Monday, October 26, 2015

The Infamous Fred

We have a special member of our 3rd grade class. He was also a member of my 4th grade class. His name is Fred. He is really nosy but always has a smile on his face.

The Master of Disaster, Fred

I won Fred during a NaNoWriMo writing contest in the fall of 2012. They had a silent auction and one of the items was a "Mystery Bag of Awesome". Being a person who quite likes suspense, and knowing it was for a good cause, I bid $30 on the bag and no one else bid at all. It was chock full of uber cool items--many related to writing, many not--and Fred was among them.

He hung out at my house for a couple of years and last year when I learned about Restorative Circles, he came to school to serve as our talking piece. (I have no idea why I named him Fred. He just kind of looks like a Fred, don't you think?)

Restorative Circles, in case you didn't know, are a community building routine that you can use in your classroom. 80% of all of the circles are just fun stuff, but you can also use them to address classroom problems such as bullying or many students not turning in work, etc. My favorite part about teaching 3rd grade is that they are just young enough to possibly believe me when I blame all of the nosy questions on poor Fred! Fred is also a tough guy and a spy! He lets me know what goes on when I am not in the room. After 7 full weeks of school, even the kids say "Oh that Fred!" when we detail some of his antics. He is kind of like a Flat Stanley but SO. MUCH. COOLER.

The kids are just silly enough to let me blame everything on Fred and they roll with it. Usually in circle (which we do standing up because there are 30 of us and it's too hard to form a circle on the floor without moving all of the furniture), we do two questions per day. Usually, I blame the uber nosy questions on Fred (that's when you'll hear "oh that Fred!" from some of the kids). Once, Fred wanted to know if we would rather eat bugs or have 2,000 spankings! Oh that Fred! (The answers were quite interesting though!)

The kids are quite hilarious and try to take such good care of Fred. You aren't allowed to talk in the circle unless you are holding Fred (except for me because sometimes I have to ask the kids to speak up so we can hear or will ask a clarifying question if I know the other kids are confused). If someone drops Fred, 27 little people gasp in horror. If someone holds Fred too tight, the other friends in the class will gently remind that person to be more careful with our friend Fred. If someone holds Fred by his head (which he does not like by the way), the other friends in the class correct that person. 

It. Is. Hilarious. 

I never knew how much I needed a Fred in my classroom. Plus, the kids are just okay with me blaming MY annoying and nosy questions on HIM so it works.

(It's even funnier because my former student teacher, who now teaches 1st grade at our school, posted a picture on Facebook of some of her students' writing and they both had written [student name] is a good fred and she wrote "a good fred is hard to find" :D)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Helpers and more Helpers!

Hi all! Its been awhile since I've posted. I can't lie and say I've been too busy because my student teacher is almost in full control and it's so, so weird for me to let someone take over this early in the year! It's not bad, it's just weird. I still jump in and I'm acting kind of as her "TA". I have been kept busy with doctor school and meetings though (meetings and more meetings, ugh!).

I have a TON of helpers this year which is also beyond bizarre for me because I'm not used to that. The last couple of years one of our 2nd grade teachers has had tutors come from a high school in another district. She retired and her teaching partner was not able to take on the tutoring due to a conflict with the time the tutors were able to come so she asked me if I would take them. Um,  yes please! 

So starting this week, every Tuesday every one of my students will have a tutor for 30 minutes! They will work on Dolch lists and read books together. Eventually they will also have a chance to play games together too. 

Plus I have a lot of kiddos (10 or 12 I think) who have a tutor or a mentor who comes to see them either once a week for an hour or twice per week for a half hour and they work on all kinds of literacy stuff. It kind of means I have a revolving door of kids coming and going all day two days per week but the more help the better! 

AND I have support from our literacy parapro (who is also our librarian) one full morning per week and for an hour on Friday afternoon.

It's a little overwhelming to juggle all of it because when I was in 4th grade....I had zero help or tutors. Every now and then if our tutor coordinator had a student who had some extra time, she might pass them along to us upper grade folks but usually they work with K-3 only. It's been kind of crazy balancing all of the schedules but I teach my kids that if they miss part of an activity because they are with a mentor or tutor, to just write "mentor" on their paper and turn it in. This way when I look at them, I'm not mad that it was undone (because I *will* forget that they missed it).

I have 28 kiddos this year which is the most I've had in awhile so truly the extra help is really nice. I have a TON of kids who are "bubble kids" (meaning they are on the bubble...with the right pushing they'll make benchmark by the end of the year). If I remember correctly, something like 15 of my kids are in that bubble. That means I have to take every bit of help I can get to move them so they will be on grade level by the end of the year. 

The nicest part of having a student teacher in the fall is that when she finishes teaching a lesson, I can pull a small group to reteach or reinforce. I can also pull kids individually for some 1:1 time that I would SO not have time for if I didn't have her in there. As weird as it is to give up my control so early, it's been nice because it has given me time to implement some things I usually can't do until January because there is no time for me to get to it. 

This year we've already begun a 30 in Third book challenge, started our data notebooks and have worked really hard to get our interactive notebooks in both math and reading off the ground because I have that extra pair of hands in my room to help me implement it all. I've kind of decided my student teacher can't graduate, she just has to stay with me all year :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tuesday Joys

Goodness, I might be having way too much fun in 3rd grade this year! These friends just crack me up. Even when they aren't being awesome listeners and are being kinda annoying....I just love them.

A couple years ago, a student teacher in our school created a daily check-in sheet that her students did each morning. It has caught on and several teachers now use this. I never did before but decided to try it this year. It's basically just a quick form to see how the kiddos are coming in each day; whether they are sad or happy or whatever.

One from this morning just had me giggling:

 Today I feel sad because I ate a jelly donut and there are no more left. 
Pretty sure we've all had that feeling before! 

We also have a gal from the YMCA who comes and does nutrition lessons for 6 weeks in our classes. I was lucky to be in the first round this year and today was the first lesson. They do some movement, play a game, do some activity around healthy food and then have a yummy snack. Today's snack was apple cars. The kiddos got to "assemble" their car with toothpicks and grapes.

Sadly, this friend had a "flat tire" lol

I have a slew of tutors who pull kiddos out for 1:1 support throughout the week and kids are constantly coming and going. I just roll with it. At recess two of the ladies who had tutored my kids today stopped to chat with me a moment. One asked me if I had taught upstairs last year (my room was on the 3rd floor last year and is now on the 2nd). I confirmed and she said I looked much happier and more relaxed this year.

I FEEL much happier and more relaxed this year too! It's so nice to enjoy my job and be happy at work. What a huge difference it makes. Plus this class just lets me be my silly self and they just laugh. (I'd like to think they are laughing with me instead of at me!)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Daily 5 Rotations Week 2

Wow. What a difference a week makes!

Last week only five of my students got to have Fun Friday (out of 27) because they were messing around during Daily 4 time and didn't get their work done. Because I use Reading Street, there are a few things I have the kids do during the rotations that need to be done over the four days we do literacy (because Friday is our weekly test that I am absolutely required to give). The worst thing was, the work was not hard or too much work, the kiddos just forgot their stamina building and messed around.

You could have heard a pin drop in my room on Friday afternoon when all of those friends had to sit out of Fun Friday and do their work instead. Let me tell you, they were SILENT today during our Daily 4 time! :) I was so incredibly happy and pleased. We are doing table points right now because some of the kiddos are uber chatty....and they did such a good job that each and every table was able to earn points during this time today :)

Of course they totally lost it when we switched to writing LOL But our ELMO blew up (literally--sounded like someone had popped a huge balloon in class....may have taken a few years off our lives!) and thus we can't use GoNoodle or any of our brain breaks right now. My student teacher and I decided we may have to pull an iCarly and implement some Random Dancing to get the kiddos some extra movement and brain break so they can transition over to writing. We do have some movement between each but it clearly wasn't enough for them after being so focused during Daily 4. This means until ELMO is fixed (and I have no idea when that will be--last year the CPU went out on mine and it was 5 weeks before it came in after it was ordered!), I may have to get creative to let them move around a bit more so they can keep themselves on track.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


Happy October! This is my 1,000th post. I'm glad it is a Currently because they are my favorite!
Listening: it is blissfully quiet up in my office. The girls are all downstairs or locked in their rooms (by their own choice, not because I put them there haha). I can hear the lawnmower in the far distance every now and then, but it is blissfully quiet which is nice!

Loving: My class this year is vastly different from last year. VAST-LY. A couple of kiddos who will definitely try my patience but that's to be expected. The rest of them are pretty sweet. They had some trouble getting their work done due to chattiness during the week and had to finish up during Fun Friday...and instead of hating me for it,they were bummed when I said I couldn't come to the movie night we were having at school. Love them.

Thinking: my youngest two definitely need haircuts....they are looking like shaggy dogs haha I need a trim and that may happen sooner rather than later.

Wanting: I'm so ready to dress up in long sleeves and sweaters and go pick some apples. We live right outside of "The Ridge" so named because there are about seven apple orchards! We just have to pick one and go. I'm craving some honey crisp apples and caramel dip. Yummy!

Needing: It's always about the grad work, isn't it? :) Actually this class hasn't been too bad to keep up with so that's good. But next Saturday I am going to Eastern Michigan University for an NBCT meetup and thus I really need to get ahead on this work so that I can enjoy that day without a big paper looming over my head.

What makes me feel Boo-tiful is my MaryKay makeup. About 18 months ago, when I was still selling Thirty-One, a colleague of mine and I had a MaryKay/Thirty-One party at her house after school. I had never used MaryKay before and now I won't use anything else on my face. I love how it makes my skin glow and look so soft and pretty. I don't use a lot of MaryKay eye makeup (I have been using Clinique this past week and I'm in love!) but I won't use any other concealer, cleanser, powder or blusher. It makes me feel feminine and young.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Thankful Thursday

We've had a crazy week. Full moon and some kind of interruption every single day during our literacy time (fire drill Monday, pictures on Tuesday, code red drill Wednesday and tornado drill today!). Goodness.

Despite this craziness, I have seen some uber sweetness in the kids around me this year and it makes my heart happy after my rough year last year. I am so incredibly thankful for the kids I have this year. Firstly, since it is now October, we did our October Currently in class and the kids were SO excited about it! They just thought it was so cool that they got to do it again :)

During today's tornado drill, one of the mainstream students from the ASD classroom was upset and crying. I would imagine it was sensory related and she probably didn't really understand why we were all huddled in the space we were. Another second grader from her mainstream class just reached over and rubbed her back to help her feel safe during the drill. It was probably the sweetest thing I have ever seen. What a rockstar that girl is to help her friend like that! 

And at the end of the day today, as we were dismissing kids, I was holding the door for the kids and a student, whom I don't even know (so I'm not sure if she's a second or third grader) comes up to me and says, "Mrs. Wood, you are beautiful" and smiles and walks away. How super sweet! 

It is little friends like them that make me so thankful that I stick it out despite the tougher kids....they make it all worth it. They really do.

Another awesome thing today was my student teacher had her first observation. I have a hard time just accepting praise (as I am vastly insecure even though most people don't realize that). My student teacher's supervisor said he loved my attitude toward helping my ST grow and learn and that I was his favorite CT :) Made me smile. And the kids loved the lesson she taught so that was even better. They were engaged and all wanted to share their stories with her. 

And lastly, I got to see some new (ultrasound) pictures of my grandbaby this week. (Still weird to say grandbaby when talking about myself!) In one picture the baby looked like he or she was waving. As unpleased as I was to learn I was going to be a very young grandma....let's be real, that baby already stole my heart and he/she isn't even here yet! 

What are you thankful for this week?