Monday, April 30, 2012


We are trying to learn fractions. They are super good at recognizing and reading the picture or numeral fraction.

But now on to equivalent fractions and ordering fractions. I need some hands-on activities to use with second and third graders.

We won our school's Papa John's night from April. That means that our class bought the most pizzas on a certain night. And we get a pizza party. And we get $60 to spend. The pizza arrived today at 2 pm and we figured some fractions from what we got. 3 pizzas. 16 slices each. Took me much longer than the kids to figure out how many slices all together. I kept arguing with them when they said 48, no it is not, I was looking for the answer 42. Finally the other grownup in the room stopped me and and talked me through it (16 and 16 is 32, and 16 more is 48). Shining moment for me for sure. And we will use the money to help pay for the t-shirts we are having printed. Yippee, they should come in another week.

I am starting lists of what I want to do and teach and resources to get for next year. That is exciting.

Still trying to finish strong. Lots to do and learn before I can send them off for the summer.
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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sheep Update

Lucy Belle and Black Bob seem to be adjusting. So do the ewes. When I checked on them this morning they bleated, but not like Thursday. And the ewes quieted right down when I added corn to their feed trough. Lucy talks (bleats) all the time.

Tonight is the big PTO carnival at school. It is Dr. Seuss themed. This afternoon I really should make several batches of brownies for the cake walk. Tonight will be fun to see my kiddos and other kids from school have fun with each other and their parents.

My husband will be spending his afternoon in the backyard. Planting the truckbed full of plants he bought at the local nursery. Sure will be pretty in a couple of years.
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sheep Drama

What an afternoon.

It started about 30 minutes before school let out. Our friend, Erin, came by with a lamb to put in with Lucy Belle while she gets weaned from her mama.

We have side by side pens in the barn, so no big deal. Ewes go in one side, lambs in the other, everyone sees each other and everything is okie dokie.

I picked my kiddos up 10 minutes before the final bell and hurried them out to the barn so they could see what is going on. We "quietly" sat on the bleachers to observe and discuss what is happening.

What we observed was Lucy ramming the gate between her and the ewes, almost getting stuck in the gate, almost getting through the gate, and loud bleating.

We were quite panicked by this sight. Will she hurt herself? Will the ewes get hurt as they also try to get to Lucy? And then... Lucy somehow managed to get the gate open and into the other side and straight to her mama for some comforting mother's milk.

The mom that I am wanted to just let them be. But they are not my sheep. I texted Erin and she advised me to work at separating them. 

School is out now, and my students are on the bus to their homes. Who will help me? Miss Murphy was already gone. Lucky for me, one of my students heard what was going on and begged (but it did not take much) his mother to let him stay and help me and my son try to figure this out.

Now it's 3:15. The two boys were pretty quick at getting both lambs back into their pen (after some initial funny moments and a strategy session). 

Everything fine? Nope. Lucy went straight back to ramming the gate and jumping and terrifying us. How were we going to keep them all safe and not spend the night in the barn?

My student had the idea that we could put chicken wire across the gate, and then Lucy wouldn't be able to get her head through. His mother, very kindly, offered to go to their shop and get some, it was only about 4 miles away.

While she was off on that errand, the boys tried to keep Lucy and Black Bob (I think that is his name--oh he is sooooo cute) calm and not fighting the gate.

(My big helpers, Wil, my son on the left, and my student on the right.)

(Mom and daughter looking at each other through the gate. Separation Anxiety.)

We (my students' mom and I) spent 20 or so minutes securing the wire. And then adding duck tape to the jagged edges. I felt like I was baby-proofing for the lambs. The boys were off playing by now.

Lucy was now climbing the chicken wire, half jumping to get to her mama. What now? Calls and texting to our circle of sheep experts and we decide to put ewes into a different inside pen. Not right next to lambs, but within sight and sound.

After all this, it is 4:40. I went into the school to make final preps for tomorrow and the boys continue to play. It was 5:00 when I called Wil to get his things so we could leave.

Here is the cute Black Bob.

The other part of the drama is that the donkey and the sheep have not been getting along. One of them goes after the others' food, which is not a problem until you start keeping the other from it while you gobble it all up. And that is not how Walton students and staff treat each other. It has been hard to watch. Eyore's owners are going to take him back home tomorrow and I hope that everyone can have good memories of this time together. 

I wonder what we will find in the barn tomorrow morning...
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Earth Day and Field Day

Part of our day we spent finishing up our Earth Day craftivity. I got the idea here. It was from The Lesson Plan Diva.

I love how they turned out, especially the cursive handwriting. These will be perfect for parents to look at during the Ag. Fair (which is 6 days away--aack!)

The sheep and donkey needed feeding this morning (nothing new), but the 4th graders are still testing, so we didn't have our usual helpers to get the chore done. About 9:00 we took both classes outside, I let them run for about 5 minutes while Miss Murphy fed Lily, Wooly, Lucy, and Eyore. Then we jogged to our prairie restoration garden and each student was instructed on how to pull a certain weed. Once each had pulled 7 of the monster weeds they were allowed to visit the other animals. Martha, Eyore and the pigs were the big winners for visitors this morning.

Shortly before this impromptu feeding/weeding session, Miss Murphy got a call that our farm family guy (Mr. Neil Williams) was planting a corn field just down the road from us. So, as good teachers do, we came up with a new plan. The plan included getting other teachers to cover recess duty and preparing our students for a trip down the road.

We started at the corn field. Mr. Williams talked about his planter and how the planter works. Pretty interesting. We had a great discussion about no-till planting, what the corn will be used for and some about erosion. Super glad we covered erosion a couple of weeks ago.

It was plenty warm (maybe 80 degrees F.) and no shade. We are not used to heat yet, so the students started wilting.

Next stop, his wheat field. This is the field we saw him plant in the fall, and fertilize this spring. Amazing. He even let the students go into the field. Some students sat down and were hard to find.

Each student was allowed to pick a head of wheat. Mr. Williams said that he counted earlier this spring and some heads had 35 kernels of wheat. He hopes they get to 40 before harvest.

When we got back to class many students counted the kernels. Great lesson.

Good thing I thought to bring my phone along (to keep track of the time) since I forgot my camera. Thanks for a fun day.

And my Teacher Tipster DVD came today. I watched it as soon as I got home. Pretty cool. Thanks Jill!
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Earth Day

We have been working an Earth Day project. I set the bar very high. They seem to be climbing to reach it.  Perhaps tomorrow they will be finished and I can show you a picture.

It started with a mini-writing project. The final copy has to be in cursive. I think I will require cursive for the rest of the year. It is so much easier for me to read and they write much neater in cursive than in print. We are attaching a craft to the writing. Mrs. T. and I like it. Looking ahead, I think it will be a great project to have on the walls for the Ag Fair which is coming up in 8 days.

Ag Fair. Seven groups of second and third graders that need to do research and create a final project. I already have ideas of how to make it smoother and awesomer next year. I'm sure we will all rise to the Ag Fair occasion as well.

When we got back after spring break, I told my students that we are going to finish strong. We are not slowing down. We are not going to cram, but we will continue to learn every day. 

Today was a good day. Tomorrow will be also.
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Friday, April 20, 2012

Yippee! I am a winner

Today was a short day. Kids went home at 1 pm, and the teachers created the dates for next school year. Like when P/T conferences and the Ag Fair will be. Along with other things like all school bowling party and the Christmas caroling we will do. It was fine.

I stayed late, because it was quiet and I could. It was nice and peaceful.

Do you know Mr. Smith? The Teacher Tipster? He is cool and I dig his videos and printables. Do you know Jill from Marvelous Multiagers? She was having a Teacher Tipster giveaway of his DVD this week and I entered. This was the first giveaway I entered. Pretty awesome that I got an email from her tonight that I won! Wow! This is her blog Marvelous Multiagers, she has great stuff and teaches a split class like me. Hers is a first/second, mine is a second/third. Cannot wait to watch my new DVD. Thanks Jill.

What a fabulous way to begin my weekend.
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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Yard Work

We have a yard that is a low water variety. It comes in late in the spring and leaves early in the fall. Right now only the dandelions need to be mowed.

The weeds are abundant. Today I finally had enough of them. After I ate a quick supper of last night's leftovers I went outside and started pulling weeds out of the front yard. Pulling weeds is back-breaking work. My legs are wobbly, and my hand has no strength left.

But half of the yard is semi-weed free, and I had a lovely talk with my neighbor and her cute son, and a different neighbor hauled my weeds away. I love my street.

I was outside for two hours. When I came in (at 8:00) my boys were hungry. No one fed them and they didn't feed themselves. Oh well, grilled cheese is quick, add some kiwi, apples and side salad, and everyone can go to bed full and happy.

Today was an all day affair of state testing and tomorrow is an early release day with a special program in the morning. Ag Fair is in two weeks.  Somewhere in there we need to plan and take a field trip. Let the race continue.

Five weeks from today is the last day of school for 2011-2012. Wow!
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I teach/live at a unique school. It is an Ag/Tech Charter school. But what does that mean? It means that every 8 weeks I have chores. This is my week.

I switched with my co-teacher, because she was supposed to have chores, but she is knee-deep into state math assessments and it is easier for me to get them done.

This is what has to be done every morning (including Saturday and Sunday) after school starts and before we get going with readin', writin', and 'rithmatic. With the students. Rain or shine. Cold or hot. We are livestock farmers who also teach elementary school. None of us grew up on a farm, but we are not afraid to do school differently.

Put on your chore boots, here we go.

Gather the chicken eggs. Feed and water the chickens.

No picture of the hen house or the eggs gathered. Yesterday the students gathered 6 eggs, today it was 8.

Feed the sheep corn, alfalfa, and give fresh water.

This is Lucy Belle. She was born at our school on Wednesday, February 15, 2012. Isn't she adorable? Her mom, Lily, and Aunt Wooly also live in this pen. (Sometimes we have to scoop poop.)

Brownie, our bottle calf who is off the bottle (that saves a lot of time) needs 8 cups of calf grain and 2 flakes of hay morning and afternoon (the afternoon feeding is done by our special K and 1 teachers).

Martha, our bucket calf whose birthday was in March, gets 3 1/2 pounds of grain, and a cartload of hay.

By the end of the week, I don't even have to pay close attention to the measuring and scooping because the kiddos are good at it. Real life measurement. Love it.

Chores are great for the students, but I am glad that we rotate and my week comes around every 8 weeks, because by the end of the week, I am kind of worn out.

We also got 2 piglets last week. They are not included in the chores, but they are cute.

As of this morning, our sheep are sharing their pen with Eyore (yes, this is how the owner spells it).

Eyore is a 3 year old donkey. He is very tame and fun to pet.

And Miss Murphy and I are sharing these.

There are 4 chicks. Miss Murphy says that we need to keep holding the chicks so they stay tame. We started that this afternoon. I also have 2 hermit crabs in my room, but they seem a bit dull after being outside with our big animals.

Stop over any time, but bring your chore boots, I may let you help me clean out the sheep pen.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

3rd Grade Math Assessment Day #1

I knew from experience that I should expect my classroom door to look fabulous today. I was not disappointed.

A couple of weeks ago my 3rd graders took the state reading assessment. My teacher friend decorated our door for that occasion. Streamers, balloons, and cards for each student.

Today it was numbers and streamers and just lovely and colorful to look at. Thanks Mrs. Black.

The test takes all morning. Miss Murphy helps the third graders with the test instructions, etc., like I did with the reading, and I have the second graders. All morning. From 8:15 until 11:00.

It wasn't that bad. In fact I really enjoyed it. We did all the chores (except for our new piglets), then spent 2 hours on reading groups and independent work. Like I said, I enjoyed it. We do not take recess until everyone is finished with the test, so that means we did not take our 10:00 break, worked right through.

Then we had lunch, cleaned out their desks (how long has it been since we've done that?), had a LONG recess, read from The 39 Clues, had PE, Computer Lab (so happy to have Mrs. Voth back), and then it was time to go home. One girl said, wow, that was a short day. Kinda.

Two more days of assessment and then we are done for the year. Yippee.
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Monday, April 16, 2012


I have worked hard this year to create a School Family in my classroom.

We all have jobs. We encourage each other. We support each other in times of sadness and in times of happiness. We make birthday cards for each other and cards when someone is absent.

I have seen it happen with my prompting and have noticed after they do it on their own.

Last week our computer lab teacher lost her mother after a long year of illness. Today was the funeral. Before I left for the funeral, I talked with my students about condolence cards. Then we each made one.

This afternoon while our social worker was in the room I had time to read through what my students wrote. I almost cried.

(I am sorry for what you love is loss)

(God will take care of her... and you)

(Dear Mrs. Voth I hope you get better soon. I am thinking about you and your loss)

These students are amazing. They have amazing parents. I am so blessed to be their teacher.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

What I'm Reading

This has been a major point for my students to learn this year.

I love when I get a letter from one of my students and she tells me that she loves to read as much as I do!

My class is a split class with 8 second graders and 13 third graders. It has its challenges, but the rewards are also big. I enjoy seeing friendships form and learning from each other.

Of course, a part of our day HAS to be a read aloud time. Jim Trelease style. No pressure, no comprehension questions, but learning to love reading for fun. I choose books that I like, or my sons recommend, or are on a list of great books to read aloud. I have read Frindle, And Now Miguel (because our class project is sheep), The Doll People, The Magic Finger, and many others (I should have kept a list--will do that next year).

Currently I am reading...

and they are LOVING it! Two girls brought a copy from home to read along as I read aloud (first time that has happened this year), and often another student sits by to read along with them. This book is wonderful, because there are enough cliff hangers that when I quit reading they really groan. When I started the book a para was in the room and she helped create character and setting charts on the chalkboard so that we could keep track of everyone in the first several chapters (which is the difficult part of the series for me). The para went home and started reading it to her fifth grade daughter because she is not usually in my room for read aloud and she had to know what happened!

Since we had inside recess yesterday, because of rain and soggy playground, two girls asked if they could read ahead...ummm, no way. Are you kidding? ABSOLUTELY.

I love reading. I love sharing books. I love buying books. I love getting books from the library. So happy that most of my students are catching the reading bug with me.
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Whoops, not today

After school yesterday we had to create a different plan. 

You see, our third graders were supposed to start the state math assessment today. But the fourth graders have started their reading assessment, and there are not enough computers or spaces in our school to accommodate both grades testing on the same day.

So, the third graders will wait until next Tuesday to begin. And our principal brought a treat to our room this morning as a consolation prize, because they were ready and psyched to start. Both my second graders and third graders (and I) had root beer floats at 8:30 in the morning. It was wonderful, and we didn't even act sugar loaded. 

We started the process for our ag fair that happens in early May. The students made their group choice yesterday and today they worked together to start a plan of what they know already and what sort of project they want to create. It was so exciting. (And a big THANKS to my principal who came in and helped facilitate several groups.)
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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Our Soil Investigations

Today the third graders finished up our soil investigation. Last week they looked at four different soil samples (clay, peat, rocky, and sandy) and used hand lenses to look at the color, smell, and various ingredients to the soils. Then they put 1/2 cup of soil in a quart jar, added 2 cups of water and shook, shook, and shook.

They shook for 3 -5 minutes.

Then they had to wait two hours and observed what happened to their soil sample. They were so amazed and enjoyed seeing what other group's jars looked like.

Today we were able to get back to the soil... We talked about water and wind erosion. With more soil samples we added "rain."

We used a hair dryer to simulate wind and marveled at the way different soil reacted to the "wind." (Sorry, guess I forgot to take a picture of the wind part of the investigation.)

Of course, we had to discuss how erosion effects farmers and what can be done. I am learning to tie all things to agriculture, because everything is tied to agriculture.

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Something New

I hope to be able to share my life at school with others as I learn how to be a better teacher. I love to learn from other blogs, maybe someone can learn from me as well.
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