04 November 2012

November Currently

What a difference a month makes! Baby E has grown from a tiny 4 pounds to more than 6 pounds! Even though she has gotten bigger, she is still the tiniest little thing! Although I love being at home with her, I miss teaching even more than I thought I would. I probably drive my sub crazy with all the emails, texts, and phone calls. My sub is amazing, and she handles my quirks and those of my students very well.

It's hard letting go of the reins in my district since we are pay-for-performance and at the end of the day-I am held accountable for their performance whether I am there or not. They did not do as well as I had hoped on their first assessment set, and I can't help but feel like my sudden departure 6 weeks earlier than planned had a great deal to do with it. I'll report back 3 days before Christmas Break, which is a week after their second set of assessments. We'll be hitting the books hard after Christmas!

In the meantime, I'm going to try to update my blog more often than once a month starting today! I'm linking up after my unexpected hiatus with Farley at Oh Boy Fourth Grade for this month's Currently. Go on over and see what it's all about!

01 October 2012

An Early Arrival...

I had my 34 week checkup last Friday the 21st and as soon as I walked in, the nurse commented on my swollen feet. A short chat later with my doctor and we were walking across the parking lot to the hospital. I thought the week of being on my feet teaching had caught up with me, but the diagnosis was preeclampsia. They wanted to monitor me to see if it could be stabilized or if they would need to deliver her. By 4pm the next day, my kidney (I only have 1!) was starting to shut down and was taking my liver with it. Pretty scary!

They started to induce me and all seemed to be going okay. I was having contractions, but I fell asleep at about 9:30 and woke up at 11:30 because I felt something funny. I called the nurse because I thought my water had broke. Needless to say, it wasn't water. Frantic activity started, the doctor was called (twice...the second time I heard them tell him to hurry), the anesthesiologist came, an oxygen mask was put on me and my glasses were taken off. I really only remember bits and pieces from then on. Remember that I had been asleep, so I was not having serious contractions. My nurse later told me that they checked me when the doctor got there and I was at 5cm. The doctor broke my water and she popped out 8 minutes later. She said she had never seen it happen so fast. They were still trying to prepare the bed when I started pushing. My husband said it took 2 pushes and she was out. The NICU staff took her immediately, but she was crying, which was good!

She's still in the NICU, but she is doing well! I spend every second up here with her. You can imagine what this did to my class! They were expecting me after lunch that Friday, and bless their little hearts, they were immediately worried. My teammate let them know that I was in the hospital and not to worry. They were so excited when they heard I had her!

Unfortunately, my long term sub wasn't scheduled to start until the 15th, so I'm working with a temp sub for now, which means daily sub plans. I leave the hospital long enough to rush home, plan the next day, deliver the plans to another teacher who lives near me, and go back to the hospital. Thank goodness I have my sweet teammate who makes sure the sub is squared away every day. But...I can't wait for my long term sub to start!

In the meantime, I will be enjoying every second with my 4lb 5oz, 18 inch, sweet Emmalyn Avery.

16 September 2012

Vowels, vowels, vowels!

That seems to be the theme in my class this past week and coming week. Strangely enough, I have 8 kiddos this year who are having trouble even telling me which letters are vowels, much less their sounds. Makes for an interesting phonics time in the classroom. I have some kids who are definitely ready for more rigorous work, so I'm attempting something new tomorrow. Mondays are our short days since the kids get out at 1:40pm, so my reading block is somewhat short. After our phonics warm-up tomorrow, the kids will break into groups: one intensive group with me and 2 other leveled groups at their desks. I am going to have all the kids work on the same skills, but at varying levels. I should add that the standard is to distinguish between words with long vowel sounds and words with short vowel sounds.

Group 1: (Intensive) Nonsense CVC words to work on vowel sounds. I'm also going to try to add in the silent e, since that was our phonics skills from last week.

Group 2: (Grade-Level) Long and short vowel sound word sort. They have to read the word and code it to what vowel sound they hear. So, if the word was club, they would write s (for short) and u (for the short sound u). Then they write it in the correct box. Click HERE to download a copy.

Group 3: (Above Grade Level) This group is interesting because it involves some behavior issues. So, I have to make the activity exciting and interesting to them but have it remain purposeful. I have narrowed it down to 2 activities: They are reading a Magic Tree House book, so I'm thinking about letting them scour their book for words with long and short vowels. The other activity would be a walk-around the room, where they find specific words using text we have on the walls. The only problem with this is that it distracts those working with me and those sitting at their desks. Hmmm...I might have to make my mind up in the morning when I see what kind of moods they all come in with! Regardless, they will simply fold a sheet of paper in half to sort the words they find.

I'm working on a center for them to use this week that is specific to what I need them to practice, so hopefully that will be done by tomorrow and I can share it with all of you! I see all these great things on TpT and I want to contribute, too!

Oh-and speaking of my centers, I rearranged my room to better accommodate a space for them. I'm actually adding 2 more centers this week: Pen Pals and a second one for comprehension. Here's a picture of what it looks like now. They're kind of blurry!

Have a great week!

09 September 2012

Exhausted, Sequential Order, and Fry Words...

That's the only word I can think of right now to describe how I feel after last week. Out of 23 kids in my class, eight of them are being put through RtI. While I know it is extremely beneficial for them, it is so much paperwork and documentation for one kiddo, let alone eight of them. The really hard part is that they are all over the place in their needs. I run out of time teaching every day, so I have no idea how I will squeeze in one-on-one time or more small groups. To top it all off, I had a parent beat on my outside door Friday afternoon after the bell rang. Dismissal is at 3:10pm, and it was 3:12pm and I hadn't opened the door yet. They must have had some serious plans they didn't want to be late for! ;)

But on to other things. We have been working on organizing our writing in sequential order this week in preparation to explain a process. I made some sentence strips that including the topic and conclusion sentences, three details, and transitions. The groups had to work together to organize the strips and then decide if it made sense. The kids really liked it and it allowed them to practice their reading skills and teamwork skills.

In preparations for our upcoming assessments, I made a PowerPoint to help the kids identify their high-frequency words. They are given a word verbally, and then they have to identify it from a given set of words. The PowerPoint can be used multiple times. All the words listed are from the third 100, so you can change the word you are looking for at any time. I tried to put words together that made sense, but...I was watching The Hunger Games at the same time, so hopefully there are not any mistakes! This is what the slides look like. Click on the slide to download a copy from Google Docs. 

Well, I'm off to start another week. Baby E is looking good and I'm looking at starting my maternity leave on October 15th. Wish me luck!

04 September 2012

Open House Week: Classroom Pictures

Today was a pretty fantastic day. The kiddos were really great and the day flew by. My feet are swelling like crazy, but the doctor said not to worry. Even my new-fat swollen pregnant work shoes-wouldn't work out today, so it was another flip flop day for me!

Open House Week

Since it's Open House Week, I wanted to post some pictures of my classroom, but since I posted some a while back (and in an attempt to go to bed), you can click on the picture below to see that post that includes all the pictures!

If you would like to link up, click on the Open House Week picture and join in! The schedule is as follows:

Monday: Meet the Teacher- tell us all about you and your teaching style!
Tuesday: Classroom Photos
Wednesday: Handouts for Parents
Thursday: Bulletin Board Photos

Have a great week!

03 September 2012

Currently and Open House Week!

I have made myself focus on my school work for the past few hours, but now it's time to have some real fun! First up is linking up with Farley over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade for this month's Currently!

Just remember the rule of 3 when linking up:
Go 2 behind your link and leave a comment and go 1 ahead of yours and comment. What a great way to meet people and find amazing new blogs and resources! Head over and link up now!

Moving on to...
Open House Week

This week Teaching Blog Addict is hosting Open House Week. The schedule is as follows:

Monday: Meet the Teacher- tell us all about you and your teaching style!
Tuesday: Classroom Photos
Wednesday: Handouts for Parents
Thursday: Bulletin Board Photos

So let me introduce myself. My name is Lori and this is my third year teaching second grade. Actually, I've only taught second grade! I'm 33, so you can tell I kind of got a late start. I always wanted to be a teacher, but I got married to a soldier when I was 20 and made the transition to Army wife and mommy. We decided that when our youngest son was about 3 that I would finish college. I started back in the fall of 2006. That November my husband was killed in Iraq. I always think it was good that I was in college because between that and my boys, I didn't really have time on my hands to be dragged down with grief. I had also already registered for the spring semester and it was such a pain to dis-enroll, so I kept going. Sure enough, in the spring of 2010, I graduated cumma-sum-laude with a degree in English and Elementary Education. I was placed at an elementary school in Colorado through an early recruitment program that also paid for my last three semesters in college.

So here I still am, 6 years after that life-changing event, with a job I love, 2 sweet boys that are thriving, a new husband and a baby girl due in 7 weeks!

I'll admit...there have been times when working in a Title I school with a high ELL population, low parent involvement, and behavior issues has made me want to throw in the towel. But each day I am thankful that I have this amazing job where I can change the paths of children. I come home completely exhausted, but I still find myself surfing on my iPad into the wee hours of morning for great resources and fun things to do with my class. I honestly love what I do.

My teaching style is very hands-on. I really believe in the idea of concrete learning whenever possible. I think kids learn better when they are able to actually experience a concept. It's easier to do this in math and writing, but we make it happen in reading as much as possible. I also like to make learning fun! You know you're doing it right when kids are learning and having fun at the same time. To be honest, it's even better when they don't even realize they are learning! (I hope that makes sense.)

I've included an example of how I get the kids involved in their learning. In writing, we use expanding cubes to help expand our sentences and make them better. I have three different levels of cubes. This is what they look like:

The higher level ones include complex sentences. The kids start with a base sentence and then roll the cube. They then add on whatever the cube tells them to add on. This is way more fun than a worksheet and it forces the kids to use their own thinking to come up with the sentence expanders. Click here to download the cubes. 

Well-I hope you've learned a little bit about me and my teaching style. Hope to see you again tomorrow!

02 September 2012

$5 in Free Books from Scholastic and Kellogg's

While standing in line at Walmart tonight a 3-pack of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes caught my eye. I had just bought a box for $2.98 at Target a couple of nights before, and this 3-pack was only $5! I grabbed it because I was convinced this was the deal of a lifetime on Frosted Flakes!

Imagine my surprise when I saw on the packaging that when I purchased this 3-pack I also received $5 in free books from Scholastic! I thought I would have to jump through hoops to get the free books, but all I had to do was register for the Kellogg's Family Rewards program, enter the code from the inside of the packaging and voila! There was an email waiting for me with my $5 coupon for Scholastic!

So, if you're at Walmart this week, see if you can find this deal!

28 August 2012

When the cat's away...

the second graders play.

Isn't that how it goes?

Why is it that the second my littles leave my sight (or I leave theirs) they morph into these crazy, out of control creatures that I do not even recognize? I had to leave early today for an appointment and during the brief 2 hours and 10 minutes I was gone my kids apparently went bonkers.

Let me clarify that the afternoon went something like this:

1:00-2:00pm Kids in music
2:00-2:30pm Kids with counselor
2:30-3:10pm Special activity with ELD teacher (since I was gone)

So, they really only missed 40 minutes with me. But apparently they lost their minds. The music teacher said they were awful, the counselor said there was no way a single one of them could tell me what they talked about because they were too busy having their own conversations, and based on what one of the kids told me after school, their time with the ELD teacher did not go so well.

I don't get it. For the most part they are fine with me. Sure-I have a few naughties, but they straighten out usually.

Did I mention that my baby is due in a mere 8 weeks? Holy potential disaster Batman.

What do I do?

On one hand, I want to hold those responsible, well...responsible. On the other hand, I want to tell some of my consistently well behaved kiddos that when they see someone breaking rules they need to SAY SOMETHING!!! We are a team after all.

So this is my dilemma: I'm really wanting to hold the entire class accountable for behavior when I'm not around. In my mind, if you sit there and watch as your buddy is writing on his desk with a marker instead of listening and you say nothing, then you are at fault, too. Is that terrible thinking? It's not that I want them to screech at each other "Shhhhhhhh!!!!" or "You're going to get us in trouble!" I want them to point out the rule being broken and give the kid the opportunity to fix it or risk being "reported" to the teacher.

I don't know what to do.


27 August 2012

Monday Made It!

I have really taken an interest in the book Have You Filled a Bucket Today? this year. I've really been pushing it with my littles, and they seem to really understand what it means to fill someone's bucket and dip into someone else's bucket. I will be the first to admit that my bucket was pretty empty by the end of the day today. I have 21 kids, and 15 of them had some sort of color change today. Oh-and 2 were absent. Most of it was poor hallway behavior, but I'd had enough! I tried to explain that every time I give them a warning it is like dipping out of my bucket. By the end of the day we were all pretty miserable. Good thing is-we have tomorrow! As I shook each hand when they walked out the back door I reminded them...Tomorrow is a new day to make new choices! Let's be bucket fillers!

So, for Made it Monday, I decided to make some slips for the kids-and myself-to fill out when someone has filled our bucket. At the end of the week, we will pull out a few to share with the class. I'm trying to think of a goal of some kind to use in conjunction with the slips, but I'm still working on it. But for now, here it is! Click on the picture to download a copy from Google Docs.
My kiddos are also working on identifying vowels in words. I made this PowerPoint to use with my SMART board today. My kids have such a hard time seeing words on the board and spelling those words correctly on their whiteboards. It drives me crazy! So today I specifically made the lesson so that they would have to write the word correctly on their boards, circle the vowels, and write the total number of vowels. With each word we went faster and faster. I loved hearing their squeals when they saw that their answers matched the ones on the SMART board. I prefer to use my "clicker" to advance the slides, but you can use your SMART board capabilities, too. The slide presents the word first, then the word appears again with the vowels in a different color. Click on the picture to download your copy at Google docs.

Want to join in? Head on over to 4th Grade Frolics and link up!

Have a great week!

26 August 2012

My Favorite First Day of School Books

Today I'm linking up again to share my favorite books for the first day of school. Want to join in? Head on over to Blog Hoppin' and find out how you can link up and be eligible to win $50 in free books!

Here are a few of my favorite books! Click on the picture to go straight to The Clever Teacher to order.

Great book for learning how being kind to someone makes us feel better, too!

This book goes hand-in-hand with Have You Filled a Bucket Today? However, it is really great for a school setting.

I love this book because it teaches the students that it's okay to be "different" and that we are all special.

This is just a fun book! I would recommend reading it at Meet the Teacher if possible.

This was the book I read during snack time our first day. It's simple, but I like it!

Which books are your favorites?

24 August 2012

Teacher Week: Where I Work Wednesday, Therapeutic Thursday, and Freebie Friday!

So...the week got away from me rather quickly. Before I knew it, it was Friday! I'm not complaining about the quick week, but I feel like my days fly by with our new schedule at school. I also had my 31 week checkup today and it turns out that Baby E is a bit on the too small side, so we're having to have another ultrasound on Tuesday and then start more frequent appointments to check her growth. So, now I can add my new worry for her to my constant worry for my 2 boys and my 21 second graders. It's no wonder my time flies!!!

So here it goes...

Where I Work Wednesday (picture bonanza!): I love my classroom. I really do. There's not much to it, but I think it's snazzy. Our school is very purposeful on what we hang up, so there's not much in the sense of "decor" as much as it is a teaching resource. Of course the pictures didn't look this blurry when I took them, so I apologize!

This is my door! Exciting, right?!?!

This is to the left if you walked in. That is our student motto on the wall and the "12 Powerful Words" we teach our kids are on the left.

This is the front of my room. We use Secret Stories to teach phonics-that's what you see above the SMART board and whiteboard. My document camera also stays at the front.

This will eventually be a great writing wall. When they put up my SMART board, they swapped the chalkboard with the whiteboard and hung the chalkboard up here. I like it because not only is it magnetized, but I can also write on it!

This is the door to my teammate's room. I just made the giant question mark because they were having trouble with question words. I made the "Post-It Parking Lot" after seeing something like it on Pinterest. Each kiddo has a number and that is where they stick their post it. I love it because I can immediately tell who didn't turn one in.

This is where we have our class rules and behavior clips. I used to have a system of Unifex cubes, but I wanted to try something different this year. So far it is great! You might notice the random letters in some of the pictures. I have an A, B, C, and D posted on each wall that the kids go to show their answer sometimes. 

This rug is my pride and joy. My husband bought it for me for my birthday last year. I was devastated when a kid spilled a grape Capri Sun on it last year. You can still still the purple-ish stain. Sigh. See that white chair? I got it for free from IKEA for being one of the first 100 people in line when they opened their new store in Denver! I camped out for 3 days with 2 other teachers and we each got a chair. We all have them in our classrooms! This is also our math wall and literacy wall. 

Notice there is no desk for me! I typically just piled stuff up on it anyways and getting rid of it freed up a lot of space. I also have a great kidney table and shelves for literacy, but somehow I didn't manage to take a picture of that. 

Therapeutic Thursday: This always makes me feel better, especially after one of those days when I find myself questioning if I'm doing the right thing. 

Freebie Friday: My kiddos have been working on capitalizing the first letter in their sentence and including the correct punctuation mark on the end. I made these sentence strips for them to practice with. Of course, I laminated them and then cut them into strips. They would correct a sentence, compare with a buddy, and then trade. There are 20 sentence strips in two separate files. Click HERE for set 1 and HERE for set 2. If I wanted this to be self-checking, I would write the correct answer on the back. If you chose to laminate them, students could use Expo markers or Vis-a-Vis markers to write directly on them.

Hope you had a great week!

21 August 2012

Technology Tip Tuesday-Turning a Picture into a Direct Link!

Another day...another blog post! I'm still linking up with Blog Hoppin' to celebrate Teacher Week! Want to join in the fun? Click on the picture below and link up!

Did you notice how if you click on the teacher week picture above, it takes you directly to her blog? Now try to click on this one below and see what happens...

All you got was a nice blown up image, right? So here's how you can add a link to the image so when anyone clicks on it, it will take them directly to the page.

Step 1: Insert the picture you want to use.

Step 2: Find the link you want the picture to link to. Copy it.

Step 3: Change from your "compose" screen to the "html" screen where all the codes are.

Step 4: This is probably the most difficult part. You have to find the code that represents the picture you just just uploaded. I usually look for the words I typed around it. There will be 2 identical web address in the link to the picture. You want to highlight the FIRST address. Once highlighted, paste the address you want the picture to link to in its place. You'll notice that the original link is usually a .jpeg or .png or other image file. Once you change it, it should be a web address.

Find the first code and highlight it.

Paste the web address you want to link it to.

It should look something like this (but with the address you wanted) after the swap.

And that's it! You won't notice anything on your compose page, but you can test it out when you preview it. It's pretty easy after you do it a few times.

Hope this helps!