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Back to Reality

Tomorrow I go back to school after a glorious week off.  I had a wonderful week.  I got a ton of reading done.  I started a BookTube channel.  I got a beautiful new camera to take on my trip to Disney World.  I went to a comic book convention and got to see Dr. Mae Jemison, the first woman of color to go into space.  I started listening to my first audio book, and either I choose the book well or I really like audio books because I’m really enjoying it.  So, yeah, it’s been a great week.


Dr. Mae Jemison and Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura on the original “Star Trek”

I don’t wanna go back to school!

I mean, I’ll be fine tomorrow.  I’ll be ready and happy to see my students.  But I’ve had such a wonderful time not working and not having to be responsible.  And sleeping when I want to.  And reading when I want to.  And, and, and….

It’s also going to be a strange week.  We’re taking the ELCAP, which is the new test for English Language Learners.  So, on Monday, students are going to be pulled for my class all day to do one on one testing.  Then, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, they go out of the class for the morning to test and I get students who are not being tested.  We don’t know exactly how long it’s going to take to get through the tests, so it’s hard to know how much to plan and what to plan.  I know that over prepared is always better, so I’m trying to over prepare.  Luckily, I have stuff that I prepared for a substitute a few weeks ago and then ended up not getting a substitute, so I’ve got that stuff.  Oh!  And then on Tuesday, in the afternoon, the second grade teachers have a planning day, so we’ll be out of the classroom again.  So, yeah, it’ll be an interesting week.

And then, there’s only about eight more weeks until the end of the year.  I’m gearing myself up for the finish line and am going to power through.  It’s gonna be a good two months.

I can do this.


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Disney-fying My Room


This is not the best picture, but this is what I spent my morning doing.  I mean, before school morning, after I finished making copies and setting up the room for the day (silly me only copied three out of five vocabulary words this week!  I make a packet for the week and just didn’t notice I was missing two words.  So, copies on Tuesday, which I try to avoid).  Anyway, what those are, are pictures from my calendar last year.  I got the Disney Thomas Kinkade calendar with all the beautiful pictures of Disney movies.  They look like this:


They’re all really beautiful.  I actually have the one from Tangled because my awesome parents bought me the canvas for my birthday last year!


Isn’t it beautiful?  It makes me so happy every time I look at it.  So, I took the calendar page to school along with the other ones I didn’t put in my room.  I honestly didn’t think the kids were going to notice as quickly as they did.  But, not only did they notice the Disney pictures, they noticed the poster with flag facts that Scholastic sent that I posted next to the flag.  I was kind of cool to see how observant they were.  Later in the day, I threw a couple of Tinker Bell pictures from another calendar I had last year.  So, my room is suiting my Disney mood.

I don’t have much to write about school today.  I’m just trying to get through this week, which is an awful way to feel on a Tuesday, but this weekend is not only a three day weekend, but I also get to see my family!!!  Because…. it’s my birthday!!!!

So, yeah, I’m excited for the weekend.

Here, have a picture of my bedroom wall, as well:


Every time I go to Disney, I always swear I’m going to buy a piece of artwork.  That the price doesn’t matter, I can afford it and I want something beautiful for my room.  And every time, I chicken out mostly because I find four or five pieces I really want an can’t decide which to get.  So I get the postcards instead.  One day, that wall will be covered in postcards.  And it will be beautiful.

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And Made It

This week was just one giant uphill struggle.  Today was a breeze, though.  Got my tests done, got my lessons done, got the kids into new tables and the room cleaned.  We won Otter Pops for having fantastic behavior in the cafeteria (which is a double edged sword; I love when my kids behave.  I HATE handing out Otter Pops.  But they love them and it’s a ten minute nightmare, so I deal).  It was a good week.

Oh.  At one point I glanced in my trash can.  It was about midmorning and it was almost filled halfway with used tissues.  My class was *snotty* this week, literally.  It was disgusting watching each little deal with it in their own way, like the one who kept licking and the one who shoved tissue up his nostrils and walked around with it hanging out.  I hope snot season passes soon.

This week definitely took its toll, though.  I went to the gym to swim and I struggled to swim half as much as I usually do and I feel like I swam twice as much.  I was going to go tomorrow before hitting the animal shelter, but I’m too wiped.  Sunday, then.  I’ll build back up slowly.

So, this weekend, sleep, rest, Disney World planning, a haircut, and some work.  Just a little.

143 days to go!

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Things I Can’t Convince My Students Of

  1. Every sentence starts with a capital.  Yes.  Every single one.  All the time.
  2. You always have to regroup in subtraction if the number on the bottom is bigger.  Even if I don’t remind you.  You can’t solve the problem by taking the bottom number and subtracting the top.  It’s not possible.  No, it’s not.  Not even if you want it to be.
  3. You must start adding in the ones place.  Every time.  Even if you know how to add the hundreds.
  4. You’re not allowed to run in the walkways EVEN IF there is no teacher around to remind you.
  5. Yes, you  need to do the word problem.
  6. My name is not Teacher.

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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):



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.



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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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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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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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.


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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Just Another Manic Tuesday


It is hot, y’all.  It’s melt into a puddle hot where I work and, for the first time in forever, it’s the same temperature where I live.  Usually, it’s about 10 degrees cooler, if not more, where I live.  Not today.  Same temp in both places.  Ugh.

So, above are pictured the books my mom donated to my class.  Some she bought, some she dug up in our old collection of books.  My kids are awash in new books right now and it’s wonderful.  Especially since today the library computers went down all over the district.  The librarian had to check out all the books by hand, so the kids were only able to check out one book.  They were disappointed, but I reminded them that we have plenty of books in the class.  Thank goodness.

In math, we learned how to add two digit numbers using compensation.  Basically, you turn the number closest to a multiple of ten into that multiple and compensate by taking away from the other number.  So 38 + 15 becomes 40 + 13.  The book has pictures of tens blocks and the kids are supposed to circle the ones and move them over, but I could tell they weren’t getting it.  So, I pulled out these regrouping mats I got from Sufin’ Through Second Grade a few years ago.  Thank goodness I’d already printed and laminated them, because I wasn’t going to use them until Thursday.  But I thought it’d be an easier way for them to see the concept.

I don’t know.  Some of them got it, but a lot of them… well.  They went through the motions, but I don’t know how well they actually understood what we were doing.  And there’s just one lesson on the concept.  I may go back and do more practice, but when it comes down to it, it’s just one strategy for them to use.  If they don’t get it, then it’s not the strategy for them and they just won’t use it.  I don’t know if I want to expend a lot of energy going over and over it when it just might not work for them.

The second day of RTI went fairly well.  My group is so low that they’re not used to succeeding.  I gave them a passage to read.  It was kindergarten level on the “a” sound, and two of them just refused to do it.  They were supposed to read to their partner while I monitored.  Two did it, the other two, nope.  So, I went to each one and had them read it to me and they read it perfectly without any prompting.  They just needed to see that it was something they could do to get that confidence to do it.  I ended up sending it home with them for “homework”.  One of the kids read it a few more times to himself and then said, “I think I’m getting the hang of this.”  I told him I was very proud.

I think my spiders turned out well.  I’m not going to make the board more “spooky” or “Halloween-y” or anything.  I just wanted something math related up.  Thanks again to Carrberry Creations for the template.  The kids really enjoyed making these.

Stay cool, everybody!

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This Deal is Getting Worse All the Time

So, last month my principal begged for a teacher to sign up for the Next Generation Science Standards district committee.  She needed two teachers to volunteer and no one had.  Finally, she said she’d add $40 dollars to our supply budget if we went.  So, because of that and because she’s new and I want her to think well of me, I said yes.

I should have read the fine print, man.

First, we had to write a science lesson that was linked to a piece of children’s literature.  Luckily, I didn’t have to do much.  I found the book, found the lesson, but the actual writing was done by my partner teacher.  All I did was add the literacy link part, which was easy.

Now I find out if our lesson is chosen, we’ll be presenting/teaching the lesson to teachers from all around the area at the Makers Fair.  And, we have to supply the materials for an indeterminate amount of teachers.  We won’t have to pay for it, but our district doesn’t do reimbursements.  So… they’ll just figure out later how we’ll get the money for these supplies.  And, of course, our lessons is really supply heavy because that’s the way I roll.

I should have asked more questions about what I was signing up for.  Fingers crossed that my lesson doesn’t get picked.

Tomorrow was supposed to be my crazy day.  In the morning, my class was going to be taking a nation-wide computer test.  In the afternoon, the school counselor was coming in to teach an anti-bullying lesson.  Then, in the late afternoon, it’s Fun Friday.  I’m not good with craziness, but I’ve had a week to get used to the insane schedule and was mentally prepared.

And now it’s all coming apart.  My class roster hasn’t been uploaded or processed to the computer.  The counselor has been absent all week.  Fun Friday is still on, so that’s good.  But now, instead of a fast, easy day of not having to teach much, I’m going to have to scramble about to make sure I have enough to do.  I know that the number one rule of teaching is you have to be flexible, but I’m not very good at that.  I mean, I’m flexible, but it throws me for a loop.  But I know I’ve got plenty of stuff to do.  I’ll be fine.


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