Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Keep Calm and Carry On!

So today was the first day in about 3 weeks in which no one, not a single soul cried today. Whew! I was waiting for this day, I needed it. Then, I went to pick up my students from Phys Ed......and yet again, we had another poor showing during a Related Arts/Special class. I work with some extremely talented, well-seasoned professionals so this is always a bit tough to swallow. Week after week, we have Morning Meetings and review all of the expectations in various zones in our school. But, we just can't seem to keep it together.

Half of the drama this year is all about BFFs. You heard me, FIRST grade! You know, children have playdates with others after school. Then, those who aren't invited are offended when at this point in time, the parents are doing most of the inviting! Ah!!!!

Anyways, back to the main story here. One of my related arts teachers seriously asked me today "How do you do this ALL day? How do you get up and come here every day?!?!?!" My response,  a giggle. Because, I just.don't.know.either. I mean, some years are better than others I've learned. But, the past couple years, I've gone down a slippery slope.

So pick me ups! Well, I just pour myself into my content and keep measuring progress. So I suppose I should have titled this KEEP CALM and GATHER DATA haha. I just keep focusing on the end goal(s) in mind and pretend that this is normal because hey, if it's normal it's not bad at all, right????

Any more veteran teachers I'd be curious to know your experiences...have you gone through a drought so to speak for a few years? Is this a normal cyclical pattern??? I'll leave you all with this tidbit I grabbed from a district newsletter, because being happy is so much easier than being agitated!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

100 Reasons Why We LOVE Our Troops!

So Nina over at Lovely Little Learners inspired me the other day. In her post titled "100th day activity that flows great into Valentine's Day",  I got to thinking and my creative juices started flowing. Our 100th day of school is scheduled for Feb 6th, so we're not there yet, but I just really wanted to do this activity. :) And then, I got to thinking about a friend of mine name Jon who was recently deployed to Afghanistan as a helicopter pilot (9 month deployment). My class and I skyped him this past Thursday...Well, our skype probably went better than I imagined it and my littles LOVED it! Since we had written to Jon for Christmas, I decided it was time for a Valentine's mailing....then WHAM, this thought combined with Nina's 100th day activity.

So, here's what I did! I had my students write on die-cut hearts "100 Reasons Why We LOVE Our Troops!" Well actually they started out writing on each heart using one of the sentence frames below.
We <3 you because_________________.
You ___________________________.

I'm hoping Jon falls in love with this when he sees it and that he can hang it in his barren room (sorry Jon, your room looked a little sad on skype), or his office, or in the chow hall....wherever!  Check out the pics below! If anyone else is interested in writing the troops or sending any decorative decor, email me or comment below. :)

Okay, pardon the torn-up tissue in the pic. That'd be Kreacher on the move while I was in the middle of playing photographer. Silly, little Jug!

So thank you, thank you, THANK YOU Nina for providing me with much need inspiration. It's def. been one of those exhausting weeks/months and this was a much needed break from our mid-year assessments. Thanks again friend!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Executive Decisions & Blender BINGO Freebie

Just spent the whole morning watching the Presidential Inauguration! Yes, we had off today and I'm so glad we did because, I don't think I've ever been able to watch the entire inauguration. :) With that said, I'm making some executive decisions of my own this week. Instead of trying to squeeze another week of Treasures into a 4 day week (Treasures is a 5 day/weekly Language Arts program by Macmillan-McGraw Hill...), I'm canceling Treasures and initiating a review week.  Less is more, right??? 

I'm making the EXECUTIVE decision (word of the day, HA) to close the Treasures and use this as a review/MLK/inauguration celebration week! This will give me more time to delve deeper into the story of Rosa Parks & Ruby Bridges!!! We may even have time to watch the Ruby Bridges movie. SWEET!

When I was in school, review days were soooooo boring. I just remember packet after packet after worksheet after worksheet. So, in my class I try to make review days our best days. :) Here are some activities/games that I plan on playing this week to review blends, word families, and sight words.

  • Around the World with Word Wall Words: Students sit on to top of their desks. I hold up a word wall word card, they have to read it correctly to stay in the game. Incorrect responses result in the student having to sit down in his/her chair. They LOVE sitting on the desks and this game takes very little prep time. You can do this with math facts, etc. Only negative, it really puts your shyer students on the spot. I try to give them nonverbal cues before their turn so they can prepare mentally, but this can be anxiety-provoking. 
  • Word Wall Dice Roll: This one's a center, but good for word wall review. Students roll a dice and then have to find a word on the wall that has the same number of corresponding letters and write it down. So, if you roll a 2, you have to find and write a word with 2 letters. I LOVE that this game requires students to use and visit the word wall. As the year goes on, I require student to write a sentence using the word.
  • Hunt the room! I have students hunt for items/objects with certain sounds. This is how I'll review some of the short vowel word families. They may have to find 2 objects in the -ake family, 3 in the -at, etc. I actually hunt around my room when I create this activity and I always require far less objects that there really are in the room. For example, for the -ack family students might find, write, and draw a picture of a tack (thumbtack). 
  • BLENDER BINGO. This is a newbie! Inspired by this image from Pinterest below, I've created a Blender BINGO game/freebie for you! 
Blender Blends
Serious Pinspiration here!

Click on the image for your freebie! Enjoy!

Oh P.S. As we play BINGO, I have students use BINGO chips, markers, or simple counters (snap cubes, pennies, etc.) to mark the blends that are called on their blenders. To win the game, a student has to cover all 6 of the blends on their blender and shout out "BLENDER BINGO!" I think I'll give tickets to the winners. In our classroom, students use earned tickets to purchase various items like lunch with teacher, sticker, classroom job, etc. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Too close for comfort

Whew! Today, I have to tell you friends, was quite a day! Right after calendar this morning, I had just started my oral vocab lesson and read aloud when an eerie announcement hit the PA system: "Teachers: please check your email." Um, okay, normally we only get these when sayyyy a blizzard hits and we're dismissing early or You know, nearby housefires, etc.  The email is short, succinct, calm,  and collected but it says that a nearby adjoined elementary and middle school in our district have been locked down. Can't tell you how quickly I locked down my own room and returned to my read aloud. This was soooo me at 9:15am: "Back to the story! By the way, no bathroom, no nurse, we're in until I say we can go out. No exceptions, please.don't.ask." LARGE TOOTHY SMILE, because that's easier than saying "Everything's okay, but I wish I knew what was going on!"

The next hour was filled with the sound of my email blinging and cell phone ringing, thanks to our alert now system. I'm happy to report (although every major Philadelphia new channel has done this for me already now), that everyone is just fine. Turns out, there was a stabbing incident in one of our middle schools (2 students involved). The victim is okay and recovering in a local hospital. Both the middle and adjoining elementary schools locked down as a safety measure and dismissed early. I cannot commend my administration, colleagues, and local authorities enough for handling the situation with such a professional, calm, swift manner. It's definitely good to know that the people around me know what they're doing. :)

The scariest part of my day was the few moments of not knowing the reason for the lockdown. But, I was never really scared in the moment. I guess that whole act first, stew/think later describes me accurately today. I'm most proud that I was able to continue on in a normal manner and manage to stay away from the massive amount of hallway gossiping and literally whispering down the lane that typically would unnerve me. 

I seriously hope and pray that this is as close as I will ever get to any situation of this sort and I'm sure millions of other teachers feel the same way. I'm now going to one of my fav places BARNES & NOBLES (even though I'm a kindle user ha)! I've totally earned a new book after getting through today. 

Thanks for listening, or reading really!