Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Phonics Ideas and a call for Help!

I'm such a copy cat - I completely stole this idea from The First Grade Parade.

{OK, hers was like super duper way cuter.} I was blog stalking last night and saw this idea - and copied the idea - but our phonics pattern this week is double consonants and ck {personally, it's like they couldn't think of any place to have the ck, so they just tossed it in this week!} Anyway, for most of my kids it was pretty easy. If I do something similar, I'd try to put in some multi-syllable words. But really, when you only have 5 minutes before they come in from recess...well, the brain doesn't have time to think of all that!

Also - HELP! Two days in a row, I've been driving home and - shoot, forgot to tell my kids that! Both days it was what to wear tomorrow. Maybe that doesn't seem like such a biggie, but in 2nd grade world, that's important. We had different theme days for Red Ribbon week - today was sweats day. Since I forgot to tell them, it was me and about 3 boys - that always wear sweats. 

Anyway, anybody have any good tricks for remember to tell them stuff before they walk out the door. I Am ALWAYS Forgetting! {I even made that a "job," but the two people I've had in that position really should be fired - because they don't do their job.}

Tomorrow is a flurry for me - we are having our Autumn Celebration tomorrow - and I'm trying to get ready for a sub for 3 days. My hub-bub is having knee replacement surgery in the Big City on Halloween. Planning for one day of a sub is bad enough, but 3!!! 
Anyway, Happy Autumn Celebration to you - even if you aren't formally celebrating :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday Wrap Up

Happy Monday evening! Is anyone else as tired as I am? I came home from the weekend at college town with college daughter - ex haust ed! So after hub-bub and I unloaded the car and I told him about my visit, we sat down to watch an old Columbo movie - and I promptly fell asleep - about 8pm. And slept until 6:30 this morning, which is actually late for me.

We had a book fair at our school during Parent Teacher Conferences. Does anybody else do this? It works out great for the teachers - our PTO gives us some money to buy some books for our classroom. Here's what I got:

Whoo Hoo - I didn't get them until the end of the day - so I'll have to take a good look at them tomorrow.

Also, somebody was giving away this book shelf, 

so after much internal debate, I snagged it. I'm still not sure. It is two sided, and my thought was I could put books I didn't want out yet on the back side. But it is HEAVY! So I'd probably have to have both sides accessible. Now I'm trying to think through how to make it accessible to me and not to the kids - ha! Those snoopy little guys!! 

OK, I just have to tell this story. My last conference was a reschedule from the day before - and she picked the very last time I had before I got to leave for the day and head to college town to see college daughter. And they were late. I was so mad at myself, because I just had an inkling they would be late and I was kicking myself for even giving them the last available time. So I hustled through the conference and I said, "I'm sorry, my time's up. Did you have anything else." "Nope," said the mom. And I said, "Well, I'm heading out to college town to see my girl." And my sweet student said, "Cause that's where all your money goes, right?" Umm, yep. Guess I've said that a time or two, lol. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Post Conferences

Happy Saturday to everyone! I'm here in college town to visit my college daughter - I'm at the motel and of course I woke up at my usual early bird time and she's at her dorm sleeping til her usual college Saturday wake up time and anybody that has teenagers knows what that means! 

I just got done with Parent Teacher conferences. What an exhausting time! And I've come to the conclusion that we should have get to know you conferences in August. And this comes after a beginning of the year when I've tried hard to meet the grownups at my students' houses. 

But now I know that my one little boy that speaks with a Spanish accent - won't speak Spanish at home and in fact, never learned Spanish. I learned why my one little friend always looks so tired - too many other kids share his room and don't want to go to sleep at night. I learned whose parents don't really speak any English - which makes me thankful for what those students are able to do in English, and reminds me - as much as they would want, it will be more difficult for them to help their child become a better reader of English. I learned who will support me at home - both with helping their kids read or do math facts or whatever -- and with discipline issues. It gives me all kinds of insight into my kids and the other, big, important part of their life. 

I know that my 20 minute conference, where I feel like I do a lot of the talking, is just a glimpse into my student's life. But it does help me have some perspective. And one thing I realized was that, particularly for two of my little sweeties, they need all the love I can show them. 

Ok, that feels like a horrible ending, but it's either quit there or write on and on. 

I am so looking forward to this time with my girl. And buying her a snug winter coat (I hope) and snow boots for her long walks around campus (no freshman 15 for my girl!). Happy weekend to you! 

Monday, October 21, 2013


Hello. For some reason, this turned out to be some kind of frantic day for me. I was bringing back a lot of work from home to school this morning, and I knew I was getting a new student and he might come to my room first. And yes, he did. But then I just had the worst time finding things. Like my list of times for parent teacher conferences. And the math facts page each of my students is working on. And on and on it went. 

Anyway, first impressions. Can't change 'em, can you? So my new student comes with his aunt and Just Won't Even Talk! So I'm trying to decide if he's nervous, not bilingual at all, or what is going on. When we come back to the room with the class and I show him our library and tell him to grab a book to read - he goes over and comes back with -- Nothing! And there were a couple other similar things. Well, thank heavens, by the end of the day, he was talking and joining in. I think the big ice-breaker was that he was able to do the hands-on math activity I had the class doing.

My Parent/Teacher conferences are Tuesday night, all day Thursday and very early Friday morning. So I want to give one little hint that I do at Parent/Teacher conferences. Maybe some of you already do this. I open a Word file and I just go down my list of students and I write their name and anything I can think of. Maybe it's a concern - like, they are just not getting their math facts down, or they go to the bathroom several times more than any one else in class, or their handwriting is terrible. Or maybe I think right away of some way they have been super nice, or helpful, or done a good job on something. So my first go around is just my first thoughts. Then I go through this list several more times. If I have a student that I've only written down a concern for, then I try to write a couple positive things that I see. 

How does this help me? Well, I'm pretty forgetful. I surely don't want a conference to be finished, a parent gone out the door, when I remember - oh, yeah, I meant to say. The other thing is this helps me remember good things for all my students. This year, it isn't as hard, but one year, I remember about the only good thing I could say about one of my kiddos was - good handwriting. Yuck, that's terrible!!

What do you do to plan for conferences? How do you make sure you say everything you want to?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday bits and pieces

In my last post, I wrote about our Leaf Project we were working on. I must really have a thing for leaves this year, because the post before that {and the activity before that} were about leaves. Hmmm, wonder what that's all about? 

Well, I ended up not really liking what happened with our Leaf Project. I knew they would be a little different because the blog where I got the idea from - she's a real art teacher and she used oil pastels. But I knew my daughter and I had done something similar with crayons and black paint - so I was thinking it would work. You be the judge:

 {OK, I'm also unhappy with Dropbox right now, because I can't get it to upload my photos without ALL my phone photos uploading. Don't really want all of those uploaded.} 

Anyway, back to the Leaf Project - blah - I think my paint was too thick and it didn't end up being a wash - added to the fact that I don't think very many of the kids colored dark enough.  

Also, this week we did a little measuring length. I used part of Amy Lemons' I Can Measure Unit. She has an activity with the names of objects and the kids sort them into About an Inch, About a Foot, About a Yard. It is so fun to check where they sorted things and say, "A dad's foot is a yard???"  while I hold up the yardstick. Or, "A baseball bat is about an inch??" The best one was the width of a door - somebody put that at an inch, and when I asked about it, moved it to a foot. We finally got it over to a yard. 

I Can Measure! (using inches and centimeters)

Today we had a half day plan day {and a half day off, but really, I just came home and finished up some lessons, cuz I'm a teacher dork.}. Anyway, I had 2 things I wanted to get done at school today - 1- grade a writing project my kids had worked on last week {especially so I could show the Mamas and the Papas}, and 2 - wipe off some of the dust around my room - because....
Next week is Parent/Teacher Conferences. And I'm happy to report I got my 2 things done - and then got into a great big mess with my books - trying to sort through them. And then thinking, how did this happen? I was just straightening my room!

This year, I've made a real effort to meet all my parents before now. I think I've gotten everyone, but my one guy who goes to the Y right after school and doesn't get picked up by a parent. But come to think of it, I met his grandma, does that count? 

And finally, I got that dreaded email this morning - yup, you know the one. So and So has enrolled at Blank School. He will join Sara's class. {Man, it's hard to change the names to protect the innocent :) } Anyway, all of that to say, I'm getting a new student on Monday. Every time I get a new student in the middle of the year, I want to be loving and kind and excited - but I usually just have to settle for loving and kind. And hope that he can read at grade level and he's kind and gets along with the other kids {I do have the best class this year :)}

And in my final bit of exciting news, it snowed here today - basically all day until about 3 o'clock. Which is very unusual - because this is southwest Kansas and we usually have a nice fall. But the moisture is most welcomed!    

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Saturday Stuff

My daughter is home from college this weekend, and we're celebrating my hub-bub's birthday today. It's a good day! And I've gotten his "cake" - he wanted no-bake cookies - done, and every last present wrapped and the house straightened up. It's a great day! 

So a little school stuff before the rest of the house wakes up. {Even the dog has gone back to sleep!}

In my last post, I talked about these leaf pictures we are making in my class. {I have to admit, as I posted that, I thought - this has no curriculum basis; I hope nobody gets all excited about that.} I guess I could have them write about our leaf art process - but frankly, our curriculum is so structured....
Anyway, my thought was we would finish those up on Friday. Think again. Remember I told you about my slow processors? Well, as I was looking at the clock, and my three little sweeties still working away, I realized the painting part wasn't going to happen on Friday. Really, I'm a little proud of myself, because I tend to charge on with something like this to meet my self-imposed deadline, and then I just end up getting frustrated because we aren't done and there's the go-home bell. 

So Friday we spent getting everybody done with their drawing part and Monday we'll paint the wash over it. Here's where we were at before we worked on them Friday:

I know the colors are a little, well, not exactly nature colors. But I don't know, maybe that's what 2nd graders see.  

I'm also showing a pic of the construction paper shelf deal my friend gave me. She actually gave me the plywood shelf and those metal clip deals to hold up the shelf. I really like that all my construction paper is sorted out - AND laying flat so it doesn't get all these weird bendy shapes in it. {This probably isn't a big deal to anyone but me - but hey, I'm a simple girl!}
And finally, a teacher at my school leads a 4-H group and for a money maker, they picked a ton of pumpkins and brought them to the school. We could pick them up for a dollar! Wowsa! So of course, my school kiddos each got one. And then I picked up 1 for each of my family members; and then one more; ah, heck, I picked up another one. And then I saw a cute little bitty guy - just had to have him. I think we have plenty! {Two are still at school for those of you that can count :)}

Have a nice fall weekend - I plan to!


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Leaf Project

It is a very windy day here in my part of the world - and it's that nasty wind, lots of gusts which brings lots of dust blowing. And to top it off, I had recess duty. So that's a big yuck!

Plus, my friend gave me these cool shelf deals to put construction paper in - for my closet. And they had just been laying in my closet, not put together, and I decided to take care of that today. But of course, nothing goes as planned, so I was just shoving everything back in the closet when the kids came in from lunch recess. So I stayed late to finish that up. 

And was happily driving home, when I realized and remembered that the last gift that Hub-Bub wanted for his birthday {Saturday} was NOT at Target like I'd hoped when I went there last night, which forced me to head out to Wal-Mart. Which really wasn't that bad - but just the thought of it - shudder.

Of course, no pictures of this cool shelf deal, because why would I think of pictures in the heat of the moment. 

BUT - Parent Teacher conferences are coming up, and my walls are looking either bare or still have first of the year stuff up. So I saw this neat idea - HERE
This image is from her website - so I'll try to take pics tomorrow so you can see ours. I didn't have oil pastels, so we used crayons. I'm crossing my fingers they will work. 

This was so funny {to me}. The website gal says if she lived in the Midwest, she'd use real leaves, but she doesn't, so she made templates for the kids. So first - this morning, I'm frantically running around my yard looking for sorta big leaves, while trying desperately hard not to get sprayed by the automatic sprinkler. But 2nd, when I had a spare moment today, I was frantically trying to cut out leaf templates for the kids to use. What did they use? The real leaves. 

Today we did the drawing and coloring of the leaves. They looked pretty good, I thought. {Big aside, does anybody else have some, well, I politely call them slow processors? I mean, it takes about 3 of my kids ForEver to get stuff done. Which of course means they Did Not get their leaves all drawn and colored today, like I was hoping everybody would get to. But such is a teacher's life.} {Oh, wait, little aside here - so I explain, you've got to use crayon on this or it won't show up when you paint it. Can we use colored pencil? Can we use markers? Can we use a regular pencil? Sometimes I just want to say, Fine Children, do whatever you want. It will be like a great big experiment!}

OK, this is one tired teacher lady. I have recently become hooked on Ugly Betty on Netflix. I Like It! 

So I'm heading upstairs to watch an episode and eat a snack that I just really don't need. Then maybe I'll do some arm exercises - lol!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Leaf Art

Last year, I posted about a fun idea I did with my 2nd graders - see it here - I'm actually talking about the 2nd one on that post - the leaf people. OK, is this a way too complicated way to start a post???

Anyway, I did it again this year. I really like it. And I like to give the kids a chance to get creative. I think it's important. I don't tell them what to make - much. Last year, I told them to make a leaf person and I might have showed them some pictures from a previous year. But I basically tell them to use their liquid glue. And to write their name on the back of the paper :) And to arrange their leaves before they start gluing. 

This year, I saw this post from Science for Kids. And I thought, why do my kids have to make leaf people? Why can't they make whatever they want? So I showed them the pics on the Science for Kids blog and told them they could do things like this. {But I didn't make copies of her paper - she has a freebie for that if you want to download those.}

But, I told my kids, everything had to be made out of leaves.

Well, I don't know - I'm afraid that maybe giving them free rein turned many of their leaf pictures into sort of leaf throw up - just throw a ton of leaves on the paper and glue them down. See what I mean??

OK, 1 and 2 and maybe 3 are great - but what's this on 4? 

Well, two things here. I think creative is important - I think it goes along with thinking for yourself and making your own decisions and letting your brain think outside the box. {So that's what #4 is LOL} 

The other thing is I had one little sweetie come up and ask me what to make. No, no, kiddo, that's your choice. Shouldn't kids be able, and want to make their own "things"?

Anyway, this is leaf people art 2013. I like it!

Big fat PS - After I showed my class the pictures from last year via my blog, one of my little sweeties asked if their leaf art was going to be on the website. You just never know, now do you?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Necessary and Exciting

One exciting thing and one necessary thing happened in my classroom this week. 

First, the necessary. I have been meaning, since like spring break last year, to find the time to do a big purge in my room. Just hasn't happened. Last year, I was full of spending all the time I could with my soon to be college girl - and just being plain ole tired. This year, I find that I don't want to spend a Saturday up at the school, all by myself, sorting stuff. Argh, what to do, what to do. 

Well, what I decided to do was just stay an hour extra one night a week (or every two weeks, however my life plays out). And then I work on whatever is making me the most nuts. Like this week - I have these cool roll out drawers - three drawers that roll out. Perfect for putting posters, charts, etc. Except with all the crap {is that a bad word?} I had in there, I couldn't lift up things to see what was at the bottom of one of the drawers. So I spent Monday going through that. Yikes, what a bunch of stuff I had in there. Some of it was a little scary. I filled up a whole paper box of stuff to get rid of. 
{I am sure there is a reason all my iPhone pics are blurry and it probably has very little to do with the iPhone and a lot to do with the operator. I think I'm moving before the picture is done taking... anyway} And a small dry erase board and a pocket chart with like a hundred little pockets that I have never used, not one single time in the 5 years I've been in this room. It really might be time to let this go. 

Next, the exciting thing. And this is a biggie! 

New desks! {Again, what's with the blurry?!?!?} But really, new desks should be more like
New Desks! 
These are so nice - our old desks had the storage area beside the leg opening, so the top of the desk was wider and consequently all the desks took up a lot of room in my room. These new desks have the storage area under the top and so the top is not as wide and consequently I have more available space in my room. I still need to do some tweaking - some rearranging, etc. But I am really happy with these. And one of my kids was so funny, she said, "We get to keep these all year??" Umm, yes, probably until I retire!

Hope that you had something exciting happen in your little corner of the world this week. Happy weekend!