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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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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.)


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).


And now, it’s all set up:


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:


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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www wednesday

What did I just finish?

under the never sky

I just finished reading Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.  As I said in my post yesterday, I never reviewed it because I don’t have much to say.  Full disclosure: I’m also having a hard time summarizing it.  There’s just so much to explain, that by the time I get through it, I’ve run out of words.  And that never happens to me.

But, just to try:

This book takes place on the future of our world, where solar flares caused something called Aether to corrupt the atmosphere.  Some of the population, like Aria, have retreated into Pods where they live out their lives in virtual worlds called the Realm.  Others, like Perry, live on the outside in tribes and struggle to food and shelter themselves from the storms caused by the Aether.  When a tragic accident forces Aria to the outside, she and Perry must work together to get Aria to her mother and help reunite Perry with his missing nephew.

And, now that I’ve said all that, I can tell you the book is fine.  It’s not brilliant, it’s not terrible.  It’s pretty typical of YA where the boy and girl work together and eventually fall for each other.  I like the characters (I like Aria more than Perry) and it was interesting enough for me to decide to read the next one.  Which leads me to…

What are you currently reading?

ever night

I am reading Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi.  In order to ensure the safety of Perry’s nephew, Talon, Aria must search for the fabled “still blue,” a place where there is no Aether.  Along the way, she is reunited with Perry, who is now the leader of his tribe.

And finally…

What do you think you’ll read next?

into still blue

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi.  The final book in the trilogy.  After that, I have no idea.  I am always looking for suggestions.  I might read an adult mystery.  Or maybe I’ll reread Rainbow Boys, since I haven’t read it in years.

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