Friday, April 29, 2011

End of the Year Crunch

It's that time of year. I'm too tired to blog (okay, I haven't been doing this blog that long anyway!) I do have pictures and projects and such but my weekends are precious :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lead 21

Does anyone else out there work in a district that uses Lead 21? Our district has just adopted it for language arts and I know nothing about it. This year, we went to a guided reading model, and next year we will add in Lead 21. There are always big changes every year it seems!

Oh Tuesday

Today was a frustrating day. I had two little boys start a shoving match because the one thought the other had purposely stolen his spelling homework so he would have to do it at recess. He got in the other kid's face, which resulted in a little tussle at the back of my line after recess.


Then we get to library, and two of my kids start flicking something across the carpet and causing a ruckus. By this point, I was worn down from talking to the other two boys about their behavior, and so when I asked one of the flickers to STOP, and he copped an attitude and started flopping around on the floor, I not so nicely told him he needed to go out onto the bench or to the office.

Sigh. (I did apologize to him later for getting angry, but this is a kid that can hold a grudge ALL DAY).

Another one of my students decided the story the librarian was reading was too boring for her, and laid completely flat on the carpet, and then rolled her eyes at me when I asked her to please sit up. When she did it again a few minutes later, I asked her to move to the timeout chair in the library, which helped. After library, she and another student got in another pushing tussle, and by then I had had it, and they were sent to other rooms.

I really, really tried not to lose my patience. However, it gets frustrating when I have 20 students who can follow directions and 5 who make it very obvious that they can't. Most of the students who have trouble following expectations have little to no parent support. I feel like I have a good relationship with my students, and sometimes I take it personally when they act the way they do.

I know it's the end of the year, and by the time school is over and they are on the bus, I've put things back into perspective. I mean, they are 8-9 and they solve problems the way they are taught at home, and at school by myself and by peers. I've had to develop a lot of patience this year with this group, but I do feel like I am getting better at letting things roll off my back...not necessarily that real problems go ignored, but just so that I can sleep at night :)

We have 20.5 days left. WOO HOO!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

Finishing our coffee filter project

I found where I got it :) Over at The Techy Teacher, she posted this idea, and my kids finished it up today during groups. They came out really cute, and after I showed them some pictures of the Milky Way, I had a few want to add spiraling galaxies. I also saw some aliens too, and since we are in the midst of testing a few added "Beat the State" slogans to their posters.

(this cutie up top asked me if she could stop modeling after I had taken the picture)
(see the aforementioned aliens in the little boy's picture above)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Going Green

The kids got to work on these cute Earths that I saw somewhere in bloggy land. Next week, we are doing our Use and Reuse recycling project, and I thought with Earth Day falling in the midst of testing that I would do a little more. They had a good time making them.

I plan on using some of the Going Green Unit from What the Teacher Wants...we are going to watch the Lorax and do the writing, as well as the Air Pollution experiment...I hope they love it!

My Corner

So yeah, I am not the most organized person in the bunch! This summer my goal is to simplify my room, and I'll probably move my desk next to the window for increased happiness :) The extra nook area behind my desk is really nice, but it seems to end up as a catchall for stuff I don't know what to do with immediately or things I want to keep out so I see them and use them. I don't know how those teachers do it that don't have a desk area, for me, I don't think its something I could give up!

Smart Cookies

I think the Smart Cookie activity we did turned out to be a success. It was a relaxing, yet fun activity to do before testing begins. I did have several students struggle with the parts of the ingredients--the amount, the unit, and the ingredient. They did a great job, though, brainstorming different things that would be ingredients of a smart cookie. There were a few that asked to add in some sugar and chocolate at the end :) I said, sure, I would want chocolate in my smart cookie too!

(I doubt I'll have any parents that read my blog, but I do get nervous putting their faces I used Iphoto to blur them. Is that too weird though?)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Just today...

--I had to adjust bra straps bothering a student (yes, a third grader)
--had to deal with a child telling me she wanted to kill herself (which involves outside help, thank goodness)
--watched students struggle with an incredibly long passage on the state test, and an equally long retell question
--watched other students struggle with prefix/suffix questions that should have been easy, but were reworded this year, and I felt like the worst teacher for not preparing them adequately
--had to hold down my skirt during every recess to make sure it didn't blow up inappropriately during our gusty Kansas weather :)
--had to give the students a pep talk about how our x7 worksheet was practice and how not every student can expect to know every fact in the right amount of time the FIRST TIME! Then we talked about how slamming pencils down and going "UGH!" when we don't get everything right does not help anyone do better.
--smiled when my kids wrote "I Love Mrs. Thomason" on chalk on the playground (no, I did not pay them to do that!)
--smiled again when one of my students asked to finish his writing assignment instead of watching a video.

I really do love my students, but this week has been challenging. I am without SPED or Title I support, which affects about half of my class (and my sanity). They don't go to their science specials, which means we lose our collaboration time. They test right off in the morning, which is nice, but that also means we have to be VERY quiet all afternoon because the fifth graders are testing next door. That has made for some interesting lesson planning for the afternoons!

They are really doing great, and working hard, and I hope they know that regardless of the outcome, they have grown a lot this year. I feel like I have improved this year as far as curriculum, and I have a lot of things I want to try next year, and go back to.

I love this time of year, as its a time to think and plan for next August and beyond, and enjoy the last few weeks with my kiddos!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Testing Begins!

This week we begin state testing--this week is usually filled with lots of feelings! I feel nervous, excited, sorry for the kids, and I wonder if I have done all I can do to help them prepare.

I have mixed feelings about state testing. It's great to see a snapshot of their learning, but that's all it is--a snapshot.

I know that all of my students won't be proficient. I have two students with an IEP that read at a Fountas and Pinnell level G. It's so hard to watch them take the regular test, even with the read-aloud accomodation. I hate watching them struggle in frustration to complete a test that they can't read. I hate that we don't have more time and resources to help them. But that's how it is. I know I have some students that have worked all year on memorizing prefixes and suffixes and will get to the test and forget them. I have to tell myself that if I did all I could...then it is what it is!

Our school has an extremely high level of free/reduced lunch students. It's a struggle, and I have to remember that our successes may come slower, but they do come!

I fight feelings of jealousy when I see other teachers excited about their classes that are 100% proficient. I try NOT to be too envious though, but concentrate on the growth my students have made this year. As long as they have made progress, I feel like I can claim some responsibility for that :)

But in two weeks, reading and math will be over, and it'll be time for some fun!

Here are the directions for the Smart Cookie project that I adapted from one I saw on Lesson Plan SOS. I also have a Prezi presentation I will try to show, and a Promethean file to help us organize our thoughts. Hopefully it goes smoothly tomorrow! I'm hoping to remember to pull some pictures out and photo their creations

(As a side note, does photographing students often help behavior at all?? Hehe, just wondering!)

Smart Cookies

Friday, April 8, 2011

Need Suggestions

It's nearing the end of the school year for us (we end May 25th) and the kids are getting ancy! As I've talked with other teacher friends it seems we have a talking epidemic on our hands. The kids have to TALK to follow EVERY direction. I try not to get to bothered by it because I have a LOT of social and "energetic" students, but at the same time, I am SO SICK of counting down so that they will be ready. I feel like I'm having to give directions over and over again because someone is ALWAYS talking. I feel like they don't respond as a whole to positive OR negative consequences. I've tried awarding cat cash to kids sitting quietly, saying thank you to kids that are doing what they are supposed to, and taking class points when we talk, or having kids change their cards when its one or two students. It's always during transitions, and when I have them practice, they can do it correctly during the practice, but then they fall apart right afterwards.

I don't know what else to do! Meanwhile, I have some kids that shut down emotionally when they have any consequences at all (yep, THAT's fun!), so I feel like I have to walk on eggshells with them (no parental support either).

Any new and fun ideas to help curb the talking?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Inferencing with Youtube.

Today, I talked with the kids about inferencing. We had done some inference investigating last week, and they had forgotten it already :)

So, we talked about how we combine what we see/read/hear with what we already know, and put them together to make an inference.

I showed the kids this Youtube video, and had them infer on a sticky note what they thought the babies were saying.

Here are some of their comments (unedited):
Baby A: Change my diper!
Baby B: No, you change my diper

Baby A: You want to fight?
Baby B: I'm telling mom!

Baby A: You stink!
Baby B: I do not!!

Baby A is getting B in trouble because B lost a sock
Baby B is arguing with A because A got him in trouble 'cause he lost a sock.

Baby A: Be quiet
Baby B: Why don't you be quiet?

Baby A is always saying you want to play
Baby B says no way, Josay (jose)

They thought the video was hilarious!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


All year, we tell the students that the bearded test writers write test questions just to trick them, and if they use our strategies, they will be able to beat the state AND outsmart the bearded test writers.

I chose to make my first Blabberize using the idea of a bearded test writer warning them before the test :)

Hopefully he isn't too creepy :) I plan on having my husband do the recording..although I do have a rather deep voice, hahaha!

My First Prezi

Here is a Prezi I am experimenting with. I watched the first tutorial after reading about Prezi on the Techy Teacher and got this far. If I want to use it next week for our "Smart Cookie" lesson, I know there are some things I want to change (the pictures, for example) but I think it's a good start!

Monday, April 4, 2011

6 More Days!

At our school, one of our talented para's made up a "Beat the State" rap that we play for the kids occasionally to get them pumped. They love it and its funny to see their dance moves (although at our school, we have to be v.e.r.y. specific about what is allowed and what is not, thank you BET).

I'll have to take some pictures of the kids dancing to it, the attempts at the worm are always my favorite :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Keepin' It Real

I promise that I will always be the teacher who is real about successes and failures. I posted my Spring Poster project and Friday was the day I tested it out.

It took a few minutes to get started. One of my emotionally-volatile students (I have MANY this year) was mad at me because he had to change his card after coming in late from recess. I had another student roll her eyes at me and get an attitude, and I had just informed her she would be calling home (yes, GIANT attitude in third grade!) I had a third student crying because I had chastised her for talking while I was giving directions. Yes, I have quite the crew of characters this year! (Sometimes, I wonder, is it just me? Am I really a mean person?)

Anyway, I got through directions and the kids got started. There was the initial wave of "Wait, what do we do?" and a few arguments over the assigned roles. After that, the students ended up doing a good job. They had about 20 minutes to work, and while that was just enough time for them to maybe get a flower pasted, I was proud of their work. I wish I had taken pictures of the process, but I hesitate bringing my camera to work, and the cameras the school has are pretty outdated.

And then, my student who had gotten to work after being mad at me became mad at me again, but my cryer stopped crying, and my attitude-giver gave me a hug before she left for the end of the day. Never a dull moment! Here we go Monday!