I Sort of Disappeared There

But not from the classroom.  We’ve been quite busy the past week, getting back into the swing of things and implementing new technology.

The Friday before Winter Break ended, the teachers had professional development.  I went to sessions on Google Classroom, SeeSaw, and are in the classroom, and interventions.  They were interesting, although I still don’t see how Google Classroom is supposed to help me as a second grade teacher (the person leading the session was a high school or middle school teacher and the session was geared to setting up Google Classroom).  But the session on SeeSaw was more helpful, and I’ve actually been using it.

The first thing I did was set up an activity for them.  I got a subtraction word problem from the book, wrote it and recorded myself reading it.  Then, I uploaded the work mat they’ve been using to subtract so they could draw on it.  It looked like this (32 – 19):

 

math

The next day, I got the brilliant idea to have them record themselves reading their fluency passage.  It took a little bit for me to figure out how to get them to record, but once I did, it worked pretty well.  It’s a little noisy, because all 24 kids were reading at once.  A few kids weren’t quite close enough to the microphone, but it all worked.  The long part is going through each file and listening to them read.  But it’s illuminating to hear who is reading fluently and who needs extra help.  Usually, I can just get to six kids during the week (two kids a day on the three days we do fluency).  Now, I can hear them all at least once every few weeks.  Or, I can assign a certain number of kids to do it each day/week and keep up like that.

So, I’m pretty well set up with SeeSaw.  The next step is to invite parents to the app and have them check in on how their student is doing.  It’s a digital portfolio and parents can sign on and check on the work.  I’ll get around to that part, eventually.

The other thing I did was become an Epic certified teacher.

 

certified-educator-award2017

Don’t know why my name disappeared, but it’s mine.  Epic is an online library where kids can go on and read books of all kinds.  I’ve used it as a time filler for about a year.  When they were done with work, they could go on and read a book.  Honestly, most of them chose to watch a video on MineCraft instead of reading, which is why I didn’t use it a whole bunch.  But, going through the certification course, I found out that you could create collections of books and share it with your class.  We’re doing animal research reports right now, so I found all the books I could on animals and put them into a collection.  Today, some of the kids went to Epic to research and some used the books in class.  What was really nice was my super low kids were able to have the book read to them, so they could work independently (this won’t work forever; not a lot of the books are read to.  But, for the first one, it’s a good start).

We did hit one snag.  One girl was researching lions.  One of the first things they need to fill out on their graphic organizer was what kind of animal it is (mammal, fish, bird, etc.).  This poor girl went through every book on Epic about lions and NOT ONE gave the classification.  I could have had her google it, I suppose, but since it’s the first one and I was working with other kids, I ended up telling her.  But still.  Crazy.

So that’s the state of me.  Oh, I have gotten a new student.  He’s directly from Mexico and speaks no English.  His cousin is working with him on his letters and sounds.  Right now, he’s doing math with us, but spends a lot of time doing StarFall on his iPad.  It’s a program that goes over letters, sounds, colors, numbers, directions, etc.  He’s a bright kid and really outgoing.  We’re making it work.

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Made It through Monday

I survived the first day back!!  I almost didn’t think I was going to make it.  I woke up to rain, which I expected but still hoped that maybe it would wait until after school.  But, alas, rainy day all day.  Then, as I was driving to school, I realized that I’d forgotten my lunch.  So stupid, because I made it last night and had it ready to go, but for some reason when I went into the kitchen to get my water bottle, lunch just completely slipped my mind.  Luckily, I get to school fifteen minutes before I need to (which is a half hour before school starts), so I had time to run to Subway and get a sandwich.  I knew there wasn’t going to be time at lunch, and I was not going to subject myself to whatever they’re calling food these days in the cafeteria (plus, I only had a 20 and they don’t have change for twenties in the cafeteria).

I won’t tell you the state of the coffee pot, which was not emptied before winter break (not my job because I didn’t make coffee the last few days of school; whoever did should have emptied it).  I just threw the pot in the sink to soak and resigned myself to the flavored coffee at the Keurig (I’m not a fan of flavored coffee, but coffee at recess is one of the things that makes me happy so….)  But, the coffee god washed the coffee pot and brewed regular coffee, so I got my coffee at recess the way I like it!  Yay!

The kids were good.  They were tired and draggy, but well behaved.  They (mostly) remembered how to subtract, which we reviewed today.  I struggled with one student who needs help but just.  Wouldn’t. Follow.  Directions.  I pulled a group, including him, and he kept refusing to get over to the table.  I finally started without him because it wasn’t fair to the other kids.  We finished early so I was able to work with just him but, man, I really had to dig deep to remain patient.

So, yeah, made it through.  And tomorrow I get a new student.  He’s the… nephew or something of one of the other teachers, brand new from Mexico and doesn’t speak any English.  This will be a challenge.  I’ve done this before, but with older students.   It’ll work out.  I can do this.

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And Just Like That, It’s Over

Winter break is over.  Three weeks of freedom, gone.  It definitely went by too quickly, especially because there was medical drama in the middle.  Some of it is ongoing.  One of my teeth decided it needed a root canal.  The side of my face swelled up, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep without drugs.  It was awful, especially because I was at my parents,300 miles from my dentist.  Luckily, my childhood dentist (who is a regular dentist, not a children’s dentist or anything) was able to see me.  He got me in and went in to clean out the infection.  He gave me antibiotics and pain medication, but the pain was so bad it triggered a migraine.  First time I’ve ever almost thrown up from being in pain.  I managed to keep everything down and, eventually, the pain medication kicked in, but it was miserable.

Personally, I think I deserve another week off because of that.

I actually went back to work on Friday, which is the perfect day to go back to work after a vacation (she said sarcastically).  We had a day of professional development that was led by teachers, so it was more interesting than normal PDs are.  I learned how to set up my class in Google Classroom (although I’m not 100% sure a) how to get my kids onto it or b) what exactly I’m supposed to use it for).  I also learned more about SeeSaw, which is a digital portfolio for students.  They can take pictures of things and annotate those pictures, record themselves reading, draw and other things.  I’ve set up a couple of activities for them to do when we come back.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get everyone on the ap with minimal trouble and it will be worth it.  Ideally, what I’d like to do is go into a class and see how its used, but I’m not sure that’ll be happening.

I also learned from our keynote speaker that in the future, there will be no teachers, just Modern Learning Advisors.  So, just so you know, times they are changin’.

So, that’s that.  Back to the grindstone and all that jazz.   Hope I can sleep tonight!

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And Done!

I made it through today!  I gotta tell you, it was excruciating.  Having to sit there for hours on end and listen to someone talk was just… guh.  I did not want to be there.  None of us did.  We were like the kids, wiggly and inattentive and when it hit 3:00, we just could not focus any more.  Mercifully, they let us go at 3:15, a whole ten minutes early!  I felt bad for the presenter, who was honestly very good and presented a lot of valuable things, but it was just the wrong day for an in-service.

Plus, the whole thing made me feel kind of bad.  I’ve been going to math training all year, and I’ve been trying to incorporate the strategies and number talks and everything, but this in-service just seemed to highlight how much I’m failing.  My students can do the work–sort of, most of the time–but they aren’t flexible in their thinking.  I mean, they were showing videos of kids doing problems like 26 + 49 in their heads, saying things like, “I know 20+40 equals 60 and 6 + 9 equals 15 and 60 + 15 is 75, so 6 + 49 is 75.”

I don’t think my kids can do that.  Not in their heads.  And I know they don’t know what the equal sign means.  I haven’t taught open number lines (I didn’t know what an open number line was), they can add ten without counting up 10 ones, and…… and on and on.  I fell like I haven’t taught anything this year, or, what I have taught, I’ve taught all wrong.

Luckily, I’m to excited about winter break to let it cast too much of a pall over me.  I mean, I’ll just have to do better when I get back.  Just because we’re working on subtraction now doesn’t mean I can’t go back and do addition number talks with them for a few minutes every day.  It’ll be okay.  And, I’ll make a vow to start strong next year.

In the meantime, IT’S WINTER BREAK!!!!!

 

 

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Made it… Almost

Okay, so I’m done with the kids.  Today was there last day of school.  I have to go for professional development in math tomorrow, which sucks because I’d rather be at the movies, but, whatever.  It’s just one day.

We started today with the sing along.  It used to be the tradition of our school that we got together with the school next door, a band came, and we all sang Christmas songs together.  Then, last year, it didn’t happen, which was sad.  But, this year we did it again and it was wonderful!  The band played, the kids sang, and we didn’t have to teach for an hour.  Plus, the magic happened.  When the band plays “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer”, Rudolph himself shows up in the windows of the gym.  The kids scream and point and get so excited.  It’s magical.

After, we went back to class and I finished reading “A Bad Kitty Christmas” by Nick Bruel.

bad kitty christmas

I have never actually read a Bad Kitty book before, and I didn’t read this one before I read it to the kids, but I loved it.  It was so clever and the cat was hilarious.  The book was sweet and touching, too.  I highly recommend the book.

After recess, we came back and did AR.  Then it was math time, but I decided to have the kids play dreidel instead.  I gave them M&Ms and a paper with the symbols and the rules.  It took a little bit for them to get how to play, but once they did, they had a lot of fun.  We ended up dividing the M&Ms up equally again, so it didn’t matter who one (I had a couple kids on a really lucky streak and they cleaned out their partners).  All were happy when we went out to lunch.

Oh, and I had to tell them when the party was approximately every fifteen minutes.  Even though I had the schedule on the board and announced it in the morning and kept telling them.  Like clockwork, someone would ask.

The party went well.  I was afraid at first it was going to be a plate party, because 4 kids brought plates and napkins, but we ended up with a good variety of food.  And no cupcakes!! *dances*  I hate cupcakes.  At least the store bought ones.  The only kink in the whole party was one parent was going to bring pizza.  At first, I thought she just wasn’t’ going to come, but she showed up at 2:30, as we were cleaning up.  No worries.  We got all the kids their pieces, got them out the door, and got the room cleaned up.  And then, they were gone.  For three weeks, I am blissfully kid-free.  I mean, I’m going to think about them and worry about them and school and all that, but… yay!!  Vacation!!

Well.  After tomorrow, vacation.

One more day.

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Let’s Just Keep Things A Normal As Possible

That was the plan.  Just go through this week, keeping things as on routine as possible and not succumb to per-vacation craziness.  And it was working!  It was going so well!

Until the earthquake drill.  My kids did a great job.  They ducked and covered and were quiet, gigging at a minimum.  There was a little bit of trouble lining up in number order, but we all got in there.  I had some trouble counting the kids because I’m missing so many (I’m down to 22 kids and 3 were absent today).  But, we go through it, got back to class, and got back to work.  But it was still a disruption.

Then there was a little kerfuffle when the school-wide Elf on the Shelf turned up in the library.  He took one of the tables and the kids were more interested in watching him hang from the ceiling than getting books, but we eventually got focused again.

And then there was the lock down after lunch.  That was… well, a little scary.  I’d had a kid go home at lunch, but I hadn’t yet called to confirm that’s where she’d gone.  And I turned the lights off, which means the kids lost all ability to see.  And I had an upper grader in my class.  Plus, the person I was supposed to text to check in with is out.  But I finally got my head together, texted the principal with my missing and extra student, reminded the kids they could see in the dark, and we got down to work.  Lock down was called off about fifteen minutes later and it was all good.

And then, after school, I was basically told I was going to be helping with a professional development session that may be happening when we come back from break.  I was so good at first.  I said no.  I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t feel qualified (which I’m not; I can teach, but I’d rather be at the PD on how to do intervention because I need training in it.  I haven’t had any).  At the end, however, the head whatever told me that the other teachers would run it and I could help.  And, God help me, I said yes because I felt cornered.  So, yeah.  Instead of getting training I was looking forward to, I may be helping do training.  *expletive*

Tomorrow is our short day.  The parent who was supposed to observe today may be coming tomorrow instead, since her student was sick today.  We’ll be reviewing and testing on iPads so we don’t have to do that on Thursday (which would suck).  And there’s only two more days with students until winter break!!

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The Countdown Begins

It’s the week before Christmas and I am in survival mode.  I will do anything to get through this week without going crazy.  For me, that means keeping things as normal as possible until the very last minute.  I mean, I know Thursday will be chaos.  We’ve got the school-wide sing-a-long in the morning which will get the kids nice and hyper, and then a party in the afternoon, which means they will ask me when the party is every five minutes (“IT’S A TWO!” I will not yell while tearing my hair out).

Today went well.  We caught up on ELA from last week and then counted up to solve subtraction problems.  Of course the book only gives them 4 practice problems on this skill.  Why bother with giving a reasonable amount of practice?  So I worked with the five who didn’t get the skill and had the rest work on their “Subtraction Mittens”, which is a subtraction page that they color and it’s mittens.  The subtraction problems are fairly easy (like 25-9), but I have two who cannot do them to save their lives.  They can’t count backwards, so, I made a page of tens frames for them to draw pictures and subtract:

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I ended up giving it to four kids. Two of them were able to use the and work independently.  One should have been able to work independently, but kept getting distracted.  The third… well, she can barely count, so I had to help her a lot.  We got so into the subtraction mittens that I didn’t notice it was lunch time until the bell rang.  Oops!

We also started out reindeer research project.  Or, I should say caribou, since that’s what they’re called in North America in the wild.  I doubt we’ll get very far on these since we won’t have time to write tomorrow, but that’s okay.  We can finish it after the break.

Finally, we went to Israel and learned about Hanukkah.  One of the suggestions in this unit is to set your class up like an airplane and play footage of a plane taking off, and I’d love to do that but we just don’t have time.  Next year.  But the kids really enjoyed learning about Hanukkah.  I showed them the menorah, the dreidel, and the gelt.  We talked about what Hanukkah meant and the traditions surrounding it.  They were very impressed by the eight nights of presents (of course).  What was really neat was during RTI one of the students from another class asked about the menorah and my student was like, “We were learning about Hanukkah.  That’s a menorah.”  So, they’re learning!

I also put up my reindeer from Friday.  The kids did such a good job with them:

We have all kinds of reindeer: reindeer with mustaches (above their noses), reindeer with sunglasses, and reindeer who decorated their antlers with lights.  Very cute.  I got the idea from Artventurous.  I have, in the past, done it as a paint project, but this year we ran into the time issue.  Crayon is fine, though; it allowed the students to be more creative.

So.  I have three more days with the students and one more day of staff development.  And tomorrow I have a parent coming into my class to observe their student.  This makes me nervous, but she asked and I didn’t feel I could stay no.  It’ll be fine; I know what I’m doing, they know what they’re doing… it’s all good.

Four more days.

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Dear Michaels and Target

(at least in my town)

F&%k you for not having anything Chanukuah.  Not one singe thing.  Nothing, nada, zilch.

Dear Party City

Thank you for having Chanukah stuff.  I got enough dreidels so kids can play in pairs (if we have time), candles (which I’ve been out of for over a year) and one bag of gelt.  I was going to get enough for everyone, but it’s all in different sizes and there weren’t enough bags to get one of each kid.  I just didn’t want to deal with kids being upset that their piece wasn’t as big as another kids.  So, one bag so they can see what it looks like.

I also got the kids gifts, which I normally don’t do, but I’m in the spirit this year.  I got them bubbles, bouncy balls, and winter themed pencils.  Still don’t know if I’ doing parent gifts; probably not since I a) don’t know what to do and b) don’t have time to make anything.  So… maybe next year.

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Another Hurdle Crossed

The Winter performance is done!!  It went really well.  We had a huge turn out; the entire space was packed.  That’s good because it’s always nice to see parents supporting their children, but it’s freaky when it’s time for dismissal and a thousand people rush the bleachers to get their kids.  But, all the kids made it home, pictures were taken, people were happy, and a good time was had by all.

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Don’t the flowers look great?  I’m thrilled at how well they turned out, mostly because I was so skeptical about the project to begin with.  It was very teacher driven where I had to trace all the patterns, but then the kids cut them out and put them together.  I thought it would take a lot longer than it did.  I mean, it took time to trace the patterns and then lace the flowers together and hang them up, but they looked so good, I don’t care.  It was worth it.

So, now that the winter performance is done, I’ll have time to teach again.  Which is good, because, man, I feel so behind.  We all do, but it’s hard.  I didn’t get to teach math at all last Tuesday, but that’s okay because the test isn’t due until January 18 (I think) and I’ll actually be done way before then.  And these kids are just little subtraction machines.  I’m still having them do the drawings, because, like I said before, the standard doesn’t say the have to use the algorithm, just that they use place value to subtract.  And every once in awhile, they forget to subtract the tens or something, but, overall, I can just give them the practice problems and let them loose.Today, we worked on math for an hour and a half because it was a long lesson with lots of practice problems.  Most of them did realy well while I worked with my low lows (who did very well until they got tired, so I released them to work on a easier subtraction/coloring worksheet).  A couple of them were doing the problems right, but had a little bit of trouble with socializing, so they fell way behind.  So, during the last half hour I pulled them to the back table to watch them while they worked.  And it all went well.

This morning was interesting, too.  Our tech rep came in and did a short lesson on coding with the kids.  The lesson was mostly showing them a video and then having them jump into the program.  Of course, this being technology, the first program they were going to do didn’t work because we didn’t have the app, but then I found Kodable and their linked worked.  They loved it.  They were so engaged in working out the puzzles and had so much fun.  So, I put in a tech request for the original app the tech teacher wanted to do and, if I can figure out how it works, I plan to have about a half hour of coding every other week.  It’s probably not enough, but it’s what I can do and that will have to be enough.

We also really started out Holidays Around the World min-unit today.  We put together our suitcases yesterday and read about Christmas in Australia, but today we really dug into the article and analyzed it.  I was afraid they’d get bored once we got to the reading and graphic organizer part, but they really were engaged in what we were doing.  I was so proud of them.  Of course, we got to the part to add our stamp to our passport and I found that I had copied the stamps wrong.  (It’s a photocopy of a stamp that they cut out and add to their passport.)  So, we’ll do that  Monday.  We did get to color the map to show where we went.  Monday, we travel to Israel to learn about Hanakkuah.  I a taking my menorah to school, but want to get a few more pieces of realia.  Hopefully I can find a dreidle somewhere and maybe some gelt.  And, bad Jew that I am, I don’t think I have any books on Chankuah.  I don’t know if I’ll find any of those.

Also on Monday, we start our animal research.  We’re doing group research on reindeer/caribou.  I ordered two books from Amazon and got one today.  We may not get to finish the project, but that’s okay because animal research is animal research and can be done after we come back from winter break. (five more days!)

Okay.  So, I am so glad this crazy week is over.  Next week will be crazy because it’s the week before Christmas, but I’m going to keep it as normal as possible and we’ll get though this.  And it’s only four days with the kids (and one day of staff development, ug).  But it’s going to be a great week. Have a good weekend all!

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Dear Former Students

If it’s been more than seven years since I’ve seen you, and you’ve grown a beard and pierced your face, chances are I a not going to remember you name.  I mean, with the crazy this week, I can barely remember this year’s students names right now.  I’m definitely 50/50 on last year’s students names.  So,  I’m so sorry.  Don’t make me guess.  Just tell me who you are.  Thanks.

In other news, the craziness ends tomorrow.  We have dress rehearsal in the morning and then the performance at night for parents.  And then we’re done!!  And all that’s left is the craziness of the week before vacation.  Which, this year, will mostly be doing stuff we were supposed to this week.  I did get this Holidays Around the World unit off TPT to do, but I’m  not sure I”m going to get to much of it.  I might actually start tomorrow instead of next week, like I’d planned, because a) I’m kind of excited for it and b) it almost doens’t make sense to do some of the stuff we missed this week if we can’t do it right.  We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

 

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