Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Scoop

I'm linking up again on the Sunday Scoop Linky at Teaching Trio!

Here's my Scoop for the week!

My 3 Have tos:  

1. I HAVE to finish my running records. Boy, is this time consuming! I hope it goes faster when I get the hang of it!

2. I just got my FUNdations materials Friday afternoon. I had a busy weekend, so I didn't bring the manual home with me. I had a day of training in August, but I haven't thought about it since! I haven't had the materials in front of me, so I've lost most of what I was taught! (A lesson for teachers: don't teach something, then ignore it for the next month!)  I'm anxious to get to know the FUNdations program and work with the kids with the program. I hear wonderful things about it!

3. I'm looking forward to getting into my Communities Social Studies unit with the kids. We've just barely started, but the kids are excited and interested. Teaching Social Studies is one of my favorite things to do!

My Hope tos:
1. I'm so excited to start working with this: 

This is the Fact Fluency system that I developed and tested out last year. It worked so well, I can't wait to do it again! I'm extra excited because during the summer, I added brain breaks to this set! Now it has everything it could possibly need! We start on Tuesday with the first pattern: +1 families! (Click the image for the link!)

2. My second "hope to" hasn't changed from last week: finish testing and start teaching. It's killing me that this testing is dragging on so long, I want to teach!

My Happy to...

Yes, I'm anxious to get going with the consequences. Why? Well, we've been practicing the rules and procedures for a week, and it's time to start the "real thing". I have a feeling there are a couple of little ones that need to know there will really be consequences and they will buckle down to business. I hate to be an old grumpy pants, but they need the boundaries.  They really are a great bunch of kids, so once we're rolling, they'll be fine! I suspect they'll be far more than fine!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sometimes You Just Have to Cry

My typical style is to turn the title of my post into something funny, but I'm actually serious, sometimes you really just have to cry!

I guess it's been since my divorce, but sometimes I have a hard time crying. I suspect it comes from trying so hard to be strong all the time. I have a hard time letting go.

But crying can be good. It's cleansing. 
It helps to get the bad feelings out. 

It doesn't make things better, but sometimes it's part of healing.

A couple of weeks ago, I lost a friend, suddenly, in a plane crash. He was a member of my singing group. I've known him for close to 20 years.

I didn't cry.

I found myself thinking I was a horrible person. 
Why wouldn't I cry?

I think part of it was that I was still in shock. 

My singing group will be singing at his memorial service tomorrow. 

When I heard the music we'd be singing, then the floods started. 

You can listen to recordings of these songs HERE and HERE.

The second one is the killer... if you need a good cry, that should do it!

If that doesn't do it, this is a you tube video of our third song.

Throughout my life, whenever I needed that beautiful release that only a "good cry" will bring, this is the song I'd listen to: 

As I've mentioned here on my blog, I'm a huge theatre fan!

That's Lea Salonga in Miss Saigon. I saw this show in London (starring Lea Salonga) in 1990. before it came to the U.S. 

I admit, I did cry through a good portion of the show, but this song in particular had a strong connection for me.
 It's interesting. This was years before I had a child, but I knew even then how much I would love that child. 

Music is magical. What songs make you cry?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Sunday Scoop

I found a brand new linky at Teaching Trio, and I have a feeling I'm going to be a regular! It's called the Sunday Scoop!

This requires the writer to come up with 3 "have tos", 2 "hope tos", and one "happy to". This is a great idea for Sunday, since teachers are getting their thoughts together for the upcoming week. 

Well, here goes my first Sunday Scoop!
The "have tos": 
1. It's essential that I finish those running records! Yes, I know I just figured out how to do them on Wednesday and completed 1 on Friday, but I'm dying to start working on increasing those reading skills, so I want them done NOW! We just switched to Fountas and Pinnell Running Records from DIBELS, and right now, I really miss my DIBELS. The Running Records are super time consuming (even more so than DIBELS) and so far I'm not finding any more information than DIBELS gave us. I'm hoping to find them more valuable as time goes by.
2. My kiddos will be doing the STAR assessments this week as well. I've never done these assessments before, and I know nothing about them other than it takes place at the computer and all grades PreK through 5th have to complete them. I can't help but be skeptical about a test that takes place at a computer, since most kids see the computer as a place to play, and don't really take it seriously. We'll work on that this year, and hopefully by the end of the year we'll get a more accurate representation of each child.
3. Since most of my book tubs were ripped, broken, or falling apart, I ordered some beautiful new ones. They came in the other day, but I haven't had time to switch the library around! I'm hoping to do it this week!

My hopes:
1. We started our interactive notebooks in math this week. We have a page for addition and subtraction. I'm hoping to make some pages for what we're studying in literacy: character and setting and writing complete sentences.
2. It probably won't happen much this week, but I'm really aching to get to some REAL teaching!

My "happy to":

It's hard to believe that singing with my group could be any way but happy, since I really love singing, and I really love my group. However, this is not a happy reason to get together. We lost one of our members suddenly last week. 

This is a picture of our group, Voices of Distinction. The man in the center, Bruce, is the one we lost. This concert was a few years ago. It was called Voices of Yesterday because all of the songs in this concert were from the past. It was one of my very favorite concerts, and most definitely my favorite costume! (Yes, we had lots of songs from the 60s!) We sing songs with lots of tight harmonies. Want to hear some? There are some recordings HERE.

We will be getting together to sing at Bruce's memorial service. It's happy because I love to sing and I love the group. I've needed to get together with them since I heard the news last Monday.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Five Fabulous Feats!

It's been quite a week in my second grade classroom! We're really settling in, and getting established as an important second grade class! Here are a few things we did this week:

We chose our class tree! We are lucky enough to have this beautiful maple tree right outside our classroom! The purpose of  having a class tree is to observe it and sketch it all year. Right now, it's green, but some very observant children noticed a few of the leaves were "yellowish". I think changes are coming soon!

As observant scientists, it's our job to keep records of any changes that happen to our class tree. This week we went out and recorded our first sketches of the class tree. (How lucky to have PERFECT New England weather for sketching!) I was totally amazed at how observant these children were, getting plenty of details about the tree, and putting those details into their sketchbooks! They were careful scientists, going up to the tree to get a closer look, looking at the tree from different angles, and discussing what they noticed. It was a fabulous experience!

Although we are really still in "teaching procedures" and "assessment" mode, I want them to be building their skill, so I've pulled out my Fry Word Phrase game.  They're doing a great job practicing their phrases! I'm introducing the game's Brain Breaks to the whole class, then they'll be ready to play the game with the brain breaks without my help! This was a huge hit with last year's class, and I suspect it's going to be with this one, too. Those built in Brain Breaks are a huge motivator!  See HERE to see the set I'm using with my second graders.

Today at lunch, we were chatting with the brand new third grade teacher. She's feeling a bit overwhelmed, as most new teachers do at this time of year. I mentioned I'd been teaching at that school for 30 years now, and still feel that way sometimes. She said, "It seems like you still love it."  

Why yes, I still love it, but I was really glad to see that it shows! I loved hearing that!
We always reflect on our day, and many children say their favorite time of day is independent reading! Nothing could make me happier than hearing that! 

Why do they like it? 

Well, good books is one reason! But I think another reason is that it is cozy! I have plenty of comfy pillows, and independent reading time is the only time I take them out. 

What could be better than getting cozy with a book?

Check out Doodle Bugs Teachingfor more Five for Friday!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Back to School Success!

We've been in school for 6 days, and we're settling in! Luckily, I spent some time this past summer preparing some materials, and I'm glad I did!

I'm so glad I have the Back to School Brain Breaks! Those first few days are so tough, and the kiddos need to move! This set has 12 different brain breaks with a "Back to School" Theme. The kids LOVE them! Click HERE for this freebie!

Giving the kids a chance to get to know each other is needed at the beginning of the year. Since game-playing is an important part of my classroom, I combined "getting to know you" with practicing game-playing skills: taking turns, keeping track of your partner, playing fairly, complimenting your partner, and what to do if there's a disagreement. Back to School Get to Know You Game (With Brain Breaks) is perfect for teaching these skills. It includes the same 12 Back to School Brain Breaks, which makes the kids want to play even more! It also includes a game board and lots of fun questions to answer! You can find the game HERE.

We've spent a few days discussing what would be appropriate rules, rewards, and consequences. We've read a couple of books, done a lot of brainstorming and recorded our ideas. 

They did a great job of brainstorming and sharing ideas, then writing their favorite ideas on their papers. Here are some of their ideas!

Have you noticed several mentions of beanie babies? They love those beanie babies! A big reward in my class for years has been getting to keep a beanie baby on a desk for the day. Pretty much every kid had that on their list! Isn't it amazing something so simple can be so motivating? You can get my Developing Class Rules as a Community freebie HERE.

Although we are still doing beginning of the year, I'm trying to squeeze in some skills. Luckily, I made these printables last summer based on end-of-first-grade skills, and I'm so glad I did! We have had some fun reviewing math, reading, writing, and phonics skills, and will be ready to do some serious second grade work as soon as that testing is done! You can find Back to School No Prep Printables HERE!

How is Back to School going for you?

Monday, September 1, 2014

How Can it Be September?

Somehow, the calendar has turned to September. 
How did that happen? 
Where did August go? 
Where did the summer go? 

Well, one good thing about a new month is a new Currently! It looks like some people got a head start, since I noticed it's already past 200 links!  

Here goes:

I don't know if it's this bad in all the states, but there are so many horrible attack ads going on these days, I'm absolutely disgusted!  I can't believe the horrible things these politicians say about each other, how could I vote for any of them? They're all mean!

Don't you love 3 day weekends? Of course, I'll be thinking it's Monday all day tomorrow, but it's worth it to have that extra day. (Well needed, since last week was the first week, and we all know how exhausting the first week is!)

I need to get off my behind and go print and prepare some stuff for this upcoming week. But it's so nice to just sit...!

I haven't had a paycheck since mid-June, and I'm hurting big time! I spent waaaaaayyyyyy too much money on my teeth this summer, and I'm hoping my mortgage doesn't bounce! I'm holding my breath!

I still haven't been to Hawaii. I've always wanted to see Greece. Actually, I'd love to visit most of Europe, especially the Mediterranean. Why Colorado? My brother lives there. He's been there several years, and I still haven't visited. It's time. (Except for the money part!)

September has started on a rough note for me. I just found out a friend died in a plane crash today. That's the second loss I've found out about in 24 hours... both friends from community theatre groups I've worked with.

The other sadness in my life concerns some teacher blogger friends of mine who are unable to return to school this fall: teachers in British Columbia are on strike. Please see THIS post on my facebook page to see more about these frustrated teachers.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Lessons from a Grocery Store Chain

This blog post really doesn't have anything to do with education, but it's a hot topic in my area, and there's definitely a lesson or two to be learned!

We have a local grocery store chain that's been in the news a lot lately for the last few weeks. 

Several weeks ago, the CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas was fired by the Board of Directors. They hired some other people. The employees of Market Basket were horrified by this decision, and let the Board know their opinions by protesting. They stood outside their stores with signs, demanding Artie T reinstated as their CEO.


Artie T. cared about his employees. He went out of his way to know who they were and show interest in them. He also cared about his customers. He worked hard to keep prices low, despite pressure from the Board of Directors. 

The protests and boycotts lasted 6 weeks. Most of the shelves in the stores were empty, especially produce, meat, and dairy. Loyal customers boycotted, and did their shopping at other grocery stories. The other grocery stores were over priced and over crowded. It affected not only store employees, but customers, suppliers, even stores and services adjacent to the stores felt the loss. The business lost millions of dollars during those 6 weeks.

Late last Wednesday, the Board of Directors finally accepted Artie T's offer pay $1.5 billion dollars for 50.5% of the company.

There were plenty of celebrations! Managers went to their stores in the early hours of the morning to prepare their stores, and sure enough, customers returned! Stores had welcome back signs, smiling employees, balloons, and everyone was just plain happy to be there! (I even saw a facebook post of a conga line of customers, complete with their shopping carts!)

People were buying whatever they could! (Not all the shelves were re-stocked yet, but there were plenty of choices!) 

I didn't get a chance to visit until Saturday. (It was the first week of school, and we all know that teachers are too tired for grocery stores after the first few days!) When I finally visited, I was greeted by balloons, smiling workers, "Welcome Home" signs, and a big crowd of Saturday shoppers. I knew the shelves wouldn't be completely stocked, but I was surprised at how much was available after only being back in business for a couple of days. I really only needed cat food, but I bought several items, especially the store brands... those purchases will help the stores build back those millions of dollars lost in the protest. 

Despite the loss, plus Artie T's $1.5 billion purchase, the low prices are still there! Yes, that's $4.99 for K-cups... they were $7.99 at the "other" store!

The whole purpose of this protest was that employees wanted to work for the good guy. They were protesting the "corporate greed" that had replaced their beloved CPO.

Many people these days are just out to make as much money as they can, and are "in it" only for themselves. Here, we had a person who truly cared about his employees and his customers. They trusted him, and they stood by him.

Loyalty like this is rare in 2014. 

I remember my dad was loyal to certain companies and brands back in the 50s and 60s. He trusted them, and kept returning. That sort of product loyalty doesn't exist any more. 

Perhaps it's because these companies and brands don't work at earning our trust. Perhaps it's because they're just trying to get our money. 

Perhaps employers and companies should work a little harder at earning our trust and our loyalty.

What do you think?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Five Reasons I Don't Like the First Week of School

As much as I love my job, I don't love the first week. Yes, after 37 "first weeks", I'm still not happy with the first week. Why?  Well, here are some reasons:

I don't like when I don't know the kids! I don't know their likes and dislikes. I can't remember which kids enjoy hockey and which kids have cats. I don't know the talents of these little guys yet! The best part of the job is the kiddos, and I don't know them yet!


They don't know my expectations. They don't know my sense of humor yet. They don't know my little hints. (Like when I make little kissing sounds, meaning they need to sit all the way down!) They don't know the meaning of my little sayings yet. ("Put your nose and toes to the door.") In fact, we haven't actually established the rules yet. That makes a difference, but we can't do it all in a couple of days!

Teachers know the meaning of "first week" tired! I've come home from school every day this week barely able to walk. I've neglected this blog all week. I've had tons of ideas, but I'm not able to sit upright and type.  I can't even think through how to organize a post!

I've had a whole lot of pictures I wanted to take this week! I did actually manage to take some pictures on the first day for our wall display. (Those actually came out real cute.) But I didn't get any pictures of the kids DOING anything! Of course, that's actually because I was too BUSY with the kids! They really aren't very independent yet, so I have to do a whole lot of "hovering" to make sure they're doing what they're supposed to be doing. I'm hoping this gets better, since I'm going to have to start running records next week! 

Believe it or not, this is quite a disappointment! Our local grocery store chain has been involved in a boycott for the last 6 weeks. The boycott caused a lot of people to be out of work or lose money. Most of us had to go to more expensive grocery stores, which were overcrowded because of the boycott. It was awful for so many people. Finally this week, the corporate big guys came to a decision and everyone is back at work.

They have been back in business for a couple of days, and people who have been to the stores have said they are the happiest places around! Workers are smiling, laughing, singing, thanking and hugging customers. Customers are smiling, hugging managers, and I even saw a facebook video of customers doing a conga line through one of the stores with their shopping carts! 

And I'm too tired to shop tonight. I'll be there in the morning!

Be sure to stop by Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Five for Last Chance Friday

It's another Five for Friday, and it's been quite the week! I've been in school all week, trying to get my classroom ready. Today was the last chance to work in the room, since Monday and Tuesday are meetings, Tuesday night is "Meet and Greet the Teachers", and Wednesday is the official first day. 

I had posted HERE about how my sunny classroom made all the tape stick to my furniture, and I posted HERE about the process to get all that tape off my furniture. That was where a good chunk of my week went!

Besides cleaning off all the tape, I had to scrub the desks to get them ready for the kiddos. I just can't imagine them coming to school with "permadirt" from the kids the year before. The white boards also needed a scrubbing. You could actually see where the kids had written word from last year, and it just wouldn't wash off. I finally took a Magic Eraser and bleach spray, and now they are ready for new students. 

Another time consumer was running off and putting together the Writer's Workshop folders for the year and preparing the writing materials. Writer's Workshop is a big part of my classroom, and I'm always thrilled with the writing skills the children come with from first grade. Then they develop even better writing skills in second grade!

All the materials I use are found in this set:

and can be found HERE.

Here's a closer look at the collection:

Preparing the folders includes running off most of the resources, some in different colors, punching holes, and putting them into the folders. I also made a variety of 5 page booklets for them to get started, with different kinds of lined paper, and different colors for covers. We're ready to start Writer's Workshop on Day 1!

The week was mostly working on school stuff, but not all... on Thursday I drove down to Boston to get my daughter (she needed o do some serious New Hampshire shopping). After an awesome job parellel parking (on the left, no less!) we walked to this very cool Asian Shabu restaurant. Shabu means "hot pot". They actually have a boiling pot of broth on the table, and you cook the meat and the veggies yourself right there at the table. It was not only delicious, but it was totally fun!

I overslept this morning, then rushed into school for the final last chance on the room. I finished putting up decorations, sorted and labeled supplies, ran off papers, put the last few things away, and finally put the nametags on the desks. I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be, except for a few things I have to put together this weekend.

Why no pictures? Because they kicked us out of the building at 4:00! I was racing around trying to get things done. 

What did I do next? I came home, took a shower, and crashed on the couch for 2 hours. Boy, was I tired!

Be sure to stop by Doodle Bugs for more Five for Friday!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

I'm linking up with Wordless Wednesday at Sugar and Spice!  

In the spirit of "wordless", I'm going to show you pictures!

I don't know about you, but I've already spent some money at the TpT Back to School Boost sale, and I'll probably end up spending more before the sale ends at midnight. (I'm becoming quite the Clip Art addict!)

Now back to "wordless"...

Here are a few things available during the Boost sale... 
all pictures are links!

See you at the sale!

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