Saturday, April 30, 2016

Four Legged Chickens, and Other Evidence...

I'm an early bird by nature.  I need the time in the morning, letting my mind wander and plan the day for my students.  I tidy up, rearrange, stack things, drink my coffee, file, know, the usual things.  Sometimes, in the quietness, I notice the tiny treasures that get lost in the shuffle once my students come in.  These little things are evidence that I know I'm where I should be in my career choice.

This little gem was a picture that my student was drawing on Tuesday, after his testing was finished.  I didn't even knew he drew it until the next day, in the stillness of the morning.  I audibly laughed out loud, wishing someone were with me to crack up at the four-legged chicken.  Evidence....

Even though the owl craze is over, I can't switch to a new classroom theme because these little pictures keep showing up on my desk.  It's the sweetest thing ever.  This one hangs over my desk, just waiting patiently for me stop the business of my work to remember the little girl who drew it for me--I remember that she was SO excited to give it to me.  Drawings are sometimes the only thing a child can give you that's truly from them.  More evidence....

Every year, I try to be all tough, telling the kids that I do not accept coins for book orders.  "Checks or dollar bills only," I say.  Then, the baggie of change comes in, and I get all mushy inside.  I love that the kids love book orders, and pay with whatever they can scrounge up.  My change jar at home is full, and I continue writing the checks out to Scholastic.  Drives me crazy, but I love it.  Evidence.

I call these "book stacks."  They tip over...they cause squabbles...technically, I see book stacks as an early warning sign for hoarding.  When I stop to think about it, they are just signs that kids are excited to read, and have a bunch of books on deck, waiting to be read.  It warms my heart, because at the beginning of any school year, it's hard enough to get them to put a book in their hands.  Evidence.


The love notes show up when you least expect them. This one showed up in the stack of papers I was grading.  I was all pent up over the number of papers with no names on them, then this little heart made it's way up the stack.  Evidence.

There's more evidence waiting to be discovered.  Take some quiet time in your classroom and you'll find it, or it will find you.  Whenever I'm stressed, stretched too thin, under appreciated, misunderstood, I will have these pictures to remind me of what really matters.

Enjoy your weekend,

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

February Currently

Happy February, everyone!  Are you happy that the Groundhog saw his shadow?  I'm not.  I love winter and rain!  I have to qualify my love of winter with the fact that I live in Southern California, where we say "winter" with quotation marks.  Not exactly the blizzard scenario that our friends across the nation face.  For us in our horrible drought, I say keep El Nino in motion!  Anywho, it's time for the best link up in town, Farley's monthly Currently Link Up.  Check her NEW, fancy blog design here:  FARLEY ROCKS!  Try not to crack up at her blog--always sounds like she's talking directly to it!

Listening:  To Jack TRYING to squirm his way out of stealing something while he was in Hawaii.  This guy is in major denial, and I can't believe his new girlfriend is tolerating him.  Lying is something I don't do well with.  Vanderpump Rules is one of my favorite shows--just can't get enough. (My husband shakes his head at me when I watch it, so I have to DVR it and watch it when he leaves the house.)

Loving:  My son's teacher's Valentine's Day gift.  I LOVE me some chevron note cards!!  Take a peek!  I found these at Target.  Of course, a lil Starbucks card is thrown in too--it's a MUST for teachers, no?

Thinking: Always always always, thinking of my class of 3rd graders. I've been mending my broken leg since Sept. 27th!! It's been WAY too long seeing them.  They've actually known my sub longer than me, which is super weird.   I hope they remember me when I get back.

Wanting:  Speaking of my broken leg, I'm actually up and walking on it now--hurrah!!  I was 100% dependent on my crutches for two weeks, and now I'm hobbling in my walking boot.  It's not a pretty sight; my gait is needing lots of improvement.  When I try to take the boot off, my leg is like a spaghetti noodle, which is scary.  I can't walk on it at all, so it looks like I need physical therapy, STAT!

Needing:  Cases of Girl Scout cookies are towering over us!  I'm the Cookie Mom for my daughter's Girl Scout troop, which is fun.  But man oh man, the temptation to eat them is out.of.control.   I need the cookies out--now!

Swooning:  I know this sounds corny, but I'm really so attracted to my husband.  He's getting more and more handsome as he ages.  Plus, he's taken such good care of me over the last few months.  He's the peanut butter to my jelly!

Welp, that wraps up another Currently.  Hope your days are full of fun and love!

Friday, January 1, 2016

January Currently

Happiest of New Years to all of you!  It's time for Farley's monthly Currently hook up, which I'm ever so grateful for...perfect for reflecting on your months, all year long!  

Listening:  My son is DOMINATING his new XBOX game, Star Wars Battlefront.  Maybe it had to do with seeing the movie a few times during break.   {My husband and son are Star Wars junkies!}

Loving:  The new year feels like such a clean slate, which feels good.  2015 had some major set-backs for me, mainly that I broke my leg.  So, I'm looking forward to re-writing a better new year.  My next x-ray is on Jan. 19th, so I'm praying for my tibia to be completely healed, and ready for walking.   

Thinking:  Our best friends wound up getting that horrible stomach flu on New Years Eve, so we had to cancel our poker night.  Instead of sitting home, we decided to go see the new movie, Joy.  Wowzers--what a powerful movie!  I am always moved by stories that demonstrate human strength and resilience,  over-coming obstacles.  Go see it!

Wanting:  To get back to school.  4 months is long enough!!  The bummer is that it's almost testing time--ugh!  I will have to really hustle to get them ready.

Needing:  A one story house it what we need.  I'm having flash backs every day of my accident--and every time my kids come down the stairs, I cringe.  I think I have PTSD--not kidding!

One Little Word:  WALK.  That's it, friends.  I will never never never never never take my legs or body for granted again.   I have unbelievable compassion for people who are confined to wheelchairs for their entire lives; I just can't tell you how humbling it is to be wheeled around, depending on help 24/7.  I'm sending my good vibes to Farley, praying she continues to feel better into the new year.

That's all folks!  May your 2016 be the BEST ever!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

December Currently

I'm baaack! Took a little break from blogging, getting caught up in my latest saga--broken bone #2. Yep, I'm back-to-back on year #2 of a broken appendage. Ugh!  But, I'm here again, inspired by one on my favorite bloggers, Farley.  I'm linking up with her monthly Currently from Oh Boy, 4th Grade!

Listening:   I'm a total Real Housewives of ANYWHERE junkie.  My husband is a little concerned with  my addiction, thinking I envy the ladies on these shows.  But NO!  No envy here--just an escape from my day to day bump and grind, sitting here in my same ol chair until I can heal this leg of mine. Who's your favorite housewife from Beverly Hills?  Right now, I'm really relating to poor Yolanda.  She's struggling with Lupus and is housebound, so I relate to that in a big way. I also love her Dutch heritage and unpretentious style.  Here are my other favorites from the other locations:  New York:  Dorinda (such understated style),  New Jersey: Caroline (wise and sane), Atlanta:  Nene (she cracks me up!!), Orange County:  Shannon (but I want her to bail from that husband!)

Loving:   My husband and kids got me a treat...Philosophy hand cream.  It feels like such a treat to put on my tired hands. My hands are swollen and calloused from walking on crutches for 2 months, so it really was such a nice surprise.  Amazing Grace is the prettiest scent.

Thinking:  Always wondering how my class is doing while I'm off.  I miss them!

Wanting:  I am SO desperate to walk again.  It's absolutely maddening to be non-weight bearing for months.  If you've broken a leg/foot bone, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  It's funny, but when my family takes me out in my wheelchair, I get stopped constantly by well-wishers who have lived what I'm living.  They all want to share their stories of when they were in my situation.  It's a camaraderie type of thing.  I think I'll be like that once I'm healed.  I'll want to tell anyone with a broken leg that they will survive and be ok.

Needing:  A vanilla banana smoothie delivery.  My dad is bringing me one today--yay!

Real or Faux:  Real this year!  We are supporting our old Cub Scout Pack by getting a real tree from their fundraiser.  Should be pretty and smell good!  

Happiest of Holidays to all of you!  

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Out of This World Research

Informative/Explanatory writing is a often a overwhelming writing genre to tackle with 3rd graders.  I decided to create a product that I could use to help my students break this task into manageable parts.  Integrating Science seemed like a natural fit, so I geared this writing kit for researching our Solar System.  Here's a look, as well as a link:  Solar System Writing Kit

The contents of the product have the following pages, shown below.  Each student will receive a cover, and one page for each of the planets and the sun.  After researching all of the planets and sun, they will plan their report using the graphic organizer page, and then turn their planning into an actual report.  Two styles of templates for the report are provided, both in color or black & white to suit your printing needs. 

Each student is given his/her own Research booklet.  We take the booklets into our computer lab and hop on an online encyclopedia called World Book Encyclopedia.  Most districts provide a resource for research for their students and teachers to access.  Here's a picture of some of my students looking up facts and information online.  It takes an hour to get through 3 pages of research.  So, the initial research will take at least 3 days of computer lab time.  They are also given time to add information found from library books and their science text books.

Along with the research and report writing, I have my students make a three dimensional project to go along with it.  This is the culminating project that is completed at home.  Here are some cute ones they came up with!  This is absolutely one of the kids' favorite memories from 3rd grade. 

I encourage you to give this a try!  The kids will amaze you with their capabilities.  They feel so "grown up" using the online encyclopedia, actually begging me to work on it!  When they are given choice and time to write information they choose for a report, the quality and uniqueness of their writing is out of this world!  

Go for it!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Round Two...

So here I am again, sitting at home with a broken leg.  It's a major deja vu from last October, when I broke my foot.  This minion meme pretty much explains what I did to myself this time.  No kung fu spider kicks, but a big tumble down my stairs.  I cannot express the amount of pain I felt as I fell down.  I tried to get up, but fainted from the pain.  My daughter, my hero, was the only one home, and helped me call 911.  After an ambulance ride to the ER and a few X-rays, I heard the bad news.  I would be out of school for another 3 walking, no driving, no nothing.  Here I go again.

I'm not one to question God, but I did wonder a wee bit...the classic "why me...AGAIN?"  How could lightning strike again? Hadn't I already learned the lessons of slowing down, appreciating the little things in life last year?  God, what did I not learn last year, that I'm supposed to learn again this time?  Facebook gave me the answer to that question, loud and clear.

Facebook is my link to the outside world.  It can really play mind games with someone who's stuck at home.  I definitely see that the world has not stopped for me.  Life is going on without me--which I learned last year, thank you.  I hadn't expect the world to stop for me, and was super emotional when a friend would pop by, a meal was delivered, a card or call came home.   I've always been super sentimental, where little thoughtful gestures go a LONG way in my book.  Seeing everyone having embracing life is fun to see, but brings the painful realization that I'm stuck at home, not having fun at all.  Anyway, in the midst of my love/hate relationship with Facebook, I saw that I wasn't the only one getting a double dose of misery.  

My old high school best friend had a tragedy with her husband a few years ago.  He had an unexpected aneurysm that they are still battling with.  He survived, but life will never be the same for them. Last week, her son broke his neck while surfing.  When I saw this, my heart froze.  It's happening to her again.  

An old friend who used to be a speech teacher at my school was diagnosed with breast cancer about 4 years ago. She's moved back to the south, where she was originally from, but we've stayed in touch through Facebook. Luckily, she fought and survived her breast cancer.  I've spent many Octobers cheering for her from a distance, as she relived her victory over cancer during cancer awareness month.  Well, recently, she just announced that the cancer is back.  Again.  

I am not the only one experiencing pain or suffering twice.  It's happening all the time, to lots of people.  I am not alone in this.  I guess the lessons are still there for me to learn, for us to learn.  My friend Amy told me that she doesn't ask God why.  She just knows that she will emerge, as she did last time, a new person, with new strengths, with new sympathy for others, with the eyes of someone who knows how to be resilient and faithful.  I will try to look at my plight with her eyes and not ask why.  

In closing, I will end this post with gratitude.   For my dear friend (not naming names), who calls me every day, thank you for keeping me in the loop and laughing.  For my church family, who brings us meals and calls to check on me, thank you.  For my neighbors who feed us and check on us, thank you.  For my Girl Scout friends, thank you for the meals and encouragement.  For my husband's co-workers, who are so kind, thank you.  For my dad, who comes to sit with me every week and brings me apple fritters, thank you.  For my mom, who is with me every single day, helping the kids, cooking and tidy for us, thank you.  For my husband, I can't even put into words the amount of love I have for you.   Through thick and thin--proven over and over again.  My kids--my constant source of happiness--thank you both!  Feeling beyond blessed by the outpouring of love and support.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You...

The first week of school is under my belt.  Well, it was only 3 days, all of which were minimum days, but hey, let's just call it a week, ok?  And let me tell you, this meme is SPOT on!!  I was actually looking like the middle picture by Friday; temperatures were soaring into the 100's, and I was a hot mess!

So, once I got me ever growing class list somewhat settled in by Day 2, I jumped right in with some initial assessments.  The beauty of this first one, Math About Me, is that the kids have NO idea that I'm already getting to know their number sense with this activity.  The students simply write their age on the line, then show me all the ways to make that number.  Luckily, the 2nd grade team is already giving the kids lots of open-ended experiences, so they didn't seem too overwhelmed by this assignment.  Here are some images of the kids in action!

This student only had a few ideas written down when he tried to turn it in, so I had him try a little longer.  He came up with some great ideas!  He has internalized the Commutative Property of Addition--woot!  I see a few answers that equal seven, so I'll sit down with him to have him take a second look.  I'm also loving the repeated addition, and picture of the individual units.

This student has an IEP, so he was given manipulatives to work with.  He was able to find several equations by the time he was finished, mostly involving addition.

This student had the right idea, and even dipped into multiplication, which was exciting to see.  Again, an understanding of the Commutative Property of Addition is noted, as well as some errors that I will work with him on.  The string of repeated addition at the top came with a little help.  He wanted to know how many 1's it would take make the equation correct.  Since it was a "covert assessment," I didn't want to help too much, but got him on the right path.  Then, he came up with the bottom equation with the 2's on his own, which was exciting to witness!
Math About Me can be done on ANY piece of paper, quick and easy!  If you'd like a link to the product you see above, click here: All About Me & Math About Me

There is a cute template for a self portrait and writing, as well as the Math About Me template you saw in the pictures above--both GREAT for the beginning of school!

I also give a traditional Math Inventory Test, which gives me a clear picture of what 2nd Grade CCSS Math Standards they have maintained over summer.  Here's a link to that product as well (sorry, no action shots since it's a bit more "standardized.")  3rd Grade Math Inventory Test

What ways do you get to know your students?