Wednesday, May 30, 2012

In Case of Emergency, Please Crack Binder

I hate sub plans.  I would rather spend the day dying at school than write them.  They happen though.  And I've been caught way too many times near death and had to struggle to get something written on paper so that the kids don't spend their day going all Lord of the Flies, lest my soul shiver to the sound of a distant conch shell... I think I hated that book more than the politics chapter in 1984, but whatevs, right?  I really should turn lose of my sophomore year of high school at this point in my life. Sheesh.

Super teacher mode, though, remember?  About a month ago when this whole push to actually be organized and interesting started- I made myself an emergency sub binder.  When I hold it in my arms I ooooze smugness for myself.  The pride of my one teeny tiny organized cell blows raspberries at the rest of my dysfunctional cells. Yes, it is impowering.  Plus, my binder has an adorable picture of a guinea pig being pulled in a red wagon on the front- this pleases me to no end.

I set it up to be multi-functional.  It'll keep the lesson plans I actually use, plus a general guide in case I'm in some sort of situation where I didn't plan my lessons ahead (and that is the general case), as well as basic supply needs for getting through any day.

I got plastic dividers that also have little pockets in them, so I can insert time fillers and what not as I come across them. My first section holds my daily cafeteria/office envelopes, menu, and lunch choice cards in the pocket- and then the section is my lists.  General schedule, class list, bus list, phone directory for the school, phone directory for the kids.  All of these pages are in page protectors, so I can make extra copies and include them in the pocket, and also change things out quickly if I make a change to the original.

My second section is called Basics- and I've written here the basic rules of the room.  How the morning routine works when they come in, our restroom policy, when they can go to the nurse (NEVER), the behavior management system, partnerships (the sub might as well know the low down as to who should not be with who and why, as well as who they could choose to be together), how we line up for lunch and the bus, and emergency drills. All of this is also in page protectors so I can quickly change them out if I make updates.

The third section is routines (also in the page protectors).  This is my gold mine section, because I break down the day to the level of what a sub could do if I really LEFT NOTHING for them.  This is the section for when I meet with some horrible car accident and am in a dramatic coma, or get sucked up by aliens, or wake up with a kidney stone sort of situation.  It specifically outlines how to do attendance and whatnot for the morning, how to handle Language Arts time if they don't have the skill set to run guided reading groups, but also HOW to run Guided Reading Groups if they want to go for it.  How to manage indoor or outdoor recess, lunch and encore times.  Running Math in a pinch.  Making it through the last 40 minutes of Inquiry time- and how to get the stinkers packed-up and on the bus.  This section will one day save my butt- of this I am sure.

The fourth section I just added tonight.  I know there are only three weeks left of school- but I was irritated with my plan book I've been using all year- and it occurred to me that I'm better off creating something that fits my needs AND would live in this binder.  That way, one day, when I wake up and find that the one teeny organized cell has multiplied and I've actually written down lesson plans more than a day in advance- they will be right here already in the binder for the sub to look at. I made myself a month at a glance page, a week at a glance page, and then double page spreads for a single day.  I'll copy them front to back for a week at a time and put them in between the week at a glance pages.  I like them now, because I gave myself plenty of space to be specific about my mini-lessons plus my guided group lessons.  Instead of having binders all over the place I'll have everything all in one place.

There is still a last section available that for now I have blank.  I think I'd like to get around to actually creating real "emergency" lessons that could just be pulled out of a page protector and ran with, you know?  That's going to have to be a summer project though.  I was thinking I could make up projects- single days of inquiry- into a thematic topic that I really don't get to cover in the regular curriculum.  It would be good for the kids, I think, to occasionally  be exposed to something extra.  And if I make up, say twelve of them- then the sub can pick something that appeals to them. Like I said, summer project.

For days that I am prepared for ahead of time- I do have a sub plans template on my computer.  The first time I write sub plans for the year I just save it and just rewrite in the blanks each new sub day.  I have them for half days too, both am and pm- but I'm sort of hoping that one day, I'll have this binder so awesome, I'll never have to write them. Am I dreaming, or what? The challenge will be keeping myself from ever taking the binder HOME with me.  I need to keep it at school ALWAYS.  Which as I type I have it here on my lap right now, at home.  Let's hope the aliens don't get me tomorrow morning. Shazam!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Too Many Thoughts Tuesday

I can't say that I feel like I accomplished much today.  I think, in a way, the wind sort of got knocked out of me this morning. In Writer's Workshop, a bunch of the kids decided to write Summer Bucket List stories- things they hoped to do or planned to do over this summer.  Thus far, they've all been pretty predictable, trip, pool, eating, playing, yardy yar.

And then one of my girls comes up to me to tell me she's all done and would like me to read it with her.  It begins just like everyone else's has- she's going to Mexico, she'll go to the pool. and the park, and shopping, and she's going to get her hair done, and then she's going to visit her Dad's Dad because her Dad's Mom has died.  I pause for sort of a second, because I wasn't really expecting the sudden turn in detail, everything up this point has been pretty basic, and then to make the distinction of WHOSE father and that the mother had died was a real temperature change in the story.  This page in particular had less color on it, and she's one of my marker queens.

But then again I'm thinking, it's not all that unusual, she is a very detailed oriented kid in regular conversation, so it's not too out of character for her to give a detail like that, she just hadn't up to this point in the story.  Turn page.  "And then I will visit my Dad's gravestone and put flowers on it."  Green grass, black half oval - DAD- written across it with a heart underneath, and flowers.  "I'm going to put roses on it," she tells me.  "I like how swirly round they are when they open.  It'll be pretty."  But she says it soft.  She says it low. And she says it without a smile.  She wants a hug, so I give her a squeeze, and then she's off making a Good Luck on SOL's poster for all of the fifth grade classes (her idea).

Some days I'm not sure what I'm doing.  Some days I wonder what good I'm doing worrying about whether or not they know all these facts we think we're supposed to funnel into them.  There are two children in my class whose father's have died.  One in the last year, and by foul play.  I don't know how this sweet girl's dad died, she's never told me, and I feel intrusive asking. But I know she thinks about him all the time.  In reading group, when we read about a time machine, and everyone picked to go back in time to see dinosaurs, or into the future to see flying cars- she said she just wanted to go back and see her dad.

I have three children in my class who have a parent who has been deported or never was able to come over to the states with them in the first place.  I have two being raised by grandparents, one by a guardian, one who has never met his mother, one who has never met his father, one who counted down the days until his father got out of jail this year.  And if it's not a big deal to them, if it's not bothering them, if it doesn't affect them at all- why do they mention it then?  Why is it coming up in conversations and in writings? Why would they out of the blue just come up and say a blank statement, give me a hug and walk away?

And I suppose today, and most of tonight I have felt paralyzed by this.  They need more from me than a state curriculum, and a reading level, and word work- but am I giving it to them? And can I?  Tonight I am a sailboat adrift, there is no wind for my sails.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Measuring Up

Clearly, by the title, I did indeed complete my task for the day.  Of course it's all theoretical and not been class tested- but it's a PLAN, and I'll give it the ol' college try.

So I started out by studying my state objectives, looking at my county objectives, and then looking at what I had available to me in terms of what I already own, what ideas I was given at our last team meeting, Pinterest (but of course!) and my own noggin.  And it turns out, it's pretty basic stuff, this measurement unit.  I think I've been making it harder than necessary for years for no reason.  Additionally, I have a couple of number sense lessons that never got covered in our Investigations curriculum, so I've got to stick that in there as well.

I am challenging myself to do this unit in a small group style, so I had to think about pre-assessments to figure out who knows what for grouping.  This is where our team meeting came in handy, because Fabulous Karen gave us samples of some assessment questions on measurement, mass, capacity, and temperature.  I'm going to do a little chop shop action on the packet and put together the assessment.  I'm also going to add in a measurement question with a "broken ruler" idea I saw SOMEWHERE this weekend, but now can't figure out where, so after I googled it, it took me to this doc broken ruler, which explains the basic principle. You not only give the kids a regular ruler to measure a line with, but also one that is "broken" and begins at a different number.  Will they have the concept that it is not the number on the tick mark that gives the measurement but the number of spaces inbetween.  Should be interesting.

So, after I give the pre-assessment I can use the data to make groups.  I'm aiming for four.  That will give me five kids in a group.  I don't know if the data will agree with me, but we'll see.  Also understanding that I can't just send them off into measurement centers without having given them some tutorials, I'm spending this week doing some lessons on those number sense objectives that haven't been covered yet, and will use those as initial center activities while I take my small groups and give them tutorials in HOW to use each measurement instrument.  Then the following day I will replace one of the number sense centers with a center where they can practice what they learned the day before.

For length, I found a great activity on The Weekly Hive from Pinterest.  The kids have a room scavenger hunt for different paper cut-out worms and record the measurements.  I'm going to go a little "themey" I think and make different size flip flops.  And truth be told- I am feeling almost like going to the dollar store and getting different size ones so they can actually measure the real thing.  We'll see how much motivation I have though when it comes time.  I may end up just drawing one and photocopying it at different ratios and moving forward.  Over a few days I'll hide them in new locations and have them measure them with different units. Standard, metric, and non-standard.  On the fourth day I'll send them out to look for another object the same length as one of the flip flops they draw out of a bag.

Product Details I also have this book and there are three particular measurement activities I'll make with the kids, a rainbow ruler, a snaky ruler, and metric strip sculptures.

For mass, we'll learn in small group how to use a balance scale, and then spend the remaining days practicing by using comparative objects- like I know paper clips are about a gram, and I'll get a pound bag of sugar at the store, etc- and create charts of about how much different items weigh.  At the end of the week, I'll have them bring in two items from home that they feel are about one pound, and less than eight ounces to make a big comparison chart.  I'm also going to link it with a capacity activity we'll do where we make popsicles, so I'll have them weigh liquid vs frozen water to see if there is a difference.

In capacity, I'm going to work with measuring spoons, cups, and then the gallon man idea, plus liter bottles.  In the past, to avoid the water dealio, we've practiced using dry materials like rice and candy- but looking over the standards, they really are talking about water, and I need to be genuine.  To do this- I've planned for a water blitz day where we will do many water activities outside,I'll have to be flexible with the timing so I can do it on a very hot and sunny day so the kids will dry quickly.  But prior to that, in the classroom there is a dry capacity activity in the Quick and Easy Math Art book, where you fill a latex glove with dry beans, and the kids estimate how many beans are in the glove, and then record their guess, and work on filling a glove themselves to test their estimate.  I liked this as an indoor non-messy alternative. Additionally, I can stretch it for a couple of days by changing up the bean size in the glove. We will do one water activity inside though, and that is create popsicles.  We'll use measuring spoons and cups to measure not only the water, but the koolaid mix to create a popsicle in a dixie cup.  We'll link this up with mass by measuring the water in it's liquid state and frozen state to see if there is a difference, and also with the length practice by marking the water line before freezing and after to see if there is a difference.  We'll save the popsicles for hot water blitz day.

I've got the following planned for Water Blitz day- 1) like old fashioned egg and spoon races, we'll relay race with different measuring devices to carry water from one container to another, the first group to fill the four different parts of gallon man wins. 2) I'm also going to get ahold of tub tints  and different non-standard liquid containers for them to investigate how much each on holds.  I'm thinking vases, funky kid cups, weird bottles, etc. I'm just coloring the water to make it seem fun. 3) Also I was thinking about water balloons.  We could see how much it takes to fill them (capacity), weigh them (mass), and then throw them on the sidewalk and measure the splatter (length).  I am hoping that if I set the ground rules we won't have any of them thrown at each other- fingers crossed. and 4) an old field day favorite, the filled sponge relay.  Great big car wash sponge, dipped in bucket at one end, and the kids have to pass it over their head and then through their knees alternating at each kid until it gets to the back of the line and the last kid squeezes what might be left into another bucket.  Then that kid runs to the front of the line and starts the process again.  The kids get SOAKED- which is why it needs to be a hot day.  But this activity can serve a couple of purposes.  One, they can compare how much water they started with, to how much they ended with (subtraction action going on there) and we can also take the temperature of the water before and after the relay to see if there is a difference (which links it up to my last requirement)

Temperature! Aside from the small group tutorial on using and reading a thermometer, I will have them take the temperatures of different areas and compare them.  So far I've thought of the soil in my potted plants- those inside in shade, inside on the window sill, and then outside in shade, and outside in full sun.  We can also take the temperature of our water experiments and games, a glass inside and a glass left outside, and themselves before and after recess and gym.  I'd also like to link this up to weather watching and just keep track of our daily hi and lo, and also look up other countries daily to compare. A few of my kids are traveling this summer, so I think we'll look up those places in particular, and then also China and Egypt and the Tundra just to revisit our old units.

And then it comes down to the final learning product yeah?  At our Team meeting, Fabulous Karen had a Measurement Olympics activity that I'm going to do.  It has paper plate discus, cotton ball shotput, and paper straw javelin throw just to name a few.  Kids make estimates in both standard and metric and record actual vs estimated results.  There's even a handout for medals.  I am going to be looking for some metallic cardstock to run them off on.  I will probably do this event outside, and I want to try to make that ice cream in a ziploc baggie trick, because it's another opportunity to do capacity, and we can weigh it before and after. Then I also came up with a book idea.

Product DetailsI loooooove Loreen Leedy's book Measuring Penny. Actually, I love Loreen Leedy's BOOKS, and I have a goal to OWN THEM ALL, Mwahahahaha! I think she'd be very good as and Author's as Mentors model next year.  Yes, SOLD, I will make it happen.  In the meantime, I was thinking I'd have the kids do the general same experiments but with a stuffed animal from home- but then I decided I'd much rather make it about them.  So here's my plan.  I'm going to call the book- This is Me.  It might turn into a lap book, actually, now that I think about it, but we'll see.  Again, this is all very dependent on  motivation.

First section, Length: I want to take digital pictures of them standing with their arms stretched out and their legs apart- like they would have laid on the ground to have their outline traced.  (And I might still do that part, I haven't decided.) Working with a partner, I will have them use different colors of yarn to cut lengths of to corresponding body parts. Red = Head to toe, Orange = Head: top to chin, Yellow = Torso: neck to hip, Green = arm: shoulder to finger tip, Blue = leg: hip to heel, and Purple = their choice.  They'll have to make a code key and keep the strings in a pouch or envelope for their book.  Then they use the string with rulers to get the precise measurements and record those on the digital picture page. Oooooo text feature! Labeled Diagrams. ~Shiver~ They can also choose a digital picture of a friend to have a comparison, like in the Penny Book.

Build Your Wild Self  Aside from being hilarious, I think this would be fun for the kids to do and then create measurements to go with the creations.Second Section, Weight: I am a bit hesitant on this, because I don't know if it's a swell idea to compare weights- but I was thinking, to make it fun, we could record our actual weight, but make the page about This is How Much I'd Weigh on Mars.  And then there is this awesome website where you Build Yourself Wild , and they could make themselves all weird and print the picture and then put measurements on that picture as well.  That page could be "This is what I'd look like on Mars" .

Third Section, Capacity:  Ok, so I'm really a geek.  I can remember one of the early Star Trek:The Next Generation Episodes where they got attacked by sand.  Yeah- SAND- (I was eating ramen noodles at the time, and my broth was glittering just like the evil sand creatures on TV and it sort of freaked me out, still not all into the ramen so much anymore) and the Sand gets on the translator and says "ugly bags of mostly water" in this mechanical voice.  I actually say this phrase to myself when I'm looking into the mirror brushing my teeth in the morning.  Not because I have self-esteem issues, but because I'm better at making the mechanical voice with the toothbrush in my mouth. Yeah, I know, tangent. Anyhoooooooo- that general percentage is 60%- so take their weight, find 60% of that, and then apply that to capacity.  This page would say I am Mostly water, I'd be this many glasses of {insert favorite drink here} (shame on you, folks that are thinking about appletinis right now!) and then also, we'd have done our popsicle experiment by now, so they could also say "I'd be {this many} popsicles. Totally weird, I know, but it appeals to me specific sense of humor.

Fourth Section, Temperature: We'd put in the data we collected from temperatures before and after recess and gym, and then also I was thinking of a little four square deal where they drew themselves wearing different types of clothing for the temperatures in the four seasons- or four places average temperature at this time of year, like Virginia, China, Guatemala, and Antarctica- or whatever.

Fifth Section, Time: They'd make a general days schedule, we'd also measure shadow lengths at three different times of day,  and I was thinking we could play some Minute to Win It type games to see what they could list that they were capable of doing in 60 seconds.

Sixth Section, Money: What I'd buy with $100 dollars.  I'm afraid I couldn't think of anything more creative for that one.  Unless maybe, we take their waist measurement, and then make a belt out of different coins and then we could say how much money we were around our middle.  Hmmm, dunno.

In the end however, mission accomplished for me.  I made a measurement plan, and I feel like I PYP'd it up. I am hopeful to accomplish it in the classroom, as it seems like an awful lot of fun.  Pictures promised if I am successful. And now, to bed! Biiiig day tomorrow. Tons to do.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Econ Foldable and The Great To-Do List Challenge Week 4

First up to bat- the much anticipated Store foldable samples.  I made one- a school, and my daughter made one- a grocery store.  I had assigned a grocery store to a student that was absent on Friday- but then I felt bad about it and think I should let him make a choice just like everyone else got to, so having an eight year old free around the house to pick up my slack was pretty convenient.  Having her make one was also swell in that it gave me an idea for expectations out of my class.  You know when you make your own sample you get all proud of yourself for how pretty it is, and then you turn the project over to your lovely sweet little cabbages and they make exactly what they are capable of doing and you have to realize that you forgot you had thirty some years head start on them.  Like when I'm writing down a note and one of them says "wow, you write soooooo fast." Then I feel a little bad how I'm always wanting them to hurry up. It's easy to lose perspective sometimes.

The Meek Moose Fine Arts and Crafts School
Food Power

Things I like about this foldable: 1) the hangar.  In the long run, it's optional- but if I keep the hangar, it gives me some flexibility in displaying them, we can hang them from strings and move them around in a line for sorting and presenting, and all sorts.  Or I can leave the hanger off, maybe add a fancy duct table strip to one of the side and bind them together into a big book.  That sort of appeals to me too.

2)The versatility of drawing right on the paper or pasting on the details.

3) Putting the info on index cards taped inside ground the kids into a location for their writing, and also can help alleviate any stress about the AMOUNT to write.  When they see the small space they can realize, Hey, I don't have to write War and Peace here. (I was an English major, can you tell?)
My daughter has started to put everything on one card, and then to cover up that she drew a line, she just wrote the definition of the types of resources.

4) The floor plan.  So much fun.  I made mine traditional, and my daughter made hers more of a labeled picture.  I think both work, and allow the kids some leeway with what they want to do.
After I made my floor plan I realized I got so excited adding in the art studios I forgot about classrooms.  I wonder if the kids will notice?

5) I like having the catalog/menu/items available charted on the side. I felt like I was most creative on that part of the sample, my daughter found that part tedious.  She preferred the drawing. Insight, insight, insight.

Since mine was a school, mine says "Course Offerings"

6) Last minute change to add a peek-a-boo roof, I originally had all of that folded to the back, and put the description card on the same side as the catalog, but when I tried it on the actual paper, I preferred the largest size card for the catalog, and it was too busy with the two cards on that one side.  So now the store description is under the eaves of the roof.

It says: Food Power is a store where people buy food. The food is low priced, great quality, and the workers are very nice! Food Power is Food-er-ific!

Before my daughter and I got down to make our samples, I asked her a series of questions which actually helped me think through a planning worksheet I'm going to create for my students on Tuesday.  I had her come up with a name for her store, and think through the natural, human, and capital resources needed.  For the description plan I had her make a statement telling what her store was and it's purpose, three reasons why someone should shop there, and come up with a tag-line or motto.  When I asked her to do that she said "What?!" So I said, you know, like Frosted Flakes, They'rrrrrrrrre Grrrrrrrreat! To which she replied "Oh." and then came up with one.  Then I had her think of ten things her store would sell and come up with a price for each.  Sorta amusing what an eight year old considers a low price for food.  And if she thinks things are that expensive, you'd think she'd try to help me out a little more at the grocery store and not pick everything she sees and put it in the cart, but oh well.

Also in the process, I realized that next year when I do this, I'll have the kids sort the business cards one more time before they choose, and make a selection of businesses that are the MOST NECESSARY to fulfill the needs of the citizens.  That way, I can have everyone's first creation be a real basic town, and then if they finish early they can make a second store that fulfills wants.  Additionally, if I do this all year next year, we can have other opportunities to add in funsie things for legitimate reasons.  Like a TV station because we are learning to write news scripts or whatnot.  I'm excited to see how these foldables turn out though, that's for sure!

And secondly, the to-do list.  In retrospect, I don't feel as productive as I felt last Sunday.  But then I also know I did a lot of hard work this week with assessments, and I have done a lot of good planning.  So I won't beat myself up over the list.  I probably should have gone a little lighter on myself since I know I had all of those running records- live and learn. Live and learn...

Time to tally up my score:

1) Darn it, I need to do the thing with the microphone recorder. No.  I should be ashamed of myself I suppose.  I'm going to leave it off this week to gain some insight as to WHY I keep putting it off.
2)Take care of the teacher's desk, if I did indeed leave it a god awful mess on Friday.  I think I probably did. Halvsies again.  I did clean it up once, but then it went nuclear on Friday and I left it a mess again. I have a real problem with this.
3)The Daily 5 books- even if I did manage to make the books later today, I will not have the kid illustrations in them, so it's still a this week thing. HA! I finished something! The writing anyway.  I was shut down at the laminator though TWICE!  So I've got to wait probably until SOL testing is done to be able to tear it up. In the mean time, I have been reading them with the class at every transition, and it is really helping with getting up under control these last weeks.
4) The catch-all drawers beckon Nope. In fact I am guilty of tossing stuff in there without even caring because I was trying to clear off a counter.  Which ended up totally messed up again later in the week anyway.
5) Have to do 20 DRA's.  Due on Friday- so this is priority one. Hoo-Hah! Yes I DID! And I am happy to report that all of my kids that I started with in October (except 3) have made a year and a half's growth since I got ahold of them. My new English Speaker who I just got two months ago was able to read and comprehend a level two. He is so bright! Next year he'll be above grade level I'm sure. The kid is toooo smart.  The whole process of acquiring a second language just amazes me.
6) I've got to get that town map made. And preview over the lessons for this week so I'm ready. Yes in the sense that I made it a kid project.  And I'm glad that I did, even with the hiccup there in the initial creation.  And I've got loads done with my econ unit, and we're headed into the final drive.  I expect that we will spend the majority of the week making these shop foldables, and finsih the week with the look into barter vs money and create a town currency.  That leaves me two whole weeks to work on town market.  Admittedly, that part of the project truly frightens me.  I am afraid that I am not clever enough to make it work...and I'm not entirely sure why.  More self reflection necessary.
7) Implement the hunt for the positive mission YES I DID! And I am happy with it.  It has given me insight into how they view themselves, and also what they are lacking in skill of how to compliment another person. I am excited about our brick wall we'll be making, and I had an excellent conversation with my mother about how to make this spying and complimenting task a year long endeavor and between the two of us, I think we thought up a very nifty art activity that changes month by month.  When I make the samples this summer I will write a post to share.  I'm going to look inot seeing if my sister the costume designer can do some drawings for me first, or if I'm going to have to attempt the endeavor myself.
8) I'm truly considering revamping how I write my lesson plans And I am a bit proud of myself for the phrasing here, because it didn't require me to actually do anything but THINK- but I also must confess that I did not think about it much, so I cannot give myself full points to be fair.
9) Also truly considering trying my hand at guided math groups this week Proud of myself AGAIN- and there was much much much consideration, and I have written down some plans and hope to try to actually put it into practice this week. 
10) finish reading the CAFE book YES! Full points! What a great book.  What a great set of books reading it right after the Daily 5.  What a great set of sisters, yeah?  Completely thought provoking.  It has my mind buzzing.  I;ve spent over an hour looking at my schedule and writing out possible time frames to try to do something like what they are suggesting.  One hiccup though, my school is very into the Jan Richardson model of guided reading, so I don't know if I can fly with this, or if it's even adaptable to what I'm already doing, or what.  But I am going to investigate further because both books really struck a chord in me.

So, looking it over, 6 out of ten. 7 if I give myself half points for kinda thinking about lesson plans and cleaning my desk at the beginning of the week, even though I left it a mess again on Friday. Let's split the difference.  65%.  Which, I guess is a failing grade, but you know, I don't feel like a failure.  Because HEY, I did some extra credit this week. 1)I cleaned up a side table, put a pretty vinyl table cloth over it that matches the Boston Fern I've got on top, and the kids have been using it all week as an extra work space. 2) Math has gone seamlessly this week because of our new end of the table group hill-billy bookshelf organization and the fact that I cleaned up and organized the math manipulatives. 3) After reading the Daily 5 book, and letting go of some control issues of having to pick who goes where at what time and does what station during language arts time, plus making the expectations charts and We Can books, I had the best working environment all year these past two weeks, and I must contribute that the success of getting through with all of my required assessments even with doing NOTHING for the first week of them. I promise not to procrastinate on it next year. So I think I deserve at least an 80% this week.  All said and done.

This week though- let's be purposeful.  I have tomorrow off, so I can't do anything in the classroom. And I'm glad that I can't.  Where I used to work, I lived only ten minutes away and had a key to get in whenever I wanted so I worked every holiday, every weekend, every moment.  Now, aside from having over an hour's commute- they just don't DO THAT at the new place.  You DO NOT come in on days that are not scheduled workdays.  So there is something I appreciate.  Which reminds me, I almost forgot to get appreciative, didn't I? For shame!

This week I've got to appreciate my daughter- she has no idea how much I learned watching her make this sample shop- and how much she helped me get my brain ready for what my second graders are most likely going to produce for me this week. And she has a tough time of it, with attention being snagged away by an older brother with pretty severe autism, and a relatively new baby.  She is a real star. Love my girl!

I also have appreciated my Mom this week- she's really listened intently to me yammer on about my school plans, and even helped me create an idea or two.  And when I'm at home, I don't have anybody else really interested in such things- so it's good to have a sounding board.

And I've got to give a quick shout-out of appreciation to Marilu, one of the fabulous ESOL teachers I work with, for coming in even though she was bogged down with testing this week, to talk over our little newbie's progress and even do some of his running records for me.  She is a gem! I love collaborating with her, and Anna who co-teaches with me three times a week.  She's been out with the testing too- miss her! And I need to appreciate Anna as well, because she has really been there to give me the 411 on a lot of things that people forgot to tell me about, like the distinction between and N, NS, and S- on report cards..  Thanks to both of these ladies, I'll be ever closer to being SUPER TEACHER next year!

This week's to-do list challenge without further adieu:
1) On my day off- I will bring into creation a plan for our measurement unit that is PYP-ee, and also in the style of small group guided math.
2) Revamp lesson plans, and take a stab at this new possible Daily 5/ CAFE-ish schedule I doodled about this afternoon
3) Update my emergency sub binder to reflect some of our new procedures.
4)Clean off desk in such a way that will LAST
5)Catch-All Drawers in the back must be organized
6) Investigate a plan for repurposing some Basal readers
7) Inventory my guided reading sets
8) Write up my PGP plan due next Monday
9) Sift through and organize my school e-mail
10) Inventory math manipulatives

And honestly- between 5 and 7 and 10 I will commit to getting one done, and be surprised if I manage all three.  But it's a must eventually as it's part of the close-out process and the fact that I'm moving rooms next year.

I'm feeling good about it though- very positive.  I'm going to have a good week.

A Well Oiled Wheel

I have been made fun of a fair share of times.  Comes with being a dork and flying that freak flag high, I suppose.  And I haven't outgrown it in adulthood.  There is a particular person that relishes referring to my thought process as "the hamster wheel is turning".  I could spend time getting upset over it, but I'll take my own advice that I give the kids and ignore it.  To a point, anyway. The key is to try not to pick up scissors without a solid plan to use them as they are intended...

If it is a hamster wheel up there and not a super duper nuclear powered energy portal of awesomeness, then my hamster has had plenty of Pepsi today and has been sprinting along on that wheel- and there is not a squeak to be heard.  I pause for a moment of reflection on my younger days of owning hamsters...get within a hair's breadth of considering having one again....and then, ummmm, no.  The last one I owned had babies in her first week.  The babies, although cute and pink and jelly beany in the beginning- grew up to be ruthless gladiators that tore out each other's eyeballs when they were all placed in one giant wood shaving filled aquarium. (True story) Eventually, my dad made them each individual cages and they lived in the garage and he took care of them until they died. I think the one-eyed one was named Champagne, and you had to wear thick leather gloves when you put your hand in her cage because she'd attack and try to chew off your fingers.  Ah, good times.  I'm relatively positive that all of my feelings of being an inadequate parent stem from this episode in my life, and also probably my fear of rodentia.... Time for a cake pop then.  Food is love.

I never said the hamster was running a consistent track- we've got some ambient scenery flashing by as we sprint here.

Things I feel good about today:
1) Hobby Lobby.  This mega super center of crafting, makes Michael's look like a cheap wh---, I mean, lady of the evening.  The only reason why I am not there now, setting up camp to live there the rest of my life is because the baby was sleepy.  And for BabyZilla, sleepy means scream aggressively until given milk, blanket, prime seating on the recliner, and Sesame Street.  Which, even though Hobby Lobby is the epitome of awesome, they can't provide BabyZilla with his "needs".  I bought my glorious treasure and left.  Vowing to return again one day!  My happiest find of the day was  "Toobs."  Made by Safari Ltd., they offer tubes of not only your standard animal habitat fair (which I will get more of to have a complete earth biome set...) they also had Ancient Egypt.  SCORE!  I hope they are making an Ancient China set eventually, but I didn't see it whilst scoring their online store.  And they had Powhatan Indians!  I additionally hope they come out with the other Native American tribes.  I plan to use my Toobs to create oral language stations where they can tell fictional as well as non-fictional stories about the pieces.  We can also use them to construct dioramas.  And I do love me some dioramas...

2) The 7 section expanding plastic file folder.  Pretty much looks like this one here, except mine are blue.
What am I going to do with these babies?  I'm thinking "Homework folder".  Sounds like nothing right? Sounds like everything you've ever heard before, you're already snoozin'- BUT WAIT!  Here's my super duper amazing Hamster running his little heart out plan (should I be concerned that when I liken my brain to a hamster running on a wheel the hamster is male?  I should talk to my therapist about that...):  

First of all, I hate homework.  Partly because I find it a pain in the butt to grade, partly because I can tell when the parents HELPED and I know it's going to come up in parent conferences when I try to discuss failed test scores and a lack of understanding for the basic concept the parent is going to say "but he understood it when I went over it with him!" It's the magic kitchen table effect, and it bites me in the behind every year.

I also dislike homework for the times when it is not done, because I have a tendency to take it personally- don't know why, it's not like they're sitting there at home evilly chuckling and drumming their fingers about how they are going to SHOW ME a thing or two by refusing to do it- and I don't like feeling upset first thing in the morning when they are or aren't turning things in.  And then, if I press the issue with the parents, I either find out that there is absolutely no one there available to help them with their homework, or they have no materials at home to do it properly, or they are busy going from karate to football to debate team to bell choir and then feed the homeless and sing to the elderly every night and I'm just a horrible beast for adding pressure to their already schedule driven lives.

So I really don't like giving it.  I just want them to read at home for at least 20 minutes every night to keep their skills fresh.  Our district also has a homework policy that it shouldn't be more than thirty minutes- so IF I do send home some math to do- and it takes longer than ten minutes- then I start to worry about getting in trouble. And then, dag nabbit!- there is always that set of parents that wants MORE homework. Load my child up with so much they can't breathe sort of homework. Yarg, I just can't win with it.

ENTER BIG IDEA- dun dun dunnnnnnnnn- okay, so in this file organizer I put in a pencil pouch that has a pencil or two, a sharpener, an eraser, a glue stick, a pair of scissors, and a standard 8 pack of crayons.  These are the basic stand-by supplies of any possible homework assignment, that no one apparently keeps in their homes. Are we, as teachers, that odd that we keep glue sticks in our homes?  I feel like my closet might be filled with glue sticks right now.  I will never in a million years run out of glue- but whatevs.
In the first pocket slot, I put the supplies pouch and a letter written in both English and Spanish (and it's laminated) explaining how to use the homework folder and how to bring it back and forth everyday.

In the second slot I put a standard weekly reading log and a couple of books on their reading level to practice with at home.  They can change these out at "shopping time" during language rotations.  In the third slot, and word work they have that week, and a laminated list of different ways to practice the words at home without doing boring call out the word and write it down sort of things.

In the fourth slot, I put laminated or card stocked copies of the math games we are currently playing in math workshop.  Our district is using the Math Investigations series, and there are some very neat games in the series that can easily be played at home.  The kids can teach their siblings and parents and it's a fun learning time for all!  Also put in any baggies of game supplies.  Use felt or foam to make counters and what not so you don't worry about the pieces being lost or returned. Make sure to get Spanish translations of the games.

In the fifth slot, this is where they put study guides for Window of Inquiry, lists of websites they can visit at home, and any foldables that might help them study.  The sixth slot is for a composition book, where they are assigned one day a week to turn in where they have written me a letter.  I will write them back.  I will not be "grading" this letter, just working on getting to know them better, helping with writing skills, looking for spelling patterns that need addressing, blarty blar blar.  I don't tell them it doesn't count for anything- but I will make sure that I put a fun stamp on the page where they write, or draw them a little picture, or include a sticker- so that the word gets around that if you write a letter to the teacher, you get a little something for your trouble.

And then in the last slot they have their regular round trip take home folder for our other handouts from the office and I'm looking into this idea called Fun Folder Homework, and if I get that off the ground next year, this would be a great place to put that.

So here they will have this homework contraption- no they are not required to do what is inside- except the reading part- that's why there is a log- but if the parents are all Ai Yi Yi where is the homework?! Well, cowboy, there you go- pick something. Giddy up and let's go dancin'!

I'm glad I found the folders at the Dollar Store.  I've been thinking about this for awhile and all the folders I had found elsewhere that would work were all seven dollars.  I really didn't feel like spending $210 bucks on a project that I don't even know if it will fly.  But I am hopeful. Ever hopeful.

Pile of Post-its, before sorting
3) And the last thing I feel happy about today is that I sorted through all of the spy notes the kids turned in, and I think I've come up with a pretty decent idea how to present the praise on Tuesday and motivate them to be better spies for the rest of the week.  If you are needing a refresher on what the heck I'm talking about, you can refer yourself to my previous posts about behavior management and character building.

I brought all the little yellow post-its home and sorted through them.  I sorted them out by who was spied on, and then I read through them all to see what was actually said.  I am a bit sad that a good ten of them at least were negative comments.  Nothing mean really, just so and so is not listening.  So and so wont stop talking.  And then there were a handful of ones that were more like activities- so and so is eating.  So and so is staring at the floor.  Things like that.  But all in all, they seemed to be consistently looking for times when a student was listening, paying attention, giving the silent signal, being quiet, helping others, cleaning up, working steadily, and following directions.

rainbow brick cards to make the wall out of
So then I took a regular sized blank index card and drew brick shapes on two corners like it was a piece of a wall, wrote the child's name on the card and summarized the contents of the spy notes. I didn't think it was necessary to write 18 times on one card "is being quiet".  I think once is plenty.  Also, I'm not turning the yellow slips over to the student, because there are many many many spelling errors and difficult handwriting, and I can see already that it would turn into a negative moment with things being said about spelling,  or handwriting, or bragging about the number of post-it notes compared to another student. Because some kids had 18 post-its and others had one.  And one student, had five post-its, but all of them were negative comments- so I had to come up with my own positive memories of her to put on her card for her. No, no, no- I'm not going to give them the chance to compare notes.

close up of brick cards. 
I'm going to take the cards on Tuesday for our morning meeting and read them out loud on the carpet, and add them to a piece of foam board I have where we will "Build up a strong wall of caring and compassion" for the last three weeks of school. On the last day we'll take the cards down, and staple each person's together into a little mini book they can take home. At the meeting we'll talk about trends we notice in the compliments, refer back to the chart we made last week about how to be kind, see if we need to clean that up at all, and then maybe make a goal for how to compliment better this week.  I'm also going to look at our PYP Attitudes, and maybe pick one to concentrate on each day to get some more sophisticated language going on with the compliments.  She is nice- is just uber general, and we've got to get to the meat of this.  I'm hoping that at the end of these three weeks, everyone will have at least one card with a real, authentic compliment that truly reflects their inner character.

Boy, howdy!  This hamster needs a rest, methinks.  Because I have lots of fun to have tomorrow getting those store samples done. Nighty night!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Entre Entrepreneurship

I seem to be using my Promethean Board for anything but...
I'm relatively positive I only know how to spell that word because of the DECA classes I took in high school.  Anyhoo- in economics today we resorted our store/business/services cards into the handy categories that Karen at Flamingo Fabulous posted about.  We turned all specific store names, like Wal-mart and Game Stop into general categories so the kids could think outside of the box, as it were.  Then I had them write on an index card three choices.  They had to pick from three different categories, they could not write down the name of a store that already existed, and they had to keep in mind that we weren't going to have "doubles", so they would want to avoid writing down exactly what their best friend might have chosen.  They were actually pretty good about the process.

We circled the choice we decided on.
They turned their cards in, and later I met with the three district reps and the mayor to make some town planning decisions.  First off, I let the Mayor pick her top choice.  She went with Toy Store.  That nipped out two other citizens top choices.  Then as a team we looked at the cards and tapped into the ones that had unique first choices.  We went ahead and decided to incorporate them into the town, as they all seemed like decent ideas.  Then we had to start making decisions about multiple entries.  About four or five citizens chose fast food restaurant.  We decided to start off the town with only one, and therefore analyzed their other choices to see what fit better.  One gentleman ended up with his third choice, only because he was the only person to mention fire department as an interest and we figured that would be something our town should have. With another citizen who had two unique choices to choose from - a sea life park and an animal shelter- they came to a very mature decision that even though the park would be fun, the animal shelter would provide a more valuable service.  I was impressed with the last decision that came about, as it was one of the district reps versus a standard citizen.  They had both chosen nail salon.  However, Citizen A's other two choices were already represented in the town, and the district rep had also selected church as a choice.  She said very plainly, "well, I really wanted a nail salon, but I suppose church is more important." So she gave up the nail salon to citizen A. Pretty cool, methinks.

Choices separated by District
I did tell them that if they finished one shop, they could always make another one.  And if they made a double on the second go around, that was okay.  We don't need to promote product monopolies, you know?  I did notice though they were pretty thoughtful about what the town needed- and even with twenty kids making choices, our town has plenty of gaps. It will be interesting to see if they chose to fill in those needs first, or go for a great row of fast food stores down the middle of town.

Sampling of choices separated by category
All in all, I am really enjoying this unit.  I already started making the store foldables, and will show off a sample of that tomorrow.  I figure I can fill in a couple of the gaps on my own with samples.  I may even enlist my daughter, who is experiencing an entirely different method of education at her school.  She learned about economics through worksheets- so I am a little curious as to how she would apply that knowledge to this project. Ooooo, I feel like a mad scientist.  I am already thinking about how to start the year with this unit and meld in all my other curriculum.  But I'll post on that more this weekend.

Amazing that she picked Bungee Jumping!
Put our Goods and Services foldables on the back bulletin board

Three days off! It's going to be FABULOUS.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bunnies, Arm Pits, and Measurement

I'm relatively positive that there are three weeks of school left, and I am questioning my ability to finish strong.  My personal theory on how a school calendar should be designed relies on a very scientific calculation method.  School begins when the pool closes.  This is what one would refer to as post-chlorine solstice.  Shortest day of chlorine consumption all summer, time to hit the books.  Winter break should always be from the Winter Solstice to Epiphany.  Those Wise Men weren't dumb, ya know.  And then school must end on Easter.  Why Easter?  Because no matter when the dang bunny comes- whether it be early or late- he poops in everyone's basket and the kids are DONE.  Just watch next year, you'll see it.  Easter = OVER.  And then you just struggle on until three unforgiveable weeks after the pool has been opened.  And THAT makes zero sense.  Keep going to school when clearly summer has begun.  But oh well. Chug a chug chug.

I won't go into the details of my day.  But I will say a chair was taken out from another student purely because "That's the chair I wanted", and there was, at one fragile point of my psyche's day, a chorus of arm pit farts. And someone turned in a spy post-it with a tattle on it instead of a positive message. Yarp.

Luckily, I had gotten up early this morning and finished those cake pops, so I was able to console myself on white chocolate covered carrot cake.

I do not have pictures today.  I completely forgot about taking them.  I will be more diligent tomorrow.

I did finish up my DRAs. Shew!  Scores looking pretty good.  I think I might have nearly gotten everyone on board with understanding natural, human, and capital resources- we've made umpteen foldables by now.  I am ready to get started on making the stores.  I'm going to shift barter and currency until after the stores but before the product market.  It seems like a better fit that way.  Had a grade level meeting and saw Karen at  Flamingo Fabulous card additions to the voting process of town fruit/vegetable, meat source, power source, and land features- and they were awesome.  Will absolutely be adding that to my run through next year.  Also, we are trying to plan for our unit on measurement, and now I am scouring for good hands-on activities to really keep the kids engaged until the end of school.  I know at this time, in the exhaustion, I have turned to worksheets.  But I know they are not going to sit still for that.  I've got to get them up and moving and DOING.  Even if it makes a big mess.  It will be better for my sanity in the long run.  That is, as long as there isn't another Arm Pit chorus...


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sleep Becomes Me

I have not managed my time well this evening, and here I am, droopy eyed and exhausted and trying to finish up my promises to myself.  The one promise about finishing the cake pops is going to have to be broken however, as I am out of time.  I will have to convert it into a make and take for our grade level meeting tomorrow I do suppose...

So, before I collapse unconscious on the keyboard, a quick update.
I did make the girls redo the map.  I used some of the other maps that were made yesterday that had more "mappy" features to them as examples and asked them to incorporate that idea into their original design.  They ended up with this:

Still could use some work, but we've at least added the element of roads for us to put our businesses and residences on, and I kind of like the idea of the coconut tree grove being in the middle of everything like the hub of a wheel.

In Economics today we worked on our discussion of how all products have natural, human and capital resources.  My teacher cadet did the part of the lesson where they look through the start to finish books, and then I did the part where we made the foldables.  We made three together as a class- brainstorming products we could make with our watermelon crop, our fish source, and our coal power. And then I had them pick a product they'd like to see in our Town and make a foldable of it's resources.  This needs more work.  By and large the bulk of them grasped the idea of natural resources, but there were big gaps in understanding when it came to labeling human and capital resources.  Even though they were able to do it in the class models, they did not translate it over into their own.  So now I have some brainstorming to do to figure out what I need to do to make this better.

I do love my great big gigantic construction paper- comes in handy for so many things.

Additionally, I am excited to report that I have given every single child in my classroom a DRA- and now I am just making my way back through giving them the next level up since quite a few look like they are ready to go up a level.  Excellent news.  I only had three that look like maybe they need to be bumped back down a level.  I never understand why they regress...

Tried to laminate my We Can books- both times I went the lamination machine it had not been turned on- STONE COLD -and I couldn't laminate. Tomorrow, tomorrow, I'll love ya tomorrow......

And I received the official word that I will be able to move to a downstairs classroom to be with the rest of my team next year.  Huzzah for the shopkeep!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Live and Learn

looking at a map, right there! But apparently, just for funsies.
Strangely, for being an extremely naturally disorganized person, I have control issues. Or maybe that's typical of disorganized people? I don't know.  But that control button really got pushed today in Economics.

I went ahead an had them design the map for the town.  And I know I convinced myself yesterday that this was the best course of action, and it needed to be student driven- but I think, truthfully, I was being lazy and just didn't want to draw it myself. The problem here is I already sort of had it in my head WHAT the map should look like. And I am probably also at fault for not reviewing maps more thoroughly today.  After all, we did them back in October, and even then it wasn't a great effort on my part as I had just started teaching again and I was all overwhelmed with everything.  Regardless. We made the maps.  I gave them some guidelines.  They went off to work, and I appreciated the time they spent on their maps because I was able to crank out some more DRA tests. But then they finished and we voted and the map that won doesn't even look like a map.  It just looks like a picture.  And now I feel deflated. Maybe I should have disqualified all the entries that weren't map like before we voted.  Maybe I shouldn't have been giving these end of the year evaluations and been walking around saying "Great Googly-Moogly how is that a map?". Ruff.  But they've voted. And this "map" received votes from half of the class.  So I need to honor their opinion somehow- but arg.  How bad would I be to have the two girls who won the map contest redraw it more map like?  That WOULD be the RIGHT thing to do, no? Confused. Dilemma.
but they picked this one
thought this one would win

At least I went ahead and got my behavior books put together.  I used the charts we had made up on how we expected different parts of our day to look and sound and feel- which I was inspired by the behavior management tips in the Daily 5 book. And then I also kneaded into the mix positive We Can statements that I've been noticing on a lot of anchor charts lately on Pinterest.  I ended up with ten books, one for each part of our day- Morning Routines, Carpet meetings, Writer's Workshop, Guided Reading, Recess, Lunch, Math Workshop, Encore, Window of Inquiry, and Packing Up.

I did make up semi-corny titles.  They all have How To make Blar blar- Blar Blary. Worked the Alliteration Angle as best I could. How to make every morning marvelous, how to make Carpet time terrific, How to make writer's workshop wonderful, how to make guided reading great, how to make recess really fun, how to have a lovely lunch, -Ohhhhppps, I forgot I made one on how to make a quality line too- how to make math workshop magnificent, how to make encore excellent, how to make window of inquiry incredible, and how to make packing up pleasurable.  Inside I made a We Can statement for each thing I wanted them to do.  There are no don'ts anywhere in the books.  I'm making an effort not to give instructions that way as well when I'm speaking.  It's hard!  The books are available at the moment for the kids to add illustrations to, but I have an idea for that as well.  Whenever I come across a student NOT performing a WE CAN statement, I'll have them read the book to me, pick the we can statement they need to work on, and draw a picture of themselves doing that we can statement and I'll put it in the book.
 I'm going to laminate the pages without pictures on them and then bind them together.  I bought picture corners and small glue dots in the scrapbooking aisle at Walmart today to add the pictures on over top of the laminate.  That way I can have new kids illustrate every year. Each book ends with a We Can statement restating the title.  We can have a pleasurable pack-up time.  We can have a great time at guided reading.  I think my writer's workshop one is different though, and ends with we can be wonderful authors and illustrators.  I like them.  I used rainbow colored cardstock and giant index cards. I'll be happy when I've got them in their final form.

 We also finished up our Goods and Services People.  Came up with the idea this morning that I should have given them store flyers to cut out pictures of goods and services instead of just writing them inside.  Stopped by a gas station on the way to work and got a couple of newspapers and free flyers and the kids made do with what I had.  Next year though- Super Teacher year- I'll be ready!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Positively Powerful

Implement hunt for the positive mission- check.

Mondays.  Morning Meeting Day.  Well, it's supposed to be.  No one has actually ever told me this officially, nor have I been trained at all in it- so honestly, can't say I've done a bang up job with that this year.  But we had one TODAY.  We talked about how, during our guidance lesson last week, we had concentrated so much on the negative that we hadn't been able to think of anything good.  And we talked about the incessant tattling and how it drives ME - the Supreme Queen of the Classroom- absolutely bonkers. We made a chart about nice/kind things we could SAY to someone, and also nice/kind things we could DO for someone. I noticed that as far as saying kind things, they concentrated on physical attributes.  I like your shoes.  Your hair looks nice.  Your eyes are pretty.  And as far as doing anything, they were very much into helping someone pick up things that had fallen.  So, yeah, it was a moment of personal reflection on how I feel like I have failed in this area of character development.  I am going to have to figure out a way to really make this a priority next year, and do what I can for the kids I have now.

We took the conversation into what makes a person nice or kind on the inside, and made a little bit of headway there. I told them of my plan with the little notebooks, how they would use them to write down nice/kind things they saw a student in the class doing.  I said we would be spies and they'd have to keep it a secret who they got.

I had forgotten how 7/8 year olds don't actually know how to whisper.  They stage whisper.  Whole class can hear them.  I was reminded of a story a college friend once told me of her experience playing the board game Clue with a niece. "I have Professor Plum!" in the loudest stage whisper possible. And aside from the three or four who more or less blurted out the name they had drawn the moment the stick came out of the can- a handful had told somebody else who they had by lunch time, and then the rest announced it loudly at the end of the day when I asked to collect their findings. Ah well.  What's the harm in picking a new person to spy on everyday, right? There was a decrease in tattling though today.  Today it was only my top three tattlers that bothered to bring me bad news. And it was easy enough to tell them to turn that tattle into a hunt for something good, and not rest until they caught the person doing the right thing.  Can't say they were happy with the response, but at least they walked away and went about their business.

I found that during the day, it was easier for me to find moments where I could name a specific person and the specific act that they were doing that was worthy of being written down.  I like how Karen is showing you the right way to make a quality line.  Isn't Travis being an excellent model for how to read to self?  Looking over the notes that got handed in today though- we're still working in some generalities.  Abby is good. Sean is nice.  But you know, it just prepares tomorrow's quick meeting agenda.  Sharing out some positive praise ad talking about how we could get more specific with our compliment.  Adding on to the chart we're making.  Really looking at what makes an action a quality action in the classroom.

Quality actions?  It's a Baldridge thing.  Our school follows the Baldridge in Education format and I have to say, I kind of like it.  I like using the word quality.  Because it's different than trying to assign a moral reaction of good or bad to something.  It's another thing that I want to really develop better in my class next year.  I guess I sort of want to do everything better next year.  I started at the end of September and have so many new things to learn.  I am glad that they are all intriguing though.  And it seemed as if my decision to try to make my classroom more positive started to rub off into my work environment as well.  One of our wonderful secretaries Maria, pulled me aside to tell me that she thought it was important to tell me how much she seen me grow this year and be blessed and really take on my job.  It was a great moment for my memory to hold on to and keep me going- someone is noticing that I am trying to improve.  I think teachers, the creatures that we must be naturally to even want to take on a job like this, are always striving to improve: but we need that validation sometimes to keep the momentum.  Last week at our staff meeting, our most excellent Spanish teacher, Xinia, passed me a note telling me she'd noticed how much organizing had been going on in my room and that it was looking good.  Maybe everyone's hives will be short lived. Ha!

To-Do list challenge- I got 8 kids DRAs done today.  Well, first ones.  I am pleased to note that it looks like at least five of them need to move up a level from where I am currently instructing them, and this is very good news. Economics wise we began to make our Goods and Services jacket people, but they will not be finished until tomorrow- but I will take pictures.  The other four girls started it today and they all loved the book Roxaboxen.  If you haven't read it- you need to! It's a beautiful book.  And I have also come to the conclusion that I am not the one that should make the map.  There is absolutely no reason not to make it another voting endeavor in the community- and have each child construct their own- I may even have them work in small groups for it- and then have a vote for the best map. It needs to be student driven, and I need to let go of some control.

It was a good Monday.  I'm ready for an even better Tuesday.