Saturday, October 26, 2013

Just Keep Swimming



Hey guys! 

I know it's been a few weeks since I posted last, and I really wanted to post about some things we have been up to in the classroom, but I feel more compelled to share my story of what’s been going on the last few weeks and why my blog has been so neglected.  I hope you don’t mind that this will be more of a personal post...

First thing, this year has been an emotional roller coaster for me. Our team started the year with four teachers and even from the first day we could see that we were going to have more kids enrolled this year than ever before, and our classrooms were filling up.  New kids kept arriving and new desks were brought in. The way our classrooms are designed does not allow for many students, so the space was tight. While we waited patiently for a new teacher to be hired to relieve us from our large class sizes, our team was on stress overload.

Then the magical day came. We hired an amazing new teacher- new to the profession and willing to take on the challenge that our students present. But along with that, came the dreaded day that I had to tell five of my students that I would no longer be their teacher and that they were being moved to the new teacher’s class. Heart breaking.

After the new teacher was hired, he had a few days to observe the kids, get his room together, and learn the ropes. He would start with his new class the following Monday. I had until Friday to give the news to the kids. They would be meeting with their new teacher then to see their new classroom, their new classmates, and get situated before the real switch came.

I put it off all week. I waited until literally the very last second I had to tell them the news. I told myself that I wouldn’t cry. I had gotten to know these sweet students and they were mine.  I didn’t want them to think they had done anything wrong or had been chosen for any specific reason. I told myself that it would be better for them. I knew it would. I wasn’t going to cry in front of them. The teacher can’t cry in front of her students!

But the moment came. I pulled them to the back of the room and sat them on the carpet and pulled them close. I smiled and said, “Ok guys, I have some great news for you! As you know, we have a lot of children in our classroom and we are running out of space. Well, we have hired a new teacher and you guys are the lucky ones that will be in his class!” I forced a smile. I tried to sound excited- I really did. But instead, I cried. As much as I fought the tears and tried to hold them back, they came anyway. Then they cried. We hugged and cried together. Then I pulled them closer and gave them a speech about how even though they wouldn’t be sitting in my classroom every day, I will always be one of their teachers and that they better come tell me good morning every single day. I told them I would still be checking in on them. I smiled and told them how lucky they were to have a new teacher and how much he already cared about them. We sat there together for a few minutes with tear-soaked smiles. And then I sent them out the door.  

I had to go to the restroom and pull myself together before I could go on with the rest of the day.

You know, it amazes me how every year I become so attached to my students so early on. Every child has a piece of my heart from the moment they introduce themselves. Just having to send them one door away to a new classroom was heart wrenching. I expected the process to be difficult, but it has been more emotional than I had imagined.

That was two weeks ago. The dust has settled and the kids are adjusting well. We are training our newbie like crazy and he’s doing a great job. We couldn’t have asked for a better teammate. But I can’t say it’s been easy.

Teaching is such a dynamic profession. No two days are ever alike, and that’s what I love about it. This year I’m learning to “go with the flow” more than I ever have before.  Some things have taken a back seat- my blog being one of them. But even at the end of each day, I know I wouldn’t be happy doing any other job. And as my favorite character says, “Just keep swimming!”


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Playing Catch Up: What We've Been Up To PLUS Place Value, States of Matter, and Language Arts Products I LOVE!


Hi! I bet you're surprised to me pop up on your blog roll! 

I swear I am still alive and still teaching!  Life has just been crazy! After three years of only teaching language arts, diving back into math and science has been so much fun, but a lot of work! I’m enjoying every minute of it, but this little ol’ blog of mine has had to take a backseat.

I miss blogging and having the opportunity to look back over what we’ve done and share the things I’ve really enjoyed. So, because I have so much lost time to make up for, I’m going to attempt to hit the highlights over the last month. To make it a bit easier to navigate, I’ll divide up the sections into math, science, and language arts so you can jump right to a section that interests you and you can skip all the rest!

Math

I am absolutely in LOVE with teaching math! It’s a nice break from the world of language arts and my kiddos love it.

Several weeks ago we began our place value unit. We are now on to addition and subtraction, but I want to share a few things that I loved.

First up, to wrap up what we learned about place value, the kids went car shopping! I gave them newspaper ads for cars and they chose the car they wanted. Then they filled out this sheet to hit all those place value skills. The kids learned just how expensive cars are and some kids even expressed how surprised they were. This activity was a hit and one that we could repeat again. Click  HERE to get the recording sheet!



I also created a little place value review that we worked on before our unit test. I printed out the slides, hung them around the room, and the kids went on a scavenger hunt around the room to complete all the problems. If you are interested in this, send me an e-mail and I will send it to you! My internet is not letting me upload this and it's driving me nuts! 





I have some kiddos who were in need of a challenge. This Place Value Detectives Activity 
from Teaching With a Mountain View kept my kids challenged for several days. It was one of my favorite activities!


We have also been getting LOTS of use out of my Place Value Quiz Quiz Trade Cards  to review word form, standard form, and expanded form.




Science

Oh how I love teaching science!! I have been jealously observing the other teachers on my team for the last three years and anxiously awaited the day I would be able to teach it again! It has been so much fun!

We started out with a review of the states of matter. We used Hope King's As a Matter of Fact bundle and the kids ate it up!



We also did viscosity races one day to explore the property of viscosity. This wasn’t in Hope’s unit, but was great to add to our exploration!

 
And the highlight to wrap up the unit was the gas fireworks from Hope’s unit. I was shocked to see just how high that soda shot up in the air!!




Language Arts

I have been blessed with a class full of thinkers this year who just devour books. I have yet to have a class who loves reading the way that they do. It’s so refreshing, but challenging to find activities that will keep them engaged and thinking critically. Thankfully, I have my trusty Amanda Nickerson from One Extra Degree to help with this!

We have been using her Just Glue It!  journal prompts to respond to our reading and the kids have been doing a fabulous job. I love how the prompts are multi-question and use all of those higher-level thinking skills most products and activities lack. If you’re looking for a way to get some juicy responses from your kids, this is what you need!

I wish I would have taken pictures of some of the kids’ entries. They just made me smile! They especially enjoyed writing a letter to Prudy from Prudy’s Problem and How She Solved It (it’s in our Reading Street series) and giving her some “friendly advice.” She collected everything and eventually her room exploded from all the clutter! She solved her problem by creating a museum to showcase her collections, but to hear what the kids had to say to her about her choices to collect dog hair and gum wrappers just cracked me right up! I loved that the prompt also made them give Prudy credit for her good decisions, too. J

We have been knee-deep in our fiction unit and we've been using pieces from Nicole Shelby’s Interactive Reading Notebook and Interactive Language Notebook. The added element of cutting, gluing and coloring has done wonders for engagement! The kids actually look forward to taking notes when there's a little somethin' to glue in first!! 






 I didn’t even touch writing or social studies, but those things will have to wait for another day! My internet is really testing my patience! I have so much more things to share with you!!! 

I’m going to try to be better about blogging more often. I really do miss it, but my kiddos and my classroom have to come first! Hopefully I can find a way to better organize my time so that I actually have some time to blog! Suggestions anyone??! Any advice would be much appreciated!

I hope you all have had an amazing first of the year! I’ll be back soon (fingers crossed)!!