Saturday, May 23, 2015

Happy Holiday weekend!

I for one am super grateful that it's a long weekend. I am also super grateful for the format of my current graduate class because it means I can really take the entire weekend off from grad school (which was NOT possible with any of the other courses I have taken thus far). I have my weekly reflection to finish up this morning and one small assignment for my writing course and I'm good to go! Yay!

Yesterday, I brought home a new little friend. Meet Apollo.
 He is a 3 year old Leopard Gecko. Isn't he fun?

 Here is is checking out his new digs at our house for the summer. 

 It had been awhile since his cage had been cleaned so he spent a good 25 minutes just walking around it. It was pretty funny.

This picture makes me giggle. My 12 year old insisted we put the background up (which you can see with the plants) and he kept trying to climb the glass :) It's red in there because the heat lamp is on.


I got Apollo, formerly known as Sparkle and Mr. Gecko, from a colleague at school. She bought him her first year teaching as a support aide for a student who needed some TLC and she thought having the pet in class would give him some responsibility and help him get his stuff together. She mentioned last year that she wasn't sure she wanted to keep him and asked me if I wanted him. I wasn't sure about the yucky crickets so we held off for a year...but then she mentioned she was definitely going to get rid of him so I offered to take him. He will live at our house this summer and in the fall he will come to 3rd grade with me. My 3rd grade colleague has a turtle ("Mr. Turtle" lol) so she'll have him and I'll have the gecko. If we ever team teach, the kids will have an animal in both places. (Our plan was to team when we found out we were teaching together but she's having her first baby in October so I said let's hold off on that until she a) has her baby and b) decides if she wants to come back to teaching.)


I'm off to finish up the last of my assignments for this weekend and then I need to rouse my family so we can get going to our cabin for the first time this year. I'm excited! It will be hard this first time though since we've never been there without Morgan (whom we put down in December because he was very sick). I'm sure I'll shed a tear or two :(

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Fun, Praise and Countdown

Today we had 3 Bounce Houses set up in our gym for students who made their accelerated growth on the MAP test this year. I went down with the 4th graders first thing this morning and it was SUPER fun! I wish I could show pictures of the kids and how much fun they were having but due to privacy (and the way the pictures are taken), I can't. All of the hard times this year made up for it being able to see their pure and utter joy at bouncing in those houses. The only bummer was that I couldn't join them since I didn't want to aggravate my shoulder/neck (which is SO messed up) after the accident. Oh well, I lived vicariously through them :)


Also today, at lunch, we were heading upstairs and one of my colleagues was bringing kiddos with her. I'm not sure if it was a lunch bunch or whatever but there were several and she was waiting on a couple other kids, so I took the first batch up with me. I realized once we were in the elevator that all of them used to be in my 2nd grade class 3 years ago. Too funny! And one of the girls was also in my class last year so I had mentioned that. The other girl in the group said, "I only had you just once" and I said "that was probably enough, huh?" (Because I am tough on kids -- I will love on you like no tomorrow but I will also ride on you to be the best you can be and not all kids like that.) When we got out of the elevator, she says, "Oh no, you were the best, most fabulous 2nd grade teacher ever" Awwww ♥

Finally we are on our real countdown. 12 days left....4 of those are half days! I am SO ready for summer. Although, in keeping with the positivity of this post, I think that many of my kids are FINALLY starting to get the hang of it...it only took us all year LOL This has been a rough year just because of the transitions (in all, including kids I got in October when we dissolved the other 4th grade, I had a total of fourteen new students since the first day of school, that is IN-SANE). There was a time that I got a new student once a week for five weeks straight. Once the dust finally settled (and thank goodness it did finally settle), we did okay. I just feel like it could have been better had we not had all of the transitions...alas, it is what it is and I did the best I could. It's interesting to hear the kids sometimes because I think they really are finally getting it. I don't expect kids to appreciate everything I say and do...but one friend from another class (a former of mine who didn't get to go on a field trip) and I were chatting today and I said "well remember when you thought *I* was tough on you...and now the expectations are even higher and they will continue to be. You appreciate me much more now, huh?"

I know that in the end, as much as I am ready to put this weird as heck year to bed, I will be able to look back on this group of kids and know that I had some positive impacts on them. That's really all I can hope for. In moving forward, I want to continue to be reflective, think about where I can grow and just do the best I can for kids...because ultimately, it isn't about me. It's about them. I WAS them (went to the same school as a kid) so I totally know where they are in their lives...because I used to be there. I want them to pull out of poverty too and be something when they grow up. But I have to push and push to help them make that a reality. It's why that praise, even coming a couple years late, from the kids, when I hear them say that I did something well for them, makes all of the tough stuff worth it in the end. It's why I do what I do.

Friday, May 8, 2015

TPT Teacher Appreciation Purchases

I don't know about you, but I spent WAY too much money in the Teachers Pay Teachers Teacher Appreciation Sale! I happily added items to my cart and nearly died when I saw the total (but did I save any of it for later? Nope! lol).

I actually added all of my items to my cart on Monday afternoon because I wanted to be able to quickly and easily just check out on Tuesday when the sale began. The total price in my cart pre-sale and discounts was just under $150. Yikes!

With the individual seller sales and then the added discount from TPT itself, I paid $96 for all that I got. Can't complain there when you save about $50! I have never spent that much in any one purchase but since I am moving to 3rd grade next year, there were some things that I just had to have for that grade level switch (I've that 4th grade in some capacity 6 out of my 9 years of teaching so never needed to spend much before....but switching grades changed that up!). 

When you consider everything that I was able to get, $96 is actually a steal!

 Let's take a look! (PS Click on any of the pictures to find this item on TPT!) 


3rd Grade Interactive Math Notebooks (and worksheets) from CreateShareTeach
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/3rd-Grade-Interactive-Math-Notebook-BUNDLE-1492814
I have all of the 4th grade notebooks and I L-O-V-E them! I know my students have a much better grasp on math this year because we used the interactive notebooks. I knew I had to have the 3rd grade version as well. Since I bought this as a bundle pack, I also got all of the Common Core worksheets to go with the standards too. Bonus! 


3rd Grade Spiral Math by Teaching in Room 6
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/3rd-Grade-Spiral-Math-1356308
 I have mentioned many, many times on this blog how much I love Stephanie. (One year I swear I was just going to put a sign on the door that said "this classroom brought to you by Stephanie" because I use so many of her amazing products!) I have used Stephanie's spiral math homework for the last 3 school years in 4th and 5th grade. My students have historically kicked butt on our MAP tests compared to our grade level peers and I know it is because of this spiral -- I won't ever teach without this homework again. 

3rd Grade Common Core Morning Work by Second Story Window
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/3rd-Grade-Common-Core-Morning-Work-1004045
 Remember the infamous "Grade Level Shuffle"? When I thought I was going to teach 1st grade, I purchased an amazing morning work bundle from these two sisters. Then I went back to 4th grade and never got to use it. I was kind of bummed because it's AMAZING. How happy was I to discover that they had a 3rd grade version?? Seriously, it is by far the most comprehensive morning work packet I have ever seen. Even better, they let you know the standards that each page covers so that you can keep documentation on student progress with each standard all year. Bonus!

Teacher Data Tracking & Grade Book by Kristine Nannini
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Teacher-Data-Tracking-and-Grade-Book-3rd-Grade-Common-Core-ELA-Math-909076
This might be my favorite purchase. This year we switched over to Standards Based grading but it was just before the end of the 1st marking period when we were told and we had zero tools to help us track the standards. Hello frustration! We are switching over to a new grading platform (online) but I am a paper/pencil kind of girl -- I like to see things in black and white. This pack is VERY comprehensive and provides everything you never knew you needed to help track grades and progress (including documentation sheets for intervention groups!). Well, well worth the money! 

Ocean Theme Decor by Fishyrobb
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Ocean-Theme-Decor-728481
Did you see my new Erin Condren planner with the fabulous seahorse? In 3rd grade the students do a research report on an Ocean Animal. I figured it was worthwhile to have a classroom theme that matched that and my super new planner :)

Reading Response Menus by 3rd Grade Thoughts
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Reading-Response-Menus-Across-the-Year-3rd-Grade-CCSS-Aligned-603612
Apparently, I really like people named Stephanie :) I have been stalking Stephanie's blog since I learned I was going to 3rd grade. She has many amazing ideas that I plan to adapt for my 3rd grade classroom. This product was a no-brainer for me. I want authentic reading responses that are a bit different each time to provide some excitement but also keep the kiddos accountable with their reading.

Math Menus from Teacher's Clubhouse
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Math-Menu-Unit-from-Teachers-Clubhouse-510114
This year I implemented Math Choice Boards to my math teaching. It was a beautiful thing and I loved seeing how creative the kids got with their projects. I purchased this unit because it is geared primarily for 2nd-3rd grade students and I can easily slip these into my stations or math centers to provide the students with extra practice in each skill area. 

3rd Grade Math Standards Based Assessments by Kristine Nannini
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Standards-Based-Assessments-3rd-Grade-Math-ALL-STANDARDS-Common-Core-309199
I have this same set in the 4th grade version and I love it. It helps me to ensure my students have shown mastery of all of the math standards. These are great for extra practice sheets too.

3rd Grade Common Core Student Data Binder by Kristine Nannini
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/3rd-Grade-Common-Core-ELA-Student-Data-Tracking-Binder-Pack-ALL-STANDARDS-306817
This is a very comprehensive set. I really want my students to be more in charge of tracking their own progress and this is perfect for that. I think it's important for students to own their progress, especially once they get into the upper grades.

Word Work Trio Set by 3rd Grade Thoughts
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Word-Work-Trio-Place-Value-Letter-Tiles-Words-Worth-265852
I have said for years that I wanted to implement Daily 5 but it just hasn't happened with the schedules I've had and other demands. Alas, I probably won't follow it to a T this coming year either but I definitely want to put some of their ideas into place, especially for the Word Work station because kiddos need to spend time manipulating words.

Student Portfolios by Shelley Gray
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Student-Portfolios-a-collection-of-printables-for-throughout-the-year-134353
I also purchased this Portfolio pack for the same reason as I got the data pack above. I really want my students to take more ownership over their own learning by being able to track their progress but also to be able to collect work samples that they think are examples of their good work and maybe their not-so-good work to help them gauge what steps to take to make learning more productive and fun.



So there you have it! Quite a haul of new products to play with for next year. I'm really excited about all of these new goodies!







Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Accident Update

So...about that car accident. Of course I had a ride to the hospital in an ambulance which I kind of felt was being overly dramatic about the whole thing, but I'm glad that I went because I have been in serious pain!

Not that there is ever a good time to get into a car accident, but this was seriously the worst timing ever. We already had two teachers out for the whole week on personal leave and my 5th grade colleagues have a week-long trip to the Immerse program at the museum. So really, it was me and the other 4th grade class (with a sub) on the 3rd floor. And we are testing. And a full moon. Awesome.

I made it through Monday (barely) but was incredibly sore by the end of the school day because I can't take my muscle relaxer at school as it knocks me out. So I suffered because I knew that they would not be able to find a sub for me if I was gone. I went in yesterday too and was in pain pretty much all day. They had my arm in a sling to keep the pressure off my shoulder but it was actually making things worse because of how the sling sits on your neck. Fabulous. (Not.)

I went to the doctor after work yesterday and he tossed the sling and said "it's hurting you more than it's helping at this point" (and I was very relieved to be rid of that darn thing). After an exam, nothing is broken (thank you Jesus) BUT it also isn't my shoulder that is the problem....it's my neck. He showed me how the muscles are all attached and said that is why my whiplash pain started with my shoulder but has progressed to my neck (not helped by that sling at all).

He also said "you are NOT going back to work until Monday". Ugh. Terrible timing, anyone?? I had warned Mr. Principal that it might happen as much pain as I was in. My kids were supposed to M-Step today but he said he would test the other 4th graders and I can resume with my class on Monday. Good gravy. 

I had a suspicion Dr. would make me stay home (he's been my doc for almost 15 years...he knows everything there is to know about me and I know his style) so I prepared sub plans for today and tomorrow just in case. A wonderful colleague put the note out for me this morning. We have such a sub shortage that no one picked up my THREE DAY job. So our music and PE teachers were me today. That is so, so wrong on so many levels :( I feel bad but what can I do??

I am going to stop in tomorrow to leave plans for Friday and gather all of the work that they have done in my absence (I'm very sure my infamous green basket is overflowing by now). It just stinks because I have zero planned for next week and will have trouble making copies and things before Monday AM. At least we will have testing for the first part of the day on both Monday and Tuesday so that I don't have to fuss to much for plans.

Laying around all day today helped a lot with the pain factor though so I'm glad my doctor made me stay home. It's not easy for me to just lay around as I'm usually going, going, going. But I have to rest so I can heal and get back to what I need to be doing. Good grief.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Erin Condren for next year!

In the 2013-2014 school year, I had an Erin Condren teacher planner for the first time. It seems like everyone in the spring of 2013 had jumped on the EC band wagon and I was no exception. The price was very steep but the planner was well organized and very, very functional. I did not purchase one for this year because I was being a cheapskate and didn't want to pay the hefty price.

But when I got an email letting me know that there was a teacher appreciation sale and 25% off, I couldn't resist. Plus once I actually looked at the new covers, I knew that I had to get this planner again.

It is a bit different from the first time I had one. The calendar pages have a note page included so you can add information or crafts from pinterest that you want to make sure you do, etc. I had ordered the extra checklist pages last time and did it again because I am SUCH a checklist freak. They were very, very helpful as well. Finally I added the two extra sheet protectors in the back. I can put my schedules and stuff there plus accommodation notes for any of my students who have IEPs that need documentation.

 How could you not just love the box itself?? It's so pretty!

 Purple is where it's at!! :)

 I was not having the best day ever when this arrived...someone knew I needed a pick-me-up note :) 

I could not resist this beautiful cover! It actually works great for 3rd grade because we do a research unit on Ocean Animals. This cover goes along with that theme! :) 

 This might be my favorite feature....each calendar is a two-page spread as it was before, but before those pages you have this. A nice notes page for that month along with a cover page for that month (the cover page isn't necessary but they obviously included it to put the notes pages with the month and not have a weird odd-page issue with the calendar itself). I love this because while I don't obsessively pin, I do have some ideas that I want to be able to jot down each month and if they are right there....it'll be easier to remember those activities!

 Lesson plan pages are the same as in my old planner. I love the alternating colors. It's so pretty and clean. I bought erasable pens so that I can jot down my plans without fear of mistakes. They can't require us to put ANYTHING specific in our plans (such as standards, etc) so I can be as concise as I want in this little space.

The pages and pages of checklists! I love them! :)


Of course, being the cheapskate that I am, I probably wouldn't have purchased this without the 25% off because it IS a pricey planner. Alas, it is also very durable and everything is in one place. It's worth it, you just have to get over that initial how much does this cost?! factor. :)

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Currently MAY

How did we get to May?! You know what that means.....Currently time :)

http://ohboy3rdgrade.blogspot.com/2015/05/currently-may-2016.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2Fjtmhg+%28Oh%27+Boy+4th+Grade%29

Listening: you should notice a pattern if you always read my currentlys...I'm either listening to whatever The Husband is watching on TV or to the kids' video games.

Loving: I'm sort of incapacitated so my darling husband took me to my favorite nail salon so I could have pretty toes again :)

Thinking: Yesterday I left school right with the kiddos, something I don't do that often. My plan was to go to the nail salon, get pretty hands and feet and then go on a date with the hubby. Instead, a teenager pulled out in front of me and smashed up my car :( It took an hour for the cops to even show up and I was feeling nauseated and  had a lot of pain in my right shoulder. Turns out the teen driver has had a license for like 2 weeks. She had her phone in her hand but the cop did not give her a ticket. I was not impressed (although perhaps seeing me taken away by ambulance scared her enough to put her phone DOWN while driving).

Wanting: I don't like waiting around. i want the insurance dude to call me already so I can get my car repairs taken care of.

Needing: There is a huge bag of papers and projects I had planned to tackle today but since I'm right handed and currently have a sling on my left arm.....it's looking impossible to get this work done. (My official diagnosis is whiplash, and I have pain from the seatbelt on the left -- very sure I'm gonna bruise as its very tender to the touch -- but also a lot of pain from the jolt of the impact/ The sling is a precaution to keep strain off the muscle.)

Summer: A good friend I work with is getting married in J and I can't wait to celebrate her day. I hope to spend a lot of my summer up north at our cabin which didn't happen last year for many reasons. My hope is that hubby will finally finish all of our half done home projects. He has a bad habit of starting one but not finishing it before he starts another.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Holy Tests

I have had a challenging year. Alas, sometimes the challenging years are the ones that you come away from a little better.

Some days are better than others of course. And truthfully a lot of the challenges aren't necessarily anything I can change or revamp to make better. I actually like all of my students a lot, they are very fun and smart. Alas, the dynamic of them being together is not-so-good. There are some big personality conflicts. It is emotionally draining.

BUT there are days, like today, that they just bring tears to my eyes. Not tears of frustration but tears of joy.

As I mentioned in my last post, we MAP tested on Monday. I was disappointed in some of their results, but I also know that it's just a test. No matter what any government mandate is, I refuse to let one test (or several) make me feel inferior as a teacher. My kids and I are not a reflection of our test scores. It's probably the one thing I hate about teaching, how we are reduced to numbers and percentages.

So I wrote my kids a note on Tuesday morning.

Well let me tell you a little story about a boy named 11 (okay that really isn't his name but it is his number so I'll remember down the road who it is!). 11 is very quiet and shy. I was told that he was a non-talker. He talks, he just chooses not to do it during class. A true teacher's dream. 

11 has been featured on this blog before cuddling Scaredy Squirrel while taking a test. Seriously this child is every teacher's dream come true. He is absolutely fabulous. I really want to keep him and bring him to 3rd grade with me because he's that cool of a kid.

Well, this kid had like zero self confidence when he came to me. None. I'm tough on my kids but they also know without a shadow of a doubt that I love them to bits and that that is the reason why I hound them sometimes (tough love doesn't work for everyone but it definitely does in my inner city school). Anyway, this friend just didn't think he had what it takes.

So when he finished his MAP reading test yesterday and showed me his score, we had to have a celebration. This friend started 4th grade reading at a mid-2nd grade reading level. This is not unusual in my area. I often get ESL kids who are 1-3 grades behind in reading; much of it has to do with language barriers and such. By the winter MAP test, 11 was on grade level. Up 2 grades in a half year. Very impressive. I would have been stoked for him just to maintain that...but oh no. I instilled so much confidence and drive in this child....his end of year score was mid FIFTH grade! I asked him if it was okay if I shared his fabulous work with the rest of the class. We praised this dear friend for doing AH-MAZING and just having so much perseverance to keep going. 

I also pointed out that his phenomenal growth had very little to do with me....it was him. I was just there to give him the confidence he needed.

Today we took our first M-Step test (new standardized test in Michigan). There has been a lot of BS about how horrible this new test is, blah blah. I'm not about to put that hype on my kids who have to take it. When they put practice out, we practiced. I told them the test helps ME as a teacher to know how I can teach better (not really true because quite frankly I could give a rat's furry little backside about this test), but I figured this little white lie was okay because it would keep them focused and not panicking about the test.

The test was supposed to be 90 minutes. HA! We learned when 5th grade did theirs that there was no way that it could be done that fast if kids actually a) tried and b) read the passages. 

My last kiddo got done at 2:40 today. In all some of the kiddos tested for about 3 1/2 HOURS on this ONE test.

And you know something? NOT ONE KID even complained about it. NOT ONE. They just did it. They amazed me, honestly. They can be a challenging group but they are mine and I was very, very proud of them today.

At the very end of the day we had circle and I told them that I wasn't going to give them homework (something I NEVER let go) because they did so awesome today. We talked a little about the test (not the content just how they felt it went) and they basically said that I was right....they knew this stuff and if they just focused, it wasn't so bad. *sniff* Not that I expect that they all will do well on it or anything but the fact that they FELT confident about it afterward means I did something right this year.

I gave them the confidence to know it's just a test -- it isn't a reflection of them as a learner. My kids are annoying sometimes but you know what? THEY ARE MINE. And I love them (and let's be honest, I'm annoying sometimes too so it's all good). 

Tomorrow they do the performance tasks for ELA and I'm quite excited for them because they really rocked the test today and I think they have even more confidence now...and that's a beautiful thing.