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Monday, October 28, 2013

My Truth Monday~ Creepy Edition

Sunny Days in Second Grade started "My Truth Monday." Here is what it is: "Ok, so the idea is simple. Each Monday I'll start by sharing my truth about a particular topic. All you have to do is copy the template to your desktop, fill it in, post and link up!  Sound good?" 

This week here's the focus: "This week I thought it would be fun to get into the Halloween spirit and talk about what creeps us out!"

 Here we go:

Head on over to Sunny Days in Second Grade and read everyone's Truth! Maybe you will even want to link up! 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Five for Friday.... Fall break

It's Friday! Yippee! It's also a no-school day here. And they don't call it Fall Break, which I suppose is good because we had to change out "fall break" plans to go visiting friends because my senior takes the ACT tomorrow. It is mandatory that she be there, it is not one of those things where can just schedule her to take it a different day. This has to do with the waiver our school received in regard to state assessments, so even though it's an inconvenience, I have to say, I still think the whole waiver/ACT/C3 incentive is a good thing. And who knows, maybe we just needed to chill here in our own home.

Head over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to read about everyone's week! 

1. One of my kiddos is going to college next year! Oh my! I am both melancholy and ecstatic about this. I love her and the person she is becoming. We went on a college visit last Friday/Saturday to Pittsburg State University, which a bit of a drive from here~ 3 1/2 hours. 

2. Fall treats. I signed up to take treats to my Punky's fall party.  Thankfully the room parent called to remind me because I didn't know the party was this week! As I've mentioned recently, things here are pretty tight financially, so I decided I would make sugar cookies, I just KNEW I had all the ingredients. Well, it turned into a Murphy's law fiasco! I ran out of white flour, had to add whole wheat.  I ran out of frosting and had to keep adding more powdered sugar, I ran out of powdered sugar next. Then I realized that I didn't have any red food coloring to use to make orange. But I had some neon food coloring left so I mixed pink and yellow, not bad. But the box said to make apricot add a drop of neon blue, so I tried that.... that makes a not-so-neon brown. Ugh. So after much more artificial dye was added (yellow, yellow and more yellow), we finally came to an end result. I didn't know if it was a Halloween party, or just a Fall party, so I sent plain ole pumpkins to school instead of Jack-o-lanterns. But at home we made ourselves some jack-o-lanterns by making chocolate chip faces. 

My sugar cookie recipe makes a TON of cookies. Which is something I love about it. It isn't good for healthy eating that is for sure! But now that payday has arrived, I can frost the rest of the cookies and I can make a true orange for the pumpkins! P.S. Santa, if you are reading my blog, I really want to cake decorating tips for Christmas, the frosting-in-a-baggie thing isn't working out so well for me.
This orange little pumpkin is what they SHOULD look like. 

3. I have been struggling lately with what to write about. Last year, EVERYONE knew what I did and I had media releases for my class, so I could post pictures and not worry about violating privacy laws or offending anyone. But this is a different game. For one thing, I really wanted to brag and expound a little more about the Second grade guided reading group I just became a part of when we switched groups last Monday. But I can't really explain the fun I'm having without talking about other aspects of my job and well, it's complicated. Since I am working with different skill levels of students, it is hard to know how much to talk about, because I don't want to offend anyone and I don't want to inadvertently disclose information about students that I shouldn't. When our group finishes our project in guided reading, maybe I can post about that! I am super excited about it. Here is where I posted about my excitement earlier in the week.

4. Random personal observations of the week/month/season. I was involved with a class called Lifeskills for several years in the early 2000s. First I took the class (3Xs), then I taught it. One thing it talks about is something called life commandments. A life commandment that I believe to be true in my life is equivalent to sour grapes. Here is it as best as I can describe it: "Whatever you have, you will wish for the other thing." When I graduated I couldn't get a job (I am a TERRIBLE interviewer.... no one wants to hire the person that goes to these interviews), but I agreed to take a job locally at the same pay scale as I am at right now. Right after this, I accepted a teaching job in the OK panhandle, so we packed up and left our community, family, and friends so I could teach Kindergarten. I met great people and taught great students. It is a very different place than where we live right now. One of the most culturally diverse communities.... anywhere. But I was miserable. And there were some serious strikes against us which I won't go into right now. I couldn't wait to get back "home." So here we are again, home, in OUR HOME (which we DO love and I did miss), and all I can think about are my colleagues in the panhandle, the Kinder class I taught last year, the class I would have this year, and so on. I just wish for my classroom and teaching partner and so on. But I am adjusting, and loving where I am at. Bloom where you are planted, right? But everyday I think about how I need some Kinders to teach and how some little kiddos somewhere need me. I know that when I move on, all I will be able to think about are the people and students I am working with this year. If I get a job in this district and more to the point, THIS SCHOOL, then kudos to me, I will love it. But if I move on, I will focus on how much love I feel in my current job and I will wonder if it is right to leave there. I can't pay my bills this year, so everyday I get on the teaching jobs website looking for a teaching job. But I am getting to know people and I am becoming part of the teaching community in this school and I know that when I move on, I will wish I were here. So... this commandment isn't all bad. I see things in retrospect through rose-colored glasses. My goal is to start to appreciate those things while I am in the midst of them and not just develop gratitude after the fact.

5. Happy Fall Y'all. Here are the pumpkins we could finally purchase at Walmart since the price came down, and since payday rolled around....
Guess which pumpkin the Punky picked out? Yes, the one that she
can't even pick up! After Halloween I will bake the "little" orange one,
how much pumpkin filling do you think that will make?
Seriously, that is my random science question of the day: how many cups of pumpkin filling do you think I will get out of the "smallest" orange pumpkin after I bake it and mash the pulp? The biggest pumpkin won't fit in my oven....

**and other random tidbit: pumpkins are now $3.98 at Walmart. Baking pumpkins are cheaper, $1.98. So go out and get a pumpkin, and then bake it and see if you get more than the equivalent of 3 cans of pumpkin (you will, you will....).

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tales about my week.... Who's learning the most? The students or the teacher?

Here's what's been happening lately....

I've been participating in Five for Friday even though I don't have my own classroom this year. But I didn't participate this week. I just feel like I say the same things over and over and over again, so I skipped a week, but now I feel like I am missing my opportunity to share what is going in my educational world. As most of you know, I work in the reading room this year, and there are five units/cubicles/spaces in this room. So it's important to remind students to keep voices quiet, and to remember not to try to rise above the noise when the room gets loud.  You'd think that this would be the hardest thing, teaching littler learners to speak/read more softly or more quietly. But after training last week and having it brought to mind about how some sounds are voiced and some are unvoiced, I realized that I need to get kids reading louder. I am trying to train them to use the "whisper voice" that is actually a little louder than a whisper. It's a lot more difficult to teach this than to teach them to use a quieter voice. But if they have a hard time discriminating certain sounds, using a whisper will make it harder for them since it will actually be the same sound without a little bit of voice behind it. So that is one thing we've been working on.

Guided reading groups are changing. The end of the nine weeks is upon us, assessments have been given, report cards are ready. So this leads to a little shuffling around making sure students are in the group that is the best fit for them. I've been working with students who are either right at grade level or just below where they should be. Except for a few groups that are a little farther below than that. So really, I already work with a broad range of skills. Now I am working with a group that is above their grade level. Whoa. I am outside my zone. But it is one of the very things that got me excited about being a teacher in the first place.... enrichment, thematic learning, yada yada. I am so excited. One of the classroom teachers is running the group right now until I get my feet firmly under me. But Hoooie (? think hog call sort of excited) I am so excited. I love watching those neurons connect and fire in young minds. This is why I became a teacher!

Hold on to your horses. I was talking about change and data. Guess what? I am seeing some super success with students I've been working with! Does my heart good. I think that sometimes I get more excited than they do. No, not true.  Have you ever seen a struggling reader experience that moment or day or more of success? Yeah, my pride and excitement is nothing compared to theirs. But I love it. It does make it all worth it. This is why I became a teacher.

On a side note: I have been struggling with my own child's reading frustration. And I don't know how to help her. I am the parent, not the teacher. When I try to use my "teacher-ness" on her, well, it doesn't work.  I can teach YOUR child to read, but I can't teach mine. She doesn't really want my help with much.  And she gets really mad and yells at me words about how her teacher doesn't do it like that! Sometimes I have to talk to teachers, and see if I can possibly help her at school.  Sometimes that works marvelously, sometimes I walk away discouraged because I am "just" the parent and apparently I don't know what is good for my child. So my hope is that I will always remember what it feels like to me when a teacher acts like a) I am not looking out for the best interest of the child, and b) I don't know what I am talking about. I hope I remain humble and remember that if I get a huffy note from a parent, not to get defensive, but to remember that we are both on the same team.  We are both on the, "let's do the absolute best we can for this child" team. I already know I've failed this one.  And it makes me sad. So I'll try to do my best to remember that my child's teacher is doing what he/she thinks is best for my precious child, and I will try to stay humble as a teacher and remember that each child is someone's pride and joy and they want the very best for that child.

Confession. I try to focus on why I am happy that I am not a teacher this year, and this week is no exception. I don't have to stay at school until 8 each night for conferences and I don't have to go to school on Thursday morning. But here is the truth.... putting aside the fact that I don't get paid for Thursday and Friday, I would STILL rather be teaching. I love teaching.  I love bonding with other teachers over the food that PTO provides in the teacher's lounge. I love meeting parents, talking with parents, discussing where children are at, and so on. I love it all. Right down to the exhaustion. Crazy, right? But true.  I can't wait to get back in a classroom.  I miss it all.

So that is learning in Ms. Horn's world. I hope those kiddos are learning because I know I am!! Happy Tuesday everyone. One more day til my weekend starts! (oh and until the World Series starts.... )

Monday, October 21, 2013

My Truth Monday.... Fitness

I am joining a new linky, My Truth Monday. Today's Truth is fitness. Ha. The truth about my fitness. Okay, here goes. Don't forget to head over to Sunny Days in Second Grade and read all the truths and maybe even link up.

What is your truth about fitness? 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Five for Friday, October 11, 2013

It's Friday!! Whoot! Whoot! It's time for my favorite linky party: Five for Friday. I am expounding on five random thing from my week and linking up with Doodlebugs for Five for Friday.

1. Fabulous freebies. Gotta love 'em! This past week I found a freebie for Silly Spiders that Doodlebugs posted and shared the link with the Kinder teachers at my school. I love all the great stuff on this post! It is fabulous! Check it out here!

2. I have had some troubles lately of the financial kind. Moving. Accepting a non-teaching position. Making a few silly purchases. Paying bills. So on. Ugh. It's all snowballing now. And I am overwhelmed. Spent a night in the pity pot with the lid down the other night (it might stink, but it IS warm and cozy in there).  And then I put my big girl panties back on and I started trying to do the right things. It's gonna be a long haul. That is just the way it is. I can't be cross and cranky all the time and take the good things in my life and turn them bad. So I am working on focusing on the good, doing my part, and being grateful for the good in my life. And it's really true, whatever I focus on increases. I am focused right now on doing the right thing and not spending that extra dollar or two, remembering that I am a great teacher, and digging out of this hole one step at a time. Here's the thing. Since I have started facing my fear, changing my outlook and doing the work, really neat things have started happening. I am still in dire straits financially, but I have started to discover what a wonderful place I am in when I go to work. I had some "little" gifts of joy today. I can't really share them, but I had my socks blessed off and my bucket was filled. I just cannot say it enough: I feel very loved. Here is something that made me feel this way:
a coke that just "showed up" in our order today! 

3. Students at work. My guided reading groups are becoming a joy to teach and I am seeing kids starting to "get it." Whoop! Third grade we were talking this week about inventions and the evolution of the things we take for granted today, such as electricity and the telephone, and the evolution of light.  Today we made predictions about what life will be like in 2063, fifty years from now. They wrote it in a sentence and then drew an illustration.
chairs will fly

shoes will have jet packs so we can fly
4. Allergy season is upon is? Or maybe virus season. I don't know. And I don't really care. The thing is: I have some miserable little learners. Fluency is difficult with sniffles between each word or phoneme. Ugh. It's time to keep the tissues handy.  Poor littler learners trying so hard to do reading interventions and phonics and isolate sounds and blend and.... well.... I just can hardly understand them, they are either so stuffed up or so sniffle-y.

5. Project time!! I came home to a pile of sand in my yard! This is for the patio we are gonna build while, or immediately after, we put sand and dirt under the sidewalk and fill in dirt where it has settled. I used the Punky as a comparative to show the size of the sand pile. She banged her head right before the photo, hence the ice pack to the forehead. If you remember, I posted about my need for a project and then the discovery that if we don't do something we could be dealing with a cracked sidewalk this winter. In light of my earlier pathetic sad post, I feel compelled to say, my folks are helping me with this project.  It is something we need to take care of, even if I am broke, broke, broke. We HAVE to take care of the settled dirt problem, and if we are going to pull out my strawberries anyway (boo!) and fill in with sand (see where I am going with this?), my wonderful Daddy is gonna help me stay busy working on a patio.  You all will have to stop by for some home-grilled goodness when we get it done! Or a cup of cold lemonade on the patio.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Question of the day...

I just read that October is anti-bullying month. And you know that in reality, every month is anti-bullying month. But here is my dilemma. The other day my sickie asked if would go get her a shake from Sonic. So I agreed.  As I was pulling out of Sonic, I look across the street to the park, and I see some boys rough-housing. Normal, right? But what I see is one boy on the ground and one boy holding him down and two boys watching. I don't know for sure what to think. So I go around the block and pull into the park and watch. What I see as I pull in is another boy charging, grabbing, picking up and throwing another boy on the ground. Next, while he's on top of this boy, another boy is getting ready to start kicking the boy who is down. Then they see me walking over. So no kicking happens. I ask what is happening. They say, "rough-housing".... "and some tackling." What I ask is this: is everyone okay with this? Are you all treating each other with respect? They say yes. There is one boy standing off to the side, he isn't really participating but he looks like he's in control, and he looks a little older. I tell him he should be a good example and show the other boys how to rough-house and treat each other with respect. I acknowledge that I know the younger boy was about to kick the one who was down and that I know that wouldn't be respectful. I ask them if they can treat each other with respect. They say yes. I tell them I will be driving back by in a few minutes to make sure they are not hurt anyone.

So... was this out of line? First of all, I know that there is some sort of testosterone-driven pecking order that boys have to do. So maybe it's "normal"? I guess I want to know. And then, I also know that when we mind our own business kids get hurt and that the boy that seemed to me to be the subject of the bullying was not going to speak out in that situation. I also know that there very well could have been one instigator, the boy who was older and standing off to the side.  None of those other boys were going to stand up to him. I do know that. This is all "normal" in America today. Maybe for longer than we know. But when do we step in? What does that do to a child? To be bullied, to think they will just "survive" childhood? I can say that the things I just "survived" as a kid shaped me and are part of me today and not really in a good way.

Please weigh in. I'd love to know what you would have done. When is it time to step in to a bullying incident? And when is it normal kid stuff and none of my business?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Five for Friday....

It's Friday! Whoot! And that means it's time to link up with Doodlebugs for Five for Friday!

1. Tornadoes?! In October? I heard we are supposed to get some today. But it looks to me like it's all south and east of me. So sad for y'all that are getting storms, but hey, I am happy for me. And for the cooler weather it should bring.

2. Training and more training! lol! I feel like I've been in training since I started in mid-August! But yesterday I went to LETRS training to help me teach reading and become a better tutor. It was good information, and lots of it. I felt like it was well worth it, and I took in more information than I'll be able to process. It should make me a better teacher. Whoot! That's the goal anyway.

3. New 'Do. I havce been very minimalist since the reality hit that I would have not be getting a paycheck for August. I should take that back, I got paid about $100 in August. Somehow that didn't equal what my meager teaching salary would have been for August. So.... getting my color refreshed, highlights back in and split ends trimmed. It was heavenly. I got something I have never had before.... eyebrows! You know, you can't see my blonde eyebrows, so I asked her to give me eyebrows. And she did. And she waxed my eyebrows too. I love you Stephanie! She doesn't even know it. She thinks I am this meek, quiet middle-aged lady that comes in and doesn't talk much. But I love her, she works magic on my head.

You can't see how fabulous looks, but it really IS fabulous! 
4. Thirty day challenge. Read about it here.  It was a challenge posted on social media and it had several options. Option 3 was to get moving! Thirty minutes of movement a day outside your "normal" realm, can't be work or what you usually do! So I am trying and this started Monday the 30th. I have only missed Tuesday so far. Tuesday I only got in about 10 minutes of walking, and I haven't gotten started today yet. But it's a start, and hey, today isn't over yet.

5. I got to use a freebie I found last weekend. I'll have to try to find it again! I found it! After much searching! This is why I can never just quickly get my 5 pounded out and posted! I found this gem on freebilicious last week! Head over to Fun in First Grade to see what I found: word stairs! A sound substitution game!

Ah... that's my week! Throw in a sick kid and "normal" family schtuff, and then you've got it! I feel like I'm starting to be part of a team and that I am starting to make a difference with the kiddos I am with. It is rewarding. Yay! Have a relaxing and restful weekend.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Currently.... October

It's time! Head over to see Farley and catch up on Currently! Here is my currently!
Listening to... I love the Food Network. But triple D might be my favorite, except for Cupcake Wars. Well, then there's Chopped. And I'm starting to like Restaurant: Impossible. Okay, well, I like Food Network. I can think of a few places I think that should be on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.

Loving... fall. Today is definitely Indian Summer. It is supposed to cool off again tonight, which makes me happy. I have been walking to work some days because I can stand it. A couple mornings have been almost cool (they would have felt cooler if I were not trucking along so fast trying to get to work on time), and then upper 70's and lower 80's in the afternoon.

Thinking... seems like after a long day at school, I come home to stress with kids. I think it's normal, but it seems that in this chapter of my life, I am less able to handle "normal" family stressors.

Wanting... a fenced in back yard.  It would open up my yard for grilling and hanging out and just outdoor living.  I have less-than-desirable neighbors and a fence would make things better.

Needing... friends. Enough said? I have some friends. Good friends. But jobs, kids, life, etc. seem to get in the way. I need to connect, pour my heart out, learn how to listen again, and fill my bucket with friend-love.

Trick? I can't really think of one. Treat? not really much there either. But I did have these fleeting thoughts, so I will share them. Trick? Remember that kids learn faster and commit information to memory faster if it is set to music. I had fun showing one of my favorite Kinder songs to the Kindergarten teachers yesterday: The Big Pig Song. They are learning about rhyming. Treat? Maybe cupcakes? The last couple times I have made cupcakes I just used a devil's food cake mix, but instead of whole eggs, I used egg whites and used 4 eggs instead of 3. I did this because my youngest is allergic to the yolk.  It doesn't affect her that much when things are baked, so we don't always do this, but she has been begging to lick the beaters, so we had to do something different. Here's the thing... they turned out really light and fluffy and kind of dreamy.   I also had huge success with homemade frosting this last time too.  The trick? more butter. I used a half a stick of butter and a half brick of cream cheese. Plus powdered sugar (of course) and a little milk.

And I leave you with... The big pig song!