Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Starting Up Again

So....I signed on to teach summer school. I went back and forth for a while, and then I figured since I wasn't doing anything else, and we aren't leaving for Brazil until July, that I could make a few extra bucks. Plus, the ladies at the interview sold me on it, so here I am! I am doing a Migrant/ELL summer school, and I only have 10 students! Needless to say, I am excited, and don't know what I will do with less than 25 students!

Any tips for a great summer school experience?

Tomorrow will be our getting the feet day, with getting to know you's, and routines, and all that. I really hope that I can get them excited enough to get through these next four weeks! I am teaching 4th grade, which will be fun and new for me (I'm going to have to relearn how to do long division, eeeek!)

Keep on posting those fabulous ideas, I know that I will be needing them!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

And That's It!

That's right, school is out! It was a whirlwind half week full of parties, LOTS of RAIN (boo!), crying (not me! my girly girls!), and trying to get everything done.

Now, I get to enjoy my four day weekend before SUMMER SCHOOL starts! So I'll def be reading all the blogs to keep my creative juices flowing through June!


Sunday, May 22, 2011

End of the Year Video

I always do an end of the year celebration for my students and their parents. We do class awards, and then I make a video of our pictures from the year. This is my favorite part, and the kids love seeing themselves on the big screen :) The parents get to see what we do all day, and its a great way to wrap up the year!

(I also noticed that most of the pictures I took were from the second half of the year...I can tell I was just trying to survive the first half! Okay, well I was trying to survive most of the second half too, let's be real!)

It's really long, so I don't expect any of you to watch the whole thing, but I am practicing getting my file sizes down enough so that Blogger can load them...I think I am getting the hang of it!


To read about yesterday's tornado scare, head to my personal blog here!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cool Compliments

As an end of the year activity, I wanted to take an idea I saw on another blog, and combine it with something our teachers had to do at an inservice two years ago. I gave each kid a paper plate, and they had to place it on their backs using masking tape. Then they walked around, giving each other compliments, and having other kids sign their plates. It was ADORABLE! On their own, they ended up creating "trains" and they tried really hard to have everyone sign their plate. They kept asking me if I had one...I guess I should have but I was busy supervising and I tried to sign all of their plates. Super cute activity and they worked hard for 20 minutes!

Author's Purpose

Here are some more pictures from our study of author's purpose. For this lesson, we focused on the "P"--the persuade part. We talked about different ways that one could be persuaded, like through newspaper ads, commercials, movie trailers, and blurbs on the backs of books. Then, we talked about how it might be more difficult to think of reasons NOT to buy or do something.

We then segued into an activity I got from an inservice. We created a simple open flap folder that has a yes side and a no side. The kids then listed a question at the bottom that began with "Should..." I gave them the example of "Should 3rd graders be allowed to do the tug of war contest at our school?" (They had field day the day before and it was fresh on their minds). They could either use that question, or one they came up with on their own. Some original ideas were, "Should kids go swimming?" or even "Should a Siberian tiger be a pet in a classroom?" Then on one side, they listed at least three reasons for "yes" and on the other, three reasons for "no" Anyway, they did a great job...taking the group picture was almost the hardest part :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011



And two days of personal leave comin right up!

I love this time of year. I always enjoy the hugs, the weird behavior, the dandelion chain necklaces just a teeeeensy bit more when I know the end is near :)

Monday, May 9, 2011


Today our heat index was 99 degrees. That is pretty darn hot for May.

One of the students said to me as we came in for recess,

"Mrs. Thomason, I'm sweating in my PANTS!"

Author's Purpose

Our 4th grade teachers asked us to spend a little time on Author's Purpose, so right before Junior Achievement, I a squeezed in an introductory mini-lesson. I took today to concentrate on the "inform" part of the PIE. Now, this is JUST an introduction, so it was nothing fancy.

I started out having them write down ideas on their slates for why authors write. I got responses like, "to earn money," "to get their feelings out," "to entertain people," "to write about things that are funny," "to teach people," and "to give information." Then they mix-pair-shared with partners and we shared whole group.

Then really quickly, we went over the PIE. P=persuade, I=inform, and E=entertain. For guided reading, I had asked the kids to make a list of facts about themselves. Before getting these out, we talked about what facts are, and how they give information. I showed them three books, and asked a couple of students to pick out the one they thought gave information (of course, the first kid I picked picked wrong, but oh well! The next two figured out it was the National Geographic book). Then I grabbed their papers, and read off some of their facts about themselves, and let the students guess who it was in the classroom. We talked about facts that gave us information like dates and places, and other facts that told us what students liked or didn't like. They thought it was really fun to guess who the facts belonged to :)

Tomorrow, their guided reading assignment will be to give me 5 different, PERSUASIVE reasons why they should be allowed to go to Field Day :) We'll see how that goes!

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Prefixes and Suffixes are a big indicator on our state assessments, and we teach the kids from the beginning of the year what they mean. I've done memory matching games, flashcards, practice on slates, turkeys with the meanings on the feathers :)---all to get them to memorize their affixes.

Here is a PDF I created that I've printed off to turn into a file folder game. I haven't decided yet if I will combine them into one folder, or separate them into two. I like the challenge of having to choose between both sets of meanings. We'll see!

(Excuse the non-uniformity of the second page...I got into a rush, but it'll do the job!)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Says a student to me: Mrs. T, I've got another nosebleed.
Says another to her, joking: Then quit pickin yer nose!

They both giggled and she headed to the tissues.

(and gross, right? I don't mind my own nosebleeds, but other people's blood? eek!)

Around the US

I love seeing where all of my visitors come from! It's a diversity I don't quite see on my personal blog. It's fun because I've lived in several states and I always get excited when I see a visitor from a place I've lived.

Just to know me a bit better, here is where I've lived:

--Salisbury, Maryland
--Delmar, Delaware
--Provo, UT
--Boise, ID
--Rexburg, ID
--Sacramento, CA (worked in Davis)
--Tulsa, OK
--Columbus, OH
--and now Topeka, KS!

I'm grateful to have experience so many places...If I could choose one, it would probably be Boise :) It was the perfect blend of family friendly, big city but not too big, great food, TONS to do outdoors, beautiful scenery, lower cost of living. We would love to go back someday if we can (well, I would, my husband would be happy in Timbuktu! or China! or Brazil! etc etc etc)


I have been reflecting a lot on my students in the last couple of weeks. I have a student whose parents are fighting really badly and have been all year. She has been a mess the last couple of weeks. I feel so sorry for her. I have another student whose single mother JUST moved them to another city and wants to pull him for the last 14 days. She is keeping the kids updated on her every mood swing, and it is taking its toll on this student's behavior. He never knows if TODAY is the last day. And yet another student has a father who just ended up booked into jail and on the front page of the paper. Meanwhile, her mother and father, who are divorced, are in a war of words with the kids in the middle about what REALLY happened.

It's no wonder there is crying, frustration, anger exhibited in my classroom on a daily basis. I have no idea what it is like to grow up in my student's shoes. I grew up in a small town, with some diversity, and I had a fortunate upbringing. My parents are still together, and I always had food to eat.

My school is 83% free or reduced lunch, which is quite a lot. There are slightly more African-American students than white, with Hispanic students in a smaller, but not insignificant piece of the pie. We have not made AYP for several years, and I think we will squeak by this year.

My job is HARD. There are days I come home wondering if I am up to it. I really have to remember each and every day that my students are not taught how to behave at home. They are lucky if they are given consequences for bad behavior. They are taught one thing at home, and have to learn a whole 'nother set of rules at school. Compartmentalizing can be really hard for adults, let alone kids! Sometimes I feel like I spend ALL day reteaching behavior instead of teaching.

I'm proud of my students though. They have shown growth in the face of often hostile adversity. There are several students in my class that come from comfortable homes that have been rocks of maturity and kindess, and my whole class has benefitted. I had a student who would throw fits and fall asleep every day in the afternoon who had grown about 5 F&P reading levels this year. I have students who passed their state assessment that I never dreamed would do it at the beginning of the year.

Sure, my job is hard (what teacher's isnt?) But I love this time of year because I can now see how far they come and even feel a teeeensy bit sad about them moving on :)

And there's only 15.5 days left, but who's counting??

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I sat next to a kid who farted in library today. I know I SOUND like a kid myself, but I turned and looked at him, and kinda smiled, and he grins back and goes, "Sorry!"

I acted like a kid then and giggled and then waved my hand in front of my face and said, "PHEW! Smelly!" The kid next to him (a friend of his) grinned back.

So it was gross, but funny, and we laughed it off together!

(PS. It really did stink REALLY BAD! 3rd grade BOYS!)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tangram Lesson

I saw a teacher in bloggy land somewhere do a lesson on tangrams that I wanted to try with my group. I had a whole manila folder filled with 30 sets that I had no idea what to do with! So I thought this would be a fun lesson for after state testing.

Oh, boy, this entertained them for FORTY MINUTES! It was one of those times where I thought, we'll just see where this goes, but I was so shocked by how long and how diligently they worked to make the shapes.

We read Grandfather Tang. I displayed the book on my Elmo and showed them the shapes when we reached that point. They did a nice job of predicting which animals was coming up next, and of making them.

I was excited by their enthusiasm. Some kids were really confident, even some of my lowest math learners. Other students who excel in math and reading struggled with manipulating the shapes. Other kids loved to go around and help kids get things turned around.

They really did a great job, and I would TOTALLY do this again with another book!

At the end, I challenged them to try to make the square. One student got it quickly! Because of time, I showed them the "key" and they groaned because they wanted to figure it out on their own...it was cute!

May 2nd, 2011

I told my kids they were living part of history today when I asked them about 9/11 and what the news had been about this morning. I was able to talk about how America had been searching for this terrorist their entire lives, since most of them are 9 years old.

Then I heard this gem (posted from my facebook):

When I asked my students what they knew about the news this morning, one of my kids raised his hand, and said, "ooo, ooo, I know his name!" Then he put his hand down and thought a moment, and said, "I forget the rest, but I know it has BIN in it!" Heehee :)