Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy 2011!

Happy (almost) New Year! It's unbelievable to me that 2010 will be over in a few short hours. What a year 2010 was. It definitely had it's ups and downs for me but for what it's worth, I am coming out of 2010 in a much better place (both mentally and emotionally) than I came into it. For that, I truly have to be grateful.


I spent part of my NYE lunching with a former colleague. The crap at Former School got to her so badly that after she had her adorable son last December, she only lasted 2 days back after her maternity leave. She had a class as comparably horrid as mine was and she readily admitted that her heart wasn't in it. I am the only person from Former School that she still talks to at all. She told me today that she doesn't miss anyone else from there but often wonders how I am doing and is happy to hear that I love teaching again. I took The Littles with me and they got a kick out of playing with her son. It was so much fun.


I also ran around doing some shopping. Even though The Littles were with me, they were awesome at being patient on my quest to find a couple things I really wanted/needed. I am huge into organizing my life for 2011. I am organized as it is, but for some reason, writing things down in a planner, making notes about my day, my spending and my moods just helps me better reflect. I feel this is especially true since my depression resurfaced and brought it's friend anxiety along to play too. I bought myself a pocket-sized DayTimer but it's so little that all I'm really going to be able to do is jot appointments inside. That isn't enough. I needed more.

I was very lucky to find a cheapy little notebook at Target for $3 that has a strap to keep it shut and has cute little hearts on the cover. It's lined but undated or anything (it's just a journal) so I bought that and decided to self-make a planner for myself. Many, many friends have recommended Staedtler Triplus Fineliner markers to me for journaling so we also headed to Michael's to find some. I had a 50% off coupon and got a 10 pack for under $7. Still a lot for markers but considering they a) don't bleed through b) are guaranteed not to dry out, even if they are left open for up to like 5 days and c) are known to last over 18 months with daily, frequennt use...I think I got a good deal on them. I've spent a bit of time this afternoon and into the evening putting together the first pages in my new planner. (Yep, I'm a nerd like that and nope, I really don't have anything better to do on NYE!)


I decided that this year I am not going to make resolutions because 99% of the time, we all make them and forget them by the end of January when life gets busy and whatnot. Instead, I am going to make small, monthly goals and do a Bucket List for 2011. Just some things I would like to accomplish during the year. I will probably start with a few things and then add to my list over the year. I'm excited about that.

My goals for January are simply to get myself back on track with being healthier. Ever since I started teaching, I have seriously allowed my weight and eating habits to get ridiculous. So I want to try to get back into exercising at least 3 days a week, drinking at least 32 oz of water a day (since I barely drink any at all, starting with half the recommended will be a huge start) and hopefully losing 3-5 lbs this month.

I'm ready for you 2011.
The question is, are you ready for me??

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's about that time....

Despite me trying my best to not think about school at all...it is creeping into my mind every now and then (doesn't help that I keep having weird dreams about my colleagues either!).

Today I was looking in the notes section on my PDA and saw that I had saved my NWEA log-in information on there (probably because I am forever wanting to get on there and leaving my info at home -- my password is easy to remember, the username is super long and weird thus I forget it). But I discovered that I am able to get in and figure that I will spend an hour or two tomorrow putting together some intervention plans and small groups for the hour per day that I have the interventionist with me. She's only been with us twice so I didn't really  have time to get things together for her and now that my class is smaller, I can really have her work with some of those kids to give them a bit of extra help in the weeks before the next round of MAP testing.

I also spent 2-3 hours today working on upgrading my website. The Husband was really awesome and let me buy a lifetime membership to ThistleGirl Designs when she was having her 50% off sale. I got a full membership (good forever) for only $40. I love her graphics, they are absolutely adorable and very kid-friendly. She has EZChange templates for members that makes it easy as pie to create your initial content and then simply change 5 graphics and your whole website looks redone. MUCH easier than manually changing everything and she comes out with a new template every month. It was definitely worth the money, especially since I got half off. I've spent a lot of time over the last few days perusing all of the cool freebies that members get.


I am planning to do a bit of work tomorrow for school and then will be lunching with a former colleague and her baby on Friday. We're trying to see if another former colleague is able to join us but I haven't heard back from her yet. If nothing else, the two of us will have a great time with her little boy who is adorable. And if it ends up just being us, I may bring one of the littles along with me to play with him. We'll see.


No big plans to ring in the New Year (we're pretty low-key around here) but I am thinking about getting my nails done professionally this weekend. It's nice to do something nice for yourself every now and then.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Books

While I was finishing my holiday shopping, I bought a copy of The Freedom Writers Diary. Then for Christmas, The Husband and The Oldest bought me a copy of Chicken Soup for the Teacher's Soul. I have been reading through them both over the last couple of days.

I am about halfway through Freedom Writers. Ironically, it was recommended to me by my therapist, but the movie-form. I am embarrassed to say that I had never even heard of it. When I looked it up and discovered it had been a book, I knew I had to read the book first (because very rarely is a movie ever better than the book -- I'm seriously thinking of how they just killed my favorite book The Tale of Despereaux in it's movie form). These students were in high school the same time I was (I graduated in 1997, they in 1998) so many of the big events they talk about were meaningful to me also (ie. the Oklahoma City bombing).  It is an amazing book, hearing all of the different voices of these students shine through in their diary entries...but I know why my therapist recommended the movie to me: at the time she first recommended it, I was feeling unsure about my place working in the inner city with angry kids, parents who don't care and the trials and tribulations that go with that job. Clearly changing schools and grades this year gave me some of my groove back if you will...but I can see the way Erin Gruwell just accepted her students, regardless. When she had them do self-evaluations and one student gave himself an "F" since he'd missed so much school, she literally took him in the hall and shouted in his face that the "F" was basically an "Eff you" to her, to him and everything they'd tried to accomplish. I had to respect the hell out of her for that.

While I don't teach high school and doubt I ever will, I can see the parallels in the environments we're in. While my current school is nothing like my old one, and the neighborhood isn't nearly as "ghetto" as the old one, it still isn't an easy job teaching children that other people think are hopeless. I don't think they are, and I hope to hell that I have taught these children that they aren't hopeless....but as with the kids in these diaries...when that's all you hear from everyone in your life, one person telling you that you are great isn't necessarily going to make any difference.

The lesson I am getting from this book is that I need to work my collective butt off to make sure my students leave my classroom understanding that they CAN be successful, they just have to rise up and prove that they can be because it isn't up to anyoone but them.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

We had a wonderful Christmas in our house and I hope all of my fellow bloggers and readers out there did too. The Littles got up at 3 a.m.! That is definitely a new record. At first, The Husband was like "just keep it down until we get up, okay?" thinking it was around 6. Then he saw the clock and about had a heart attack.

I got up, got them back in bed, told them I totally realized how excited they were but this was not going to work for me! hehe

They only agreed to go back into their room if I let them put in a movie...and then I had to wake them up around 8:30. I knew if I had let them stay up, they'd've crashed midway through the day and that just wasn't going to work with a dinner party for 12 planned for the afternoon!


Everyone had a great time and the kids were spoiled beyond belief. Many times, they exclaimed how this was the Best Christmas Ever. The Oldest even had her mouth literally fall open when she opened one of her gifts, which was the best present I could have received. That my kids were happy and enjoying the company of family was the best thing I could ask for.

The $50 Amazon Kindle gift card my dad gave me wasn't too bad either. I'm already salivating over how to spend that one!

I hope your Christmas was as joy-filled as mine!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of my fellow bloggers out there!

The Littles are over-excited. The Youngest's birthday was Monday and she got $20 so she bought herself two new Webkinz animals today and I can imagine that tomorrow's gift opening will only spin her and The Middle Child into an orgy of overexcitement. Even The Oldest has been trying to goad me by saying "I know what you got for Christmas...."

As if I'm 12 years old and can't possibly wait until tomorrow to find out. Am I curious? Yes. But for me, Christmas has become less about what I receive over the last year or two. I am much more excited to see how happy and excited my kids are. I'm especially excited this year since the younger two are getting big ticket items they've asked for for awhile now.


I am loving the time off from school also. I have not done a single school-related thing and it feels wonderful! Part of me wishes this vacation never had to end. I love my students and my job but this downtime sure has been just what I needed!

Have a wonderful holiday and be safe out there friends!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Teacher as Student

During almost all of my short career thus far, I have not only been a teacher, but I have also been a student. Of course, if you are an effective teacher, you are always a student because you learn just as much from the munchkins as they learn from you. I spent the first part of my career teaching all day and going to a classroom at night. It was hard and often frustrating but I don't regret it for a moment because I will not have to set foot in a classroom as a student again for at least 8 years and perhaps never again since I can earn credits toward my certificate renewal by taking professional development credits instead.

About two weeks ago, however, I was browsing through something online and came across a Spanish in the Classroom course being offered at the community college in the area. It's a 6 week online course and it's only $90. I signed up immediately because I have realized more and more that being able to communicate, even just a little, in Spanish with my families is going to better serve me as a teacher of ELLs (since all of my ELLs this year are native Spanish speakers).

Course Description:
We'll start with the basics of Spanish pronunciation, and then we'll move right into simple words for everyday things, such as colors, numbers, and question words. Then you'll learn more of the basics of conversational phrases, family names, and directions. Next, we'll get into what it's like on the first day of school as we go over words related to enrolling new students, conversing in the classroom, talking about rules and behavior, and basic vocabulary for various academic subjects. We'll also cover Spanish words and phrases to use in the cafeteria, on the playground, and even in the nurses office! Finally, we'll delve into some survival phrases for the parent-teacher conference as you learn to describe how a child is doing, talk about academic or behavior problems, and discuss grades and homework.


I honestly can't wait. As excited as I was to finally finish my Master's program and not have to go from being a teacher to being a student anymore, this is actually a class that I know is going to make a big difference in how I am able to make connections with the families of my students. Plus, for the cost, it was a sweet deal that I just couldn't resist.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Favorites

Last night, The Husband and I were out doing some anniversary shopping. Our big joke is that we didn't plan our lives very well because we got married between Christmas and New Year and The Youngest's birthday happens to be today. So we have 3 big things within the span of 8 days of each other and then New Year's right around the corner from that. It makes for a pretty dynamic and busy two week winter break each year.

But I love it. This is my favorite vacation of the year because we have so many good things happening (ie. all of the events named above) but also the lure of a new year, a new start and a chance to really get in and make things happen for my students in the latter part of the year.

Since our anniversary is when it is, we generally just buy a mutual gift for our anniversary. One year it was our BlackBerries when we finally got with the program and upgraded to smartphones and last year since we bought The Kids a Wii for Christmas, we bought some Wii games for our anniversary. This year, since it's the big 1-0, we decided to splurge again and buy a TV for our room. We had one before and it drove me crazy but I actually missed it once it was gone. Some days I just want to cuddle in my warm blankets on my bed and watch TV instead of having to go upstairs where our TV is.

We found a killer deal at Best Buy but wanted to shop around just in case. So we headed to Target which is in the same shopping complex but on the complete opposite side. While there, I saw a couple of my former students! They were all absolute favorites of mine and one I had last year. He was one that kept me at that school way longer than I should have stayed because I was worried about his education. I LOVE that family. The oldest son has autism and dad is a single dad who busts his butt for those kids. I had heard that they all went to a new school (a K-8) this year so I wanted to just quick see how they were.

The youngest, who I had last year, is now a 5th grader. I asked him if Mrs. Sunny had taught him everything he needed to know for 5th grade and he never even hesitated before he said "yup!". Can you see why I just love that kid?! ♥

It was so good to hear that they are all doing so wonderfully this year. The youngest asked me if I was still at Former School and I said "oh no, I left there" and he said he was glad because I look happier. This is coming from a 10 year old. I just want to kidnap those kids and bring them home, they are so awesome and their dad is really wonderful too.

It just gave me so much to be thankful for this season. To know that despite the crap that happened last year, I did make a difference to at least one family and that is the best present of all.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Vacation!

Whew! We made it! Vacation is here. Two entire weeks, 14 days, to not think about school, not worry about lesson plans or homework that needs to be graded or anything else school-related.

Today was good. The kids were actually quite calm this morning which was surprising as hyped up as they were yesterday. We had the children from Miss New Teacher's class join us, except the 4 from Mrs. CT's class who stayed with her, so we had 31 kids (I had 3 absent). At one point Miss New Teacher looked at me wide eyed and said "holy cow, your class was this big every day?!" and I said "yes, plus 3!"). I'm thinking she appreciated only having 14 ;)

My students know me so well which could be seen as either really good or really bad. One of the boys brought me a 1 liter of Diet Coke, which I drink constantly even though I know it isnt' the best thing. A girl brought me TWO Mr. Goodbar candy bars which are my very favorite.

I just love these kids. They make going to work fun and worth it!

I haven't heard anything back about a TA placement yet but I am not worried. They don't even start until January 10 so there is still time after break if anyone still needs to be placed. If it is meant to be, it will be.


I am very ready to relax, spend a day or two entirely in pjs and just enjoy my down time. I left at 3:25 today (kids dismiss at 3:10) with nothing except my purse and the loot I got from the kiddos. Is there stuff I could do over this break? Yep. But darn it, I have more than earned this break and I am going to enjoy it -- especially since The Husband has to work next week and The Children are spending 3 days at my parents' house. Three 8 hour days of being home alone?! Heaven!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Drive-by Observations

Having only 23 students (well 22 at the moment because one is in Mexico) is pretty awesome after 34 kids! I really noticed the calmness in my room without three certain boys. Not to say my other kids are all perfect saints, because they aren't, but it was really great to have such a small class. When two of the boys went out for their reading group, I had 20 kids and it was heaven. With the new arrangement I have in my room, I had a group in the front, a group in the back and groups in the middle. It was quite perfect.


Mrs. Principal and I had my post-observation meeting. It was much like my observation itself. It was a drive-by. Really she handed me the paper, had me read it quickly, sign it, make a copy and then give her the original. I ♥ these kind of evaluations! I know people complain about a lack of good observations and things but I also know that Mrs. Principal is the kind of person that she would've read my file. Plus I know Mrs. CT talked me up to her when she found out that I was placed there for this year. That helps, I'm sure.

She told me she has no concerns and that if she really did, of course, she would have told me well before now. She definitely seems like the kind of person who plays by the book as much as possible and thus would tell you if you were messing up or doing something that wasn't appropriate. She even wrote on the bottom that I was a good advocate for students, which she said she based on how I really put effort into my recommendations for the new class and that she could tell I wanted what was best for all of the children, even the ones I recommended who did not get selected. That made me feel really good!

Plus I asked her about my tenure because I know that process is frozen if you take a leave of absence, which I did at the end of last year. She wasn't positive on it but said it is usually granted the first day of school after your 4th year of teaching. Since I was hired in November and took a leave from March to June, I probably won't get tenure until mid-year next year (she confirmed they DO grant it mid-year for late hires and things). I told her I was only worried about that because I wanted to be able to take a TA from the local university (half day student teacher) and she said "Oh, Mrs. Sunny if that's all you are worried about, call [university name] or have Mrs. CT contact the placement coordinator -- if they have any TA's left, see if one can be placed with you". I was quite pleased with that actually. Turns out to have a student teacher you have to have already been granted tenure. To have a half day TA, you just have to have had satisfactory marks for 3 years. So Mrs. CT put an email in and I am crossing my fingers someone still needs a placement. (Someone just got placed at our school yesterday so I am hopeful that there may be more placements that need to be made.)

I left her office feeling so good about myself as a teacher. As awful as last year was, I knew that changing schools was going to make a world of difference for me and I was right. Even though Mrs. Principal certainly isn't perfect....I am so glad to be part of this staff. The other teachers are absolutely amazing and I am so lucky to be there. It would be so awesome to share my renewed love of teaching with someone just starting out in their own career.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

D-Day

Tomorrow is Miss New Teacher's first full day with her class. Many of my colleagues have been astounded at how little it looks like she has done in her room with FIVE entire paid days to get things set up and moved. I am hesitant to judge but it did look pretty darn plain and her library isn't entirely set up which would bug me to death but whatever. To each their own.

It was really hard not to let out a HUGE whoop of satisfaction this afternoon when the kiddos moved. I like them all well enough but I am quite pleased to know that I no longer have to stop anything to wait for children from the other class to come for math--I have 11 less children to keep data on in math and 7 less in everything else.

I have room in my classroom to spread my arms and turn around between desks without fear of hitting anyone! This is a huge issue after feeling like I've been squeezed into that space with 34 kids for the last 14 1/2 weeks.


I spent almost two hours after school, plus my art time, rearranging, moving furniture and just having a ball honestly. I need to get into school early tomorrow so I can get everything else rearranged and be ready to begin my day. On top of all of that excitement, I had a "drive by" observation today. By far the shortest formal observation I've ever had (less than 15 minutes total). Whatever. As long as it is satisfactory, I don't care. I know I do a good job and that my kids learn.


I am ready for the break though. I love my kids but they are hyped beyond belief the last couple of days and it's hard to keep them focused on school!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New beginnings

We met our new teacher today. She seems really sweet. She's young, graduated from my university and has the exact same BA degree that I have. I offered my help, as I have done to every new teacher I have encountered in my short career, and she was immensely grateful.

I think her and I could easily be BFFs. The eerie thing is, her grandparents literally live across the street and one house over from me. It was weird enough when I discovered one of the kindergarten teachers lives 4 doors down and now my new grade level partner's grandparents are across the street and her aunt is down the street. My world is apparently getting smaller and smaller!

Anyway, Miss New Teacher was very friendly, very grateful and seems really happy to be there. I am sure she is overwhelmed and not sure where to go so I offered to help her some. She was happy with that. It'll be nice to have someone a bit younger on the team too because I do think us "young thangs" keep Mrs. Cooperating Teacher and Mrs. Resource on their toes!

When I saw her class list altogether, I had to tell her that for the most part, her class is pretty darn awesome. She has SO many kids who are amazingly wonderful. Two of my boys might drive her a little bit crazy but hey...that's life. I know she's a little nervous about starting as late as she is...but really, she has nothing to worry about with the group she's getting. Those girls will kick it into high gear to keep the boys in line. I'm a bit miffed that her class is split 50/50 boys and girls whereas Mrs. CT and I are both boy heavy. She hasn't been as boy heavy as I have though because she's only losing 1 boy and now we're just about even with our ratio. It's weird.


I know a lot of the kindergarten staff are scratching their heads as to why 5th got a new teacher when they are at 26 each (and growing) and 2nd-4th are all pretty much bursting at the seams too. I don't know why they decided 5th was the grade getting the new staff but I am not complaining either. I do have a feeling part of it is because no one can figure out why the scores once they get to 5th grade backslide (last year kids lost over 100 points in their RIT ranges on the MAP with no explanation anyone could find). Again, I'm not going to complain or question it...although I know people are pissed now that they've heard Miss New Teacher only has 14 kids. They aren't mad at her, they are mad at the stupidity of our district. If we had a class of 14 at the start of the year, they would dissolve it but now they are creating one that small. Stupid.

Their logic is, she'll get all the new kids. Mrs. CT and I were both at 29 from the second day of school. She got a new one at the very end of September and I got a new one a week later, the first week of October. Since then, just over two months now, we have not had a single student come in to 5th grade. Why would they think that we're suddenly going to get bombarded with new kids this late in the game, in 5th grade?? It would have been more fair to give her 17 or 18 and let Mrs. CT and I sit around 21 or 22 each. But whatever.

I am pleased with the kids I have left and know I am going to be able to kick some real behind in terms of getting these kids up to par for the last part of this year. I am utterly exhausted, just with the thought of everything going on...but I am also very much looking forward to getting my new, smaller room going. I am already planning to stay late next Tuesday and Thursday to do some "rearranging" since the kiddos will have made the switch by then. I'm excited.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

See what happens when you follow directions?!

About two weeks ago, Mrs. Principal asked Mrs. Cooperating Teacher and myself to submit a list of names of students we thought would do well with the transition to a new classroom. She also asked that we select a mix of high/medium/low performing kiddos and provide criteria to explain how we chose the children that we put on our lists.

I followed those directions. Knowing full well that I was likely to lose 6 of my own students (plus the 4 I service for math from the split for a total of 10), I submitted a list of 9 children because I really did not want to have that final say so I wouldn't feel too guilty if they chose some really good kids that I selfishly want to keep.

I thought long and hard about this. Even the kiddos who, at this point, irritate me like a bad rash that just won't go away (not with naughty behavior, but just being irresponsible with homework and taking initiative -- it gets under my skin SO bad), have grown on me. I feel affection, even if it is a teeny amount, for all of my students. We've been together for 14 weeks. We've been through a lot and we've all made growth and gains. To really have to sit down and say "yep, this one can go" was hard. Mostly because even though I know that they won't be my responsibility anymore....I will feel like they are, at least for awhile. Because they have been mine and I AM responsible for them at this moment.

That said, I created my list...with 3 highs, 3 mediums and 3 lows so it would be fair. I left the final choices up to Mrs. Principal, figuring that tough decision is why she gets paid the big bucks. I also included a very short paragraph with each name to explain why I felt they would be a good candidate for the move.

Mrs. Cooperating Teacher submitted a list of only 5 names. No criteria, no nothing.

Low and behold, today we found out who was selected to move. Mrs. Cooperating Teacher is not happy because Mrs. Principal completely disregarded her list since there was no criteria. She went onto our in-school intranet (only for our school's staff to use) and looked at data from that class and made her own selections. In the end, 4 girls and only 1 boy are being moved from Mrs. CT's class. Just one of those students was on Mrs. CT's recommendations list. Mrs. CT was really upset because she's losing so many of her awesome girls but also because her recommendations were not taken into account (although to be fair, she did not do what was asked so....)

As for my class...I asked Mrs. Secretary on my way out if she had a list of my kiddos and she showed it to me. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that she didn't take a single child that wasn't on my list AND 3 of the boys who irritate me the most are going to the new class! Mind you, they aren't "naughty", they are lazy and thus they annoy me to death. One seriously needed to be separated from another student (whom I would not give up because he *is* naughty and no new teacher needs to deal with that) and two others are just the kind of young boys who get under your skin. I do feel sometimes that since I don't have sons of my own that I do lose patience with some of the boys. Mind you, I have many boys in my class that I just adore...but the restless boys who would rather play video games than learn drive me crazy. And these boys fit that bill big time.

The Husband asked me if I felt bad that these three boys were going to be hoisted on this new teacher and I said no...because a) it might well be ME that is the problem (they do irritate the hell out of ME but that doesn't mean her patience with them will be as short as mine) and b) she'll have 14 kids. Sorry but if I only had 14 kids, you could give me the worst of the worst and I'd manage. It's 10 less kiddos than Mrs. CT and I will be left with. And I kept the worst behaved child in the grade. It isn't at all like when I got hired to teach 2nd grade in November '07 and literally had the worst of the worst thrown into my class. It was a terrible year and I would never do that to someone. I have a feeling that these boys are going to excel in that class with the smaller environment where they can get some of the attention that they crave. I can't give it to them with 30 children in my room at the moment. With only 13 other students competing for this teacher's attention, I really think they are going to do much better.

I was just in awe and very grateful that Mrs. Principal took my recommendations to heart and went from my list. When I mentioned that to her she said "Mrs. Sunny, you gave me the criteria I needed, trust me, you made it so much easier to make those selections". That made me feel better. I am losing one kiddo who I absolutely adore and I am so sad that she was chosen...but I recommended her because she is the highest student in the entire grade and is a wonderful child. I know that she will absolutely help this new teacher out...plus I'm right next door. She is going to be more than welcome to visit my class any time she wants to do so! I have to admit I'm glad only 1 girl got chosen because my girls this year are so wonderful and I wanted to keep them all to myself because I'm selfish like that!

We meet the new teacher tomorrow and it should be interesting to see how things pan out from here on out.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Gifts of Love

Here is our Gifts of Love display in the hall. I keep catching the kiddos peeking under the wrapping to read each other's gifts, which is so cute.



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

What a week! Holy moly am I glad it is Saturday today. I needed a little time to just BREATHE. This week was good and very productive but it also wore me right out. I don't think I ever fully recovered from that Monday full-day meeting where it wasn't nearly as productive as we wanted it to be. It just drained me and I never got over that feeling. Couple that with a not-so-friendly visitor and I was just plumb wore out by yesterday afternoon.

We finally learned who our new 5th grade teacher is and when she'll start. They moved the Coke machine out of the lounge yesterday. The lounge is right next to my room and my students were at PE. I heard this huge BOOM and it took about 3 years off my life, I'm sure. It was so loud! Probably moreso because I was alone in my quiet room!

She will start this Wednesday and have a day or so to set up her room and do some observations with Mrs. Cooperating Teacher and myself. Then that last week before break we'll make that switch. Kind of lame because it's RIGHT before two weeks off, BUT this means that when we return to school on January 3, those kids won't be my responsibility anymore. We haven't been told for sure yet who are the children moving. We know the 4 from the split are definitely going but otherwise, we're not sure quite yet. I'm supposed to lose one to a move and I hope that she doesn't go until AFTER the switch because that'd put me a 22 or 23 which would be PERFECT compared to 30-34 which I usually have depending on the subject.



We did have a lot of fun yesterday though. Fridays are my favorite day because we have PE first thing in the morning, then a short break, then library. After that we have about 20 minutes in which we usually do a spelling activity to close out our spelling theme of that week and then it is recess. I LOVE that schedule because it makes Fridays more relaxing and that is nice, especially since Mondays are a loooong day for our class.

We didn't have library yesterday because we had RIF this week but I gave the children a fun spelling flip book activity to do which they LOVED. I am thinking I am going to have them do that activity for spelling homework....one night they'll make theirs and the second night they'll trade with a friend and finish theirs (it's a partner activity and is really cute). We'll see how that goes. We had an external data meeting meaning a big wig from the district comes to hear us talk about our data and defend our teaching practices. It's a huge waste of time but it went well. I'm not worried because I  know I'm doing my job and doing it the best I can with all of those kids.


Yesterday afternoon we had a great time. I had planned to do Science, then our silent reading block and then the last 30 minutes on Friday I usually give the kids AFC (Academic Free Choice) where they can play math games or get extra help in math if they need it. They were SO excited about our science activity though and doing such a great job with it that I let them just keep going. Our 45 minute session lasted an hour and 20 minutes, that's how into it they were. It was pretty fun to see them SO excited about that.

We're experimenting with black boxes in our FOSS kit and the groups had to use only their senses to figure out what the inside of their box looks like. The only thing that I do confirm is that there is a marble inside. Some of the kids suggested it was a magnetic ball because it kept getting "stuck" on something and some suggested it was a small die because it sounded like it was rolling on corners. It was very interesting to see how they worked together on it. We ended with the children getting into similar groups (all of the "A" boxes got together, etc) and they had to come up with an agreement on what they thought the inside of their box looked like and draw it on a half sheet of chart paper. We had to end there and I almost hated to stop them because they were SO into it. We'll pick it back up next week. I also get to do this experiment with the other 5th graders and I'm excited about that because I have built up the excitement over these black boxes for so long that they cheer when I tell them we are going to pull them out!


I am a bit sad that when the new teacher begins we only have one science kit so I'm not sure what her kids are going to do in order to get these lessons in. We might have to find out if we can get another kit somehow. The children enjoy this so much that I don't want any of them to miss out on it.



We also did hang up our Gifts of Love writings. I had to chuckle because the only wrapping paper I had was a cute green one with a little puppy peeking out of a gift box and a blue one with Santa and reindeer on it. One of my students says "Santa isn't real!" and I said, very seriously, "Wow, really? Santa leaves Mrs. Sunny a present every year. You better watch it because if you don't believe, he might leave you a lump of coal!" I learned my first year teaching, when I had my 4/5 split that some of my kiddos DID still believe in Santa and to keep them from being picked on about it, if the subject ever comes up, I always say that Santa leaves me a present. I know that helps the kids who do still believe feel better [for the record, The Oldest believed until she was in middle school]. You can always tell who is on the fence with whether or not they still believe because their eyes light up when I say I do.

I am not a crafty person at all but I have to say our Gifts of Love display is cute. I forgot my bows for them but will bring them in on Monday and then I'll take a picture of the display.