The Book Box is Here!


I got my Scholastic book order today!  And I scored on this book order.  First, I got $15 worth of free books, with which I purchased:


Fly Guy books! Ten Fly Guy books!  My kids love Fly Guy, and I have a few, but ten is much  better than what I have.  Fly Guy now has his own box (box 15) to live in.

I also got these:


I don’t know why the picture posted like that.  I’ve uploaded it three times, and it still posts sideways.  Anyway, I got 9 chapter books for free.  They’re probably too hard for my class, but they like trying to read chapter books, so it’s good to have them.

I also got a couple of the “I am” books by Brad Meltzer.  I got I am Martin Luther King Jr. and one other one (can’t remember which).  They look cute and I’ve heard that kids really like them.  I need more biographies, so I think they’ll be a good investment.

Other than that, it was a pretty typical Monday.  My sub did… okay, I think.  He didn’t leave me any notes telling me what he did and did not finish, so that’s frustrating.  Worse, I left a math creativity project for them to do.  It was a spider where they wrote a number in the center of the spider and then wrote 8 number sentences on the legs showing how to get that number.  I bought it from Cranberry Creations on TPT for two reasons: 1) during the math walk through a few weeks ago, it was noted that we don’t have much student math work up and 2) I thought it would be an easier activity for the sub to do than the first chapter 4 lesson.  Plus, I hate starting a new chapter on a Friday.

He had the kids take the spiders home.  I wrote in the plans to make sure the students wrote their names and numbers on the back of the spiders, but I forgot to write, “collect the spiders.”  I’m so used to subs collecting all the work they do, it slipped my mind.  It didn’t for some of the other things, but this one…

Luckily not everyone finished, and a few kids still had their finished spiders in their backpacks.  So, it’s not totally salvageable, but I am so frustrated about it.  I wanted a cute bulletin board to put up that was seasonal and math topical, and because I forgot three little words, it’s turned into a mess.

Speaking of messes, we started RTI today.    I sent my groups off to their teachers and, two minutes later, one group comes back saying that no one was there.  I called the office and was told that they were aware of the problem and were trying to figure out what to do.  They never got back to me.   So, the way we are doing RTI now is we’ve grouped the kids into  six groups: three groups go to the three second grade teachers and then three groups go to an aide.  Not one aide was prepared or told that we were starting.  This is after we had a meeting again last Wednesday and being assured that it was going to start on Monday.  And also, we were told that we had to start this week or the district might step in and not allow us to try the experiment we’re doing.  Well, we’re trying to get it started, and yet the support still isn’t there.  Again, frustrated.  Mess.

But, overall, the day went well.  A good start to the week.


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Sunday Check-in

So, I am done lesson planning for the day.  I got all my Power Points done for the week and I was feeling spectacularly unmotivated to do any of them, so go me.  In the past three days, I have driven over 600 miles and today I am feeling lazy and depressed and generally meh.  But I don’t want to show up tomorrow and have no Power Points and therefore have to do everything by hand.  I know from experience that I am a better teacher when I make the PowerPoints, especially for grammar.  The grammar lessons from HM Journeys (our reading program) are thin, and really thinking through the lesson and organizing them ahead of time helps the students really get the material.  So, they are done.


I just had a great few days.  I drove home (300+ miles away) to visit my father for his retirement party.  The part was organized by my brother and his wife, and it was great.  we did a claims adjuster quiz (because my father was an insurance claims adjuster) and burned his business cards.  We ate really good pizza and hung out and talked and it was a lot of fun.  During the day, my Dad, sister and I went to Ruby’s on the pier for lunch.  We didn’t see any dolphins (sad) but it was nice being at the beach and seeing the waves, getting cherry cokes and being with my dad.

And then, yesterday, as I was leaving for breakfast with my mom and dad, I got an e-mail from my bank saying that there were suspicious charges on my debit card.  I called as soon as I got back and it turns out that someone stole my debit card info.  Luckily, they only charged about $25 dollars worth of iTunes and the bank took the charges off  when I called.  I am also really grateful that they caught it so quickly, but it has left me with an icky feeling.  Last night I dreamed that I came home and found my house utterly destroyed and everything stolen.  It was just a dream, but I’m obviously feeling vulnerable and insecure about my belongings and things.

Tomorrow, I get to go back to my classroom after them having a sub for two days.  I haven’t had a sub for more than a day for over a year, and that’s stressful enough.  Did I leave enough work?  Were my plans clear enough?  Did they kids behave?  Did the sub leave me notes to let me know how the day went?  What am I going to have to make up?  So many questions, so many things I can’t control.

Fingers crossed this will be an easy week.  Red Ribbon week starts on Wednesday, but that’s not too hard.  I am not participating in door decorating (where you decorate your door with anti-drug messages) because a. it’s a teacher-driven activity that doesn’t really involve the kids, b) I’m not artistic or crafty and my door always looks like crap and c) it’s a huge waste of time.   I don’t think most of the other teachers will be doing door decoration either.  So that makes Red Ribbon week easier.  We do have fundraisers going on and this year the teachers are responsible for counting the money the students bring in.  I am hoping my students don’t bring in any money because I am not good at handling money and it makes me nervous.  My prediction is there will be lots of money for me to count because that’s just my luck.

But, easy week.  And I’m feeling well enough to get back to the gym.  I can start getting back into a routine before it’s all thrown off by parent conferences again.

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Did I do something right?

Today, one of my kids went to the bathroom during class.  When he came back, he was clearly upset.  I asked what was wrong, and he started crying.  It was upper grade recess when he went and some of the older boys were yelling at him when he went into the bathroom.  I asked if he knew who they were, but he didn’t.

So, I got down next to him and said something like, “I’m sorry that happened to you.  It must have been scary very upsetting.  But the thing is, those kids are not worth your time or your tears.  Good, nice people, the people that we care about, do not yell at us for no reason and make us feel bad.  The don’t try to make us think there’s something wrong with us.  Because there isn’t.  There isn’t anything wrong with you and you don’t deserve to be yelled at.  You deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.  So don’t worry about them.  They aren’t worth it.  Take a deep breath, let it out (because kids never let out the deep breath they took unless they’re told to) and forget them.  Don’t let them ruin your day.  You’ve got better things to do.”

And it seemed to work.  He calmed down, stopped crying, and he started working.  In a few minutes, he was smiling and laughing.  Even better, when we started writing a few minutes later, he was actually eager to write.  The prompt for this week is a fun time they had with a friend.  I said they could sit near the friend they were writing about.  This boy, who usually has to dictate his writing to me and then copy what I wrote, actually started writing.  It was amazing!

It left me with a good feeling.  I finally feel like I did something right.

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Lesson Planning

Ever wonder why you lesson plan?  Weeks like this, I do.  I generally start lesson planning the Wednesday before.  That way, but Friday, I’m done and I don’t have to worry about them over the weekend.  This week, I had the bonus of doing sub plans for Thursday and Friday.  I got everything done and copied by last Friday and was riding high.

Then, this week happened.

First, my math plans flew out the window.  I’d planned to review and test the chapter on Monday and Tuesday, but the review and test weren’t ready.  That was fine; there were two lessons in the chapter that weren’t tested, but could be taught.  So I taught one.  Then, the review and test were ready.  That was better, because I could do the review today, test tomorrow, and the sub could do the easy lesson on repeated addition instead of the hard lesson on compensation that I had planned.  Perfect.  I revamped my plans, went to the sub plans, easy peasy.

Now, tomorrow morning instead of ELA, I’m doing the CPAA test (yeah, not).  So that means my ELA plans are pushed back a day.  Once again, I’ll have to dive to my sub plans and make adjustments.  Only these adjustments will ripple into next week and testing and all that jazz.  *sigh*  If I just hadn’t done lesson plans, it would have been so much less work.  But my district has us turn the lesson plans into the office every Monday, so I have to.  I suppose I could have put off the sub planning until this week, but I wanted to make things easier for myself this week.  Oh, the irony.

Also, I have noticed that on Tuesdays after our staff meetings I feel crummy and defeated.  My solution is that we stop having staff meetings.  Think administration will go for it?


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What we have here is a failure to communicate

RTI will start Monday, we were told.  Here are the lists of where the students will go.  Do you want to do a “dry run” on Thursday last week?  No?  Okay, then, be ready to start Monday.

Guess what didn’t start Monday?  *sigh*  I was ready.  I was excited.  I dreamed about my RTI group all night.  I planned yesterday.  I even wrote it into my sub plans for Thursday and made the copies I needed.  And then, no.  We were told that it wasn’t starting because the aides haven’t had their training and weren’t ready.  And we, the second grade teachers, are frustrated because now that we have the plan, we are ready to start.  My group is a group of 5 students who need reviews in vowels, vowel sounds, and CVC words.  This is not something that is going away; they need it now.  We’re 10 weeks into the school year of second grade, and my group doesn’t have kindergarten skills.  They need RTI.

But, no, not this week.  Maybe next week.

In good news, we had a really fun assembly today.  It was about having a positive impact on your school and not being a bully.  The presenters were dynamic and entertaining and the kids loved it.  It was noisy and loud and there was lots of music and shouting… what wasn’t there to love?



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The work will never end until it’s done


This is the scene in my living room on Sunday afternoon.  I’ve got both my work and personal computer out, plus my iPad (which is not pictured).  In the old days, the work computer would be the Teacher’s Guide for the reading anthology, but that is now available online so I don’t have to lug the whole thing home.  Honestly, it’d be easier to just have the anthology with me, but I’m always afraid that I’ll get sick or something and then the sub won’t have the anthology the next day.  So, I use the computer instead.

Last year, I went through all 30 lessons in the reading anthology and made vocabulary lessons for the words in each lesson.  I did it based on the ELLA training I received years ago and can therefore no longer remember what the acronym stands for. It took about 15 minutes for each lesson, maybe more, which doesn’t seem a lot, but times 30 lessons adds up.  Plus, it took longer in the beginning when I didn’t have my groove yet.  But I kept telling myself that it was okay because next year, the work would be over and I could relax.

And then this year hit.  And I realized that I had to change up the way I did high frequency word phonics, and grammar.  So, now, on Sunday, I make Power Points.  I make a slide for all 10 HFW words and add a picture for each word as a guideline.  Then I duplicate those slides a couple time and mix them up for more practice.  For phonics, I make slides for blending words.  This way, instead of having to sit in front of the class, write the word, and hope the kids are blending them, I can walk around while clicking through the slides and listen to them.  Last, I make my grammar slides.  This is where having the anthology would help, because it’s two or three days of lessons and it takes so long to get there on the computerized book.

I think the Power Points are helping.  I’m seeing some improvement in test scores and they can definitely answer my questions better than they were before.  The problem with the tests is they are  not straightforward.  Take last week.  We learned proper nouns.  You’d think the test would give them a sentence and ask them to identify the proper noun.  Instead, the students are given a sentence like:

My sister ate otter pops on Friday.

They are then asked, “what do you need to do to correct that sentence?

a. change sister to Sister

b. change otter pops to Otter Pops

c. change Friday to friday

So, not only do they have to identify the proper noun, they have to realize sister isn’t a proper noun and doesn’t need to be capitalized and that Friday is a proper noun and does need to be capitalized.  Plus, they need to figure out that Otter Pops is the name of a product, and therefore needs to be capitalized.  It’s all very complicated.

This week we are doing action verbs, which can be fun.  To get the idea that an action is something you do, I sing the song, “I Like to Move It, Move It” with various verbs substituted for “Move it” and the kids act out the verbs.  It’s a lot of fun for me and the kids.

Hope you have a great week!

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I Have a Problem

I went to Target for two things: a shirt and some candy.  My apartment was shockingly bereft of candy, save for a few Wintergreen Lifesavers, and those weren’t cutting it.  Luckily, it’s candy season, so stocking up wasn’t going to be a problem.

This is the problem:


(Ignore Cobbler; he ran over the moment he realized something was on the floor.)

I didn’t mean to buy books.  I just placed a Scholastic book order and ordered a bunch of books from there (including a bunch of Fly Guy books, since my kids love Fly Guy).  But the Little Critter books were on sale for $3.  How could I say no?  And I needed the Flair Pens because one of my Cass Dojo rewards is write with pen.  I have one set of pens, and one day, I had three kids who wanted to write with pen.  One of the students reminded me of the problem, so I said I’d buy pens this weekend.  And the mini Post-its were, well, because I’m out of mini Post-its.

That’s it, though.  I swear I’m not buying any more books… for a least a week.

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Tripping Across the Finish Line

Last night was Literacy Night at our school.  That’s where we invite parents to come in the evening and we teach them strategies they can use at home to work with their children.  To drum up attendance, the principal promised every child that attended a Principal Eagle Dollar worth $25 dollars.  I also did my part and sent a message through Class Dojo to remind students of the occasion.  About six or seven of my kids came, which is more than usual for me.  Second grade did held a joint presentation in the multi-purpose room, so it was crowded and buzzing during the “make and take” portion of the half hours (we did two half hour sessions).  The principal was really happy with our presentation, the parents thanked us, and, overall, it was a good night.  The best thing is, I don’t have to do that again until January, when it’s math night.

Today was Superhero Day at school.  To show that we were against bullying, everyone was supposed to dress up like a superhero, because superheroes are against bullying.  This was me:


I could have also gone as Black Widow, but I figured Captain America was more recognizable.  Plus, I like the character better.

I had two kids dress up.  One girl came as Wonder Woman and one boy came as a ninja.  The ninja quickly took his costume off, however.  Some other kids wore superhero tops to show their spirit.  I took my shield with me, intending to take pictures of the kids with it, but the day got too busy and I never got around to it.

My class also had their big Rock Painting day.  The counselor came in to teach a lesson about what bullying is, how to recognize it, and how not to be a bully, and then the kids got to paint rocks with anti-bullying messages.  I think two kids wrote actual messages; the rest just painted. A  good time was had by all.

And we almost made it to the end of the week without another incident, but then my little darling punched another student in the stomach at recess yesterday.  I wrote up the referral, but the principal was so swamped with her disasters that she didn’t see it.  She did congratulate the boy on having a good day, because overall, today his day was fine.  It was yesterday, only no one knew because the kid who got hit didn’t report it.  *sigh*

But, it’s the weekend now.  Monday will interesting. My class was originally supposed to take a test called the Children’s Progress Academic Assessment, but there’s a big anti-bullying assembly during our testing time, so we’re going to that instead.  (This is the second time we’ve been rescheduled, which, actually, is fine with me.  I’m not eager to take the test).  Then, we’re restarting RTI, now with a much better model, but still during the last half hour of the day.  On top of that, it’s one of my student’s birthdays.  If they bring cupcakes, I don’t know when I can have the kids eat them except before lunch.  So, we’ll see.  It might be a “Happy Birthday” here’s your cupcake, now leave sort of deal.

In the meantime, it’s the weekend and I plan to relax.  Hope you all have a great weekend, too!

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It’s a Juggling Act

Tattling is a big deal in second grade.  Little kids want to tell on everyone for everything.  “I ran my hand over my hair and she copied me.”  “He looked at me.” “She accidentally bumped into me.”  On and on and on, it can be never ending.

At the beginning of the year, I read a book called Don’t Squeal Unless It’s a Big Deal. It’s a good book in that it lays out very clearly what constitutes reporting  and what is tattling. It ends with a whimper and I don’t think it really gets its message across alone, but it has a lot of good points.  So I read the book, teach the lesson, and make an anchor chart that basically says that tattling is trying to get attention/someone in trouble and reporting is when someone is hurt, someone is hurting an animal, someone is hurting property that doesn’t belong to them and…. something else.

In the past, when a kid came up and I suspected they were tattling, I’d run down the list before they could tell me what was going on.  If it was none of those things, I’d ask if they were trying to get someone in trouble.  If yes, I told them they were tattling and to please go sit back down.  This year, I tried something Michelle at Pocketful of Primary used with her students.  I would ask if they were trying to get someone in trouble or try to get someone out of trouble.

This, apparently, was the wrong question to ask.  Generally, I don’t get an answer at all.  Usually, I go through the list then, but this one time… And now it’s come back to haunt me.

It all started when, after school, “Bob” told me that “Jane” told him that his mother was fat.  I called Jane back over and asked why she said that.  She said she hadn’t, which immediately  led to Bob saying she had, yadda yadda.  Bob was visibly upset, almost in tears, shaking a little, so I knew something had been said.  I asked Jane to tell me what she had said.  “I said he has a nice shirt.”


At this point, I told her that I believed Bob when he said that his feelings were hurt.  I said that she needed to remember to use kind words because our words can hurt.  I reminded her of the Wrinkled Wanda activity we’d done yesterday, and whatever she said, her words had hurt him and she needed to apologize.  Then, when she said nothing, I said, “That means say you’re sorry.”  After she said she was sorry, I crouched down to her level and told her I was surprised this had happened because I knew she was a really nice kid who only wanted to make people feel good, and I knew this (and another incident from Monday) were unusual and I knew she was going to use her words nicely from now on.

That’s what I said.  What she heard was, “I’m in trouble and my teacher hates me,” which is what she told her mother.  Maybe not the teacher hates me part, but she went to Mom in tears and said she was in trouble.  Which she wasn’t.  Bob got his apology, he seemed fine, we were done.

But what I didn’t know was two weeks ago, Jane tried to report the fact someone told her that if she didn’t play with them (or did play with them; I’m unclear) they’d kill her family.  I vaguely remember her coming to me.  I think I asked if she was trying to get someone in trouble and when she didn’t say anything after me rephrasing a few times, I sent her away.  But, to make things worse, Mom went to the office to report it and instead of telling the principal, well.  No one ever did.  So I’ve got this girl who has had to be talked to twice this week for saying things she shouldn’t being threatened and me and the school failing her.

So, yeah.  I feel great about that.  *sigh*  Clearly, “are you trying to get someone in trouble or out of trouble” is too vague a concept for the kids to understand.  Because, yeah, I’m trying to get the people who are hurting me in trouble is a valid answer.  And it’s too hard for kids to conceptualize the idea that they are trying to get themselves out of trouble so it’s a reportable offense.

Luckily, the principal was actually in my room when I got the call from Mom, so I was able to tell her right away what had happened.  The sad thing was she wasn’t even surprised.  Apparently getting information she needs has been a problem this year.

Tomorrow night is Literacy Night, which means I get to stay at school until 7.  Which is fine because tomorrow is going to be an awesome day where things go right and I end up with positive feelings and happiness.

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Patience You Must Have

I did not have much patience today.  Especially with one student.  I tried, I did.  I breathed deep.  When I felt my temper fraying, I reminded myself he’s just a kid whose doing the best he could.  But that’s part of the problem; I don’t feel he’s doing the best he can.  He’s low and eager to  participate, but the minute I’m not there holding his hand, he just stops working.  My other low kids work their little butts off.  I tell them to track while we’re reading, they’ve got their fingers or tracking eyes out following along.  If we’re doing spelling and I see they’ve got the wrong vowel and correct them, at least they erase it and try another vowel.  When we’re doing math and I ask a problem, I see them counting on their fingers or drawing pictures, trying for that right answer.

But him?  He won’t track.  I’ve tried showing him how to do it with his finger.  No.  I made these tracking wants out of Popsicle sticks that have an eye on to the top so they can “see” what they’re reading.  He won’t use it. He writes nonsense on his whiteboard during spelling unless I’m standing right over him, feeding him the sounds.  He can add, but during number talks, he just says the first number that comes into his head instead of trying for the right answer. He loves to be called on, so I call on him a lot, but he gets so frustrated when I don’t.  I’ve pulled him aside and explained that I can’t always call on him, it’s not fair to the other students, but he still tries to monopolize every questions, even when I’m pulling equity sticks, even when he’s already shared, even when he doesn’t know the answer and doesn’t have anything to say.  And he gets loud when I don’t call on him and throws mini-fits (not too bad, but little ones.  Tiny ones).

And it wears on me.  I want to encourage him, but sometimes I feel like I’m having to devote all my attention to him because if he doesn’t get it, he just shuts down.  And that’s not fair to the other kids and it’s not fair to me.

So, we switched desks today.  He’s still in the front of the room, but not longer directly in my eyesight.  Maybe it’ll ease some of the pressure from both of us.

In cheerful news, I got complimented on my outfit today.  Actually, I was told I was beautiful by another staff member and that always feels good.  It was nice hearing today.

Tonight, I’m going to bed early and sleep and tomorrow I won’t feel so worn out.  And I will have much more patience.


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