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I'm Free!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin!

Have you found my Bloglovin Giveaway yet?  If not, click HERE.  You'll find everything you need!

And, by the way, did I mention I'm FINALLY out of school for this year. I finished my 28th year in this school, and my 35th year altogether.

I'm FREE!  (For at least a month!)  Now I can finally get to that pile of laundry!

Google Reader Out, Bloglovin In!

Google reader is shutting down on Monday.  I know, I'm disappointed too. It was so easy to see what blogs have posted lately and keep up with what's going on in Blog World!  As a blogger myself, I love to see what other teacher bloggers are up to!

However, all is not lost.  There's a little site called Bloglovin that looks like it's going be be a good replacement!

You may be noticing a little widget along the side of many blogs that look like this:

Follow on Bloglovin

or even like this:
Follow on Bloglovin

or perhaps even like this:
Follow on Bloglovin

or maybe even something like this!
Follow on Bloglovin

Of course, first you need to sign up for Bloglovin, and that's easy!

Just go to www.bloglovin.com and you'll see this:

Click where you see Join Bloglovin, and follow the directions.  You can sign up through facebook or with your email.  

Once you're signed up and logged in, go to THIS PAGE:
 Just click "import from Google Reader" and you're on your way!  It makes life much easier when you follow loads of blogs, like I do!  (I confess, I'm an addict!)
Now that you're really totally Bloglovin, There's more!  There are a whole bunch of bloggers having giveaways based on Bloglovin!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now that you've entered my giveaway, look at all the other Bloglovin Giveaways you can enter!

Last Friday on Saturday

Yesterday was our last Friday of the 2012-1013 school year.

It's amazing how tired I get this time of year!  It's a total song and dance to get the kids to listen to anything you say, since they're totally fried and overdue for a break.  They're not deliberately naughty, they just can't take in anymore information!  They are saturated, and need time off to let their learning settle so they'll be ready for more learning. This seems like the longest school year ever!

1. Bribery!  Teachers have to resort to bribery this time of year.  We have to dangle some sort of "carrot" so that they'll be motivated to do some work. This is what I used for bribery this week:  computer lab time, craft projects, end of the year "giveaways", the opportunity to speak in front of the school at Monday's assembly, and, of course, extra recess!

2.  Freebie! Last week I posted a math fact trick with an addition and subtraction fact freebie HERE. I have some children who are ready for multiplication, and are quite anxious to get started, so I made up a list for those kids.  You can probably find these lists and tables all over the internet, but I made this one so the patterns would be really easy for the kids to notice.  I skipped the super easy ones so there would be room to go up to the x12s, for those who like an extra challenge! Click the image to download this freebie.

3.  Disappointed!  If you've been following my blog, you may know that I've been piloting a math program for possible use in my district next year.  In February, all the teachers in my district who were piloting got together and recommended the district adopt the enVision math program, which I have absolutely loved. It is completely focused on the Common Core standards, has great manipulatives and loads of videos, online activities, and easy reports.  It presents the material in a sequential manner, and the children had a super successful year.  In March, we presented the program to the Curriculum committee and they recommended it.  In April, we presented to the school board.  They finally took their vote last night, (yes, 2 months later) and they voted to keep the present math program.  Of course, I was disappointed as I packed up my enVision materials yesterday, and pulled out my old Everyday Mathematics materials.  There were many things I liked about Everyday Mathematics, but after having used both programs, enVision was soooooo much better for the kids, and totally about the Common Core standards, which we'll be adopting.  I'm anxious to find out why the School Board voted this way.

4.  Exhausted!  As next Thursday is our last day of school (finally!) I've been spending time after school every day to try to keep up with all the end of school expectations.  My gentleman friend came in and helped me on Friday afternoon.  He helped my pack almost all my books into boxes and into my car.  (I left a few for the last 3 days of school!)  I plan to totally reorganize my books so that I bring different ones into circulation at different times of the year instead of putting them all out in August.  That will save shelf space and keep the kids from getting overwhelmed when they choose books... and make sure they're not sick of the books by March! Of course, right now, I have 7 boxes of books in my living room.  I also have about 12 boxes of seasonal books in my cellar, and about 3 more boxes of books still at school.

5. Comments!  I asked the children to write comments about all the members of our classroom.  I'm putting them into a slide show to give to the kids.  Here's a sneak preview (don't tell the kids yet!) of the comments they made about me.  Do you notice a theme?  One hopes the kids say I'm inspirational or a spectacular teacher, but for the most part, they think I'm funny.  Of course, that's what my mother's students said about her.  When they grew up, they also said she was inspirational and a spectacular teacher.  I can always hope they remember me when they grow up!

Even though it's Saturday, I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Five for Friday! Click the image to see all the 5 for Friday links!

And I'm linking up on Manic Monday!

My Teacher Always Says...

Tammy from Forever in First is having a fun linky party!  This one is very timely because one of the things I was getting together for my end of the year slide show was a collection of my most famous words.  Here are a few of my favorites:

This is the deal I make with the kids on the first day of school every year:
This is what I ask them whenever they complete their work.  S.P.U.N.C. stands for Spelling, Punctuation, Use of words, Neatness, and Capitalization.

I love when the children take risks!

This is one my dad, the football coach, used to say all the time!

Shhhh!  Don't tell the kids, but this page will be appearing in my end of year slideshow the children will get next Wednesday, the last day of school!

What do you say all the time?

Chapter 3: Drawing

If you haven't bought your book yet, it's not too late!  Click the image below for a link to Amazon, so you can read along with this book study!

This week is about Chapter 3: Drawing.

The authors spend a good part of this chapter emphasizing the importance of letting children draw, after all, children naturally know how to draw, and to the little ones, drawing is their way of writing.

The authors go into details on how to teach the children how to sketch people using ovals.  Much of this chapter models a lesson on sketching for the little ones.

Drawing is an important part of the writing process, even for older children.  It is important that we support the drawing part of the writing process.  Here are some ways to support drawing:

  1. Model the process of drawing for your students.  Dedicate some of your mini-lessons to just drawing.
  2. Make sure there are plenty of supplies - sketchpads, colored pencils (including multicultural colors), crayons, pencils and erasers.
  3. Give children opportunities to sketch throughout the day.
  4. Have children bring familiar objects from home to draw.
  5. Enlist the help of other adults in your building who know about drawing.
  6. Keep a few tools such as these books for references:



Don't forget to stop by Teaching with Grace and see the linky for Chapter 3:  Drawing.

Punch Out Those Facts, Thanks to Brain Research!

Punch out those facts! This blog post has several suggestions (research based) to help children learn facts, such as math facts.
I read a lot of articles on the internet, most of them have something to do with how the brain learns and holds information.  We are lucky to be teaching in the 21st century where research is published daily about the brain.  I find this absolutely fascinating, and follow several brain related publications.

Recently I read this article, Want to hold onto a Memory?  Make a Fist.  It tells about a study about clenching fists to help the memory.  First, a learner should clench the right fist for 45 seconds to activate the encoding part on the left side of the brain. (Left handed people do the opposite.)

Then, clenching the left fist will help recall the information.

Although there is a lot of research to be done on this idea, I've been suggesting to my students to clench their "writing hand" fist while saying a series of facts, for example:  the "plus 3s".  It would sound like this:
"3+0=3     3+1=4     3+2=5     3+3=6     3+4=7     
3+5=8     3+6=9     3+7=10   3+8=11     3+9=12"

Then, they can sit down and write them while clenching their non-writing hand.

Of course, they might need some fun help with the clenching.
Click on the images for a link to Amazon for more information!

The crowd pleaser collection

For the sports fans:

For geography enthusiasts: (These are my favorite!)

I started using the term "punch out the facts" to remind the children to make a fist!

Even if the recent research doesn't help, there are plenty of brain strategies that will help the children learn their facts:

1.  Talking!  Saying the fact out loud helps!

2.  Visuals!  As they read the facts, they are using visuals to help the memory!

3.  Movement!  As they clench each fist, they are physically engaged!

4.  Repetition!  As they repeat each fact, they are making more connections in the brain!

Here's a freebie that lists all the addition and subtraction facts the children need to learn.

Most other math skills depend upon this basic knowledge!
Plus, it is related to this Common Core Standard:
 2OA 2b Fluently add and subtract within 20 using mental strategies.  
By end of Grade 2 know from memory all sums of two one-digit numbers.

For more on brain based research see my Pinterest Brain Research Board.

See my collection of articles on The Brain and Learning.
Good luck to you and your students punching out those facts!

Camping Friday

It's been another fun week in second grade!  This week was Camping Week (see THIS blog post), and boy oh boy, did we have fun!

The children read loads of camping books, listened to nature sounds,

played learning games

did loads of writing,  played "camping math" scoot, and had a wonderful week!

I'm so glad I did camping week!  Here are some pictures:

1.  I brought in the little pink tent my daughter had when she was little.  It became a great place for reading books about camping!

2.  I brought in my little travel camping table.  The kids used it for reading as well as playing games!  

3.  So many kids brought in sleeping bags, it looked like a big pajama party!

4.  After Friday afternoon's special, there was a little treat waiting for the children.

5.  Yes, that's my REAL camping tent in the classroom.  We found out we could squeeze the whole class in my tent!

The s'mores and the tent made their day!  And, honestly, the smiles on their faces made my day!
It was a great week!

It also inspired me to make a new product, based on most of the activities we enjoyed this week.  Click image for more information.

Somehow I have to make it through 8 more school days and one more teacher workshop day.  After a week at the beach and a week camping, next week's theme will be "fun at home".  

We'll be spending most of the week remembering all the fun stuff we did this year and planning fun stuff to do this summer.  

What do you do during those challenging last few weeks when the kids struggle to pay attention to anything?
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