The First 2 Days of the 2020-2021 School Year

Well as most of you are aware, this year is going to be a hot mess. After 2 official days with my class, I know that will be a true fact but I am so lucky to have the class I do! They are amazing and so sweet.

Our first day was yesterday (Thursday, September 10th) and it was a crazy day but it felt SO GOOD to be teaching in front of a group of kids again. I forgot how much I love working with them but I also forgot how much I love just getting to know them. It was a weird first day though because most of my “get to know you” activities we couldn’t do because of social distancing and masks.

Instead of having a full lesson plan on the whole day, I just made a list of what needed to get done and I worked from there. Our mornings are insane because school officially starts at 9:15 and we have to be at our specialist classes (art, phy ed, music, or media) by 9:20! Pretty much my students arrive and we’re out the door. That isn’t exactly the way I would like to start my day (especially our first day) but I’ll just have to get used to it.

Once I picked them up from their music class we had to take our first bathroom break of the year. I never thought I would have to have a “bathroom break schedule” for my 5th graders but that’s what this year entails. We can’t mix our class with anyone else so we can’t go to the bathrooms when other students are there. Because of that, we have certain times of the day our class can go to a certain bathroom when no one else is there. Needless to say, the poor 5th graders were so confused that this was happening but listened pretty well and didn’t complain. We have a few more scheduled throughout the day and they were awesome at handling that new change.

I was able to throw in some traditional first day activities like reading First Day Jitters and We Don’t Eat Our Classmates. I love reading those stories on the first day of school because they spark great conversations on how everyone is nervous for the first day of school (even teachers.) They’re also just fun silly books that the kids get into. Before we created our class rules I also read a fun new book called The World Needs More Purple People. It’s a fun new book written by Kristin Bell and Benjamin Hart. It talks about how the world needs more kind hard working people who are themselves and who accept others. It was the perfect book to read considering all of the things that have been happening in the world. We decided that our class motto was that we’ll all be Purple People this year.

Once we finished that story we created our class rules together. I do this every first day and every first day after Christmas break. I love it because the students are involved in our rules and take more ownership in following those rules.

The day was crazy and seemed to fly by. On top of all the normal first day things like organizing materials and getting to know each other activities, we had to go through new rules and procedures like wearing our masks, taking mask breaks outside, eating lunch in the classroom, and cleaning ALL THE TIME. Before I knew it (and before my list was complete), the day was over.

When I finally got to check my email at the end of the day, I saw I had a “delivery” waiting for me in the office. My mom had this beautiful flower display sent to celebrate my first day back.

Today was day 2 and it also flew by and was full of challenges but my kids were awesome and flexible about it. Today was centered around Chromebooks and the internet……yeahhhhhhh yikes.

This year, our district is finally rolling out 1:1 devices for all students k-12. Before this year, 6-12 had Chromebooks so the elementary students were not used to sites like Seesaw and IXL. Last spring during distance learning, they had a really hard time implementing those sites because no one had used them before. This year they wanted to be more prepared.

Today we decided to distribute their new Chromebooks and log into some of their online accounts. It was a crazy mess! Some of my kids could get into certain sites and others could get into different ones. For some wild reason, I couldn’t get all of my students into every account we have to start using on Monday. Hello headache!!!

Luckily, they were super patient and understood the struggles of the internet not working. Once we attempted all log ins, we played a Kahoot game to just have some fun. They all were able to get into that and it was so much fun! I made a 20 question Kahoot all about me and they loved it. Over the past 2 days I had shared tidbits here and there about who I am so the Kahoot was my way to see if they could figure out how to use Kahoot but also to see who in my class listens well and who doesn’t.

After our Chromebook mess, I had them pick out their first read to self book from our class library. We had a nice calm 15 minutes of reading before lunch. It was a nice way to practice stamina while also calming down after the crazy Kahoot game.

Today we also had to finish up our rules and consequences for our class. Day 1 we created our rules so today, day 2, we created our consequences. Before we brainstormed a list, I read The Bad Seed and The Cool Bean to remind them of what we want our class to look like and what we don’t want our class to look like. I was so impressed because their consequence ideas were so mature and realistic. Out of my 4 classes, I can already tell this group is the most level headed group I have had.

I’m so excited to actually start a real schedule next week. I think this will be a great year no matter what it looks like. Right now, our numbers look like we may be headed to a hybrid model soon which would mean 1/2 of my class would be in one room while the other 1/2 would be in my “second room” next door. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that doesn’t happen but if it does it does. Be ready for some interesting stories if that happens! I also have a student who is anti-mask so I’m hoping next week he finally gets over the fact that we all have to wear them. Because of his defiance, he hasn’t spent much time in my room so I’m hoping that changes!! Fingers crossed!!! That’ll be a story for next week and you definitely don’t want to miss it!

Year 4, let’s go!

For more day to day action, go check out my Instagram page @lifeoftherookieteacher!

Go Check Out My Past Posts!

Outside Cafeterias and Masking Up – COVID Classroom 2020

Our first full week is complete and I’m shockingly not as tired as I have been in the past. It was a good week full of lots of housekeeping and FINALLY starting some curriculum lessons! This week started off with a pretty normal couple of days but then the bomb came. We found out Monday … Continue reading Outside Cafeterias and Masking Up – COVID Classroom 2020

Top 10 Things I’ve Learned About Myself During Distance Learning

10 – I Would Not Be Good At a Desk Job

I have learned I can NOT sit in one spot all day on my computer. I love teaching for many reasons but one of the reasons (that I never realized until now) is because I am constantly moving around the room multitasking and working with multiple students at the same time. I love how no day is the same and I drink 2 water bottles of water a day because I’m so active. I used to be excited to lounge out on my couch binging the newest Netflix show but now I would give anything to run around with my head cut off in the classroom.

9 – My Patience Has Its Limits

I think I’m a very patient person but I have learned that between the internet failing, Seesaw crashing, and students only doing assignments they want to do I have lost it a few times. It’s hard to keep your cool when your students are all freaking out because they can’t check assignments on Seesaw because it’s down or they’re constantly messaging you because you’re not responding to their posts because your internet is down. It’s hard to stay calm when things, completely out of your control, are preventing you from doing your job.

8 – I Actually Don’t Hate Google Classroom

Before distance learning I was not a fan of Google Classroom….(sorry). My teammates are huge fans but every time I tried to use it in my class, something went wrong. With distance learning, I didn’t really have a choice but to become familiar with it. I have to say, after 8 LONG weeks, I’ve actually come to enjoy it. It has become an easy way to stay connected with my students and to share fun videos and read alouds with them.

7 – I’m Even More Awkward During PLC’s Now That They’re Online

I’m a super awkward person in general. During PLC’s at school, I would be one to just sit there and not say anything because I was so scared to say something stupid. Now, having Google Meets PLC’s, I’m even more awkward than ever. Actually, the PLC’s in general are more awkward than ever! Maybe it’s just our grade level, but no one talks AT ALL. It is silent for a good 2 minutes before someone finally takes charge and says something. Of course, I still don’t say anything (because I’m awkward) so I just sit there, staring at myself in the camera. It’s great….

6 – I Miss My Team

In my school there are 10 of us who teach 4th grade. Because there are so many of us, we are split into 2 teams of 5. My team of 5 is amazing. We have become so close during this past year. They also were there for me when I had to transition from 3rd to 4th in less than a week without really even knowing who I was. We would always have the best talks about teaching and life during prep and lunch. I miss those talks so much. They would always keep me sane during those crazy tense days. They are amazing ladies and I hate not seeing them everyday.

5 – Wine Understands

I hate to admit it, but I feel like I’ve been drinking WAY more than normal. Even though I’m teaching from home, I seem to be having more bad days than I do teaching in the classroom. Because of that, wine has become my best friend. Enough said.

4 – I Don’t Find The End of the Year Fun Anymore

As teachers, we all know how fun the end of the year can be! There are so many fun activities and projects to do that keeps May moving. We all know that the month of May is crazy because everyone is checked out (students and teachers.) Because of that, we try to make May fun. Between field trips, track and field day, and themed dress up days, May stays busy and exciting. I miss that.

3 – I Miss Read Alouds

Reading to my students is the BEST part of my day. I LOVE watching their reactions to the stories and I LOVE the conversations we have about what we read. Not having that these past few months, has been hard on me. I’ve tried to have live read alouds daily but it’s still not the same. I would give anything to have one more day to read to them out loud.

2 – I’m Having a Hard Time Staying Positive

I usually try to be a very positive person but it’s been hard. This whole situation has been hard. It’s crazy how much we take for granted. Life has been weird for all of us but my life has totally changed. Teaching has always been my life, and now, I don’t have that. Sure, I’m teaching online but it is not the same. That’s been hard. Also, because of COVID, the district’s budget for next year has been cut significantly. Because of that and because I’m not tenured yet, my position has been cut. I’m not going to lie, knowing that I don’t have a job at this point, is killing me. It’s hard to stay positive when the one thing you love is taken from you. It’s also hard to stay positive when there is a very real possibility I won’t see my students in person again. I’ve had my moments more these past few months, than I’ve had in the past few years. I just want things to go back to normal and I want my students back.

1 – I MISS MY STUDENTS

I think that explains it all. I miss them so much. They are amazing kids and seeing them on a Google Meets is not even close to seeing them at school. I am with my students more than anyone else in my life and I don’t get that right now. They mean the world to me and it breaks my heart they have to go through this as well. The worst part is we never got a proper goodbye. Friday, March 13th was our last day at school but we assumed we’d be back on Monday. We had no idea things would change so fast. If I knew then that I wouldn’t see my students (possibly) again, I would have made that Friday the best day ever. I would have given them the closure we all need. I miss them so much. I went into teaching because I love kids and I wanted to make a difference in their lives. Right now, that’s all on pause.

 

 

For more day to day action, go follow my teaching Instagram page @lifeoftherookieteacher!

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Distance Learning – Please Be Kind.

Hi friends! I hope quarantine and social distancing is treating you well (as well as it possibly can.) I’ve had a lot of time to sit back and think about certain topics during this period that I may not have spent much time thinking about before. I’m sure we’re all in the same boat. I wanted to share my thoughts about what it’s like being a teacher during this time. I am now ending my 3rd official week of teaching distantly and there have been some things that have worked well but a few things that have also bothered me, especially when it comes to working with parents in a new way.

I have been fortunate enough to have an amazing class this year. If you’ve been following along my 3rd year journey, you know how incredible my students are. I’ve also been blessed with amazing parents. I’ve had my fair share of interesting parents during my first 2 years teaching so this year, I have been incredibly grateful to work with supportive and cooperative ones instead.

During this period of distance learning I have been shown so much support from this group of parents. I’m constantly getting thank you emails from appreciative parents and words of encouragement on platforms like Facebook. I’ve also been amused in seeing parents around the country thanking teachers all over for what we do everyday. Teaching isn’t an easy job and it’s been so humbling to see others share their gratitude towards us during this difficult time. It’s funny though how so many positive and kind comments can be extinguished by one negative comment from someone who has a strong opinion over choices you make as an educator.

Like I’ve stated, today wraps up week 3 of distance learning here in Minnesota. I have had an incredible turn out when it comes to my students completing all of their work and showing up for class Google Meets meetings. One problem I have had is that some of my students are choosing not to log on to their IXL accounts for math. Most of our weekly math assignments are done on IXL because:

  1. Our school has spent a lot of money on subscriptions to the program.
  2. The assignments are directed exactly to the topic/lesson we want students to learn about that day/week.
  3. I can go onto my teacher account and see who has completed what assignments and what scores they have received on them. I also can see how long a student has spent on the site per day and per week.

It’s an incredible teaching tool that I utilize every day in my normal classroom. Some of my students however, have either forgotten to log on or have chosen not to do the assignments because they don’t think I have access to see what they have done.

Like I would at school, I have reminded my students DAILY about these assignments and have told them how I do have access to see what has been done and I know for a fact a handful of students haven’t logged on to the site in over 30 days. I have warned my students multiple times in the past 2 weeks that if they do not complete these activities/assignments I would be calling them out to check to see why this was not being done. All of my students have internet access and all of them have iPads that they usually use at school but are now with them at home. They also know how to access IXL because, like I said, I used this EVERY DAY in my regular class. In my opinion, there really isn’t an excuse as to why some of my students have not logged on in over a month. Also, the students who have not logged on are students who I know are more than capable of doing the work on their own. My students are 4th graders (almost 5th graders) at this point in their school career, they should be independent enough to do work without having someone else constantly tell them what to do.

Yesterday, during our morning meeting, I pulled up my IXL teacher screen to show my class how I can see who has and hasn’t done the work. I asked a few of my students why they haven’t been on the site in over 30 days. We talked about how this is their job and they need to be mature enough to take responsibility in getting their work done. I also told them that if they haven’t been on for technical difficulty reasons, to let me know and I’ll be okay with that, I just need to know.

Well apparently that wasn’t the right thing to do during our meeting because a few hours later I got one of those emails that make all of the nice and kind ones nonexistent.

I had a parent reach out to me telling me how inappropriate it was for me to humiliate my students like that. She began sharing statistics with me about the crisis we’re in and how I shouldn’t be shaming kids for not having things done. She also proceeded to inform me about how this leads to mental illness and how I don’t know anything about mental illness in children. It was pretty much an 8 paragraph rant about how I have scarred my students for life and how I have no idea about what my class is going through….

Needless to say, after reading this, I wanted to throw up. I immediately forwarded the message to my principal asking for advice on how to respond. Once I did that, I went and cried under a blanket on my couch for an hour until I fell asleep.

I know there are so many theories and philosophies on best teaching practices and how to motivate children but those are all just theories and philosophies. Unless you have been a teacher and have spent 8 hours a day with the same group of kids for almost 8 months, you have no idea what actually goes on. I have known my class since September (some, I’ve known for almost 2 years now because I taught this group back when they were in 3rd grade.) I know my students. I know who works well and who needs constant reminders from me. I know who has supportive families and who may not. I know that my highest kid may also lack the most motivation so I need to push him more than others to get his best work out of him. I know them better than almost anyone else. Any teacher can understand that. I don’t think it’s right to have an outsider criticize a teacher without being in their shoes and knowing what the teacher knows about their kids. Granted, if it’s a concern about their own child, it is extremely valid. But if the criticism doesn’t even involve their child, there is no reason for them to get involved without the facts. That was the case with this parent. The concern wasn’t even about their own student, it was about my class as a whole.

I take things way too personally sometimes but to have someone tell you you’re failing at the one thing you thought you succeeded at, is heartbreaking.

I also caution some of you to not tell someone they know nothing about mental illness. I think that was the part of the message that hurt me the most. Just because I don’t come out and tell someone I’m struggling with a mental illness, doesn’t mean I don’t know anything about the topic.

I grew up with a schizophrenic father and a depressed anorexic sister. I have struggled with anxiety my entire life and have also been on antidepressants for my own depression for almost 5 years now. For this parent to tell me I’ve scarred my students and have been a trigger to metal illness, is an insult to me. Mental illness is a HUGE part of my life and I am not afraid to talk about it. I know that, right now in our country, we need to take care of ourselves but we also need to try to keep things normal. If I let my students get away with doing absolutely nothing during this time, I’m hurting them more than when I encourage them to complete their work. By telling me I was hurting my own students, she attacked my self esteem and put me in a downward spiral hurting my mental health. Never try to tell someone they know nothing about this topic when you don’t know what the person your talking to is dealing with.

As teachers, parents, students, people, etc. we’re all trying to do our best right now. We’re all doing things completely new to all of us. Instead of shaming each other for our mistakes and thinking we know better than them, why don’t we help each other and support each other. Like I said, I have gotten an incredible amount of encouraging and kind messages through this time. The problem is though, it only takes one negative message to make the others meaningless. Don’t be the sender of those kinds of messages. Think about how you would feel if something like that was sent to you when all you’re trying to do is help.

Hang in there everyone. I know we’re all tired and frustrated over this mess but we will get through it. We just have to take a nice deep calming breath and go one day at a time. That has become my new personal mantra.

 

For more day to day action, go follow my teacher Instagram page @lifeoftherookieteacher!

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Distance Learning Week 1

What kind of world are we living in right now? We are now a few weeks into social distancing and a week into our shelter in place policy (for Minnesota.) I know all of us can agree that this is strange, insane, weird, scary, etc. There is no one word to explain everything that is happening. This week started something else totally abnormal and weird for all of us educators in the state, distance learning.

We were under strict guidelines that the past 2 weeks were designed to plan for distance teaching. We got 2 weeks to organize and prepare our new creative ways to get information across to our students. Monday, March 30th was the first day we got to “teach” our students. It has been a crazy week to say the least just trying to adjust to that.

I wanted to share with you what are grade level team came up with just because I thought it was pretty well organized but also because I’d love to hear other ideas on how to implement distance learning the best way possible. I know that what we chose to do is very different than what I’ve heard from other teachers in and out of our district. I would love to know things that worked well in order to possibly adjust some of the things we have set in motion just to make it easier.

We decided that as a 4th grade, we were going to do the exact same thing every week and use the exact same outline for every subject. We created a 4th grade website that had all of our information on it along with PDF’s for each week’s assignments. When we came up with this idea, we split into teams to put together 8 weeks worth of lessons for each subject. We have 10 teachers on our team so we split into 3 groups. One group worked on reading, another math, and the third social/science. We had a working Google Doc for each week where we wrote out each subject’s assignments. It took a lot of work, but once we were done, we had everything laid out for parents to see and use. It made planning lessons SO MUCH EASIER because I really wouldn’t have to.

We are lucky because we are a 1:1 district. Each student has an iPad to use. These have come in so handy during this period of time. We are also very much used to using platforms like Seesaw and Google Classroom because we use them daily with our students. This made assigning and collecting work super easy. Students were able to have access to our website and their homework on their iPads and had step by step instructions right in front of them on what to do and where we wanted them submitted. This was by far the easiest part of my week! I was worried they would be confused on where to find their homework and where to turn it in but there were no problems what so ever.

One of my biggest struggles this week has been trying to meet with my class virtually online. As a district, our students were given a new app on their iPads called Google Meets. It is essentially Zoom but the Google version. I had never worked with it before so I wanted to play around with it and give it a try.

Day 1 was kind of a mess. I wanted my students to all meet at a certain time so we could all talk and see each other. For some reason, half of my class weren’t able to get one. Day 2 came and I learned how I was able to see my whole class at once and how to help them see the whole class at once (you need a certain extension otherwise Google will only show up to 4 people at a time.) I attempted this but then something went wrong and I couldn’t see a single student in the meeting. By day 3 my students were getting bummed out because we were having such a hard time getting it to work. We tried one more time but again, something went wrong. I decided then to test out Zoom. We were recommended to use Google Meets but because I’ve heard of so many teachers utilizing this tool, I thought maybe Zoom would be easier and less chaotic. We had a Zoom meeting and it worked pretty well. Some of my students weren’t able to get one but it was more successful than our Google meetings. Sadly, I guess I was not supposed to use that because I was immediately reached out to and told not to use Zoom at all. I felt bad because I didn’t know we absolutely couldn’t use it.

I had my 5th Google Meets meeting today with my class and it finally worked! I’m just crossing my fingers it continues to work in the weeks to come. I love seeing my students and being able to talk to them and listen to them talk to each other. They need that right now. Heck, I need that right now!

This week has been stressful in so many weird and different ways but I did have 3 big take aways that I learned:

  1. I HATE sitting at a desk staring at a computer screen all day. I need to move and do something. I have had a massive headache the past few days because I’ve been on my computer so much.
  2. Technology is not always your friend (I’ve already known that but this week reenforced that tenfold.) Besides having students who were having trouble opening links, my WiFi crashed Thursday morning. That was literally the last thing you want to happen when you’re supposed to be teaching from home all day online.
  3. I MISS MY STUDENTS. This has been the longest few weeks of my life. I love my kids and I need to be back in the classroom. Seeing them this week has been nice but it’s still not the same. I would give anything to be back with them on a daily basis.

In order to keep myself preoccupied and somewhat sane, I’ve gotten many things done (which I’m sure you all can relate to.)

  • I’ve been able to read more books than normal. I usually don’t get a big chance to read in the school year but I’ve gotten a huge head start on my summer reading list.
  • I’ve spent a lot of quality time with my cat. It cracks me up though because I’ve given her more attention in 2 weeks than she’s gotten total the past year and she is more whiny and clingy than ever.
  • I’ve worked out more than normal. I usually have the worst motivation for that but being cooped up inside ALL DAY LONG has inspired me to get out (even if that means having to go for a run!)
  • I’ve been able to keep up on my laundry and cleaning! I’ve been cleaning things over and over just to give me something to do. I’ve also done so many loads of laundry, I don’t even know how my washer is still working.
  • I’ve binged on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, AND HBO. (Don’t judge okay, I’ve been behind on a lot of shows.) Tiger King anyone?
  • I also have been able to be a little bit crafty which I normally don’t have time for. I’ve been inspired by the #HeartsAroundtheWorld movement that keeps showing up on social media. I decided to join in by decorating my own window.

It’s a weird time right now all over the world. I’m constantly inspired by those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us all safe and healthy. For all of you in the health care service, and everyone working essential jobs, thank you. Our world would fall apart without you. I also want to thank all of the parents out there who are trying hard to adjust to the new normal of helping their kids with school while also trying to work. I could barely get things done with my cat around let alone a child. You are all my heroes.

Things will get better. Life will go back to normal. We just have to take this day by day and be so thankful for what we have.

 

For more day to day action, go follow my Instagram page @lifeoftherookieteacher. There will be some distance learning resources being shared over the next few weeks.

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The New Normal

What world are we living in right now? It seems like things get more intense every single day. I don’t know what to think. Up until yesterday, I was doing okay handling all of this. We were told on Sunday that Minnesota schools would close officially as of today until at least Monday, March 30th. I figured this was going to happen and I was at peace with it.

Yesterday however, things were HARD to say the least.

We were told as a district that students would not return to school at all this week and staff would report on Tuesday so the admin could meet Monday to come up with a game plan. Walking into the empty school and empty classroom for the first time was surreal. Knowing I won’t see my room full of my kiddos for who knows how long, was one of the hardest things I had to wrap my head around. This was the first time I cried.

We were under the assumption that this would be a short break and we would return the first week of April. Our students have 1-1 iPads, so Monday night families were told that Tuesday morning they could come in and get their iPads to use just in case we have to go into distance learning. (Side note: Minnesota’s break this week and next week is a non school time for students. It’s primarily for staff to prepare for the possible future once this two weeks is over.) Because of this, I didn’t think my students needed to come in because they already brought their iPads home on Friday. Things abruptly changed around 8:00am yesterday morning.

We were under a new order that we had to clean out all student desks and lockers. We had to put their things in garbage bags with their names on them and then we’d have a drive thru like system going on outside the school. Parents would pull up to the doors, say their student’s name, and a para would run to get their stuff. It was like the last day of school but with no kids. That was what really did it for me. Realizing we were preparing for them not to come back at all was heart wrenching.

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Once I had all of their things packed and ready for pick up, I went in my room and cried again. I didn’t know what to think. Just the scene of it did something to me, I don’t even know how to describe that feeling.

At the end of the day, we took all bags that were left over into our large gym for parent pick up today. Seeing the entire school’s school supplies in one area made it even more surreal.

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As a staff, we are bonding together. Today, we are going to begin planning the next few months (if need be) and decide on best practices to get our content across to every student. The support we have for each other has helped immensely and is what is getting us through this, it’s what is getting me through this. An anonymous staff member put this up in our lounge yesterday and it was exactly what I needed to see.

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We all went into education because we want to make a connection with students. We want to change their lives and interact with them on a daily basis. We want to give them love while also teaching them some tough love along the way. Education is a powerful profession. I know the last thing we want to do is sit behind a computer all day. If we wanted to do that, we wouldn’t be teachers. I know these are strange waters we are all walking through but we’ll all make to the other side stronger and better professionals. This will give us new tools that will only make us better teachers in the long run.

During this time, do silly things and remember to laugh. My mom is a 5th grade teacher and all of this is just as hard for her as it is for me. We decided that we would read picture books together, tape them, and share them out to our students. We shared our first video last night and I got countless messages from parents and students saying it brought joy to their day and made them smile. I’m going to share the Youtube link for you if you would like. We only have 1 story on their so far but we plan to share as many books as we can during this crazy time. (We need it just as much as our students do.)

What are you doing to battle this crisis? How is your district, families, kids handling everything? Please, share with me all of your thoughts and ideas. Our superintendent keeps reminding us to think outside the box. There is no right or wrong answer right now, all that matters is our students.  I am sending my love to all of you.

 

For more day to day action, go follow my Instagram page @lifeoftherookieteacher!

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Hot Mess Alert

Well it’s been a hot minute guys. I apologize for being a little behind on posts but life has been crazy busy. It’s crazy to think that I was going to share on Valentine’s Day about our party, and now here we are 2 weeks later and there has been nothing. Today’s post is going to be a hodge podge of a few things I wanted to share with you so, bare with me.

First things first, I know Valentine’s Day was 2 weeks ago but I wanted to still share with you my absolute FAVORITE boxes made this year by my students! I for sure have a very creative group and it shows in their boxes. (Yes, I am aware that these ideas came from Pinterest but they’re still cute!)

Plus this amazingly adorable Harry Potter Valentine!

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As many of you know, February is “I Love to Read Month” so I like to do a few special activities to get my students in the spirit. My favorite art project to do with them is actually pretty simple. Students pick their favorite book and they recreate the book cover to share in the hallway. I mentioned us starting this in my last post but I finally have the final product read! I did this a few years ago and didn’t get the best result. My kids this year did PHENOMENAL! They loved this activity and most of them took their time!

The main reason I’ve been so behind on posting is because gymnastics season was coming to a close. We had our section tournament followed by the state tournament, so it was a whirlwind couple of weeks. I’m going to take a moment to brag because our team is so amazing! Our girls placed 2nd in the section (only the 1st place team advances to the state meet) and then we had 3 individual gymnasts to advance in the bars competition and in the all around. It was a pretty special and fun time getting to be there for the girls and bond with them in a way you normally don’t get to when the whole team is there. I LOVE gymnastics and I love this team, but I am so glad the season is over! I am exhausted!!

Another fun thing that happened this week was that our books FINALLY CAME IN THE MAIL!!! My kids were so excited to see the final product of the book they created! Last year my class made a book using something called Studentreasures Publishing. Students get a chance to create their own book. As a teacher, you go and order a kit to be sent to your school that includes everything you need to make your book. Once students are done writing and illustrating, you send the book back to the company and they publish the book for you! As a teacher, you get a FREE copy, which is such a cool keepsake. Families LOVE this and get the chance to order a book for themselves. My students have been on pins and needles waiting for our books to finally come back (we sent in our final product at the end of January) and were ecstatic when they did. I have to say, I am pretty proud of the finished product!

Finally, I would like to share something near and dear to my heart. This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Last year, I shared with you a post that explains the importance this week has on my heart. My sister has struggled with an eating disorder for almost 8 years now. I wanted to attach the link to that post for you in case you didn’t see it last year, or you wanted to reread about how nasty this disease can be and how to see the warning signs in your self or your loved ones. The post was called NEDA Awareness Week 2019. Go take a look if you’re interested. I will always be passionate about healthy lifestyles and loving yourself. This post, explains why.

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I know that was a hot mess of information but I feel super behind and had to share whatever I could that I have missed. I will definitely be back on my posting game now that life is somewhat back to normal! (Fingers crossed!!)

 

For more day to day action and activities, go follow my Instagram page @lifeoftherookieteacher!

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Personification Superheroes & Ice Cream

Oh man it has been a LONG week! My kids were very good this week but my schedule was so jam packed, I barely had time to relax and enjoy their behavior.

In the winter, from November-February, I’m coaching gymnastics AND judging gymnastics. Because of that, I am usually working late every night and, about one time a week, I’m working so late I don’t get home until 11:00. The difference about this week however, is that we had 2 home meets which meant that I was home late TWICE this week. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot but not getting home until after 10 on a week night is rough once but doing it twice is SO HARD!!!!

Besides being exhausted out of my mind, I was still able to give my kids a structured but fun week. This week in reading we were talking about personification. We’ve touched on this before but this week it was going to be a focus on their story of the week’s comprehension quiz. Thursday was the day I had scheduled to really focus on this.

I wanted to find something super fun and beneficial to teach this, so naturally, I went to my love TPT and found a FREE resource (my absolute favorite!) I found this personification packet created by Creative Classroom Core and made some personification superheroes!

The task was for each student to think of an inanimate object that they use in their everyday lives. They then had to turn that object into a superhero by being very detailed using personification. They had SO MUCH FUN!! These turned out SO WELL. It also did the trick because when I graded their weekly comprehension quizzes today, NOT A SINGLE STUDENT got the personification questions wrong. Talk about a teacher win!

One more fun little thing we did this week was have a small reward ice cream party!!

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Are these not the cutest math rockstars you’ve ever seen?

Our school utilizes IXL math and language arts. For every unit in math, we create BINGO boards that has 25 different IXL assignments for them to complete that correlates directly with the unit we are teaching. I gave my class their boards 3 weeks ago and told them it was due this past Monday. If a student got a BINGO, they got a candy bar. If they got a blackout however, they got to be invited to our ice cream party at lunch. These boards are completely optional but I do tell them if they get a BINGO they get a prize but if they get a blackout, they will be rewarded greatly for it. My other students were so jealous of the kiddos that got ice cream, that I have a feeling a lot more of my students will be getting blackouts on our next board. I HIGHLY recommend utilizing IXL if your school has it. If not, recommend it to your administration because it is incredible and promotes amazing review and practice! (Plus, students LOVE it!)

Oh boy has it been a LONG week, I am so ready to sleep and not set an alarm for the morning! Have a wonderful weekend teacher friends. Until next week.

 

For more day to day action, go follow my teacher Instagram page @lifeoftherookieteacher!!

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New Hair, Who Dis?

This has been an INSANE week with my kids!! We had Monday off for MLK Jr. day, so I was thinking it’d be an easy week. I was wrong. They were not ready to be at school Tuesday morning and it lasted 3 full days.

I have an AMAZING class this year, but for some reason they forgot what being a respectful student looks like. We had multiple incidents where they wouldn’t be listening or they would do the complete opposite of what I said (which, yes I know that’s nothing but that’s not my class!) Yesterday, multiple things happened that I can’t even believe. I had kids fighting by the lockers with their boots as weapons, messing around with food and talking back to paras in the lunch room, and kids stealing snack out of other kids’ lockers. It was definitely not them!

I was so done at the end of the day that I went off on them! I yelled, which is not me. I also sent an email home to all parents telling them what a rough day it was and I had an incredible response! Luckily, I have great parents this year (which explains why my class has been so great) so they 110% had my back and I could tell talked to their kids last night because today was like the past few days never happened. They were their old selves again.

Besides the rough behavior, we had a good week because they got to create their own book. Last school year, I shared how my 3rd graders made their own book from a company called Studentreasures. (Yes, there is only 1 “t” and it’s only one word.) I had scheduled to create our book this year this week because of the 4 day week. (and because we are 4 weeks ahead in reading compared to the rest of the grade….again, because these kids are amazing!) They had so much fun and it was amazing! I can’t wait to share with you the final product when they come in the mail. If you’ve never looked up this company before, look it up! It’s amazing and totally free for the teacher and school! I am so excited to see the final published product!

Today was an extra interesting/fun day because of one incredible student in my class. At our school, we do Accelerated Reader (AR) to promote reading. I motivate my students by having incentives for reaching a certain amount of points. I created my incentives back in the summer (when I thought I was still going to be a 3rd grade teacher) so I created incentives up to 400 points (which I thought wouldn’t happen in 3rd grade.) Of course, I have the top reader in the grade in my class this year so she reached (and has since, proceeded) 400 points. The incentive I have for 400 points is the student gets to dye my hair whatever color they choose. This awesome student reached 400 and got to pick the color she wanted. Today we got to celebrate her achievement and had the whole class watch!

It was super fun and I was so happy for her! My hair was not a fan but I bought a dye that washes out right away so no damage done (but they don’t know that!) I definitely went home and took a shower ASAP but they thought it was the best thing ever! #TeacherWin! It did turn my mood around for the week!

 

For more day to day action, go follow my teacher Instagram page @lifeoftherookieteacher!!

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Back After Break

Oh man guys what a week back! I am EXHAUSTED!!!

I don’t know when you went back to school (teacher friends of course, sorry to those who had to work over break) but we went back last Thursday giving us a 2 day week followed by a full week. Man, a full week of school is HARD!!

Last week, on Thursday, I wanted to ease back into the school day (which was for the kiddos but also for me because I was not in the mood to be back.) I started the day like it was the first day of school all over again. We sat and discussed our rules and expectations as a class. On the first day of school, I have the kids put together a “contract” about their top 6 rules they want for the class along with their top 6 consequences they want for the class. Coming back, I had them discuss those rules and consequences and had them discuss what rules and consequences they wanted to keep and what they would want to change for the second half of the year.

They decided they wanted to keep 5/6 of both. I was so proud of how seriously they took this! They are such a great group of kids who constantly want to do the right thing. Their list of rules and consequences show how mature they are!

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This week was a marathon with a TON of extra stress that was added. Obviously, I knew this week was going to be hard, and I was ready for that. The difference is I was surprised with an observation this week….

Being a non tenured teacher, I have to be observed 3 times throughout the year. I’ve already had my first one back in October and wasn’t thinking about another one AT ALL coming back after break. I got a nice little surprise on Tuesday morning when my principal said he wanted to get my second done this week. I hardly knew what I was doing that day so I had to pull it together fast so I could get a good observation under my belt.

I was able to come up with a good lesson and thought it went well when I was observed today. It wasn’t a perfect lesson AT ALL but, considering the week and how unprepared I was, I thought it worked out.

Man seriously, January is rough. I coach high school gymnastics (which is a winter sport) so I feel like I am constantly working and never have time for anything else except for sleep. I love my teaching job and I love my coaching job but I am so excited it’s a Friday night so I can finally sleep and do nothing for the next 2 days!!

 

PS: I never shared my New Year’s Eve catastrophe about how I met this guy at a bar and really connected with him for a couple hours trying to get that midnight kiss. I have the worst luck in the world (especially with guys) so about 20 minutes until midnight, he disappeared so no kiss for me…..ugh. BUT I thought I looked great so I wanted to share my awesome outfit!

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For more day to day action and live activities, go follow my Instagram page @lifeoftherookieteacher!!

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Happy Thanksgiving From 4th Grade

Happy Thanksgiving blog friends. It has been a wonderful day for my family and myself, so I really hope your day has been fantastic too. Even though we are on Thanksgiving break, and when we get back to school on Monday the holiday festivities will begin, I still wanted to share with all of you the fun things we did at school and the great resources I found.

For our school, we only had classes on Monday and Tuesday this week, so it was a quick couple of days. Because it was such a short week, I didn’t really want to start anything new in reading or math so I had 2 days to fill.

On Monday we spent our reading time working on our letter writing skills. I wanted to implement the theme of thankfulness into the week so my plan was to write thank you letters to our Scholastic book sponsors. Every month, Scholastic book clubs have $1.00 books. This past summer I was looking for anyone who would be willing to donate $9.00 so one student in my class could get a free book every month. I was fortunate enough to find 24 sponsors so each of my kiddos have the chance to get a free book every month this whole school year. The kiddos were all super excited to give their thanks and share a little about themselves to their sponsors. The writing took most of our reading time and the rest of our “down time” during the day but it was so worth it! I’ve sent out a few of the letters so far and the response from my friends and family is amazing. They think it’s super sweet that these kids wrote to them to thank them for their kindness.

For math Monday (and Tuesday) I wanted to do something fun. We finished our 2nd math unit last week so I didn’t want to start anything new when the kids won’t be back for almost a week. I decided to search TPT for Thanksgiving math activities and created 8 different Thanksgiving themed math stations for them to do throughout the 2 days. I had small groups of 3 and gave them 15 minutes at each station. They got to 4 on Monday and 4 on Tuesday. I wanted to review the skills we’ve learned so far this year so my activities ranged from multiplication to place value.

The best part about all of these activities is that they are all FREE!! The first activity I found was from Elementary Excellence’s page. The students did 2 different Thanksgiving Math Problem Solving sheets. They had calculate how much food they would need in order to serve dinner to 40 people.

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The 2nd activity was a multiplication game called Thanksgiving Multiplication 5-in-a-row I found on Teacher’s Planet‘s page.

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Activity 3 was a super fun and cute craft called the Turkey Craftivity from More Time 2 Teach. Students solved math problems that were written on turkey feathers. They then got to color a turkey and the feathers to make a math turkey!

The 4th activity was a perimeter and area problem solving sheet called the Turkey Farm made my Mr Frasier. The students were given different perimeter and area problems while they drew out the dimensions of an ideal turkey farm.

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The next activity was a multiples/skip counting activity. Students connected dots that were numbered with multiples of 3 to create a turkey. It was super cute and fun and who doesn’t love connecting dots? I found this activity called Skip Count by 3 Thanksgiving Turkey on Mister Reed’s store.

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Activity 6 was non other than missing factor Thanksgiving task cards. I LOVE task cards and use them all the time! Students worked together to solve 24 different multiplication and division problems that had missing factors. I got this activity from Renee B – City Girl in Third.

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The 7th activity was a problem solving sheet with a variety of 4th grade math problems. The fun part to this activity was that they gave 2 options for the answer for each problem. Each of the 2 answers had a different color. Based on what answer the student got, they used the color correlated on the sheet to color by number a turkey. If they got all of the answers correct the turkey would look like the picture below. If they got an answer wrong, something would be colored incorrectly. The activity was called 4th Grade Thanksgiving Math Color by Number and can be found on Mathmatic Fanatic’s page.

Finally, my last station was multiplication bingo with me, because who doesn’t love bingo?

They did super well both days on these activities and had a blast.

Tuesday morning, before our math stations, we worked on writing again. I handed out a fun writing template that had the words “I am thankful for…..” in the center of the page. I shared with the students what I’m thankful for. One of my teacher friends gave me this AMAZING idea for a poster. I hung it up for them all to read. They felt so special to see their name and I had so much fun watching them react.

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I then had them watch a Kid President Youtube video on things to be thankful for. They then spent the next 25 minutes writing out everything they’re thankful for! I told them that I wasn’t going to collect or grade their writing. Their job would be to bring it home and share their writing with their friends and family. They worked so hard on these and were super excited to bring them home to share.

After our second day of math stations, we finished our afternoon with both Charlie Brown Thanksgiving cartoons. It was a great ending to a fun short week.

I am exhausted (and I’m really sorry if some of this doesn’t make any sense) and ready to get a nap in before the fun of Black Friday shopping begins! Happy Thanksgiving everyone, I hope you had a wonderful day. It’s this day that makes me remember how thankful I am for my life and for my job. I love being a teacher and love being able to share our class with you.

 

For more day to day action, go follow our class Instagram page @lifeoftherookieteacher