Moving into May!

They say, “April showers bring May flowers.”  Well, on this dreary Monday morning I can only hope that these final damp days of April will help to produce beautiful buds by the end of the week!  While last week was very busy and activity packed, this week will be a week of preparation for the NJASK, wrapping up novels, and prepping our room for test week.  Here are our objectives for this week and how you can help support learning at home:

Reading:  This week we are working with identifying important information in non fiction texts, relating events to each other, and identifying text structure.  Each night your child will have a recap of the lesson as well as a test prep worksheet to complete.

Grammar:  We are working on editing sentences for capitalization, commas, and apostrophes.

 Vocabulary:  This week we are working on using figuartive language phrases correctly. 

Math:  We will be wrapping up decimals on Tuesday with a test on Wednesday.  After that we will be reviewing Geometry which is very vocabulary based instead of computation based.

Science:  We are continuing work with our Body Encyclopedia in class.  \

Today I Felt I Mattered

Let’s be honest, shall we?  Teachers often perform a thankless job.  Don’t get me wrong a good teacher is beloved by his or her students for that year they are in the classroom, but often a year or two down the road referred to as Mr. or Mrs. So-and-so.  We as teachers understand this is the natural progression of things and to a point encourage it.  Change is natural and affections and connections alter as we grow.  Still, we are often left years down the road looking at our collection of yearbooks and class photos of classes gone by wondering where are they?  Did they turn out ok?  Did they ever get the times tables mastered?! 

It is truely frustrating if you think about it too long.  Often teachers are belittled or down-rigth trashed by politicians and tax payers for our long summers off and easy schedules…..hahahahaha!  Meanwhile everyone relies on teachers.  There is not a profession out there that does not obtain its foundations through education.  Some countries would literally die for our educational opportunities.  Let me tell you how I spend my many hours “off.”  I research, create, try out, and use my own kids as guinea pigs for future lessons.  I shop for snacks, supplies, sometimes even clothing for my students who need a little extra help (and yes this comes from my meager pay).  I attend seminars.  I give seminars.  I write curriculum.  I blog.  I create websites for my class.  Often times I work harder at home wracking my brain to find better ways to do things and reach my students during my work day than I do actually implementing the lessons during class time.  I spend hours reading the 5 novels that my literature circles are all reading to keep up and stay ahead of them so as to ask the meaningful questions.  My own kids often as when I will be done and able to play or read on weekends with them. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I am NOT COMPLAINING!  This is more than a job for me.  This is a calling.  I could not imagine doing anything else.  But still at times you wonder, does it matter?  I’m forgotten a year or two down the road.  Does it stick?  Did I help?

Today, I was reminded I do matter.  I had an experience I wish every educator could have.  One of my first ever 4th graders, now junior in high school, came in to teach my class a lesson about how laws are created.  I had no clue she would be one of the students teaching when I agreed to this co-teaching experience.  What a wonderful surprise. 

Let me tell you about Kwanaya as I first remember her.  She was a beautiful little girl who had quite a big personality.  More often than not that personality landed her in some tight situations.  She struggled a bit academically, but you could tell she had a lot to offer.  We did not hit it off the first half of that year.  And then we had THE TALK.  You know the talk you have with one of your students where you are basically letting them “get the mama treatment.”  You talk to them straight, no holding back and make the options VERY clear.  That talked changed our relationship.  I told her, “show me you want this and are willing to try, and I will back you one hundred percent.”  Well that year ended very well for her.  She left me for 5th grade in a better place academically.  I cried. 

A few years later, I had the opportunity to spend a year at the middle school.  The first day students arrived I found myself almost pounded into the lockers by this beautiful young woman who tackled me with a bear hug.  My Kwanaya had grown up.  She was now an A and B student and a proud member of our AVID class.  I cried again that night so happy for her and all she had achieved.  I also cried because she made me feel that I mattered that day too.  That I had somehow contributed to all the great things she was doing.

Today, as I right this, I cry again.  Such happy, happy tears!  I am so proud of the young woman she has become.  She was able to work well with my class and really teach them something.  She is eloquent and sophisticated.  She is gracious and patient.  She remembered me again and let me know that the things we do as teachers are not for naught.  They matter.  Today has been one of my proudest moments in this profession.  To see one of “my kids” come back and have made so many good choices and worked so hard and have such wonderful plans and goal for her future makes my heart sing. 

Oh What a Week We Are in For!

This week is jam packed with exciting activities!  We are starting off on Monday with Earth Day and Bubbles for Autism (see the pics below).  For Earth Day we created planet Earth mobiles with going green tips hanging from the.  We also watched some of the Plant Earth DVD series and The Lorax with the rest of the school.

Tuesday we will be hosting students from the Sr. High School who will be teaching us about how laws are created.  We will even be writing and debating our own laws!

Wednesday we will be among the first in the city to see the High School’s performance of Beauty and the Beast (one of Mrs. Sinone’s favorite musicals)!

Thursday Maren and Madison will be joining our class for the day for take your child to work day.  Anyone going to work with their parents, please send in a note to have the absence excused.

Friday will be the only “normal” day of the week (whatever that means :)!

While we will be having a fun week, there will still be homework Tuesday through Thursday.

Better Late Than Never! EGGsperiment Results

After a much needed technology break, I’m back!  Just before Spring Break, we participated in an EGGsperiment EGGstravaganza.  Students completed 5 experiments using eggs in many different forms.  For each experiment they were given the materials and procedure but had to create a hypothesis and then record observations in their lab report.  We had an awesome day!  Below are the experiments and instructions.  Thank you to the many teachers who post to Pinterest!  I unfortunately can not take complete credit for developing the experiments on my own, only for implementing them in my class.

EGGsperiment #1- The Bouncing Egg

For this experiment 2 eggs were used.  One was raw, the other was hard boiled.  Both eggs spent 48 hours soaking in vinegar to strip them of their outer shells.  Once stripped, students created a hypothesis as to how high off the table we could hold the egg and drop it without it breaking.  Most students guess between 3-5 inches.  Our raw egg made it to 9 inches and our hard boiled one never did bust!

 

EGGsperiment #2- Humpty Dumpty

Students were given raw eggs for this one.  They had to hypothesize the outcome of the egg falling off our “wall” onto cotton balls, paper, and the desk.  Most Humpties made it up until the desk trial.

 

EGGsperiment #3- The Volcanic Egg

For this experiment, students were given hard boiled eggs to paint with a paste of baking soda and food coloring.  Once painted they had to hypothesize what would happen when they dropped the egg into a cup of vinegar.  Things got quite colorfully messy!

 

EGGsperiment #4- The Incredible Shrinking Egg

Students were given 2 naked eggs (raw eggs that had been soaked in vinegar for 48 hours to remove outer shell).  One egg spent 24 hours naked in water.  The other egg spent 24 hours naked in a water/sugar solution.  They had to hypothesize what would happen when they pierced each of the eggs with a thumb tack.  The Sugar egg was much weaker and exploded, while the water egg only let out a fountain stream of water.

EGGsperiment #5- The Strong Egg

This experiment was two-fold.  The first part had students test their strength vs. that of an egg.  Could they crush an egg in one hand?  In most cases that answer was no!  

The second part of the experiment was to place 2 eggs under a stack of books and hypothesize how many would be needed to crush them.  Surprisingly, the answer was many more than most students predicted, but in the end all eggs were eventually smashed!