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Friday, January 31, 2014

Five for Friday... January 31.

Hooray for Friday! I am so happy the weekend is here! I am linking up with Doodlebugs once again. Here are a few random things from my week.

1.  Change is normal, change is good, change happens every 3 weeks in our guided reading groups. I have noticed that I get really protective of my students in a short period of time. We have a great team of teachers giving guided reading instruction, but I still worry and fret.  The students I had this last go round in second grade were such hard workers! I pushed too. I pushed them to a higher level than they are used to and they did it. It was more instructional level than independent level, but that is okay. One thing we did was look at the vocabulary and I pre-taught all the unfamiliar words before we read the material. I felt like these students deserved to hear about how great they are doing and how hard they are working, and so do their parents! Here are the notes I sent home.  Do you brag on your kids? In the classroom or in small group instruction and what does it look like?

2. This girl has her Learner's permit. She is driving. It is exciting. :)

3.  Last week I posted about the research we were starting on our Kansas symbol in first grade groups, well our group researched the Ornate Box Turtle and gathered facts. Then we wrote a short play about the box turtle and performed it while being recorded. When the students finished their presentations, they made birthday pictures for Kansas, great lady that she is. And they also had the option to draw/write about Kansas symbols. Here is a look at their work.

4. Third grade's story this last unit focused on Biography. So we chose a biography and researched someone. We researched Jesse Owens. Then the students drew and colored a picture and wrote five facts about Jesse Owens on their posters.

 Researching Jesse Owens brought up interesting questions of prejudice, discrimination and the idea that some things are not that cut and dried after all. One student remarked that Jesse Owens and Martin Luther King, Jr. , were in the same situation.  I ask him why he said that and he said because they are both black. I tried to go into a deeper discussion and to explain how the color of their skin wasn't enough to make their situations alike. There were some similarities in their situations, but I wanted my student to think about it and figure out what those similarities were, because the fact that they were both black didn't make them alike in and of itself. The climate toward blacks in America during their lives would have provided a parallel because of the discrimination they endured. Later as we logged in to do Read Live, one student discovered that a student from a different grade level was still logged in to the computer they were using.  Then he says, "Oh, I know who she is, she is the girl in the wheelchair." It was a crazy conclusion drawn on the fact that the girl in our school who has an injury and is using a wheelchair while it heals is in a different grade level, and that she is obviously a girl. Not enough to draw a conclusion on! In fact, the girl who whose name came up on Read Live is in Fourth Grade, the other girl is in Fifth Grade. I used this to try to explain, this would be a little like saying two people were the same because they both have the same color of skin. I don't know if I made an impact. But we had an interesting social discussion. We wrapped this up by presenting our posters in to their classmates at the end of guided reading. They are getting it. They are beginning to dig deeper and become thinkers, like Common Core Standards want them to do.

5. There's some movement in our district of teachers who are retiring, moving to new positions, or leaving our community.  There are whispers of more movement. So I am praying I am offered a position in my current school. There are some snags right now, like positions being cut. I hope that nobody is without a job that has one right now and needs, wants, intends to keep it. I also hope there will a position or two left over to make room for me!

Happy Weekend everyone! It is snowing, sleeting and icing now. Now that it's the weekend. I know some places have not had nearly enough school since the Christmas break, but we have not had any snow days yet (hear that hopeful "yet"?) (...and I see "icky stuff" on the forecast until Tuesday. Fingers crossed. Snow day dance will be achieved, maybe during the Superbowl even).

Friday, January 24, 2014

Five for Friday.... January 24.

I considered boycotting this week, or defecting, or whatever rebellious language you might conjure up for me if I didn't take part in Five for Friday. It's still my favorite linky, but I don't have all the photos I want and I find that I share about almost the same thing every week. Here's the thing.... I get so darned excited about these kids' successes that I have to shout it a little bit. Even if I posted about similar success last week. So some photos are AWOL and I might be repetitive but it's still Friday and I am still really proud of these kiddos.

So read up about Ms. Horn's week with students and family and then hop over to Doodlebugs and read about everyone else's week as well.

1. Presentations for guided reading in second grade.  I probably typed about this last week. I have a small group this time, just two students in my group. It is wonderful. Sometimes we get sidetracked, but we get a lot done. These two are just starting to take off into the dimension of "reading opens all the doors..." and really READ. But the higher levels have been researching and developing some kind of presentations for awhile now and these little learners have not done so before this week. They were "almost" there last Friday. They had all their facts.  They just needed to print and paste their pictures. This week there was no school on Monday, then Ms. Horn was absent on Tuesday (sore throat and headache.... and from I see all around me, I will rejoice in my short-lived illness, this stuff going around can really hold on), and then it didn't work with classroom teachers to present until today. So we finally presented our research on Coyotes. We made a mobile. They had to have three facts each, and they had 4 and 5 facts. They used their best hand-writing. They spoke to their audience. I was one proud teacher.
They held each other's mobiles while the presenter read the facts.
We worked hard to take "technical" or scientific language and put it in our own words, in second grade language. One fact was that coyotes mate for life, which means that they marry and don't divorce.

2. This is my Punky. She worked hard to put her hair in pig tails for Mrs. Stockman. Her P.E. teacher suffered a brain injury when she was in a car accident on December 20th and has not woke up yet. The entire community to uniting to show support for her. Mrs. Stockman wore pig-tails a lot, no matter how short her hair was, she could get piggy tails in it. So my daughter wore pig-tails yesterday to show her support. Way to go Kiddo. And blessings and prayers to Mrs. Stockman and her family.

3. First grade is studying Kansas symbols. They are learning how to research. We scanned codes on the iPads and then gathered information about the Ornate Box Turtle. We took the information we found and we filled out the sheets shown below. We will continue our research on Monday. 

4. Mystery Reader!! It breaks my heart that I have no photo. And that's probably the funniest thing I have heard in a very long time.  But I was the mystery reader in First Grade today and I wish I had a picture of it! I had so much fun! It's no surprise that I love to read. And I think that children's books should be interactive. So I had a wonderful time reading my favorite book in the world, Kevin Henkes' Chrysanthemum. When I finished reading I asked the students why it might be my favorite book. I got a lot of good answers. But one little girl has been paying attention when her teachers have been talking to her about the 8 keys of Excellence and the C3 incentive in our district. She said that the teacher in the book WAS speaking with good purpose, even when the children weren't. Some students pointed out that names are important. But I loved that they could point out that they can stand up for their friend when friends are picked on or made to feel miserable in their school. 

5. This beloved pain in the rear is cuddled up behind me right now and making it difficult to sit comfortably. But I love him and how he talks to me and tells me when it's time to sit in the chair so he can settle in on my lap, or he tells me that it's time to go to bed.  He is my cuddly cat and his name is Sam. Okay... he's not my cat, he is my daughter's cat, but I call him "mine." I love him, he makes my life better. 

P.S. This really is bragging about second grade again. See? I am telling you, this might just be my new, best love. One of my second grade readers struggles with sounding out and decoding and sometimes the sounding out is painfully slow. But I feel like he's been on the verge of breaking through, taking off, stepping out... whatever phraseology you might use. Today he took a timed fluency test. His score improved from the first cold read to now by 31 words per minute! 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Five for Friday, on Saturday, which is actually what happens a lot....

This week has flown by! Last week, the first back after Christmas break, drug on forever, but this week disappeared. I am posting five random things from my week, some of them from school and some of them from home. I hope you'll head over to Doodlebugs and read about everyone else's week! I am so glad that Casey hosts this linky every week!

1. Family game night! Last Friday we met my folks for dinner and then came back to my house and played UNO! Talk about good for my soul! Both children took a friend with us when we went to dinner and then we played a wild and devious several rounds of UNO! It was the kind of night mother's cherish in their hearts.

2. Those crazy b's and d's! I have a cute little sign (oh gosh, I should have snapped a picture of that one too!) of a bed up in my cubicle but students don't seem to notice! So I taped some to my table! This is so normal in Kindergarten, and maybe even First grade, but I have Second and Third graders struggling with the /b/ and /d/ sounds! Sorry for the poor picture. What do you all do to help students with this? One thing I have started doing is reading their work back to them out loud and that seems to help sometimes.

3. McPherson Arts Council Children's Choir (MACCC) is headed for Nashville in less than 60 days now! I am so excited! This has been a very good experience for my child. They performed at the Legion's family night this week, and one song they sang was Rascal Flatt's Don't Let Go.  They dedicated it to their P.E. teacher who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident on December 20th.  She has not woke up yet. There were very few dry eyes.

4. Last week our church hosted a SIDS benefit. It was a really awesome experience. I love my church. I cannot lie, I don't always enjoy the truth, plain and uncoated in sugar, but I love it that my pastor is a straight up truth kind of guy.  Don't get me wrong, he's human, and so is everyone else in this venture. But this is my home and I love them for wanting the best for me. What is the best thing that you do on the weekend? 

5. Second grade! I am falling in love with this grade level. I have posted plenty about the reading group I had previously in Second grade! It was such a treat to watch them learn how to really use that mind and to do the research and get to work! Now I have a different group, and their learning level is not as high. Once again, this group has not researched yet. The operative word is yet. We jumped in this week. We started out by reading the book: Coyote Plants a Peach Tree. This book is an interesting mixture and fact and story and gives solid information about both coyotes and peach trees! I only two students in this group so I thought about having one research coyotes and one research peach trees, but since this is their first project, I decided we should stick with coyotes. Also...  they both were very interested in the coyote, and not so interested in the peach tree! After we read the book, we brainstormed some facts from the back of the book.  Then I turned them loose with their iPods and their writing journals. They had to find at least three facts and write them down. I had to really push one student to just start writing! I told him that I would help him put his facts into Second grade words. He said he only found one fact. But when we really looked at his one fact, it was four facts in one paragraph. I talked with classroom teachers to gauge ability and we decided that a mobile with facts would be a great starting place for these young researchers! I gave a lot of support on this project, but I was impressed with how well these students did at filtering facts, thinking about things on a deeper level, preparing to present. Unfortunately, we did not get their mobiles finished on Friday, so we will finish on Tuesday. 

This book is written as a story, but has facts inside the back cover and is filled
with facts as you read it. It is terrific combination of narrative and informational text. We loved this book.
These are the facts we gleaned just from the back cover of the story.
This got us in the mood to really start researching! 
Searching for facts on the iPod.Working hard.
  So the discovery of the week was this: I don't just love working with those Second graders who need to be stimulated, stretched and extended.  I love working with the students who are not reading at grade level.  I already know that I love whole class instruction. I am in love with Second grade. I thought I would never love any grade except for Kindergarten. Kindergarten was my first love, but this new love for Second grade feels empowering. I believe that I can grow even more and I can love any grade level when I have the freedom to teach in the ways that I teach best. I love the Second grade teachers and their support and encouragement. I might have them fooled a little bit, they think I can do just about anything. Everyone should have someone in their life that feels this way about them. Hmmm.... is there an analogy there? Maybe I should make sure I feel this way about all my students? And tell them often. Because if they are like me, they will rise to the occasion!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Five for Friday.... hallelujah.

Thank the good Lord that it is Friday!! That is all I have to say about that! It's time to see how everyone's week went by linking up with Doodlebugs for Five for Friday.

1. Acrostic poems with second grade guided reading. I only had my guided reading kiddos for two days this week.  So one thing that second grade said might be nice to re-inforce or introduce or touch on would be poetry.  On Wednesday we tackled acrostic poems. They wrote their names down the page and had to write lines that described themselves.  It was fun and they did great. 

These amazing little thinkers have "had it easy" the last couple weeks. Why? Because they went from not being able to put together the information they needed to, to being able to funnel it down, get to the "good stuff," make their information relate to the topic, make it relate-able to real life, and make it audience friendly (put it in their own words). They became adventurers, researchers, philosophers. Most importantly they became confident. When they got something back that they needed to correct, fix, change, they did not wilt, they rose to the challenge and soared.

2. Transfer. What we started on Wednesday I transferred to other learners on Thursday. I have "morning supervision" for second grade this week. I read to them after they arrived at school and before they could go into their classroom. Yesterday morning we wrote the word READ down the page. I published it and put it on the door of the reading room. I cannot believe I forgot to document that with a photo! Ugh! What did I see? Students at all learning levels "got into it." And everyone participated! It was good for my heart.

3. Haikus and a certain second grade group. Is this one reading group going to dominate my entire Five? maybe. Yesterday we wrote Haikus. One student could not wrap his brain around this, but the rest just really dove in!! I typed them and gave them each a published copy. After the students finished their Haikus they were supposed to start on a Limerick. Is that too hard for second graders? Maybe some. Not these guys.  However, we didn't really get that far. I did write a sample so they could understand what I was talking about. It is at the bottom of the Haikus.

I see that this is really hard to read. Here it is:

My cat is awesome.
My dog likes to play with cats.
Sara loves her dog.
by Riley

I like the BullPups.
I like the Dallas Cowboys.
I live bananas.
by Nadia

Sports day is the best.
I wear a jersey and hat.
Saints are the best team.
by Daken

We got a sports day.
I get to wear a jersey.
Longhorns are the best.
by Benjamin

Tarantulas eat.
Bats are awesome, they eat bugs.
Snakes eat mice and rats.
by Ethan

Our sports day is fun.
I get to wear my sports clothes.
K-State is awesome.
by Danica

Here is my limerick.

by Ms. Horn

I love to come to Lincoln Elementary School,
I think school is really, really cool.
Summer's no fun.
It is hot.
Coming to school keeps me from being a fool.
(okay, okay, I just made it up on the spot, so it is a little corny).

4. Bonus! Today in supervision we read poems from a book about food poems (maybe it was called Poetry Stew....? not sure). One of these second graders from my group says to the entire group, "writing a Limerick is hard, you have to rhyme the first line with line 2 and 5.  Line 3 and 4 don't rhyme." Can you say... blown away? He remembered. He also knew what he just said. I felt golden.
This is the guy who remembered all about Limericks.
5. So this week the transition back to school was hard. I think it was harder for me than my students. My brain was in a fog all week. I was so grateful for Friday.  Tonight is game night at our house and the folks are coming to town to join us. Fun times? Probably. I better get out of here and get ready!

How much of teaching students to love learning has to do with brainwashing? Seriously. Know why kids forget to complain about Ms. Horn making them work hard. Because I TELL them they are having fun, that Ms. Horn's group is the best, that they will miss me when they are gone. Does anyone else do this?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Five for Friday, glad I could figure out the day of week!

I am glad I could come to terms with the fact that today is Friday! Too much time off = not knowing which day of the week it really is! Five for friday.... I have 36 minutes to get this done on Friday. Head over to Doodlebugs and read about everybody's week.

1. Joined some linkys, made some goals/resolutions. Resolution by definition is: res·o·lu·tion  (rz-lshn)
1. The state or quality of being resolute; firm determination.
2. A resolving to do something.
3. A course of action determined or decided on.

I posted all about my resolutions and goals here

2. Ringing in that New Year! My daughter stepped out of her comfort zone (aka Momma), and went to a children's skating party on New Year's Eve. I danced. Some. Some of the music was just too "young" for me. 
She brought home a lot of confetti in her oh-so-cool hat.

3. Time with family.... we attempted to have a family game night tonight. Finally Dad went back to his chair and watched the game on tv, us girls just talked too much I guess. Thankfully, my brother-in-law played some games with the kids, from Hide-n-seek to UNO, and then they even made up a game or two at the end. 
My daughter's bff Natalie on the left, my neice in the middle and my BIL on the right.

Here they all are playing UNO.

Here is my sis and my neice wearing their matching tie-dye shirts. Grandma is in the
background making "hot dip."
3. Time with my big girl. The McPherson Arts Council Community Children's Choir sang the National anthem at the hockey game. I enjoyed my Dad and my redhead.  The Punkin sat with the choir and after overcoming her fear, she had a great time, a wild and rowdy time, with her peers and friends! 

Carolyn and I, before the hockey game.
5. Best gift ever. I got a Keurig from my friend! Wow! We've used the K-cups of specialty coffees, we've used the hot cocoa, and can't wait to use it again, and again, and again....

My colleagues are back to school but since my position is not a contracted position, I am not. I will head back on Monday when the kiddos go back. I miss them and I cannot wait to get back to work!! I loved my time off, but I am SO READY for it to end.