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Four Awesome Blog Posts That Have Lasted the Test of Time

 Four Awesome Blog Posts that have lasted the test of time including: Turn and Talk, Back to School Open House, brain fitness, and card games for fast facts.

I've been on summer vacation for a week now. 
Like most teachers, I've been doing some catching up on cleaning. Unlike most teachers, I haven't been cleaning my house.
 (It's rather dreadful right now, but I just don't have the energy yet!) Instead, I've been cleaning up my blog!

I realized I've been blogging for 5 years now! As with any cleaning project, I've found a lot of things I need to throw out. 
(Those first few blog posts aren't very informative.)
Just like anything, the more you do it, the better you get! 
I've tossed out a few posts, and I've updated a few posts.

But, just like any cleaning project, I've found a few gems!
Back when I first started blogging, (back in 2011 and 2012) I did a lot of guest posts on other blogs.

I realized today that those posts are still out there, and they're still pretty valuable thoughts! (If I do say so myself!)

A few years ago I did this guest post on the amazing Rachel Lynette's Minds in BloomKeeping Your Students Engaged with "Turn and Talk".
That's something I use every day, several times a day! Be sure to click the photo for the link!

Several summers ago, I had the opportunity to do a post for Really Good Stuff's blog, The Teachers Lounge about how I set up Open House at the beginning of the school year. Here's that link: Ideas for a Successful Back to School Open House.

Really Good Stuff
It was 4 years ago, but I still use these same strategies and ideas today!

Keeping the brain happy has always been important to me. Here's a post I did 4 summers ago for The Filipino Teacher: 12 Simple Strategies for Brain Fitness.

Here's another post I did about card games to practice math facts on Raki's Rad ResourcesCard Games for Fast Facts.

Click any of the images for links to these posts!

Who knows what else I'll find while cleaning!

Summer Time Blues?

Summer vacation

Today is officially my last day of school this year.

This is the end of my 31st year in my present school.

This is the end of my 39th year teaching in all.

As usual, I have mixed feelings about the school year ending.

These are some reasons why I'm sad:

summer vacation
1. I'll miss the kids. Seriously, After spending 180 days with these little ones, and giving them a whole lot of my energy, they have my heart. They'll always have a place in my heart, just like all my other former students. I never forget them!

2. I can't help but feel "If only I'd..." and wish I could try a little more. I have a feeling we all feel that way. (After all, we're teachers, always trying to do the best for the kiddos!)

3. I'll miss the structure of my days.

4.  I know there are some kids that need that structure as well.

5. I know there are some kids that need the "safe place" of the school environment, where they are loved and supervised, and there are people who care about them.

summer vacation

Of course, I'm happy about school getting out! Here's why:

1. I'm tired, I need vacation!

2. I can hang out in my jammies, sip coffee, surf the internet, and watch mindless TV shows!

3. I can go to the beach and do my favorite thing: put my feet in the sand with a book in my hand... and totally escape into a book. Yes, fiction! I never have time to read for pleasure during the school year, and I can't wait!

4. I can find my garden... and my living room... and my house in general! (Who has time for housework in May and June?)

5. I'll have more time for blogging! I've had tons of ideas, but it seems this year I've had less time than ever, so I can't wait to get back into blogging!

It's been quite a year. You'd think it would get a bit easier after 39 years, but it really hasn't, in fact, I can honestly say teaching is harder than ever.  But it's worth it.  Here's what my students had to say about me this year:
end of school year

The "Summer Games" are Complete!

The "Summer Games" are Complete! This is a review of a week's worth of Academic Olympics to end the school year, including a freebie!

I made it through the last week of school by celebrating the Academic Olympic Summer Games. (See THIS POST)

We had an exciting week, starting with our Opening Ceremonies!

We marched up and down each hallway with our flags and banners. The Olympic torch led the parade, and the American flag was at the end. (The USA was the "host country"!) Other countries include: Japan, Italy, France, Mexico, and Canada. (It just so happens I had flags to represent those countries, and a very old CD that has the National Anthems of each country, which was needed for the medal ceremonies! We came back to the classroom, read the Academic Summer Games Oath and Creed, and said that famous phrase: 
"Let the Games Begin!"

I wish you could see the pride in their faces!

We had many medal competitions during the week. Yes, medals were given daily for behavior, plus there were competitions in sight word reading, math facts, group scoot games, memory games, and brainstorming games. We recited the creed daily, along with the Pledge of Allegiance and our school's promise!
Olympics Creed
For a freebie copy of this, and a few other things, check out this resource: 
Olympics freebie

Their banners and some of their medals:
Academic Olympic Summer Games

France and Italy!
Academic Olympic Summer Games

Japan and Mexico!
Academic Olympic Summer Games

Honestly, there were double this many medals by the Closing Ceremony!

I think everyone's favorite part was when we had medal ceremonies, which was a lot!


Yes, I actually let the kiddos stand on desks!
Again, I wish you could see the pride in their faces!

Finally, it was time to "sail home", from the U.S.A. back to Japan, Italy, France, Mexico, and Canada! The children made ships from milk cartons and various "S.T.E.M." materials and set sail.
Sailing Home

I confess, I didn't get any pictures of the real ships they decorated. This photo was from a Summer Themed Week we had a few years ago, that you can read about HERE. Their ships were far more colorful and elaborate! I couldn't be prouder!

Academic Summer Games! A Celebration of Learning!

A Celebration of Learning!

This is our last full week of school, and we'll be celebrating learning by having Academic Summer Games!

My goals:
  1. Have fun!
  2. Give the kids a taste of what the Olympics are like!
  3. Give the children some experience with some of the different countries all over the world.
  4. Review skills from the year!
  5. Liven up these last few dreary days!
  6. Promote teamwork and positive feelings.
  7. Promote individual self esteem
  8. Grab an opportunity for some Project Based Learning.
  9. Did I mention having fun?
Of course, the real Olympics start in August and will be over before we come back to school in the fall.  But I'm a huge fan of the Olympics, and rather passionate about Social Studies as well. What better way to learn about different countries from all over the world?

Here's my plan:
  1. Form 5 groups of 4.  Those students will choose a country to represent, design a banner to represent that country, make a flag for that country, and pick a color to wear on the days of "competition".
  2. We'll start with a "parade of athletes" around the school.  Each "country" will carry its banner and flag, and will proudly display their colors.  
  3. Then we'll hold a number of "events".  I'm thinking a few scoot games, like these, perhaps a "read-a-thon", brainstorming contests (How many nouns can you think of in 60 seconds?), math facts contests, a S.T.E.M. project (something to do with water that can be done outside!), physical contests (How many jumping jacks can you do in 60 seconds?)
  4. After each ceremony, hold a "medal ceremony" for the winners.  I'm thinking some events will be group events, and some will be individual events. Yes, I actually own a CD of national anthems, so I'll play the one that goes with the country they represent, while they display their flag/ banner.
  5. If necessary, I'll come up with my own events, to make sure everyone gets an opportunity to be a winner. (Most people wearing purple?)
  6. Send them home with smiling faces and stories to tell.
Brain research tells us that emotions play a big role in memory. Contests and competition get the blood pumping! Brain research also tells us that the social part of learning is essential. This will include quite a bit of movement, music, artwork, and opportunities for everyone on every team to show their strengths. According to brain research, this will touch on many important points.  

Here are some books with Olympics themes: (Each image is a link to Amazon for more information.)
What do you think?  Have you ever done anything like this?  Do you have any ideas for "educational contests"?  Any ideas for organizing it all?

I'm looking forward to your input!

For more ideas and details of my Academic Olympics, as well as a freebie, see THIS POST.

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