Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Week That Wasn't About My Tooth

In so many ways, this week was all about my tooth. I'd had a toothache for a couple of weeks. 
Last week I spent 3 hours in the dentist's chair taking care of the problem (which was extensive decay in 2 adjacent teeth) , or so we'd hoped. The dentist suggested  if either tooth continued to be a problem, it might mean a root canal is due. When one of the teeth continued to be a problem, I called back on Thursday before the Memorial Day weekend, to find out the dentist would be out until Tuesday, but I called the emergency number, and left a message that my present pain medication wouldn't last through the long weekend. I also asked if an extraction was a better choice than root canal because of the placement of the tooth. 
The office called me back and said a new prescription was sent to my drug store, and scheduled me in for Tuesday to discuss extraction.
I finished my first prescription on Friday, and opened the new one on Saturday morning to find it was a different prescription, one that conflicted with one of my present prescriptions, my blood thinner. Neither my dentist nor my pharmacy noticed it, but it was yet another call to the emergency line during the holiday weekend.
On Tuesday, I went into the dentist's office, and they agreed, extraction was the best choice. They were ready to extract right then and there, until they asked about my health history, I mentioned that I was on blood thinners. (WHICH THEY SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BY THIS POINT!)

Sorry about the yelling, but I was rather frustrated by this point! They said they'd need to call my regular doctor, and I might need to go off the blood thinners for a few days before the extraction.
Well, the blood thinners are what's keeping me from having another stroke, and I'd personally like to stay on them! It took two days and numerous phone calls between me, doctor's office, and dentist's office before they called me Thursday morning to set up an appointment that day for the extraction!
So I went into school, rushed to make sub plans for the afternoon, then ran to the dentist. 

Finally, the tooth came out, I had a miserable afternoon, but I was able to go back to school on Friday for The Artist in You Enrichment Day!

I'm still not on solid foods, but I'm finally moving on with my life!
Here's some great things about the week, especially Enrichment Day!

1. Tickets! Here's how our Enrichment Days work: All the teachers plan a workshop that they'll be doing a few times on that day. All the workshops have something to do with the theme. Since this theme was The Artist in You, I thought I'd share my favorite performing arts: acting and singing! Tickets for all the workshops are given to teachers, and the teachers assign the tickets to the children in their class. We had loads of arts represented: tap dancing, quilting, cooking, improvisation, making mobiles, square dancing... and they were so many more! 

2.  A Little Help!  I was lucky to have 2 fabulous volunteers in my classroom: my beautiful daughter and her handsome boyfriend Will.
They took care of the singing part of the workshop. They sang a couple of songs with the children, then performed a song for the kids. (The kids were totally engaged while watching the singing!)

3. Acting Games! Corinne and Will shared a game they play before shows that helps with focus as well as teamwork. (I'll remember this one!) It's called Pass the Clap, and it's a circle game.


4. Creating Characters! I've had a box of costumers that I have saved since my daughter was little. I've used it many times in the classroom, and when I've taught theatre games in a variety of situations.

I let the children at my workshop pick a few accessories and create a character. Then they had the chance to introduce their character to the group. Seriously, these kids are totally creative and their ability to create a character definitely impressed me! It was interesting to see how some of them come out of their shells when pretending to be something else!



5. Reliving Childhood! Toward the end of the day, I heard one of my students say, "Look, Corinne is on the swings!"  Sure enough, my daughter had gone out to her childhood playground, and relived her elementary years. I'm not sure who had more fun, my daughter, or my students watching her!

See?  This week wasn't all about my tooth!  In fact, I even created a new product: Camping No Prep Printables!

I even made a freebie to help you sample it! Click the image below for the freebie!


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Remembering and Growing

Four years ago today my life was changed drastically. 

Four years ago today, I had a stroke.

On the surface, I still look the same. 
People who don't spend much time with me don't realize anything is different.

But people who know me well know the drastic changes that have happened in my life.

The stroke affected my left side. 

You know that "pins and needes" feeling you get when your foot falls asleep? I have that feeling all the time on most of my left side. 

The feelings on my left side are all intensified. If something rubs against me, I feel like I've been slapped. I can't wear bracelets on my left wrist, and there are a lot of clothes I can't wear because they are just too annoying.

Despite a few months of rehab, I have several muscles that just don't work very well. I have trouble reaching for things accurately.
My left hand has trouble grasping items. (Drive throughs are pretty much impossible!)

My core muscles on my left side are very weak. I have balance problems. Sometimes I just tip over. When walking on uneven surfaces, I stagger almost as if I've been drinking.

I can't lift things. I have to buy a smaller size cat litter now because I can't lift the bigger ones anymore.

Those are all the annoying things. 

The most difficult thing I've had to deal with: the fatigue.

Before the stroke, I was heavily involved in theatre. I used to teach all day, then go to a rehearsal at night, or even a performance.  Then I'd go and teach the next day.  I kept this sort of schedule for years! I'd be in shows that lasted a month or more, with 4-6 performances a week.  

Since the stroke, I get tired very easily. I can't go for more than a few hours without a rest. By the time the children leave at the end of the day, I'm a basket case. 

When I get home, I'm so tired I sit in my chair and watch TV.

On weekends, I do laundry, try to cook some meals to plan for the week ahead, and I catch up on my rest.

I have regular doctor's appointments, go acupuncture and a chiropractor. These help me keep going.
And I take a million pills each day.

But it's all ok.  
Why?

I have a beautiful daughter who loves me.

I have a wonderful gentleman friend who understands how tired I get.

I have friends and family who care.

I've made some wonderful friends through blogging, who are an important part of my life.

Do I miss theatre in my life?  Abolutely! But in the last 4 years, I have discovered a hobby that brings me much satisfaction: blogging! It doesn't drain my energy, and I can do it sitting down!

I give those kiddos most of my energy. They're worth it. 
After 37 years, I still love teaching.

And I really appreciate my readers! 
Thanks for listening, and thanks for being there!


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Murphy's Law Week

This week was really a summary of Murphy's Law for me! Plenty of things kept going wrong!

1. My laptop! Those who know me, know I'm totally dependent upon my laptop. I blog, I tweet, I facebook, I Pinterest, I've even started to Instagram! Plus, I read a lot about what's going on in the world! I get about 200 emails a day. There are sites I visit daily, such as Teachers Pay Teachers, and plenty of Teacher Blogs!  I'm on this thing a LOT!

Imagine my horror when I got up Sunday morning and it wouldn't start up! I finally got it back tonight, so I went almost a week without it. I still break into a cold sweat at the thought.

2. My garage door!  It stopped working. I couldn't get it opened. To make matters worse, the car was in the garage at the time. My significant other has been out of town all week, so he couldn't help me out. Luckily, my daughter's car is here, so I used her car all week, since I couldn't get mine out of the garage. Her boyfriend helped me out with the door last night, and the car is free once more!

3.  My tooth! I came down with a toothache this week. I had to make an emergency dentist appointment, and spent close to 3 hours in the dentist chair on Tuesday while he drilled away at the decay of 2 adjacent teeth. He had to remove a crown on one of them. As if that weren't enough, the pain returned and I've had to make yet another appointment. I've been taking painkillers all week, and eating nothing but yogurt, scrambled eggs, and plain pasta. After the holiday weekend (of COURSE it's a long weekend!) I'll go in and hopefully they're going to yank this icky tooth right out!

4. Exploring seeds! We did have some happy times in the classroom, despite my "Murphy's Law" week. We started our "Seed to Plant" unit!

I did get to work in my own garden a little bit this week, too, and I'm planning to do a whole lot more this weekend!

5. Memorial Day Assembly! I was so proud of my students today! They performed two songs at the Memorial Day assembly, and they were absolutely fabulous! My group sang You're a Grand Old Flag, complete with soloists and a dance routine in the middle! Then, later at the assembly, they joined with their third grade friends to sing Lee Greenwood's God Bless the USA. Image those lyrics coming through the voices of children... gives you chills, doesn't it?  Unfortunately I was busy coaching the kids while they were singing so I couldn't get any photos, but I'm hoping there are some pictures out there somewhere: I saw several parents in the audience!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday. Come on by and check it out!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Do I Add or Subtract?


Brain research suggests adding movement with words in order to help the memory.
That led me to this month's bright idea!

Many children struggle to remember when to add or subtract when they read math story problems. I decided to add some movement to help the kids remember when to add or subtract.

When we talk about an addition story, I have the children gesture one arm out and reference the first set. Then they gesture the second arm out and reference the second set. Then while we ask the question, we swoop our arms together into a plus sign, and say "How many all together?" or "How many in all?" The motion of bringing both arms together into a plus sign while saying the words really helps!

For subtraction, we start by gesturing a set in one arm. Then the second arm swoops away part of that set, making a minus sign with the arms.

Finally, for a subtraction comparison story, we gesture being a scale, balancing a set on each hand while saying, "How many more?" or "How many less?"

These gestures seem rather simple, yet with a few repetitions, the children remember them when they are doing word problems. In fact, I've had children come back to me long after they left my class and tell me how glad they are I taught them these gestures!

If you like this bright idea, please consider joining me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

For more bright ideas from more than 130 bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/ grade level that interests you. Thanks for visiting!


Teacher Appreciation Makes for a Good Week!

We had Teacher Appreciation week this week in my school, and I have to say, we are the luckiest teachers around! It made for a truly great week!

1. Well fed!  We had a yummy breakfast on Tuesday and a fabulous lunch on Thursday!

Trust me, the picture doesn't do it justice! The tough part was going back to class to teach when we really felt like napping!

2. Goodies! We found a few little treats this week, like the plants pictured at the top, seeds for our gardens, and raffle tickets for some really cool stuff! I didn't win, but, hey, aren't raffles fun? It sure made me feel appreciated!

3. Buds! Our class tree finally has buds! We've been sketching our tree all year as it changed. It changed a lot in the fall, so we got plenty of sketching done then, but it didn't change much since then! We did get one sketch done in March with huge snow piles in front of the tree, but there are finally buds, and we had a nice day on Wednesday, so we went out and sketched. Did I think to take any pictures of the tree? Nope, I was too busy taking pictures of the kiddos!


4. Lilacs! The lilacs are finally in bloom! We took a little walk outside to see our state's flower... and smell them! (There is absolutely nothing like the smell of lilacs!) Then the kiddos went back and painted our state flower. They were amazed to know that lilacs only last about a week before the flowers are gone, and they got a chance to see them and smell them! Their pictures were priceless!


Plus, the kids were so into their painting, I got to pull 6 kids and teach them the dance for next week's Memorial Day assembly! They're going to be awesome!

5. Sad news-  A custodian that works in our district, who worked in our school for many years, passed away suddenly this week. He was truly one of those rare, really good people. Howie, you'll be missed by many. Thanks for being part of our lives in our little school.

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching!
Be sure to stop by and see what's going on in other schools in the country! Can you believe, some schools are actually getting out for the summer? We have 24 more days (Not that we're counting or anything!)





Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Learning About New Hampshire!


What better way to learn about your home state (and the nearby states) than reading in a fun book?

I've joined up with a group of bloggers for Booking Across the USA!
I was lucky enough to be involved in this project last year (See THIS blog post) and I couldn't wait to do it again!

For more about the Booking Across the USA Project, click the image below or click HERE:


This year is particularly cool, since we got to use these books, thanks to Blue Apple Books!
I shared Travelin' the Northeast with my class, and it's adorable! Each book represents a section of the United States, and has a page about each state, along with facts about that state. The best part? There's this cute little dog named Charlie that's on every page, and they absolutely LOVE searching through each state for Charlie!

Here are some of the facts we learned about New Hampshire from this book:

  • The first free public library was established in Peterborough, New Hampshire.
  • Tupperware was invented in New Hampshire.
  • The alarm clock was invented by Levi Hutchins in Concord, New Hampshire in 1787.
  • Alan Shepard, the first US Astronaut in space, was born in Derry, New Hampshire November 23, 1923.
  • Plus, there are some cool pictures on the map page of New Hampshire that give us more information about the state!
  • Brain research tells us making connections to the arts help children remember.
  • Most teachers have these around their classrooms:

If not, they're easy to find!
How about these?
Pipe cleaners are easy to find! If you put these two
materials together, you can make something like this:

Here's how it works:  Each time a child can share a fact about one of the states they've learned, they get a new bead for their bracelet. As they build up beads, they can go through the beads, remembering each of the facts they have learned. The beads are helping the memory!

Another way to use the beads: Attach another bead to the bracelet for each state the children can find on the map!


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Word Work Essentials!

Word Work
Word Work is an essential part of any reading lesson. Children need to know sight words, and they need to know how to attack words they don't already know. I make a point to have plenty of materials around my classrooms to give the children practice on word work.

Short and Long Vowel Word Sort and Fluency Practice

Vowel Word Sort and Fluency Practice


My favorite word work practice tools are these Vowel Word Work pages. This set has plenty of flexibility and possibilities. It has 2 pages for each vowel, a nonsense word page, and a real word page. Each page has long and short vowel patterns for he children to sort, discuss, and notice patterns. Each vowel page is color coded.
These children below are working together to sort the long a words into one pile, and the short a words into another pile. 
Vowel Word Sort and Fluency Practice



Here's another possibility for these word sort pages. I run off the sheets as booklets. These children are highlighting all the vowels in the words. This is important for determining if the vowel uses its long or short sound. (They LOVE using the highlighters!)
Vowel Word Sort and Fluency Practice


Bowling Word Work

Bowling ou, ow, oi, oy, and oo

Strike Vowel Teams is a BINGO game to practice vowel teams. (I have several sets of BINGO games... the kids love them!) This game moves quickly, so there are plenty of game cards in the set, so the children can swap cards and play a few times! Besides listening for vowel sounds, there's a little bit of strategy involved, so it keeps them thinking as well as as reviewing the vowel teams.
Bowling ou, ow, oi, oy, and oo


football theme vowel practice

football themed vowel practice

Touchdown R Controlled Vowels is my best seller! This is another BINGO game, this one practicing the R controlled vowel sounds. I have some guys that love football year round, so I don't have to put this popular game away when the season is over.
football themed vowel practice


These are just a few of the word work sets I have on Teachers Pay Teachers. Click HERE to see my Word Work sets! 

Another Exhausting But Productive Week

It has been another exhausting week! Why am I so tired by Friday?

Well, maybe it's because I spend my week doing things like this:

1. Repotting impatiens - I admit, I've done this activity every year for more years than I dare mention, but it's always a success, every time!  The kids love that they get to put their hands right into the soil, and they love choosing the plant their mom would like best. They take such pride in their work! Plus, they get to keep the plant on their desk for the rest of the week until they take it home for Mother's Day. They look forward to coming into school each morning and checking out how their plant was growing!

2. Extra impatiens - Yes, all the children repot their own impatiens, but I make sure there are plenty of extras.  Why? Bribery! If they are successful and work well, their prize is getting to keep one of the extra plants on their desk for the day. This is better than gold!

3. Doctor's appointment - I had a doctor's appointment on Wednesday, and because of the timing, I had to take the whole day off. I ended up staying VERY late Tuesday making sub plans, then I ended up staying VERY late Thursday trying to organize everything from my day out. Maybe that's why I'm so tired?

4. End of Year Testing - Even though we have 6 weeks left of school (29 days, but who's counting?) the end of the year testing has started. After the rough winter we had this year, the kids are already showing the need for a longer break. (We just got back from Spring break on Monday!) They are tired and cranky and getting on each others' nerves. This shouldn't be starting until June! I fear for the results of that end of year testing with a group of kids who can't focus at the beginning of May!

5. Pop ups - Somehow, today I got them to hold it together long enough to get their work done, so there would be time to make pop up cards for mom! I like the kind of project where I just give them the outline, then they can be creative from that point.  Look at the fabulous job they did!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs again this week! Be sure to check out this linky party!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Honest Confessions

True, I've worked very hard all year doing the best I can to give the best education to my little sweeties. But I must confess, it hasn't been perfect, and it's time to hit the confessional.

I'm linking up with Rowdy in First Grade for this fun linky party!

I'm having an evil flashback of the nuns taking us to the confessional, and feel the need to stay an act of contrition (Catholic School flashback) but I think I can get past this and have some fun.

Confession #1 - If I have a doctor's appointment, I end up taking the day off. I have some health issues, and these doctor's appointments can be draining, so it's a good idea. But I still feel a little guilty. 

Confession #2 - I think I enjoy reading aloud to the kids more than they do. I selfishly pick books I love to read. Sometimes I read to them more than once a day.

Confession #3 - I'm going to see a kid's production of Charlotte's Web this weekend, and I'm really excited about it! One of my students is playing Wilbur. I'm so excited for him, and can't wait to see it!

Confession #4 - Because of my little guy playing Wilbur, I've been reading Charlotte's Web to the class. Yes, it has great educational value, but I'm selfishly reading it because of the guy playing Wilbur.

Confession #5 - I've been known to use bribery in the classroom. The more restless the kids are, the more bribery I use. I let them put beanie babies, flags, and even plants on their desks. This week, the kids repotted impatiens for their moms for mother's day (If you're reading this, and you're a mom of one of my students... please act surprised!)

Confession #6 - I have been known to laugh at my kids, right then and there in front of them. The other day one of my little guys said, "You already told me I got it wrong when you said, let's go over this one together." I couldn't help but crack up right there. But I still made him go over it with me. 

Confession #7 - I hardly taught any of the Matter unit in Science. Honestly, with second graders? It doesn't Matter! (I was busy teaching writing, instead!) It's amazing, somehow I still find time for the Plant unit in the spring. And I still find time to squeeze in the fun holidays like Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick's Day. Plus, I take plenty of time to teach geography and American history... on the second grade level, of course!

Confession #8 - The other day, when I showed the kids how to sign into MobyMax, I really felt I was clear... I showed them with the practice student name I made up, I repeated it, I had them repeat it to a friend, yet, when the first 4 went to the computer, all 4 tried to sign in the wrong way! Ahhhhhhh!!!!! We still have 32 days left and they're totally tuned out!

Confession #9 - When other teachers are packing and letting the kids play in June, I'm still teaching. Some of my best units have come out of those last couple of weeks when the "have tos" are done, and I can review in fun ways. Yes, I'm always the last one to leave on the last day, and I always cry. I'm just a sentimental old sap, aren't I?
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