Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Ending with a Bang!

With the end of the school year fast approaching, I thought I'd take a minute to highlight some of our school's end of the year traditions.

**Full Confession: This took me almost a month to write due to the incredibly long days associated with the end of the year.**

  To help families out, I sent home a "cheat sheet" of different events happening the last month of the school year:

As the year approached and I struggled to finish all their testing, I sent home a second calendar:


We unintentionally caused a bit of (unnecessary) drama this year.  Traditionally, the teachers vs. fifth grade students kickball game happens after Memorial Day.  However, it's absurdly hot on the face of the sun (meaning Las Vegas).  We had a few days in early May where the weather was in the mid 80s, so we asked to move the game up.  We checked with fourth grade (since they were doing SBAC testing), but a few veteran teachers got incredibly upset about the change in routine.   The teachers won on one field, the students won on the other, but overall the teachers won.  There was quite a bit of cheating from the students, which was disappointing.  Some of the more gifted athletes were cutting and not letting all their classmates play, which isn't okay.  We want all the fifth graders to have fun, not just the athletes.

Ms. S and I manned the outfield.  She's a much better athlete but I tried!

A-Z Count Down

We celebrate the last 26 days of the school year with a different spirit day.  Some are more successful than others, but it's nice when the whole school is having fun.  Granted, there were teachers that completely changed each spirit day to match what they wanted instead of being team players, but that's always going to happen (unfortunately).  Don't be that teacher.

A day: Art day.  We spent a good 40 minutes making mother's day and father's day cards.  I planned for twenty, but oh well.  We also had a life chat about everyone's families being different and truly just making a card for someone that you care about.

B day: Beach day.  I forgot a towel.  It was hot.  We read inside on the floor.

C day: Crazy hair day.

Yup, I've got bedhead down!

D day: Disney day. I was out for a training so I didn't participate.  We did have a nice discussion that technically, Marvel is owned by Disney, so yes, Iron Man is a Disney character.  What a pretty princess he'd be!

E day:  Exercise day coincided with the previously mentioned kickball game.

F day: Fruit day.  With three dozen kiddos, I don't bring in food to share on a regular basis.  We had a discussion about allergies because I had students allergic to cherries and pineapple.  Some brought in fruit and shared with their friends, but not the whole class.  I was fine with it.

I also snuck in a mini-math lesson on frequency tables.  I had them talk about their favorite fruits, called on volunteers to share, created this table, and they didn't even realize they were doing math.

I also had them create their own survey and practice polling one another.  It was a great, authentic math lesson with a much needed wiggle break.  

G day: To celebrate geography day, we continued learning about the fifty states and capitals. 

H day: Hat day.  There is one hat that is superior to all other hats.  This is that hat:

I sorted the kiddos as they entered the classroom.  I am not the owner of the hat, so I had to return it to Mr. S.  Sad day.

I day: Inside out day.  While I forgot and wore my clothes normally, I did post these characters from the movie:

We used it as an opportunity to talk about the many feelings in the classroom about the end of the year.  I wanted to be respectful of the fact that some students couldn't wait to be middle schoolers while others were absolutely terrified of growing up.  All emotions are welcome and we talked about appropriate coping strategies for dealing with larger than life feelings.

J day: Joke day.  We shared during breakfast time (and a little into our math lesson).

K day: Kickback day is code for yoga pants. It is glorious. I also had a planning day on this day, so I got to kick back in the conference room and write some long range plans for next year.

L day: Lollipop day. I didn't get the best feedback from the sub, so I didn't provide any suckers for the day.  If they brought their own, they could enjoy them during reading time.

M day: Mismatch day.  Yup, I rocked this day.  

Very few others participated and I felt a little awkward. 

N day: The only thing close to neon is the leggings I wore the day before. I don't look good in highlighter yellow.  Very few do. 

O day: Ocean/octopus day.  We watched a few videos on sharks.

Then they had lots of questions.  Luckily, I am a honorary shark expert and we had a good talk about conservation.

P day: Pajama day.  Once again, there is something glorious about wearing pajamas to work.

Q day: Quiet day.  This one was a struggle for them.  One sweet kiddo brought a white board and communicated that way all day.

R day: Red day. I was unintentionally rebellious and wore a blue dress.  Oops!  

S day: Stuffed toy day.  I showed them a picture of my pup who absolutely loves her stuffed unicorns.  She brings them to bed with her.

T day: Twin day.  I think I matched another teacher (?).

U day: Uniform day happened to coincide with grades being due and me helping to host a retirement party after work.  It was a fourteen hour day and I wasn't pleased.

On the bright side, I did wear my new jersey.  We got matching ones for the wedding with our new matching last names.

V day: Video day.  We forgot. We watched some on W day.

W day: Watermelon day.  Not a favorite of mine because I don't like watermelon.  Perhaps I'll be rebellious and next year will be water day.  Some students brought some (pre-cut) watermelon in and shared with classmates.

X day: X-change autographs.  We took the fifth graders to the center courtyard and gave them 40 minutes to sign one another's year books.

Y day: Year-end cleaning day.  We finished up the final touches on classroom breakdown (at least the part they could help me with).  Since I'm moving to third grade, I had to give up my classroom and move to a smaller one.  Ms. A, another fifth grade teacher, moved into my room and we coordinated the move pretty well.  The room I moved into wasn't as easy.  That teacher was having a difficult time moving out and leaving the school, so I had to work around his mess and piles.  Luckily my principal was understanding and didn't let him slow down the rest of us in terms of checking out for the summer.

Z day: zero days left.  We went to the pool across the street, had a BBQ, read a book, cried, and said our goodbyes.  From there, we had our staff party (with a shaved ice truck) and I spent hours cleaning in my classroom.

After the students leave, we have one contracted day to clean up and check out.

Between the garage, the storage shelves, and my new classroom, all my stuff was out by 11 am.  Room 71, it's been swell.  Onward and upward! 

Panoramic Picture

Due to scheduling with the photographer, this glorious stressful activity happened on our prep.  Having 185 fifth graders, lined up by height, all facing the camera at the same time is pretty much a Herculean task.

The pictures help pay for the end of the year ceremony set up and the pool party, so we encourage students to buy them.

The Sorting (something new!)

Several teachers had the opportunity in April to attend the {Ron Clark Academy} in Atlanta, Georgia. While I was not one of them, I fully support our school's decision to embrace this structural model and implement it.  I found {this blog post} to be helpful when wrapping my brain about the Ron Clark Experience.

The school will consist of four houses with teachers and students being evenly sorted (ish).  We sorted the fourth graders since they'll be next year's leaders.  We also sorted the teachers in front of everyone.  We had our say in picking from the four houses:

Isibindi: House of Courage
Reveur: House of Dreamers
Amistad: House of Friendship
Altriusmo: House of Givers  

Granted, this house model is based on Hogwart's 4 houses (which might be why it resonated with me).  I am happy to announce that I was sorted into Reveur, house of dreamers.  As an added bonus, I happen to like this shade of blue and will happily adopt more of it into my wardrobe.  

Mrs. H and I are proud to be dreamers!

(On a possibly unrelated note, this house most closely aligns with Ravenclaw, so there's that added bonus.) 


Harney MS Rehearsal & Ceremony

To include as many families as possible, fifth grade does the moving up promotion ceremony at 5 pm at the neighboring middle school.  It's nice to symbolically move the kiddos up into sixth grade (and into the school a vast majority of them will be attending).  We have a guest speaker, specialists give awards, classroom awards (A honor roll, A/B honor roll, perfect attendance, citizenship (all E's on learner behavior) and soaring eagle for students who consistently go above and beyond), and each student receives a certificate of promotion for sixth grade.

The last full day of the school year, we head over to practice in the afternoon.  The kids don't know what awards they're receiving, but they practice sitting (in alphabetical order), walking, and the dreaded hand shake while receiving their certificate.  We work out the kinks of the slide show (which students made this year) and the order of the events.

 Families come back in the evening and I usually cry.  With sweet kiddos like this, how could I not?!

Pool Party & BBQ

One of the things I'll miss most about fifth grade is spending the last day of the school year across the street at the pool.  Students were on a demerit system and all but 3 of mine earned the right to go to the pool.  Two hours of the lazy river, the slides, and lounging about in the water, splashing my sweet kiddos is the perfect way to spend the morning.

Once we're out of the water, we head back across the street to the BBQ the parents have set up.   This year we were running a bit behind schedule, so there was just enough time to eat, go read Oh the Places You'll Go, make the chaperones cry (and I cried, a lot), then do final class selfies and hugs.

At 12:45, my kiddos were officially sixth graders and on their way out to summer.

Teacher Celebrations 

An hour after the students left, the teachers gathered in the cafeteria for our end of the year/retirement celebration.

I helped plan and host this event, but it was fairly low key in terms of our parties.  We said goodbye to Mrs. L, our PE teacher who helped open the school, and a few other teachers.  Some I will miss more than others.

I'm deeply saddened that one of my mentees, Ms. S, is transferring.  We couldn't guarantee her a teaching spot (it depended on other teachers getting jobs elsewhere), so she interviewed at a nearby school and was hired on the spot (because she's awesome).  I'm thrilled for her, but did share with her that I was a bit of a "pout pout fish" about the situation.

Ms. S, you'll be deeply missed but this isn't goodbye!

And now, cheers to summer break!

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