Wednesday, May 11, 2016

10 Days and Counting

Have you ever had one of those years? 

Since I posted last...
  • My washer machine filled up all night and flooded my house.  Which meant that I got to deal with the insurance, the cleanup crews, the carpet people, the moving crew, a huge mess, and reorganizing.  It could have been worse, way worse, and I count my blessings.
  • Then my garage door started randomly going up and down in the middle of the night.  It finally just fell 11:00pm on Christmas Eve.  So thankful for good neighbors!
  • I got the worst case of the flu ever recorded.  This I might be exaggerating about, but four nights of sleeping on the bathroom floor, six days of 100 plus fever, and the subsequent dehydration, and weeks of exhaustion and weakness might have made my memory a little foggy.  And then a month later, it turned in to a whopper of a sinus infection.  But the silver lining in this was that it magically reset my metabolism and I have lost about forty pounds (and I am not missing those at all).  Before you ask...I just had a physical - all is good.
This last month at school I have heard these things actually coming out of my mouth...
  • "He wasn't mad-dogging you.  He is autistic."
  • "Just because he looked at you doesn't mean you can body slam him.  People do not just go around body slamming other people."
  • "If I catch you crawling around on the floor and under desks again, you will have a timeout, on another planet."
  • "If one more person runs with scissors they are all disappearing and you will tearing paper for the rest of the year."
  • "Yes, when I said it was due on Friday, I actually meant that it was really due on Friday. Yes, this Friday."
  • "The paper?  You mean the lined paper that we use every day?  The paper is in the same place it has been in since August."
  • "Rulers are not lightsabers.  Put them down.  Put them down now.  You do realize that I can actually see you, put them down."
Yesterday, I had this conversation with a student...
  • Me: "Where were you?  Mr. --------- said you never came to his room for timeout." 
  • Student: "I went there."
  • Me: "No, you did not.  Where were you?"
  • Student: "I was in his room."
  • Me: "No, you were not.  Where did you go?"
  • Student: "I went to room 105, but first I went to the bathroom."
  • Me: "I sent you to room 106.  You went to room 105?"
  • Student: "Yeah, I went to room 104."
  • Me:  "You went to room 104?"
  • Student: "No, I went to room 105, just like you told me."
  • Me: [deep sigh] "Which is it, 105 or 104?"
  • Student; [deep sigh] "Well, now I am confused.  Anyway, I didn't stay there very long.  He sent me to the lady's room when they went to lunch."
  • Me: "Which lady?"
  • Student: "The lady over there." [pointing into our pod, filled with only female teachers]
  • Me: "Did you finish your work?"
  • Student: "Yep, well...not all of it, but most of it.  Can I go to P.E. now?"

Oh, and this year, not last year when I felt as if I had reached every child and was an amazing teacher, but this Teacher of the Year.

So, this year I am counting down.  I don't normally.  But this year, I am counting down.   Once it is over, I will recharge and plan for next year.  My assignment is changing slightly and I have decided that maybe a change is needed.  Change is good.

And so is gelato...I deserve it.  It might get me through the next 10 days.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Saturday Parent Conferences

Yesterday morning, when my alarm went off at 6:00am, I was pretty sure that I had made a terrible mistake by scheduling parent conferences for a Saturday morning.  Two weeks ago it had seemed like a good idea.  We had Saturday School yesterday (just to make up absences) and since it was at the end of our Conference week...well, it had seemed like the "good teacher" thing to do...last week. 

During the week as my colleagues discovered what I was doing and laughed at me, when my principal kept teasing me about bringing my sleeping bag, and even the kids questioned sanity of having conferences on Saturday, I started to question myself. 

So, when I woke up tired and relunctant, I reminded myself that the "brand new teacher me" would have and had done Saturday conferences.  So, I dragged myself out of bed, caffeinated my brain, and set off to school.

By the time I got there, my "happy to see you again" teacher attitude and smile were in place.  I collected some of my students who were attending Saturday School and opened up the classroom.  We had about an hour before the first parent to get missing work together and to get them started.  We chatted a little, and they again questioned my sanity.  When my first conference showed up, they went to the computers, signed in to Read 180, and put on their headphones. 

All five sets of parents that were scheduled showed up.  All five conferences went really well.  Some of the conferences had been ones that I was not looking forward to, but even those - no, especially those went really well.  I was more relaxed and the parents were more relaxed.  They were not rushed and tired from work and traffic.  We went over the grades, the all Holy MAP scores, and we got to talk about ClassDojo. 

Would I do Saturday Conferences again?  Absolutely!  Has anyone else held Saturday Conferences?  Did you love them too?  I would not reccomend doing them by yourself.  I knew that I had five other colleagues on campus - just in case I had needed support.  In January, on the scheduled Saturday School time, we will have an "open house" style morning for Student Led Conferences.

Yesterday, I let myself leave everything at school.  Today, I slept in.  After this, I am going do some quilting.  Tomorrow, I am ready to start a new quarter.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Classroom Reveal: Back To School Night #27 (or #28?)

As promised, my classroom “reveal” for 2015-2016!  This week was Back To School Night, my 27th or 28th…I honestly can’t remember.  I was just slightly horrified when I said it aloud to the parents, and I think they were a little amazed that I was still getting around so well on my own.  

Somehow I thought that by this time I would not be stressed out by the prospect of meeting the parents and making my room “perfect” for inspection.  Well, 27 or 28 years later, it still is the worst and most exhausting week of school for me.  One of these years, I am going learn how to not be so hard on myself.

Maybe it is because it was not the room I had planned in my head for this year.  Last year’s room was just a little hard to top.  I had wanted to paint ancient ruins and artifacts across the back of the room, and a giant game board running through them.  Next year…
Unfortunately, I was only able to get into my room for two days before the kids arrived.  They were installing a new fire alarm system at our site and they were not done until the NIGHT before school started.  I bribed them with homemade chocolate chip cookies in order to get in when I did.  I had to work around open panels, wires and strings. 
Not to mention because they needed access, I had to empty out my beautiful closet and take it all home over the summer.  I lost count of the trips and loads to and from the car.
With me being me, I couldn’t just throw up the perfectly cute and useful poster sets that I had bought and laminated.  Well, actually I did and then I took them down, then put them up some place else, then took them down again, and put them up some place else. This is their current resting place.
I just wasn’t feeling it.  Instead I went for big and colorful.  Fortunately, our secretary allowed me access to the color printer and I was able to get it up in just one day.
Last year I tried to get our school involved in Character Counts, again (but of course, I am the only one who has been there long enough to remember doing it the first time.)  This summer I took matters into my own hands and put together a calendar of “Character Focus Words” with related weekly quotes, and a variety of activities from various sources.  Fortunately, the rest of the school is going along with it (hehehe, one of the perks of being there so long).  I will share more about that in another post.
My classroom library books got to take a ride home this summer too.  I Lexiled all of them, looked up the word counts, and noted which of them are included in Reading Counts.  They are color coded by Lexile.  I want my kids to read OUTSIDE of the Read 180 books this year!   

By the time I was able to put them back on the bookshelves, the kids had arrived.  I had been debating how to organize them (which is why they were not on the shelves before the kids arrived), and was still waffling between genre and Lexile.  I asked the kids, and since they are going to be responsible for keeping them in order, they voted for by Lexile.  I am going with it for now.
These are new and I really like them!  The graphics are from Megan, of I Teach, What’s Your SuperPower.  I love her stuff!  Be sure to check out her store!  The sentence stems are from one of Dr. Kate Kinsella’s handouts.  So no, they will not be in my TpT store because they are her sentence stems.  I just made them pretty.   
They are laminated with those peel and stick magnets on the back.  I have them filed in a tub behind the board.  That way, I can put up just what we need for that day or week.  Last year I had something similar up, but they were so small that the kids could not read them; they just made the district people who walk the classrooms happy.  Love them!  Love the sentence stems, not necessarily the district people, but I don’t necessarily “not love” the district people (especially if they are reading this).
This will be my Read 180 vocabulary board and my “I Can” or standard board.  The shiny pocket chart that does not photograph well will hold the vocabulary.  I found these cute little clipboards in an outlet and nailed them into the wall (another perk of being in the same room for about 21 years, who is going to say anything?).  They make it easy for me to pull my “ICan” statements out of my binder and throw them up.  Since I have a self-contained classroom, I would be writing them on the board all day long.  This makes it easy!

This is how everything looked on Back To School Night with all the projects.

Year 27 or 28, here I come!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Interactive Long Division Update!

Shocking, I know!  I have been a very bad blogger.  As I was searching for a little more balance and less stress in my life, blogging got temporarily benched.  This school year, I hope to be sharing on a more regular basis.

This is just a short post to let you know that I have updated my Interactive Long Division packet in my TpT store.  After several questions and requests to provide mats with longer divisors/dividends, decimals, and fractions as remainders, and after several attempts to do so, I finally got it to work!

The revised packet contains 28 Interactive Long Division Mats which is 12 more than the original version.  Included in the new mats are Extended Mats for larger divisors/dividends - up to 3 digit divisors and 5 digit dividends. 

Plus, the option to write remainders as fractions. 

And of course, I included decimal tiles. 

All of this is in one zip, and if you have already purchased my original version, all you have to do to update is download again!  You are welcome!  I probably should have made a different product and charged you for it, but that is just not me.  I will NEVER be on that Top 100 Sellers list from TpT, lol!  More power to those amazing teachers, but I am just not comfortable with the "selling" part of it all.

Back to School Night is this week, be sure to check back next weekend for a tour of my room.  For now, here is a little peek.

Have a great week!  Oh, and please think good thoughts for me!  I have Jury Duty on Monday!  That is not what I want to be doing in the 2nd full week of school!  So think, "Your jury duty is cancelled, your group will not be needed..."

Friday, June 19, 2015

Back to the Blog

It has been two days since I got back from the beautiful state of Washington, and I am finally unpacked and recovered.  It was a crazy rush to get on the road.  I was delayed by two days of buyback training and a root canal, but with antibiotics in my system, I was on my way.  As a little side note, the root canal was so much more productive and enjoyable than the buyback days.
 The top picture is the view of Mt. Rainier from my niece and nephew's bus stop.  The beach and Puget Sound are just on the other side.  They have adorable little bus stop shelters too!  So beautiful! 
 We took the ferry to Seattle.  My first ferry ride!  It was everything it seems to be in the movies...LOL!  Of course, I took the obligatory tourist pictures. 
 As we were leaving, I managed this picture of the Seattle skyline.  It was right after that when I realized that my FitBit had died during the day at 13,057 steps and 27 flights of stairs.  Technically speaking, the battery died, but I think it really died from shock
 Yes, I know these are just shots of green stuff.  You need to understand that as a native Southern Californian, the green stuff was the most amazing to me!  Does anyone know what that Dr. Seuss looking fern is called? 
 Dead Man Island and a beach of sand dollars!  Yes, those black rocks are really live sand dollars!  Never in my life have I ever seen anything that incredible.  I was afraid to walk around and mainly just stood there saying, "Oh my gosh" - over and over again. 
 The view down the hill to the beach and bus stop below my brother's house, and the view up the hill.  And yes, I went down and I went up.  Fortunately, my FitBit was not around to experience it or it would have died permanently from shock.

While I was there visiting my brother and his wonderful family, in between my outdoor adventures, I made a Greek costume for my niece, a stuffed snake for her staff, two quilt tops with my niece and nephew,  and attended two Little League playoff games and an amazing middle school band concert.  I tried to squeeze all the super aunt time in that I could.

On one of our grown up day excursions, my sister-in-law took me antique shopping.  At one of the stores, I found these for $8!

 They are magnets!  Magnets!  Plus, they were only $8!!!  My mind is reeling with ideas on how to use them, so many that I can't even narrow them down.  They would work great under the document camera.  There are enough for small group work with tiles on cookie trays.  They would work on the whiteboard....!!!!!  I can't decide!  Any ideas?
When I got them home, I realized that they came with decimal points!  Plus, some weird dollar amounts from $100 to $100,000.  Where did they come from?  My sister-in-law and I came up with a couple possibilities, but my favorite one is that they came from some backroom bookie!  What were they used for in their previous life?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Next To Last Day

Tomorrow is our last day.  It will be a minimum day, fast and furious from start to finish.  Today was our next to last day, and it was perfect.   While I supervised a few students making a last ditch effort to bring up their grades, the rest of the class worked on mosaics...

They worked out a system of helping each other tape the paper up and trace, without fighting or arguing.  They just sweetly took turns and were helpful to one another.

The only disagreement was about whether the new scissors were turquoise or blue.  Yes, we found a box of new scissors hiding behind the paint supplies.  Oh, getting to use the new scissors was like winning the lottery!
Did I mention that they painted "Greek pottery" and didn't make a mess?  We had one broken pot, and four of them sat on the floor giggling while they glued it back together.  They were very pleased with themselves because they were "like real archaeologists."

I think I forgot to mention that they did all of this while listening to my Sound of Music soundtrack.  Despite my begging, they drew the line at holding hands and singing Do-Re-Mi on the way to lunch.  They are adorable, but not saints.  I took them out a minute early, and they were the first in line.  They were so happy.
A little elf may have made them cookies tonight.

I am going to be a mess tomorrow when that final bell rings.  This group has been a sweet blessing amidst a year of Common Core chaos. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

All I Have Energy For...

This is all the post I have energy for...

We are in the middle of something at school, that I am legally obligated to not speak is a four-letter word...oh, I mean acronym. 

Next week, we get to do the R-Skills...actually, that might be this week, but regardless, it will not be getting done this week.

And then more of the four-letter word...oh, I mean acronym.

Then we get to finish "it"

...just in time for Spring MAP.

Tomorrow, my kids have a free day from "it."

And I swear by all that is holy, I am locking my classroom door and letting them color all day. 

You will be able to find me under my desk...

.....rocking back and forth in the fetal position.

Unless I have to period sub, again.

People, there are not enough leftover Cadbury Eggs to make this better.

Just wanted to update you on the situation...