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!