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The Week That Was, and That's No April Fool!

Am I giving away my age by quoting that old TV show from the 60s? 
That was the week that was! 
(Click HERE to see IMBD link to the old political satire show.)

But seriously, it was a busy week!  Here are a few things that have been going on:

1. Trying to squeeze in a full week of instruction into 4 days. We had a Professional Development Day on Wednesday, so we had to do it all in 4 days. Plus, I had a doctor's appointment today, so I really only had 3 days... but today was about reviewing important skills. Somehow I got through all I was supposed to, but it was no easy task! After the kids had Wednesday off, Thursday was like a second Monday... it was a little nuts, but we did it!

2. Spring is hiding, but it's slowly sneaking up on us! There were rumors of snow on Wednesday, while we are still waiting for the winter's snow to melt!  It's almost April, and there is still a whole lot of snow out there!  
But I did manage to share a couple of favorite spring books:

I've seen buckets on Maple Trees, and ads for visiting local Sugar Houses!
We've made it past the Spring Equinox. Now the days are getting longer!
I even saw some crocuses!
No, I didn't see them around here, as we still have too much of a snow cover. But I visited my daughter in Boston last Sunday, and there were crocuses growing outside her boyfriend's building.  I was pretty excited to see spring's first flowers! I think she and her boyfriend thought I was a little wacky when I was crossing the street and suddenly shouted, "Crocuses!!!"

3. Staff Development Day- We had a Keynote speaker in the morning. Now don't you think of a Keynote speaker as someone who will speak for about 45 minutes?  We were there for 3 hours.  Yes, three hours!!!!  No matter how good someone is as a speaker, three hours is too long to sit. Yes, he was good, but my mind really struggled!

I think part of my concentration problems came from my nervousness about the afternoon.  I was presenting 2 workshops:


Both workshops went well, but that's because I was well prepared.
Plus, I got some awesome people in both workshops. Great questions, great ideas!

Both workshops were "by request" by the Staff Development committee.

The "teacher blogs" workshop was one I'd never presented before. I shared TONS of teacher blogs, linky parties, and even a few pictures of when I met teacher bloggers.

As we know, one can get "sucked in" to the world of teacher blogs, and have trouble coming up for air! There are just so many fantastic blogs out there! I had asked some of my blogging friends to share some of their ideas about blogging, and here's what they had to say:

Thanks to all the teacher bloggers who shared!

4. Planning for another substitute- Yes, I had another doctor's appointment, and it takes nearly a day to plan for a day out, doesn't it?  This is what I left with the sub: 

I was thinking of leaving the sub this set, but I think I want to save this to do myself on Tuesday: 

I've also been getting other ideas ready for April Fool's Day. I have a couple of April Fool's Day ideas in post from previous years HERE and HERE! I'm probably in the minority, but I LOVE April Fool's Day with the kids!
5. Nearing a million! Yes, I am very, very close to a million page views here on Elementary Matters.  If you are here reading this right now, you're helping me get there! 

Be prepared for a party real soon!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Five for Friday.
 The best part:  It's still Friday!

By the way... are  you in the mood for a little Spring Cleaning?  Click the image to load your shopping cart!

Report Cards, Workshops, and Spring, Oh My!

Oh yes, and we celebrated St. Patrick's Day all week! It was a busy week, with non stop fun!  Here are a few of the things we've done:

1. We made Leprechaun Pudding on St. Patrick's Day! Thanks to THIS FREEBIE from Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas, we had a fabulous time with this little science experiment!

When we poured the milk into the white powder, it turned green, with little golden nuggets inside! Everyone tried it, some loved it, some liked it, some didn't care for it. But everyone agreed, it was a fun activity! (Psssst.... don't tell the kids it was pistachio pudding!)
2. Wearing of the Green! Even our Super Improvers Board went along with our St. Patrick's Day theme!  Everyone was at one of the green levels! (Not intention, which makes it even cooler!)

3. The class tree! We hadn't sketched our class tree in ages!  We sketched it today, but we're hoping some changes will happen real soon... like buds... and no snow!
If it weren't so cold, I'd have gone outside to take the picture, rather than taking it through the classroom window, where the camera tends to focus on the screen!

4. Report Cards.  They're DONE, sent, and most of them have come back!

5. Workshops! I had to take Thursday off for workshops sponsored by my district.
All the second grade teachers in my district got together and had a morning about Group Interdependence and an afternoon of Understanding by Design. It's truly great stuff, but it was rather stressful between getting report cards out and sub plans done, plus we had SEVERAL assignments to prepare for the day: 4 chapters in a book, 2 videos, and another article. My mind was spinning so much getting ready that everytime I tried to do the reading, I would fall asleep and drool on my book. Not a pleasant sight, believe me!

Plus, this coming Wednesday is a Professional Development day for the whole district, and I'm teaching 2 workshops.  I'd be doing more celebrating about report cards being done, but I'm scrambling to prepare for my workshops!  These are the topics:

Using Brain Based Research in the Classroom
The World of Teacher Blogs

Which comes to my questions for my readers:
Why do you read teacher blogs?  What do you look for on teacher blogs? 
What do you like about reading teacher blogs? What are your favorite teacher blogs? (Other than Elementary Matters, of course!)

Please answer in the comments below.  I might just quote you in my upcoming workshop!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Five for Friday linky... even though it's Saturday! 

Speaking of Linky Parties, looking for some spring stuff?  Check out An Educator's Life by Mr. Hughes!

Elementary Matters

Signs of Spring Resources

It has been one long cold winter here in New Hampshire. 
From what I understand, it's been a long cold winter all over the US!
Signs of Spring Resources - Are you and your students ready for spring? Here are several ideas and resources to make sure that fun learning is happening!

Spring in New England doesn't really show up until mid April, but as I was driving to my hair appointment this morning, and I saw a couple of signs of Spring!

I saw buckets on maple trees!
tapping a maple tree
I know Vermont is the big state for maple syrup, but we do it here in New Hampshire, too! The maple syrup tapping is actually late this year, because the weather's been so cold. They need cold nights and warm days for the sap to flow. We've had plenty of cold nights, but today, we had a warm day. The temp actually went up to 50! I actually took my coat off in the car, and didn't even button it when I was outside! It was fabulous!

Here's the other sign of spring I saw... a little something green:

Yep, McDonald's Shamrock Shakes are definitely a sign that spring is coming!

I have a few things about spring up my sleeve. I always make sure I have plenty of books about the subject.  Here are a few of my favorites:


Click any of these images for a link to Amazon to find out more about each book. I always make sure I read a few to the kids, but I also make sure I've got them in the book tubs so the kiddos will explore them.

I think videos are great to help the children understand concepts, especially things like how seasons work.  Here are a couple I've found!
What Causes Earth's Seasons: (10:48 min)

How Seasons Work (58 seconds)

How Equinox's Work: Beyond Our Earth (2:24 minutes)

Try them all and see which one you like best!

As most teachers know, squeezing in science and social studies topics are tough, since most of our time is  dedicated to reading, writing,and math! In my attempt to keep some of the fun stuff in the classroom, I've included signs of spring in with important literacy and math concepts in this set of No Prep Printables: Signs of Spring Printables: Literacy and Math.  I've got some math story problems, popular fact games, word work, writing, and comprehension work, all somehow connected to Signs of Spring. Click the image to take a look!

Here are some other games and activities with a spring theme:

Some of my students are struggling to remember the +9 and -9 Facts, so I made this game to make practicing fun: Adding and Subtracting Nines: Spring Flower Theme 

My kids are working on using mental math for adding and subtracting. This game board has a set of cards for addition mental math, and a set of cards for subtraction mental math. Plus, it's got built in brain breaks! It's a favorite in my classroom: Mental Math Addition and Subtraction: Spring Board Game.

Finally, this is a collection of 6 different games that are related to spring. It has word work, grammar, and plenty of math games, all made for second graders, but are also appropriate for high firsts or review for third graders. Click the image to take a closer look at Literacy and Math Games Spring Bundle.

Happy Spring!

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