Task Cards for the Win!

Happy Friday! It’s been a fun and crazy filled week! This week was Homecoming, so that added an extra crazy twist on the week.

Monday I started a “review” of multidigit subtraction with regrouping. This is something that I taught last year to them when they were in 3rd grade. Of course I assumed that this would be an easy review math lesson and that they would be bored out of their minds because they would remember everything they learned last year. Ha. I’m laughing at my naiveté just thinking about it.

I went through correcting their assignment and wow…..they BOMBED. During my “review” lesson, they acted just how I thought they would. They were looking at me like they could fall asleep any second. I honestly thought they were so bored that they would go home and tell their parents about how math is too easy and they aren’t being challenged. I felt comfortable doing only a few practice problems together before setting them off to work alone.

When I saw how poorly they did, and how overly confident they were acting, I figured I needed to do some major and serious review. Monday after school I bought a set of multidigit subtraction with regrouping task cards on TPT (from Little Achiever‘s account) and had them spend the entire math time Tuesday going through every card.

Screen Shot 2019-09-27 at 7.49.50 PM.png

There were 24 total cards so, for some of my students, this took them the entire math time. I had the answer key posted (backwards on a magnet) on my board, so students who were finished ahead of time, could check their own work, followed by doing some more challenging problems on IXL (BTW if you don’t know what IXL is GO CHECK IT OUT!!! This is a teacher’s dream for math and language arts review!!)

This worked wonders!!! They thought it was super fun to spend their math time moving around the room doing problems on their mini whiteboards. It was amazing! After this small (but fun) activity, they seemed to have better memories on how to regroup when subtracting.

I was able to see how well this worked today when I had them take an adding and subtracting quiz. All but one student passed!!! That is insane when you think about a class of 25 students. If your students are struggling with anything in math as a class, go and take an extra couple days of review, it WILL pay off!! It’s okay if you fall behind your teammates or your scope and sequence. If your kiddos need more practice, give it to them!

The rest of the week was pretty relaxed, apart from our crazy dress up days. This week we also started some switching for subjects with different teachers. My students have been with me for the past few weeks learning about some basic grammar topics, like nouns, verbs, and types of sentences. Thursday, my students finished their first grammar round with me and got to begin a few weeks of science with another teacher. Because of that, I got a new group of kiddos to teach grammar to for 40 minutes. This new class made me love my own class even more. The class that I’ll be teaching grammar to for the next few weeks, has a lot of energy. 6 of my students from last year are in that class, so I knew that having them for 40 minutes a day would be interesting….I remembered quick how exhausting my year ended up being last year with some of those kiddos. Those 40 minutes yesterday and today were the most exhausting my year has been thus far. Because of that, I realized how AMAZING my students this year are. I seriously love them. They are so sweet and so calm. I am so lucky to have such a great class this year.

One month ago I found out that I’d be moving from 3rd grade to 4th grade (only a week before school started) and I was not thrilled. I was nervous, anxious, angry, and stressed. After this month, I can honestly believe that everything happens for a reason. If I didn’t have this chance to move up a grade level, I would not have had this opportunity to have the most amazing class in the world. A class I may never have the opportunity to have again. I am honestly so blessed and lucky to get the chance to be their 4th grade teacher.

 

For more day to day posts and class activities, go follow my teacher instagram account @lifeoftherookieteacher!

Second Full Week Complete!

Happy Friday! I think I’m officially labeling Fridays as my posting days. It’s a nice way to rethink about the week while also venting if I need it. It’s also a way for me to relax and decompress.

This week I didn’t go overboard with anything crazy like art projects or special assignments. My main goal for this week was to keep things as consistent and routined as possible. (For myself and the kids.)

Monday started the week strong. My kids came in ready to learn (which still blew my mind) so it was a nice easy way to start the week. The next few days were like that but then Thursday came.

Thursday was the day we had to take our fall reading benchmarks test. The assessment we take is about 40 questions but the poor kids have to read multiple passages (that are not exciting) so it takes up to 2 hours for them to finish. Needless to say, they were not in the learning mood after lunch.

The afternoon on Thursday was the first time this year I started to get frustrated. (Now I know what I’m about to share is literally nothing! I know, I’ve had tough classes in the past! But after having such an incredible 2 weeks of no issues, I was shocked that they weren’t listening and being a bit disrespectful.)  They came back from lunch, and usually they know my expectation is to grab a book and read to self right away (they are amazing at this) but they came back and would not stop talking! I tried to get them to settle down but for some reason it wasn’t sinking in.

For my discipline system I have a “strike” board. If their name is on the strike board by Friday,  they owe me 5 minutes (for each time their name is on the board) of their morning Friday free time. I usually only have to give a single warning for them to settle down, but Thursday it took multiple warnings and a few kids who got official “strikes” for them to calm down.

The rest of the afternoon was just like this. They were so chatty. Luckily they are such good kids that saying they had to write their name on the strike board was enough for them to stop whatever it was they were doing.

Today was very similar to yesterday. They were high energy and chatty. We had to stop and have a talk about how they had been doing such a great job the first few weeks and how my expectation of them is to continue that since they are more than capable. (I know, they’re 9, they are going to talk and have high energy but just telling them that I was disappointed in the past few days, was enough to get them to settle down.)

I do love this class. So far, I can tell it’s going to be a much easier year than it has been in the past. But they’re kids and I’m a teacher, there will be days that we both drive each other crazy. The last 2 days, were those days. I do love them with all of my heart and I am excited to go back and see them on Monday!

To make today so much better, however I was eligible for an upgrade on my phone, so last weekend I preordered the new iPhone 11 Pro Max. When I came home from work today, there it was sitting in front of my door waiting for me! (I’m a nerd who LOVES Apple and technology, so new Apple products are my toys that make me as excited as a kid on Christmas morning!) It was the best Friday surprise!

Until next week friends!

For more day to day adventures and pictures, go follow my school instagram account @lifeoftherookieteacher!

First 2 Days!!

Happy Friday everyone (and happy back to school week for those who started like me)!!! Oh my goodness, I love my new class! The past 2 days with kids has been crazy and chaotic but just because of the housekeeping that had to be done. My class was amazing with listening, and following directions on what needed to be done. It’s only been my 3rd official first day but this was by far the most well behaved my classes have been with the crazy.

The first day was filled with a few get to know you activities and A LOT of organizing and housekeeping. Our school does this fun thing right away where the entire building meets in our gym before anyone goes to any classrooms. We get to see all of the kiddos, all staff introduces themselves, and then the principal gives everyone a welcome back message! I’ve really enjoyed the kick off.

When we came back to our room, before we got anything out and organized, we sat in our morning meeting circle and I did one of my favorite get to know you activities. I found this on Pinterest a few years ago and have used it ever since. I show the students a roll of toilet paper. (Cue the laughter!) I don’t tell them what they need it for but I do tell them they are going to take off 1, 2, or 3 squares from the roll and then will pass it on to the next student. Most class clowns will pick the 3 (one year I let them choose 1-5 and most of my crazy clowns picked 5) because they think it’s funny. I then tell them that the number of squares they have will represent the number of things they will share with the class about themselves. Super fun and a big hit!

Of course I had to read 1st Day Jitters by Jane Danneberg because what teacher doesn’t read that fun book the first day back? We then did a silly activity where they worked together to draw a silly face. It was a perfect team building activity to break the ice and a way for us to talk about how everyone is different.

The rest of the day was mainly full of getting things put where they were supposed to go and explanations given on all of the little things around my room, like jobs and lunch, and how I do them. Overall, it was an easy first day.

7F7EFA75-0C9F-4FAA-999B-E866FD3024D4
Classic first day of school pic!

Today was still crazy but we got to do a lot more fun stuff. I always have a morning message on the board explaining morning jobs that need to be completed. I tested them this morning by just seeing if they could follow the directions without me prompting them. (Just so I can see who can and cannot follow those directions.) Most of my kids knew what to do! It was amazing!!

Our morning meeting game was a get to know you Bingo. We also used this as a way to talk about how it’s okay if you don’t win, it’s just fun to learn about your new classmates. Again, they did awesome.

I then read a fun new book by Karen Kilpatrick and Luis O. Ramos Jr. called, When Pencil met Eraser. The main purpose of the book was to focus on friendship and team work. That lead into a discussion on what we look for in a friend. They each got a sheet that had them brainstorm what they want in a friend and what friendship looks like, sounds like, and feels like. We talked about it together and then they started our first writing activity of the year.

img_5657.jpg

I wanted them to write a letter/wanted ad to explain what they were looking for in a friend. I gave them strict directions on writing the letter/ad, where to put it when they were done, and to read to self when they were finished all in silence. I honestly said this one time and they did it! Without me having to ask more than once or redirecting anyone. Seriously, my jaw is dropping just thinking about it now. They displayed their ads on our awesome work wall so everyone in the class could read them.

We then took some time to talk about rules and consequences. I’m big on having them come up with their own rules and their own consequences for the classroom. That way they have ownership in how our room runs and ownership in the consequences for not following their own rules.

We spent some time brainstorming rules and consequences they have had in the past and decided on 6 main rules and 6 main consequences for our class. I created 2 posters and then had them sign both saying they agree to the consequences and rules they created. (If you saw on of my original posts, you’ll know that I also do this when we come back from Christmas break to kickstart the second part of the year.)

Finally, the last activity we did today was a fun time capsule activity. Each student got a packet full of different things they write about now and will see if they changed by the year. The packet had some fun things like, your hand size and foot size that they loved!! It was so fun watching them. I also had them take an empty map of the US and fill in as many states as they could (in 4th grade they learn all the states and capitals) so they can compare it to what they know the last day of school. They then wrote a letter to their last day of 4th grade self that they get to read when they get their time capsules back.

Overall, it was a fun couple of days. Don’t get me wrong I am EXHAUSTED but it was fun! I am so excited for the year. These are great kids and I know great things will happen! The first 2 days are done! Year 3, here we go!!
IMG_5673

 

My Top 8 Self-Love Books

Over the past year I’ve been working hard on helping myself through many different outlets. One thing that I’ve spent a lot of time doing is reading different “self-help” books to learn different tips and perspectives. (Yes, there is a lot of controversy over self-help books, and I know they are not a cure to anything, but I have found little treasures in each book that I have used as mantras for my better life.

I’m going to share my top 8 that have helped me and that have been quite entertaining. Yes, most of these you’ve probably seen or heard of before. I know you’ve probably read 1 if not more of these books but I just thought I’d share with links to Amazon or Target where you can easily find and purchase them .

My Top 8:

  1. Freedom from Toxic Relationships by Avril Carruthers

41wXeN+da3L._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_

One day last summer I had an interesting therapy session where we talked about toxic relationships. I realized that I’ve surrounded my self in toxic relationships everywhere in my life and had been doing that for years. This book explains any and all relationships that exist in your life. It helps acknowledge if you are in a toxic relationship and then gives the steps on how to move forward. It helped me quit a coaching job that had me working with toxic people, something that I wanted to do for awhile but never had the guts to do.

2. Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

41P9EzD+GkL._SX316_BO1,204,203,200_

Because I’m prone to being in toxic relationships, I tend to have a problem with setting boundaries. I don’t like saying no. This book is for the “I can’t say no” person. It has some good tips and reminders on how to say no and how that will make you a happier person in the end. It isn’t an entirely religious book but different bible verses are immersed throughout if you like those little reminders.

3. Brave, Not Perfect by Reshma Saujani

81fjC+ivuLL

This book is written by the founder and CEO of the program “Girls Who Code.” Being a teacher, I’ve totally heard of her program but never knew how it was founded. This book is split into 3 parts talking about why girls are so hard on themselves, why being brave is important, and how to not worry about perfection and start being brave. I’ve been a perfectionist FOREVER so this book really spoke to me!

4. YOU are a BADASS by Jen Sincero

51r5X3h8IWL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_

To be honest, I’m only half way done with this one but, so far, I’m a fan. This one is split into 5 parts on different ways to love yourself no matter what. The main focus of this book is to remember how awesome you are. It’s the best reminder for everyone!

5. Grace not Perfection by Emily Ley

51xyDB5rXvL._SX372_BO1,204,203,200_

This is another book split into different parts. The fun part about this one is that it’s interactive. Emily Ley designs clean cut planners and life journals and this book is set in that format. After each chapter there is a different journal or writing prompt that relates back to the chapter topic she talked about. (By the way, for all of you who love clean cut art and designs you’ll LOVE just looking at this book just as much as I do.)

6. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

91ibhD5nhUL

Yes this is probably the one you know/have heard of/have read. I love this book. Rachel is so real it’s ridiculous. I love how open and honest she is about EVERYTHING. I think that’s what makes her books so popular. She’s being real about life talking about lies we believe about our lives and ourselves and how to get over them. (BTW she also has a legitimate chapter about sex…it doesn’t get more real than that!)

7. Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

91rhzcPiXAL

Rachel’s second book is all about achieving your goals and believing you can do them. She uses her own life as an example about building her own company and the obstacles she fought through to get where she is today. The first part of the book lists all of the excuses we use to not do something and how to let them go. Part two is all about behaviors to adopt in order to live a healthier life to achieve your goals. The final part is all about the skills you will acquire while you are working towards your goal. Her final message is about “believing in your dang self!” I love Rachel Hollis. She is my new role model in life.

**Fun fact: Rachel has a podcast called Rise and one of her episodes features Reshma Saujani talking about her book Brave, Not Perfect. It’s amazing!**

8. Staying Strong 365 Days a Year by Demi Lovato 

419Psrx3oJL._SX347_BO1,204,203,200_

This is a daily devotional book that includes a different quote (these could be bible verses, famous quotes from classic literature, song lyrics, or a quote from Demi herself), a paragraph explaining the quote, and a daily objective to embrace for the day. I’ve gone through this book for the past 3 years now and I love the messages she gives. Demi has had a hard life and she is very honest about her experiences and makes herself easy to relate to. I usually read my daily devotion before bed and try to implement the daily objective for the next day. That way I end each day with a positive message and a goal for the next day. I highly recommend this one!

Crazy Cat Lady – It’s Official

If I haven’t stated before I love animals! If I could have endless dogs and cats my life would be content. Growing up, I had 2 different black labs (both at different times) and a couple cats every now and then but my dad was not a cat person so we didn’t have them for very long.

When I was 21 our second lab was put down and my dad didn’t want to train another dog. At the time, I was currently living in an apartment and was utterly depressed that my puppy wasn’t around anymore. We weren’t allowed to have dogs in our apartment so I had the sudden urge to adopt a cat. I adopted my baby Lucy when she was 6 years old at our local humane society. Since then, she has been my best friend. She is the calmest and sweetest cat alive. She also has major anxiety over meeting strangers so her and I got along too well. I moved home for 2 years and brought Lucy home with me. My dad fell in love with her and finally became a cat person.

One year ago I moved out of my house again and moved into another apartment. Lucy and I lived alone together again. As the summer turned into the school year I started to feel bad because I’d be gone for 8-12 hours at a time and she’d be left alone. When we lived at home, my dad was always there (being retired) so she was never lonely. I started to see her become more and more needy when I would come home from work. She also had my morning routine down to a science and would cry when I would walk out the door. I started to think about getting her a companion to keep her company.

The two of us got through the year with the thought of a second kitty in the back of my mind. I did some research and found that, with a cat as timid and calm as Lucy, a kitten would be better to adopt and bring home than an adult cat. On a complete impulse (I’m a very impulsive person when it comes to something I want) I went back to the humane society just “to look.” They had so many litters of kittens and were looking to get rid of them, so of course, it was too perfect for me. I fell in love with a little kitten who was the runt of her litter and the calmest of them all. I figured she would be the perfect match for my Lucy.

Today I got to pick up my new baby, Zoe, and bring her home. I have been nervous to see how Lucy would react because she hides when ANY adult besides me is in the apartment so I didn’t know how she would take a new animal. I introduced them by having Zoe in her carrying case and Lucy walk up to see her behind the bars of the door. Lucy was so scared when she saw the case that she was walking soooooo slowly to see what was inside. As soon as she saw Zoe she hissed (which I’ve never heard her do before) and ran away to hide. I did some research about introducing cats with new kittens and from that, I set up a room for Zoe in the bathroom. Everything that I’ve read said to let the kitten explore without the other cat around. It also said to have her spend a lot of time in “her room” to give the old cat some time to think things are normal while getting used to the new cat’s scent. As soon as I put Zoe in the bathroom, Lucy got the nerve to come out. I gave it some time before I pulled Zoe out again. I tried to reintroduce them but Lucy hissed again and ran to hide.

I’m trying to figure out how to keep these two both content while also introducing them to become best friends. I don’t want Lucy to become depressed and angry, she’s been through a lot. Before I adopted her, she had been in some tough house holds and it gave her some serious PTSD and anxiety. I know she needs a friend so I’m hoping this works. If ANYONE has any tips or tricks on how to get them to bond and for Lucy to become less anxious, PLEASE let me know. I am now an official crazy cat mom and want to have 2 happy little kitties.

 

This is me.

I’ve officially been on summer break for 5 days now and I’m finally getting caught up on my sleep! That has been the one thing I have been looking forward to the most that is for sure!! I figured since I haven’t had anything school related going on, I should write a little about myself to fully and finally share with all of you who I am. Whether it’s 100 people who read this or 0, I thought it would be good to share with you my story.

My name is Lisa, I’m 24 years old, and I am from Minnesota, born and raised. (I know I have made many references and posts about that before but just in case it wasn’t that obvious…) I grew up the next town over from where I am currently teaching. I had the opportunity to attend elementary school at the same place my mom worked at. At the time, she was a 3rd grade teacher as well. When I was in 3rd grade, I got to have my mom as my math and spelling teacher. I loved it! As I’ve said before, my mom is the main reason I wanted to become a teacher. Growing up she was also my track and field coach and my cross country coach. She was, and still is, my idol. Because of spending so much time together, we became super close.

With my mom, I grew up with my dad and my sister Lea all in the same house. We were a close small family of 4. I had the best childhood growing up. Family was always number 1 for my parents so we spent a lot of time together. My dad was an activities coordinator at the local jail for the next county over. Growing up all I knew was that he worked in a jail, it took years for me to actually understand what he did. When I was 13 he had an accident that shook our whole world. From the accident we discovered that he had a disease called Myasthenia Gravis (MG) which shuts down his immune system and deteriorates his muscles. Because of his diagnosis, he was put on disability leave from his job. This summer will be 11 years he has been out of work and “retired.” That was hard for us to handle but in the long run it made us stronger.

My little sister Lea is 20 years old. She has had her own struggles as well. I’ve posted about this before in my National Eating Disorder Awareness post, but when she was 15 she was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. She has struggled with this for almost 6 years now. As a family we had our own ups and downs understanding her struggle and adjusting to get her the help she needed. She is a HUGE part of my life, I love her more than anything else in the world. She is my best friend and in a weird way, I’ve always considered her to be my own child.

Between my dad and my sister, my life has been shaken up many times. I’ve had to understand that even in the most stable and loving households, terrible things can still happen. I’ve struggled understanding this, however. I have gone through my own rounds of depression. I struggled for most of my college years understanding my family while also trying to find myself. It was the hardest 4 years of my life.

I am not ashamed to admit that I have had issues with mental health and ideas of self harm. Through everything that has happened, I have also dealt with the loss of family members, friendships, and relationships. All of those had an impact on my struggle. When I was a junior in college the second boy who had ever shown an interest in me, ended things and I was not okay. I got very upset and tried to do things to myself that I wish I wouldn’t have tried. But I realized my struggle and sought the help I needed. After many MANY discussions with friends and family I went to the doctor. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and have been on antidepressants ever since.

I did okay for a few years and then my world became a mess and I went through the same cycle again. I had many highs around the time I turned 22. I graduated from college and gotten my dream job. I also found someone who I thought I had a big connection with and lost my virginity to him. It was a big deal. A few short weeks later though, I found out that boy didn’t feel the same way about me and I was not strong enough to handle that. I made the choice to be intimate with a person I adored and then I found out it wasn’t a mutual feeling. I struggled that summer with dealing with that event on top of getting ready for my first year of teaching. I was so thrown off by a boy that I couldn’t even enjoy my first few months of teaching ever. It got to the point that I threatened to end it all. I’m not proud of myself for those dark days and moments but they did happen and got me to the point I am at now. I did and said things I never should have said and almost lost the best friend I ever had by doing it. The boy was my best friend and I almost ruined that relationship by trying to manipulate him into wanting to be with me. It took many months but we worked through it and he helped me get the help I needed.

Besides that, my first year teaching was amazing but stressful (as all of you teachers know.) This also took a tole on my body. Summer 2018 came and I knew I needed to make a change in myself because I was tired of feeling so stressed, anxious, depressed, and tired all the time. This was when I discovered therapy. My doctor originally had advised going to talk to someone when I was first diagnosed but I was too afraid and ashamed. I finally took the step 3 years later and it has been a life saver.

I have been going to therapy for one whole year now to work on my anxiety and depressive tendencies. It has helped me accept who I am and has taught me how to cope when things get to be too much for me. It has also gotten me to start writing on here and to find joy in my life. I still struggle from time to time when things at home or at school are over the top but now I have ways to work through it.

I never wanted to share my personal life on here before because I don’t like talking about myself and I wanted to keep my page light but I thought it was about time for me to open up to anyone who decides to read what I write. I also wanted to share my story so anyone who has struggled with the same things can see that there is hope and ways to work through it. I would love to hear any other stories from those of you who have found peace and joy and who have advice for someone like me who still needs reminders every now and then. Struggling with mental health is not something to be ashamed of. It is something that needs to be shared and talked about to help others.

51054681_10213839211961620_2406031208816312320_n.jpg

So that’s me. I know this is not a normal post but I think it is fair to anyone who reads my blog to know the true me. Thank you for keeping up with me these past 6 months. I hope to continue to share about my life inside and outside of the classroom. I have some new blog ideas that I want to share this summer. They may or may not be school related but I think it’s time to add a bit more flavor to my topics.

SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER

I am pumped! Today has been an emotional day for sure. I was so excited for this day to come but when I was sitting in my room with my kiddos the last 5 minutes of the day, I realized I didn’t want them to leave. It has been such a great and amazing year.

We started the day off by moving all of our tables into one giant table. I wanted us to be together as a group for our last day instead of separated by 5 different tables. They came in and it was very chaotic (just as expected.) I had a mini word search for them to work on as something to do but most of them didn’t find that to be as exciting as laughing and talking with the rest of their friends, which is understandable. By the time they settled down we came to make a circle at the front of the classroom for our last morning meeting together.

During the meeting we did an activity that we did on the first day of school. The activity is one of my favorites that involves toilet paper (which they find to be hilarious!) I pass around rolls of toilet paper and they are told to take 1-3 pieces. (Some versions of this activity say to have them take as many as they want without telling them what it’s for but I found with 3rd graders, that was too much to handle.) On the first day of school they had to then tell myself and the class that many things about themselves, today they had to share that many memories/favorite things about 3rd grade. It was super sweet. Most of them took it pretty seriously and had some really good answers. We had some funny moments that came back up as well. It was nice for me to get a flashback of the year to remember what all happened.

I then had them go back to their spots and take out something to write with. I gave them each a blank piece of printer paper and told them to write their name in the middle and circle it. We then spent the next 15 minutes passing each sheet around the table so each student could write something nice on everyone’s piece of paper. It could be something they liked about that person, a nice memory, or a kind word. Again, most of them took this seriously and loved it. (Yes a few tried to be “funny” or “too cool” for the activity but the nice thing was that the rest of the class didn’t feed into any of that.)

Once we finished I read the great book Last Day Blues by Julia Danneberg and then we went to play outside. They went straight to specials and I took out their end of the year gifts to put at their spots. I found a pack of 24 “80’s style” sunglasses on amazon for $16.47 (prime) and  24 jump ropes for $39.75 (prime) and put together a little message to go with it. Props to Pinterest’s help on this one. I wrote each of them their own personalized card and put in the message “you shined so bright this year, now it’s time to jump into summer” into each one. (Hence the sunglasses and the jump ropes….not original, I know but easy!) Because they are sweet 8 and 9 year olds, they LOVED it!

To end the day I had put together a slideshow/video of our year together. I love taking pictures of everything we do throughout the year because I love looking back at the memories and how much they’ve grown. I also love putting it together into one movie to share with all of the families. We watched our slideshow and then took some final end of the year class pictures.

I am going to miss my class so much! We’ve had our struggles, oh yes, but they were all sweet and kindhearted and that is something I will truly miss. They have been such an incredible group of kids who cared so much about everyone else. My one goal when the year starts is to make them all love to be at school and today I got to see that I accomplished that. One of my boys who has never been afraid to tell me he hates school told me today he was very sad that school was over and that he would really miss me. He followed that up with a hug and I almost started to cry. It was everything I had worked so hard for. It’s those moments that make it all worth it.

That being said, I am very happy it is summer! I am EXHAUSTED and ready to sleep, read, swim, eat, and do whatever else I want to do when I want to do it. Tonight I plan on binging on pizza and having a nice cold one as my reward for making it through! Happy summer to my fellow teachers who are on their breaks and to all of my friends still in school, keep plugging through, you are AMAZING!!

As for me, peace out to year 2! I am so excited for year 3!!

Bottle Flipping Our Way Into Summer

ALMOST DONE!!!! Oh man, it has been a long road to get here but we officially only have 2 1/2 days left of school. I am so excited!! For the last week of school I want to do some different and fun activities to keep them motivated to finish the week out strong. Yesterday I did one of my absolute favorite activities that involves the scientific method, a little STEM, and some water bottle flipping!

I found this AMAZING activity on TPT from the shop Carly and Adam. The activity is officially called End of the Year STEM Water Bottle Flip. When my kiddos heard “water bottle flipping” they lost their minds!

Screen Shot 2019-06-04 at 7.35.21 AM

The resource comes with enough pages to create 3 different packets worth of testing. You can either test different bottle sizes, different bottle shapes, or how full the bottle is to see which has the best flipping result. We did our experiment on how full the bottle is (so I only had to buy 1 pack of 24 bottles and not multiple packs.) No matter what experiment you choose, the first page in the packet is their prediction page. They form a hypothesis on which will have the best result and why. Once they make their predictions, it’s time for their favorite part.

The second part of the experiment is obviously to test and see which has the best result. For our experiment they had a recording sheet (the one below) to fill out as they went. They had to flip the bottle 20 times at each level and record if the bottle landed horizontal or vertical. After they tested the 4 levels they could easily see which had the best result.

Screen Shot 2019-06-04 at 7.45.29 AM

They LOVED this part. I took them outside (because the water bottles will bust open and it saves a lot of time cleaning up) and let them go at it. They thought it was so fun and cool that they got to flip bottles in school as part of a science experiment. I also had lots of fun too, taking pictures and slow motion videos to show parents and to put in our end of the year slideshow.

When the flipping was done we came back inside to record our results. Most had vastly different results (because of all of the different variables, like how they each flipped the bottle) but it was a great discussion piece on why we had different results. They filled out their final report page and then was able to finish off the water they had left (if there was any left.)

Screen Shot 2019-06-04 at 7.50.02 AM

It was such a fun activity and one of my all time favorites! I did this last year with my 4th graders and they had just as much fun. It’s an easy twist on something they love to do so they don’t really know they’re learning.

Summer is almost here and I am just hanging on. I love my kiddos but I am ready for the nice summer break. We have many activities coming up in the next couple of days that hopefully will help the days fly even more. Happy June!

 

For more day to day activities and lessons (and summer fun) go follow my instagram @lifeoftherookieteacher!

Reading Cafe Open for Business

We are getting closer and closer to the end of the year and those school days left are decreasing fast (but not always fast enough.) At this point of the year, I am officially done with all of my required curriculum materials (expect for one more math test) so I am pulling out any and all activities I can.

One activity that I found and purchased on Teachers Pay Teachers was a Book Tasting Kit. I have seen this idea on Pinterest and through different teacher’s instagram accounts and I wanted to try it so bad. The one I bought was from Staying Cool in the Library‘s page. I think this kit is great because it has two separate kits inside of one so that it can be leveled to a specific grade level. There is an upper elementary version and a primary version. I used the primary version for my kiddos because I wanted it to be fun and easy with limited writing. I wanted the major focus to be on the books.

Screen Shot 2019-05-24 at 5.24.55 PM

What I did was I printed out the “menu” pages found in the kit and made each student in my class their own menu to use. Inside each menu I included 5 “review” pages that they used when they found a book.

I set up 5 different stations of genres in my room and placed many of those types of books at each table. The genres I pulled out to use for my kids were historical fiction books, realistic fiction books, mystery books, fantasy books, and biographies/autobiographies. At each table, they had to pick one book they thought looked interesting and filled out the form in their menu. They read a page or 2 from each book and decided if the pages were easy or hard to read. They then described the cover and any other pictures that might have been in the book. They finally rated their book out of 5 stars. Once they finished with their one book that was recorded in their menus, they had a few extra minutes to look through other books and discuss the ones they found with the others in their group.

I gave each round/station about 8 minutes at each table/genre. Overall, it took us a little over 40 minutes total to get through all tables. Most of my kiddos had a really good time and really took their time looking into different types of books and genres they aren’t used to. When my students entered 3rd grade, hardly any of my students wanted to read chapter books. As the year went on, they started to get into the Dogman series, The Bad Guys series, and of course, the Junie B. Jones. books. As great as it was that they were starting to read chapter books, they didn’t really extend their reading any farther. Most of them stuck with these books throughout the year. My goal with the book tasting was to show them that there are plenty of other amazing books out there. I wanted them to walk away with a list of new books to read over the summer or next year when they walk into 4th grade.

Of course, I had that handful who couldn’t handle it. I decided to put my struggling kiddos in the same group for this activity so they wouldn’t disrupt anyone else and take away from their learning. It was great for the other 4 groups at the other 4 stations but that one group was very difficult. I had my sister come volunteer in my classroom just to keep those kiddos on task. (That still didn’t work too well.)

Overall, my kids had fun and found a ton of new books they are eager to read. It was a lot of prep work getting everything printed and put together but it was worth it. I recommend trying this out (but maybe not at the end of the year because the energy level is WAY higher than normal!)

Side Note: If you want to add some more flare, have some instrumental French music playing in the background. It sets the mood pretty well and who doesn’t want to pretend they’re in a French cafe?

 

We only have 8 school days to go!!!!! We are so close people!!!!

67-Hilarious-Teacher-Memes-67.jpg

For more day to day activities and lessons, go follow my class instagram account @lifeoftherookieteacher!! With the end of the year, I have many fun projects coming up. I will also be sharing some fun summer activities and you don’t want to miss that!

BINGO, Kickball, and Officially Published

Happy Friday friends!!! More like FINALLY FRIDAY!! Holy cow this last month of school is a marathon and we’re ALL feeling it.

teacher_meme_end_of_year_manage

Today we had an early release for students so we could have a professional development afternoon. Because of that, we all tried to make today a fun day. We started the day with school wide BINGO. We’ve had a school wide goal since the beginning of the school year to read 25,000 books by the end of the year. We reached that back in February so we bumped the goal to 50,000. We have benchmark prizes throughout and BINGO was the prize for reaching 44,000. [[Super fun right!? Well it was at first….

Every Friday we have some “Friday free choice” time right away in the morning for about 20ish minutes to start the day. Because BINGO started right at the start of the day, we didn’t get time to do our free choice time. My kids were upset about this and didn’t understand why they couldn’t have both. Really?

When we started to play BINGO my class was the first 3rd grade class to get a BINGO so we won a class prize from the principals. Sometime in the next few weeks they’ll be taking my class outside to play some kickball. When my students found out this was the prize, half of my class threw a fit because they don’t like kickball. Who doesn’t want to get out of class on a nice spring day to play kickball!? Honestly it blew my mind. I was livid with how they were reacting. Oh my goodness, seriously.

After BINGO we finished a math test and then we watched Because of Winn-Dixie because we finished the book. A few of my highly emotional students (who work with our school social workers multiple times a day) were crying because they didn’t feel like watching a movie today. Ummmmmmmm what!? What 8 year old doesn’t want to watch a movie in school!? Oh my goodness I almost lost it.

WHOA_WHAT_THE_WHAT_1513180193c32d2e0e95b442a2

Majority of my class was super awesome during BINGO and during the movie but it’s those handful of 3-4 that ruin my mood because there has to be a problem with everything. I can’t win with them.

A super positive side about today though was that we finally got our published books in the mail. A few weeks ago my class created our own book. A friend of mine told me about this awesome company called Student Treasures. What the company does is it sends a teacher a book making kit for their class. In the kit there is a full list of instructions and order forms to send home. You come up with an idea on what you want to write about and go from there. One teacher I know made a class cookbook and another made their own “I survived” story. The site also has a ton of ideas and examples of different class books that have been made. Once the whole process is completed on the teachers end, the whole kit gets sent back and the company does all of the publishing! A few weeks later the books arrive and they are amazing!

Screen Shot 2019-05-17 at 6.20.03 PM.png

My class recently read the Wayside School series by Louis Sacher. We decided to base our book off of that series by making our own wacky and crazy stories. Each student wrote a chapter about themselves. They got to come up with a silly story about what they might do in our class and illustrate a picture to go with it. Today the books came!

The title of our book was Upside Down Stories From Becker Intermediate School. They turned out so cute and the kiddos were so excited. The book comes with a dedication page and a “meet the authors” page. My kids were adorable on their dedication. We talked together as a class and came up with two different dedications. The first was they wanted to dedicate our book to another 3rd grade teacher, the one who originally gave me the idea because she did it with her class. The second dedication was “to all of the sick.” They wanted to bring some cheer to anyone who isn’t feeling that great. They want anyone out there to have a good laugh because that makes everyone feel better. I was so proud when they decided on their two dedications. I had nothing to do with what they wanted.

 

At the beginning of our book I wrote a little introduction with the chapters for each student but the rest is all them! I am including examples from the different chapters in our book because I find them super cute and innocent.

 

It was a super fun process to build our class relationship. We decided on commonalities for our fake class like a common class discipline system and the name of the school principal. A lot of them decided to include other classmates in their stories (I told them as long as it was appropriate and they got permission from the other student, they could include whatever they wanted.) Overall, it was such a fun process. I HIGHLY recommend looking into Student Treasures next school year. It’s probably a little too late at this point of the year because it takes some time for the books to get back to you, but I think it is something every class should participate in.

Oh man, the end of the year cannot come soon enough. I love my class but MY GOODNESS they are losing their minds! Here’s to all of you teachers out there who understand the May feels.

WeAreTeachers_Gif_One-Glass-Wine_JS-min.gif

For more day to day activities and projects, go follow my class instagram page @lifeoftherookieteacher!