Monday, May 30, 2016

Six Years Ago Today

Stroke

Six years ago today, I had a life changing event.  It wasn’t necessarily a good one, but it changed my life forever.

On May 29, 2010, I had a stroke.

Luckily, I look fine. You'd never know just by looking at me.

Although, honestly, sometimes I think if I were somewhat maimed or deformed, people might be a tad more compassionate. There are actually people who think I’m just lazy and using the stroke as an excuse.

I much prefer to think of myself as a fighter. Or a survivor.

The stroke affected the left side of my body. You know that “pins and needles” feeling you get when you fall asleep on your arm? That’s what I feel ALL THE TIME. When I first had the stroke, it was my entire left side. I could actually draw a line down the middle of my face. Luckily, it has subsided some, but it’s still there. I have some “hot spots": my left elbow and my left knee, where the “pins and needles” feelings are the most intense.

My left side is super sensitive now. If you brush against my left side, it’s extremely uncomfortable for me. There are many of those “touchy-feely” types that have to touch people when they talk to them. In an effort to be polite, I try not to scream, but honestly, once someone has touched my left side, all I can concentrate on is NOT screaming, and I’ve lost pretty much everything they’ve said to me.

After the stroke, I went to Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy for several months, in an effort to get certain muscles working again. We made a little progress, but there are parts that will never work again like they used to.

My left hand is unable to grip things like it used to. I can hold things for a short time, but it takes a good deal of concentration, and it starts to hurt real fast. Blow drying my hair, putting on necklaces, or going through a drive through are some of the things that are very difficult now.

I can’t lift much anymore because of weakened shoulder muscles.

I can walk just fine, but I have trouble with balance because of weak core muscles. If I walk on soft or uneven turf, or have to turn quickly, I will lose my balance. Unfortunately, when I lose my balance, I look like I've had too much to drink. It's very embarrassing, not to mention all the bruises I wear all the time!

The hardest effect from the stroke has been the constant fatigue.

Before the stroke, I used to perform in a lot of musical theatre productions. We had rehearsals several times a week, often with very physical demands. I also was in an adult tap dance group. I was busy often after school, going from one rehearsal to another performance, both on weekdays and weekends. That was my release at the end of the school day. It’s what I loved to do for myself.

Since the stroke, I have trouble getting through the school day. I wouldn’t dare make any plans for after school. When I’m done with my daily school work, I go straight home to rest and relax.

I use weekends to catch up on my resting.

Want to read a good explanation of the fatigue? Google “The Spoon Theory” at http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/category/the-spoon-theory  

I am certainly grateful that I never hesitated to enjoy life when I had the opportunities.

Luckily, I have a job I love, since I really don't do much else besides my job.

I have a wonderful man in my life who is very understanding of how tired I get.

And I found a hobby I can do sitting down: blogging!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

How Can I Keep My Active Students Learning?

Reading Comprehension for Active Learners

It's getting close to the end of the school year, but we're expected to keep teaching. How can we pull this off, when those kiddos just can't sit still any longer?

Clearly, the answer is... have them learn standing up!

I've got a very active group of kids this year, so we've been learning in a variety of positions all year!

Here are some ways we can keep kids moving as part of their moving:

1. Have them move as part of the learning. For example, when we learn to spell a new word, the kids "dance" the words. For each tall letter, we stand tall with our hands in the air. For each medium sized letter, we put our hands on our hips. For the letters that go below the baseline, we squat with our hands on the floor. A couple of my students really enjoy the "dance" concept, and have added a hip movement as we spell and dance out the words.  I'm all for making it more fun!

2. Brain breaks! Sometimes children need a break FROM the learning, and that's fine. But it's possible to add a physical break that's also part of the learning! For example, in math, the children could do "wall push ups" while counting by fives... or reciting math facts. When sharing a story with the children, the children can take a walk as if they were one of the characters in the story. 

Here's a little freebie with some Social Studies and Science related Brain Breaks!
Freebie


3. Scoot! Scoot is an active game where children move from desk to desk answering questions or performing tasks. It's fun to play any time of year, but I find it particularly necessary as we get to those last few weeks of school. Here's a blog post explaining how to play Scoot.

Bright Idea

Keeping these ideas in mind, I've made a couple of new resources! Each resource has an informational text with 10 text based questions, 4 text based sketches for drawing, and 6 text related brain breaks. These are perfect for Scoot, or simply as task cards for those kiddos that need to move. 
Click the links below if you want more information!



Keep those kiddos moving!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Organizing the Class Library


I've struggled with keeping my classroom library organized for years.

The kids are in such a hurry when they put books away, the tubs often look like this:

If you look closely, you'll see that not only are the books a mess, but hardly any of them go with the topic Information Books About Sports! Hopefully, the reason they're in such a hurry is because they're excited about the other books! (One can hope!)

What do I do?

I have the kids re-organize the books!

Yep, about once a month, I take about a half hour of my reading time to have the children re-organize the books. 

Yes, as you guessed, at first it's chaos. But once I get them going, it's amazing!

The Benefits:
1. The children learn to organize books.
2. The children have ownership of the book tubs.
3. The children learn the find the author of the books on the cover and on the title page.
4. The children usually find interesting books they didn't realize were in the classroom library!

Plus, the tubs now look like this:

This is a part of our Bright Idea blog post. 
If you like what you see here, don't hesitate to follow me on these social media platforms:




Be sure to explore more bright ideas in the linky below!


Friday, April 1, 2016

April Currently


It's that time again! Another month, finally! March has never been my favorite month, and this one nearly did me in!  Here's what's happening here:

1. Forensic Files is my guilty pleasure! It's kind of freaky that I enjoy hearing about crime and murder, but I do! One reason: it's a half hour show. That aligns with my second grade attention span. The other reason: the bad guys always get caught! There's something secretly satisfying that some crazy murderer can get caught because of some fabric or a tire track. I'm hooked!

2. As I mentioned above, March has never been my favorite month. It's miserable weather. We've had enough winter, and are ready for spring, but it's not really here. Report cards come out in March, and it's just a hectic time of year. I'm glad it's over!

3. I'm sooooooo ready for Spring Break! I know a lot of teachers have already had theirs, but mine is the end of April. This has been a tough year, and I'm in need of a break!

4. Yep, seriously, I'm ready for this year to be over. Don't get me wrong, I love my job and I love my kiddos, but this year has been very difficult. Summer can't come soon enough.

5. Remember those days when you'd go out and party on a Friday night? Not any more! I just want to sleep for a very long time!

6. Did I mention I'm going to Disney! I can't wait!

Be sure to stop by and check out more Currently!

Oh Boy It's Farley

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Help! Teaching is Stressful!

Coping With Teacher Stress

Let's face it. Teaching is stressful. In so many ways! In fact, teaching brings on the worse kind of stress: chronic stress!

Taking care of a whole classroom of little ones (or big ones) who all need attention and help is pretty draining!

Not to mention testing.

Not to mention all the other things that we are required to do that has absolutely NOTHING to do with children and teaching!

OK, venting is over. 

But seriously, here are some of the dangers of chronic stress.
Chronic Stress

Dangers of Chronic Stress:
1. Chronic stress can cause cravings for sweet foods.
2. Chronic stress leads to excessive fat in the abdominal region.
3. Chronic stress has been linked to back pain. 
4. Chronic stress can make a person more likely to have a heart attack or a stroke.
5. Chronic stress can cause hair loss.
6. Chronic stress can cause an imbalance of microorganisms in the gut, leading to digestive problems.
7. Chronic stress can interfere with sexual function.
8. Chronic stress affects hormone production, causing fatigue and inability to handle stress.
9. Chronic stress weakens immunity.
10. Chronic stress causes premature again.

Sounds scary, doesn't it? All is not lost. 
There are plenty of things you can do about all that stress!
Strategies to deal with stress

Strategies for Coping with Stress
1. Identify your stresses!
2. Meditate!
3. Spend time with friends!
4. Exercise!
5. Color! (I'm sure you've seen coloring books for adults!)
6. Hug! (Seriously, science proves this helps!)
7. Experience Nature!
8. Religious Rituals!
9. Acupuncture!
10. Aromatherapy!
11. Sing!
12. Dance!
13. Kiss! (See THIS post.)
14. Listen to Music!
15. Enjoy a hobby!
16. Chew Gum!
17. Laugh more! (See THIS post.)
18. Take a break!
19. Get extra sleep!
20. Express your gratitude!

Good luck taking control of your stress!



Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Currently for March

March

It's time for Currently, and I'm mentioning Big Bang Theory again. Seriously, it's on almost all the time at my house. I'm addicted!

Today, my beautiful daughter turned 23 years old. Where do the years go? I'm very lucky, since she only lives an hour away, and we met for dinner. I rarely do ANYTHING after school, but today I somehow found the effort to drive 20 minutes away. Totally worth it!
Best Day ever!

March is going to be crazy! There's a lot going on, and I'm kind of dreading it. Most of it's not anything that's going to make me a better person or a better teacher. Just busy, pain-in-the-neck stuff!

But I can see April in the distance.  Hooray! Spring, warm weather, most of the yucky work done, and a vacation at the end of the month!

But first I must get through report cards.  They take SO MUCH TIME!!!

I vote in the local elementary school, which is in my district. In the town where I teach, there's a separate polling place. I don't envy those teachers who have to put up with voting in their schools. The kids don't get to eat in the lunchroom, and there's absolutely NO parking! It's got to be nuts!

Happy "Super Tuesday" and Happy March!

Be sure to check out Currently at: 

Oh Boy It's Farley

Sunday, February 28, 2016

It's Leap Year Day!

Leap Year Day Activities
Not only is it leap year day, but it's the first day back after our winter vacation! I'm working on getting myself psyched up to have some fun with those kiddos I haven't seen in a week.

So I made these...
Fun activities for leap year day

There are 5 different activities just LEAPING for Leap Year day! Just click the image and download!

While you're visiting my store, please notice my Leap Year Sale! Everything is 20% off through March 1st!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Anyone Else Feeling Like This?

tired

We have 2 more days until vacation, and this is how I have felt every day this week by 3:00!

Somehow I'm going to make it, but it won't be easy!

But somehow it makes me feel better to offer this freebie:

Click the image to download this Coin Trading Game!
Learning about money

My students absolutely love this game, and it's easy to get hooked on it!  Give it a try while it's free, the price will go up on March 1st!


Monday, February 8, 2016

Illustrating Homographs to Internalize Learning

Internalize Learning
 Brain Research tells us that when children illustrate as part of the learning process, it deepens the learning. In fact, integrating any of the arts has this affect on learning!

My students did this activity on homographs this week: 
homographs


My kids were so excited about the double meanings of words, they had a blast!  Plus, they created some awesome illustrations to prove their understanding!  Here are some of them:
double meaning of change
Change can mean the money that you get back. Or Change can mean if you get your clothes dirty, you could change them!
double meaning of tip
Tip can mean a tip of a pencil or the tip at a restaurant.

double meaning of foot
Foot can mean football or foot can mean a foot.

double meaning of broke
Broke can mean I broke up or broke can mean no money.

double meaning of bat
Bat can mean a baseball bat or a bat who flies.

double meaning of key
Key can mean a house key or key can mean a computer key.

double meaning of rose
Rose can mean a flower or Rose can mean a girl's name.



double meaning of well
Well can mean a wishing well or well can mean getting better when you're sick.

double meaning of march
March can mean they are marching or March can mean the month of March.

Aren't their drawings amazing? 

They actually thought of meanings of these words that I hadn't come up with! I love when they think of things I don't, in fact, I always love when the kiddos are thinking!

This is a perfect activity to keep in the "sub tub". It requires little preparation (just run off the papers), the kids enjoy it, and it's easy to leave directions for another teacher! 

Plus, these kiddos really know their homographs!


Friday, February 5, 2016

Shh... We Had Fun!

Having fun in school


I have a confession to make. 
I strayed. 
On purpose.
Two days in a row!

Yes, folks, rather than sticking to my assigned programs, I strayed and did activities that I knew the children would enjoy.

Did they still learn? Yes! Honestly, there was more learning going on than the typical textbook learning.

Tuesday was Groundhog Day. I had to change my schedule because of another teacher being absent, so I ran with it!

First, I pulled out these Groundhog information stories and questions from my Science and Social Studies for February set.

reading comprehension

I always try to have some comprehension question that can be answered directly from the text, at least one "word work" question, and one or two "beyond the text" questions. (These are my favorite!)
Since this reading was challenging for some, we first read as a group. After a discussion, I broke the children into pairs, and they re-read, then answered the questions. I love to have them work in pairs, since they have valuable conversations, especially on the "beyond the text" questions!

I told them I'd pay particular attention to question #4. (How would you keep a groundhog from eating things in your garden?) This reflects a problem I had as a gardener: 
The hungry groundhog actually learned to climb the fence I put up!

Their answers were delightful! Although they weren't all realistic, they showed an understanding of the problem, and creativity in their solution! (Plus, almost all kids solved the problem in a non-violent way!)

Once they learned about groundhogs, I had them make groundhog puppets and settings, and they created their own skits for Groundhog Day.
Groundhog Day
This guy put a couple of things to frighten the groundhog: the shadow AND a fox! 

Groundhog Day
The kiddos were so clever when creating their burrows! Some even designed the inside of the burrow on the other side! (In their reading, they learned a lot about the design of the burrows!)

Groundhog Day
As they performed their skits, they showed creativity, a sense of humor, AND knowledge of groundhogs! You can't get this on a computer test!

The next day was Day 100. 

I've had a little tradition going on that I started about 20 years ago. We go from classroom to classroom singing Day 100 songs!

We have 4 songs we sing. Here's one of them:
100 Days Smarter

Sorry, the other 3 aren't mine to give you! 
 They kept them in their book boxes and practiced them during reading time. (It was hard to keep them SILENT during independent reading!)

Day 100
It was loads of fun going from class to class. They rarely get to go into the other classrooms, and they got to go into almost ALL the classrooms! They saw younger siblings, older siblings, former teachers, neighborhood friends, and loads of other people they know. The teachers, students, and staff were amazing audiences! They welcomed us into their classrooms, listened to the lyrics, and applauded for the children. 
Day 100

My favorite part is seeing the smiles on the faces of my former students as they remember Day 100 caroling in past years!

Later that day, we played a couple of games and activities, including Mental Math 100. Up until now the children had only worked with 2 digit numbers, but I had them adding and subtracting 3 digit numbers, and with this game, they were even dealing with 4 digit numbers! And, of course, they were successful!

Day 100

It was a huge boost on their mathematics self esteem, and a whole lot of fun!

It's not actually what the manual told me to do, but it was truly a great learning day. 

Hopefully, I can sneak in a few more of these!

Monday, February 1, 2016

February Currently

It's February!

Currently
It's time for "Currently"!

Here's what this month is about:
Listening: Big Bang Theory is a favorite of mine, and it's always on, every night! I watch it all the time, since it's somewhat mindless. (I've seen every episode numerous times!) By the end of the day, mindless is what I need!
Loving: We have a week off the last week of February! Boy, do I need that time!
Thinking: I have so many little project I've got in my head, but no time or energy to get going with them! (Vacation!)
Wanting: It's that time of year where everyone is low energy, and no motivation. Plus, I'd really like to pay my bills. (This is a recurring theme on Currently!)
Needing: Yep, the rug totally needs it. If I only had the energy and the motivation!
Swooning: Something that gets me swooning is really good kissing. I'm swooning just thinking about it! 

Looking for more Currentlys? See Farley's blog HERE!
Oh Boy It's Farley

Looking for something to do with your kiddos in February? 
Check it out HERE!
February

Sunday, January 31, 2016

February Books, Resources, and

February
Can you believe February is upon us? 
I've got a bunch of ideas to help you get ready!

To start you off, here's a calendar freebie with lots of ideas for fun!
February calendar

Groundhog Day is Tuesday. Will that groundhog see his shadow?
Well, here's a groundhog that can predict the weather! (Click the image for a link to Amazon!)

Here's a Groundhog Day Freebie to practice the Consonant-l-e ending in words! Just click the image!

Consonant-l-e

Here's some more groundhog fun... to practice prefixes and suffixes. Just click the image!
Don't let the groundhog see his shadow

And some Groundhog math fun, with a little "Super Football" math fun as well. Click the image!

February math

Here's another freebie to help you out for this year's Super Bowl!
Carolina vs Denver

Have you had Day 100? Ours will be this Wednesday. Here's a great Day 100 book! (Click image for link to Amazon!)

 

This is a game that challenges my second graders, and they love it!
Day 100

Here's another Day 100 game for "older" kiddos to practice Compliments of 100!
Day 100

And a Day 100 Freebie for active kids...just click the image!
Freebie

Guess what else is coming next week... Mardi Gras!No Prep Printables

Valentine's Day is the same week! Here's my VERY favorite book to read for Valentine's Day! This one will warm your heart, and the kids' hearts as well! (Click for a link to Amazon!)

And a Valentine's Day Freebie!

Valentine facts and fun

Here are a few fun books for Presidents Day!

          
Here's a game to help your kids remember which American holiday is which!
American holidays

Here are plenty of activities for the kids with an American President theme!
Presidents

Still looking for February Activities? Just click the image below!




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