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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Five things from my week.... not so much of it is school-related this week.

Here are my five random things.

1. Monday both of my darlings were sick and missed school. Come to find out that my youngest was fighting her asthma.  *sigh* Hard Mommy moments 101. This asthma is kicking my butt. First the fight with her school for her to be able to use her inhaler, the realization that I can't ignore it, it's not going away, and now to realize that she felt like she couldn't breathe because of her asthma and had a bad morning like that.... well, I feel inadequate. The other darling was sick for four days and since influenza is rampant here I am betting it was that. Saturday, Sunday and Monday she was DOWN for the count.

2. Looking for jobs. This is vicious cycle. Yes, vicious in that it goes round and round, but also vicious because of what it does to me. I have applied to at least six districts this week. I applied for seven positions in one district yesterday. I start to get very emotional when this happens. First I am up and then I am down and round and round it starts again. But in the end I feel battered. I start to believe that perhaps I am a sub-par teacher. I don't really believe this. I believe I am a good teacher. I believe that sometimes we base our opinions of ourselves on our inability to see things as they actually are. But I have a good reputation in my school, both currently and previously. And I think there is something to be said for that. I have no photos of anything job application related. I have been a licensed teacher for two years and just applied for my initial teaching license renewal. There is a part of me that believes the buzz that if I am really a good teacher, I would not be looking for a job every year. So many of you all are people of faith, please pray for me to hold on to my self-image as a competent teacher amidst all these ups and downs.

3. Flashback! I know I posted about this earlier.... but my first grade group read Pete's Big Lunch and then wrote their own sandwich story. One boy wrote his entire story about cheese. His Mom emailed me yesterday and told me that he doesn't even like cheese! I cracked up! The students finally got to design their cover for their books. Here is mine (boring, I know).

4. Reading Acceleration Program. We call it RAP. And I have three first graders in my group, which is a sort of large group because it is intensive reading intervention. But I see how my readers are moving along and improving. I am really excited about it. I see their scores coming up. The bad news, they are still not up with the rest of their class. The good news, you look at their progress and it is great. One of my firsties might be moving out of RAP and then we could move another student in. Exciting, right? She and I got to work one on one yesterday. Here she is building words and she is remembering phonics rules taught in class!

As I walked her back to class yesterday I said, "Do you remember what Ms. Horn wants you to practice this weekend?" She said, "Read, read, read...." YES!

5. All about me.... again (still?). Yesterday I could tell my blood pressure was too high. Higher than I wanted it. I did not feel good. I came home and put my feet up and hung out for awhile. Then we rented a movie, got a pizza and breadsticks, and some candy for movie-watching time. I took my bp when we were at Walmart. Their machine says... not good. I say, "Hooray" because it is coming down. It was not in the danger zone and it HAD to be lower than it would have been at 3 or 3:30. It was.... 133/93. That bottom number, still high, but considering how much higher it has been 100-110 (over 110 is stroke danger, yikes), it is coming down.

I know this was sort of all about me this week. I have new guided reading groups starting on Monday. So maybe I will have some fresh and exciting ideas to share next week! Let me throw this out there... I love the team of teachers I work with and the students I am privileged to teach reading to. I love the school I work and the district we are a part of. I have so much I am grateful for! Thanks for reading.  Sometimes I don't feel like a "real teacher" this year because I don't have my own classroom, but I know that I am a real teacher no matter whether I teach small groups or teach in a classroom. I am privileged this year to learn more about data driven education and really learn how to let the data drive my teaching and interventions.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Five for Friday....

Yes, I am late, and yes, I know it is actually Saturday. But the fastest and funnest most fun way to post about my week is by linking up with Doodlebugs to share five random facts from my day or week. I always share five random facts from my week. So... here we go.

1. I got see my family! Whoot! Last Sunday afternoon we went to Wichita to get the smallest member of our family back! Our little Hundley was visiting the family in Wichita last week due to my overnight stay at the hospital. So we visited Cravings Gluten Free Bakery in Wichita because I had not been there yet (we got the behind the scenes private tour, loved that). I have been missing them all and I only got to see my granddaughter for a few minutes, but I did get to see my grandson and he and my daughter worked together to build something! Here it is.... 

They used the pieces from the Jenga game and from the Topple game to build this arena.

2. My children surprised me at school with "thinking of you" flowers on Tuesday, knowing I was very worried about the stress test I was facing on Wednesday. Aren't they lovely?

3. My first graders read this book for guided reading. We tried to work on beginning, middle, end and wrote our story about a sandwich. It was very interesting. 

4. I was talking to my fourth graders about their upcoming test and that I had confidence in them to DRAW CONCLUSIONS and to do a good job. I told them that I know that they are intelligent human beings. One boy started to shake his head. I think he really believes he is not that intelligent and he hides behind this to not give his best in school. So we added an extra vocabulary card. Each student had to decide what kind of "human bean" they were: jumping bean, coffee bean, jelly bean...  and write a vocabulary card that said "I am an intelligent human bean." I know, corny. But I think that I cannot flog them into feeling confident, but I also cannot let them get away with self-loathing. So we combined corny-ness (?) with self-esteem building. I don't know if it worked. 

5. LETRS training. I didn't take any pictures this time. But ironically enough, one of the things addressed was the need to teach students how to draw conclusions and how they do not "just know" how to do this. The speaker said that when she told her students to draw a conclusion they started drawing pictures. This is the exact conversation another reading teacher and I were having about our students. She could have been quoting us even. I guess I am on the right track! I love that moment. Not the moment when you realize your students don't "get it" yet, but that you know you are right to want to delve deeper and provide more direct teaching about something because it will benefit them in the long run. I love having that confirmed by an unrelated source. Sometimes I know I am a great teacher, sometimes I think I am taking a shot in the dark. I like having the great teacher part affirmed, the knowledge that I was/am on the right track! Hooray! 

**** No photos, but the bonus was more family time. We celebrated my Dad's Valentine Birthday with dinner and cake and home made ice cream. What is love if not time with family? *****

Friday, February 7, 2014

It's Friday.... Friday! (whoot!)

Time for my Friday five. Five "random" things from my week. I am linking up with Doodlebugs.  Hop over and read about everyone's week! Or add a link! This linky party is to post five random things from your week or from your day. I love to post from my week with an eclectic hodge-podge of home and school.

1. Starting off with my ugly tale of the week. I am a big baby and I am also not very good at living life by the directions. So.... I knew that taking sudafed (and like kinds of drugs) was bad for me, I can feel that it brings my heart rate up. But I will not be beat by a cold! Ha! Well, as far as we can tell, the decongestant is what drove my heart rate up to a dangerous place. But Monday morning as I am walking Kindergarten down the hall I feel a pain just left of center in my chest, kind of a squeeze, then it spread out and even goes down my arm. So it kind of bothers me, I talk to the support teachers who are with me and tell them about it. Not a severe pain, but concerning. I start my Kinders on their reading work and let the support staff help them, step into the hall and call the doctor. We decide it is better to be safe than sorry. So I finish up my group (what?! Yeah, I am stubborn like that), and then drive to the Emergency Room to get it all checked out. Long story long.... they tell me that my ekg looks really good. The ER nurses are getting me ready to discharge. The ER doc comes in and says, "your ekg looks great. However, given the risk factors (heart disease in the fam...and lots of it) and your high blood pressure, we would like you to stay for observation. Is that okay?" I say, "sure." Seriously, what am I supposed to say. It crosses my mind (repeatedly) that I am over-reacting to a minor pain by even being there, let alone the complications that staying overnight will bring. But the part about how if I leave and go home and if something is wrong, they will have less chance of taking care of it, and a better chance that I could fall over dead, I guess it is the best answer. The next day when I am released, I discover between 5 and 7 inches of snow on my car!  Not to mention that no one had been to our house since the snow started, so when I did get home, I couldn't find the driveway, no track marks in the snow to guide me, no bare patch on the drive where the car sat. Everything looks good they said. Give her some more tests they said. So I'll be walking the treadmill again next week.
Here is what I came out to.
 2. Here is what I came up with snowfall on Wednesday morning. It might not be accurate because it had blown quite a bit already.  I tried to find a nice smooth, flat-looking spot in the yard that maybe didn't encounter too much wind, and stuck the ruler in. It said we got 10 1/2 inches from some time in the middle of the night Monday night until it stopped sometime Tuesday night.
3. I made sure to spend a little snow-day time with my Punky. We braided her hair. It took forever! She managed to keep it in until morning so her hair would be krimped. Too cute.

4. Second grade guided reading! I have a group that needs stretched again. Here is where we started. I am easing them back into being in my group... heh heh. Yesterday we read a book called: Better than a Birthday. It is about traditions in South Korea and how they celebrate everyone's birthday at New Year's. Yesterday we read, made a Venn Diagram of what South Korean's do to celebrate birthday, what American's do, and what ways they are alike. They re-read the book at home and today they had to write about the following: A tradition they have at home either for birthdays or for New Year's. No one picked their birthday! All six of them chose New Year's celebrations. This simplified it for me a little bit. We wrote about a New Year's celebration tradition that they do every year. They had to write a 3-4 sentence paragraph. Then they had to write one thing they would like to try for their celebration. I usually give off-the-wall examples here. Today was no different. For example, I said "I would like to try eating chocolate all night long." Then they had to make prediction of what might happen if they tried this thing. My prediction was that even after eating chocolate all night long I did not feel sick. They laughed and told me that I would indeed feel sick. We had a lot of fun coming up with things they would like to try for their celebrations. Then they had to write about the best New Year's celebration they have ever had and why. Again it had to total 3-4 sentences. One kiddo was confused about length. He apparently thought I meant it had to take up 3-4 lines in his writing journal. He inserted about 20 verys into a sentence stating how much fun it was to visit New Orleans over New Year's holiday. (It was very fun). It was delightful to spend time with these smarty-pants again and I can't wait to see what the next three weeks will bring.

One newbie to our group cannot stop blurting. She just can't help it. But I decided to try something new. When they come to class, they will each have one minute (or less) to tell me about whatever they want me and the group to know about. Whatever precious gem of information they are dying to divulge, they have a minute to do so. I am hoping against all hope that a) my blurter will feel heard and cared about and that b) this will help her practice control when it is not her minute of fame. What do you do to maintain control when there is that one blurter that is going to blurt. all. the. time. every. single. day.?

5.  I am so excited about what these smarties are going to tackle next week that I can't wait for Monday! We are going to research Kansas "pioneers." They are studying pioneers in the classroom. We are going to study Kansas pioneers or early settlers. We are going to gather information and facts and find pictures. We are going to write and re-write sloppy copies in our journals. We are going to edit, revise and re-write until we conquer their atrocious spelling and questionable grammar. For being the best readers in our second grade and at the same reading level as my "above level" third grade group, these poor darlings need to practice some spelling! Yikes! Then we are going to find a classroom newspaper template, organize their research onto the newspaper template and print it. They will have to be a newsboy or newsgirl and sell their information! "Extra! Extra! Read all about it!" They are nervous and excited.  I think that is a good mix... 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Currently.... February 2014

I am going to link up Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for February Currently. I had the best of intentions to figure out how to edit my currently pic even though I have no power point, but I didn't and now I have a busy day planned and it's time to link up again. So... hopefully I will have a new laptop by next month!! I am cheating again this month and filling in below. That works nicely for me anyway because I can just include the explanation right away. :)

Listening.... to my Zen Tranquility cd.

Loving... my job.

Thinking... I need to clean this mess.

Wanting... a lot of upgrades for my home.

Needing... best friend time.

2 truths and a fib.... My youngest child is younger than my grandson. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I have been raising children for 25 years already and I am not close to being done.

So I realized that I had to write this a bit like I filled it in for it to work right. Now on the explanations.

Listening.... I've been listening to the Saturday morning sounds at our house.... one child watching Pound Puppies, the sound of sugar-cereal being eaten and bowls being refilled, and so on. But it was time to turn the TV off, so it got really quiet. I put in my Zen Tranquility cd and it is playing now.

Loving my job. Yeah, I didn't foresee loving this job as much as I do. You should have heard me whine about the adjustment at the beginning of the year (and yet, lucky you, you missed that part). Then I got okay with it and now I am really enjoying it. Not just my particular job, but my school. I knew I would enjoy the atmosphere at Lincoln, it is where I student taught. But I don't know if I knew how much I would like it. I can't wait to students and colleagues alike. It really makes going to work a pleasant thing and builds my passion.

Thinking... this house is begging to be cleaned.  I love it when it is clean. I love an organized space. I think I should get right on this! Then I'll get to work on some fun projects for my home as well! I say... Hooray!

Wanting a lot of upgrades. Every year since I have lived here I have said I am going to buy a bigger fridge with my tax return. I has not happened yet. And I sold my chest style deep freeze and I don't know that I should have. I also want to do some serious work on my basement! Finish another bedroom and get all the walls up for the other rooms. Yeah, my wanter is on full blast. But honestly, I need to take of some debts. Hmmph.

Needing. This is always tricky for me. There is the... "I still need a job" need (which I figure EVERYONE is sick of hearing about.... including myself). And then there is the need to figure out how we will make ends meet with even less money when my income drops by $420/month in July. That's my house payment right there!! Yikes! Then there is the reality check of it all. What do I actually need? I live in the richest country in the world with so much excess it is ridiculous. If I have clothes, food, and a warm bed, what do I really need? But my soul needs some best friend time. I am hoping to seek out my best friend in the whole world and maybe can talk. Or maybe we can not talk. Either one will be good for my heart and soul.

My youngest child is younger than my grandson. Yep. He just turned 10 and she will turn 10 in July.
My little Punky and I had a Mom/daughter night a couple weeks ago. It was fun!

This is my grandson, taken this past fall (2013). He is really growing up! 
I have been raising children for 25 years and I have a minimum of 9 years left. I got married in 1988 and we got custody of my husband's children in 1989, when they were 4 and 6. I loved being the youngest Mom when they were growing up. I don't relish the other end of the spectrum so much. I had my youngest when I was 36, and once you hit 35 you hear a lot of rhetoric from the Dr. (or I did anyway) about "advanced maternal age..." blah, blah, blah. And once when she was about 5 a lady asked her if she was having a good day with her Grandma. I did not handle that one very graciously.
I can't help but think I looked pretty fabulous for my "advanced maternal age" and now you know why I call my daughter Punky, isn't she just an adorable little Punkin-seed?
I always wanted to be a teacher. HA! I had a rotten school experience as a student. I have not had a very good experience as a parent. I didn't think I could do it. Then I realized that a) I WAS teaching children all day and interacting with parents when I worked in the daycare, and b) I didn't have to be THAT teacher, I could be the teacher that bridges the gap and reaches out to the students like me. I decided to go back to school when I was 40. I am 45 now. Last year I was a first year teacher.