Friday, October 24, 2014

TGIF!!

Yay for Friday! I think this week just zoomed past. Yesterday was Monday, wasn't it?!

In preparation for Halloween next week and some fun themed activities we're going to do, today for Fun Friday, I had the kiddos make Haunted Houses. (I'm lame and totally forgot to take pictures of them!) I can't draw to save my life but whenever I make a person, they have one little hair on their head because it's just funny to do that.

Well I showed the kiddos how they could make their house, just as an idea. And I added a "creepy weirdo" (a phrase I say ALL the time) and hung a sign on my house's door that said "Only Creepy Weirdos May Enter Here". Then each kiddo got a white piece of computer paper, and orange and black construction paper. They were basically given free reign to make their house however they wanted.

Many of them didn't finish them yet so I told them that while I'm reading from Edward (The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane) next week, they can finish them up. I'll try to remember to take pictures of them on Monday. So many of my little friends brought their houses up to me to show me what they had. They were very creative and made doors that opened with their construction paper....and put "creepy weirdos" inside the door. HAHAHA!

And of course....I had to be as silly as possible and "shriek" when they showed me their scary houses. :) I can not wait to do the writing project on the haunted houses next week. It'll be really fun and since our hallway walls are naked and I don't like that....we're gonna have to make some stuff to put out there :) 

Best part of the Fun Friday project was when two of my more challenging boys were chatting as they worked, and didn't realize I was listening. One said, "Man, I'm gonna start being good." The other friend says, "Why's that?" and the first friend says, "Because it's fun in here when you behave." :)

Yes, my dear friend, that is what I've been trying to tell you all along. Good work means Fun on Friday! :)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

My, oh my!

How has a week gone by?? Oh my goodness. Time feels like it goes so slow sometimes but this year is zooming by. We have two weeks left and it's the end of the first quarter. Say, what?!

I am noticing a pattern in my classroom since my new friends arrived three weeks ago. Thursday afternoons are absolutely HORRIBLE in my classroom. I'm serious. They are really, really bad. I thought about it quite a bit and just can't figure out why this is so. Normally I would blame it on no down time...but my students DO have down time. We have library and computer lab on Thursdays with computers to break up the afternoon. I just don't get what the deal is.

I've been brainstorming what to do because I'm really stumped. I have a few friends who just don't get it and that is so sad. Even my students who drive me crazy (and let's be honest, in every class, unless you are lying to yourself, there are at least a couple) still have my heart. I bust my butt to make sure my lessons are fun and engaging. All of the other afternoons they are just fine. It's Thursday that seems to be their downfall. I may have to flip our schedule....we come in from lunch and do reading workshop. They do their word sorts and we take our weekly test. Then we have computer lab and finally we have social studies (or science). Maybe I need to do the content area first on Thursdays. 

It's a real bummer because that one afternoon makes me not want to be there and that's not fair to them or to me. It's ONE afternoon. Maybe this week we'll have a class meeting and discuss what THEY think we might be able to do to help those afternoons be better. 

This past week, my TA had to do one of her video lessons. Her university really did not provide me with ANY real direction on how to help her grow, which is super helpful. *wink* So I took a page from my university's book and we came up with a plan for her. She is only there 3 days per week so I couldn't allow her to take over a whole subject because she would have to write plans for me when she's not there and that's something to save for student teaching. So I have her doing one lesson per week in math, reading and writing. Last week she did her first writing lesson. It went really well I think. It was a really engaging lesson and I'm excited to rewatch the video with her and see how she felt that it went. 

This week we will be working on her first math lesson, which we will also videotape. Reminds me of the videos I had to do for National Board. I avoid the camera at all costs if I can. (Not a "selfie" fan at all!) I do think, however, that my TA will be surprised at the level of engagement the kiddos show in the video and that's something she definitely needs for her confidence. 

Between my TA, The Oldest (who volunteers in my room after her college classes are done for the day) and myself, we kicked out our grading and thus I took no work home this weekend. What a blessing that is! I didn't take anything home last weekend either. I am really discovering taking the two days to focus on my family and graduate school is what I need to do. I am physically in my building at least 50 hours per week. My salary pays me for 30. I think 20 hours of free labor is enough extra :)

Have a beautiful and productive week. I shall have to figure something out for Thursday and tell you how it goes.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Class Buddies

Over the years, I have received multiple stuffed animals (mostly frogs) from my students and I always keep them. When I taught at Former School, I had them on top of my cabinet, mostly for decoration. When I went down to 2nd grade a few years ago, I put them in a bin for the students to use as a buddy. I got that suggestion from another teacher who had done the same thing.

That year she got moved up to 5th grade and she told me she still kept her stuffed buddies out and was amazed at how these big 5th grade kids (even some of the "tough" boys) would do anything to get to have one of the Class Buddies at their desk.

When I came back up to the upper grades, I didn't take my animals back home and I didn't stick them back on my shelf. I decided to leave them out and just see what would happen. It amazes me how many of these kids love on these animals. It's so darn cute and reminds me that despite some of them having to act as though they are little adults, they really are just little kiddos.

Each Thursday my students take their weekly Reading Street Test. We use the privacy shields to help the students to keep focused on their test (also an incentive since we go to computer lab right after the test and they don't want to miss that!). Check out what I managed to capture.





I LOVE this little friend! He is such a sweetie and I'm very certain he has no idea how to misbehave. He was such a rockstar last week he got TWO Good News Cards in the same week (which has NEVER happened in my entire career) and thus he got to have our Class Buddy Scaredy Squirrel. I saw him snuggling Scaredy Squirrel while he was taking his test and snuck behind him and snapped this pic.

Also on his vocabulary work for this week, when they have to write the 7-up sentences, this little friend wrote "I will preserve Scaredy Squirrel for Mrs. Wood." ♥

So absolutely adorable. This is why I never want to teach middle or high school. They just don't maintain their innocence like these little guys!

Friday, October 10, 2014

TGIF!

Wow, am I ever glad it is Friday!

Whew. In the interest of being positive, I'm just gonna say that there is still a lot of adjusting going on with my new class configuration and it wipes me out daily. Add to that being a full time mama, doctoral student and occasional Thirty-One lady...I am W-I-P-E-D.

Plumb worn out.

Let me paint you a picture (not really because I can't even draw stick people)....

I was at school for twelve and a half hours yesterday. Twelve. And a half! I had a very late meeting (it didn't start until 6:15) and tried to get caught up on grading and some planning before the meeting. At some point between 4 and 6:10 when I went downstairs for the meeting....apparently I did my graduate homework and submitted it.

I did not recall doing this. Last night when I finally got home and had eaten dinner, I panicked that I needed to get that stuff turned in. (I am adamant that I not turn in a single assignment late.)

It was a rough day yesterday to put it mildly. After I had eaten dinner, I gave myself 30 minutes to read for pleasure just to unwind from the tough day and prepare before I shifted gears to grad school. Around 9:10, so tired I could have dropped on the spot, I logged into my BlackBoard course....and saw that I had already done the work for the day.

And I didn't even remember doing it.

This course is ending. Within the next 30 hours I will submit all of the last assignments and it'll be over. My brain must seriously be on auto-pilot if I can complete and submit homework without even registering that I did it.

Tomorrow will be all about finishing up the final touches on my project. Then some downtime with a fun Thirty-One birthday party and then pushing "submit" for the last time for this class....then I spend Sunday sleeping. And relishing in no grad work.

It's a bit surreal to be (almost) done with my 2nd class but I am so ready for a week of only focusing on being a mom and a teacher.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Holy Wow!!

Oh my goodness gracious!

You are NEVER going to believe what I am about to write here....but it's not April and thus not an April Fool's joke!

This past spring, I had the most Epic March ever! But March 2015 promises to be even MORE Epic!!

Yesterday I got an email from my graduate school saying they had secured a trip to Finland and Sweden for their Ed.D. candidates to study the teaching model and practices there!! Considering my ultimate goal is to open my own school and I would LOVE to emulate the teaching styles there...this was like the trip of a lifetime.

I thought about how to try to secure grants. How to beg people to help me fund this. How to sell my soul. (Okay, not really the last one. I do have some standards.) 

Alas, it turns out, all I had to do was talk to my amazing husband about it and tell him how much this trip would likely help fuel my knowledge to open that future school of mine. He budgets like whoa and crunched some numbers and said it was VERY doable and he wants me to go! 

OH.

MY.

WORD!

So I'm registered for the trip and have paid half the cost. I need to get a passport (I have never been to any other country but Canada and that was before 9/11 when you didn't need a passport). I need to secure a week and a day off from my job. 

I am SO beyond excited! The trip is 9 days - March 21-29. I will be out of work from March 23-30 (no way am I going to work on March 30 because I will have massive jet-lag I'm sure).

How am I going to stand the anticipation from now until then? Ahh!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

wOOt ~ New Design!

I am SO very excited to show off my new blog design! A huge, huge thank you to Kassie at Designs by Kassie for this amazing new look!

It all started this summer -- as usual I was blog stalking (read: avoiding graduate work!) and stumbled across a blog that made me practically drool with envy. The design was so gorgeous! It prompted me to get in touch with Kassie myself and order a design of my own.

Needless to say, she is incredibly popular and I put in an order at the beginning of July and I just made it to the top of the list at the beginning of October! It was well worth the wait. Once I paid my deposit on Friday (as in last Friday), knowing that Kassie doesn't do weekends (lucky! :), I didn't expect to hear from her again before the end of this week.

Nope....by Monday afternoon (as in yesterday people!) she had a sample for me to look at! Just a couple of short and sweet adjustments and the design was ready to go!

Kassie is very talented and is very professional. She truly grasped what I was thinking (I mean, honestly, the can is PURPLE! She totally read my mind!) and made it into a super cute and fun design that I totally love. I hope you love it too.

If you're in need of a blog design, definitely check out Kassie. Her work is worth whatever wait you might have!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Oh Sunday

How does Sunday creep up so quickly? You have probably seen the memes that float around social media that say something like, "I need a day between Saturday and Sunday". Boy, I sure do! It seems like Saturdays are busy catching up on graduate work and other household type of chores and then Sundays are often spent working on school stuff. (Once upon a time I had a dream that I'd take one whole day off on the weekend. Bahahahaha, good thing it was called a dream *wink*)

Don't get me wrong, "doctor school" as The Husband so lovely calls it, is rigorous and challenging. I'm not going to tell you that it is easy. It isn't. Especially the program I am in because it is 100% online and therefore you have to be a self-starter -- there is zero room to be lazy or want to take time off because of how the cohort works (in fact, I suspect 2 members of my cohort won't be moving onto the next class because they haven't kept up with the course material in the last 3 weeks). It is also an accelerated program so that we can finish our degree in 3.5-4.5 years instead of the usual 7-9 years it takes a person to get a doctorate in education. This just means that there is often something due 5 of the 7 days in a week. No rest for the weary kind of thing. What I usually end up doing is taking most of Saturday to be lazy and relax or do errands and household stuff with my husband, then use Saturday night to focus on finishing that week's graduate assignments (as the big paper we write each week is due Saturday night). Once that is out of the way, Sunday is reserved for the rest of the household stuff (laundry, grocery shopping, etc) and stuff for the teaching job.

I really just wish that I had one full day that I didn't have to do anything at all. How wonderful and luxurious that would be! :) As it is, this course is winding down so this coming Saturday I will submit all of my final work for this class and I'll have 7 entire days of blissful relaxation from grad school. (Note: we really don't get a whole week off but I plan to submit all of the final stuff early since it's a compilation project of all of the work we've already done and a reflection paper so that I can have the whole week off.) 

Thankfully the course material is at least interesting and relevant so I feel like it is beneficial to be doing this. Some days I'm just so drained I don't know which way is up. My house could use a severe deep cleansing and I wish I had the time or energy to do it.

I also really wish that my blog was more interesting than I think it has been recently. Sorry for that. Too tired to be ultra creative or share the "next big thing" because I'm using a lot of what I've used in the last few years because they WORK and they are helping my kiddos learn. It's nothing super exciting. 

Although, my next grad class, aptly titled "Creativity, Inquiry and Innovation" proves to be just the thing to get the creative juices flowing again so there is a bit of hope that something interesting might come out of this blog again sometime soon. :)