Made it to Friday

I survived the week!  I actually went in early every day this week, worked on things that needed to get worked on, and feel like I ended in a good place.

 

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This is the view of my library at the end of the week.  I added the purple board yesterday and the blue board over the window today.  I am still waiting for the Alice in Wonderland poster to possibly go above the window.  If it doesn’t fit, I’ll get letters that say “READ” from Michael’s (probably), paint them, and hang them over the window. But other than that, I think it looks good.

I had another surprise drop in today.  On Friday mornings, we take our weekly ELA assessments on the iPads.  It’s nosier than paper tests for some reason, but the kids do a lot better (probably because they find out how they did right away, and that motivates them to do their best).  Anyway, we were in the middle of doing the tests when the superintendent walked in!  I hate when that happens!  I mean, I don’t know this superintendent, because he’s new, but he seems nice, but, still.  I never want the top boss walking into my room because I get nervous.

I smiled and explained what we were doing.  He nodded and hung out a few minutes, looking at my boards and everything before leaving.  Actually, he left, came back, looked around a little, and then left again.

Next week is unit 1 assessment week.  The unit test is long, has 4 stories to read, a phonics section, grammar (and the grammar is so hard.  It’s almost not fair, because it’s not tested like it was taught and it’d be difficult to teach how its taught.  It’s just… ugh.)  We’re taking them on iPads because a. it’s easier to grade and b. the kids are used to it and c. it’ll help prepare them for state testing.

But, honestly, mostly because it’s easier to grade. 🙂

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Surprise! An Observation!

So, today I was sitting down to do a small group with math while my other students were working on the skill I was reviewing with my group, when the principal walked in.  And this is what I looked like:

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Yup, that’s me, wearing butterfly wings on my head.  They are my signal to my students that they should not “bug” me, because I’m a bug and I’m working with other students.  It’s only about the third time that I’ve used them.  I didn’t come up with the idea myself; I’ve seen them around, and then, I think it was Classroom Diva who reminded me of them, so I’ve been using them this year.  It was so hard not to rip them off my head when the principal walked in, but I stuck to my guns, kept teaching and looking like a fool.  I taught my lesson, sent the kiddos off to independent work, then ditched the wings while I worked with other students, making sure they got the skill (10 more, 10 less, 100 more, 100 less than a number.  So hard and I *hate* the way the book teaches it and I always forget how much I hate the book teaches it until I get there.  This was the second day on the skill because it’s so hard, but they were getting it for the most part).

Anyway, the observation went great.  She was really impressed by what she saw.  She loved that all the kids were engaged, that I was able to redirect kids who were off task, that I guided the kids who didn’t understand by asking questions instead of giving answers… all of it. She even liked the headband and knew what it was for. The only suggestions she had for me were building more accountability in and she mentioned Class Dojo, which I’ve already started using.  She was thrilled; I was on cloud 9.  Man, for a day that started with a migraine (ugh), it ended up great.

I’m trying not to do that thing where I convince myself that I was lucky she walked in on this particular lesson, and that I’m not that good of a teacher, principals just happen to walk in while I’ doing something good.  That little voice in my head has made teaching no fun for me the last few years.  I’m not going to let it win.  I am a good teacher, this was a good lesson, and it was a good lesson because I planned it that way and taught the kids what to do and what I expected from them.  End of story.

In other news, I got another wall cover with butcher paper to add color:

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Now this is what the front of my room looks like.  The plan is to eventually replace the green board with the aqua fabric and have an aqua and purple room, but I need to get more rainbow hexagon border first.  I’ll probably end up putting the kids’ artwork on the purple section.  I always say I’m not going to put it there, because it’s hard to get it up, but always end up doing it anyway  At least this year, it looks nice.

Oh!  And, after all that worrying about the learning objectives vs success criteria was for nothing.  My principal said that I’m one of the few in the school who have “gotten” the concept. She’s going to ask me to explain it to the staff to help clarify.  So, yay!  I’m doing it right. I like doing things the right way.

 

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Teaching with Migraines

Teaching with a migraine suuuuuucks, y’all.  My patience tanks, but desire to be there dissolves, and I’m not in my best.  Luckily, today, the migraine didn’t surface during the day.  I woke up in the middle of the night with one, took medication, woke up feeling okay, got through the day, and, BAM!, it hit during collaboration.  Which I can deal with.  But I was crankier and less patient than I want to be, so, overall, it wasn’t as successful a day as I was hoping for.

I did get a bulletin board done.  The space above my board didn’t have any background to it; I was just putting posters up.  It looked ugly.  So, I threw up some fabric I had, surrounded it with border, redid a couple of anchor charts to fit, and now it looks better.  I still feel like my room is really ugly, but it’d a little better.  No pictures, because I didn’t take any.

www wednesday

This is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

  1. What are you reading?

warcross

I a reading Warcross by Marie Lu.  It is about a virtual reality game called Warcross, the creator Hideo Tanaka, and the bounty hunter/hacker, Emika Chen he hires to find the person trying to take the game–and Hideo with it.  It’s good and I’m enjoying it.

2. What did you recently finish reading?

I finished The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. It’s about a gorilla who’s part of a zoo inside a shopping mall and how he goes from being resigned to his fate to actively trying to get a better life, not just for him, but for Ruby, a baby elephant who’s also a resident of the zoo.  It’s a really good book and I’ve decided to try and read it to my kids, even though it’s an emotionally fraught book.  And it’s longer than anything I’ve read to second grade.  But, I thought I’d give it a try.  If it doesn’t work and they’re not into it, we can always drop it.

3. What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m not sure, and that’s bad because I’m probably going to finish Warcross tonight.  I’m considering reading What Teacher’s Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World by Taylor Mali because I’m really into teaching right now (which is good–it’s my job) and I liked his poem on teaching.

What are you all reading?  Or what do you recommend I read next?

 

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Losing the Pencil War

Is it just me, or are pencils getting worse?  They break so easily, at least in the hands of my second graders.  Last year and this, it seems like I sharpen a bunch of pencils and ten minutes later, they’re all broken.  And half the time, I sharpen the pencil and then can pull the point right out.  It’s so frustrating.  It doesn’t matter what kind I use, either.  I try to use only Ticonderoga pencils, because they’re supposed to be the best, but, really, they’re just as bad as the Target brand.  Maybe it’s my pencil sharpener.  I don’t know.  I used to manage pencils using The Wise Owl’s Winning the Pencil War, but even with giving the kids seven sharp pencils, I was constantly sharpening.  Now, I have a sharp bucket and dull bucket and just try to keep up with them throughout the day.

I was going to take pictures of my class and post them today, but, honestly?  My room isn’t that pretty.  I try, but I’m just not good at decorating.  I wish I was better, but I don’t have the interior design eye.

I did take a few today, so here they are:

 

IMG_0750 My outfit.  I really love this dress.

IMG_0751 My library.  I wish I could have a carpet and some fun seats, like a beanbag or something, but I need that table for when I have a split class and there’s nowhere else for it.  I like the book covers over the window, but they might be coming down in a few weeks to make room for an Alice in Wonderland poster from Lithographs. If it fits, I’ll just move the book covers to the spaces on the side of the window.  (Also see that phone on the left of the window?  That thing doesn’t work.  I don’t know why it’s there.  It’d be so much better for the design of the room if it was gone.)

IMG_0752  My standards board.  I have to have both a learning objective and “success criteria.”  I’m not sure why; they seem to be the same thing, only the success criteria starts with “I can” and the learning objective starts with a verb.  I had bought premade learning objectives, but they were all in the “I can” format, so now I’m making my own.  They’re not as pretty as the ones I bought.  I’m frustrated I can’t just use those.

All in all, it was a good day.  I still felt rushed for time, but I had library today and was expecting to feel rush.  I did get a chance to take pictures of the kids at library and playing math games, which I posted to Class Dojo.  The parents really liked that.  It made me feel like I was doing something to connect with them without having to step out of my comfort zone.  I really need to work on connecting with parents.  That’s my goal this year.

What’s your goal for the year?

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It’s Only Monday?!?

How is it only Monday and I already feel four days behind where I need to be?  And after working all weekend to get ahead, too?

I’m just frustrated this year with the scheduling.  We used to have 90 minutes of ELA in the morning.  It was interrupted by recess, but that was no problem; we’d come back from recess and pick up from where we were.  The only problem was we rarely got to spelling, but since they had spelling homework, I didn’t stress about it too much.  As long as we got phonics/vocab/reading/grammar/fluency in, it was all good.

But this year, we have ELD (English Language Development, for our second language students) right after first recess.  So, whatever doesn’t get done in that first hour gets pushed to after lunch.  Only, today we had Eagle Store after lunch, where the kids get to spend the money they earn for following our expectations.  So that set us another fifteen minutes behind.  Plus, this year, we’re being highly encouraged not to give homework that’s not reflective or meaningful, so I’m not sending spelling homework.  While it’s nice because I don’t have to correct anything, I have to make sure to do spelling every day so the kids get practice.  So, we come back from Eagle Store, finish the story, do grammar, go to recess, finish grammar, and then do spelling.  We never got to writing today, and, worse, we didn’t get to to Social Studies. I say worse because yesterday was Constitution Day and I had a lesson all planned, but I only had 15 minutes and had 3 kids I need to get tested on stuff they missed Friday.  So, I handed out the Constitution day book for the kids to color, tested the kids, and moved on with my life.  But I still feel so far behind now.

On top of that, I joined a committee for the Next Generation Science Standards and we were supposed to write a lesson based on the standards and a literature book.  They gave us an example lesson (which I was not impressed with), but, basically, you started with the literature link and a summary of the book, then connected it to the lesson.  My partner volunteered to write the lesson and got it to me last night.  However, she didn’t do the literature link part.  It’s done now, I did it, but I had an IEP meeting after school and had to go to the gym, so I was stressed I wouldn’t have time to do it.

Why did I volunteer?  (Because I got $50 added to my supply budget and have a new principal I’m trying to look good for.)  I hope the lesson is okay; she wrote it using the Gradual Release of Responsibility which I don’t think fits with this lesson.  There really doesn’t need to be a “I do” in it, not the way the lesson is set up (we’re basing our lesson off a STEMScopes activity, which is a science program our district adopted.)  But, she wrote the lesson, and I don’t want to tell her it’s not good.  It is.  I just think it’s better to throw the kids into the engineering part of the lesson without giving them too much guidance. (I can get into the actual lesson in another post if anyone is interested.)

Meanwhile, the Class Dojo letter went out today and parents are joining up.  The kids are still really excited about.  I added a new behavior today , “answer in complete sentences.”  It’s worth 4 points.  I immediately got kids speaking in complete sentences, so hopefully it’ll continue to work.

It was a good day, though. I just can’t believe how much work piles up so fast without noticing.  Hopefully, the week will start busy and then level out.

How was your Monday?

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#iteachtoo

I’ve watching some videos on Youtube under the #iteachtoo tag, and I wanted to do it.  However, I don’t vlog and I’m too embarrassed to try.  What I do, however, is write.  So, I’m doing this blog style.

1. What do you teach and where?

I teach 2nd grade in a little town near the Central Cost of California.  I’ve also taught 6th, 5th, and 1st grade.  Fifth was probably my favorite and first was my least favorite.  I do love second grade, though.

2. How long have you been teaching?

This is my 14th year of teaching.  I did one year of 6th, five of 5th, two of 1st and the rest in second.

3. Did you always know you wanted to be a teacher?

Not really. I wanted to be a lot of things, like an archeologist or marine biologist or actor.  Teaching was there as something I might want to do, but it wasn’t always my main goal.  I actually was a theater major for a semester, but realized it wasn’t for me. By then, teaching seemed like something I’d really enjoy, so I went into a teaching path major.

4. What is your typical #teacherootd?

I guess this is outfit of the day, according to what comes up when I google it.  This is the problem with me not having Instagram.

Anyway, my typical outfit is slacks and some kind of button-up shirt from New York and Company.  I’m actually moving away from those shirts and buying dressy tops.  I’m also throwing in a few dresses because I discovered I really like the way I look in sheath dresses and I can get nice ones for cheap on Amazon.  I always wear flats (vs heels) and often wear Converse.

IMG_0743 This is what I wore for picture day this year.

5. What do you usually bring for lunch?

A sandwich and a apple.  I haven’t been eating the apple lately.  I should switch it out for some other kind of fruit.  Once a week, I take a chicken chimichunga and sometimes I’m able to take leftovers from dinner.  I need to eat at lunch because I don’t function well without food, but I admit, I rush through eating so I can get back to my room and relax for about twenty minutes before my class comes back.

6. What is one of your favorite books about teaching?

I really liked Educating Esme, although its been years since I’ve read it.  I also liked Rafe Esquith’s books (I’ve read There are No Shortcuts and Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire).  I go back and forth on teaching books.  I do find them inspiring, but then I get depressed and frustrated because I cannot and will not ever live up to the excellent examples set by teachers who write teaching books.

7. What is one of your favorite teacher movies?

Probably Stand and Deliver.

8. Who was your favorite teacher?

Mr. Kelishes, my AP World History teacher.  He was so good at making history alive and interesting.  He would dress up as people from history and hold question and answer sessions.  I loved him so much.

9. Who are some of your favorite teacher YouTubers/instagrammers/snapchatters, etc?

Michelle Ferre at Pocketful of Primary is my favorite YouTuber.  I also liked Classroom Diva’s A Day in the Life of a 3rd Grade Teacher video.

10. What is one of your best classroom management tips?

Always have a system that rewards and praises the students who are doing what they are supposed to do.  I found an old evaluation of mine and one of the areas I needed to improve was having a positive classroom environment.  I think I have improved in that since I started doing BUGS and now Class Dojo.  I’m always on the lookout to find a way to catch every child being good and doing what the should be doing.  I think it’s key to setting a positive classroom environment.

11. What is one reason you decided to become a teacher?

I like kids and being around kids.  I find them interesting and funny and charming and just fun to be around.  I do think I like older kids better than the little ones, just because they are more aware of adults as human beings and they get humor and… I don’t know.  It’s just different.  But I do like how the younger ones want to be good for you (most of the time) and love you and give hugs so freely.  So yeah.  That’s why I became a teacher.

What about you?

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The Laminator

Yesterday, I got my laminator from Amazon. I got a Scotch 2 Roller System (TL901C-T) and 100 Thermal laminating pouches.

I had to use it immediately, of course, just had to play with it.  Earlier this week, I had a math training where we discussed Number Talks and how to have kids talk during them.  After, I went to Teachers Pay Teachers to see if they had anything premade that would help my students structure their conversations.  I found these Discourse Sentence Frame Signs by Melissa Kunert.  They were cute and said what I wanted, so I bought them, printed them out, and they’ve been sitting on my printer, patiently waiting for my laminator to arrive.  Now, they are laminated, cut, magnetized, and ready to be used on Monday morning.

But the real fun was today.

So, first off, I’m a total slob.  My  place is livable, but there’s stuff everywhere.  Especially on my desk and dining room table.  It’s just covered with papers and objects and junk I don’t need.  It had to change.  So, the first task was to clean everything.  That included the 102 million boxes I’d accumulated over the past few years from Amazon and other purchases.  I hate taking boxes out to the dumpster, partly because I’m convinced I can use the box somehow and partly because I’m lazy.  However, today, I got over it and hauled everything out. (Except the box the laminator came in, because maybe I can use it.)

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So, it’s not perfect, but it’s so much better than it was.  And I have a place for the laminator.  Which meant I was finally able to purchase labels for my Sterilite drawers in my classroom.  I got them from Pocketful of Primary, because she’s my teaching inspiration (seriously, watch her YouTube vlogs, she will make you want to be a better teacher).

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And now, it’s all set up:

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I’m having trouble making the labels stick.  Are they supposed to go on the outside?  The ones I have now (which are made from sentence strips because they were cheap and easy [I’m tired of my room looking cheap and easy]) are on the inside.  I’m using double sided Scotch tape. What am I doing wrong?  Maybe I’ll use the sticky putty I got from Michael’s last week.

So, my adventures in laminating are over for right now (unless I find some math games to print out and laminate; I’m always on the lookout for math games).  I’m glad I got it because I can see how useful it will be.  My principal wants us to post the learning objective and success criteria (which, to me, seems to be the same thing), so I’ve been making up those to post.  If I laminate them, they’ll keep for next year and I can reuse them.  See, I’m catching on.

 

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State of Me

It’s been a long time since I’ve been here.  I was doing so well with reviewing books, and then I just lost my steam.  I’m still reading, but I find myself with not as much to say about them.  So, I took a break.  And I’m still taking a break, because I’m not here to review a book (although I did recently finish The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, and it was very good.  I laughed, I cried… I cried some more, and was happy at the end.  I highly recommend it).

Anyway, I am still teaching second grade and, for the second year in a row, I seem to have a good class.  We’re five weeks into the year, and I’ve only had one major behavior incident (and that happened yesterday.  One darling punched another on the playground.  Le sigh.)  But they’re respectful and fairly quiet and do their work, so it’s all going smoothly.

Today I introduced Class Dojo as a new management system.  Up until now, I’ve just been giving out Eagle Dollars, the school incentive system, to encourage good behavior, but I wanted something more specific.  I used to use BUGS as my incentive program.  If kids were on task, I gave them a card with a bug on it.  If they got five, they could turn it in for a reward.  If they weren’t being good, they lost their bugs.  It was simple.  However, last year, I found it really hard to do.  The class was good and didn’t need as many rewards, so I slacked on giving them out.  And then I did it really unevenly, so some kids got a lot and others, not so much.  I couldn’t keep track of who I’d given them too, either.

So, Class Dojo this year. I can see who has points and how many, it’s a tap of a button, and I can give different rewards for different levels.  Right now,  I have a lot of kids who are determined to get 25 points so they an get Stinky Feet (where they can take their shoes off in class).

Plus, with Class Dojo, parents can track their kids at home.  I’m in the process of getting everything printed out and translated to send home next week.  I actually had one parent find my account and ask to join weeks ago, when I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to use it.  I’m glad she planted the seed in my head.

Other than that, I’m working, swimming three times a week (most week *shifty eyes*), volunteering at the SPCA, and reading.  I wish I could say I was writing, too, but that’s just not happening.  Ah well.

So, what about you?  Any teachers?  How’s your class?  Any advice on Class Dojo?  I’m a novice and would love to hear your experiences.

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WWW Wednesday

www wednesday

Currently Reading:

beauty-1

I am currently reading Beauty by Robin McKinley.  This is an old favorite that I reread about once a year.  Last night, I pulled it out and got about halfway through.  It’s a comfort read and I love, love, love Beauty and the Beast retellings.  I’m always on the lookout for new ones, and I’m always going back to old favorites.

backwards to oregon

Recently Finished: I just finished Backwards to Oregon by Jae.  It’s about Luke Hamilton, a woman who has been living as a man since she was twelve, and her marriage of convenience to Nora Macauley, a former prostitute looking for a better life for herself and her daughter.  They meet, marry, and begin the rough journey to Oregon while Nora remains ignorant of Luke’s secret.  It was really good.  I love stories where women disguised themselves as men, and I like it even more when it’s less of a disguise and more of their identity.  The romance was sweet and natural and the ending very satisfying.

Reading Next: I’ll probably read Hidden Truths by Jae next.  It’s the sequel to Backwards to Oregon.  However, I’ve fallen behind on my book reading goal for this year and am only one book behind.  I may read something short first just to catch up.  We’ll see.

Two Quotes

I haven’t done quotes for awhile, so here are two.  I haven’t quote checked them, but I know the second one is accurate because I said them in the play version.

One lives in the hope of becoming a memory. -Antonio Porchia

We don’t exist until we leave record of ourselves on the lives of others. -John Steinbeck/Octavio Solis, Pastures of Heaven

 

 

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Teaser Tuesday

meme-TeaserTuesday-dkblue-boxed

I am doing two teasers this week because I’m reading two books.  The first is from The Last Girl by Joe Hart.  Truth be told, I’m not enjoying it very much.  It’s not poorly written, but I don’t like the characters, I don’t like the plot, and I don’t care about what’s going to happen next.  It’s the first in a trilogy, and the thought of reading two more books in this universe fills me with dread.  I’m thinking of dropping it, but I’m already 78% of the way through and it seems a waste not to just finish it.  That way, I can see if any of what I’ve read is worth it.  I’m not usually one to finish books I don’t enjoy, but I’m so close.

last girl

Anyway, my teaser:

Tia steers the vehicle up to the side of the building away from the road and shuts it of.  In the quiet that rushes in with the absence of the motor’s growl, a new sound takes precedence.

Teaser Two:

pride and prejudice

My second teaser comes from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I saw Pride and Prejudice and Zombies a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed it because it was silly and I like Sam Reilly.   However, it seemed like the film maker got halfway through the book and went “Eh, I just want to end this now,” so I was denied Pemberley and all the scenes of Lizzy coming around towards Darcy.  I’ve since watched the 1995 version of the movie and then decided to read the book again, since, as I mentioned before, I’m not enjoying the other book.

Had she found Jane in any apparent danger, Mrs. Bennet would have been very miserable; but being satisfied on seeing that her illness was not alarming, she had no wish of her recovering immediately, as her restoration to health would probably remove her from Netherfield. She would not listen, therefore, to her daughter’s proposal of being carried home; neither did the apothecary, who arrived about the same time, think it at all advisable. Ch. 9, pg. 42

That’s all for this week.  I hope to join you next week with a teaser to two of books I love whole-heartedly!

 

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