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Things I did and DIDN'T do on my vacation!


I don't know how a whole week has gone by! 

How can weeks drag on while I'm at work, but fly by while I'm on vacation? 


1

I took off Saturday morning and came back Monday afternoon. 
It was a brief visit to Atlanta, but it was totally awesome!

2
I did get to attend the ED Expo 2015!
This was so exciting, and I came back with lots of samples!
I'll be sharing a whole lot more about this experience, so stay tuned here on Elementary Matters!

3

Between eating out in Atlanta (Yes, I did have Southern Fried Chicken and collard greens, Yum!), eating in airports, going out to eat with friends since I've been home, I've been eating too much!
I'm well fed, but I wasn't too happy when I got on the scale. I think I need to seriously watch what I eat!


4
I didn't get my taxes done, or even organized!

5
I meant to get the the gym every day that I was home, but that didn't happen!
Well, I did get to the gym one day, but that does NOT make up for all the food I've eaten and all the sitting around I've done!

Well, I still have the weekend!

Be sure to go to Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday link up!


Lessons From A Bus Driver

A long time ago, long before I started working where I am now, I substituted.
Lessons From a Bus Driver: Here's a little lesson I learned way back at the beginning of my teaching career that helped me understand something that was really important about teaching!

One day when I was subbing in a third grade classroom, I had a very interesting conversation with one of the children.

The classroom was situated right near the driveway, so the children could see the buses drive up at the end of the day.

Here was the conversation:

Boy: Yes!!! The good bus driver is back!
Me: That's great! What makes him such a good bus driver?
Boy: Well one day after I'd been out sick for a few days, when I came back, he asked me if I was feeling better.



I've thought about that conversation many times. 



Clearly, the boy liked that bus driver because the bus driver paid special attention to the boy. The bus driver showed an interest.



That's all it takes!



Since that day, I've made an extra effort to let the children know I am interested in what they do. I find ways to let them know I'm glad they came to school that day. I think it makes a difference to say things like: 

Lessons From a Bus Driver: Here's a little lesson I learned way back at the beginning of my teaching career that helped me understand something that was really important about teaching!

Lessons From a Bus Driver: Here's a little lesson I learned way back at the beginning of my teaching career that helped me understand something that was really important about teaching!

After an absence:
Lessons From a Bus Driver: Here's a little lesson I learned way back at the beginning of my teaching career that helped me understand something that was really important about teaching!

One of my favorites:
Lessons From a Bus Driver: Here's a little lesson I learned way back at the beginning of my teaching career that helped me understand something that was really important about teaching!

The more you make your students feel welcome, the more they will want to perform! 

No matter how I say it, I make sure I am there for my students, making sure they know they are an important member of my class, and give them each a special greeting as they enter my classroom each day!

What are your favorite greetings?

Thanks for visiting Elementary Matters!

Lessons From a Bus Driver: Here's a little lesson I learned way back at the beginning of my teaching career that helped me understand something that was really important about teaching!


Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues

The Winter Blues
A medical diagnosis might be Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!

I am not a medical professional, but I have seen these symptoms in many of my students:

change of moods
increased crying
difficulty concentrating
fatigue or loss of energy
lack of motivation
feeling sluggish or agitated
problems getting along with others
changes in appetite

Honestly, with the incredible amount of snow here in the northeast, we've been stuck inside way too much, and it's not just the kids struggling with these symptoms!

As I'm sure you know, teaching can be tough under normal conditions. 
It's even tougher when the kids just want to nap at their desks!

But what can we do about it? 

Here are a few things I've tried:

Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!
1. Exercise!  Get those kids out of their seats and moving! They may not feel like getting up at all, but that's a sign they really need to!  It's important to do some exercises that will get their blood pumping, like jogging in place, jumping jacks, or Go Noodle! (If you haven't discovered Go Noodle, it's time to check it out! It's free, and the kids love these Brain Breaks!)
GoNoodle Inspiration Blog


Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!

2. Rest and Relaxation! They need some quiet time, too! There are yoga moves that are perfect for kids, and simplified forms of meditation. (Many studies show the need for meditation!) In my classroom we have "silent seconds". That's when the kids sit with their hands on their knees, trying to clear their minds of all the clutter. They love it, and seriously need to clear their minds. (We all do!) Another form of relaxation? Bring out the watercolor
paints! They are suddenly VERY quiet when those come out!

Here are a few links to Amazon if you want more information on Yoga for children. 

        

Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!

3. Happy Music! There is much research that proves music affects our moods. When the children are acting tired and dragging themselves around, it's time to put on some happy music! It's ok to let them dance! HERE is a post I did years ago that has several suggestions for Happy Music for the classroom. HERE is another link to a post that gives suggestions for a variety of kinds of music, and when to use it in the classroom. 

Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!

4. Get Outside! I realize sometimes this isn't possible, but it's important for those kids to breathe fresh air and get away from the stale air in the classroom. Plus, they need that Vitamin D from the sun! (Did you realize many symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency
  are similar to those of seasonal affective disorder?) What learning activities can be done in the snow? Measuring? Science? I'm sure you can come up with something!

Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!

5. Shake it Up! Kids need to look at things differently. This can be as simple as rearranging the furniture or having a backwards schedule day. It might mean changing the routine or doing something totally different one day. It's amazing how one crazy day can put them in a better mood. Plus, when they get back to the routine, they appreciate it more!
Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!

6. Plan Something Special! Kids (and adults) need something to look forward to. It gives them motivation. Luckily, February has plenty of opportunities for special activities! We're planning a Valentine's Day party, and I'll go out of my way to make it super fun. They need it! We also have Day 100 (which will be whenever we get back to school after this recent snowstorm!), Presidents Day, Mardi Gras, and Chinese New Year. (Which brings me back to #2: rest and relaxation!) But with the winter we've had, I may have to bring back something I haven't done in years:

A Virtual Trip to Mexico!
Yes, we actually go on a virtual trip to Mexico. We get in our virtual airplane, put on our seat belts and fly to Mexico. We get out of our seats, and exit the plane to the warmth of the Mexican beaches. We bring our beach towels, have tortilla chips and salsa while enjoying our books. We see virtual animals and feel the virtual warm breeze.  I might even sneak in some mapping skills and a handful of Spanish words to keep it interesting.

Of course, I might have to bring out some resources like this one: 


or this one


or perhaps this one:



We CAN get past this winter!
Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!


EdExpo 2015

I am one lucky teacher blogger!  
I've been given a great opportunity!  
In less than 3 weeks I'll be going down to Atlanta to the Ed Expo 2015!
Click image for link!
This will be an amazing experience! 
Imagine a whole exhibit floor FILLED with brand new educational materials! My job, and the job of 50+ other teacher bloggers, will be to check out all these educational and pick my 10 favorites!
 Who are the other teacher bloggers?  Check out this link HERE!

I'm not sure which I'm more excited about, seeing the new amazing products in education, or going to Atlanta and getting together with the other teacher bloggers!

I'll be blogging, tweeting, facebooking and instagramming my experiences while I'm there, so be sure to follow me in these places: 

    

I can't wait to share all the new educational materials with you!





That Sad Feeling When a Book is Finished

That sad feeling when a book is finished: ever feel that way? Here are some reasons for reading chapter books to students, and some suggestions!
Yesterday I finished this read aloud with my students.

Click for a link to Amazon!
When I was a kid, this was my favorite chapter book. Every year I read it to my students, and I remember why I loved it so much!

They absolutely love the book. It's a great opportunity to discuss important concepts like realism vs fantasy, predicting, inferring, summarizing, and the skill for which this text is greatest:
visualizing!

So many second graders are making the plunge into chapter books, and I find it absolutely necessary to model the thought process and skills necessary every time we pick the book back up:

1. Use of a bookmark. 
2. Reviewing (summarizing) what was happening when we left off. (Yes, it may take some re-reading to put the story back in your head.)
3. Predicting what might be coming up.

It seems so simple, but many children need this modeled frequently. 

Plus, this is the story where several of my classes have realized that sadness when a great book is done!  They were pretty excited to hear there were 2 sequels to this book! (Click the image for a link to the trilogy.)



I admit, I was a little sad to finish this book on Friday, since I don't have a new chapter book ready to go!  

I plan to read this one on Monday.

then I'm open for suggestions!
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