Friday, October 25, 2013

10 Days Until Conferences

It is Friday night. I had Happy Hour with a friend and just finished a pizza and beer dinner. And I plan to just relax all night since I'll be working all weekend!

In my district, we don't have school on Nov 4th and 5th in order to hold parent-teacher conferences. I am planning to invite my 4th graders to their conference so together we can discuss the things we are doing well.

In order to be ready for the end of the quarter and these conferences, I expect to work ALL weekend!! At least I have the weekend, thank goodness.

Today I rearranged all the furniture in our classroom and I like it much better. I have arranged the kids into 6 groups of 4 or 5. I feel we can all focus more and I want to spend more time giving them time to collaborate with each other.

Now off to enjoy a little TV. Then tomorrow, I'll work to be ready for the 1st quarter to end.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Another Meltdown

I had Monday off and then left Thursday at 1:30pm so I could get to NYC for the TCRWP Saturday Reunion. And in between, I struggled to keep my students under control. I kept feeling like they were being SO rude for always talking and not following the rule of ONE VOICE at a time. At one point on Wed, I lost it. I slammed shut my computer lid and almost started to cry. I told them I need a time out and to go sit at their seats until I was ready . They could tell they pushed me too far.

On reflecting, they aren't being rude on purpose. They just are so wired and so distractable. We all are. It is our culture. It is our diet. So much is always coming at us at all times. It is hard to just stop.

My sub came in right after my meltdown (she was subbing in another room). She is a retired teacher. She was SO happy to see the kids. She remembered teaching them last year. She was all smiles and so upbeat. I needed to see that modeled for me. I need to smile MORE!!

Tomorrow, I hope to find a note from the teacher saying things went well while I was gone...

And the best part of teaching, I get another chance tomorrow. I get to try again. So do the kids. We are going to learn self-control and respect. We are going to independently do our work well. We are going grow as readers, writers, mathematicians, scientist, and social scientist.

Tomorrow is another day...2 weeks and we get to start a new quarter!!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

October 12th...I'm now 50 and 1 day old

I must admit I had fun celebrating my milestone birthday with my group of 4th graders!! Using Google, I discovered LOTS of things, other than me, that have been around for 50 years. Apparently, Captain Crunch, Chip Ahoy cookies, and Poptarts all came into being in 1963. So as the kids arrived on Friday, they could get a "50 year old treat" and READ. My research showed that The Snowy Day won the 1963 Caldecott and that Peggy Parrish wrote her 1st Amelia Bedelia book that same year. So Thursday night I stopped at the library and checked out 30 Amelia Bedelia books and a dozen Ezra Jack Keats books. I placed a poster up as we could add a TALLY MARK after each book we read and asked the kids to read. "Let's see how long it takes us to read 50 books!!" I was amazed at how the novelty and the snacks got all on task and within 15 minutes, 50 books were collectively read and we were on to the 2nd fifty!

In math, we creatively thought of ALL the ways to make 50. I need to add the photo here of the 50 poster we made.

Then in Reading, we went off in groups of 6 and performed our Readers Theater play of Where the Wild Things Are (another 50 year old story!) On Wednesday, I wasn't sure if this was going to work. During our rehearsals, I had some on a team who couldn't control themselves and acted too wild and then others on a team in tears because their team wasn't doing it right. I called my drama-major daughter at college after school in a panic and asked for some drama team-building games. She suggested a few related to miming to help each "actor" focus and then a clapping circle game to help all work together as a team. I tried these on Thursday and we seemed more settled and focused! After more rehearsals on Thursday, we were ready! And I'm so glad I persevered. It was fun on Friday to see all working in their teams. All of our Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade audiences loved our short play! Mostly, I loved seeing that we CAN hold it together and work as a team!!

Now I get a 3-day weekend to continue celebrating my birthday.

And I need to spend MAJOR time writing up sub plans. I am taking next Friday off to travel to NYC for the TCRWP Reunion Saturday workshops. I am worried about leaving these 27 friends with a sub. I picked a retired teacher who used to work at my school and who I am friends with. I hope after next Friday, we're still friends!!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Falling into October

Thank God for Saturdays...I was exhausted on Friday afternoon. One reason was that I had the great idea to have the kids change seats for the month of October. My, oh, my. When I have them do this again, I'll need a better plan. Due to having a laptop on each desk and the desks strapped together to keep all the wires and cords in check, we couldn't just move desks. The kids had to empty out their desk, move to the new desk, move the laptop and in the process, clean out and discover long lost papers and library books. This group of friends seemed to only be able to go this task accompanied with shouts and loud talking. I would have loved to have had a restaurant decibal meter in my room on Friday. I know we would have registered at a very high level. (Especially at the futile moment that I turned off the lights to get their attention and screamed, "Stop Talking".) And then it was 2:40pm and we had birthday cupcakes to still pass out. Really...another birthday and sugar high to enjoy??!! Needless to say, once all my friends departed and I conferred with my lowest reader and his mom (wanted to give her some tips to help her son with reading and retelling at home), I just sat and enjoyed the quiet room with the lights off. I think I scared the custodian when we arrived and turned on the lights to vacuum.

Now after my Friday night pizza/beer and a good night sleep, I feel ready to think about planning for next week. This week we gave the math and social studies Unit 1 test. In WW, we returned to our notebooks to generate more small moment ideas. And I was able to use the TCRWP reading assessment with half of my students. I need to finish this - my goal for next week.

Next week I also celebrate my birthday on Friday. I typed up Where the Wild Things Are as a Readers Theater play and invited my students to perform it in K, 1st, and 2nd grades next Friday afternoon. I picked that book because it is 50 years old and on Friday I'll be 50, too!! I think this will be a fun way to celebrate and still be working on our literacy skills!! I just ordered myself a Wild Thing t-shirt to wear!! (my version of retail therapy!!)

I also plan to read-up on some Responsive Classroom and/or Kagan strategies to help me during the transition times. I got to get better at this! Maybe October will be the month!!