Sunday, November 20, 2011

Preparing for a trip around the World!!!!

WOW... I see the light!! I cannot believe it is already time for Thanksgiving break! Monday and Tuesday are our district required Parent Teacher Conference days. We are required to be on the clock from 8am until 9pm Monday (full day with students of course...) then Tuesday the students have 1/2 day and we have conference time until 7:30!! YIKES!! I am SO GRATEFUL to my sister Ronda for handling the home front for me during these crazy hours! Daddy B. has a crazy work schedule and won't be home until who knows when!!!
I am looking forward to the break but also getting SO EXCITED for our Christmas Around the World unit! This year will be the 3rd year I have co-taught this extravaganza (read... exercise in INSANITY) with my good friend Julie. She is the special Education teacher and a gift to education! The last 2 years we taught an inclusion class. It was "fun" and busy with her 8 kiddos and my 22 the first year. Last year was downright nuts and nearly required some adult eggnog to get us through. (WE DIDN'T THOUGH SO DON'T JUDGE!!) Imagine 23 firsties (a few with some SERIOUS social and emotional issues) and 18 Special Ed students with a variety of learning and social issues. I am wondering how this will work this year with my 27 angels (they truly are!!) and her at least 10 or so little peeps! Luckily she comes with and AH-MAZ-ING parapro and I am blessed with Grandma and a rocking Para myself this year. I just wish we could remove a section of concrete wall to make it physically more comfortable... I don't think the admins would go for that!
The unit is super cool with foods, music, crafts and history from Mexico, USA, Germany, England, Sweden, France, and Italy. We get a little slap happy about the 3rd country and have even been known to bust into those laughs where you can't breathe, your voice raises an octave, and you have tears running down your cheeks!! It is then where we resort to the theme from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and the kids fend for themselves!! Either way it is a fun learning experience for the classes with lots of writing, math, crafts, and memory making!
Do any of my teacher friends out there do a similar unit? Any fun ideas or crafty items you would like to share? Any parents or friends who have ideas for us before we embark on the Christmas of Crazy 2011?? Drop me a line or a comment and let me know! I will surely be posting as we go along!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Veteran's Day was a hit!!

What an emotional week this was! We studied Veterans this week and talked/learned a lot about the whole idea of Veteran's day. It was clear after the first conversation I had my work cut out for me when most of the kids were talking about VeteranARIANS! lol The kids did an amazing job over the week and learned a lot about our heroes! We did word webs, crafts, read books, and of course we wrote!!!

The writing was amazing to read and this little one in particular really caught my heart!! "Their helmets are their thinking caps" REALLY?? How cute is that!??

We celebrated Veteran's Day as a whole school on Friday!! The team responsible for planning the event (I was not a part of it... but they SURE deserve the credit!!) sent notes asking for names and addresses of any Veterans they knew with every student in the school. Over 60 invites went out and we had a lot come!

The classes learned songs, poems, and of course we sang the National Anthem! I could barely make it through the song I was so choked up! Call me a softy!!

One member of our staff is a serious blog stalker (me!!! I admit it!!) and LOVES all things posted in Cara Carroll's The First Grade Parade! We borrowed the idea of the hallway parade for the vets and it was a huge hit with the kids and the heroes!!

The Veterans were then treated to some snacks, coffee, and casual conversation.... I wish I had better pics of the room decorations! Those girls and their students did an amazing job!

Finally....The most touching pic of the day for me was this little guy and his grandpa walking down the hall to enjoy refreshments! Just shows what these men and women fought for!

I have always loved and celebrated Veteran's day in my class and we have almost always done a cool thing for these heroes in our small town but I love the fact that I can share the cool stuff our little staff does in my blog! Thanks again to Cara Carroll at The First Grade Parade for some ideas in my room and I can not wait until next year!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

This week in Room 18

Holy smokes! It is already day #45 and we all survived Halloween Monday! There was quite a political scuffle in my little hometown about the re-routing of the Annual Costume parade. Now let me make it clear... Halloween in my town is a BIG.DEAL. We close down a couple blocks and everyone comes to watch from ages 1 to 91 (and older!!) As a native of this little city I was disappointed but as a teacher I totally get it. All we did was move it from the block in front of the school to the track right next door. Big Deal. The kids really loved walking on that track and people were still able to come watch. I thought it was nice. The only thing that bothered me was that the elderly couldn't get to the track to watch the kiddos... something to fix next hear.... ANYWAY... it has been surreal all week because of the whole party on a Monday thing. The kids have been pretty calm (I think they are exhausted!) but I just could not wrap my head around anything really profound! I was just plain pooped myself!
Next week I am excited to focus on Veteran's day. Our building invites veterans from the community and family members of students and staff to come speak, read, eat, and we sing them a few little songs. I think it is a great way to include the community, families, and to teach the kids about our important heros!! I am hoping to figure out how to upload some pics so I can show the awesome things we do for and with our local heroes!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fabulous Follower Giveaway!!

So excited about this! Cutie Patootie Ms. Preppy is doing a cool giveaway!! To celebrate having 200 followers (I can only dream!!) she is doing a contest where you can follow her, comment her page, and follow 4 of her FANTASTIC friends to win products! Hit her button below for more info! Good luck!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Birthday!!!

What an awesome birthday I have had!! The 9th anniversary of my 29th birthday was sunny... happy... and productive! It began at home with my own kiddos giving me cute pictures and some awesome gifties!! Then I was lucky enough to share my day with one of my sweet firsties and we had a great time! I got flowers from parents, an awesome reed diffuser from my Grandma, and a CAKE from a student and her family who is very dear to me!! Sadly... 1/2 of the cake was eaten by our giant pig of a dog while we were at soccer practice but there was enough for us to enjoy! The reason I am posting this on my teaching blog is just to share how amazing this job is! I forget how much these little people look up to us and what our smiles mean to them! We get so busy with politics, paperwork, meetings, and standards that we forget the people it is all about!! SO it was an amazing birthday surrounded by little faces and little hearts!! woot woot for a teacher and her birthday!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Peek in my Planbook Week in Review Linky Party Week of September 23rd

WOW what an amazing week we have had! Seems every single minute was jam packed and this little group of people I have were ready for more everytime! Now that all the beginning of the year assessment nonsense **OOOPS!! Did I say that??** is over we can get to some serious learning!! This week we have been studying apples and have been doing some cool science activities with it. As usual we made a KwL chart first, read a book a day and added to our list as things came up. We made little books about apples and made apple glyphs about ourselves. We each got a cut apple and talked about how it turns brown. We tasted it before it browned then let it sit while we made a list of the 5 senses. Of course it turned brown and they were in awe of the magic!! We then had to be "brave scientists" and taste it when it was brown!!! The kids were again amazed that it did not taste any different! woot woot! Maybe fewer apples will be wasted!! LOL OF course we made applesauce today and the kids did most of the work themselves getting the apples ready for the crock pot. We wrote the recipe for how we made applesauce and I am hoping to compile a book of our cooking activities for moms at the end of the year!!! I feel like I thought that one up on my own but something tells me it was planted by one of my genius friends (or I read it somewhere!) and it came up subconsciously... either way it will be cool if I can keep up with the cooking part. That is where I fall astray!! By the way... the applesauce was a big hit but word to the wise... use LOTS of APPLES cause they cook down to nothing and turn the crock pot off at least an hour before you serve it. That stuff was CRAZY hot!!!!!!!
Next week we will continue with apples and make some tree models with twigs and fuzzy balls. Let's see how it works out or if it gets done at all. I always have high hopes when I am in the safety of my home but the day often gets away from me and we miss out on some of the fun crafty stuff!! Here is hoping for a great week!
Check out the linky party and other posts at Clutter Free Classroom!!
Clutter-Free Classroom

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Week in Review Linky Party

I just LOVE LINKY PARTIES!! Gives an opportunity to share some stuff and get some traffic for the blog!! Well thanks to Clutter Free Classroom for starting the party and helping me review my week!!
Our first full week is in the books and it was an A-Maz-ING week!! As most of you are doing, we were all about procedure procedure procedure!! Funny how you get a group all grown up and ready to move on in June and then in September you forget how they all start out as babies and you have to re-teach the whole gig again! I am a little OCD in my procedures and teach everything from bathroom procedures to handwashing. I mean we write it all down (well not the goings on of the bathroom just the proper knock/wait/wash etc.) and read it through. EVERY year I generate new lists with the kiddos and although the tree hugger in me SCREAMS at the idea of wasting paper each year the control freak (aka teacher) in me really knows they need to OWN their list and ideas. Sometimes they come up with an idea that works better than what I had in mind and it adds to my year!! While we were doing this the class was running through the typical annoying standardized testing for the beginning of the year. With all the interruptions and pullouts everything had to be quick, small increments,and easy to understand.
In addition to all that we worked on building our math bags. I got this idea years ago from the days when our district could afford those conferences! Wish I could give credit to the genius who introduced me to it but alas I cannot remember.... oops! Basically each child gets 10 unifix cubes on the first day of Math bags. We count, play and manipulate them until our hearts are content. THEN I hit them with expectations and we generate a list of what we can and cannot do. We then practice/review number formation and make little cards with the numbers 1-10 on each. We do this over the course of the week. before they are make the card they are practicing proper formation on small white boards and I am circulating to help them out. They can have a card if they make the number right and then they use the cubes to build the number. A little practice in making sets and all that fun stuff!! Plus the ever important fine motor and PLAY as learning!!
Language arts has been filled with basic phonics, making little books, lots of cute writing things, stories, and just fun stuff to get to know each other as well as brush up on our phonetic skills. The daily journals are really taking off!!
Overall I am happy with the direction our class is taking and can't wait for the apple unit to begin this week. Does EVERYONE study apples in September in lower elementary?? I just love the opportunity to use a little science, fill the room with yummy smells and celebrate fall!!
Please leave a little comment and tell me how you celebrate fall in your room!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

politics should NOT be part of education

When I started this blog I did not want it to be a rant about education and the politics that can muck it all up... I do love my job and in no way want it to sound like I am not grateful everyday to have a job I LOVE to go to!! BUT being a passionate person, I also get pretty fired up when things just don't seem right. SO... here goes.... Like everyone everywhere... Michigan is really feeling the financial crunch in education. Our district has faced some MAJOR cuts!! We have been trying to avoid it for years but last year we lost some of the very very very best teachers I have ever met. The prediction was we were going to lose oodles of kids and wouldn't need the extra staff. WELL... now 5 of our grades are sitting at 28+ kids (more like 30+) and the community seemed HOPPING MAD. Spouting off about it on Facebook and around town. Of course they vent to teachers who... as we all know... have the least amount of control anywhere!! (except in our own classes!!) I am happy to hear the support but encouraged everyone I saw to go to the school board. WELL... last night was school board meeting and I just **HAD** to go and hear what all the concerned parents had to say. Guess what I heard???? CRICKETS!!!! That is right! The place was nearly empty of concerned citizens. It just makes me so sad cause part of the meeting was spent talking about our wonderful test scores and our fantastic arts programs... WELL... they can kiss all that goodbye. I get that they are trying to keep the district afloat and save money but what good is a "viable" district when the kids are failing? It isn't happening yet and of course we will all do our best to make sure it doesn't but what a price to pay!! What a GAMBLE!! And the WORST part of it is all the belly aching going on and when it comes time to step up no one came. No one spoke out. I was just hoping to see my little hometown community rise up and stand together to make sure our kids are educated. I was sure we would be able to come up with an agreement or idea that would solve the issues. I guess I am still naive. But I was hopeful. The battle is not over. We will keep working for the kids and the future of our community even if they can barely fit in the rooms!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Twas the Night before First Grade

Ok... I know that is an actual book and I hope I didn't break any great big copywrite laws but well... it is the night before and I am super excited for a new year!! My little man Marshall will be starting FIRST GRADE and my little peanut Mackenzie will be in preschool in just a few weeks! For the first time we will be in the same building!! One stop in the morning is sure to save oodles of time and make me a better teacher!! hee hee
SO.... each year it seems there is a new Buzz word or grand idea in the world of teaching, and each September I feel like I am just grasping the Buzz Word from the previous year. Well this year folks, I am gonna try to not only master last year's craze but I am also going to take on ANOTHER new gig!! Last year our district had a big push to model our literacy block after the Florida Center for Reading Research. Our First Grade team spent a work day copying and cutting tons of stuff from their sites. (Legally I might add!!!) Me, being the analysis paralysis I am famous for, could not just throw those little pieces into piles and dole them out with out coloring, labeling, etc. Let me make note that other teachers did and their kiddos did fine. There is nothing wrong with that. I just like color!! :) SO in a box they sat since I planned to get them done lickety split!! I colored most of them with the help of a few friends and my sweet little boy. But they never got laminated and organized. This year I plan to finalize what I started last year. Besides the fact that I had a unique group of kids last year and the REALLY had me hopping!! With a fresh batch and a fresh perspective I think I am ready for these little tidbits from FCRR.
NOW today's hot topic seems to be the Daily 5. I have seen it all over the blogs and my two dear First Grade teaching friends have been getting into it the last few weeks. SO I am going to look at it and see what I think. Anyone else out there using Daily 5? I am hoping it is the miracle cure for guided reading time and centers. :) And while you are at it... how does everyone out there feel about the info and ideas for FCRR?? Would love some input!! :) Have a great September and an awesome year!!! Here is to tackling challenges and evolving as we teach!!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Open House

We had our open house at school last night and it was awesome!! This is the first year our building has done it before school started and I for one loved doing it this way. In previous years we waited until the 2nd week of school (or later!) and rushed, scrambled, and stressed to have intricate cute and amazing displays for the parents to see. That wasn't the part that got to me cause that is the fun stuff we don't have as much time for during the rest of the school year. The part that bothered me was the mini conferences we would have and the gazillion visitors from years past who just wanna hug the sense out of you!! I love talking to parents and I LOVE seeing my little (and sometimes not so little after a few years) friends but I just think time is better spent discussing the classroom, the routines, the expectations, and getting a feel for the grade before school starts. I had a few parents email me with questions already, and each of them loved the change in routine!! Hoping to keep it that way in years to come!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A teacher has to pray!!

So in my Blog Stalking last night I also came across this cute little prayer.  After a meeting today and some potentially gloomy political info, I thought this was fitting to post in these last summer prep days...  thanks to Team Carroll at The First Grade Parade for sharing!! Really a great way to keep your mind on what is important and ignore all the nonsense in our various political areas.... I just gotta have faith that it will all work out and until it does I will just keep on doing what I do!!! AND so should YOU!!

A Teacher’s Prayer
O Lord, Grant me your strength, so I will have COURAGE in every situation;
Grant me your love, so I will NEVER GIVE UP on anybody;
Grant me your wisdom, so I will SHOW others the path to success;
Grant me your mercy; so I will FORGIVE those who have hurt me;
Grant me your peace, so I will FIND THE BEST in everybody;
Grant me your hope, so I will NEVER GIVE UP;
Grant me your joy, so I will be THANKFUL for all my blessings;
And grant me your grace, so you will ALWAYS be at my side.  Amen.
~David Bennett

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Here it goes!!!!!!!

Well... I have been HEEM HAW-ing about this little blog thing for ever. I have discovered and become ADDICTED TO the whole teacher blog concept for months now, and really struggled with how to start... what to name it.... etc etc.  Well...  As I was cruising through my favorite blogs tonight I came across a great opportunity to introduce myself and hopefully make some blog friends!! the title says.... here goes an introduction!!

Tell us a little something about you...

I'm Tracy, and I started blogging way back in the days of MySpace.  I have been "blogging as a grown up" on  my personal blog Not the Queen of Quiet and just started my teacher blog Crazy in the Classroom tonight!! I have been married to my handsome spouse for 9 years, I am mom to Marshall 7, and Mackenzie 3, and the youngest of six crazy peeps!!  I stay up WAY too late... often run a step behind... and I LOVE my MacBook Pro!!

How long have you been teaching?

I can't believe I am actually going into my 12th year of teaching!!  I taught Kinder for 2 years and looped up with a great class my 3rd year. Before I got paid to teach, I was in an AMAZING program at Arizona State University.  The Apprentice Teacher Program (ATP) was designed for Post Bac peeps like me who found their passion for teaching a little later in life. We did our coursework in a school, worked with students daily, did internships in 3 different schools and 3 different grade levels, taught a whole summer school program, and student taught for 12 weeks!!  It was HANDS ON and AMAZING!!   I love the challenge of teaching First Grade and how there is NEVER a dull moment!!

You might not know...

I never dreamed of being a teacher.  I was never the little girl who played teacher with her stuffies or always aimed to please in elementary school.  I was a bit of a stinker, always in trouble for talking, and was never the neatest kid!! I wanted to be a rock star (yes... I said it!) or a veterinarian, and later in adult life I was going to be a Criminal Psychologist.  I got a BS in Psychology and Sociology from Central Michigan University.  I happily went on to work in a boy's correctional facility, where I knew I would change the world!!  It was there where I worked in a classroom everyday and found my love for teaching.  I had a boy in my cabin who could not read at 16.  The day he looked at me with tears in his eyes after reading a book was the day I knew I was destined to teach.  SO.... back to school I went!!!

What are you looking most forward to this school year?

A fresh start.  Although our class sizes are enormous compared to years past, I am looking forward to fresh faces, clean desks, happy campers, and implementing some fun new things I have learned this summer. (thank you teacher blogs!!)

What do you need to improve?

My organizational skills!! That has been a FOREVER problem for me! I am the teacher with piles here and piles there.  It is an "organized" mess, and my kids even know how my system works, but it just frustrates me to see other rooms so clean, neat, and inviting... SO...if I can organize a little each week.... let's hope it sticks!!

I also have to learn to let go of "things"  I am also the teacher who saves random stuff in hopes it will come in handy someday. It is great for the teachers who need egg cartons or boxes (I have a thing about saving boxes!LOL) but does not work so well for the space I have to work in!  My dear friend Julie helped me organize on year and she found 3 golf balls in a corner somewhere... golf balls?? really??

What teaching supplies can you *not* live without?

Apparently I can live without those golfballs cause they have been gone a year and I did not miss them once!! haha!!
First and foremost... I can NOT live without my APRON!! It is my old faithful 3 holer from the days of waitressing, but I love it.  I keep everything and anything in that puppy and feel naked without it!!  I also really dig my Sharpies, chart paper, mechanical pencils, and post-it note tab thingies!! 

I also use my IPhone for a lot of stuff.... SSSSHHHHH... it is a bit of a policy that we are not to use our cell phones for anything but that's ok.... my little lifesaver  isn't a cellphone... its a SMART phone!  and boy oh boy! Do I need it for scheduling meetings in the hallway, answering email on the way to the copier, and timing all the ridiculous things we need to time these pumpkins on!!

* * * * *
Well... that's me in a nutshell!!