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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!

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!
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:
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!

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. 

Check out Signs of Spring No Prep Literacy and Math Worksheets and Printables.


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!

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!

The Importance of Failure

Today's post is something to think about. 
It's not a cute strategy or a brilliant organizational idea. 
It's just a little something teachers and parents need to think about.

The Importance of Failure - It's a sticky subject, but failure is an important part of learning. See why!

Yes, that says failure, and it's an important part of learning!

Sometimes children just need to go beyond their comfort zone.
Sometimes, it's important for children to fail.

I know what you're thinking...

Isn't it easier to help them along, so they can succeed?
What about their self esteem? They'll have loads of failures through life, just like we have: disappointing grades, failed friendships, sports disappointments, college rejections, career failures, and the dreaded failed romance. People that they have loved will die.
Experiencing failure actually helps the children develop coping skills, resilience, and even creative thinking! By learning from their mistakes, they actually build self esteem! Knowing how to cope with little failures will help them cope with the bigger failures that come later in life.

I have a little story from my parenting experience that I share with parents of my students:

When my daughter was little, I took her ice skating. I'd always loved ice skating, so I'd hoped she'd be successful. She and I stepped out onto the ice holding hands, and we started to skate! She was doing great. There were a couple of times she started to lose her balance, but I was right there to help her, and she got back to skating right away.

After a while, I'll bet you can guess what happened... she stopped trying to stay up on her own.

Then I realized what I needed to do... I needed to let her fall. I let go of her hand and let her go on her own. (It wasn't easy to let go, but I knew it was necessary!)

She fell a few times. She was fine, of course, but that was when she really figured it all out. She started skating, and I learned a valuable lesson.

Kids need failure in order to learn. 

She never would have learned to skate if I kept catching her every time she fell.

Sometimes it's easier on us to do things for our children, like tie their shoes, pack their bags, or make their lunches. But just remember:
The Importance of Failure - It's a sticky subject, but failure is an important part of learning. See why!
There are many famous people who have experienced various degrees of failure. Here are some people who brushed it off, then had great success: J.K. Rowling, Thomas Edison, Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein, Mozart, and Walt Disney.

It's not so easy for us, but it's also not easy for the kids. Do you have children in your classroom who are afraid to answer questions because they fear being wrong?

Do you have children who are afraid to complete work because they're not sure they'll get the right answer?

Do you have students who cheat when they play games because they're afraid of losing?

We need to get these kids past
that fear of failure!

How can we do that?

1. by making them feel safe.
2. by making them feel confident.
3. by praising their efforts.
4. by continuing to encourage them.
5. by being a role model: let them see you make mistakes and model appropriate ways to cope with failure.

The Importance of Failure - It's a sticky subject, but failure is an important part of learning. See why!

Yes, praise their efforts. I often thank my students for making mistakes.

It might sound like this: "Thanks for pointing that out. You just made us all smarter!"

One last story about my daughter:

She's a perfectionist, and takes pride in her good grades. When she was in 8th grade, she got a C in Algebra. My comment? "Good! Now you know you won't die."

Seriously, it relieved a lot of stress for her. And she turned out to be fine. Plus, it motivated her to work harder in Algebra, and she ended up on the Math Honor Society in High School!

There are loads of studies on the benefits of failure, and how it can be successful. 
Give it a google!

I have this poster hanging in my classroom. I refer to it often.

The Importance of Failure - It's a sticky subject, but failure is an important part of learning. See why!

If you look back on your life, can you think of a time where a failure motivated you?
Don't our children deserve that?

The Importance of Failure - It's a sticky subject, but failure is an important part of learning. See why!

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