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Kids are Resilient

That’s what the math trainer reminded me today, and she was right.  Yesterday was a mess, the kids experienced something frustrating, but it’s a new day today and they’re fine.  One bad lesson won’t kill them.

Math training went well today, and not just because I got a hug and a reminder I’m a good teacher at the end of it.  For once, we’re getting really valuable training that we can take back to the class and use.  Not only was the teacher talk part valuable, but she demonstrated a number talk and a math lesson with my class and it went really well.

We brought my class into the meeting room since I don’t have a place on the carpet for the kids to gather (I wish I did, but there’s just no room!).  She showed them some cards with dots on them and have them say how many they saw and how they knew (which we’ve done in class, so they were familiar with the routine).  Then, they did an activity where they used snap cubes to count how many pockets they collectively had.  It was so great to see them working together, using math vocabulary, and being eager to solve math problems.  They went from working with a partner to count how many pockets they both had, to deciding they could count by tens to discover how many all 23 students had, to making ten trains and counting them.  Then, they wrote a word problem (we thought we had 80 pockets.  We had 124 pockets.  How many more pockets did we have?) and solving that word problem in different ways.  We haven’t even touched on two or three digit subtraction, but they were able to use mental strategies to figure out how many more pockets they had.  It was awesome!

Tomorrow, we do RTI again.  I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to do.  I found out the other two second grade classes didn’t do RTI as such yesterday.  One didn’t have their aide show up, and the other said she wasn’t going to do RTI until it was done right (next week), so had her aide work with a child on something while she did science.  I could do that, or I could let my higher kids do the spelling game (I think they’d like having to race against the clock to spell a word) while the other groups do the learning games.  I don’t have to pull a group like I normally would, just make sure everyone is working on something educational.  So, we’ll see.  Whatever I do, I won’t beat myself up if it doesn’t go well. It’s a snapshot of messiness out of a day of good teaching.  It won’t kill anyone.

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But I’m Not a Failure, Right?

As smoothly as everything is going with testing on the iPads this week, it does bring about my insecurities with being a teacher.  These tests are hard.  And no matter how much I try to prepare the kids for the tests, most of them still do really poorly.  It’s so frustrating because we read the stories in the anthology, do the skills and strategies, go over and over everything a million times, and they get to the unit tests and….  They just don’t perform.  And there’s an added wrinkle this year, because the passage is “attached,” so to speak, to the first question, so it’s hard for them to get back to the passage after they’re read it.  I tell them to read the passages three times, but, really, they should be allowed to go back to the passage to look up the answers.  Maybe next time, I’ll give them a hard copy of the passage so they have it.  Maybe that will help.  And maybe that will help me not feel as much like a failure of a teacher.

Tests suck.

In less depressing news, look what I did this morning:

That’s right. I finally got the aqua fabric up.  In the center are some growth mindset posters I got from TPT last year.

I also did this today:

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I found the anchor chart on Google images and whipped it up.  I always get the kids to understand the concept, but I’m bad at getting them to be able to “read” the comparison the correct way.  I thought that this chart might help.  It seemed to; by the end of the lesson, only 4 students needed to be pulled for small group, so that’s something.  I hope they continue to get the concept because we test on Thursday.

Okay, I feel better.  Looking at something good I did today helps with the icky feeling from this morning.  And I’m done with progress reports, so that’s good.  My week is looking up.

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For Once, It all Worked

Today, we stared our unit 1 benchmark test for ELA.  As a grade level, we decided to do the test on the iPads and not photocopy the gazillion page test as a backup.  I was nervous, because technology is notoriously unreliable and I was afraid something would go wrong.

It didn’t.  It went so smoothly.  The kids did… as expected (some did really well, most didn’t do as well), but it would have been the same on the paper tests.  And it’s all graded already.  All I had to do was get the sheet that told me which question was which standard and mark off if they got it correct or not.  That took me about ten minutes.  So, yay!  Day one, off to a good start.

And, double yay, my meeting got cancelled this afternoon.  We were supposed to have a PBIS meeting (which is our school behavior management system), but the principal went to a PBIS training and realized that she wasn’t organized enough to hold a meeting.  It would just waste our time, and she didn’t want to do that.  So, it was cancelled and I got to work on progress reports.  I am now done with half of them.

In classroom decorating, I got the leaves up, but quickly found out I didn’t get enough.  I need to run by the Dollar Store to get a few more garlands tomorrow.  I think it looks cute:

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Later this week, I’ll be replacing the green bulletin board with an aqua one.  Then everything in my room will be blue/aqua or purple.  It’ll look like I put some thought into my room!  The only problem is this:

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This is my focus wall.  Yes, it’s blue, but I don’t like the way it looks.  Of course, I don’t have to look at it too much; the goal is to get it covered with anchor charts that go with what we’re working on.  Then I don’t have to look at picnic tablecloths that I used.  And it’s too big for me to want to take it down and redo it.  Butcher paper will fade, fabric would be too expensive, and while I know I can make it smaller… I don’t know.  I’ll figure it out.  (And all my anchor charts have been inspired by what I’ve found on Pinterest and Google images.  Nothing is original).

So, fingers crossed that the rest of the week goes as smoothly as today went.  Have a great week!

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Exhausted but triumpant

I made it through my first week!  The class is great!  Still a little talkative, but they did a fantastic job this morning working independently while I pulled students for assessments.

I started the week by reading Decibella and Her 6-inch Voice by Julie Cook to help kids understand voice levels.  I also made a poster that I refer to before sending them to work:

IMG_0314It’s helped in the classroom, although we still need a lot of practice on 6-inch voices (especially in the afternoon).  Now, we just need to work on using it in the lunchroom.

I only had one morning crier all week!

And now, a nice, relaxing weekend before doing it all again.

first day of school pic

first day of school pic

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First Day!!

This week flew by so quickly!  I moment, I was in a room that was completely backward from how I left it, the next, I was walking out ready for the students on Monday.

A few pictures.  Here is my room at the end of the day on Monday:IMG_0287

This is the board where I post my students’ writing (behind the TV).  This board stayed up from last year.  The only thing I added were my clothespins that I made a couple weeks ago.  I had some break as I was putting them up, so I was a few short.

IMG_0294IMG_0295This is my ELA focus wall.  I tend not to put up the title of the story, instead focusing on the skills and strategies anchor charts as well as word work.  I also moved my alphabet down lower.  It used to be at the top of the board, but at every workshop I’ve been to, they’ve said to put the letters where the kids are.  Later this week, I’m going to have them get a letter and line up in ABC order.

IMG_0290The crate seat that I made.  I think it turned out well.  There’s a tub of books I don’ t use with second graders next to it. I might make a cushion for that, too.

IMG_0288The beginning of my clip chart.  I tried to use the color suggestions given by Rick Morris, but didn’t have all the right colors.  So, I improvised.  I think it turned out well:IMG_0297

I just need to laminate it and buy more clothespins.  Unfortunately, since they’re redoing out teachers’ lounge and office, the laminating machine has been put away.  At least we finally have toilets again, though!

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The nearly finished “Out of Room” board.  I’ve since added a ribbon and the passes to one side.

This is what the room looks like now:

IMG_0306Storage for our Eagle Dollars, are school wide reward system.  Every time a student is Safe, On-Task, has an Attitude to Achieve, or is Respectful, they can earn an Eagle Dollar.  Every other Friday, students with 5 or more dollars get to go to the store to shop.  They love it!  Last year, I had them keep track of their own at the desks.  While they students were very responsible with their dollars, it got a little messy.  This year, we have a central place for them.

IMG_0301 IMG_0298So, that’s my room for the year!  I’ve got my lesson plans all done, class lists made out, most of my copies for the week.  All I need now are the kids!

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Crafting for Kids

Next week, I head back to work.  Teacher’s go back on Wednesday and the students the following Monday (giving me 3 days to prepare.  Of course, 2 of the 3 days are professional development, so, really, it’s 1 day and whatever I can squeeze in.  Sometimes campus will be open on Saturday, but since I don’t seem to have a principal yet, who knows if that will happen).

So, instead of stressing out over what I don’t know (principal, will I stay at the same grade/class/school, what if I forget how to teacher, etc), I decided to make stuff

First, I wanted to make this:

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I found it on Pinterest.  It was made by Jennifer over at Diary of a Second Grade Teacher.

I really like this tracking system.  It seems simple and effective.  I can glance at it and see where a student is without having to stop and think where I gave them permission to go.  I went out this morning to buy supplies:

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I got the magnetic white board and magnets at WalMart.  I had the paint and painter’s tape.  My hand is really shaky, so the numbers didn’t come out as neatly as I wanted, but I’m sure it’ll be fine.  I’m hoping I can see the numbers from a distance, but if I can’t, I can always walk over (or ask a student to read the number of who is where).

After I painted on the numbers, I mocked up where I wanted my grid with painter’s tape.

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I was originally going to do my labels with blue painter’s tape, but it’s too dark.  I’ll either try a lighter color or use something else.

Finally, I put the ribbon on.

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What you can’t see is all the strings of hot glue.  I don’t get hot glue, but it worked out well enough.  There are some places I need put some more, but overall, I’m really happy with it.  I think I’m just going to use the Command strips to mount it (either on the door or right next to it.  I can’t wait to get the labels on!  I think it turned out really well.

Next, I wanted to make these nifty little things, pinned from KrafyDesign’s esty shop.

  clothespin tacks

I’m planning on using them to hang the students’ writing.  In the past, I used binder clips, but they came in a bunch of different sizes and the students found them hard to open.  (That was first grade; I don’t know if second graders would find it easier; I found it hard sometimes.)  Last year I just put a push pin through their papers, but I didn’t want to do that this year.  So far I’ve made one set for each student, but I have a feeling I’m going to want  2 per paper.

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I don’t know why WordPress flipped this picture.  Anyway, I may put something pretty on the other side; I’m not sure if I’ll use ribbon or get some crafty paper yet.  I’ll post the final product when I’m done.

That’s all I have for today.  I’m super excited for my next project, but I can’t do it until I get into the classroom.  Until then, I’ll just wait in gleeful anticipation.

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Score!

I went to the thrift store today and hit bank in the book department.  Someone (a hopefully retired teacher) donated a bunch of books from her library, and now they belong to me.

 

I got seven Biscuit books by Alyssa Capucilli , six Noodles books by Hans Wihlelm, Just Me and My Dad by Mercer Mayer, Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler, a Clifford book, an Arthur book, Danny and the Dinosaur, and There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly Guy, which is good because my boys have just discovered Fly Guy and are already racing to check out the few the school library has each week.

All in all, it was a good day.

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First Grade Problems

Student 1: Ms. Y!  They say they don’t want to play with me because I’m being mean.

Student 2: He’s being mean!

Me: Are you being mean?

Student 1: *guilty face head duck* maybe

Me: *sigh*

 

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Artwork Friday

On Friday afternoons, I like to try and do art with my class. Officially, I do this because kids need art, it’s part of the curriculum, they don’t get a lot of art, etc. etc. Really, I do it because by Friday afternoon my mind is so full, that I need something non-academic and creative to do.

One day, I dream of a world where art might be a relaxing thing. Sadly, this hasn’t ever been the case. Especially today, since my class has some bizarre form of spring fever, complete with Student Who Won’t Stop Laughing Like a Serial Killer, I’m Done! Child, and Won’t Stop Talking For Forty Five Minutes Yet Is Upset He Didn’t Finish. But, hey! They got to paint and color and have fun.

We did Kandinsky Circles with watercolors and crayons. The idea came from Mrs. P, Art Explorer’s blog. My class didn’t have watercolor paper, so we used computer paper. I think their favorite part was seeing what color the water turned when they cleaned their brushes.  The Blue table cheered very loudly when they finally got their water to turn blue.

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I think they turned out well.  They’re supposed to be hung in the office next week.  I’ll try and get a picture and post.

As a note to me:  buy watercolor paper.  And (maybe) oil pastels.

 

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Words of Wisdom

When you play Zombie Red Light/Green Light with first graders, someone (the teacher) is gonna get bit.

 

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