Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkins, conferences, and weddings...oh my!

Wow! Has anyone noticed we have been MIA?  We have been swamped!  We, like many of you out there, have been enjoying surviving parent conferences.  Whew - they are exhausting! I am not sure if I am missing some important social skill needed to get through these things comfortably, but they never end with me thinking "Well that was fun."  Don't get me wrong - I think they are very important and I love communicating important information to parents. But somehow most of them are always awkward.  Juli has two left and I have about 7 so we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In addition to conferences taking up our time, we have been chasing down all evil doing and demanding justice for innocent pumpkins everywhere. Well, really just for the pumpkins in our garden. But it has been time consuming all the same.  If you remember from a previous post, a pumpkin was nabbed from our garden. It still remains a cold case. Just as we were starting to heal from that experience, evil struck our poor garden once again!  Juli went out to check on things and the majority of our pumpkins had been picked and smashed!!!!  When I found out I was upset angry borderline homicidal. We went to the front office and demanded to see the surveillance video from the weekend. Sure enough - Juli and I witnessed our pumpkins being thrown against the building by three boys.  The images are burned into our brains now. It was terrible!  I calmly suggested starting ranting that we call the cops ASAP.  The suggestion was not received with open arms by admin.  In the end, I never did get to call the cops. But the boys were identified and consequences were handed out.  When I was told of the punishment, I suggested the boys also be responsible for replacing the lost pumpkins. New pumpkins have been purchased, 4 garden beds got weeded without any sweat or tears or blood from us, and apologizes were accepted.  I hoping this is the end to assaults on our garden. I am not sure how much more we can handle!  I am also hoping that word has gotten out that Juli and I avenge all wrong doing that occurs in the garden so that future wrong doers decide to leave our garden alone.

And the last thing that has taken up so much of our time...a wedding!  One of our teammates who we love dearly got married this weekend! It was BEAUTIFUL!  Juli and I and another coworker piled into her van with our husbands and traveled to Charleston, SC.  The wedding was on the beach, the weather and the bride were gorgeous, and we all had a blast.  Other than being called out for being old by a young guest at the wedding, it could not have been better. The conversation with the young lady went sort of like this...
Heather - "Yeah, I graduated from the same high school as him."
Young Guest - "What year did you graduate?"
Heather - "1996"
Young Guest - "Oh that was the year I was born!"
Juli - "uh oh" and starts to take a drink to avoid to be involved in the conversation
Heather - "No feel so old"
Young Guest - "Don't worry - you look good for your age."
Juli -  starts choking on her drink

I pretty much ended the conversation at that point to go find a glass of wine. Because seriously when you are told you look good for your age, a glass of wine is pretty much the only thing that will help. 

We have lots more blogging to do....we have been Boo'd and our upcoming giveaway! However,  I think I have made this long enough. To close, I am including a picture of Juli and I at the wedding.  I am the older lady next to Juli.  I hear I look pretty good for my age though!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Can your students tie shoes?

At the beginning of the school year, I began teaching my first grader how to tie his shoes.  Then his teacher started assigning how to tie shoes as homework.  We worked and worked on it and he finally got it!  As we were trying so hard to teach him how to tie, I realized that only about 3 kids in my second grade class actually know how to tie their shoes.  I personally hate tying shoes.  I mean when you think about our kids walking around the school, on the playground, and in the bathroom with their shoelaces untied, and then our hands tying the laces over and over... EWWWW!!!!  This morning I was browsing Pinterest and my partner in crime (Heather) re-pinned this video.

 I had to give it a try. So I grabbed my daughter who is in Kindergarten and started teaching her. She learned in 5 minutes.  I am so excited!!

Yay for us! We only have one more to teach and then we all know how to tie our shoes. I tried with my 4 year old but she gave up easily. Plus, I intend to start teaching my kids at school this on Monday. Hopefully, I soon won't be tying any shoes except my own!!!

Happy Shoe tying!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Classroom Library Management

Hello everyone!  I thought I would share a cool product I found on Really Good Stuff for those people that are wanting an organized library but are too lazy pressed for time to create their own system.  I first got this idea from Juli but of course she had organized and coded her books using a system she herself created....she is a freak of nature I tell you!  I can't decide if she is super human or just secretly lives in a time warp the rest of us don't know about cause the girl gets EVERYTHING done!
Anyway - back to the point, I decided I would copy this system but in typical Heather timing - it took several months for me to get around to actually doing it. In that time, a Really Good Stuff magazine came in and I was looking through it.  There I found the exact same thing Juli had done but it was already done and I only had to pay a few dollars for it! SOLD!!!
So here is how it works...we have our libraries organized in baskets such as "Realistic Fiction Picture Books" or "Fantasy Chapter Books." Same as most of you I imagine.  When conferencing with students, Juli and I wanted a way to check on the level of book they were reading without plastering the Fountas and Pinnell level on it.  We don't want to discourage their picking of books based on a level - we merely want to monitor it to see that they are making good choices.  We also didn't want students to be self conscious about what book level they are reading.  This system uses a variety of color circles on the front of the book - green through blue along with a number inside that circle 1-4. The color and number indicate to what level they are reading on but I am the only one who knows the codes. I know it sounds confusing but I promise it's not!  Here is what the circles look like:
I bought just the circles for $6.99. Then I bought and used the correlation chart to put a sticker on each book in my library.  The correlation chart is below and only cost $2.99!!
It gives you way more information than just guided reading levels such as grade levels, lexile levels, etc.  Here is an example of one of my books:
It is a yellow 3 which means that it is a Fountas and Pinnell level L. But none of my kids need to know that - I want them to choose books based on interest and readability. I don't want them uncomfortable or restricted by the book level they are currently reading at.  I get to monitor reading choices and they are oblivious - it is WIN WIN! I hope you find this helpful. I love ideas that are easy and affordable but help out a lot in the classroom. I find this to be all those things.

Oh I we haven't forgotten our giveaway! Thank you to everyone who said they would donate something. We will be in touch soon. We are still getting it all together.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

October Currently

The blog hasn't done a CURRENTLY lately and I've never done one before so I thought that I would give it a try.  Hop on over to Farley's blog to check it out and participate in it.

It is so much fun to see what everyone is up to in October.

On an exciting note, I won my first giveaway this week from Jeannie at The 2nd Grade Surprise.  She is new to blogging so please head over and check out her new blog.  It is super cute!!!

The 2nd Grade Surprise
On another exciting note, Heather and I threw a bridal shower today for one of our teammates.  It was a great time but I am exhausted!  I am so glad that this week we get to wear jeans everyday this week with pink to show our support for Breast Cancer Awareness.  I am thrilled to be able to support such a worthy cause, but to be honest I am just as excited to not have to think or plan my outfits in the mornings this week!

Hope you guys have a great week!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Thematic Maps

We teach Map Skills to our Second Graders.  Personally, map skills to 7 and 8 year olds is completely BORING!!  I mean really, map skills for any age is not tons of fun.  To help make the concept a little more fun and create a way to apply their knowledge, we assign a Thematic Map Project each year.  This project is one of our favorite times of year because our kids' creativity really comes out.  Each year, the themes are different and exciting and we LOVE them!  It is a project that is sent home to complete and then returned to school to be presented and displayed.  We typically give about 2 weeks for them to work on them before we ask that they are returned to school.  Students choose a theme that interests them (cheer-leading, soccer, dance, etc...) and create a map.  The outline of the map is in a shape that matches the chosen theme and the landmarks, streets, and map key items are all named to match as well.  The students are graded on a rubric for the following items:

Map Title
Map Key
Compass Rose
Labeled Landmarks and Streets
Neatness and Creativity

Here are a few of this year's maps:

If you are interested in trying out this fun project in your classroom as well, click here to download the letter that we send home to parents.

Happy Map Making!


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pumpkin Thief!

What is the world coming to?
If you have been following us for awhile, you will remember that Juli and I  (and our 5 children under 6) braved the July heat to clean up our school garden and plant pumpkin seeds. Our plan was that the pumpkins would be ready by the end of October for a math and science investigation for our kids.  Everything has been going well...we check on the pumpkins - they are tiny at first and slowly starting to grow.  Finally one was the size of a basketball and it is only the first week of October! Juli and I were pumped! So Juli goes to check on the pumpkins today and then....
it was GONE!
Our big pumpkin was gone.
 From an elementary school garden!
Who does that?
When Juli broke the news today I was so mad!  I emailed our principal and asked if the video cameras picked up the criminal in the act. When we left this afternoon they were still not to the pumpkin stealing part so we are hoping that we have a suspect in the morning. I just can't believe that someone would steal our pumpkin! From what I understand about crime (from my extensive COPS watching) most missing cases have 48 hours to be solved for the best results. I am guessing we are moving on to around 24 hours since our pumpkin was nabbed so I preparing myself for the sad news that we may never see our pumpkin or the perp again.  I know - it's a lot of emotion for a pumpkin but we literally put our blood and sweat and tears into that garden. Well, the sweat and blood are mine and Juli's (the garden has killer weeds with thorns). The tears are mostly from our children who we wouldn't let use the gardening tools they wanted.  But still - it has blood, sweat, and tears put into it all the same!

On a happier note, Juli and I have reached 100 followers! Yay followers - we love you! We would like to do a really big giveaway to celebrate. We are brainstorming a few ideas. If you would be interested in donating to our giveaway, please let us know. We love all the blogs we stalk follow out there so we would love to share your great stuff with a giveaway winner. Hope everyone has a happy Friday!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Quick Hello!

Happy Tuesday!

I am just popping in quickly to share a new product I made this week focusing on place value.  Those tricky little Numbers and Base Ten standards (NBT) are keeping my kids in full- fledged work mode these days.  I am just so thankful that the Common Core allows us to slow down and teach things so much more in depth than we have had in the past!  Since we have Halloween coming up, I thought a web themed pack would be fun.  Here are two games that will help with you with standards this year.  Hop on over to my TPT store!  On a completely unrelated note, did anyone notice how many followers we are up to?  99.  Yep friends, one away from 100!  Heather and I are working on a fun little giveaway to celebrate our almost 100 followers.  Hopefully we will be meeting that BIG mark soon!

Happy Tuesday!