Sunday, October 21, 2012

October fun

Luckily now that conferences are over and we're back to being able to come in early and stay late, things are not so crazy.  I feel like I can catch my breath!  However because of all of that, October is almost over already!!!
My kids had a fun day on Friday as we had an in-school field trip where a company called HighTouch/HighTech came to do one of their science programs with our kids.  We did the matter one, as we have for the past couple of years.  We always find it's a fun way to wrap up the matter unit and it's cheaper when you have them come out closer to the beginning of the year.  We've also done their weather program before, which is also good.  So the students had a lot of fun getting to do all of these experiments with matter.  They told me it was "the best day EVER!!!"  I always laugh at that because I get that every year and then you know what?  The day of the Halloween party will be the best day ever, and then our Thanksgiving feast will be the best day ever, and then our holiday  I love my students.
I also got exciting news during the week and found out that my teammate and I are going to go see the 2 Sisters for their CAFE workshop on Monday.  Woohoo!  It was nice because my principal came in my room taking pictures of my kids during Daily 5 time and told me to stop by and talk to him later.  I had no idea what it was about and asked my teammate if she was told to come in too.  lol  Nope, just me.  So I went in during my specials time and that's what he told me.  He had spots reserved for the Daily 5 workshop and the CAFE workshop and wanted to know which one we'd like to go to.  His thoughts were for us to go to CAFE because it seems like we have Daily 5 down (which I thought was really nice of him to say).  I told him that I definitely feel more comfortable with Daily 5 than CAFE now that I've done Daily 5 for 2 years and I'm just trying to start CAFE.  One of my other teammates is going to the Daily 5 one because she's just trying to really get into Daily 5.  When I told both of my teammates that they were going to the workshops, they were VERY excited.  lol  Usually it seems like there is this group of people and they are always the ones that are asked to join committees and go to workshops and things like that and most of us are left out and that always bothers my teammates.  This year it's been nice though because we're being asked to do more and more.  I don't know if it's just because I'm team facilitator but they keep talking to me about things and then I pass it along to my team (that's my guess).  I went to a Common Core workshop this past summer, I was asked to be on the district writing committee for my school, and now this.  It makes you feel good that they know they can count on you.  So I'll have to make sure I come on here Monday afterwards to tell you about how it went.  :)
My team and I are being Super Teachers for Halloween this year, thanks to a great idea and freebie from Katie Smith and her tpt store  So we had a pow-wow to decide everything for our costumes and who was going to do what to get them ready.  They brought me shirts so yesterday I ironed-on everything and have it ready to go.  Our party is Friday so that will bring more craziness near the end of the week, but it will be fun.
Today I'm off to the pumpkin farm with my parents and my younger sister's family.  Should be a nice day!  Have a great Sunday!  :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fall Bulletin Boards

Things have been crazy lately (of course).  To show solidarity as a union we've been only working to contract hours.  I hate that.  I'm one of those people who gets to work 30 minutes before we need to be there and stays usually an hour past when we can leave (sometimes longer), so this has been killing me.  Without my extra time I've been feeling like a chicken with my head cut off because I'm rushing to get as much done as I can while I'm there.  Luckily our union has come up with something else so starting Wednesday we don't have to do that anymore and I'll have some sanity back (I hope).  lol  The lucky thing is that I have scrapbooking club after school tomorrow anyway so I can stay and get some stuff done while that's going on.  Woohoo!  :)  We had a meeting today after school so we could stay and work on some stuff too and that's when I switched out one of my bulletin boards and took pictures of them to share with you.  :)
As I've mentioned in past posts, one of my teammates and I share a wall.  We open the wall during Daily 5 time to do guided reading book clubs and the Daily 5 centers.  We always did centers before we learned the Daily 5, but what the sisters said in that book hit home with us.  It was just more work for us and we didn't know how meaningful it actually was for the kids.  So we got on board with Daily 5 and love it.  There was just one thing we could not part with though from our old centers and that was "Art of the Week."  For "Art of the Week"  we'd introduce an art project on Monday.  I would show both classes my example and teach them how to do it.  All of the art supplies were on the counter in my classroom and the "Art of the Week" was a Must Do on a center ticket we had.  We could not give up doing art with our kiddos because we love it so much.  So we put it in as one of the Work on Writing choices because we almost always have a writing component with our art project.  We also made it a choice (most of the time) so that way those who aren't big into art or good at it, didn't have to do it (there are some weeks the "art of the week" is the Mother's Day present, so they have to do it).  It's worked out very well that way for all of us.
So this first bulletin board is of our ice cream cones.  As a fun September art project and a way to introduce "Art of the Week" to the students we do this project in a celebration of the patent of the ice cream cone.  The funny thing is that one guy says he created it on September 22, 1903 and another guy says he did it on September 23, 1903.  So around that time we let the students create their own cones.  The rules are that they have to have a least 3 scoops, they can have as many more as they want, but at least 3.  Also, they have to be able to write about everything they put on their ice cream cone.  So if they want to make 20 scoops that's fine, but they have to write about all 20 scoops.  It's a cute project and the kids enjoy it.
As you can see, they vary in size.  lol  They add a fun bright display in our room though.  We also have to post by our bulletin boards what the students are learning or practicing by doing the activity.  So at the top you'll see my title and my learning standards.  The far left has the explanation of the ice cream patent.  (The green border seam down the middle is one of the areas where the wall opens up so I have to keep the bulletin boards separate but I use it as one.  This bulletin board came down this afternoon to make room for the fun Halloween project we had as "Art of the Week" last week.
So last week we kicked off our Daily 5 centers and rotation and did this art project that my teammate and I love.  We've been doing it the last few years because we just love it!  She brought it over from one of her previous schools she taught at and has always shared her tracers with my class and me.
So for these the student use a 12 x 18 sheet of yellow paper and black paper.  The tracers were made a long time ago from some large manilla folders they had, but this year we made more by using a file folder unfolded.  One of the tracers is solid and that's the one they use to trace on the yellow sheet of paper.  The other tracer has window holes in that they use to trace on the black paper.  Then they have to go back in and cut on 3 of the 4 sides of the windows so they can open and close.  Behind the openings are secret pictures.  I always show them to cut the windows by folding on one of the lines of the window and making a cut big enough for the scissors to fit in and go around.  We say it doesn't matter if it looks ragged because it's a haunted house!  Then they have to write about their haunted house or can write a story to go with the house.  These take the kids a long time (I still have some who aren't done with it!), but they are definitely worth it!  

You can see some of the creatures hidden behind the windows (I opened them for the picture).
This next bulletin board was another practice for "Art of the Week" before we started it for real.  
The good old fall tissue paper tree.  :)  So if you don't know this one, here's how it works.  The students get a brown 9 x 12 piece of paper and trace their arm and hand (fingers spread apart) to be the tree (trunk and branches).  They glue this on one side of a blue 12 x 18 sheet of paper (to act like the sky).  Then they take small tissue paper squares of different fall colors.  One square at a time, they wrap the tissue paper around the eraser on their pencil and swirl it around the top of a glue stick (careful not to dig into it).  They then hold it down where they want on their tree and carefully remove the pencil.  They could add as many or as little as they like.  A lot of them have a ladder, apple basket, and pile of leaves because that's what my example had and they wanted to copy (sincerest form of flattery right?  lol).  After they finished, they had to write about fall.  Always so funny to me that you have to tell them to add more details.  "Where's your grass, your tree is floating in the air."  I also love how skinny some of those trunks are.  lol  They turn out so cute and different.  

The last bulletin board is nothing snazzy.  It's our science bulletin board.  I made this printable a few years ago.  Now I wish I had changed the words on it so maybe someday I'll go back and re-do it.  I was going to give it away as a freebie, but I can't find it on either computer so maybe I got rid of it already.  We were learning about the 3 different forms of mater and the students had to draw something for each category to show what they knew about matter.  
This will be coming down soon too because now we're starting Living Things Grow and Change to go with our reading series (Unit 2 is Grow and Change).  The first chapter is Plants grow and change and our story for this week is The Tiny Seed.  
So there are my bulletin boards for now.  I'll take more pics when the next ones go up.  :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Go, Go, Go

I was feeling so good after this weekend.  After going, going, going it was nice to have a 4 day weekend and catch up on things at a nice pace.  I had a little time for fun, but also worked on school stuff a lot as well (I know you can relate).  At the end of the day yesterday, I felt wonderful because I had caught up on everything and was ready to go for today.  Then today happened and it was go, go, go all over again!!!!!!!  I got to school early (as I do every day) to see if the copy machine had gotten toner (Thursday morning it had run out) so I could copy my homework packets.  I also needed to grab stuff for our art of the week project.  Copy machine still out of toner, but got the paper I needed for art.  I was thinking if we don't get toner before the end of the day I'm going to have 1 happy class because they won't have any homework this week.  lol  Got back to class, put out morning work, straightened up all of the things that I had taken out of my wheelie cart that I had worked on at home and then it was time for our weekly staff meeting.  We're in break out groups right now, so I was with my group to learn about close reading.  Meeting ended when the bell rang.  Got back to class in time to get settled for the kiddos coming.  Going, Going, Going all morning and then recess time, it's my duty day so out I go again with them.  lol  Luckily no one had an "Eat Lunch with the Teacher" prize card to turn in today so I did have lunch to myself to catch up on my e-mail and breathe and get ready for math.  Then before you know it they're back and it's math.  Cleaning up math, getting ready to go to music when my principal comes in.  He says, "Want a present?"  I reply, "Depends on the present."  He says, "A child."  I said, "Well I do have the lowest number with 22."  He said, "I was confirming that.  I'll get you all of the info for your student and get you a desk."  Then drop the kiddos off at music and low and behold we have toner, so sorry kids you get homework.  lol  Copy my homework packets and then have to put them together (because I differentiate them).  I also had not finished going through the take-home book bags that were returned this morning.  Then before you know it, it's time to go get the kids. Go to pick them up and of course my one friend who has only had 1 good week in music (last week) in all of the times we've had music, had a bad day.  I don't know what happened.  My assistant to one of my Autistic students was walking him.  Sadly this is a multiple occurance.  He's usually great for me, but he has a hard time when he's not in a normal structure routine.  Specials are hard for him.  He also has had a sad home life, although he's in a good situation now, but because of that he craves for attention in not good ways.  He will do things to other students and then when they tattle on him, he acts the victim and mopes and does the opposite of what you say to him.  I have learned when he starts moping to ignore him.  When he doesn't get the attention he wants, he ALWAYS starts doing the right thing and then I give him positive reinforcement for the good behavior.  It works every time, but I wish we didn't have to go through it every day and sometimes multiple times a day.  So he's in a funk for whatever happened in music.  We get back to the room and are sitting on the carpet together starting our review of the matter chapter (except for my moping friend who is standing in front of people because he knows he's supposed to be sitting and wants me to say something to him, luckily I've been trying to get the rest of the kids not to feed into his need for attention and no one has said anything) and my screamer girl (although she's only had the one incident so far this year) starts screaming.  I look at her and ask what happened to come to find out she had put her jacket on (she's always cold because she  wears a t-shirt to school every day, apparently she's stubborn about what she wears) and was playing with the zipper, zipping it all the way up (1. it's a winter parka.  It's been chilly, but not that chilly  2.  it's not freezing in our classroom.  There are times it can get cold in our building, but not today so there was no need to zip it all the way up), she got her neck/chin area caught in her zipper.  Now obviously that would be very painful.  My assistant rushes right over to help her and the screamer yells at her to stay away from her and keeps crying and screaming.  I ask her how she wants us to help her if she doesn't want anyone to touch her.  She says that it will hurt if someone touches it.  I reply that it's hurting her right now.  I again ask her how she wants us to help her.  She yells back she doesn't know, so my assistant goes to help again.  My screamer won't move her hands away.  I tell her that she couldn't decide what to do so we're deciding for her and she needs to move her hands.  My assistant gets her hands away and quickly fixes the problem and takes the screamer to the bathroom to wash up.  By this time, I'm frazzled and snap at my moping student to sit down, which he quickly does.  lol (I can laugh about it now, not then.)  We then continue on with matter and into writer's workshop.  My assistant comes back and I ask where the screamer is, if she took her to the office.  She said no, she took her to the bathroom and then left to go help other kids in other classes.  So she goes to check to see if the screamer is still in the bathroom and she is, sitting on the floor.  I ask if she's throwing a fit and she said no she's just sitting there, did I want her to bring her back in.  I told her no, leave her, she should come in when she's calm and ready.  The end of the day comes, we're packing up, and she has not returned.  I go to the bathroom to find her sitting on the floor with her back to me.  I ask her if she is going to pack up since it's time to leave.  No answer.  I ask her if she plans on staying in the bathroom no answer.  So we get the social worker to come take care of her while I get the rest of my class out the door.  Now also it's Tuesday so I have scrapbooking club after school and have to get all of that ready.  As I'm getting kids out the door, setting up for scrapbooking club while those kids come in, the custodians come bringing in the desk for the new student I'm getting tomorrow.  The social worker then comes to grab all of my screamer's things and to borrow my wheelie chair because my screamer has shut down and won't move so the social worker had to pick her up to move her to the office where her mother has been called and needs to come pick her up (she was supposed to walk).  After I get scrapbooking up and running I start getting everything ready for the new student so it's ready to go for tomorrow.  I also send out an e-mail to my parents about Halloween because I've had some questions.  Before I know it's time to clean up scrapbooking and get those kids out the door (which I have 3 3rd graders and 1 6th grader and they take FOREVER to clean up each week).  They all get picked up and I have to head back to my room, pack all of the scrapbooking stuff back in my closet for next week and then get ready for tomorrow.  I write my daily message, change the daily schedule, get stuff ready for my final parent-teacher conference I have tomorrow, and get the 1 minute math timed test ready.  I don't leave school until after 5:30PM and I'm wiped out again!  All of that feeling great and energized from the 4-day weekend is gone and I feel like I'm treading water again.  Not to mention it's negotiation time again and although I couldn't go to the meeting because of scrapbooking I hear some of the things that are going on with it and that zaps more energy.
So tomorrow I have a conference before school, a new student starting (please let the child be an angel) (I plan on having my moping friend be the new student's buddy for the day to again give positive reinforcement), a full Daily 5 time with 2 classes getting used to the routine, and we're supposed to be starting math groups although one of my teammates JUST e-mailed to say that she forgot that she has library right smack in the middle of our math time so what did we want to do about that.  lol  Should be another interesting day.  Here's hoping the conference goes well, my new student is wonderful, the students do better at Daily 5 then they did today, we figure out what we're doing for math, and I can catch my breath with no drama from the moper and the screamer.  I'm optimistic.  :)  Days like today don't happen all of the time.  Another bright side?  The crazy day made me want to come on here and share it with you.  Therapeutic.  Have a great day yourself!!!!  :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

I "heart" Columbus Day! lol

I made it through conference week last week!  All of my conferences went really well.  No problems at all and I have really nice families.  I was just wiped out from all of the planning of them and everything else going on.  It just seemed like it was one thing after another when it came to school stuff that I was trying to catch up, with no success.  Then came the blessed 4-day weekend after conferences!  I got all of my papers graded Friday.  I got some more of my math games laminated and cut Saturday and Sunday I finished up another unit for TPT and TN.  Not to mention I caught up on all of my tv I was so completely behind on too and my sleep!!!  Today the plan is to update my class webpage and make another unit or 2 for TPT and TN (I hope I can do it!).  I even had time to come on here and update!  I love long weekends!!!
This week will be busy (of course) because my teammate who I share my wall with and myself, will be opening the wall for the first time to get our classes used to it.  We do Daily 5 and guided reading book clubs together so this week we will get them used to it.  We are on a review week in our LA series so we won't be meeting with book clubs.  We will start them next week.  We have used these past 6 weeks to introduce and practice Daily 5 and get that routine going.  Now this week the wall will be open they will start learning how the Daily 5 structure will work and we'll be available to help out where needed and see where there is a need for re-practicing before starting book clubs next week.  It should be fun.  We're also starting this week differentiated math groups.  The same teammate and I along with 1 of our other teammates, got together to plan out how to split our classes up to better meet the needs of our students in math.  We're new to this so it's not perfect.  Any suggestions you have are always appreciated.  We're going to teach the whole group lesson to our class first for the first 20 minutes of math and then for the remaining 40 minutes, the students were divided up into approaching, on-level, and beyond groups and they will go to one of us to get instruction and games tailored to where they're at.  I got the on-level group, which is the biggest at 28 kiddos.  We wanted to keep the approaching group little so they could really get the assistance they needed.  That meant that the other 2 groups were bigger (the beyond has 24 kiddos).  My plan as of right now is to make groups out of the 28 and meet with some of them during our time together while the rest play games to practice the skills we're working on.  For this unit it's simple because it's fact power.  I have tons of games for that.  So I'm excited to see how this works.  Telling you about this made me remember some other things I have to add to my to-do list today to get ready for the week.  I'm just so glad that I have the time to think about and work on it!!
So to share my happiness and wish you a Happy Columbus Day I'm linking up with Manic Monday by Classroom Freebies (which I haven't been able to do in a while).
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
This week's freebie is one that I made as part of the review unit I posted Sunday.  If you click on the picture below it will take you to my TPT store where you can click the download preview button and get my Long Vowel Go Fish game for free!  Have a Marvelous Monday!!  :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

October Monday Made-it!

     It may be late in the day, but it's still Monday and I'm doing my best to post while feeling so tired!!!  I was so excited to be able to link up again, but things have been non-stop busy that I'm just wiped out!
So here is my link up for:
     So I only have a few things to share because I keep forgetting to take a picture of one of my made-its!!! The one sans-picture is my burlap sign that I made in the shape of a banana to go with my "We're Bananas for 2nd Grade" theme I have going on with monkeys and the rainforest.  I was happy with how it turned out, but I keep forgetting to take a pic!  I'll try and remember to do it sometime this week, but it's going to be hard with conferences and meetings going on!  
     So the first thing I'm going to show a picture of are my "plumes" I made for my kids to use during writer's workshop.  I talked about them in one of my previous posts.  It's amazing that giving them a pen like that to use makes them so excited to write!  lol  All I did was get some ballpoint pens from the dollar store so we wouldn't have to worry about lids.  Then I jazzed them up with feathers from Michaels and some old floral tape I had, which I used to attach the feathers.  They turned out cute and the kids went crazy for them!  Here they are in action.  
I had a great pic of just the pens, but I took the picture with the camera on my old phone and I haven't had time to upload it onto the computer.  
     My next made-it is a dessert I made for my sister's birthday.  She loves brownies so I made just a box of brownies, added peanut butter and chocolate chips and baked it.  For the frosting I used a cup of peanut butter and a container of frosting to frost the top with (yummy, got the idea from pinterest of course) and then to make her name I added raspberry preserves to the frosting and piped her name (that was REALLY delicious.  I could frost a whole cake with that goodness).  It was just a simple fun thing to help celebrate her birthday and delicious.  
     My last made-it is my fall wreath that I'm super proud of!  I had seen all of these cute tulle wreaths on pinterest that I would pin and I thought ooh, it'd be fun to make some for the seasons.  So I went to Hobby Lobby and got spools of tulle (Score! because they were 50% off), ribbon (also 50% off), and the 14 in. wreath (40% off with my coupon).  Then on Friday during my monthly scrapbooking night out at Archivers, I made the wreath instead.  I didn't know when else I'd have time and I knew I was decorating the house this past weekend.  I used 24 in. pieces of tulle (18 in. was too short), folded it in half, went around the wreath and slipped the ends through the loop the fold made to pull it tight.  I already had the glittered foam leaf stickers, but they were from Archivers.  Then I used my silhouette sd to cut out my words, laminated them, and hot glued them on.  Very happy with the results.  Wasn't sure as I was making it.  Took way longer than I thought it would too, 4 hrs!  I was going to hang it on the inside of my door at home, but other people said I should bring it to school and hang it up so more people can enjoy it, so that's probably what I'll do.  
     Don't know when I'll be back on to check out what everyone else made as I have 20 more conferences to get ready for (2 done).  I'll be happy for my 4-day weekend coming up when I can hopefully catch up on a ton of things!  :)