Our Wish For You and Yours

In this era of political correctness and equality, whatever you and your family  choose to celebrate do it filled with joy and love.  For me and my family that will be Christmas and the New Year.  May your season be filled with hope, joy, love, and kindness.  Spread it liberally amongst all you encounter!  Below is a music video from my class to you.  We spent some time reflecting on the song, “Grown Up Christmas Wish,” and wrote our wishes for those we love, those we cherish, and those who maybe could use a little more loving and cherishing in their lives.  Enjoy!


Find the Joy, Be the Joy, Live with Joy

Just as a warning, this post is not very academic in nature.  It is a way to help myself come to grips with what can not and most likely will never  be understood.  I am an educator, I am a parent, I am a human with opinions, thoughts, and beliefs.  You may not agree with me and that is OK.  I just ask that you allow me a minute to persuade you to not allow these lives to have been for naught. 

I am not going to rehash the event.  I can’t.  I have had a very difficult time attempting to process the information presented to us over the past few days.  I am not going to attempt to place reasoning behind the event.  There is none that I can see.  Quite frankly, I have not been OK for a few days.  I have felt panic, sadness, anxiety just to name a few. 

 I was unsure of how to proceed at work, at home, with my kids.  I felt guilty for feeling this way when my children (all 5 of them) were sitting here in my living room laughing and playing a new game, listening to Christmas carols, and eating popcorn.  Why should I be allowed to be worried or upset?  Because I am a mom and a teacher and we worry all the time.  We worry about our own kids, about the children we grow to love each year, about the children we don’t even know.  My life is consumed by children and I would not have it any other way.  Teaching is a calling as much as it is a profession.  Those who do it best do it with their whole heart and soul.  It is draining, emotional, rewarding, and joyful at turns. 

Thankfully, I was reminded through my own children and a lesson through our church sermon today that even in the darkest of times, joy exists.  You may need to look a little harder to find it.  It may not make you burst out in laughter, but it is there and it will make you smile when you least expect to.   I spent the weekend avoiding the news,  the Internet, twitter, and facebook as much as possible.  I am so glad I did.  It forced me to disconnect, slow down and be aware of all of the joy in my life.  The laughter of my kids, the look on their faces when they saw the tree light up, the sound of them singing carols, even the arguing over who’s turn it was all of these things brought a sense of normalcy to my chaotic soul. 

My challenge to all of you is to find the joy in each day.  Find one thing that makes you smile and treasure it.  Be the joy for someone in your life.  Tell a joke, smile, give a hug, lend an ear, be present and brighten the day for someone.  Live a life with the joy of a 6 or 7 year old.  The way my 5 year old looks at life is with wonder, excitement, pure raw emotion, unwavering faith, and abounding love.  Live life through the eyes of a child.  That is how I will honor the babies and teachers whose lives have been lost.  A life lived not with anger or fear, hatred or anxiety, but with love and joy, compassion and wonder. 

Sneaking in Learning While Visions of Sugar Plums Dance in Their Heads

We have not gone on vacation yet let me assure you!  While I will admit keeping their attention is getting tougher by the day, we are finding creative ways to sneak in academics and plan on working as long as we can.  This week we have been making our final preparations for our Holiday Concert, which is TONIGHT by the way at 7:00 in our gym.  In keeping with the musical theme that has created for our school, I planned a few lessons to analyze some familiar Christmas song lyrics, create new lyrics to old tunes, and compare and contrast different forms of media. 

We began our week by examining the traditional tune, “The 12 Days of Christmas.”  As a class we researched what each of the gifts were and how much it would cost to give those gifts this year.  The total for this year is over $25,000 for gifts that we all agreed none of us would want!  To give this old tune a modern spin, we worked together to create a list of gifts that we not only wanted to see under our trees (OK, so some are a bit big for under the tree) but also fit into the melody of the song.  We had to alter some of our gifts because they had too many syllables to fit into the melody 🙁 .  Here is our list:


Day 1- a new bike

Day 2- 2 barbie dolls

Day 3- 3 tickets to the concert or game of our choice

Day 4- 4 computers

Day 5- 5 necklaces

Day 6- 6 Lamborghinis (nice right?!)

Day 7- 7 iPad minis

Day 8- 8 little puppies (say awe- you know you want to)

Day 9- 9 razor scooters

Day 10- 10 little hedgehogs

Day 11- 11 motorcycles

Day 12- 12 Apple iPhones

I will now give you a few minutes to sing through the lyrics because you know you want to check to see how well we stayed true to the original melody.  Not too bad, huh?!

Once we wrapped up our dream wish list, I threw a monkey wrench at them.  They had to research the cost of one of each of these items, round it to the highest place value available to them, multiply it by the number of days the item fell on (ex. 2 barbie dolls would mean 2 times the cost), and then add up the total of all the items.  How’s that for some learning?  Santa definitely had to shell out some more cash for our list.  Our grand total for all items was $1,861,340.00!

So for our next Holiday hit, we took a good long look at “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”  One of my kids favorite holiday stories is, Olive, the Other Reindeer.  How appropriate that we discuss flubbed lyrics the day of the concert, right?!  Admit it, you have all rocked out to a song only to have someone inform you that what you are singing and what the lyrics actually should be are not quite matching up.  We studied the book and the poem and compared and contrasted the stories of Olive and Rudolf.  Once done we took it one step further and compared the book version of Olive to the movie of Olive.  The discussions were lively and very interesting.  Great points were made by all.  In addition to our lesson on lyrics and comparing and contrasting using Venn diagrams, we also snuck in some character education about teasing others.  Not too shabby for pre-break learning! 

Cooperative Learning for Successful Work Stations

Cooperative grouping is a wonderful way to provide meaningful learning experiences for all students. It allows stronger students the opportunity to apply their knowledge by helping others, it provides support for weaker students, and organizes and provides roles so everyone is involved at all times.

In our class we work in small groups daily. Sometimes they are just that. Small groups of students working independently on their own assignments using common materials. For example when we go to our computer center to work on the sum dog website we are all working alone but on the same site in the same area.

At other times we work in small groups that are more collaborative in nature. These groups consist of students working as a team to complete a common task. Each student is assigned a role such as time keeper, recorder, reporter, facilitator, or material handler. All of the roles need to work in tandem to achieve success. This skill is hard to grasp in the beginning if the year therefore it is not often used in our room until the second marking period when classroom rules and expectations are firmly in place.

Each type of grouping has its place in the classroom and provides valuable learning experiences.

An Absolutely Amazing Day

If you asked me how I thought today would turn out at 8:30 this morning, I probably would have told you not too well. It started off as one of those days that less than an hour in you wish you had stayed in bed. Let me give you a picture. I woke up late (ever notice that all bad day stories start with waking up late?). I began making my coffee, loaded the keurig machine, hit start, then realized (as hot coffee hit my toes) that I neglected to put a cup under it to catch my brew! This led to an impromptu kitchen cleaning session. My morning routine (and I am a person whole needs routines in the morning since I am a zombie until at least my third cup of coffee) was shot. We missed my daughters bus and I was 5 minutes late to work. I truly felt like I was going to be in for a pretty crummy day.
And then the greatness began! Upon a check of my mail box I found the normal paperwork along with an inner office envelope. The envelope contained a copy of a mini grant I had applied for with no real hopes if getting. Surprise! I got it! Woo hoo! Our class will be focusing or science habitat study on our new hedgehog! Each year teachers on our district can apply for $300 math and science mini grants. The only real requirement is it has to tie into the math of science curriculum. I proposed purchasing a hoglet and setting up and maintaining its habitat for our class. I really felt we’d be laughed out and told nice try, but they believed in our project. In the very near future you will be meeting our newest classmate.
The day was improving. But it still wasn’t great yet. We started our lessons buzzing with inquiry about hedgehogs and blogging about name choices. Then I got the call. I had applied for a second grant offered by our district to implement technology into the classroom. My proposal was to purchase 5 iPad minis to use as ereaders and for classroom blogging. Once again I never really thought we’d get them. We did! So in our class has gained a class pet and new technology!
If you know me and my luck (or lack there of) today was extraordinary. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Weekly Objectives 12/3-12/7

I can’t believe it’s December already!  This week is one that is fraught with disruptions.  Hopefully we will be able to navigate them and still complete the objectives I have set for the week.  I think we can do it!

Every day we will be having chorus practice to prepare for our winter concert on Tuesday, December 11th.  In addition to chorus practice we will FINALLY be visiting the fire house on Tuesday. 

Here is our learning objectives for this week and how you can help out at home:

Reading: Students will be working to determine cause and effect relationships.  You can help out at home by having them explain the cause or the effect of their favorite TV characters actions.  For  example, “What did _____________ do to end up in trouble at school or with his/her parents?”

Grammar:  We are working with verbs this week.  Our focus is on action and linking verbs.  See below for more information on each.

Action Verbs: tell what the subject of the sentence does, identifies and action (runs, walks, shares, gives, takes)

Linking Verbs: Links the subject of the sentence with words that tell what the subject is or is like (am, is, are, was, were, became, seem) 

Vocabulary:   Our words this week are antonyms or opposites.  Each of the 20 words has an opposite among the list.  For example fact and opinion, ascend and descend are 2 pairs of antonyms.

Writing:   Students will begin working on a persuasive piece about why you should take them on a dream vacation to Madagascar.  I am hoping to tie in some of our work with animals in Science with this piece.

Math: Students will be wrapping up topic 6 at the beginning of the week.  There will be a test on Wednesday.  Thursday and Friday we will begin working with 2 by 2 digit multiplication (12 x 23).

Social Studies: We are continuing our work on map skills by identifying the regions in the United States.

Science:  We will be working with identifying the parts of a life cycle this week.