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Still Trying to be Super Woman

Five years ago today my life changed. Five years ago today I had a stroke. Most people can't tell by looking at me, but I feel the effects of the stroke all day, every day.

When it happened, I didn't even realize it was a stroke. I didn't know what was causing the tingling on my left side. You know that tingling feeling when an arm or leg falls asleep? Yes, that's what I was feeling. At first, I noticed it in my arm.  After a while I realized it wasn't just my arm, it was my whole left side. I felt the tingling in my leg, my face and the left side of my abdomen. Some of it went away after a couple of weeks, but most of it is still there. All day. Every day.

The only other symptom I felt was tired, but I thought that was just because I'd worked another hard week and needed to rest on the holiday weekend.  I had no idea how the stroke affected my muscles. I really thought I was fine. It wasn't until a couple of weeks later when the doctor recommended physical and occupational therapy, that I realized some parts weren't really working anymore. 

I went to therapy as long as insurance allowed, and got back limited use of some of the muscles, but it's clear after 5 years that I'll never get back full use of my left side.  

My left shoulder really took the brunt of it. I can no longer lift heavy objects, or aim my left arm. (Drive through s are no longer an option!) grasping things with my left hand is possible, but painful, as it puts quite a strain on those muscles.

When people touch my left arm, it's so uncomfortable that it's tough not to scream. This is tough, since most people are right handed, and I interact with a lot of caring people. It happens all the time. Most people close to me know not to touch my left side, but people forget. When it happens, I try to be polite and not make people feel uncomfortable, but all I can really do is concentrate on not screaming.

Because I lost most of the core muscles on my left side, I have trouble with balance. Stairs are difficult. Walking across softer surfaces, like grass, are tough. Uneven surfaces can be tricky. 

This was a big focus of my physical therapy, but unfortunately there's a deficit that can't be fixed. Before the stroke, I could easily do a hundred crunches, switch positions, then do a hundred more. Right now I can do ten. That's taken 5 years of work.

The hardest part for me has been the fatigue. Before the stroke, I was heavily involved in local theatre, and would often go to a 3-4 hour rehearsal on most school nights. Now, I come home from school and look forward to bedtime. 

Sometimes I have a hard time accepting that part of my life is over.

Sometimes I get discouraged because people don't understand.

Sometimes I get discouraged because I want to do so much more, like I used to. 

THIS post (The Spoon Theory) from a website called "But You Don't Look Sick," helped me explain the fatigue to others. It's worth a read to understand what many different people go through day to day.

Why am I writing this post that has absolutely nothing to do with teaching?

For a couple of reasons:
1. I hope people will be more understanding of those "invisible illnesses" that many of us struggle with. Count your blessings every time you go down a flight of stairs without holding on. Count your blessings when you have the energy to go home and cook dinner after work. 

2. Because, despite it all, I still have plenty to be grateful for:
  • I am still able to teach. I love being a teacher. I plan to continue teaching for many years.
  • If I hadn't had more "sitting time", I wouldn't have discovered the joys of blogging.
  • There are a lot of wonderful, compassionate people out there who understand and care about my struggles... and try to help where they can!
  • I have a  beautiful daughter. 

Tricks to Keep Track of Measurement Units

Tricks to Keep Track of Measurement Units: here are some ways to help the kiddos remember some measurement units, and they don't have to carry around a ruler!

Brain research teaches us that making a connection to something familiar helps students remember.

My students were recently working on linear measurement. One of the important concepts is remembering the different units, and having a good "feel" for the size of the units. 

Here's one of the connections we make:

My kiddos are VERY familiar with the base ten blocks. It's an important part of second grade math, so we use them frequently. 

Another trick I teach them: 
a centimeter is about the size of an M&M
They always remember that one!

Here's another connection:

Again, they're quite familiar with those base ten blocks, and have often lined up two of the longs, so it's easy for them to estimate something that is 20 centimeters long!

Since the metric system isn't standard in the US, here's a connection for inches:

This trick for a foot was taught to me by one of our former custodians. 

Those custodians are pretty smart! The floor tiles they used in our school are exactly a square foot each! That makes measuring our floor super easy! Of course the kids have to get out the rulers and see for themselves, but it's true! Plus it sure helps the kids remember how big a foot is. 

You know what else helps them remember a foot?
A ruler!

I hope you enjoyed this Bright Idea!

You can find more of my ideas on Pinterest, facebook, or Teachers Pay Teachers

Be sure to check out more bright ideas through the linky below!

Graduation Day and Memorial Day

It's been quite a week! It started with a family celebration!

My beautiful daughter graduated from college! I just don't understand where the time went, but I couldn't be more proud! How did she turn out to be such a fabulous person?

My students have been busy preparing for their performance in the school's Memorial Day Assembly. The performance consisted of individual speeches about the history of Memorial Day, and information about the 5 branches of the U.S. Armed Services. Then they sang a medley of Armed Services songs.
We've been making posters, researching Memorial Day, practicing speeches, and practicing our songs. We spent a couple of sessions working on the posters, thanks to our fabulous Art teacher! The toughest part? Practicing standing still! 

Today was the big day! We had loads of parents show up, and the kiddos were well rehearsed. All children with speaking parts spoke clearly and enthusiastically. The microphone worked without static. The kids looked fabulous in red, white, and blue. They remembered the words to the songs and sang them with energy. The audience loved it!

Oh, it's that time of year! Besides the excitement of our performance, there's the need for the end of the school year and summer vacation! 
I've split my scoreboard into 4 different teams, and children who make the teacher happy earn points for their team.
Guess what the winning team gets after each day...
the privilege of having a flag on their desk the next day!
Yes, bribery works!

Besides upgrading my scoreboard, I've been pulling out all my review games. Click the above image or HERE to download this Reading Celebration Game freebie. 

Be sure to drop by Doodle Bugs Teaching for more Five for Friday!

Feeling Appreciated!

Wow, it's been another great week, and I'm really feeling delightfully appreciated this week! Not only did the week start with Mother's Day, but this was Teacher Appreciation Week in my school!
I know it's technically not Friday, but I'm still linking up with Doodle Bugs Five for Friday. Here are 5 things about my week!

I was lucky to be able to spend some time with my delightful daughter this past weekend for Mother's Day. We went out to eat (twice!), saw a show, and spent some great time together! (That's always the best part!) Plus, I got a basket of gifts!

We have absolutely the best parents at my school! Besides the above teacher appreciation luncheon in our beautiful library on Wednesday, we had a breakfast, loads of sweet little goodies in our mailboxes each day, and an amazing raffle! The best part? We get to work with their kids!

This was the best. It was a Candy Bar! I know there were a few more calories than a salad bar, but who doesn't need extra chocolate this time of year?

My class is performing at next week's Memorial Day assembly. They'll be telling a few facts about Memorial Day (Which we researched together from a close read in THIS packet.) and they'll be singing a medley of armed forces songs. Our fabulous art teacher helped us out making posters for each of the 5 branches of the armed services. I was absolutely amazed at how well those posters were coming out! Plus, it was a great opportunity to work at the skill of making group decisions, which they handled beautifully!

I'm starting to think in terms of "End of School Year" mode, even though we still have 22 school days left.

I tend to play a lot of active games with my kiddos, including this Social Studies scoot to review those important skills I don't want them to forget! You can download this freebie HERE.

Have a fabulous week!

We've Been Busy!

We just got back from Spring break, and we hit the ground running! We've been testing, experimenting, experiencing, and learning. 

First thing Monday morning, we had a great experience examining pond muck!

The kiddos were given a bowl full of pond much, and used tools to pull all sorts of critters into their collections. If you look closely, each little well of the egg carton has something or other swimming around in those little pools of water.

After separating each little critter and examining it, they identified it by matching it on the chart. Trust me, everyone was engaged!

We also used one of the close reads from my Science and Social Studies Printables for May on the Kentucky Derby. My personal favorite was their answers to the question: If you were going to the Kentucky Derby, what would you bring?  Most of them mentioned fancy hats AND sunscreen!

We did one of my very favorite activities this week: repotting impatiens to use as Mother's Day gifts. The kids love it, they learn a lot about how the root system of a plant works, and the moms get a nice gift! It's a win-win-win activity! 

Of course, when I purchase the impatiens, I make sure I get plenty of extras! Not only do I use the extras in my own garden, I keep them in the classroom and bribe use them as incentives. Children can earn the privilege of keeping a plant on their desk for a day. They love this!

We spent a few days thinking about our neighbors to the South this week.  We read several books, and enjoyed several of the activities from my Cinco de Mayo No Prep Printables. Their favorite part was seeing Mexican money and learning that chocolate (cacao beans) were grown in Mexico.  They also loved tortillas, nachos, tacos, and burritos! (Who doesn't!)

We've been working on measurement in math (great fun!) but I don't want the kids to forget those other important skills we've been working on all year, so I pulled out this freebie to review 3 digit addition and subtraction skills. You can find it HERE.

Thanks my Five for Friday!

Be sure to check out the other Five for Fridays over at Doodle Bugs Teaching! 

You Deserve Appreciation!

Aren't teachers amazing? I can honestly say I've never met a teacher who didn't give their all to their students. I've never met a teacher who didn't hesitate to go above and beyond to help children have success. Trust me, I've met a lot of teachers all over the country, and we are a special breed. 

That's why I want to make sure you know you are appreciated. In the next couple of days, I'll be giving away $20 in Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Certificates (two $10), $20 in Amazon Gift Certificates (two $10), and some free products of my own!

I've been busy this weekend finishing off my May Science and Social Studies Printables. (Of which I am VERY proud!) 

(Click the image for the link.)

Then I decided to do some bundling. I made a Spring Bundle:

Then I also went back and made a Winter Bundle:

All four gift certificate winners will win both bundles!

Now get going on this rafflecopter, this contest ends soon!

Resources for May

 Resources for May - plenty of resources for Mother's Day, Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day, and even the Kentucky Derby, plus several freebies!

May is here, and the horses are at the gates.

Yes, the Kentucky Derby is this week, and there's a close read about the Kentucky Derby in THIS resource!

I'm sure I'll have my kiddos wear fancy hats and find Kentucky on the map! Maybe even read a good horse book! (Click the images for links!)

This week also brings Cinco de Mayo AND Teacher Appreciation Day. 

I plan to celebrate Mexico on both Monday and Tuesday, then celebrate teachers for the rest of the week.

Here are some Cinco de Mayo resources:

Cinco de Mayo No Prep Printables for Literacy and Math!

Here's a fun word work game with a Mexico theme: 
Cinco de Mayo

Of course I have a Mexico freebie: 
Writing Paper with a Mexico theme!

for more ideas for celebrating Mexico, see THIS BLOG POST.

This is what I plan on doing for Teacher Appreciation:

I'm going to run off a whole bunch of these Thank You Cards, and have them fill them out for the teachers in the school! I don't let them make them out to me,since there are plenty of other teachers who spend their time helping children. (Any adult who works with children is fair game for Teacher Appreciation, even if they don't have a certificate!)

or perhaps you'd like the freebie?

For more about the Thank You Cards, see THIS BLOG POST.

Here's some fun Mother's Day stuff: 
Mother's Day Math!

And here's my traditional Mother's Day gift:

for more information about this Mother's Day gift, 

Toward the end of the month is Memorial Day. I know some teachers will be enjoying summer by then, but we're not even close yet! 

Here's a sorting game to help children remember the different patriotic holidays: Which Patriotic Holiday?

Plus, a freebie for keeping track of the Patriotic Holidays!

Plus, another freebie: Patriotic Brain Breaks!

for more information about celebrating patriotic holidays, see THIS BLOG POST.

Still looking for May Resources? See my May Pinterest page!

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