Saturday, March 30, 2013

That Day That Teachers Dread?

The Day That Teachers Dread? I'm one who looks forward to April Fool's Day in the classroom. Here are plenty of reasons why!
Did you realize April Fool's Day is coming???

I'm a true believer in any opportunity to laugh!  As a matter of fact, laughter is healthy!  (See THIS blog post on the benefits of laughter!)  It's also great for the brain! (See THIS blog post on brain fitness!)

I do enjoy making the kids laugh, and I enjoy their humor.  But I kind of like to "beat them to the punch".

I set the rules first thing:  April Fool's Day is about making people laugh.  It is NOT about making people mad.

I stuck around for a while after school today setting up some things that will hopefully lead to a few laughs.

I wrote the morning letter for Monday.  I usually write about the morning routine, reminding them of their daily responsibilities, and if anything unusual were going to happen on that day.  Monday's letter says we're going on a field trip to Disney World.  The schedule is set up with the word "field trip" at the top, and nothing else!

Here's the date for Monday:  (They have actually
earned 25 minutes, not 325!)
When you're 7, seeing things you normally see, but upside down, is pretty funny.  (Note the calendar arrow pointing to August, rather than April!)

Again, upside down is pretty funny when you're 7.

  Some of the names and stations for the morning literacy block are upside down... great stuff.  


This is where we often put "exit slips" for reading.  They put a post it on their number, telling something about the story they read.  I put a post it with a personality trait on their numbers.  Hopefully this will make them smile!

How do I bring April Fool's Day into reading?  I bring out my joke books!
          

And, of course, who understands the sense of humor of a seven year old better than Robert Munsch?
            

How do I bring April Fool's day into Math?  With Problem solving!  Check out my April Fool's Day Freebie! (Click image to download!)


Interestingly, I have several of the same ideas, plus a few more on last year's April Fool's Day post!  Click HERE to see that one!

Have a happy April Fool's Day!  I hope you hear loads of laughter!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How Can They NOT Know?

It happens every report card day.

I talk to the kids about how the report card is written for adults, not kids.  Then I remind them that they should already know what's on the report card, since they're here every day!

We typically have a great conversation about how the report card tells what they're doing well, and what they need to work on.  Then I go on to mention that they already know what they're doing well with, and what they need to work at.

Today a little guy mentioned he didn't know what he was doing well.  (I suspect he was fishing for a compliment, so I made sure he got a few.)  I told the rest to tell him what he's good at... they came out with loads of great stuff, very appropriate for this little guy!  He was happy.  Yep, these kids know each other!  I'm never shy about mentioning what they're good at!

Then the subject of what they need to work on came up.  I'm never shy about this one either, although it's usually dealt with in a more private manner.  So I started naming things that all second graders (and people in general) need to work at.

The subject of reading came up.  It just so happens I have a group of kids who have grown leaps and bounds in their reading skills.  In fact, they're absolutely amazing.  But the truth is, I'll always expect them to continue growing as readers. Most of them seemed to understand this, and were quite excited about getting EVEN BETTER at reading.  I even admitted that I'm still growing as a reader, and hope to always get better and better.

One little girl insisted she didn't need to grow as a reader.  These are the kids that worry me even more than my lowest readers.  (I'm sure you've met these kids, too!)  These are the kids who are sure they are fine the way they are and don't need to learn anything else.

Confidence is great, but over confidence can work against these kids.  If they think they already know everything, they're not motivated to learn and grow.  How can we help these kids?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

High and Low for March


I have a little tradition in my classroom that I've been doing for years at the end of the day.  It's called "High/ Low".  It's when we reflect on our day and decide what was the best part of the day and what was the most challenging part of our day. 

I got the idea from an old romantic comedy starring Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer called The Story of Us.  It was a cute movie about a married couple with two children who were struggling with their marriage.  Every evening at dinner the family would share their high of the day and their low of the day.  That got me thinking about ending the day in the classroom the same way.

My High/ Low rules:  participation is optional.  If you choose to participate, you must state a high.  Lows are not required.  You can do 2 highs instead of a high and a low.

If you mention someone in your low, no names.  Just say "someone".  If you mention someone in your high, please mention names!

That's it!  I've been doing this every day for about 12 years at the end of the day. 

Sometimes people ask me why I let the kids focus on their low of the day... don't I want them to be positive?  Well, yes, of course I want them to be positive, but sometimes they have something that is bugging them, and it makes them feel better to get it out.  (Just like the rest of us!)  Besides, it helps me know what's going on in the classroom.

Well, I've decided to do a little High/ Low right here on my blog! And you can  join in with me, right in the comments section!  

Just answer these questions:

What was your high for the last month?

What was your low for the last month?

What are you grateful for in your life?

Here are my answers:


What was your high for the last month? My daughter was home from college for a week!

What was your low for the last month? Winter has dragged on far too long!

What are you grateful for in your life? I have a job that I love!

Your turn!



Sunday, March 24, 2013

Easter Paper Freebie!

Sometimes, just fancy paper will inspire a child to write.  That's why I'm always putting together paper for different holidays and different times of the year.  I thought this might inspire some Easter stories.  Just click the image to download your freebie.

I usually keep holiday paper around for a few days after the holiday:  The children like to write recounts of their own holidays, so the paper is appropriate.  


Maple Weekend

Maple Weekend: Facts, videos, and books to help children learn about how Maple Syrup is made!
It's the end of winter here in New England, and we're enjoying a New England tradition:  Maple sugaring!

Over the last couple of weeks, we've seen many a maple tree with buckets attached!  Yep, when the days get warm but the nights are still cold, that's the right conditions for getting that sap flowing!  They collect that sap and boil away!


Did you know it takes 40 - 50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup?


I love to use children's literature to teach science and social studies concepts.  
This topic includes both, a little history of the New England area, plus the science of trees and sap, as well as states of matter and evaporation!


Want to learn more about how maple syrup is made?  Here are a couple of informational books for kids about the process.  Click the images to find out more about these books at Amazon.
       

Here are a few realistic fiction books that share the experience of maple sugaring:

          

      
It's truly a fascinating process!  There are several "Sugar Houses" in my area, and a true hint that winter is nearing an end.  The State of New Hampshire officially declared this "Maple Weekend" and many Sugar Houses are opened to the public this weekend!

Here's a little video I found on Youtube that demonstrates the process.

I have a couple of other videos of Maple Sugaring on my March Pinterest Board, which you can find HERE.

Doesn't it make you wonder how people figured out that draining trees of sap and boiling it like crazy would make a yummy liquid?  Did they try oak trees and pine trees?  How did they know to drill a hole in the tree and put a bucket underneath?  

Here's one fiction book that suggests how it might have happened, back in the days when Native Americans lived peacefully with the earth in the New England area:

Don't you just love books that put you in a totally different time and place?  Historical fiction is one of my very favorite genres, how about you?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Phew, it's Five for Friday!

This Friday is definitely a Phew kind of Friday!  Yes, that seems weird since we had a snow day on Tuesday, but I just couldn't believe how everyone was dragging all week.  So, I'm really ready to celebrate today!  I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Five for Friday!  Here's 5 random highlights of my week:
1.  Cool crafts!  My students REALLY needed something fun, especially after a tough math test today, so they made these awesome butterflies to help the classroom look springy:  
We used spring colors, folded on the line of symmetry, and made our own butterfly shape.
I know some would have preferred a pattern to make a perfect butterfly shape, but butterflies come in all sizes and shapes.  Plus, I love when all the art projects are somewhat unique.  Each butterfly has its own personality.


Once we shaped and cut our butterfly, we applied paint to one side only... then folded on the line of symmetry so that the designs on the butterfly's wings were symmetrical.
Of course, they were so cute we had to add the googly eyes!
I love my creative students!  And this is only 1 of my five!
2.  Snow day!  Yes, we had yet another snow day this week, so we started spring with a snow cover.  
Although I'm totally sick of snow and winter, I did manage to use the time to get my report cards done!

3.  Winners!  We announced the winners of the blog hop this week!


I wish I could have won that $100!

4. Spring Sale!  I set the price for my new spring collection product at half price until Sunday.  
Check it out HERE:  



5. Done! I know I mentioned this in #2, but I finished my report cards!!!  They have to be checked, then printed, but they're done.  It's amazing how much work they are, but it's so good to be done!

And now... off to enjoy my weekend without the cloud of report cards hanging over me!
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