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Saturday, January 31, 2015

100 days of Fun and Kansas Day!

This week was packed with activities! Here is a look at what happened this week.

On Tuesday we celebrated our 100th day of school. One student drew 100 hopscotch spaces!

The student in the blue shirt is at the end of the 100 hopscotch.
Some students took 100 steps and marked it off!

Since everyone's feet are slightly different sizes, we all ended up at different places. 
It was a beautiful day in Kansas on Tuesday!! We also talked about what we would buy if we had $100!

We played a math game counting by multiples to 100. It was amazing to watch some of my younger students really stick it out with the older students.

One of our paras was leaving for Hawaii on Wednesday, so we put 100 sticky notes on her car and as many streamers as we could possibly tie on. I sure hope she is having fun! Her husband won the trip through his work and there are no more deserving people than them! It was a lot of fun to put all those sticky notes on the car.

And here is my favorite.... after we went and got her and she saw the car.....
I hope you are having a great trip Ms. Beanie!

In the afternoon we researched and wrote about what we would buy if we had $100. It had to be something you could actually buy for $100. The first thing one student said when I said what would you buy if you had $100 was "... a new gaming system!" which led to varied cries about ps3's and so on and so I said that they had to do the research and if they wrote about it, they had to prove that they could actually buy it for $100 or less. What a creative bunch of students! They searched ebay and amazon and found the electronics they hoped for! One student, however, said that she would use it to buy groceries for her family. So sweet!

Next we made our "100 pieces" snack. We counted 10 pieces of 10 different items in order to have a snack of 100 items! We enjoyed our snack while we listened to our classmates read about what they would buy with $100.

Students wanted to do an "at home" project with one hundred objects and so I gave them that option. Because our school is in a small town (and no local grocery store), I did not assign it as homework. One little learner wore a 100 day shirt that she made with her Mom!
There are 100 stars on this girl's shirt! 
We had another "big day" this week~ Kansas Day!
The older class had a Living Wax Museum (they were simply awesome)! And we supported them by visiting and going around to the stations and pressing the buttons.
Amelia Earhart (left) and Carrie Nation (right)

Did you know.... Omar Knedlik invented the Icee? Those magical drinks you get at Kwik Shop?

Frank Carney explains about the founding of Pizza Hut and joining the Papa Johns team later.

Ronald Evans ready for take off! 

Buffalo Bill Cody
How did we celebrate? We worked on the following:
Kinder and First learned about the state symbols, made a booklet with pages they colored and made a wild native sunflower, which is our state flower. Their sunflowers look so bright and cheery on our door! There is one flower posted on the other side of our door as well.

Third and Fourth grade researched a famous Kansan. Here are just a few photos of students giving their presentations. We contained this to Thursday and Friday. These little learners are learning so much about time management and focusing on their research.  This Spring we will really focus on citing our works and NOT using other people's words. Students were required to find out when and where their famous person was born, when they died, why they were famous and how this made our lives better.

This young man learned Walter Chrysler. I apologize for not getting the video started immediately, I am learning my way around a new phone.

This young man learned about Susanna Salter, the first woman mayor elect in the United States! 

We re-created the Kansas State Capitol Dome! This was a fast and furious, fun and creative project. We scavenged the school for acceptable materials and modeled our domes after an image I printed from The Kansas State Historical Site, you can see it here. Second Grade made this image below using two liter bottles, paper, soup containers and a rod they found, adding windows of cardboard. They chose not to paint it to make it look more authentic and present it like this. Their creativity was amazing.

Second grade is presenting and explaining their process and telling how they made their dome. 

Fourth grade showed the most team effort and the best teamwork I have seen from this bunch so far this year. Everyone in their group had the opportunity to share ideas and add to their dome. I had to give them an award! 

Here is their dome, which they assembled in about twenty minutes.
They even found a figurine to put on top that is shooting toward the stars! 
It was a wonderfully action packed week! This is only a glimpse of all we did and I am exhausted just typing it up! Next week we start learning about different cultures and preparing for our multicultural night on the 19th.  

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Five for... ahem, yes, it really is Saturday again.....

Five for.... yep, Saturday, again. *sigh* I'm exhausted this week. It seems that some things are stacking up on me again and I'm struggling with my one word for 2015.... balance. It is not fair to myself, my children or my students when I am exhausted all. of. the. time. My goal today is to focus on making focused choices about my health, including the food I put into my body. Ironically enough I just told my Doctor on Monday that I am finally feeling good and by Friday I was plagued with exhaustion again.

We have been focusing on making 2015 awesome for our school. This week we made cards for support staff thanking them for all they do. I saw all the things that didn't go well, such as building that character appreciation into their habits. Which we'll work on this all semester. Rumor has it that my little learners were not well-mannered in the lunchroom. While they know all the right words to say, they are lacking in follow through, like putting trash in the trashcan instead of on the floor. These are life skills and necessary for success no matter where they go to school or what career path they choose. But our venture WAS  success. We brightened the days of several people in our building, and one of our goals is to build more and more of a positive atmosphere in our home away from home. Not that we don't have a positive building but just to make note of the areas that we can improve and focus on the improvements. We were motivated by several things. One thing we've been talking about is how Martin Luther King Jr. changed America and he was just one person. We can change our world one person at a time. And we watched the following video and realized that by making this choice to open doors, this young man changed the atmosphere in the hallways of his school. 

Question of the day, which was not really a question this time.... Name a famous Kansan and what they are famous for. This is the only student who pursued this. I call this little learner my Historian. He loves learning about history and people who have changed our lives! He spoke about Dwight D. Eisenhower. His answer for who a famous Kansan is was... Ike Eisenhower. Seriously, how many second graders know enough about Eisenhower that they casually call him Ike, like he's someone they hang out with. I love seeing this little learner shine. And I cannot wait to see him get to share more! 

You can't see it but it's there! We are all about jumping rope this week! It cracks me up a little bit! And my best jumper managed to escape the camera! One of my Fourth grade boys is really good. I couldn't remember some of the chants we did when I was in school (oh-so-many years ago!) and had to google them! I have heard a LOT of "Cinderella.... dressed in yella...." and "Engine, Engine, Number nine....." We've been cooped up indoors a LOT since Christmas Break and we really enjoyed the sunshine! Somedays we braved chilly winds, but the sunshine was good for our bodies and our brains!
4. Wrapping up our Literacy this week with Fantastic Friday! I borrowed foodie fun friday from Smedley's Smorgasboard. I discovered Mr. Greg right at the end of winter break and I love his ideas! I have been obsessed with following him and learning new and exciting ways to bring my classroom to life! This week for whole group literacy we read Julius by Angela Johnson. I used some of the resources provided for Second grade in a Second grade reading textbook. We made bagel snacks on Friday afternoon as a fun to reinforce learning.

 We also made paper plate pigs. In some ways this targeted the lower grades. The biggest reason I did this as a whole class activity has to do with Numero Uno.... making 2015 awesome for others (and ourselves). One of my Firsties wrote his "I Have a Dream Speech" focused on making snowflakes. Rather than looking at how he might not be focused on really changing the world I thought about how art makes life more fun on a basic level and took this a step or two farther. Beautiful hallways and displaying students work does several things: it increases pride in their accomplishments, and it increases pride in their school as well as brightening the halls and spreading cheer for other students. Providing artwork for our halls also gives a cheery feeling for visitors to our building. So... while my learners just feel like they got to paint and make a paper plate pig.... I felt like I was also focusing on the whole idea of our awesome 2015 focus and making 2015 for our school. If you see my point, please leave a little love. I made sure students all wore paint shirts, but somehow my hoodie (my favorite hoodie even) got covered in white acrylic paint (it's black). I'm hoping it will come out, acrylic paint is water based.
I probably say this every time we make something.... but I LOVE how they all made the exact same thing, and they all have something different from their neighbor! We also learned about color.... I put white and red acrylic paint on a plate and they mixed it to make pink. 

Saying good-byes. We had to send off some of our new friends this week. I understand it more than my students do.... there are some situations that our little school is not adequately equipped to handle right now.... and there is no eloquent way that I can explain this to my class. But we lost a family of students. They are staying our district, and some needs they have will be met more completely by going to the other school. I support their decision. But I am just like my class, I am grieving their choice also. I am already attached to these students and they were already becoming an important part of our class family. So having said all of this.... how do you send off students that leave before year's end? We sent them off with a promise to stay in touch on edmodo and with high 5's, hugs, or thumbs up. We also promised to continue our letter-writing skills and writing to them. I am excited about this part. We will miss you so much!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Our week in review....

So... what happened this week in Kindergarten through Fourth grade? So many things happened!! We introduced a lot of new centers. To solidify those money skills we brought in "I Have, Who Has" with money. This center was from Jason's Online Classroom and it is a FREE download! Check it out at Teacher's pay teachers here.
Notice the jackets? It was less than cozy in our room a couple days this week.
We learned by wearing our jackets all day! Maintenance worked hard to get things back on track,
but it was a chilly morning a few times this week.
We focused heavily on Martin Luther King Jr.'s life. We also tied it together with our own classroom "dreams" to make 2015 an awesome year by making it awesome for Mount Hope Elementary School. Third and Fourth grade focused heavily on writing biographies and including some mapping skills, which are important skills for them. They were also asked to include what they admired about Martin and how they might change the world with a dream like Martin Luther King Jr. had. We practiced Kansas standards of education by using our speaking and listening skills. We presented our research to Mrs. Addis' class on Friday afternoon at 1:30. Kindergarten through Second grade focused heavily on their own dreams to change the world and wrote a speech. They modeled their speeches after Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech, telling what their dream was for making our school even better and what action they will take. Here are few photos of students presenting. I can see a great improvement from the beginning of the year until now and I know their skills will continue to increase the more they are engaged in speaking exercises.
This Firstie was a non-reader at the start of school. He read his entire speech!
He also overcame his incredible shyness and projected his voice. My teacher-heart
was SO happy and proud! 

This Firstie spoke with conviction and gave an eloquent speech!
Way To Go! 
Here are some of the centers introduced this week. Some are for Kinder and First, but I included some learning for older grades too with several "I Have, Who Has" games and some vocabulary match ups. We will continue to build on these centers throughout January and rotate in new centers in February. Taking time to teach students centers and games allows myself and my support staff to jump in with small groups at grade levels and focus on Math, Reading, Social Studies and Science skills. It also allows students to work on different skills according to ability or grade level. This is what saves us and allows us to do projects at different academic skill levels. We love centers and learning games!
Many centers came from the "Sneezy the Snowman" pack by Deanna Jump, check them out at I got a Chilly Choices sheet from The Mailbox that I can put "early finisher" activities on by grade level. It was a free printable and I printed on colored card stock and laminated. I write the choices in sharpie and use alcohol to "erase" them when I need to update. There are some other centers and products here that I will highlight and give credit where credit is due as I introduce them to students. 
Sneezy the Snowman was finally "just right" at the end of the story by keeping on the scarf, coat and hat that his friends gave him and then eating some delicious ice cream to keep from getting too hot! We had some centers that used ice cream cones and base-ten blocks for counting and learning ones and tens. We wrapped up the week by celebrating both Sneezy and our own accomplishments of giving our speeches by having ice cream cones at the end of the day on Friday! 

We also started a reading buddy activity on Friday. It is super-exciting that we have SO MANY fluent readers in our class, but sometimes it makes it hard to buddy everyone up. Some students had to just read to a classmate that read at their level and enjoy the social aspect of reading out loud. 

I felt like we had a productive week and students learned at so many levels! I am looking forward to learning more about our great State of Kansas this week! We also have 100th day celebrations coming up NEXT week (on the 27th). I would love to hear from other teachers.... do you celebrate this? What grade levels? I plan to challenge Third and Fourth on math skills and still include them in the festivities. Parents, watch your email for the opportunity to donate to our 100 days of learning snack mix! 

I have a fun idea that is built around the snack idea but I can't share it here because it has to do with our "awesome 2015" goals and I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise for anyone! 

It's time to research and prepare for the week! I hope you had a great week and I can't wait to start a new one? 

p.s. I guess I need a blogging guru to teach me how to design a fun signature button and I want to hear from other teachers... do you genuinely have a holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day? Or do you inservice/professional development like we do?