9.29.2011

Yay!

Today was one of those days that made me remember why I teach.  I was testing my middle group on their sight words and a few of my kids just rocked it!  They are ready to move on to a higher level.  Unfortuantely the others in the group are still struggling, but I felt so good and was proud of my kids for their hard work in learning their words.  Now it's on to the next group to get them learning their words! 

The feeling was a bit overshadowed during social studies when they turned in complete and utter crap, but I guess that's my fault.  I let them color, cut and glue on their own without me walking them through it step by step, so I get what I get.  I may revamp it a bit, have them do it again, or I may just send home the crap!

I went to a meeting today for National Board Certification.  OK, meeting is the wrong word...more like listening to the teacher talk about how hard it is and how great she is.  I am over 50% sure I am going to do it, but I want to sleep on it for a couple days before I really decide.  I don't think I am that wonderful of a teacher, but I want to push myself.  I am a perfectionist by nature, so it's hard for me to think that it's all dandy, cause in my mind it's all crap.  My hubby loves me for that (note the sarcams!!!) but it's included in the package of ME!  :)

I will be glad when 3:12 rolls around tomorrow.  I am tired and have a busy weekend ahead.  Oh, and my formal observation is next week and I need to get my rear in gear and get ready for it.  Exciting lesson on plural nouns, here we come!  Happy almost Friday!

9.27.2011

So much to do, so little time

I think back to the days of summer with fondness, but also with wonder. Like what was I thinking? I had planned so much stuff that I wanted to do with my new bunch of kids. And now that we are fully in the swing of things, it just doesn't work out they way I had planned. And it bums me out. I had such high hopes, and it frustrates me and makes me question myself as a teacher. I need to find a balance. And I don't know how right now.

For some reason, this year just seems to be passing me by. I feel as if the days are going by so fast, and there isn't enough time before or after school to get it all done. I really need to stY until Lille 8 one night or get there at 6am to get a jumpstart on things. But that isn't going to happen this year. With my hubby's schedule, I need to be home at certain times. And with my daughters school,I get to work later than ever before. It's frustrating.

Luckily my kids are pretty good this year. They are, for the most part, making good growth and seem like they enjoy being at school. I haven't had the time to do a lot of "fun" as we have been busy with learning. And it bums me out, too. I feel like my kids are missing out, but I know what needs to be done, what other crap we get thrown at us week after week and then the stuff we do that we rush to finish and claim it was our fun.

It's reflecting like this that makes me feel like I suck at my job. Not all my job, but the fun part. The part the kids will remember. One of the teachers I work with always plans for the really fun stuff - big shebangs for apples, Halloween, thanksgiving, Christmas, you get the idea. She's always heavily requested by parents, and the kinder teachers just love her. Another teacher does lots of art and big projects. Her kids are historically lower than the other classes, but the kids have fun. They are probably fondly remembered by their students. I just hope they remember my name in a few years and remember that I was their teacher. That sounds selfish, but I just hope I am remembered for something.

I don't know why tonight I am all Debbie Downer about school, but I am. I have so many things I want to do, but I don't know how to get it all in. After 13 years, I am still trying to figure it all out and it is frustrating me. And to top it off, I need to find some free time to make a poster to celebrate our blue ribbon school by Thursday. And then, cause I am glutton for punishment, I m going to a meeting on Thursday about National Board Certification. I feel like I suck at my job, so might as well go listen to those who are wonderful talk about themselves. Yeah, I am glutton for punishment. Hopefully I will get out of this funk soon and realize that I am doing what they pay me to do - teach my kids and get them ready for 2nd grade!

9.26.2011

Is there a "bad blogger" award?

I hope so, cause then I could win it!  I have wanted to blog all week long last week and through the weekend, but there was just stuff getting in the way of me having free time.  As much as I want to, I am trying not to spend all my free time on the computer.  I am really trying to focus my energies on more industrious activities, like exercise, cleaning and reading (not industrious, but fun), but there have been days when I just want to watch TV and catch up on all the shows I missed last week! 

Anyway, I took a ton of pics last week, but I am too lazy to get the camera out of the car and download them.  I feel like my weeks go by so fast and there is nothing to show for them.  I need to slow down and take a breather and have a little fun.  We did try that today and dang, my kids were like slugs in the "fun" department.  They wanted to take their time, and then they gave me crap.  Oh well...it's a Monday.  I should care more, but I don't today.  We had picture day today, too, so that threw everything off.  I guess I will just "pass" on today and start new tomorrow!

Today we had a behavior committee meeting.  Loads of fun!  But, we are trying to work on making the school a much better place with kids who follow the rules and kids who know the rules like the back of their hand.  If any one that reads this has a playground and or classroom referral you would like to share with us, please send it my way...we'd love to see copies of what you all use.  You can e-mail it to me at socalteacherstuff@gmail.com.  Fancy, huh?  Thanks in advance!

Now, for all you bucket fillers...do you do this school wide?  I was mentioning it to my principal and she had never heard of it before.  My daughter came home last week talking about it.  I need to go get the book for myself and then share with others.  Anyone use Inch and Miles?  We're looking for fun and interesting and learning all at the same time!

Well, now that I have rambled about very little, time for some dinner.  While the weather may not say "fall", my calendar does and so do my taste buds...tonight it yummy chicken tortilla soup, minus the evil tortillas!  Happy Monday!

9.20.2011

Snail's pace

What a change! The last 6 weeks have gone by so quickly that my head was spinning. The last 2 days have dragged on. We have done a toN of work, but the days are moving a bit slower than they had been. I don't know if I like it going slower or not.

It is hard to believe that it's almost the end of September. The time is going by quickly. There are less than 100 days til Christmas! Holy cow! On Friday, we are doing adoration for Johnny Appleseed day. I am going to have the kids make an apple tree to show the tree in the fall. I punched out 100 tree trunks yesterday and have to get the paper ready for the kids to glue it on and then draw their leaves. We will then finger paint the apples on the tree in red, yellow or green. Hopefully I will remember my camera and remember to take pictures!

So I have made myself get super serious about getting in shape. Sunday was a good day at WW, but I want to kick it up a bit. So, I finally opened up my wii active game program. Oh my word...it kicked my butt! I have done it for 2 days and I can barely move. I am hoping to see some good results this week and in the next month. If you need or want a good workout, go buy wii active by EA Sports and be ready to walk funny for some time!

Time to hobble to the kitchen, do dishes and

9.18.2011

Sunday planning and some freebies

Happy Sunday!  We are back to summer this weekend.  Well, today anyway.  Yesterday was nice and coolish, with temps in the mid 80's.  After being 100+, 85 is nice and workable.  Today we are 100 again and it is forcasted to be hot this week.  Yeah. 

I haven't done lesson plans yet this weekend, and the day is quickly coming to an end.  I still have laundry to do, dinner to make, my 2 mile walk to go on and all the fun that goes along with the nightly get ready for the school week routine.  But, I have made my word sort for the week and a new addition to their nightly homework. 

We will be talking about short e this week.  My kids are really good, for the most part, with knowing all the vowel sounds and being able to blend cvc words.  At one of their centers, they can do a word sort.  It's very similar to last week, just with new word families!  You can get it here if you'd like!  I also made a quickie homework activity called Give Me a Minute.  Students will read the words for one minute and see how far they get on the list.  I don't care if they go down or across as long as they are reading.  You can get this here!

I haven't thought too much about math this week.  We are continuing with beginning addition.  They really seemed to get it last week, so we will see how it goes the rest of the week.  I don't want to scare them too much with math, but I also want them to "get it".  We'll see how that goes. 

If you haven't heard, Scholastic is having a Dollar Days sale.  I looked last night and picked out 10 ebooks for $1 a piece and then used the coupon 10thanks and got them all for free.  It just coast me my time, my paper and ink in the computer and I printed out over 500 pages of goodies to use with my kids!  Can't wait to see how to get it all in!  Go to http://www.teacherexpress.scholastic.com/ and click on the Dollar Days link.  Happy shopping!

9.14.2011

Math and how I have learned to like it

I was blog hopping tonight and found a lot of people really disliking enVision math.  I don't love it, but I have learned to embrace it after 3 years and make it something of my own.  I don't go through the teacher's guide and do what they say.  The TE tells me the lesson I am doing, and then I do it my own way and my kids have fun and I have fun teaching it. 

We don't go in order.  As a math committee, we decided to do it out of order, since many of the topics are lame and we need to get the meaty stuff covered before the lame stuff.  And, we do some of the easier topics first (shapes and patterns) while waiting for others (Topic 2 - really...what in the heck does that even "teach"?) til later in the year. 

This year, I have started to do cereal math.  3 or more times a week, we use cereal for math instruction in some way.  For patterning, they used fruit loops to make different patterns.  With shapes, we used the cereal to count the corners (vertices for all you enVision peeps) and for making 6, 7, 8 and 9, we have used different cereal.  For 6 and 7, we used shredded wheat and used the frosted and not frosted sides to show the different ways of making the numbers.  For 8 and 9, we used cheerios and just moved them around from side to side.  The counters work, too, but the kids are all jazzed about the cereal and really seem to "get it" better than following the guide. 

Luckily, I am at a school (and in a district) that met API and AYP.  We aren't under the gun as many other schools and districts are.  My principal is wonderful and knows that we as teachers know how to teach and she let's us do our job.  We aren't all teaching it the same way and are able to have some freedom in what we do.  We are allowed to teach the kids, rather than just follow a script or some moronic plan.  I hope I never have to go back to teaching that way.  It causes major burnout and it isn't why we all went to school.  We went to school to be able to use our creativeness and teach the kids they way we see best.  My way isn't for everyone, and I certainly don't want someone telling me how I must teach.  Isn't that like telling a doctor how to perform surgery?

Last year, I started doing math journals.  I would give me kids a problem solving type of question they would have to draw out and show the answer.  They loved it and I was all excited to do it again this year.  But something happened and I haven't been that gung ho.  I think it's the beginning of the year and we are still figuring it all out.  Yeah, it's been 6 weeks, but...

Last year we had to attend a 3 day training for enVision.  I was very excited when it was over, but then the school year ended 2 weeks later and my excitement for all they showed us disappeared.  I need to find it again.  I didn't agree with everything they said, but there were some good points.  I wish they had done it when we got the program, rather than wait til we had used it for 3 years.  But it could be worse, we could be at training now like all the other grade levels! 

I'm sorry there are so many people unhappy and frustrated with math.  It took me a couple years to really embrace the program, but now that I have, I feel I am being much more effective with it than ever before.  My scores are higher than in the past and the kids seem to enjoy math.  Heck, they even make their parents do "cereal math" with them at home!  I will try to post some of the things we do to help some people out, when I have the time and resources! 

Happy Wednesday! 

9.13.2011

I'll blame the weather

Wow!  Today was a very strange and emotionally draining day.  Well, the night was draining, the day was weird.  I'll blame the weather - rain already and get on with life!  These clouds coming in and out from the desert are driving me nuts. 

This morning, one of my kids lost his tooth.  I don't know how long he had help it, but when they went to do their work, he told me it fell out.  I saw it and went to get an envelope for him to put it in.  By the time I walked from his desk to my desk and back to his desk, the tooth was gone.  He dropped it!  UGH!  I hate teeth more than anything.  Loose teeth just disgust me.  And yes, my daughter has 2 loose teeth and I am dreading the day they fall out.  Anyway, I looked everywhere for it.  I had all my kids on the floor on their hands and knees looking for it.  It was nowhere to be found.  I am thinking a kid pocketed it, hoping the tooth fairy will come to his/her house.  Yuck!  But, the really bizarre thing...this happened a couple weeks ago with another kid.  His tooth fell out and instead of telling me, he carried it around and lost it in the room.  We were in the "loaner" room when my A/C went out, but still.  I have never had a kid lose their tooth that just fell out and I have had two in about 3 or 4 weeks.  Gross! 

We had collaboration today and it is going so much better now that one of the teachers is not participating with us.  We even got one of the other teachers who is very reluctant to join in with us to join with us for a Johnny Appleseed day.  I wrote out our notes, sent them to all the teachers like I always do, even to the one who doesn't meet with us, but still needs to know what's going on with 1st grade.  So tonight, I check my school e-mail like the nerd I am and I have the rudest letter from her telling me how callous and unprofessional I am and that I am imparting my personal issues onto her kids.  I was very mad about it when I first read it and still get upset (I have read it about 100 times since 5:00 when I read it), but now I am more sad.  This has been her attitude for the last 4 years.  We are all out to get her, we never do anything with her, etc.  During the meeting, which she wasn't at, though she was invited, I asked the other teachers about including her kids.  2 of the others didn't really want to, but I did say they are 1st graders and it isn't their fault their teacher treats us they way she does.  I just didn't put in the e-mail that her kids were included.  My fault there, but her reaction was a bit much.  I don't know what personal issues she is talking about, but I don't go to work to make friends.  I go to work to teach little kids.  I am more than happy to take her kids and we talked about splitting them up 2 in each class.  Oh well.  I shouldn't let it bother me, but I can tell you I won't sleep well tonight. 

In the perfect world, we would all get along.  There would be no hatred and animosity towards each other, but we don't live there.  I am so upset by this, but don't really have anyone to talk to, other than hubby (out at work).  I am in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation with her and don't see it getting any better.  I seriously thought of telling my principal I don't want to be team lead anymore, though I like it.  It's too much stress already and I don't need it.  I sent the e-mail to the principal with my PC response, in my head using every 4 letter word I could think of.  I hope the principal sees where we are coming from and also realizes where the other one is coming from, too. 

I really hope tomorrow is a better day. 

9.12.2011

Love days like today

I love it when all goes according to plan.  And my plans aren't that specific, but today was just fab.  We got through all our work, my kids did well overall on everything we did and we had a little fun in the process. 

The hit of the day was math.  I am really trying to be a better math teacher, and I think my kids are learning better because of it.  I had always thought I was a better language arts teacher, but I need to beef that up now, too.  Maybe I am in a little rut or something, but I need to make some sparkling changes there.  That's my next plan!  ;)

Anyway, in math, we were learning about ways to make 6 and 7 with adding.  I gave my kids 6 blueberry shredded wheat cereal pieces and they were able to "throw" them like dice and see what came up.  It took a bit of modeling to get them to do what they were to do, but they finally got it.  We made 6 (then 7) in all the different ways and then colored in the little sheet I made yesterday.  The kids really seemed to get how to make 6 and 7 when we went in order and one had the epiphany "the numbers get bigger on one side and smaller on the other!"  It was a lot of fun and a good learning experience.  I plan on trying to incorporate the cereal into as much math as possible this year, as the kids just love it and it's a good teaching tool. 

Here is one of the pages we did today.  My computer is slow and it isn't uploading the other pics.  Sorry!

Now, I must go and supervise bath time.  The downside to my hubby working from home is that he schedules meetings at night when I am home, but he is late tonight, so there will be no working for me, since he had my computer I can use while my daughter is in the tub!  Grrrr!  Happy Monday!

9.11.2011

Word Families

Some of my kids are having the hardest time with reading words in the same word family.  They aren't getting the fact that only the beginning changes its sound while the ending stays the same.  I saw some cute word family sorts at A Teeny Tiny Teacher's blog and made one like those she has posted.  I don't want to take the credit for idea, so I will give it to her!  I plan on having the kids do these sometime this week, along with all the DRA testing I have to do for progress reports.  Just when we get on a roll, we have to slow for a speed bump!  Hopefully your kids will like the word sort!  Download it here!

Introducing addition

I had hoped to post earlier, just some randomness through the day and stuff, but we had to make a trip to Walmart, which takes like half the day.  Then I had to come home, make lunch, put away groceries...you know the drill! 

I sat down a bit ago to work on my lesson plans.  We are finally getting to addition.  We have been doing other math, as the district pacing guide committee (which I was on, but didn't agree with their planning) had us working with shapes and patterns before the "importatn" stuff.  So, we will finally begin this week with adding.  It's the "Understanding Addition" in our math (enVision), and it goes really fast.  Unfortunately, there isn't enough time in the year to move at a snails pace, so we will continue to go at mach 4, like every year! 

Anyway, as I have said before, my kids are CRAZY for cereal math.  They love to use the cereal and then eat it of course.  I have had a few parents send in cereal, but not enough to keep us in cereal for the whole month.  While at Walmart the other day (I seem to be there a lot, but really I don't go that often!), I saw some blueberry shredded wheat cereal - the Malt O-Meal kind that was a buck a bag.  So I bought 2 bags and will use them for math time.  Nutitious and helpful with math.  The kids will get 6 (and 7) pieces of cereal and will shake it in their cup, roll it out and show the different ways to make 6 (and 7 later in the lesson).  I then made these cute little math sheets to go with it.  I just love when I find a cute image online that goes perfect with what I am doing! 

Here are the two sheets we will be using tomorrow for the math - adding 6 and adding 7.  I figure my kids will learn more with being able to eat the cereal.  I am hoping to make one for adding 8 and 9, but I will probably use counters rather than cereal.  It's cheaper, I already have them and the kids need to learn to use something other than cereal, too! 

I hope you can use these pages!  Happy adding!

9.07.2011

I love you, short work week!

I am glad this is a short week.  It's a nice little break in the long year.  From now til November will be long, but we can make it!  I may have to take a *sick* day in there somewhere to head to Disneyland or Legoland for some R&R, but I am not thinking of that til October!  ;)

These last 2 days have flown by.  Yesterday went by at warp speed.  We did so much and the kids were so good.  I have to say, I am pretty blessed with my class.  While I have a large group of kids that are below grade level, they are all very sweet and nice and most are eager to learn.  There are a couple that I hope I can help and make a difference, but I don't know.  I think their needs are greater than what I can give them, and with little support at home, it's hard.  I am hoping they mature a bit, but I am also hoping they can get a little extra intervention help, too. 

My kids are absolutely crazy for cereal math.  I don't know who had it on their blog way back when, but you are a genious!  My kids live for it, but unfortuantely, their parents aren't too with it on going and buying me cereal.  I had 4 kids bring some in, but they were the small boxes of like shredded wheat.  No kid wants that, but we will use it next week for adding small numbers.  Yum!  I learned I love Captain Crunch (or the generic Malt-o-meal one), but that is so bad for my Weight Watchers points.  (Still doing it, but my weight loss has slowed dramatically, making me a very cranky mommy!  I'm sure the In-N-Out tonight didn't help that either, nor the fact that is was over 100* at 6pm, so no walking for me!)  Anyway, I have turned a couple teachers on to cereal math and their kids love it, too!

Here are a some current pics of my classroom in it's current state of occupancy!  Enjoy!
Clifford graph - what color we would change Clifford to

Working on AB patterns

Matter information

My word wall...more on that another day...but I love my word wall!

My focus group kids working on a word sort...easy, but they were racing each other!

I am so thankful that my other 1st grade teaching partner was able to take my kids this morning.  My daughter got an award at school, so I got to my school late.  Her school did such a good job on the assembly for Patriot Day, though none of the kids were even born during that time!  I am glad I was able to see her get her award and be so proud! 

But now it's time for bed.  Or grading papers.  Or staring at the TV waiting for my room to cool off.  These days of 100*+ days zap it out of me.  But soccer practice doesn't help, either! 

Happy Wednesday!

9.05.2011

Good thing blogging isn't an Olympic sport

Well, I have to give myself some credit.  I did blog for a couple days at the beginning of last week, but then life got busy and blogging took a backseat.  I have so much I want to blog about, but there just isn't enough time and something's gotta give. 

I can't believe that I have been in school for almost 4 weeks.  We are in school and chugging along like we have been in school for months.  My kids are doing well, making good growth and going with the flow.  It just seems like there isn't enough time to get things done.  I don't know what's happening this year, but we are so busy, yet we are behind.  Already.  I had to adjust my yearly calendar already to make the changes needed to get everything in that I need to do.  Good thing I had room in the beginning of the year with nothing planned! 

I was going through my camera looking at pics I have taken since school started.  I thought I took a lot more, but sometimes there isn't time and we are just in the moment and doing things.  Here are some things we have done this year...in no particular order!

Tie dying our shirts - We ended up following another teacher's suggestion and I was disappointed in how they turned out, but the kids had fun doing it and they are so happy to wear them on Tuesdays!  



We were studying the color words and we graphed our favorite colors and made a rainbow. 


After finishing our first Topic in math, the kids used their Cheerios to represent the numbers 1 - 12. 



We did a shape sort the day we were sent to Siberia when the A/C went out.  It was a nice, easy lesson to do that took little teacher action!



I didn't take any pictures last week.  None.  I guess I will try better this week.  All the things I had planned to do weren't done.  We didn't make the ice cream, as it was going to be pretty pricey for me to do on my own.  The parents already seem to be tired of sending in stuff.  We are going to study mixtures this week for science and are making a trail mixture on Friday.  I asked for things and got 4 bags of stuff - 2 bags of pretzels and 2 bags of mini marshmallows, one of which is old, stale and hard.  Yuck!  I got some raisins and chocolate chips today and I hope I get a couple more things this week. 

My kids' favorite thing to do this year - cereal math!  We do it 2 - 3 days a week and each day is different.  We counted and sorted this last week.  This coming week, we are learning about patterns, so I went and bought generic fruit loops to help make patterns.  Their favorite part - eating it of course.  But hey, if it makes them like math, I'll do it! 

Well, I feel as if a migraine is trying to come on.  Not a good way to end the weekend when there are still lesson plans to do!  Here's to a great week at school...and the long haul between now and Veteran's Day...our next day off!  Happy Monday!

9.01.2011

Smooth

Yesterday was the first day with my new kids. The others were freaking out, thinking that three kids would make their job harder. I may just have the best of the grade, I don't know. My new kids came in and we went on with business as usual. They all were here in kinder, so it's not like they don't know anyone. I have to say it was very easy yesterday and I am hoping for the same today.

The only downside is one of my new ones has now taken over the title of my lowest. I looked at his work last night and was shocked. It's sad how they come in so low and no one wants to take responsibility. So, I have my work cut out for me, but it's ok. I'll do what I can!

On another note, I teach in the same district where I went to school. There are people with kids who went to school with me. There are people that are all over the valley that we know in one way or another. Yesterday I was meeting with a parent and trying to get info so I can try and get her son the helpmhe needs. While talking, I told her that I have to watch myself and make sure I call him by his name, cause I want to call him the name of another student I had 7 years ago. Turns out, the kid I have now is the half brother of the one I had back then. In fact, mom was pregnant with him whe I has the other one. She has since left the dad, moved in with her parents and has no contact with the dad. Sad for the boy. But, it goes to show how smLl the world is. The families are about 12 miles apart, yet I have had both kids. But, at least now I know that the speech issue is more inherited rather than just because.

Well,it's Thursday...thankfully. I am tired and ready for a nice, long weekend! Happy Thursday!