Sunday, February 26, 2017

Keep Calm and Read On

I'm spending as much time as possible relaxing today in preparation for reading week.

For those not in Elementary, it's a rather chaotic week that requires a lot of caffeine and patience.  

For starters, it's a spirit week all week.  While I love dress up days, they are often accompanied by additional quirky student behaviors (which when combined with spring fever, leads to lots of head aches and write ups).

Monday: Crazy Hair Day
Tuesday: Oh the Places You'll Go! (College shirts day)
Wednesday: Wacky Wednesday, full of mismatched ensembles
Thursday: Dr. Seuss day, it's time to find a tutu.
Friday: I forget the technical theme, but it's pajamas.  Enough said!

 We also have two assemblies, one on Monday and one on Tuesday.  I also have two guest readers on Thursday, one of them being my boss's boss.  No pressure there!  There's a school wide reading competition for the highest percentage on AR tests, book bingo, drop everything and read, buddy reading with other classes, a story writing contest (by pod), and read around the pod (where we visit other classrooms).

Oh, and we're taking a field trip on Tuesday.

In addition to all of that, I have Battle of the Books, new teacher meetings, a post observation conference, a grade level meeting to plan the pep assembly skits, and fifth grade is responsible for First Friday treats (which means a Costco run on Thursday).

Oh yeah, I'll also be teaching. 

Sigh.  It's time for a nap.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Feeling blessed!

What a beautiful way to start a Friday!  Even more awesome? Some of my students' families donated to our classroom.  

After today's math test and mapping test, we'll be making some thank you cards! 

But first, we've got to dive into our new books:



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Stop! It's Hammer Time!

{Novel Guide}, {chronological order sort}, and {bundle} are now available!

I've also graded a set of essays, entered them in the grade book, and finished my progress reports! It's been a long day...and it's 6:15 in the morning.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Marriage, 3 months in

We just celebrated 3 months of being married and four years since our first date.

Already, I'm a little sick of these questions:

1) What's changed?!

2) When are you starting a family?!

3) Are you sad the wedding is over?!i

First, nothing has really changed.  We already lived together. We already started a life together.  

I changed my name with the social security office, my bank, and DMV.  I'll be changing it with the school district this summer.  I have a legitimate worry that changing my name will come with the unintended consequence of losing my grade book and all my documents on the shared folder.  So instead, I'll deal with this over the summer.  I'll change my name on car registration in August when I get my annual smog check & pay my fees.

We have new silverware, I guess that's changed.  We are enjoying our wedding presents. 

But honestly, nothing has really changed.

I sort of feel like if things drastically change after the wedding, you're doing something wrong.  I know who I married, our wedding didn't change our relationship.  

Second, the whole starting a family thing...this one really frustrates me.  I have friends that have struggled with infertility.  I have friends who have miscarried.  I have friends that don't want kids.  This is a super personal question and not one I feel comfortable discussing with coworkers.  I've been married three months.  Even if I was pregnant (which I'm not), I wouldn't be sharing it yet anyway.  We'd like to pay off our wedding (and new bed set) first.  We'd like to wait until he's done with school (May). I'd like to enjoy drinking on our honeymoon this summer.  Would we like a family? Yes. Would we like one right this second? No. The puppy is enough for now.

Third, no, I'm not.  The wedding was lovely. I spent a lot of time and energy preparing for it. I have amazing friends and family who were tolerant of the process.  But I'm glad it's over. We can focus on us, and not seating charts. He can focus on homework and I can focus on helping others get ready for their special days.

Friday, February 17, 2017

One book month late

In January, I gave myself the goal of one book a month.  

Then, {January happened}.  I cut myself some slack.  February has been equally busy with:

* Bingo Night at school
* Observations (and having classroom pictures shared out on Twitter)
* Hosting a Superbowl party (for which I was horribly sick)
* Battling the copier (and losing, so I wrote this warning)

* Hosting a nacho bar at work
* Hosting a wedding shower at work 
* Springs Preserve field trip
* Meeting with the middle school counselors
* Preparing for 2 more field trips this month (spoiled students!)
* Valentine's day party
(The before shot of what my students contributed:)

* preparing for standardized testing by preparing for a pep rally
* creating assessments
* learning & implementing 2 new computer programs
* Valentine's evening (#marriagemanaged)

* Girls Night (dinner & a movie at the fanciest theater I've ever been to! We had a waiter to bring us wine and dessert during the show.)

* Attending a bridal shower
* Home improvement projects (okay, that's all the hubby but I helped!)
* GATE training
* Mattress shopping (and the lunch date that was necessary)
* Writing {donorschoose} grants to snag some awesome books for my kiddos
* Using twitter to share my opinion to elected officials (and generally, it's that they aren't doing their jobs)

Oh, and the whole teaching thing.

Here's our map so far:

But nevertheless, I persisted and finished The Hammer of Thor (2 weeks late).  

The teacher guide, chronological order, and bundle (both products) should be available at my {TpT store} by Monday evening.

Up next?  The Angel Tree, which our school's librarian is also reading so we can talk about it.  

It's one of this year's Battle of the Books novels, so that's helpful as well.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Learning Snapshots

I wish more of my day was spent teaching students, or preparing to teach students, rather than filling out paperwork.

Nevertheless, this  is the career I signed up for.  Here are some snapshots of our learning lately.

Poetry Mini-Unit

We've been working on different types of literature (RL 5.5).  Students are quite familiar with the components of novels, enjoy reader's theater, but tend to avoid poetry like the plague.  I get it. I don't actively seek out poetry to read during my free time either.

We spent a few days on reader's theater in small groups.  I selected a passage about Mount St. Helens to tie in with our volcano unit (more on that later) and took the assignment as a speaking grade.

They also practiced taking portions of their novels and turning it into reader's theater scripts.

In doing so, students had to analyze what parts would be explicitly stated by the characters, what information would be presented in stage directions, and what parts might be eliminated.

But since poetry is a major deficit for many of my students, we decided as a planning team that this needed to be addressed.  With poetry, we'll discuss summarizing, layout (stanzas, lines), figurative language, and poetic elements.  Coincidentally, February is also poetry month, so we look like we're totally on top of things!

We started with a class guided poem on World of a Blossom, which actually sparked a forty minute conversation on symbolism (I budgeted twenty, tops).  They glue the poem into their notebooks, then practice annotating their thinking.  We worked on identifying types of figurative language before talking about what the flowers might represent.

I modified this lesson from Jefferson County's long range ELA plans, available {here}.  I taught their unit with fidelity a few years ago and really enjoyed their pacing.  Want just the poem? It's page 29 in the PDF.

Some of mine are experimenting with color-coding their notes.  As a teacher, I allow them this flexibility because fifth grade is such a crucial time for them to develop study skills that work for them.  I've had this discussion a few times with fellow teachers, but hold true to my belief that their notebooks are for them. As long as they have the basic requirements, they can annotate however they'd like.  We practice multiple strategies in the first half of the year, but the second semester means I let them choose how they take notes.  It helps get them ready for middle school where they'll take ownership of their learning.

From there, we did some partner and table reads.  I found a book in our school library about states and poems.  I selected some from the New England region to tie in with our geography unit.  As a class, we read about light houses.  As a table, they found alliteration in a poem about Gulls and Buoys.  With partners, they read about the Islands off of Boston Harbor (complete with pirates).

Surprisingly, they're really enjoying it! We spent some time earlier in the year reading The Raven, which they liked.  We'll be trying some colonial poems next, reading about Moana Loa, and ending with New Colossus.  (Timely, right?)

Project Based Learning

With our project-based learning, we ended our unit on catapults and moved into colonial America (which ties in with our social studies plans).  I'm so fortunate to get to work with such an awesome GATE specialist who co-plans and ties her standards in with what we're teaching.  

They're doing a five class period mock simulation of Jamestown and the starving time.  Each group has one leader (John Smith) that has to decide how the money is spent and which building tasks they'll complete during each given class period (season).  When the whole group works together on one task, it often leads to a lot of fighting.  It's interesting to watch which groups are able to divide up the work load to accomplish more during each season.

We also made sure to not select GATE students to be the group leaders.

Here a group is working on building their palisade, to protect Jamestown from wild animals and hostile natives.


We also finished up a mini-unit on volcano formation.

A fellow teacher and Hawaiian native came in to talk about Hawaiian culture.  One of her friends sent us a box of goodies from the Hawaiian Research labs on active volcanoes.  We spent time exploring topographic maps of Mauna Loa and watched several Discovery Ed video clips.

We've explored equivalent fractions, fractions on a number line, adding and subtracting fractions.  Once again, color coding the fractional amounts is a helpful strategy for many students.  We use colored pencils quite often in math these days.

We have reviewed with bingo in small groups:

This game was part of an old {donorschoose} project and is still loved by students years later.  Thank you again to friends, family, and strangers who continue to support my students and their learning.

Up next?

This week brings the 100th day of school, Valentine's day and the class party, and getting ready to go to the neighboring middle school for a tour.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Field Trips & February

I didn't do so great with my whole finish a book a month goal...

To be fair, a lot of events {occurred in January}, so I can't be too upset.

I'm currently dealing with a sinus infection.  They've lessened with frequency post {surgery}, but are still quite unbearable.  I get another new student today (that makes 37 in case anyone was keeping track) and we have an outdoor field trip...with a wind advisory.  Clogged nasal passages meant I woke up at four having trouble breathing (despite medication and a humidifier), so it's been an incredibly productive day before seven am.  I scheduled our tax appointment, took out the trash, tweeted my senators about blocking DeVos's nomination for Secretary of Education, graded, and read two chapters of my novel (ya know, the one I was supposed to finish in January).

We also got our Donor's Choose project funded! We've got another one collecting funds on another one entitled {I am Not the Enemy}.  This one requests books on the Holocaust, Jewish and Muslim faith, non-violent resistance, and Native American Indians. Subtle, right?  I'm not ashamed of providing my students with information about the world. They shouldn't be scared of their neighbors. They shouldn't be ashamed of their backgrounds.

I've been asked if I fear a censorship letter from the government.  Quite frankly, it'd be an honor to receive such a letter.  To be viewed as a threat for spreading truth.  I'd be right up there with the scientists, the media, and the National Parks Service.  #goals

Looking ahead to February...

We've already celebrated a 30th birthday party, hosted a Super Bowl gathering, and enjoyed a Netflix marathon. I also attended a friend's bridal shower and went #blackout for a stand against DeVos.

Also up on the docket for this month:

1) We have three field trips.  Today's is the Springs Preserve, we're going to the middle school for a tour, and my class won a bonus trip to the Smith Center at the end of the month for a play.

2) We're celebrating our four year anniversary with buying a mattress and getting our taxes done. Hooray for romance and adulting.

3) Our bathroom cabinet remodel will be almost done. I'm staining our new built ins myself to save on cost (and because I want them to perfectly match the other cabinets).

4) Finalizing the details of a baby shower.  Unfortunately, the bridal shower I was planning is no longer happening because the couple split.  I don't know the details but I wish them both the best.  I don't have the receipts for the items purchased, but luckily another friend is hosting a baby girl baby shower in the upcoming months and is willing to buy some of the items off of me at cost.

5) Hosting a bridal shower for a co-worker (and his soon to be wife) on Friday.  I've got help for this one and hopefully enough supplies. I'll find out Thursday night when I set up!

6) Finishing The Hammer of Thor, creating the TpT products, and starting the next novel for Battle of the Books.

In the mean time, feel free to visit {my store} and enjoy some discounts with the flash sale!