Monday, January 28, 2013

101 Days of School

I was in the right place at the right time and got this wonderful 101 day celebration packet from Anita Goodwin at I love 2 learn, I love 2 grow.  (What a cute name for a blog!)  I was one of 3 commenters and Yahoo! I got mine for free.

This packet is just in time because the kindergarten teachers have told me that Friday is our 100th day, so that makes Monday 101! What a fun and different thing to celebrate.  The packet has a couple craft ideas, some ELA activities and some math games. I'm going to pick and choose this year, because, well, even though it's a week away, yikes! I have so much on my plate right now. 

Anyway, if you are interested in celebrating 101 days - or Dalmatian Days - click HERE to get your own copy for $3.

I can't wait to try it out on Monday! 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Kansas Day, Part 2

Yikes and yuck - I have a cold, again, or it's back, or something. I don't know, but it does not help that I did not sleep very late at all this morning. Do you think there's any chance this could just be a two day, weekend cold? Please??

Oh, on to something much more fun! If you read my last post, you know I'm from Kansas and next Tuesday is Kansas Day. If you want to read about part 1 activities, go here. 

I had been debating all day yesterday about what to do. Our state flower is the sunflower, and I just love to have the kids paint sunflowers. I show them some pictures and then have them draw and paint their own. But I just didn't know how I could find time this year. So I debated skipping math and doing it then. (I know, very naughty!) I was still debating at lunch time. I had recess duty and when I went out, the teacher that was on duty with the 4th graders said, ah, go for it. So I did.

First of all, I made all my little twittle bugs who didn't work during literacy centers, do some work. I had some grumpy children then. But I let them join us after about 4 minutes of probably the hardest work they had done all day. And I saw hardest because they got more done in 4 minutes than they did in 20 minutes when they were supposed to be doing it! Oh, whatever.

I did some delegating - yeah, me, sometimes a little hard for me to let go like that. Somebody else passed out papers, somebody else passed out paintbrushes, somebody else passed out palettes (paper plates for the paints :). I did take control of sharing the paints - I'm not a crazy woman! 

The saddest thing of all was I have a young man whose last day in my class was Friday and he didn't want to paint. Oh, pooh. I even offered to let him paint another Kansas symbol. But he just sat there and played with his erasers. 

For the rest of the afternoon, we had some grade level fun. In the past, our school has had a school wide behavior plan with a reward celebration thing each month.  This year, it has been moved (passed - ha) down to the grade levels and the teachers. So our 2nd grade team decided to focus on Kansas Day this month. We each planned a 20 minute activity and we rotated the kids to each class. One team member did a boys against girls game - I'm not sure exactly what. The other team member showed some video clips of Kansas symbols. And I made up a Bingo game. But I added a little twist. First of all, this is a pretty good site, I thought, for making Bingo cards and it's FREE! (Love that!!!) This Bingo card generator will make several (I made 25) Bingo cards and it puts all the words in random places. And it also gives you a word list. Yeah! 

So what did I do to make it a bit more challenging? I put the answers on the Bingo card. Such as buffalo, meadowlark, sunflower, 34th, 15th. Then I had a light bulb moment. I have a Smartboard, so I used the Random Chooser on that and I typed out the clues on it. Such as State Mammal, State Bird, State Flower, Admitted to the US, # in Land Size. When we were playing, I had one kid come up and push the select button and the Random Chooser would pick a clue, I'd read it and if most of them would know the answer, we'd all answer together - like on the State Mammal. But if most of them didn't know, I'd have kids raise their hand and somebody would tell the answer. Bingo winners got a dorky sticker. It was pretty fun for them and easy for me, so that's obviously a win-win.

I had something else of Great Importance to share, but now I can't remember what it was, so maybe it's importance wasn't really that great :)

Have a terrific weekend. I think mine will be spent clearing off DVR things. Like Downton Abby - please no spoilers, I'm about 2 weeks behind!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Kansas Day


I'm from the good ole state of Kansas and Kansas Day is next Tuesday. I think it's 152 years of statehood for us. So our grade level team decided to do a couple things in honor of that. 

First, we had the zoo come visit our school. I've mentioned before on my blog that we have a wonderful zoo for our medium sized city. The great part is they have this outreach program, so they come visit the school and it doesn't count as a field trip! Wahoo!! So the zoo gal came and brought a couple animals. One was our state amphibian - the barred tiger salamander.

She pulled this guy out of the cooler (they carry the animals around in a cooler) and was talking about him. Meanwhile, he's swishing his tail to beat the band. After she had talked about him a bit, we got to touch him. They use the two finger touch system, and we had to wet our fingers first. Let me tell you, they are SLIMY little creatures. Gross! (Not that I let any kids know I thought that :) 

Then one of my sweeties asked a question. Why do his eyes bug out? And the zoo gal said that was the best question anyone had asked so far. And she proceeded to tell us that when they have something in their mouth, the salamander pulls his eyes in (toward his mouth) to help crush whatever he's eating (like an insect) and push it down toward his stomach. His eyes are kind of like our tongue. Umm, double gross, but fascinating!

Next, she got out our state reptile - the ornate box turtle.

This was kind of interesting - as soon as she pulled him out of his container, he was trying to bite her and swipe at her with his front legs. But his back legs were pulled all the way into his shell. She said he has a hinged shell, so when he pulls himself in, he can be all contained. Other turtle just pull themselves in and hope to hide their softer parts. Didn't know that either. We got to touch the box turtle - that was quite mild to this teacher - especially compared to the salamander.

Now, the rather funny thing. Last year, we tried to have the zoo come out around Kansas Day, but we called too late and they couldn't come. But they did have a biofact tub that I checked out and was able to show the kids some animal pelts, bones, and a turtle shell, among other thing. When I got that tub home and opened it up, there was a fox pelt, complete with legs and everything. It was just too much for me. I couldn't stand to handle it and I didn't share it with the kids. Just a little too realistic - or reminiscent - of the real thing. Well, guess what was the first thing she pulled out of her biofacts tub. Yup, a fox pelt. Not as bothersome when she's holding it, I'll tell you. She also had an otter pelt, a coyote pelt and two skunk pelts. 

Man, I was going to tell you about tomorrow's activities - but this is longer than my arm as it is. I'll share over the weekend. 

Doing the happy dance because tomorrow is Friday! Are you too? 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Hello Friends and how are you? I got my exciting new math book - Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics: Grades K-3

But haven't really had much time to read it. Maybe this weekend.

In the meantime, as we approach double digit addition with regrouping, out came the manipulatives. Ah, yes, thank heavens for Amy Lemons packet, Let's Get Started, so that I can ask the kids before we start, "Are these tools or toys today?" Of course, they are tools!
Let's Get Started {Beginning of the Year Math Activities}

Yeah, so we/they worked all kinds of regrouping problems with the linking cubes and the base 10 blocks. We did that for a couple days. We also did Leanne Price's trading game. Yes, yes, they've got it.
 Regrouping: Addition and Subtraction
(She explains the game here.)

Now, let's just check - here's a worksheet. They stare at it blankly. I say, "Ack!" and pull out some hair! I encourage them to try some of the strategies we've been working on the past few days. They move blocks around on their workmats. 

Now, I know part of the problem is that in my math rotations, my low kids come to me first. I know I'd get a little better feel for how things are going to go if a middle group came first. But those low kids almost have to come first because they go to math interventions before we've made all our center rotations. And if they were last, I might not see them! 

So anyway! Some of my little friends only finished 1 problem in 15 minutes! Yikes and double yikes. That night, my hubby checks all the papers. Next day, I have kids do corrections and fnish.  My little "need some extra friends" - well, I give a little extra. 

Today was day 3. I had bought this neat regrouping DVD/CD from Lakeshore. Just another way to show them. It has the base 10 blocks on one side and the numbers on the other side of the screen. Of course, just my luck, for some reason, I can't get it to work with my first group, my low kids, the ones that really need it! Grrr!  

So, this is about the time that I need to stop, take a deep breath, and remind myself that in the 4 previous years that I've taught this, everybody has figured out addition (Now subtraction, that's a different story!) I haven't graded what they got done today, but I know everybody got more than 1 problem done - so that's progress! And some of my kids were moving on and not needing to use the base 10 blocks - even one of my low kids! Yeah! and Yeah!

Our math time is cut short tomorrow because we have Art in the afternoon. So I'm thinking of having some "get it" kids paired up with some "don't get it yet" kids. Maybe hearing it from somebody else would help :) 

Have a terrific Wednesday! Sara  

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Tell Me Something Good

I love sharing something good - and Rowdy in First Grade has a linky party for that! 

 Something good at school: Tuesday, I got the base 10 blocks out and we started some basic addition regrouping. No worksheets, just them making numbers with their base 10 blocks and then adding some one blocks and then doing some trading, I mean, regrouping. Yeah, most of my kiddos were right there with me. And I'm realizing I haven't done enough of the no worksheets part, so I'm going to try harder at that!

Something good at home: This afternoon, my husband and I went to a wedding. I don't really know the bride, I'm friends with her mom. But it was so nice and full of their love for each other. It just gives me a warm fuzzy.

Oh, please, can I add one more - Something good at home and school: I enjoy reading Math Coach's Corner. She's recommended some books and when I emailed her, she was nice enough to narrow that down to one that I went ahead and ordered. It will be here Thursday, I say with my fingers crossed. 

Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics: Grades K-3

 She recommended Teaching Student-Center Mathematics. I can't wait for it to get here, so I can read it at home and implement it at school :)
And the best part is - I forgot I had a $10 gift card to Amazon, so I can still order more books, ahahaha! 

What's going good in your corner of the world? Linky up with Rowdy in First and share!

And finally, do I have to take my JOY button off? I'd like to have joy all year long. Wouldn't you? 

Lesson Planning Weekend - hope to get lots done. Hope you are having a nice weekend yourself.



Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Break Didn't Go The Way I Wanted

My Christmas break started early. We had a snow day on the Thursday before our break started. I was excited about the snow day - who wouldn't be - but on Wednesday when it was snowing, snowing, snowing, I told some friends it would be horrible to have a snow day on Thursday and then have to go back on Friday and finish the semester. Well, that's what happened - except for me. Thursday, I started feeling a bit puny. Friday morning, when I woke up, I realized there wasn't any way I was going to make it through the day. 

(big aside here - Does anyone else's district use an automated sub finder? I almost hate it, because I check to see who they got - and this time, they hadn't gotten any one! The next thing I saw, the sub lady had split my day in 2 - yuck. But I guess everything worked out - because I got a sub for the morning and somebody else for the afternoon and when I ran up to the school on Saturday to make sure everything was turned off, it seemed like everything was still in one piece :) 

So much fun to make sub plans for the day before vacation - NOT! 

I spent the next 5 days not feeling good. I did go to Les Mis with my daughter the day after Christmas - enjoyed that! Now I'm down to a persistent and dry cough - yucko! I've gone to sleep every night between 8 and 9 (except New Year's Eve - made it to midnight!) 

So why am I recounting all this to you? Well, I want to post a couple New Year's Resolutions.  The Teacher's Cauldron is hosting this linky party:

First, my personal one - I Have Got To Find Someway To Turn Work Off! I think part of the reason that I've stayed sick for almost 2 weeks is that my body is run down. Almost the first thing I think of when I wake up is school, and I'm always worried about things that I haven't gotten done. So my goal is to have a shut-off valve and use it! 
Second, my blogging goal - I want to be consistent in blogging a couple times a week and to make sure that at least one of those shares an idea or tip that I hope someone else can use. To do that, I think I need to do a better job of being mindful of what I'm doing that is working. Yes, write it down, pay myself on the back, say hooray to myself!   
What are some of your goals, resolutions, improvements you are thinking about? You can share them at The Teacher's Cauldron.