Monday, January 30, 2012

Butterflies in my Stomach, Butterflies on my Mind

Tomorrow is the day...da, da,da...that I, along with a few other teachers in the county, inservice the second grade teachers on the unit: Monarchs and Milkweed.

I have raised Monarchs with my second grade team for 4 years now, so when the county decided to create a unit around this, we were all very excited.  

A few teachers volunteered to pilot the unit last year and it turned out to be awesome!  Now, here we are needing to turn around and show everyone else what we did.  

A little nerve wracking to say the least.

I LOVE teaching, but there is just something about teaching other teachers that gets my stomach tied in knots.  Maybe it is because we sometimes make the worst students?  At least, I know I am not the best student during inservices.  My attention can be somewhat...SQUIRREL!

Well, either way, tomorrow is the big day.  I will be conducting the "Milkweed" portion of the training and will have to teach 8 half hour sessions of it.  Oh joy!

I CANNOT wait until tomorrow night when I can sit back and enjoy a homebrew while washing away the long day.  It's the little things in life my friends, the little things. :)

Here is a link to some of my earlier posts about Monarchs.  I will be sharing more about them when we actually roll out the unit in a month or so.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Congrats to my Girl!

I forsee that in life, I am going to have to wear my Teacher hat AND Mommy hat at the same time. 

Here was my first experience with that.

My daughter qualified for early intervention speech services a year ago.  It was interesting going through the process as a parent rather than a teacher.  I found myself paying attention to the meeting a little more since everything pertained to me.  Not that I zone out during student ones.....well, maybe the 2 hour ones.

I wasn't one that was worried she was in speech.  I saw it as extra help to get her to move past the minor obstacles she had.  Gabbie really enjoyed working with her speech pathologist and we have noticed major improvement in her speech.  My husband and I are no longer translators for her "Gabanese."

Just this past week her IEP was up and they found she had met all of her goals, which meant she was exited from the program. Yay!

Her speech teacher came to visit her at her preschool one last time to say goodbye and tell her whole class how great she did.
Here is my proud little girl grinning from ear to ear.

Yay to Gabs!
Now if only we can get my almost 2 year old to start talking...
IEP number 2 in my future???

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sad But True...

I have seen this article floating around facebook for a few days now and I just had to repost it. 
It is written by David Reber who is a teacher from Kansas.  The original article can be found at the link HERE.

In what other profession...

I’m going to step out of my usual third-person writing voice for a moment. As a parent I received a letter last week from the Kansas State Board of Education, informing me that my children’s school district had been placed on “improvement” status for failing to meet “adequate yearly progress” under the No Child Left Behind law.

I thought it ironic that our schools were judged inadequate by people who haven’t set foot in them, so I wrote a letter to my local newspaper. Predictably, my letter elicited a deluge of comments in the paper’s online forum. Many remarks came from armchair educators and anti-teacher, anti-public school evangelists quick to discredit anything I had to say under the rationale of “he’s a teacher.” What could a teacher possibly know about education?

Countless arguments used to denigrate public school teachers begin with the phrase “in what other profession….” and conclude with practically anything the anti-teacher pundits find offensive about public education. Due process and collective bargaining are favorite targets, as are the erroneous but tightly held beliefs that teachers are under-worked, over-paid (earning million-dollar pensions), and not accountable for anything.

In what other profession, indeed.

In what other profession are the licensed professionals considered the LEAST knowledgeable about the job? You seldom if ever hear “that guy couldn’t possibly know a thing about law enforcement – he’s a police officer”, or “she can’t be trusted talking about fire safety – she’s a firefighter.”
In what other profession is experience viewed as a liability rather than an asset? You won’t find a contractor advertising “choose me – I’ve never done this before”, and your doctor won’t recommend a surgeon on the basis of her “having very little experience with the procedure”.

In what other profession is the desire for competitive salary viewed as proof of callous indifference towards the job? You won’t hear many say “that lawyer charges a lot of money, she obviously doesn’t care about her clients”, or “that coach earns millions – clearly he doesn’t care about the team.”
But look around. You’ll find droves of armchair educators who summarily dismiss any statement about education when it comes from a teacher. Likewise, it’s easy to find politicians, pundits, and profiteers who refer to our veteran teachers as ineffective, overpriced “dead wood”. Only the rookies could possibly be any good, or worth the food-stamp-eligible starting salaries we pay them.

And if teachers dare ask for a raise, this is taken by many as clear evidence that teachers don’t give a porcupine’s posterior about kids. In fact, some say if teachers really cared about their students they would insist on earning LESS money.

If that entire attitude weren’t bad enough, what other profession is legally held to PERFECTION by 2014? Are police required to eliminate all crime? Are firefighters required to eliminate all fires? Are doctors required to cure all patients? Are lawyers required to win all cases? Are coaches required to win all games? Of course they aren’t.

For no other profession do so many outsiders refuse to accept the realities of an imperfect world. Crime happens. Fire happens. Illness happens. As for lawyers and coaches, where there’s a winner there must also be a loser. People accept all these realities, until they apply to public education.

If a poverty-stricken, drug-addled meth-cooker burns down his house, suffers third degree burns, and then goes to jail; we don’t blame the police, fire department, doctors, and defense attorneys for his predicament. But if that kid doesn’t graduate high school, it’s clearly the teacher’s fault.
And if someone – anyone - tries to tell you otherwise; don’t listen. He must be a teacher.

It is so well said, and in a way it resurfaces the frustration I have for those that just don't understand our profession, those that think we make too much money considering we have the summers off(HA!), those that feel we whine too much about our jobs and need to be grateful for how easy we have it(Double HA!).  They often forget that they would not be in the positions they are right now if it weren't for the amazing teachers that educated THEM!

Maybe someday there will be more of an understanding and appreciation for our job.  Until then, I stand by the fact that I love my job and we teachers are in this together!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Valentine's Day Hearts

I love doing this activity with my students each year.  Plus it is a great way to get rid of all those gross candy hearts.  Bleh! (Sorry to those that actually like them.)

I lay out a ton of these in piles.  The kids pick about 5 or so hearts which they use to create sentences.  Once they have written a final draft, they glue the hearts down.

Here is my sample from...(you're going to laugh)... 2002!  It's so old that my maiden name is even on it!  I think it may be time to create a new sample.

I still can't believe those hearts have lasted this long. 
They are like the legend of twinkies.  10 year shelf life anyone? 

Either way, the kids love this writing assignment.

Make sure you stock up on these right after Vday.  They are always super cheap then.  Plus, since they last for 2,000 years, you won't have to worry about them going bad!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Persuade Me

Pinterest strikes again!

I introduced this amazing "Author's Purpose" poster set to my students yesterday. 
Click on the picture above to head over to Mrs. Gilchrist's class for a copy.

I LOVE it!   It explains the different purposes perfectly.   I told them that in the next few days we would work on the different pieces of the pie.

Today's piece was about persuasion.  After discussing what persuasion was, I had the kids think about how advertisements and commercials use persuasion.  This really hit home for them.  Of course I had tons of kids telling me about Video games, Sky Landers(???), Legos, McDonald's, etc.

Next, I gave them four topics to choose from for their persuasive writing:
1.  Type of Food
2.  Playing a certain game
3.  Watching a TV Show
4.  Reading a certain book

Time to write!  I was not concerned about fixing their grammatical errors on this one(minus capitals and periods).  I really wanted this exercise to focus on the content of the piece.

The kids did a great job on them!
Here are a few that I enjoyed:

Coincidentally, my husband is working on persuasive writing in his class this week too.  Granted, their 6th grade version is a little more in depth than ours.  They have to persuade the king(my husband) to give them a vote for Parliment.  They also need to make sure to write it from the perspective of a colonist, depending on where they are from. 

Not sure if my kids could handle that topic, so we will just stick with what we have. :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Interviewing a Friend

In the month of February, we will be reading a number of biographies for black history month.  We will then move into a biography buddy project where the students pick a famous/historical figure and write their own biography about them.  After they do the write up, the kids will create a "buddy" version of their person.  This is really cute and I will be sure to post pictures of a few after they are complete.

I decided to create this to help kick off the biography study.
Click on the picture to go to my TPT store and get a copy.

I am going to have the children interview each other in class.  They will then practice writing a short biography about their person and present them to the class.

This will be a great way to begin discussing biographies and help them learn the important components before the big project.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cheerio Molecules

During our matter unit, we discuss how molecules are in each state of matter.  After discussing the concept, I have a few children stand up and spread out around the room.  We talk about how this represents a gas.  I have another child demonstrate how easy it is to maneuver through the "gas."

I then have the rest of the class spread out around the room, demonstrating the liquid state.  The child once again maneuvers around the room, but we note how it isn't as easy as it was before since the molecules are closer together.

Finally, I have all of the class(after a brief discussion on pushing, shoving, and trampling) move into our class library area and stand as one big solid.  The child has to try to move through the solid, which they cannot.

The kids always enjoy this exercise and I feel it is a great visual to help them understand the concept.

HOWEVER, this year, a coworker of mine shared another great activity that I immediately added to this lesson.  It was such a great idea, I had to share it with you!

Each child is given a paper that has an example of a solid, liquid, and gas on it.  They are then given cheerios, but you can use anything really.  They glue on the cheerios to show how each state looks.

In the years past, I have always had them draw the molecules. 

I just LOVE this new tactile version!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Matter Experiments or Magic Tricks

I love the science units we get to teach in second grade.  We are currently finishing up our unit on Matter right now.  There are a ton of fun experiments we conducted.  One that never ceases to draw out the "Ooohs and Ahs" is the "Where do gases come from?" one.  I feel like a magician performing my special act each time we conduct an experiment.

I'm sure many have you seen this, conducted the very same one, or have heard of it.  But, I just wanted to share it since it is a personal favorite of mine.

What you need:
Empty Water Bottle
Baking Soda

Pour about an about 2" of vinegar into the empty water bottle.  Use a funnel or something small to pour in about 1-2 TBS. of baking soda into the deflated balloon.  Then place the balloon onto the water bottle being careful not to tip any baking soda into the bottle yet.

After you have discussed ideas and made predictions with the class, you get to demonstrate your magic trick.  Tip the balloon so the baking soda pours in. 
The bottle starts to fizz, the kids get excited, you start to smile, and the balloon begins to inflate.

It's such a fun experiment! 
Afterward the kids are all talking about what happened. 
I capitalize on this and have them record what they observed in their science journals.

Other favorites of mine:  Liquid Layers (Density) and Gas Takes Up Space(The tissue that doesn't get wet when it is in a cup in water).

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Day in My Shoes

I am linking up with Katie Klohn over at The Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher for:

So hang on bloggy world, you are about to hear how my day goes, whether you want to or not. :)

I had inservice this past Friday so here was my Thursday:

4:00-  I hear hubby's alarm go off.  I fade in and out as he gets ready to go coach swim practice.

6:00-  My alarm goes off and I lay in bed pretending I don't have to get up.

6:15-  I finally come to terms with the fact that I do.  I go into my son's room to get him out of the crib and hand him his "gook" (milk).  I then head into my daughter's room to wake her up.  Since my hubby is at practice before school, I get the pleasure of getting everyone ready, out the door and do drop-off on my own.

6:45-  I have both kids dressed.  They are now playing as I run around getting myself dressed.

7:00-  I run around making sure the dog and bearded dragon are fed.  I let our dog out one last time, get my lunch together, receive a call that my hubby forgot his lunch so I have to grab something for him, and then start to get the kids ready to leave.

7:15- I have the kids set, car seats buckled and I am finally off to get them to preschool and daycare.

7:40-  Drop-offs complete, I am finally off to work.

8:00-  I walk in the door, say my good mornings and head into the classroom to get ready for the day.

8:25-  My first student walks in and I look up shocked that the time flew so quickly.  Why does "school 25 minutes" always feel more like 1 minute?

8:45- Late bell rings, morning show is on, and my kids are attempting to do their morning work quietly(with reminders from me of course).  I run around making sure my struggling students have their agendas completed and help with morning work..

9:00-  Switch for our math.   I teach the struggling math students.  I am happy that we do math first thing, because although I LOVE teaching this group, it does take some energy out of ya.

10:00- We move into Language Arts.  My pull-out kids go with our Special Ed. teacher, 2 kids go with the reading specialist, and one other kid heads to ELL(ESL/ESOL).  I do Literature Circles/Guided Reading/Centers with the students that are left.

10:45ish- We clean up and head into Writer's Workshop.  This week we have been trying to finish up our American Indian presentations, so that time is filled with the last few of these.  After the last presentation is done, we finish up our penpal letters so I can get those sent out.

11:28- Lunch (I know 11:28 right?  Our times are so weird.)

11:58- Lunch is over and I take the kids back to get ready for recess.

12:25- We head in from recess and usually start Shared Reading.  However, we have started working on our class play, so we begin practicing that.

1:15-  I finish our class read aloud: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.  One of my FAVORITE books!  The book ends with an interesting twist and we share all of our thoughts and predictions beyond the story.

1:30- Specials (P.E.)  During this particular planning time, I finish up my sub plans for Friday since I will be out.  I work on my news email that I usually send out on Fridays to the parents, and make sure the last loose ends are tied up for Friday.

2:20-  Science:  Matter  We conducted two experiments.  "Where does a gas come from?" and "Liquid Layers."  We then finished up our KLEW on matter since I will be testing the kids on the unit next week.

2:50- Pack up, while the mailbox helper and I make sure the usual suspects remember to empty their mailboxes.  I then make sure everyone sits down to get ready for Read to Self.

3:20-  Dismissal

3:30- My tutoring student shows up and we begin.

3:40- My husband interrupts us(he works at the same school) and realizes that I am tutoring today.  His shoulders hunch over as he realizes he has to pick up both of the kids.  He sulks off and I finish tutoring my student.

4:30-  I am free! 

5:10ish- I arrive home and start dinner for the family.

6:00- After dinner and clean up, we play with the kids(or more like lay like dead soldiers as the kids play around us.)

7:00- Bath time, bed time ritual, and some Blues Clues.

8:00- Bedtime for the kids

8:30-  My hubby and I retreat to our bed to unwind while watching DVRed items and geek out on our computers.

At some point, my body waves the white flag, and I pass out.

The End.

Phew, I am tired just reliving that!  Thank goodness for a 3 day weekend.   Be sure to link up because I can't wait to peek into your lives as well!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Stanley Travels On

Back in October we started the Flat Stanley project.  You can read about that HERE.

Since then, he has traveled to a few places, but many went far away so they are slowly trickling in.

Here is how we keep track of his travels in the classroom.

As Stanley arrives, we add a pin for each place visited on the world map.

We then add any pictures or items that were sent back with him in this binder. 
The children love reading the letters and looking at the pictures.

I just love seeing what fun the students' families have with him!

Yay for Flat Stanley and his adventures!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ask and You Shall Receive AND "Currently"

Ask and you shall receive...earlier today I posted a freebie about Snow Similes.  My last line in the post was "Now if only it would actually snow!"  Well, at 3 p.m. today instead of rain falling outside my classroom window like the forecast had predicted, it was snow! 
Granted it wasn't a lot of snow, but it was just enough to get my kids outside to play for a bit before dinner.

And now that the children are nestled all snug in their beds, I wanted to share my January Currently  courtesy of Farley's linky party over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade!

Snowflake Similes

I introduced similes last week.  After reading the book Snowflake Bentley, we discussed how we could use similes to describe snow. 
Each child then created this:

First they came up with their own similes and then glued them on a tri-folded paper.

They then took a piece of chalk to create their own unique snowflakes.

Once they finished, I asked the children to create a snowflake poem to add to the back of their booklet.

I finally created an electronic copy of this. 
You can visit my TPT store so can do similes with your class too! 
Just click on the pictures below.

Now, if only it would actually snow!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My Turn to Be the Student

Jeff and I have been wanting to take a handmade pasta class for a while.  When we saw that Cookology had a class coming up and there were 2 spots left, we jumped on the opportunity.We are so happy we did!

We started by making a basic dough.

1 3/4 cups of flour, 4 eggs, and 2 Tbs. olive oil

The chef showed us how to roll out the dough to make fettuccine and linguini the old fashion way.  No machines required. 

The final type of pasta we learned to make was tortellini. First we rolled the dough out the same way we did for the fettuccine and linguini.  We then cut out circles using the top of a cup.
Next we put about 1/4 tsp. of filling in the middle and wet the edges around the circle with water.

We then folded the circle over and pressed gently.
Finally we wet one of the tips of the crescent and brought the two corners together.


After we cooked the pasta, the chef showed us how to plate it.

The sauces were pre-made for us since he didn't have enough time to show us that during class.
After plating, we had a chance to sit down and try everything.

From left to right:  Fettuccine with basil pesto, Tortellini with carmelized onion and garlic herb butter, and Linguini with tomato basil cream sauce

It was all so delicious.  There is nothing like fresh pasta, but we were amazed at how tasty the tortellini was.  I had never had fresh tortellini before.  The filling melted in your mouth.

The class ended and we were given the recipes for everything made, including the tortellini filling and sauces.  I highly recommend taking a cooking class in your area.  It is so much fun and you learn some great techniques.  Sometimes it is great taking a break from teaching and becoming the student for a bit!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Nominated and Need Your Help

A while back I was nominated for a chance to earn $25,000 for my school, an iPad, and 30 iPod touches for my classroom! 

This would be such a HUGE help for my school!  You can enter daily and each entry gives YOU a chance to win an iPad too!!!

Click HERE to enter.

Here is my nomination info:
Name:  Deborah Haynie
State:  Virginia
District:  Fairfax County
School:  Spring Hill Elementary

I so appreciate it and I hope you win something for yourself!


Friday, January 6, 2012

Versatile Blogger

Wow, here I am having one of those days when Beth Ann at Taming My Flock of Firsties awards me with:

What a way to end this week!  Thank you!!!

The rules are:
1.  Thank the person who gave you the award.
2.  Tell 7 things about yourself.

      1.  I am originally from Long Island, NY.
      2.  I played the clarinet for 9 years.
      3.  I teach drawing and watercolor classes after school.
      4.  I have 2 great kids (4 and 1).
      5.  I received a drawing program for Christmas.  I would love to start making my own graphics in the near future.
      6.  My husband and I are taking a pasta making class this weekend. 
      7.  I love dachshunds.  My family has raised them for as long as I can remember.

3.  Pass this award on to 10 newly discovered blogs.
Here are some great ones to check out!

Heather's Heart