Thanks Minnesota

Oh my goodness last week was a whirlwind!

Like I said in my last post, it was SO COLD here in Minnesota that we had 2 cold days off on Tuesday and Wednesday. To make it even better, we had ANOTHER cold day on Thursday. That made 3 DAYS OFF because it was too cold to go outside! I also mentioned that last Monday, we had a late start because there was a snowstorm the night before and the roads were too bad right away in the morning to make it safely to school.

So once Friday morning came around, we had only been to school for half of a day. To make it even better, we had a scheduled early release scheduled Friday afternoon for self development. That meant that by the time my students left Friday afternoon, I had seen them for a total of 1 school day….I basically lost an entire week of school.

On the bright side, because we had no school, I didn’t have to make any new lesson plans because I just get to use exactly what I had planned to do last week. The down side is that I’ve been behind my colleagues by almost 2 weeks in both math and reading (and probably a month behind in science) and last week was my week to catch up while they used the week to review. We’re now jumping into this week and they’re moving forward skipping review so I’m pretty sure I’ll be 3 weeks behind. Go me!

It’ll all work out I just get paranoid being the new teacher in my grade level (and school) and not being on track with my team at all!

On a complete separate note, because of the cold, all sports were cancelled and rescheduled last week so my gymnastics schedule is going to be INSANE this week! We had 2 meets scheduled last week (Tuesday and Thursday) that we couldn’t have because we didn’t have school so we had a make up meet Friday, and now this week, we have a meet scheduled for Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. I love coaching and meets are a blast, but most nights I don’t get home until at least past 10 (when I usually get to bed by 8 on a school night…..) and then have to be up the next morning at 6. It’s exhausting to have 1 meet in a week but 3….it’s going to be rough! Thanks Minnesota!

My plan for this week is to get caught up as much as I can in reading, math, and science while also starting to plan our Valentine’s Day party/activities. Things were so messed up last week that I honestly can’t wrap my head around the fact that Valentine’s Day is next week. I’m usually more planned and on top of school things like this but this one totally through me off! I’m just going to make it day by day and keep my eyes on Saturday morning when I’ll get to sleep again!

Blogging from the Tundra

Oh my goodness. If you haven’t heard, the midwest is currently experiencing record breaking temperatures and Minnesota is in the heart of that cold and wind. I mean, yes I know the stigma about Minnesota, “it’s always cold there.” In reality it’s not that bad! Yes, from mid November to about March the temperature can literally range from -10 degrees to 50 but in the spring and summer our temperatures can range from 50 degrees to over 100. We’re used to living in colder temps this time of the year but it is SO cold that the weathermen have commented on how they don’t have a color on their maps to represent how cold it will be.

Today’s high HIGH was -10 degrees and the low was -23 degrees (these don’t include the windchill…with windchill it felt like -40 degrees.) Tomorrow the high is -14 degrees and the low is supposed to be -31 degrees. WITH WINDCHILL IT’S SUPPOSED TO FEEL LIKE -60 DEGREES PEOPLE!! THS IS NOT A DRILL!!

The entire state is under a windchill warning which means that you can get frostbite in under 5-10 minutes. It is SO cold that yesterday at about 1:30 in the afternoon, my entire district got an email saying that they were going to close school for today and tomorrow. That’s right, we had a literal “cold” day today and a “cold” day tomorrow! It’s so dangerous to be out in this weather most districts completely cancelled EVERYTHING for these 2 days to keep people indoors. It takes a lot to close schools because of the cold in Minnesota, especially in January when negative temps are normal, but that’s just how frigid it is!

My day today was so nice and relaxing (for the most part)! I woke up and got to lay on the couch snuggled in my blanket with my cat drinking coffee and watching New Girl. I lounged around for awhile and then ventured out into the tundra to head to the bank and to Target.

(Side story: Yesterday I used my debit card at a local restaurant and it was declined, which made no sense but I let it slide. I went online this morning to order Girl Scout Cookies from one of my students and used the same card and it was denied again! I then called my card issuers and found out that my card number was stolen and had been used to make fraudulent chargers in Ohio. I had to venture into the cold to go sign papers at my bank saying it wasn’t me. So that was fun.)

After I took care of my little issue and got some groceries, I headed back to hunker down in my apartment! I spent the rest of the day bundled up on the couch getting caught up on different shows I haven’t watched in awhile, doing some yoga, and cleaning parts of my apartment I haven’t touched in some time. My plan is to finish the night off with some wine and a few romantic comedies I have been meaning to get to.

I’m ready for cold day number 2!

 

Persuasive Writing and DONUTS?!

Ahhhh okay so today we did the best persuasive writing project EVER!!! I got this amazing product from the TPT store The Knitted Apple. Oh my goodness this was so fun and really encouraged my kiddos to put forth their best writing skills!

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This was a 2 day project that we spent an hour on day 1 and a couple hours on day 2.

Day 1:

We did an introduction on what it means to be persuasive. We talked about how advertisements and commercials try to persuade us all the time. We watched a series of commercials and discussed the different strategies they used. We then got into groups and created our own “commercial” to the class to promote a donate that is included in the resource that you can buy. There is a page of 9 different donuts. Each group picks one and has 1 minute to persuade the class why their donut is the best.

Once they finished (and they had so much fun presenting their donuts) I introduced the writing project. They had to create their own donut and then write a persuasive paragraph convincing a store owner why they should sell their donut in their store. We started with a planning stage.

They drew a sketch of what their donut would look like and then come up with 3 reasons on why their donut is the best. They also had to include labels on their sketch of different things that are added to their special donut. When they completed, they turned it into me and I went through and edited them all to make sure they had full sentences and were on the right track.

Day 2:

Today they started their final writing piece. They took their planning pages and used them to create a final paragraph. They added more detail to their final writings to make them more persuading and creative.

The final part of this project was them creating their final donut drawing. They were so cute and had so much fun!! They got to design their final product and then combined their writing with their pictures to post in the hall.

I told them that I will have a super secret surprised judge to pick the top 3 donuts and those 3 kiddos will get a special prize (I haven’t decided quite yet what that will be.) I also told them that as long as they worked hard, I’d bring them donuts as a class treat. (Bribery always seems to work!)

Overall, this was such a fun project and I highly recommend it!!

Back to Normal (Kind of)

This week has been a normal and solid week. We came back to school on Tuesday after having Monday night and it was a nice refresher. It was hard to wake up Tuesday but once I got my butt to school everything was fine!

We had winter testing this week and OH MY GOODNESS it takes forever! We take the NWEA reading and math tests twice a year and then our standardized grade level tests in the spring. The NWEA test is supposed to show what level each kid is at based on the questions they get. If they get things wrong the questions get easier and if they get them right they get harder.

We tested reading Tuesday morning and math Wednesday morning. I wanted to get them done with as soon as possible so I didn’t have to think about it. I did feel bad giving them these tests right after a 3 day weekend but they did great! Everyone in my class did better in reading! Most of them did better in math which I’ll take since my class really struggles with putting in their best effort when it comes to anything math related.

On top of those tests I had to retest their fluency levels. Once again, most of my class improved by at least 10 words per minute (which doesn’t sound like a lot but when your class is as low as mine that’s a huge win!)

Because of a 4 day week and testing, we had pretty much no reading time this week. We tested during our reading block and then jumped right into math right after. I know I probably could have switched my math test to be during our math block but because my kids aren’t the biggest fans of math, I needed to use the time on that!

Today we started our persuasive writing unit and I am SO EXCITED to share with you what we did! I won’t post anything now but let me just tell you that the activity I did was a complete success and my students are putting their bests efforts into making the best persuasive essay they possibly can! (I may or may not have bribed them with donuts if they do well……..oops.) I wish I could take credit for this awesome TPT resource. Today we did prewriting and rough draft writing so tomorrow we can dive into the final product.

The other great thing about this week is my kiddos are FINALLY back to getting along! I think they just needed some time apart because I don’t have any of the same issues I had last week! (It might help that a few of my instigators have been absent but I’m going to pretend that’s not the reason.)

On top of school, my gymnastics coaching schedule has been crazy! We’ve had at least 2 meets a week which gets pretty draining coming from a full day of school. Things are starting to wind down though and I’m pretty sad about that. This weekend we get to go compete at the Minnesota True Team State competition which will be super fun! Only the top 10 teams in the state are invited and we managed to squeak our way into it! It’s all day Saturday but it’s totally worth it!

I have had a week with some interesting medical issues going on. 2 years ago (around this time of the year) I got this weird rash/allergic reaction on my hands. It lasted for about a week and then disappeared. Last year, the same thing happened but it lasted almost a month before I finally went to see my dermatologist and got some heavy duty ointment to go on my hands. Then, what do you know, Sunday it shows back up again when I wake up. The weirdest part is it showed up on the SAME day it showed up last year! It’s super painful and keeps me up at night because it itches so bad! Last year, my doctor came to the conclusion that I had touched something I was allergic to while my body was fighting off something so the reaction was intense and didn’t go away. I believed her until it showed up for the 3rd year in a row. Luckily, it’s not as severe as it was last year and I’m able to function without putting lotion on my hands every 5 minutes but I’m still at a loss for what it might be. This might be a little gross to some of you but I do have these 2 pictures I took of them on Monday morning if anyone has any idea what my problem is.

 

The weirdest part is that I’ve tracked what I’ve eaten, the weather, cleaning supplies that I’ve used, and anything else I could think of and nothing has related to just these incidences. I’ve eaten the same as I do any other time of the year, it hasn’t been super cold like it can be, I’ve been using the same cleaning supplies and laundry detergent for my entire life…..ugh it just makes no sense to me! I went to urgent care twice last year before I saw my dermatologist and they were convinced I ate or touched something different but I hadn’t. I’m just a medical mystery I guess!

Apart from my hands, it’s been a good week and I have a good feeling the week will end just as great! (My kids will have inside recess for the next week though so you might need to pray for me for the next 5 school days! Next Thursday our HIGH is supposed to be -10 degrees….yeah people that’s not including wind chill……..)

January Student Slump

The past few days have honestly been a blur. Thursday afternoon and Friday at school were hard days for my kids. They have been at each other’s necks like crazy lately. It’s that time of the year that they are so used to one another that they are fighting like siblings and I don’t know what to do!

Thursday afternoon I had to have a class intervention on how to be nice to each other. We watched the Class Dojo Empathy videos where Mojo gets so anxious he takes his emotions out on his friends. He learns that everyone is going through something and that when you are upset or frustrated with another person, you need to take a deep breath and walk in that person’s shoes.

After we watched the 3 different videos, we had a long class discussion on what we learned and how it relates to us. During the lesson, they were all super attentive and understanding. I had some brave kiddos who shared some personal examples on when they’ve had bad days and took it out on someone else. I honestly thought it was a success!

Friday, however they came in to the room and I heard 3 different arguments in 10 minutes. One of my pet peeves is whining and snapping at others. I don’t know what happened but they came in and got very annoyed with each other very quick and I heard a lot of whining and a lot of snapping. We had to start our Friday morning meeting with a reflection on our discussion the day before and brainstormed ways to make the day better.

For the most part this worked but when they came in from recess, I heard many stories about how “so and so pushed me,” or “so and so looked at me funny and then ran away from me.” I needed them all to stay away from each other so we did some independent work and reading during the afternoon. I tried a team bonding activity where they met with other classmates to share facts about themselves but that didn’t work either.

I had to pull the class together again to talk about how we’re a big family and like any family, we won’t always get along. We talked about how no matter if you like someone or not, we’re stuck together for another 5 months and we need to learn to get along like we have to with our siblings.

To say the least, I was glad when the bell rang and the long weekend began. We have school off tomorrow and I’m really hoping that having 3 days off will be a good refresher so we can come back on Tuesday and focus more on school and not little arguments about funny looks and who sat by who at the lunch table.

If anyone has any ideas on how to get through this January slump, I’m open to any and all suggestions!

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Youtube in the Classroom

Happy Thursday!!

I feel like I say this every week but this week has been crazy!! I think it’s just that time of the year when there are so many things to do and so many tests to take.

This week in reading we’ve been working on finding the theme in the story. Holy cow this is hard for them!! We’ve done many practices that show how finding the theme in a story is like finding the lesson learned (moral) in the story. Every day, when I teach it, they seem to get what’s going on but then the next day I ask, “what does it mean to find the theme in a story?” and crickets….so then I have to go back and reteach it again.

I’m a HUGE fan of using Youtube in my classroom. I think that using videos, especially ones that other teachers post, are a huge helper for my students. They get to hear what I’ve been teaching from another person’s perspective AND they get to practice with examples. One video we did as a class yesterday was a video using 4 different songs that they’re familiar with and finding the theme in that song (The video is called Finding Theme with Songs). We talked about how most songs are centered around a theme. We listened to Let it Go, Hakuna Matata, Happy, and You’ve Got a Friend in Me (all songs they are pretty familiar with!) They had so much fun. The video shows a tiny clip of the chorus in each song and then pauses to have them find the theme. I’d pause the video and they’d discuss with their table groups. I

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thought for sure this video did the trick and they knew what theme was but then 5 hours later during our small group time I asked what theme was and they couldn’t tell me. *face palm* Today we are doing one more activity that involves watching Dr. Seuss’s the Sneetches and trying to find the theme of that story. My fingers are crossed that today is FINALLY the day they get it!

In math we’ve been starting work with geometry (while also still working on those multiplication facts!) This is probably my absolute favorite thing to teach just because I get to use my favorite math songs off of Youtube! (Like I said, HUGE Youtube fan!)

We learned about polygons, quadrilaterals, and perimeter. Today we are tackling area. I wanted to share my favorite math songs site because it is amazing! My kids love listening and watching these songs and they’re super catchy so they remember different math concepts that we learn! If you haven’t heard of it go to Youtube and search NumberRock, if you have heard of it you know how amazing it is! I started using it last year with my 4th graders for fun (I thought they’d find it cheesy) and they fell in love with it. It helped them master long division, different types of lines (my FAVORITE SONG!), angles (this is a fan favorite), fractions, and many many more different topics! This week we’ve had a song for every topic we’ve covered!

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Using these songs and videos help reenforce these ideas with my kiddos. They can see it in a fun way and not have to hear my boring voice drone on and on all day long. If you are not a Youtube user in your classroom, I highly recommend it!

 

Gymnastics, Family, Yoga, and New Girl

Today is was a nice and relaxing day. It was the perfect Saturday after a full week back.

I started the day with a nice cup of coffee while lying on the couch. There’s nothing better than waking up and not having to do anything for awhile so you can just relax on the couch in your pajamas.

I then went to judge a gymnastics tournament. I LOVE gymnastics. I did gymnastics, I coach gymnastics, and I also judge. Some tournaments can be super long (and I was not really excited to spend my Saturday working) but the meet was only 2 hours long! I was in and out of the gym and it was still the afternoon. It was also a fun meet to work and watch.

The rest of the day was pretty great as well. I went to hang out with my family for a couple hours. I feel like I haven’t seen my family since Christmas since things have been so busy lately and I only live 15 minutes away from them! I love catching up with them and just spending time all together.

My yoga with Adrienne for the day was all about ease and serenity. It was a 30 minute meditation practice. It was all centered on the floor and was about mindfulness and taking things easy. After a long week of teaching, it’s just what I needed. I love finding my center and creating those positive vibes throughout my body.

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I then got some chores done around my apartment and now I’m ending the day watching some New Girl and drinking a glass of wine. Does anyone else love New Girl? Seriously, she is me to a tee. (I’ve always secretly wished I lived in an apartment with 3 guy roommates.)

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I forget how much I love Saturdays when there’s nothing to worry about and no school work to get caught up on. Sorry this post was kind of random but it was such a nice day I needed to write about it.

First Full Week Back

Well I’m not going to lie, this week has been long and crazy. Coming back from break was great! I missed my kiddos so much but man, a full week of school after 3+ weeks, is hard! I feel like the first full week of school in September!

Monday morning started the week off great when one of my kiddos brought me a Christmas present that came in the mail last weekend. She had told me about it but then was sad because she said it wasn’t coming. (She’s a cutie who likes to fabricate her stories so I wasn’t even sure she was serious about this gift in the first place.) Oh my goodness it was AMAZING.

Side note: To get how amazing, you have to know that I have a cat who I love and I’m OBSESSED with Harry potter!

Her family had gotten me a shirt that was all of the Harry Potter characters AS CATS!!! It was honestly the best shirt I’ve ever seen in my life!

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It made my whole week and it was only Monday morning!

For the most part, the week went pretty smoothly. My kiddos were back to normal! Most of them were with me all of the time and my usual special kiddos were back to their normal selves (which was actually shockingly refreshing!)

We FINALLY had a normal week!!!! I’ve missed normal weeks!! We had a normal reading week and started our new math chapter. Everything was finally back to normal. For me, that makes the week go by faster and easier.

Today we did one of my favorite winter projects to end the week! I love snowmen (my last post is a perfect example of that) so I wanted to add snowmen to our “rocking work” wall. Last year (my first year) I just simply searched on Pinterest for an easy and cute snowman project and I found this one (which is pretty common but cute!)

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They had an idea on what to do and then I let them take their own creative path. They turned out so cute!! They definitely were creative but overall, they were super cute! I have a wall in the back of my classroom to hang their artwork. I’ve found this to be a super easy way to display work without wasting my time taping/stapling up work every few weeks.

My life has been so crazy that I haven’t been able to post anything in a week! A lot more happened this week that I should have talked about but we all know how teaching life takes over 12 hours of your day before you’re ready for bed again! My goal is to do better and share more about what we do day to day in our room. More than likely, that won’t happen for awhile but I will do my best!

Happy first full week back!!

Winter Project PLUS ELA Standards

Coming back to school this week, we only had 3 days. In those 3 days I really didn’t want to start any new reading unit so I decided to review different reading strategies we’ve discussed throughout the year.

I also wanted to do a fun winter art project to spice up our classroom (it looks pretty dull without our Christmas decorations.) I tried to think of a way to combine some reading strategy to an art project. Lucky for me, my mom is a teacher (and taught 3rd grade for years) so she gives me tons of ideas and activities that she used to do all the time. I found one that mixed making a snowman with putting events of a story together. We are reviewing sequencing events next week so it was the PERFECT little gem of a project to find!

Every student got this sheet to start. They had to fill it out with their steps on how to build a snowman, or “snowpal.”

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Once they showed me they were able to sequence how they build a snowman, they cut out their little circles and used them to make a snowman on blue construction paper.

Seriously, this was the cutest and easiest project I’ve ever done! I didn’t realize how amazing it would turn out until they were done! I let them have free reign when it came to creating their snowman. Most took the literal route and made the cutest “snowdogs” and “snowcats” out there!

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This made for the quickest, cutest, and easiest Friday morning after Christmas break and now my cupboards have the best winter decorations to spice up the room!

Welcome Back!!!

Happy New Year everyone!! I am officially back at school and I feel so refreshed and very much restored. I woke up 30 minutes early this morning because I was so excited to be back in the swing of things and start this next half of the year off right!

I wanted to treat today like the first day of school again. 11 days of no school and crazy routines will throw anyone off especially 23 8 year olds. They all came in and found that I have a whole new seating arrangement. I needed a fresh look and this way, they are around new people! When the day started, we had our morning meeting which ran a little differently than normal. Because they were all so excited to share about their breaks, I set aside 20 minutes just for them to share. They loved listening to everyone’s stories and it was a way to help them get all of their chatter out before we got into our day.

We then spent our “activity” time of our morning meeting talking about our class expectations. I’m a big person on creating these expectations as a team/group instead of me just telling them my rules. I like to have them be apart of that process, so they can take responsibility and ownership of our room. We made a list of 6 “main” rules and 6 consequences at the beginning of the year. I took both lists down and we discussed them and talked about how we can make them better or stick to the expectations in a new way. I found a great (free!!) resource on teachers pay teachers that was all about rules and expectations. I found this on the shop Teach Create Collaborate. They took this back to their own desks and filled out 3 of the most important expectations/rules we have in our room on their own.

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Once they finished, I had them talk with their groups (groups of 8) to discuss what they came up with to be their top 3 rules/expectations we have and why. From there, they also discussed what some consequences might be if one of the rules were to be broken. While they discussed I put the two words on the board and we got to work brainstorming together!

It definitely looks like a big jumbled mess (and some of the rules and consequences might not make much sense) but these were what they came up with, all on their own. I had no input on what they decided because I wanted them to take pride in creating our new set of rules and consequences. I then transferred these onto two different posters to hang in our room. I had each student sign both before hanging them up to show they approved of what was created.

Once that was completed we did a mini lesson on resolutions. I’m not the biggest fan on having one specific new year’s resolution but I am big on setting a goal for yourself that you work hard on everyday. For example, last year my resolution (goal) was to focus on myself, this year I have dedicated this to be the year of adventure. I shared this with my students but also told them some normal resolutions they might hear (workout more, get better grades, learn how to do a cartwheel, etc.) I showed them 2 awesome Youtube videos that explained resolutions and gave kid friendly examples. The first video was published by Syracuse entitled Kids share adorable New Year’s resolutions. The second video was a class Kid President video entitled Kid President AWESOME Year Challenge.

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My kids loved both and got awesome ideas on what their resolutions should be. I found another free and awesome resource on Teachers Pay Teachers that was a cute writing template for them to write down what their resolutions would be. I found this on Amanda Garcia’s TPT store. It was the perfect mini writing activity for the day and to get back in the swing of things.

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My math time was all review to get them back thinking math and so I knew they didn’t forget anything we really focused on right before they left. We played addition/subtraction scoot for the first half and then they worked on independent work the second half. The rest of the day was pretty calm and relaxing. My kids were back to their “normal” selves so my fingers are crossed we will have another successful half of the year!

Sidenote: I started Harry Potter as my read aloud today and my class is already in love with it! I could not be any happier!!!!