Elementary Teacher

Having fun in the classroom and "balancing" life!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Change

One of my favorite bloggers is Sara from Sara At School. I know I've talked about her a lot, and what I like about her is her honesty and real-ness. She's positive in an "It's a marathon, not a sprint" kind of way. She made it a goal to write 100 posts last year. I thought that was a great one. So I'm trying it. For better or for worse for you people.

Our school is going through some changes. I don't even know all of them yet. We are small, private and Christian. So you know what that =. Tuition-based. But we're not one of the biggies. We don't have a big budget. Money is always TIGHT. It's not because people don't pay their bills, it's because our size is so small. Small class sizes are a dream for all you public school teachers. I get it. I'm actually embarrassed to tell public school teachers how many kids I have. But at our level, it's a bane because it's too small. We lose kids a lot, especially in the upper and middle grades because there aren't enough kids. Which is just a vicious cycle, because to get more kids, you need more kids.

So we hired a marketing firm. I am so proud and thankful to the Powers That Be for making this happen. I'm not sure if that was the principal or the board or the church that is in partnership with the school. Probably all of the above.  But it's super exciting. The company is based out of Massachusetts (Ovus Ater)and the representative has been here interviewing staff and seeing the school. He has interviewed many of the parents and has been back a second time to meet with the principal to unveil the marketing plan and school concept. For little old us, this is huge. I don't know what it is yet, or which direction it will take us, but I am excited to be a part of it. Honestly, I worry about the life of our little school and I think this will be such a powerful and positive force in helping us grow and better ourselves. It's so exciting, I can't wait to share it with you.

Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Classroom Goal freebie

I've said it of my favorite parts of teaching is decorating my classroom. I also LOVE to decorate my home. We moved into a new home last year, and although I love it, I sometimes wonder if we made the right choice. Or really, if I made the right choice, because when I'm honest about it, it was me driving the decision to move. My husband would have been content to stay put. And now sometimes I think, "was he right?" So I'm working to make it our own, and have it feel like ours. And make some money on it when we sell it someday.

Anyway, I love all things decorating. So this summer I started reading decorating blogs. And now I'm more consistent in reading those than school blogs. Sometimes. One of my favorite is "The Inspired Room". One of the reasons I like it is because the woman (Melissa) who writes it is real, and realistic. She knows how life is, and how finances are a part of real life. Making a home (and classroom) what we want it to be takes time. Sometimes we have to take baby steps.

This year Melissa posted a goal sheet for decorating and/or organizing your home. I thought it was a great idea to help me get through my many unfinished projects. Maybe then my 2 second-hand end tables would actually get painted before I start (and not finish) my next project. So I made a classroom version, too. Here it is. You are welcome to it. Happy new year and good luck on Monday!!!
Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Friday, January 2, 2015

A new way to run my parties

Well, sigh. It's Friday night, the last real day of Christmas break. I'm the new mayor of Sadsville. But we're half way done! Hard to believe! And to celebrate, I'm watching the last Hallmark Christmas movie of the season with my one sick kid and 2 healthy ones.

So the classroom Christmas party was just that...a party! It was wild and loud and crazy! But I think the kids really had fun. I use this party plan:

Christmas Party with the Gang
It makes my life super simple at this time of year.
But here's the thing. I had TONS of parents at the party. Which is GREAT, don't get me wrong. Included in the party pack are invitations that we send out ( to practice writing our addresses) so of course parents are welcome. But they didn't really interact with their kids. And trust me, some of them NEEDED interaction.
So where did I go wrong? I had a party all planned with plenty of food, games, activities and parents to help. But the kids still got pretty outta hand. This is a wild bunch. And Valentine's Day is right around the corner. I have that party already planned, too. But this time, it will be under control. I'm planning HOW to use the parents that are on hand. At my Valentine's Day party, I generally play about 5-6 games. And this time, I'm assigning parents to each. All my job will be is to maintain control. The games will be played simultaneously like centers, and the parents will run them! I can't wait to give it a try. Plus, I LOVE Valentine's Day. And here's my party, all ready to go.
A Scrumpdillyicious Valentine's Party
I'm sure a lot of you already run your parties that way. I'm just a little late to the party, so to speak.
Happy New Year!
Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Monday, December 29, 2014


Have you ever wondered about one of your students being gifted? Did you know what to do about it?

I have a student that might be. We don't have a gifted program at our school. We're a small, private school that is lacking in funding. I think our curriculum is advanced enough for most kids that they are automatically challenged, but our principal is studying differentiated learning for gifted students, some of his research has me wondering.

I have a student who is immature socially, but very bright. She is also very distracted, and is OFTEN more focused on engaging other kids than paying attention to me or doing his work. But she's smart, and probably only needs a couple repetitions with a new concept to gain understanding. And she has a lot of prior knowledge about many things. She's an excellent reader and can read anything you give her.

But she struggles with independence, and cannot do challenge work that I give her because she is so distracted. She is also immature, and can be manipulative. I think she has a low self-concept and is so intent on making friends that she will do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. But she doesn't have the maturity to realize what that is. And all this time she is not doing her work, and I'm thinking it's because she is bored, and I am not giving her what she needs. Sigh. Do you ever feel just stumped?

And by the way, I don't like the term "gifted". I think all kids are gifted. It's a matter of how to find and nurture that gift. But I don't think society or the powers that be agree with me, because there sure is a lot of research out there written from a different perspective than mine.

Thanks for reading.
Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Scientist biographies for primary grade readers

It's so hard to find biographies for primary grades. One of our standards in Science is :

*Identify how diverse people and/or cultures,
past and present, have made important
contributions to scientific innovation.

That's a toughie. Especially when your first graders fill in their graphic organizers with information like:

*tools scientists use:

*work scientists do:
-make potions (about 6 of that answer)
-turn people into stuff (another 6...or more!)
-make meat without killing animals...hmm...tofu????

Ok, so clearly I have some work to do.

I'm trying to teach my students that scientists use everyday objects, make predictions, and conduct experiments to test their hypothesis. They do make potions, but not of the turning-people-into-stuff-sort. I'm also trying to impress upon them the important work that many scientists have already done. And we reap the benefits! 

So I created this:
It's a unit of biographies written for use in primary grades. I have some pretty gifted readers in my little first grade class. Not everyone in first grade will be able to read these. So I plan to give them to my higher level kids and let them partner read. Or you could partner with an older class.

There are 6 different scientists highlighted in the unit. I printed and laminated them. Then I bound them into a spiral book. You could use it in multiple ways. But it saves a trip to the library to dig up biographies that are too hard to read and frustrating for everyone!
Thanks for reading!

Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Community Unit with a classroom mayor!

Resources for Social Studies can be so hard to find, can't they? My text book only touches on a small part of what our standards say need to be taught. So a couple years ago, I created my own Community resource. It touches on many things, including...

Running for classroom mayor! Here they are obtaining signatures for their petitions. They need 25 signatures, including 5 older kids and 5 adults.  Our election was Friday. Here's the voting booth:
Anyone who wants to run can, but they have to fill out an application, and we hold a debate. I send home a list of questions for Mom and Dad to help them answer, and then we take turns answering those questions in our debate.
I use a Kleenex box to put the ballots in. I had a helper come and be the worker at the polling place. He took their registration cards, gave them an "I voted" sticker (I have no idea where those came from, but they sure came in handy) and helped them write a name on the ballot and put it in the box.
We also build a community out of legos. We build it on top of a target that has urban as its center, suburban outside of that, and rural on the outside.

But sometimes natural and man-made disasters hit our community!!! They make a mess of our well-designed community, and we have to discuss the possible ways to solve this problem!
Then we discuss natural and man-made and write about types of each.

We also form councils and discuss issues that come up in the community. The president does the presenting, the secretary does the writing, and the vice-president is the runner, the encourager, and the all-around helper! The students have various issues to work through, and then write about them. After they write their solution, they present the problem and solution to the rest of the class.
This unit typically last me about a month, but it could be done faster, or slower.
My students love it, especially the building and the mayor election!
Community: A Place to Live, Work, and Play
Next year I would like to add a STEM community to it, complete with community workers and what they do. A classroom restaurant, post office, police station and more! My summer next year will be a busy one! A girl can dream... 
Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

fun phonics

I am all about fun phonics lately. And my math stations. Which are not going well at this point. But that's a topic for a different day. Phonics is going great, so let's just focus on that. Baby steps.

This week we have the short o sound. Here we are making "popcorn" words. A little crepe paper and a plastic popcorn tub and you're good to go! We wrote short o words onto pieces of yellow crepe paper "popcorn", wadded them up, and tossed them into the popcorn box!

Then we glued our short o "popcorn" onto a paper popcorn tub. Even my Crabby McCrabbensteins got into it and had fun.

Last week we concentrated on the short a sound, so we built a track. With every short a word they wrote on a white board, they got to choose a piece of railroad track. Wow. Talk about engaged. I have never seen a group of 6 year olds so excited about the short a. Just hand over that "Teacher of the Year" award, please. I have my place on the shelf  all ready.

These pictures are actually from when we used the trains to compose and decompose numbers. Cross-curriculur! Yay! That was pretty cool. We really had fun with that. We put trains together (Good ol' Thomas to the rescue!), wrote addition sentences, and then pulled them apart for related subtraction.
If you need some easy-to-implement phonics activities for those days when you're just too tired and busy to recreate the wheel, here they are. Each of my hands on phonics units are $1.50. They come with at least 4 activities (or more) and have corresponding worksheets if you choose to use them.
Thanks for reading!

Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]