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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanks... S is for....

Today is letter S of T.H.A.N.K.S. for a week of Thanks and linking up with Blog Hoppin'. Hop over and read all of them! They are inspiring, for sure.
Letter S is for.... Serenity. and sunsets. and sunrises. 

S is for serenity that I have too little of. But I keep chasing it, knowing that it is a vital part of health and happiness. I know that learning to prioritize and let go of the things that are not vital is a big part of learning to be serene in all circumstances. This year, we leave the house just as the sun starts to color the sky and we see the most amazing sunrises. We leave the school just in time to see the most glorious sunsets.  If those don't bring just a little serenity, then what will? I am so blessed and I try to remember that in the splendor of the early morning and the brilliance of the evening dusk.

Friday, November 28, 2014

K is for.... Thanksgiving linky

I am joining Blog Hoppin' for their T-H-A-N-K-S linky. Hop on over and read about what everyone is thankful for!

Today we are using the letter K for our Thanks-giving post.

Letter K is for.... Kris. Kris is my life-long bestie. We became bff's in grade school, we've fought like siblings, gone through hell apart and together, and put ourselves on a path to productivity and wellness separately and together. We are each other's reality checks and cheerleaders, sympathetic ears, and support systems. We are family. Today I get to spend the day with her while we avoid the masses and go antiquing in a small town away from all the holiday hustle and bustle. I look forward to coffee and goodies, good food, better conversation and hugs.

Everyone should be blessed with a friend like this. I am thankful for her.

Happy Blog Hoppin' everyone! Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Letter N is for....

Late to the party, I missed out on letter T of a week of Thanksgiving, but I am participating with my bloggy land friends at Blog Hoppin' for a week of T-H-A-N-K-S. Hop over and read everyone's posts!
Today we are saying something we are thankful for that begins with letter N. N is for "no school."

I read this on another blog and I have say that I agree with this. I know I'm not the only one blog-stalking, planning, researching and engaging in school activities even when school is out, but a few extra days to rejuvenate, refresh and relax are a much appreciated thing. I love my job. But I'm a better teacher after a break. Today I am thankful for my friends and family. I can't wait to spend time with them while I am NOT at school. I also can't wait for an extra No School day to go in and work in my classroom this Thanksgiving break! I am hoping my 20 drawer cart for my room comes tomorrow so I can set it up and label and get everything ready for Monday!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I am so thankful for the people who support me through blogs, linkys, freebies, TpT! I am thankful for the people who read my blog and the blogs that I am privileged to read and follow!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving, letter A is for....

So I can't believe I am really this late to the party! Ugh! I realized I missed the beginning of the Thanks-giving linky, but I didn't realize that H was yesterday's letter. Okay, I can kind of believe that I am late, but today I will post again and cover the letter A. Golly, if I feel ambitious I might go back and do the letter T. Thanks to the gals at Blog Hoppin' for hosting this! Hop on over and read or link up!

Today I am linking up with something I am thankful for that begins with letter A. I have to confess, I did some blog-stalking before making a decision. I loved many of the other things! One teacher friend is thankful for a good book or two, and another is thankful for appliances, but the one that hooked me in is Attitude.

There is not a lot I can control in life. I can't control that fact that right about the time teaching and I discovered that we were a perfect match, education started getting hit HARD and it's taking a beating! I can vote, and I can try to raise awareness to the really great teaching practices that are in place today, and I can learn and grow and be the best I can be, but that is about it. But I can choose not to get hung up on that. I can choose not to let the politics, paperwork, hoops and ever-growing pressures drive me away from a profession that I am passionate about. Sometimes (lately) I have felt beat down, misunderstood, lonely and alone. But I know that whatever I focus on, increases. So I have to focus on everything that is right. I have a choice today and I can spread positivity and love to a class of really great kids and increase their desire to learn, or I can get muddled down in my own stuff and lose focus.  It's up to me. I bring the atmosphere to our class and it's my attitude that drives our learning.

This is true in every area of my life. So I better keep on the positive and focus on the good. When I focus on the good, the good increases. I am thankful that I can choose my attitude and that when I get down, or discouraged and just grumpy, I have the power to make a different choice and change it.

I am thankful for my ability to adjust my attitude.

Thankful Linky

I found this linky hosted by Blog Hoppin'. And I love a good opportunity to be grateful. Head over to Blop Hoppin' to read and link up!
Today's theme is "H is for..." and we are encouraged to share what we are thankful for about our "home away from home" meaning our school. My daughter says that is our first home and this is our second home. She might be right. We mostly just sleep here this year! Maybe not QUITE that bad, but we come home, eat supper, shower and go to bed. Well, I usually do some planning, grading of papers and searching the web for classroom materials and/or lesson plans, but there's not a real separation of school and home this year.

This past weekend we attended the dedication of a new Habitat for Humanity home just around the corner from us that went to my friend.  These events help me reflect on how grateful I truly am for the home that I have and how blessed we are. So I have to say that H is for HOME. Our house is truly our home. I wanted to teach SO BADLY that I was willing to move away from our blessed home, our family and friends and my kids' schools and friends.  We discovered that house is more than bricks and mortar, at least when it is your own Habitat for Humanity home that you poured your blood, sweat and tears into. Arriving back home in our blessed HOME, we laughed, we sang, we danced.  We love this home and community and are so happy to be here. Sometimes I need that reminder. Especially since I am disillusioned with the current state education in our great state. Today I thank God for our house that is filled with love and peace and the things we love.
This picture was taken shortly after we moved back from our year in the Oklahoma panhandle.
About my home away from home.... there is so much to be grateful for. I am grateful for the paras that come into my classroom. They are incredible with the students and invest heavily in the atmosphere of our classroom. I love working with them. I am so grateful to be teaching. I am spread way too thin this year and I know me, I will overwork myself no matter what, but I see no way to make this work out better due to the multiple grade levels I am teaching. I know that next year will be better even though I also know that I will never be the teacher that leaves at the end of her contracted time on a regular basis. I know that I must concentrate of what I love because it is the most effective way to fight the burn out. I am so grateful for this exhausting life of a teacher and the people (students, parents, colleagues) that it brings into my life. I am grateful for that student that is not like any other student and the student that is hard to teach and hard to reach. I am also grateful for the student who excels at everything placed in front of them and achieves their goals with gusto.

So much to thankful for. I am glad to join up. Have a blessed break everyone.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Letters

I am linking up with Michelle at Big Time Literacy for Sunday Letters, a fun little linky! Hop over and read everyone's letters!

Dear Michelle,
Reading your letters today inspired me, thanks so much for sharing your heart. I love that you are motivating yourself to pursue your heart's desire. That is my hope for the future as well, to find my passion and believe in myself and go for it! 
Your bloggy-land friend, 

Dear Kansas Governor,
I am heart-broken that you are in office and that our chance at improving education in the state of Kansas has been crippled so deeply. I am also saddened to read about the state questioning teachers unpaid days off as part of our negotiated agreements. I feel my rights being stripped away and my desire to pour my heart and soul into my classroom in those long summer hours and weekends and holiday breaks is dwindling fast. I am now implementing my "three-year-plan" to be prepared to leave this great state is need by in order to salvage my teaching career in a state that I have loved for so long. 
Disenchanted teacher

Dear holiday season,
Remember when you brought me so much joy? Now you bring fear of economic ruin and constant worry, sleepless nights and more. On this year of "no gifts" I am already $50 in debt just for the family pictures to distribute at the holidays. I feel my serenity and attitude of gratitude becoming more difficult to find than ever before. I pray these feelings of "perhaps Christmas doesn't come from a store...." will return with a vengeance in the very near future. 
penniless peasant

Dear children that live with me,
You cannot know how much I love you and long for you when you are gone. I love knowing you are asleep in the basement and hearing your music thumping in your room. I love your life and very presence. I pray I might be worthy of you. 
your adoring mother

Dear students,
I hope you know how much this teacher loves and cares about your well-being. Don't think I haven't said a prayer for each of you at one time or another and don't ever think that another students trouble outshines your achievement. I know that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but your quiet efforts do not go unnoticed. You are appreciated and I know how fortunate I am to have such a great class of loving and hard-working students. 
With respect and admiration,
Ms. Horn

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Five things about my week... on a Saturday

I almost didn't attempt to join Five for Friday this week. I was just going to write a summary of our week and let it go at that. But seriously, it's my favorite linky. So thanks again to Doodlebugs Teaching for hosting!

This week seemed to really fly by. On Tuesday night we had our Thanksgiving potluck meal for families and students. I am admitting my shortcoming here. I knew in my head that we needed to prepare some sort of presentations for this, but I never got it in my lesson plans. So.... at 1:30 Tuesday afternoon we started writing skits, stories and poems! But here's what the teacher learned. There's nothing like a hard deadline to make kids buckle down and pull together! The hardest thing for my students is to understand the importance of speaking into the microphone. I talked to them about it, and gave examples of the wrong things to do and the right things to do, but when the rubber hit the road, we could really only hear the Kinder and First grade students, and that was because I held the microphone in front of them.

Second graders wrote a skit about Squanto getting kidnapped! I loved their headgear! 

We worked on our First Thanksgiving project. The housing group decided to recreate the setting of eating outdoors and include a Pilgrim cabin and a Wampanoag teepee by setting up in an empty classroom and making the walls looks like the outdoors.  The clothing group are making items to identify Pilgrims and Native Americans: head coverings, collars, etc. The foods group, well, they are struggling a little. They finally decided to have students vote on meats. That is all the farther they have gotten which could cause a bit of a predicament since I will be purchasing the groceries this weekend. So.... I am not sure how to play this out as a "real world" problem solving skill, but I'll come up with a master plan and introduce it and then see how it plays out. The activities group made games for the students to play, as well as learning Blind Man's Bluff and Leap Frog to teach us. They will explain that one of the adult activities, Log Throwing, is something we chose not to recreate for safety reasons and share their research with the class. Photos really don't portray the excitement in the students' actions and words.  Photos can portray so much, but sometimes they lack so much too. So.... hold tight, we'll have photos of the big day!

We worked on word problems and measurement in math this week. My group of early finishers needed something to do, so we started working on making up a roll-a-turkey game. They are still in the process of recording all the steps so they can teach it to the rest of the class.

Our finished turkeys! I was right there with them, making a big, fat turkey.  The lower turkey had his feathers all over his body! I call that thinking outside the box. 
p.s. Have I mentioned that these impromptu moments are my faves? They are. Times when we come up with something on the fly that just makes it all fun.

We had so much fun that all levels were asked to make a math game to share with us.  Here are the Fourth graders....hard at work?

So I found out this past week that I have a classroom budget and how that works is that I turn in receipts for purchases made. But the way I found out was when I was being informed that they are soon going to be frozen, so I am losing it. I have thought of a million things off and on again that I "need" for my room.  What are the things you cannot live without? I am thinking a cart with a drawer for each student may help simplify things considerably.  Each drawer could hold their corrections/not done work and a folder for done/ready to be graded work, reading homework folders and math homework folders. That is where my mind is headed. I know many other things we could use, but this may be the most organizational of them all. And goodness knows I need all the organization help I can possibly get. And advice. What helps you organize the most? I am all about the biggest bang for my buck... the most organization with the least amount of space as well as conserving the almighty dollar.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Five "random" things from our week....

Here is the look at our week. There were several days this week that I thought maybe I should blog just about a specific event or happenings in one day, but let's be honest, I just don't have time right now. I have to cram it into one post. The best, most-fun way (if you ask me.... ) is to link up with Casey at Doodlebugs, so here are my five for the week.

 1. I kind of dropped the ball on Veteran's Day this year. My usual Veteran (my Dad) had plans already by the time I called him.  The day before Veteran's Day one of my students told me that his Dad was retired from the Marines. So I sent a last minute email and our classroom guest (who came back from working out of town on the very day) gave us some of his time on Veteran's Day.

Students listening closely to our Veteran

Our Veteran is the parent this young learner who stood beside his Dad for the entire time.
Our guest shared about his experience in the Marines and what being a part of the armed forces meant to him.

I downloaded the free Thank You letter templates from TpT.
Get them HERE. Thank you Sally at Elementary Matters!
 2. Read Aloud time. This week  on some days I had Fourth Grade students take over reading our chapter in our Humphrey book. It gives them a chance to practice reading with expression. It also helps them focus on their leadership roles in the classroom.

This is the first day a student read the story. With reading they
get to sit in my "teacher chair." 

 3. This may be the most beautiful our Sugar Maple has been in the seven winters in this home. I am counting the year we lived in Oklahoma as well since we drove by and checked on "our house" every time we were in town.

 4. We are having our all-school Thanksgiving dinner this week on Tuesday night and a parent volunteer came in and helped students make decorations for the middle of the table. She had everything prepared ahead of time and it went so smooth and worked out so nice. I have all their finished products drying on a shelf but forgot to take a picture!
Ms. Wagner giving instructions

A Kinder-buddy with his finished product

This little Firstie is coming out of his shell! We even showed me his turkey.
He is painfully shy and it has been a true joy to watch him blossom in First grade! 

This Fourth grader happens to be the daughter of our volunteer, her dog Gracie
came along to supervise the progress on our craft project.

5. I have never witnessed a more determined child when it comes to overcoming and learning something new! We got to meet up with Red (college girl, who I still call the Redhead, even though her hair is black at the moment) and go roller skating. My Punky has not been skating a lot and is not accomplished at it.  But she worked, and worked, and worked, and WORKED at it.  She also fell, and fell and fell.... oh my! Her improvement and determination were remarkable and made it a memorable day for this Momma!
Gaining balance, speed (not much, but definite gains) and ability
each time she came around! 

Coming off the skating floor to find out why Mom and Red are not skating! 
Family, Fun and Education. What more could this teacher ask for? Do you have parent volunteers in your school? We are fortunate enough to have an art and music program in our school, which I am so grateful for! But we also have willing parents who just want to lend support in any way they can, which is also very cool and I was so glad for the opportunity to put that willingness to use! Our school is having a Thanksgiving potluck for our school families this week and I am looking forward to it. What does your school do to encourage school/family relationships?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Five for Friday, late again....

All about our week. This one was a good one! I am going to *try* to cram it into my five random things so I can link up with Doodlebugs! But some of them are giant things and this lil ole not-so-experienced teacher has to brag just a little. So I'll try to contain myself and ramblings to five reasonable summaries!

1. The Election Project! Make no mistake friends, this year when asked, "what do you think?" I tend to say.... "that's fine" or "I'll just go with the flow" or "I agree with your idea." As I grow in confidence and comfort, my type A personality WILL come out (for better or worse), but this year I am learning SO MUCH just by "going with the flow." The election project started with getting put into "parties,"which we did by drawing a colored chip out of a bag (2 sets of 13 and one set of 5) to create two big parties and one small, independent party. Each party then had to create a name, slogan, and symbol. We had the Stingers, the Lightning Strikers, and the Helping Hearts.  We held primary elections and anyone could run within their party.  Parties elected a candidate for the general elections. Then each party set to speech writing and campaigning. Everyone had a job. And what great jobs they were. This project made it fairly easy to include everyone even the Kindergarten students.
This candidate is ready! She is covered in campaign materials: buttons and signs galore! 
Making Posters! 

Creative Campaigning: This volunteer made a hat that said "vote for Quinn!" on the stove pipe.
This Fourth grade candidate made a shirt to wear on election day! 
The back said: I can make a difference!  
A Kindergarten candidate showing his ID and signing his name so he can vote.
Voters in the voting booths
Somehow this young voter got ahold of his neighbors stickers for voting.
I almost forgot the "best" part! Our Fourth grade candidate is our new school president! The voter in the above picture, a Fifth grader, her running mate, is the new Vice President! Yay Rhanda!
2. I think I mentioned this book last week. This is our read aloud book. We are on Chapter five and we are finally getting into it. The biggest thing this book has done for us help us connect to our classroom pet, a robo-dwarf hamster named Charly.

In the book, Humphrey goes home with a student who's Mom decides to make a portrait of him. We discussed what a portrait is and then we drew and colored or painted portraits of Charly.
Charly is in her ball. We have not let her run around during school before. It was quite a distraction which was why I hesitated to get her out, but I think if we let her run around more often, it will be a good thing. 
3. This little learner has missed two weeks minus this one day that I took this photo.  She's been fighting a fever and it has her really under the weather. She is finally on the mend and we have missed her smiling face and can't wait for her return to our class family!

Here we are going over our new flashcards of the week: more color words.

4. Fourth Grade started on a Harvest Moon Reader's Theater earlier in October and were finally ready to perform it. They were uncomfortable but did a great job.

5. Math games galore. These guys are playing math "bump" games, a division game (4th grade), and a four-in-a-row subtraction game.

The end report was that this game was hard. I don't necessarily think that is a bad thing.
Sometimes they have to divide four digits. Hey... it IS 4th grade after all! 

Playing a subtraction game.  There a ton more of these fun games HERE.
Did you know about this site? Confessions of a Homeschooler
Amazing. I snagged a ton of freebies this morning (since there was some sort of furry conspiracy in my house against sleeping in today)! The downloads look amazing. Check out her sight.

I also snagged a fresh load of math games at  I suggest you look there also for grade level appropriate math reinforcement. I found a lot of games that use a regular deck of cards. Love that! Here is one I grabbed today for factoring. Easy and not too much stuff to print and laminate!

I leave you with this: I cannot emphasize enough that we are a class family. Sometimes we don't work through our difficulties appropriately and sometimes we work through them a little TOO much like siblings. So we ended our day today with some Sister Sledge: We Are Family.

You can tell the 4th grade boy in the back row is really getting into it! 
There is more to tell this week. It was a good, productive mix of hard work and fun celebration, and some fun hard work! But to keep with the Five-for idea, I will quit now.