3.17.2013

I love spring...just not allergies

My favorite season is spring.  I love it.  I love seeing the trees with their new leaves.  I love seeing my irises pop out.  I love hearing the birds chirping like crazy.  I love the warm (or hot) sun beating down on me.  I don't care at all, though, for the allergies/colds that come with spring.  In fact, I hate them.  Which is how I am feeling about tonight.  I started getting a head cold type thing last night and have had a headache all day.  It didn't stop me from working outside and getting my first sunburn of the season, but it hit me like a truck tonight.  I am so ready to go to bed, but at the same time, I feel too icky to go to bed.  Does that make sense?

I am glad that spring break is almost here.  One more week until we are on vacation.  We only have 1 week, but it's better than nothing!  I am looking forward to getting some much needed spring cleaning done at home and even at work.  Nothing beats working in my classroom when the kids are gone!  Plus, I have tons of weeds growing in my yard and some flower bulbs that needed to be planted a few weeks ago. 

I created a new unit for my kids for literacy centers.  My kids are still doing their seatwork before moving on, but I am slow to change.  Maybe next year!  I still need to read Daily 5 before doing anything drastic for me.  But the kids that really love centers really love centers.  They start to compete to see who can get them done the quickest, while still be done correctly!  They did some St. Patrick's Day centers last week and will now have some spring centers to choose from this week.  They are new to my TPT store if you are interested.  Go ahead and check them out.  Click on the cute little girl below to see the new centers as well as check out what else is available. 
 
Well, it's now Sunday night and I started this last night.  Allergies/cold have kicked my butt.  I was not productive today, other than taking my daughter to Build a Bear for Girl Scouts.  Other than that, I have been pretty out of it.  So, I'm off to bed to fall into an allergy pill induced sleep.  Or that's the plan anyway!  Happy Sunday!
 

3.14.2013

Sometimes life can't get much better

Living in Southern California has its advantages and disadvantages.  We had a lot of traffic, a lot of people and screwed up politics.  But, we also have the beach, the mountains, the desert and everything in between.  And on days like today, we have wonderful weather!  Bright, sunny blue skies, a slight breeze and warm air.  And by warm, I mean warm.  It was 94* today.  And it felt wonderful.  Yeah, there are people complaining that it's too hot (my hubby is one of them), but I love it.  I just love standing in the sun, feeling it warm me up from my head to my toes.  Perfect.  The only thing to make it better would have been to be at home working in the yard, trying to get a tan.  But, I was at work, keeping the crazy away! 

Today was a much better day than yesterday.  The cops didn't have to come to school.  No one that I know of got bit or punched or kicked on the playground and the kids all seemed relatively mellow.  Not bad considering they all have spring fever now.  Last week it was cold and rainy, this week is like summer.  Gotta love mother nature!  She sure knows how to drive us nuts.

With my RTI group, I gave them this little activity to do.  They had to make as many words as they could using the letters in the word rainbow.  Some kids had a blast while others really struggled.  I have the "highs", which is really a couple of highs with a lot of "average" kids mixed in.  There is one who is really struggling to "get it" and may have to spend the rest of the year in the group a level down.  She is a retainee who is being passed by all the others in the group.  It makes me sad, but her mom is now in denial that she is low.  She was in denial at the end of last year, thought she would catch up over the summer, but in fact came in lower than when school ended.  So, she's with me, has made good progress, but is hitting the wall.  But, I digress.  Anyway, my kids had to make words with the letters in rainbow.  They were impressed when they got 10 words.  I made 33 words and then time ran out!  You can get this fun time filler here.

Well, I'm off to watch Big Bang Theory and grade papers.  I haven't looked at their work this week...I might as well do it tonight finally and get rid of it all tomorrow!  Happy Friday eve!  

3.12.2013

Quick freebie post

Holy cow!  It's already been a long week and it's only Tuesday!  The wonderfully warm weather we have been having has made the kids 100 kinds of crazy.  We have bad words flying around, kids hitting and kicking each other and driving everyone crazy!  I love spring, but it sure makes the kids go nuts.  I'm sure we will have another cold spell or 2 before summer comes, but for now, we will enjoy the warm weather and try to contain the crazy. 

In my RTI group, we are talking about rainbows this week.  Why not!  It's almost St. Patrick's Day.  I didn't want to do a lot of leprechauny stuff, so I thought rainbows would be fun.  They are, but I have ZERO books on rainbows.  Nothing!  And neither does the library.  I should have checked it out before Monday morning.  Oops!  But we will survive! 

I made a quick, little fact/opinion page for my kids to use tomorrow.  Hopefully they will enjoy it.  If you'd like it, you can go check it out right here

 
 
I also created some fun little literacy centers for my kids this week for St. Patrick's Day.  They are free in my TpT store.  Go check them out today!  
 
Time to head off to sleep.  I am exhausted and just walked in the door from Girl Scouts.  Time for some R&R and try to catch up on my lost sleep!  Happy Tuesday! 

3.09.2013

Returning to Normal

Yay!  Life is slowly returning to normal.  Since the office flooded, we were without our real computers and all our office stuff was in the middle of the living room.  But, we are almost done with the office.  The wall is repaired and painted, the flooring is down and the desks are in.  The desks were crazy to put together, but they are in and aren't going anywhere!  I have so much work to do on the computer to catch up and get ready for the next 2 weeks before spring break.  Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to get some things done that need to be done and share them with you!  Until then, it's time for some dinner, a dunk in the spa and bed!  Happy Saturday!

3.03.2013

Teaching apples and Testing oranges

Earlier last week, I went to the district office for a meeting for CCSS for Language Arts. I had gone the week before for math. We basically spent the day looking at our old standards, seeing now they matched up with the new stanzas and then filled in with the new standards that are things we haven't taught before. Math wasn't too hard, as there are a lot of things the same. The language arts seemed a bit more difficult, as a lot of things seemed to go down to Kinder or we brought things down from 2nd grade that will now be taught in 1st. A little scary, a little overwhelming, a little unknown. But at the same time, some things seem to be easier or at least things we aren't responsible or mastery of anymore.

Once we got the standards figured out, we worked on making our new benchmark tests. And this is where I started getting upset. Right now, we use the Inspect test to see how our kids are doing. No one really likes it, as it tests a few standards each trimester and doesn't really show growth. But, it follows the standards. But now, moving into CCSS, we don't have a test that actually tests the new standards. So, we spent our time going back and forth between the new standards, seeing how they match up with our old standards and found test questions that sort of, kind of, not really match to test the new CCSS standards.

So, after 2 weeks of this, I have been thinking. Now, I don't know the CCSS yet, I am not 100% familiar with them and we aren't using them yet, but I do not that what we will be testing is not CCSS, but a have assed attempt to match so we have an assessment to show what our kids know. But then, we will teach our little apples, and test them like they are oranges. make sense? We are going to be expected to teach the standards so our students master them and have a better understanding of what they are learning, but we expect them to take a test on crap that doesn't really show what they know. And it's frustrating. No one seems to know what the assessments will look like for CCSS, but I'm sure it's got to be better than a fill in the bubble test. But that is what we are used to, so we will stick to what we know. Dumb!

Everyone keeps telling us that with common core, we have the time to go deeper, allow the kids time to really learn something. But with our testing and pacing guide, we will still be teaching all over the place to make sure they "get it" before the test. Mastery will happen when, then? A couple people have said that in their district, especially with math, they are able to do each main standard at once to really gain a good understanding. With us, we will be teaching bits and pieces of each standard during each trimester so the kids have time to really learn it. Um, I don't know if that's the case. If I'm teaching bits and pieces, then how will they master anything? Maybe with it being new, I'm not too sure how it will look, but it isn't making sense to me. It's seems like we will be doing the same old thing, just calling it something new. I'd rather do something new and make it my own. The teacher leading the meeting said its time to throw out all the old crap you've done for years and take the time to make CCSS our own. I like it. It will totally make me uncomfortable, but it will force me to change my thinking, too.

I'm OK with trying something new and making things new and exciting for my kids. I'm excited with this change and seeing what my kids will be able to do with something new. But to seat them the same old way? If that's the case, why are we changing? Why are we expecting our kids to be able to learn more and learn differently, but we can't be bothered to test them any different? And why are we so worried about testing our kids each trimester when they won't be tested nationally in 1st or 2nd? Why are we just recycling the testing? We aren't recycling our kids and we are told to recycle our teaching. It doesn't make else to me. Maybe I'm missing something. I don't know. All I know is that I am going to teach my kids to the best of my abilities next year, learn along the way and hope they come out on top. I'm planning on teaching my little apples and. Ot worry about what the test for oranges says!

Am I way off on this? Des it make sense? Let me know want you think!

Thanks!