Friday, May 31, 2013

Taking a Break

I went to bed last night with a migraine after forcing myself to stay up and work on end of the year paperwork. I took my migraine medicine and woke up at 5 feeling great.

Then in the hour before my alarm went off I started thinking about all the things I needed to do today and this week. By the time I got up I had knots in my shoulders and the beginning of another headache.Sigh.

I'm going to take the pressure off myself. I have pictures from field day, our confetti party, and other end of the year goodness. What I don't have is spare time. I  am officially taking a break until after next week. If you are one of the two or three people still reading this, I'll be back. I have big plans for the summer and I plan to blog about it all. I just have to get to that point first!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Tie Dye, Helping Haiti, and Suggestions Wanted


Today was TIE DYE day! Our Third Grade Olympics take place next week, so today was the day we tie dyed 54 shirts. Thank goodness for parent volunteers!

tie dye

Our school does not hold field day, so we created our own in third grade. We split the kids into 5 teams across three third grade classes. We use the shirts as a way to figure out each student’s team.



Wednesday night was our Hope for Haiti event. I shared this presentation the other night. It was something the students put together to share with the audience after our plays.

This event is extremely meaningful to me. When the earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, I was at home on maternity leave. My daughter was two months old, and my heart broke as I watched the news coverage during her naps. My husband works at a university and knew some of the students and staff members who lost their lives while on a mission trip during the earthquake.

When I went back to work I wanted to do something. Third grade social studies standards focus on geography of North America and specifically mention the Caribbean and Haiti.  A team of us had already created a reader’s theater based on the Haitian folktale “Bouki Dances the Kokioko” as part of the Music-in-Education National Consortium (MIENC) project. Using this, a service learning project was born. The original Hawks Helping Haiti was one play. The first year we also created quilts (like the ones we sent to schools after Katrina) that we auctioned off to raise money for the Red Cross. We raised over $3,000 the first two years.


When I was on maternity leave with my son in the fall of 2011, the other teachers had a local woman come to speak about her work with children in Haiti. It was through this presentation that the students learned about the need children in Haiti have for socks and underwear. The event also grew from one play to three plays.


True service learning balances the learning and the service to others. I love this project because I believe that it does just that.

With the play and the Olympics, we needed some down time this week! I am LOVING Hope King’s Paper Bag Memory Books.


They are such a neat end of the year keepsake!


The AP came to see me today about the STEAM lab for next year. Right now there are Chrome books in the room. I’d planned on also asking for a class set of iPads, Smart Boards, and a color printer. I had e-mailed asking to meet with him to talk about what technology they might be willing to purchase for the room.

They have decided that the type of projects I have in mind sound like more than the Chrome books can handle, so they want to really make the room a usable lab. They are going to put in work orders to retrofit the room with outlets and such.

About five years ago we were begging for doc cameras. I am going to have to teach myself some of this - I've never used a Smart Board. I cannot wait.  

As for technology for the room, I am supposed to come up with what I need. As in, what would my dream lab look like. With drawings for configuration. Rows? Along the wall? iMacs? PCs? Laptops? I’ve always been a PC girl, but I think kids today should know both. I have to research and figure out what I want.

I am so excited! I have about a week though to decide out what I want.  Ideas? Suggestions? If you could design a technology lab, what would you do?


It is just sinking in that I will not be teaching third grade next year. It became official this week that one of the first grade teachers is making the jump up to third. I am actually going to have to pack up and move from my classroom of nine years. I get to design my own room and teach my favorite things all day long. This is really happening!

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hope for Haiti

I’d planned to link up with Jivey tonight with ideas on kids responding to reading through Edmodo. I even prepared a photo last night with a screen shot of how I use it.

Instead I am going to be a good girl and grade papers. End of the year award lists are due tomorrow which means my grades need to be mostly finished tonight. I’m not close.

Tonight was our big Hawks Helping Haiti event. We have been working on it for weeks. (That is one big reason why I have so much grading to do tonight in fact!) I’m going to blog more about that another time, but I wanted to share the Haiku Deck we made for the event.

Each third grader got to use the iPad to choose a picture and the text for their slide. (I was inspired by this post by Joanne) Tonight after our plays they got to stand and read their slide. It was pretty special!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Five for Friday

I planned to blog this week. I am admiring how others are managing to post and create products at the end of the school year. Amanda just posted these great motivation bracelets. Joanne, Molly, the ladies over at Pinkadots, and Jessica all have great linkys going on that I wanted to join in, but I am just in survival mode!


I have about 5 boxes that I keep up on a high shelf shelf. My students have been curious about the contents all year. With all the end of the year fun, it was time to pull them down today.


We have three big events planned within the last 12 days of school.We are currently questioning our sanity for not spreading things out!


Next week is our Fourth Annual Hawks Helping Haiti event. The first couple of years we put on a play and auctioned off quilts to raise money for the Red Cross. In two years we raised about $3,000.

Last year they had a special guest come in while I was on maternity leave. This woman works with children in Haiti. She told our students that what they needed most was underwear.

Last year we put on three plays – one from each class. The admission was a pack of underwear or undershirts. We are doing the same this year.

My class is performing “Bouki Dances the Kokioko: A Comical Tale from Haiti.” The book is out of print, but it is one of my favorites! I wrote a script from the book a few years back.

Usually I have each group design their own set/backdrop. This is the queen size sheet that my students from last year designed and painted.



We are also making a Haiku Deck slide show for the event called “Hope for Haiti.” I love this app!


I am also loving the case from the iPevo Wishpool. Both are worth checking out if you are not familiar with them!

Our school does not have field day, so about 5 years ago we created our own Third Grade Olympics. We tie dye shirts, split the kids into mixed teams across classes, organize events, and have a BBQ lunch. It is a lot of fun, but it is a lot of work!

We are in the process of tweaking the even list. We do everything from sprints and long jump to kick the shoe and shave the balloon. Anyone have a favorite field day event for us?

Thank you to everyone who posted kind words about my new position next year.

I will be using Chrome Books with my kids. Does anyone have experience using Chrome books or Google Apps in the classroom? I’m looking for ideas!

I got the okay this week to set up the room as a STEAM lab. I have a vision of what I want to do and I am extremely excited about it all!

Now to get through the rest of this school year first…


Enjoy your weekend!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Moms, Motivation, Big News, & a Flash Freebie

Better late than never, right?

We are working on classifying animals this week. I fixed up my old Vertebrate Characteristics Booklet.


It is amazing what a little clip art can do! I just added this to my TpT store as a flash freebie. Check it out before the price increases!

Tuesday night I purchased this Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed Shape Book. I printed everything as soon as I got to school on Wednesday. I opted to have the students trace the patterns onto construction paper and cut them out. The finished products were bright and colorful.


We planted some flower seeds in our newspaper planters a few weeks ago.


I do not have a green thumb at all, so I was pleased that they had something living to being home!


Speaking of Mother’s Day, I am happy that we finally have hot water! There was a problem with the electrical panel that led to ordering a replacement part. Thursday after school we took the kids to the pool. It is a sad state of affairs when the pool shower is warmer than the home shower! I’ve enjoyed nice long, hot showers this weekend!

I’m linking this next one up with Joanne’s Student Motivation Saturday.

May can be rough. Thursday I added “bring beach towels” to the homework in the student planner. My class didn’t exactly know what “Beach Reading” meant, but they were excited!


Friday morning we took our books/e-readers, towels, and snacks outside for independent reading time.  It was quick, easy, and fun!

Several weeks ago my principal sent me an email and asked me to stop by to talk about ideas for next year. The meeting went very well, and I’d been waiting for the all clear to share the news.
Next year I am going to teach technology and art for K-5. I am SO excited! 

I was at a conference earlier this year where I heard a presenter say that with the upcoming computer-based testing, the expectation is that students should be computer literate by second grade. A big focus in my new position will be making sure that our students are prepared to use the technology for the PARCC test.

I have taught third grade for ten years and I am excited about the change. I have been in the same classroom for nine years, so I am not looking forward to packing up and physically moving my classroom. I *might* have snuck in to my future room last week to start planning.

new room

I have so many ideas. I am really looking forward to it! It is going to be a huge change!


Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Shopping make it all better

I have no great pictures to share. I am a picture person, but this time of the year is more about keeping your head above the water.

Speaking of water, we haven’t had hot water since the weekend. There was a problem with the water heater and we are waiting for a replacement part to come in the mail. It was supposed to come today. I left school early and had the Irishman pick up the kids so we could be here for the neighbor to install it. There was no part. Sigh. We will try again tomorrow!

Auntie June is still in town. We still have no hot water. She has enjoyed shopping and sitting by the pool, but we feel bad that it has not been the most fun of trips. With cold showers.

There is a film crew coming back to my classroom next week. I have not even started to think about what I am going to teach for them to film. We are meeting tomorrow with the producer and the instructional coach. I better start getting something together!

Enough about that though, I started shopping last night in the big sale. Most of what I purchased was clip art. I have big plans for the summer. I’m a little late to the party, but I thought I would link up anyway!

I thought these would be good for all purpose use:


I have specific things in mind for these sets:

Summer Fun - Clipart for Teachers and Classrooms


Icecream Pile Up! - Ice Cream Graphics / Clipart

The shoes fit in the “I don’t know what yet, but I’m sure I’ll think of something” category. I couldn’t pass them up.

If the Shoe Fits {Creative Clips Digital Clipart}

I broke down and bought the the Hello Fonts - Small Commercial Use License. LOVE it. 

Hello Fonts - Small Commercial Use License (for Teachers)

I’d also been admiring these chalkboard frames.

Chalkboard Doodle Borders Bundle - Set of 24

I bought this one for my husband. The Irishman is Mr. Christmas. I am sure I will have fun coming up with ways to use it!


In the non-clip art category, I bought this for Mother’s Day.

Mother's Day Breakfast in Bed Shape Book

I printed it as soon as I got to school and we started making it right away. I made patterns for my kids to trace onto construction paper and cut out. I am loving the way they are coming out!

I also picked up this for the end of the year:

Paper Bag Memory Book

I love Hope King’s things. She rocks.

I should grade papers now, but I am tempted to go take one last look at a few of my favorite sellers. You know, just to check. ; )

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Five for…err…Sunday

I started working on this post on Friday, but it didn’t happen. One of my husband’s sisters flew in from Ireland Friday night, so we’ve been busy enjoying time with Auntie June.

So, I’m going to be one of those people who link up for Five for Friday on a Sunday. Better late than never, huh?


I mentioned in my last post that I had my formal observation this week. I get nervous for observations at the best of time, but the film crew did add to the nerves!

I created a Root Word Safari for my class as a culminating activity to our Reading Olympians study. We used animal fact cards to find, define, and substitute multisyllabic words containing Greek and Latin roots. For the final (observed) lesson each student created their own animal card for a creature they created and described using multisyllabic words containing Greek and Latin roots.


The observation went really well! Most are still putting the finishing touches on their animal cards, but I will add the activity to my TpT store soon.

In the meantime, I have lots planned for the safari clip art I bought this week!

This week my daughter discovered caterpillars in our neighbor’s yard. I had just mentioned to a friend that I was thinking about buying a butterfly kit for her. The friend sent me home with one that same day that she wasn’t using. 

We took in three of the caterpillars. Internet research showed that they are monarchs. I’ve never taught in a grade that does life cycles, so I am a butterfly newbie. 

Friday we came home from school to find this:


By now we have three pupa. We were on our way to the beach yesterday when we saw one of the butterflies in the neighbor’s yard coming out of the chrysalis. It was drying its wings when we left and then flew away right as we got home. My three year old daughter was so excited! She cannot wait for our three caterpillars to become butterflies!

When my grandmother passed away a few years back, one of the things I ended up with was a straw dispenser. I had it in my classroom holding straws for experiments and such. This week I found a new use.


So far it is working great! The dull pencils go in the cup point down and the sharp pencils go in the straw dispenser.

Friday afternoon I told myself that I was going to do my weekly newsletter, plan, grade papers, and make copies before going home. I knew it was lofty, but I somehow managed to get it all done!

I’m choosing to focus on that and not the fact that I just got an e-mail saying that I sent home my progress reports with third quarter grades instead of fourth quarter. Oops! You win some, you lose some!

Auntie June is in town so we took the kids to the beach on Saturday morning. The kids love when their Irish family come to visit! My husband’s parents and 5 siblings all live in Ireland. We love spending time with them and doing “Florida” things while they are in town!

photo (2)

The Irishman and I had not had a night out since November. Auntie June babysat last night and Auntie Chris sent us a little something to help fund our night out. (The Irishman and I were both sick when Auntie Christina was here in February) We started car shopping, went to a movie, and had dinner out. We love our kids, but it was a real treat to have some time to ourselves!

I have an award ceremony on Tuesday night, so we get TWO nights out this week. As an added bonus, Auntie June is a teacher in Ireland, so we can talk teacher stuff, too.


Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Currently MAY

I have never been so happy for a new month! I am thrilled to be linking up for Currently.


Listening: My class made it outside for recess for about 5 minutes before the rain started this morning. By this afternoon our middle and high school (I work at a K-12 school) were no longer switching classes and there were leaks springing up all over the elementary building. The rainy season has started strong!

Loving: April chewed us up and spit us back out. Seriously. My last Currently was posted from the hospital. We had an 8-day hospital stay due to pneumonia for my littlest one, then croup for the older one, adventures in water heaters, and we learned we need to replace the AC. April tossed challenges to us right up to the 30th. I never had anything against April as a month before, but I’ve changed my mind!

Thinking: I am really looking forward to next year. I can’t share details yet, but I’m excited! (And no, I’m not pregnant!)

Wanting: I still have the car my parents bought me in college. It is now a few years older than my third graders. We just paid off our newer car and are starting to look at new-to-us cars. With all that April threw at us we weren’t sure it was going to happen, but the Irishman has been looking online and found some promising offers.

The car I really want? A minivan. We rented one to drive to Sanibel about 18 months back when my in-laws were in town. I loved it! The room, the ease of getting in and out. Laugh all you want – I want a minivan!

Needing: I had my formal observation on Wednesday. I took part in a case study with Learning Sciences International so my preconference, formal observation, and post conference were all filmed by a film crew. I’ve worked with them before and done the whole filming thing three other times this year, but was was still nerve wracking this time knowing that it counted for my evaluation. It actually went really well.

Since then? I have been cool as a cucumber.

Seriously. I can’t even explain it. My classroom is clean. I am up to date on my grading. I am not panicked about our big play or Third Grade Olympics or the end of the year check list.

I’m channeling my inner Pete the Cat. It’s all good.

I really need this feel to stay. I’m kinda liking it!

Summer Bucket List: With hospital bills, a new water heater, replacing the AC, and hopefully a new car, the trip to Ireland to see the in-laws we hoped for is out the window. Our plan is to make the most out of living in South Florida. Beach, pool, parks, and maybe a trip to Seaworld. (We’d rather see the mouse, but Florida teachers are free at Seaworld, so that is more budget friendly!) There are a few children’s museums in the area we haven’t been to yet, so we want to try those out, too.

Now we just have to get to summer…