friday. Grades were due Monday morning at 8:00. I spent ALL day here on Saturday, reading through response journals, writing projects, and other things. The time frame didn't allow for collaboration with my team on grades, or with my inclusion co-teacher. My team and I used shared Google Docs to help us reach our deadline. Finally, we submitted grades only to find out the entire system had an error. Report cards go home tomorrow, and conferences are later in April. I know, bad planning on all parts.

To add to the other chaos in my life, I had back-to-back track meets Monday and Tuesday. Yesterday was our Wax Museum. On Tuesday few students had their props, signs or costumes. I hardly slept Tuesday, worrying that this would be our worst one ever. I had to get locations figured out, and props in their places for 78 students in less than thirty minutes. I was surprised when every fifth grader had a speech, and a sign, button, and prop. They were well prepared after all. Students from all of the lower grades came to watch, listen, and learn. We had over five hundred "visitors" during our afternoon run, and a packed house last night. We received compliments from everyone, and even had the Super (with his wife), and the P come.

I am hoping for some calm today and tomorrow. We are doing a short reading test today. A leveled worksheet, and playing Boggle. We need to get through today and tomorrow, as vacation starts at 3:00 tomorrow. The teachers have not had a day off since January 3. This will be a much welcomed break! I need to clean and get organized!

What did you or will you do for break?

Queen Elizabeth I

Mary Kay Ash

Dale Earnhardt, Sr.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Read Aloud for a Guest Reader

As a "March is Reading Month" celebration we are encouraged to invite guest readers to share a story with students. A few years ago, I invited the super to read. He declined but volunteered the CFO. He was more than willing to read to my fifth graders, but had two conditions. 1) I had to choose the book. 2) He wanted his daughter to come. She was one of our Reading Buddies, so that wasn't a problem.

The book I chose was "Mr. Peabody's Apples" by Madonna. Yes, the famous pop singer is a children's author. The story tells how Mr. Peabody, a little league coach, has his reputation damaged by a player that thought he witnessed a theft. The boy discovers the truth, and seeks to make things right. Mr. Peabody teaches the boy a lesson on how damaging rumors can be to someone's reputation. Repairing a reputation is almost impossible. The story appeals to my fifth graders, as well as younger students.

Sadly, after years of reading this story, our CFO took a new position that prevents him from reading to my students. His daughter is now in middle school, so I needed to find a new reader. Our acting P, who is not a Madonna fan, has agreed to share this story with my three reading classes tomorrow. I'm sure he will hook them. (I think it is important for students to see strong male role models as readers. With only have three male regular ed. classroom teachers at our school, exposure is limited.)

This will also let them meet our acting P, who has stepped in while the P recovers from an extended illness. I'm sure they will be quick to ask if he is going to wear the purple hair the P promised for our 21 MEAP subtests that were better than last year's scores, or ranked us as first in the county. He is sure to defer until she returns. He doesn't think purple and a bald spot are a good pair!

Do you invite guest readers to read to your students? --Marcia

Monday, March 19, 2012

A New Design to Match the Season

I have been thoroughly enjoying the weather here. This morning I awoke to hear I had a two hour delay due to fog. Yea! While this was a very welcomed surprise, it also came with a sacrifice. On Mondays I have back-to-back specials, so I missed both of those and my accompanying planning hour. The blessing was that since I was already awake, I could enjoy the two hours of peace and quiet without the roar of students in the hall while I worked. How did I spend my time? You are looking at it. I have been playing with different blog templates and design. I like the very cute blog designs so many of you have recently added. Being relatively new, I don't feel like I can justify paying someone to design something for me. So this is my attempt to make my blog over for spring. I liked the bright dots, but wanted a change.

What do you think?


Saturday, March 17, 2012

This is Michigan?

I cannot get over the weather we are having. It has been in the sixties and seventies for days. While this may not seem like a big deal for where you're from, it is a big deal here in southeast Michigan. We were at camp for three days. We usually have snow or freezing temps while we are there. We may get some mild days, but not like we had. We came home sunburned!

We have a courtyard and reading tree outside of my room. My friends washed the chairs and benches and sat outside to read yesterday. My students are wanting to petition the acting P and Super to wear shorts next week. The forecast is for almost eighty for Tuesday. I am blog stalking while sitting on my deck. I am sure these temps are temporary, but I love it. I can do without the storms from Thursday though.

A community had 100 homes destroyed an hour from here on Thursday, and less than twenty miles from here a house was destroyed when a twister touched down. This is on top of the horrific storms from two weeks ago in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. My thoughts and prayers go out to all those effected by the recent storms here and throughout the Midwest. Enjoy your weekend wherever you may be. --Marcia

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Never Ceases to Amaze

Sorry about two posts in one day, but I was away without access to my blog or the internet! I think I'm addicted!

Every once in awhile, we all need reminders about why we do what we do. If you're a teacher, you know you're not in it for the money, or the "three months of summer vacation" you get. When you see the progress you make with a single child, it reminds you. When you see the progress of the class as a whole it runs you over! I'm not talking talking necessarily about the academic gains, I'm talking any real progress.

Last Friday, we met with a group of second graders through an online project with Skype.  My friends were a bit unsettled, but not bad considering we were leaving for camp on Monday. In asking questions of each other, the other class asked about Lock Downs. My friend responded, "Well yes, we have lock down drills." The other student's response back led us to believe they have had a lock down. When we disconnected, my friends started to talk about the conversation. My naughty friend raised her hand and said, "It makes you appreciate our school, and our community a little more. We don't always remember how good we have it."

I was reminded of this several times throughout our three days at camp. We had a tornado watch come and go without my three anxious students falling apart. We had 100% climb on a horse. My very shy, quiet talker led "Grace" and stood on stage to lead a song. A struggling student sang, danced, and made it through a night hike successfully. The students, cabin leaders and weather were outstanding. Who would believe we would be complaining of sunburn and being too warm at camp in March in Michigan? It never ceases to amaze me what wonders He does!


3rd, 4th, 5th Grade Link Up

I am linking up with Lorraine at Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies for a linky party for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers. The goal is to link as many of the intermediate grade level blogs together in one place. This should help facilitate following blogs and gathering great ideas from our peers. Sound like fun? Join us by clicking the link above or the picture below.

Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies Linky Party

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Making Connections

I have used Skype several times in my classroom to give my students experiences to broaden their horizon. If you are interested in learning about other students and their corners of the world, Skype is a great tool for it.

I love technology, and acquire gadgets through mini-grants, PTO funds, bonus points, etc.  I used PTO funds to purchase a webcam (Microsoft Life Cam) a couple of years ago, to replace a cheap webcam. This camera has a built in microphone. It has a USB plug with a flexible "stand" to form to the monitor, wrap around top of a smartboard, or clamp on a tripod. It has good sound quality, and can take still pics, video, or live feed. The program allows you to adjust the size of the display. I can generally show most of my classroom when I set it on the top ledge of the Smartboard. I also have an iPad 2 with built in camera/ webcam, but the students prefer the webcam/smartbooard set up because we can see our guests and see us.

How do I find Skype partners?  I do projects from Jen Wagner at (O.R.E.O. Project, Holiday Card Exchange, and Picture It). I have also done cooperative writing activities from Wikispaces (Write Your Story). Both ask for Skype addresses when you register. I recommend "meeting" a class before doing projects, especially if students are not familiar with Skype.

My most recent Skype session was on Monday with Cara at Teaching, My Calling. She is such an inspiration with blogging tips and ideas to use technology. She set up a Read Across America Project on  Skype in the Classroom which I found on her blog. This is a great place to make classroom connections. Check it out.

If you are interested, my class(es) and I would love to meet you and your class. Leave me a comment with your contact info.


Monday, March 5, 2012

An Award

In my previous post I wrote how I don't like to be the center of attention, but love prizes and awards. Well, I just received my second blog award.
This one is from Lou . Lou has also started a new blog devoted to her school life. She wants to separate the personal from the professional. Now I'll have to check out both! So many great blogs, and so little blogging time lately!

The rules:
1. Link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Pass the award onto 15 other lovely bloggers.
3. Follow the person who sent it to you.

Because this award has been working its way around the blog world, I am only passing this award onto the following lovely blogs:

Check out these AMAZING blogs.

Yes, I can count. I know it is only 6, but time is short and so is my list. This way there will be some blogs left for them to also award.

Remember to check out NewbieLou's new blog: Pencils with Pizzazz.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Important Projects and Some Fun

I never thought the weekend would get here! This week was crazy. I knew it would be difficult when the P was gone and the Super decided to step in to "help out" however he could.

One of the projects was our k-12 Language Arts Curriculum presentation to professional council. In spite of the P's absence, we presented a flawless presentation. This was my third professional council, one as a voting member, another as the fifth grade math representative, and this time as a lang. arts rep. The professional council voted to accept the proposal as presented. Now we wait for the budget to see what parts we will get for next year, and what will have to wait.

After the presentation, I went back to my room (after 8:00 pm) to finish an application for a proposal. It had to be submitted by midnight. I had had very little time to work on this. In the P's absence, the super helped tweak my wording while I did my real job, teach. I am not into being the center of attention, but do love awards and prizes.

Friday brought two Skype sessions. I met Annette through a Read Across America opportunity organized by Cara at Teaching, My Calling. (Cara is always giving great ideas for integrating technology and blogging tips. What a gem!)

When Annette called, she gave a quick tour of her building, including the media center all decked out in truffula trees and Lorax projects. She had two classes read I Am Not Going To Get Up Today while one of my classes read The Cat in the Hat and the other read The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. I had some tech glitches, but were able to overcome them. Annette is a very tech savvy teacher. I hope I can meet up with her again.

My homeroom kids meet up with two groups, through Skype, this week including Cara's class. There is nothing like expanding the confines of your classroom! I appreciate Cara and Annette's help in getting these Skype  sessions organized. What fun!
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