Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Magic

   Spring Break is finally here -- and I am ready! Today was an optional work day, and the school was empty except for one other teacher and me, but my room was such a mess that I just couldn't enjoy my week off unless I tried to make a dent in all the piles.  I worked until about 5:00, and still didn't even start on plans for when we get back -- but I did find the top of my desk.  The calendar was still on January, so I guess that was the last time I saw it.  I also sorted thru the huge stack of papers  -- I found Christmas and the gingerbread man on the bottom.  So, still lots that needs to be done, but it will have to wait.  I need to do my taxes and work on the piles of stuff at my own house -- and take a little break from it all and go to Gatlinburg for a few days with my family.                              
                               It's time for
                                                                    Five for Friday
                                      and I have pictures of 5 good things about the day!

  It's a good time of year in kindergarten -- the little window after 3rd 9 weeks report cards and assessments -- with about 2 weeks until the beginning of end-of-year assessments. Everyone has been working hard and Easter almost slipped up on us. But Thursday was the day we had been waiting for -- Easter Egg Hunt Day!! I had a long list of things to do -- but first of all I forgot the eggs that I had hard-boiled and ready to go -- and left them sitting by the door at my house. So I had to turn around and go back home to get them.
   When I told the children that we were going to dye eggs, one little boy thought about it for a while, then he raised his hand and said, "Are we really going to bring a gun and shoot the eggs?"
Took me a minute, but then I realized dye -- die -- so funny!  No eggs died today, but it was great fun to hear the "oooh" and "aaah" as I mixed the colors and magically made the eggs change from white to a rainbow of colors. 
We also took time to make some lovely Easter bonnets -- and I told them how all the little girls and old ladies wore Easter bonnets to church when I was their age.
Finally it was the time we had been waiting for -- my wonderful parent volunteers had hidden and scattered the school yard with candy-filled eggs, and soon the hunt was on!
They ended the day by gobbling up as much candy as they could hold -- then I sent them home!
When we get back, we will work hard again to try to master all those Common Core goals.  I hope they don't forget anything over this long break.  The end is near -- less than 40 days to go -- and there is still a lot of  learning to do.  Plus we have 2 field trips, many days of assessing, and graduation, so the time is really getting short.
   But now -- let the vacation begin!!

I look forward to celebrating Easter with my church family -- He is Risen !! Hallelujah!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What Still Excites Me About Teaching

    I was greatly honored -- and surprised -- to be voted "Teacher of the  Year" at my school, and tomorrow I will go for the interview that is part of the process.  So I've been thinking about representing my school and pondering the question -- why do I still look forward to going to work, even after all these years? What do I still find exciting about teaching?
   I first started teaching in 1970 -- before many of my co- workers were even born. But when my first baby was born, I decided to stay home and be a full-time mom.  It was a wonderful decision, and it was 27 years before I came back to teaching in a public school. So much has changed since my first job as a teacher in a little 3 room school! But, change can be good -- and I am grateful for the opportunity to come back to the classroom.

   Many days are stressful and tiring, yet I love my job and consider myself blessed to have the chance to touch so many little lives. I love the hugs and notes that I receive from my sweet little ones. But more than that, I love being able to teach them to read and write! One mom told me that she cried the first time her son read to her. And I have felt emotional many times when someone wrote a sentence for the first time, or got excited about a new book or math station. It's pretty amazing to hear a child shout,  "I can read!"

   But two years ago I took a technology class at the Education Center that changed things for me.  Keep in mind, I am not from this technology generation -- I used a typewriter when I was in college, and I need my son or daughter to program the VCR.  But I took that class about blogging and a whole new world opened for me. I soon had a little blog of my own, and even a few followers.  I used to have to go down the hall to show someone the great work one of my kinder kids had produced, but now I can snap a photo and show it around the world! But even better than that, I am able to collaborate and learn from some amazing teachers all across the country.  I have purchased -- or received for free -- wonderful teaching materials to help me implement Common Core Standards in my classroom. I have been encouraged and entertained by other teachers who face some of the same challenges that I have experienced.  I have been inspired to try new things and equipped to provide a better kindergarten experience for my children.
    I learned about Whole Brain Teaching and clip charts and Dojo and Daily 5.   All these have made a world of difference in classroom management. I got ideas for ways to encourage parent involvement through homework activities,  a "Dads and Donuts" event, and a math night that brought out half my parents on a cold rainy night. I was introduced to some fabulous books, both to entertain and teach my children and to educate me.  Our class was able to participate in a gingerbread exchange with 25 other classrooms all over the country -- we even traded one with a class in Germany.
    One of the biggest influences in my class has been from  Heidisongs and Heidi Butkus, a teacher in California who writes songs that I use in my classroom every day. She taught me about multi-sensory learning -- that children will retain more when they see it, say it, hear it, and do it all at once.  Through her DVDs, my children have learned many more sight words to enrich the Letterland curriculum that I teach every day.  One of my students even drew Heidi's picture and wrote about her in a creative writing assignment this week.
    Blogging gives me a place to reflect on my own teaching.  Rather than tossing and turning on sleepless nights, I get up and write about what worked and what didn't.  And I can go back to see what I was writing about last year -- that has helped me remember lessons that I had forgotten.
   I heard another teacher today say that she told her daughter NOT to be a teacher -- and I understand her frustration -- but I still think teaching is a wonderful, rewarding career and I can't think of anything I would rather do.  I am still excited about trying new ideas to reach my little learners -- and I still do the dance of joy when they learn new sight words or write a cool story or make a great connection.  I love my job.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

St. Patrick -- Will There Be Cake?

It's always a shame to have a holiday on the weekend -- and here comes another one. St. Patrick's Day is on Sunday. So those cute little green socks I bought will be wasted --- I am definitely not wearing them to church!
One of the advantages of teaching kindergarten is that they are so excited about EVERYTHING and nearly everything is brand new to them. We started with a chart about the things they wanted to know. You notice that the first -- and last -- question was about cake. Great question for any occasion -- "will there be cake?" We have been busy with assessments this week, so not much time for making crafts, but they did write stories and draw some cute guided drawing pictures, thanks to directions from Heidisongs.

I love it when they write stories that I can read without a translator.  Several of mine are able to write a few readable sentences now.  And if I could just get a few more to remember to leave spaces between the words, there would be more good stories.  We have sung the "I need a space" song many times, but I think they just get excited about getting their story down on paper and don't think about spaces.  But they are getting better!

  This one really shows that he is getting more details in the drawing, as well as showing evidence of comprehension.  He put boots inside the trap, because our story said that leprechauns like to make shoes for fairies.

 Obviously we haven't worked on the /tr/ sound enough, because trap is spell "chrap" -- that's always a hard one for kinders to get. --The  /tr/ is spelled with chr, and /dr/ is usually jr -- like jress instead of dress. But I am very proud of the progress they are making.
 And no holiday is complete without hats -- thanks to Smedley's Smorgasboard!

Friday, March 1, 2013


This was my birthday week -- it was the 29th, so I didn't have a real day. But I had 2 cakes, so who needs a day? I have enough cake for a week!
My daughter got a Pete the Cat cake for me, and my assistant made a yummy lemon cake -- I think I will be skipping the weigh- in this week...