Back in Work Mode

Oh man, I don’t know about the rest of you but I feel like everyday has been a marathon and a sprint at the same time. I don’t know if it’s because of our shortened schedule mixed with our new COVID rules and procedures but I am exhausted at the end of every day. I also feel like I never get everything done that I need to.

We are now officially one month into school and I have finally come to the conclusion of what kind of class I have. I have a group of really sweet kids but they are also a group of kids who cannot be unsupervised or unstructured for more than a few minutes. They are the type of class that can get really loud and excited fast but then cannot come back down. I’ve had a couple of classes like this before so I sadly know what we will and won’t be able to do.

I’ve also come to the conclusion on who my students are as people. I know who my class clowns are, who my shy insecure kids are, and who my overachievers are.

My students (at least I think) have realized who I am as a teacher as well. I have high expectations for them and they know it. (Some of them hate it.) I do not tolerate certain behaviors that they have been able to get away with in the past. For some, this year has been a rude awakening and I’ve been called the mean teacher many times. In our district, 5th grade is the last year of elementary school. We tell our kids on day 1 that we are going to treat them like middle schoolers so there isn’t such a culture shock next year when they enter 6th grade. It’s been crazy for me to see how many of them don’t even act like a 10 year old.

It’s been rough trying to get everyone back into school life again. I’ve been told by my teammates that the 5th grade teachers are known as the “mean teachers in the school” because of the high expectations. What has made this year even harder than normal is that some of these kids haven’t had any structure in over 6 months. (Some even longer than that because their 4th grade teacher had no expectations what so ever.) The first few weeks I caught them doing things that I couldn’t even believe I was seeing. During a test I had students getting up to talk/share answers with another student in a different spot of the room. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had students who constantly tried to “sneak” on their hats in the classroom even though it’s a school policy to not wear hats. I’ve also had students who have flat out refused to do what I’ve asked of them. When I’ve asked them if they have gotten away with refusing what a teacher has asked before they said yes. It’s been wild and has definitely been an eye opener.

Besides the weird behaviors and adjusting to being back at school, we’ve had some pretty good moments including these amazing Daily 5 moments and this amazing writing my student wrote for me during write to self. (For anyone who doesn’t know, Max Kepler is an outfielder for the MN Twins and I love him!)

This year (thanks to the threat of going distance again) our school has provided Chromebooks for everyone in the district. Before this year, only kids in grades 6-12 had them. Being 5th graders, our students were the first to get their Chromebooks in the school. It’s been fun incorporating different sites and apps into our lessons. I am used to teaching with 1:1 devices, so it’s been fun for me to teach my students how to use different platforms like Seesaw, IXL, and Epic. I’ve also learned that “free Chromebook time” is the perfect Friday afternoon reward for positive behavior since the novelty of having them hasn’t worn off yet.

On top of the sites I’ve used before, I’ve also learned about more platforms our school is rolling out district wide this year. It’s been exciting incorporating different typing and music sites that they’ve been learning how to use in their media and music classes. As crazy as this year is, using the Chromebooks has been a nice constant in our day that will be able to stay constant when and if we have to go back to distance learning.

I’m also trying to adjust to trying to teach outside as much as possible. I’ve kind of been slacking on this. The only time I’ve really been outside with my class is to eat snack and lunch. That’s been it. (And that has been interesting itself.)

This is one of my students using the tinfoil from his lunch to “heat up” his friends peas….

I felt bad this week when I was hearing from other teachers about how they’ve been out to teach reading and to do math homework. Today I finally decided it was time to try going out. We were in the middle of taking our super long unit reading test so I had them finish it outside. It was wonderful and went much better than I had expected. (It helped that one of my harder students wasn’t in my room at the time.)

It’s been a weird month and it’s only going to get weirder. With our county’s COVID numbers, we are more than likely heading to a hybrid model soon which will be a whole new definition of weird. BUT I am thankful to have a job and to be able to see and teach my students in person. I’m really hoping things start to turn around soon so we won’t have to go back to what last year was like. Fingers crossed.

The mask eyes you have to make in order for your students to know
you mean business.

For more day to day live activity and action, go follow my school 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

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!

Screen Shot 2020-04-03 at 3.07.00 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2020-04-03 at 3.07.00 PM

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!

IMG_1450

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.

NEDAW2020_STD_Instagram

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!

Screen Shot 2020-02-27 at 6.27.33 PM

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!!

IMG_1307 copy
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!!

Screen Shot 2020-01-10 at 7.15.26 PM

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!!

Screen Shot 2020-01-10 at 7.15.26 PM

Adjective Aliens and Nighttime Aligners

Happy Friday!!

This year I am currently teaching grammar to my class along with 2 other classes. When I was growing up I HATED grammar so as the sole teacher teaching grammar to 75 students this year, I wanted to make it as exciting as I possibly could.

This week started the second round of grammar with my class. We are started this round by focusing on adjectives. Now these kids should have been working with adjectives since they were in kindergarten BUT for some reason adjectives, adverbs, even verbs and nouns are hard for them all to remember.

Yesterday we started by reviewing what nouns are followed by practicing describing nouns, AKA using adjectives. I then went on Youtube and played the School House Rock “Unpack your Adjectives” song. I shared with them how I listened to that song and watched that music video when I was their age and sang along with them.

Screen Shot 2019-11-08 at 5.36.36 PM

Once we finished reviewing nouns and adjectives I handed out an adjective challenge worksheet I found for free on A Classroom for All Seasons‘ TPT store. They had to fill out all the adjectives they could think of that fit certain categories.

Screen Shot 2019-11-08 at 5.31.00 PM

Today we did a quick review on what we talked about yesterday and then I handed out a fun activity I found on Pinterest when I searched “adjective activities.” They got to create their own “Adjective Alien.” They each got a sheet that had them fill in different adjectives to describe how many body parts their alien would have and what certain body parts would look like on their alien.

Once they finished filling out their sheet, they got to draw their own alien based on their information sheet. It was so fun and they were so cute! It was a nice easy way to end our Friday.

It was a long week and I’m so happy it’s the weekend. A fun cold has been going around the classroom and I finally caught it. I am ready to lay on my couch all weekend!

Sidenote: My Smile Direct Club nighttime aligners have officially come in the mail and I’m 10 months closer to my teeth being straight again!

 

For more day to day lessons and activities, go follow my school/teacher instagram account @lifeoftherookieteacher!!

Merry Halloween

Happy post Halloween week friends. I know Halloween and teaching don’t always go hand in hand but I’ve learned that if you embrace the day for what it is, you can still have a successful day of school. I knew what standards/lessons I had to teach the day of Halloween so I did some major planning on how to make it valuable but fun. (We also had some fun activities mixed in that was just for the excitement of the day!)

Kiddos entered the room and had 2 different Halloween morning work sheets ready for them to work on. I got these 2 free morning work sheets on TPT. One sheet was a Halloween word search from Melissa Fjal – Tales of Teaching‘s store. There are a ton of free word searches to download but I thought this was the perfect one for the age of my kids. I also had a Halloween secret message sheet for them to fill out that I got from D Conway‘s store. They were both huge hits and kept my kids silent for the first 10 minutes of the day (which they’re supposed to do every other day with their morning work but it’s NEVER silent.)

 

 

We then had our daily morning meeting. We talked about the day and then went around to share what they were going to be for Halloween. I always start the day with a game so they asked if I had a Halloween game for them after they shared their costumes. I had 24 different Halloween charade cards that they got to pick from. We then played rounds of Halloween charades throughout the day. They LOVED this and it was super easy for me to set up.

Reading this week was all about finding the author’s purpose of stories and texts while also talking about similes and metaphors. We read one of my FAVORITE Halloween books, Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown and found the author’s purpose of the story (which wasn’t too difficult for them but it was fun!)

CE25604A-1AE0-45AD-B9DF-C1085C6D70BF

After the story we went around the room and completed some Halloween simile and metaphor task cards (that I got for FREE on Teaching with a Mountain View‘s shop ). They thought had so much fun reading all of the different themed cards and totally grasped the different between similes and metaphors.

 

 

Math this week was all about prime numbers and multiplicative comparison stories. I searched the glorious TPT and found a FREE resource that fit BOTH of what we have been working on from I HEART 4th Grade‘s store. It was perfect.

Screen Shot 2019-11-01 at 5.59.48 PM

I am currently teaching grammar to 3 different 4th grade classes and wanted to spice up our lesson on sentence fragments. This was the 3rd time I taught this lesson and wanted to do something similar that I did with my first 2 classes. The first 2 classes did some sentence fragment task cards so I found Halloween sentence fragment task cards for $3.00 on Purple Palmetto‘s store for this group. Once they were done they did a Halloween themed mad lib to practice nouns, verbs, and adjectives.

Screen Shot 2019-11-01 at 5.40.15 PM

Finally, the day ended with the Charlie Brown classic, The Great Pumpkin. I LOVE that movie and show it every year, not just for them, but for me too!

 

 

I also got the pleasure of giving them their second sponsored Scholastic book that came in the mail. They were so excited and grateful for the free gift. Like I said last month, the dollar monthly Scholastic Book Club books are amazing and a blessing. My kids get a free book every month while learning about who their sponsor is and how they are related to me. It was so sweet to see their happy faces. It was the perfect ending to the day.

 

 

I jokingly told them if they brought me candy (specifically Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups) I would give them extra credit. Then this happened today….

D2BC7370-0A19-46FD-9293-D667261E1EA9.JPG

I love my job!

Don’t get me wrong after yesterday I was EXHAUSTED and am so happy it’s the weekend, but I had a blast with the day. I love my class. They make everything much more enjoyable and less stressful. With the end of Halloween means the beginning of my favorite 2 months of the year!! The next couple of months will be filled with so many fun activities and lessons that I can not wait to do and share! To get you all in the mood for the most wonderful time of the year, I’d like to share my wonderful tree that, yes, I put up last night because I love Christmas so much! Happy weekend!

74701513_10215719234841017_8133065421642268672_n

For more day to day activities and lessons, go follow my class instagram account @lifeoftherookieteacher. You won’t regret it!

 

Fall break and pumpkins – What could be better?

It may be Wednesday but it feels like Friday to me. We are starting our fall break, which is also known as MEA break here in Minnesota (Minnesota Educator’s Association break) so I have the next 2 days off!

Kids only had 2 days this week and we, as teachers, had 2 and a half days. Because they only had 2 days, I didn’t really want to do a whole lot so I tried to make them as much fun (and low key) as possible.

On Monday we pretty much spent the day talking about letter writing and started our 1st pen pal letters of the year! If you followed me last year, you know that my class had a set of pen pals from a school up north in Minnesota (about 3 hours away from our school.) One of my friends from when I was really little teaches up there and we’ve recently reconnected when we both got into teaching. We thought it would be super fun if we had our kids connect through letter writing. Last year my kids were 3rd graders writing to her 4th graders and now this year, my 4th graders are writing to her 3rd graders. (We pretty much flopped grades!)

My kiddos LOVED it! I found a free, off of TPT, an introductory pen pal kit for them to use. Last year I learned that writing these letters were not the easiest thing for them to do. I got this kit from Primary Queen‘s store to be super helpful! It was super fun!

Screen Shot 2019-10-16 at 3.59.27 PM

Yesterday I was hoping for an even more relaxed day. The other 4th grade teachers shared the awesome idea with me about how they were going to be showing Because of Winn Dixie so I decided to copy their idea. While they were watching the movie, which pretty much took of most of the time they spent with me, they worked on a fun pumpkin/Halloween project to spice up the back of our room! I let them create their own creative pumpkin to hang on their display number. I gave them each a piece of black, orange, green, and white paper and told them to make a pumpkin. That was the only direction I gave. They then went off on their own and did awesome! There pumpkins were so cute!

My Top favorites were these two cuties!

But these two were my ABSOLUTE favorites!! “The Green Lantern Pumpkin” and “Colonel Sanders the Pumpkin.”

This was such a fun project and their ideas were amazing.

The reason I wanted relaxed days was because I had to prep for conferences. We had our first round of conferences for the year which are always goal setting conferences. They were after school both Monday and Tuesday and then also this morning. Because of that, I was exhausted by the end of Monday night. Luckily my families are supportive so they were pretty easy. I can’t lie though, I’m glad they’re over.

 

This is also super random but I wanted to share something that I’ve decided to try. When I was 11 I got braces, you know like most preteens. The funny thing about my mouth, however was that they were on until I was 16. It was rough. Even after 5+ years of braces, my mouth is already starting to go back to the way they were before my years of teenage torture.

IMG_0276

Because of that, I decided I was going to try one of the Invisalign knock off companies. I looked into Smile Direct Club and decided to get molded for nighttime wearing aligners and a set of retainers when I’m done with the journey. The molding kits were easy to use and the whole process took me about 20 minutes. I will now be sending the whole kit back and my aligners should be back to me in 2 weeks. My fingers are crossed that my teeth FINALLY straighten up and stay that way!

 

 

For more day to day action and more detailed lessons and project examples, go follow my teachers instagram account @lifeoftherookieteacher!

Book Clubs, Tug-a-War, and M&M’s


I went into this week thinking it’d be a normal week, but I forgot, normal weeks don’t exist as a teacher. We did some fun activities that I thought would be fun to share!

Tuesday our first Scholastic book orders came in the mail. I’m trying something new this year. The Scholastic Book Club has a book a month for specific grade levels that are only $1.00. Last year, a bunch of teachers in my area were asking for donations from friends and family on Facebook to sponsor a child in their class. They were asking for individuals to donate $9.00 so they could buy a student in their class 1 $1.00 book a month for the whole year. I was apprehensive because I HATE asking anyone for money so I didn’t participate. I saw how much of a success it was for the classes that participated last year and thought I would give it a try this year to see what would happen. My friends and family were AMAZING. I got a full class worth of donations within a day.

This past Tuesday our first $1.00 book set came in. Each student got the book Frindle by Andrew Clements with a note inside saying who their sponsor is for the year and how they are connected to me. It was so adorable to see how grateful they were when they found out a stranger donated enough money for them to each receive a free book every month. It was also super cute to hear, “My sponsor is Miss Nygaard’s mom!” or “My sponsor is Miss Nygaard’s favorite cousin!” It made my day! My friends and family LOVED to see this picture and LOVED to hear how excited they were!

IMG_0174
Just look at how cute they are!

Last week we had our annual grade level race (that is usually a Homecoming Friday activity but was postponed due to poor weather.) The sad part was that by the time we ran (on the makeup day), it was cold and raining so we had to cut the afternoon fun short. What we usually do as a grade level after the race is have a grade level class tug-a-war tournament. Each class plays tug-a-war against every other class in their grade. Last year, when I taught 3rd grade, my class literally lost EVERY round but one, (and they only won that round because the PE teachers joined their team) it was tragic. This year, my class DOMINATED! We won every round except for 1. We only lost to the class that got 1st place who won every round. I went from having a class that was dead last, to a class that ended up being the runners up! It was awesome! They were so into it and I LOVED it! It was just as much fun for me as it was for them!

IMG_0197

Today I wanted to end the week with something fun. It’s Friday, who doesn’t want to do something fun? For math, we had to end our first unit reviewing bar graphs. They’ve been working with bar graphs since kindergarten so I wanted to make it fun for them. I pulled an activity I did with my 3rd graders last year (when I also taught bar graphs) that was all about graphing M&M colors. They were so excited when they found out we were working with M&M’s. You’ve probably either heard of this activity, or have done this activity before but it’s fun nonetheless. Some even said they have done this activity before with M&M’s or Skittles but they were hyped to do it again!

I found this awesome (free) TPT worksheet from Thomas Teachable Moments‘ shop that guides them through everything! Once they finished the activity, they made their own bar graphs (as their assignment.)

Screen Shot 2019-10-11 at 6.41.34 PM.png

Yesterday we talked about frequency tables. Students went around and found data on a question of their choosing to create their own frequency table. Today, they took that data to make their own bar graph. They thought it was awesome. It was a little chaotic but my kiddos are resilient and did a phenomenal job. Seriously, these kids are awesome.

It was a fun week but I’m exhausted. To make it even more exhausting, it’s been raining and cloudy the past few days and then today, we saw our first snow flakes of the season. I’m now sitting on my couch (drinking some wine) with candles lit and the snow falling. It feels like it’s the middle of the winter but it’s only October….only in Minnesota.

 

For more day to day action and live videos (which got featured in the #teacherlife’s story on Instagram today) go follow my teacher Instagram page @lifeoftherookieteacher! Today I posted on my story an ADORABLE writing response one of my kiddos wrote about when the prompt was “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and he wrote he wanted to be a teacher. His response will make you smile! Go check it out!!