New Admin with a Bombshell….

It is the Friday before our workshop weeks begins and things are insane already….

Last spring we were told (the beginning of May) that our principal would be resigning for a new job, a few weeks later we found out our vice principal was going to retire a year early. On top of that, the district had just hired a new superintendent for the next year because ours would be retiring at the end of June. This rocked our boats. The school that I work at is a VERY tradition orientated school and a place where family is everything. Our principal and vice principal were clear to me when I was hired that family comes first and building relationships with kiddos is more important than test scores. (Their philosophy was that if you give the kids a positive fun environment where they feel loved, their test scores will reflect that and it did.) Hearing that they were leaving, the same year as the superintendent, was a shock that sparked anxiety for the changes to come.

Fast forward to yesterday and a week before workshop begins. My team and I are sitting in a planning meeting getting logistics planned for the new year. We are doing something totally new this year (that was approved by our principal last year.) There are 4 of us on my team (9 total 3rd grade teachers) so we are going to do a 4-way switch between our 4 classes. 3 teachers did this last year but one left to go to 4th grade so myself and another teacher are going to join in on the fun. The way we proposed our switch to our last principal was that we would do 4 45 minute switches during the day. We would split all of the kiddos into 4 math leveled groups so we would have the high of the high together and group down from there. This would allow us to have super differentiated instruction for every kid. I would be teaching reading while the other 3 would teach math, science/social, and writing/math review. During our meeting, which lasted 3 hours, our new principal walked in to talk with us. I hadn’t met him yet so it was very scary to see him in person. He knew what we were doing and told us it was good to see us planning together.

We left the meeting having everything planned out. We had our 4 groups made based on their 2nd grade spring test scores, we had our first 2 days all planned out on how we would get our kids ready to start the switches, and we had a good idea on what the first few months of school would look like in each switch. What I learned is that, in order for this to work, we all have to be on the same page. I left feeling super overwhelmed but also extremely excited! I love teaching reading because I want to instill the love for reading in my students. What I didn’t know is that my anxieties would only increase within 24 hours.

This year I’m in a brand new room so I went in early this morning to get all of my busy work done. I left feeling confident I was ready for Monday’s meetings and for the craziness to begin. Then the bombshell. At 1:50 this afternoon we got an email from our new principal…..the numbers of our upcoming 3rd grade class is low (which they knew last year) and a 4th grade teacher has just resigned. That being said, they will be dropping a section of 3rd grade in order to have that teacher replace the 4th grade teacher who resigned. The email said that if no teacher requests to be the one to move, a teacher will be reassigned by the administration. Surprise!

My team (and myself) LOST it. Within seconds of the email, my phone was blowing up with different messages from everyone. We were all freaking out. Honestly, the week before workshop begins you drop this on us. Are you serious? What a way for the new admin to introduce themselves. Oh and like I mentioned before, our principal saw us planning everything yesterday. Why was nothing said?

At this point no one on my team has said anything about taking the spot. The scariest most anxious part of this whole thing is that I’m the newbie. This is only my second year at the school so if no one says they’ll move, the odds are saying it’s me. I’m freaking out. I’ve spent my summer preparing for focusing on reading and finding new things to do. I was so excited to have a year where nothing is new for a change. Granted, it’s only my 3rd year teaching but my first 2 years were in 2 different schools which meant that everything was new both years. I wanted a year where the curriculum was the same so I knew what I was getting myself into. Now….who knows. Honestly, I’m freaking out.

We were told we will find out what will happen Monday afternoon. I’m praying it won’t be me. That sounds selfish but I just want a year that will make me feel like a competent teacher. My only hope is that since the 4 on my team put so much effort into our switches plan (and since the school put together a special schedule just for us) it might not be me. Who knows. All I know is that this weekend will be filled with anxiety instead of relaxation. Not exactly the way I wanted my final weekend of freedom to be.

The Life Saving Planner

Happy Friday friends! It’s been another great couple of weeks wrapping up summer while also prepping for the year to begin.

One thing I like to do right when I get my official class list is to organize the basics. The main thing I like to take care of right away is to put all of their birthdays in my planner. I like to have them written down ahead of time so I remember in the middle of February that Suzy’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day. As the year goes on I will then transfer those dates as I write my weekly lesson plans. It’s been a great system but because my lesson plans and my planner have been two separate things there were days that I almost missed a couple half birthdays. This year, I found the perfect solution.

I was searching different teacher hacks on Pinterest (because, of course) and I found the BEST lesson plan/planner a teacher could ever want. I found the all in one lesson plan planner made by Erin Condren. These planners are EVERYTHING!

I purchased what is called the “Life Planner.” The name says everything.

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The planner has EVERYTHING you need all in one place. Obviously, it’s a regular planner. There is a section on the calendar for each month and then a spot for each day of that month.

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What is special and different about this planner is that it has a whole layout for teachers for your day to day, class to class lesson plans. It also has another whole section for grades and keeping track of special month to month events like birthdays! Perfect for me!

Ok here comes the fun part, you get to personalize your planner with your favorite design and your name with you school!! Come on teachers, who doesn’t love that!? The other fun part is that the Life Planner comes with stickers for every and any special event you can imagine! It’s literally a teacher’s dream!

I LOVE this planner and I am so excited to use it!!!!! It makes me excited for the year to begin! When you click on the link I provided, you’ll get to see the awesome planner choices from Erin. They are a bit spendy but, personally, I think it will be worth every penny!

With class lists there is one more thing I love to do when I get the updated version. I want my kiddos to come into the first day feeling comfortable around me. I want them to feel like they know what is going to happen and that they know who I am. At my old school, the school sent out letters to the students written by their knew teacher as an introduction to who they would have for that upcoming year. At my new school, we have something called “move-up day” where at the end of the school year in May, students get to go to meet their next year’s teacher and spend some time with them. Sadly, I wasn’t there this past year to meet my new students. Because I didn’t get to see them, I decided to send out a letter (like the one my old school would have sent) to my new kiddos to help them know who I am! I am so excited to send them out so they can get to know me!

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Teacher Hack – Pencil Popsicle Sticks

It’s that time of the summer, the school itch is starting to crawl into my mind. I’m starting to look at Pinterest more and more trying to find new tips and hacks for this upcoming school year. I love finding new ways to make class organization easier in the summer. (And anything that is a DIY project is an added bonus!)

This year I’m going to be teaching reading 4 times throughout the day to 4 different leveled groups. I’ll have my own homeroom but for most of the day I’ll be working with 100 different kiddos. I’m used to having one class for the whole day but trying to organize 4 different classes with 25 students in each is going to be tricky.

A fun hack (and project) I found on a Teacher Hacks Facebook page and on Pinterest is a ways to organize popsicle sticks to know who you’ve picked on so far and who you haven’t. I mainly use popsicle sticks to pick partners to read with or to pick players in certain games. I found this awesome hack of turning the popsicle sticks into pencils.

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This was super easy! I painted a pink eraser on one end, yellow in the middle, and then drew the pencil tip with a black sharpie on the other end.

The fun hack is you put the popsicle sticks in  whatever you are picking from (I use the metal baskets found in the party section at Target) eraser side up. When you pick a name you put it back in the basket pencil tip up so you know you’ve already picked that stick. It’s so simple and yet so useful!

To help me organize 100+ different sticks I purchased 4 different white metal buckets from Target. Each of our 4 classes are given a color to identify their group (another organization tip.) This year we will be having a red group, green group, blue group, and a purple group. I bought colored washi tape for each bucket, the colors being the 4 color names of our groups. I taped the top part of each basket with a certain color so I’ll know what bucket holds which classes sticks.

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I’m super excited for this new adventure in teaching but I’m also really nervous. I love reading but I’m not sure how I’ll feel about doing the same lesson 4 times a day. I’m also not sure how I’m going to keep this whole thing organized. For the next month I’m going to be doing a lot of research on how to teach multiple classes. If anyone has any tricks, tips, or hacks that they use let me know! I would love to hear how you manage multiple classes while keeping your sanity and organization!

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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!!!!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

14 School Days and Counting!

We’re almost there!! One of my coworkers has a countdown on her door and, as of today, we are down to 14 (school) days. Today in Minnesota, it is a beautiful 80 degree sunny day! It’s days like this that make me want summer even more. Beautifully warm days like today can be rare here, especially in May and June, so it’s nice to enjoy it while it lasts.

With the summer feelings sinking in, I wanted to do a summer craftivity with my kiddos today to get us in the mood. What I decided to do was decorate flip flops that show what our favorite activities to do in the summer are. At the beginning of the year, we made jerseys to put on everyone’s locker. The jerseys had to somehow represent them. The flip flops were a similar project but centered around summer likes rather than their everyday likes.

I found this activity in a summer activity pack I bought on TPT last year for my fourth graders. The pack is called End of the Year Activities and Printables. It was from TheHappyTeacher‘s shop and was $4.25. It is TOTALLY worth the price because it comes with a ton of fun end of the year activities (and time fillers.) I’ll be sharing different activities we’ll be doing from the pack over the next few weeks.

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In the pack, it has a “design a flip flop challenge” coloring page. The page says to make it a contest to see who can make the best flip flop in the class. I added the part about making it about themselves so they would put more effort into them. I put my own example on the board and set them loose.

They all turned out super cute and definitely matched their personal styles. We hung them in the hall to add some “summer flare” to the school.

I am SO ready for warm summer days lounging on the beach reading a good book but I have to remind myself that we still have 3 full weeks of school left to get through before those wonderful days are here.

 

For more day to day activities (especially as the year is winding down and more fun things are to come) go follow me on instagram @lifeoftherookieteacher!!

 

Field Trips, Animals, and Inheritance

Happy Wednesday my fellow blog friends. This has been a crazy week already and we still have 2 more days to go until the beautiful weekend is upon us.

This week started with a bang on Monday because it was our glorious field trip day. Remember when field trips used to be the best day of the year and you looked forward to sitting on the bus with your best friends and getting to be in a small group with one of your friend’s mom because they were your chaperone? Remember how fun and exciting it was being off of campus for the day and getting to experience new things you never would have gotten to experience if you were at a different school? Yeah, field trips used to be the life. Too bad it doesn’t stay that fun and exciting when you have to play the teacher role.

For our field trip we had 2 different activities planned for the kids. The first part of our trip was taking the kiddos to a giant park where they could run and get their energy out. They would get to run, scream, and play to their heart’s content. We then had a picnic planned before our second stop. My coworkers told me that this was going to be everyone’s favorite part of the day because the park is so big and different. As soon as we arrived, however the issues began.

In a previous post a few months back I mentioned a student who should be receiving services for EBD but has never been evaluated for it. I’ve mentioned my concerns and gave examples of some of the choices she makes on a daily basis. I worked side by side with her social worker to get the process started. As of today, she is officially in the process of being evaluated. Well this little girl was not having the park whatsoever. She told me she thought the whole thing was stupid and a waste of time. She then got mad when I told her to put her lunch at the same picnic table as the rest of her group before she went off to play. Apparently that was the wrong thing to say because she took off.

When I say took off, she literally ran away from me around this giant park. It took some time of following her before she finally made her way to the gated in playground with all of the other students. Instead of enjoying the nice warm weather at the park, I spent most of my time watching and worrying that she would run off again.

The second part of our field trip was to a local Nature Center. We had been learning about adaptations in science, so at the Nature Center they focused on animal adaptations in nature. The first thing we did was go on a nature hike. Again, this activity should have been super fun and relaxing but my little girl did not want to go for a walk in the woods. She first refused to go with the group and then, once I finally got her to join us, she got upset again and ran off into the woods away from our group. This terrified me because I had no idea where she went. Luckily, the path wasn’t that long and I found her not too far from us but I couldn’t trust her to be without full on supervision for the rest of the trip.

On top of my runner, I had a nice little injury incident between the park and the Nature Center. Right after lunch, as we were getting onto the bus, three of my students were playing with sticks. I asked them to put the down and head to the bus. Well I guess I should have been more specific about putting them down because one of my students chucked the stick off to the side and hit another one of my students right in the face. She had a gash right on her eyebrow. The cut wasn’t that big but it was bleeding A LOT. (Just an FYI as well, the girl who got the cut who was bleeding is also my biggest hypochondriac and her mom is a very opinionated mom who shares everything and anything on Facebook. It was perfect.) I got to be a mini doctor on the bus to the Nature Center cleaning up her bloody face.

Needless to say, I was very happy when the day was over. Man do I miss those fun field trip days when I was the student and not the teacher. Besides all of my little incidences, however it was a very fun field trip for the students so it was worth it.

The fun part of the week so far has been a science project we worked on today in class. Along with adaptations, we have also been covering genetics. (With 3rd graders, this is super generic and basic.) We’ve done a lot of talking about how we inherit traits from our parents. We’ve learned the difference between inherited characteristics and acquired characteristics. In order for my students to get the full effect of this (as 8/9 year olds) I found this super fun activity on TPT that has students make a monster based on the traits of 2 monster parents. (I’m sure you’ve done a version of this activity at some point during your schooling but I personally think this one was pretty great.)

The activity is called HEREDITY Creature Features – Inherited and Environmental Traits. I found this on iTeachSTEM‘s shop. The activity was made for 5th-7th graders but I was able to “dumb it down” enough for my 3rd graders.

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The first thing students do is flip a coin (we rolled a die) to decide if a child would receive a trait from the mom monster or the dad monster. I did an example on the board and then they took off to do their own.

Once they were finished rolling their dice to pick the traits of their monster, they got to draw them out for the class to see.

Tomorrow my plan is to have us go through all of them and talk about how our monsters are all related because they got their traits from the same parents but non are exactly alike. I honestly think they turned out super cute!!! They loved doing it and understood the difference between inherited and acquired traits.

 

For more day to day activities, go follow our class on instagram @lifeoftherookieteacher!