Thursday, February 28, 2013

Last Day of the Month

Last day of the month. What does that mean to my school (and others I have taught in)?

Fire Drill.

And yet, it often surprises me.

Today (like all days) during our morning meeting our class STAR helper lead us in a breathing exercise. He chose the balloon. (See Becky Bailey's site for information on safe place breathing.)

We (or mostly I) talked about maybe needing to breathe today. We were supposed to have visitors and we were having our big rotation for Cloverbuds, so I, Mrs. Bartel, may need to practice breathing because there is a good chance things will not go my way.

Visitors did not show up. Cloverbuds went ok. Reading groups fine. Writing ok. FIRE DRILL. 

I grabbed my list. Shooed the kids out the door. Turned off the lights. Closed the door. Followed the kids.

I have 22 kids. So on the way out I calculated what number I should count when I get out to our meeting spot. (I know I should be ready with a count, because my principal is good at stealing a kid to see if the teacher knows what to do.) One absent. Six in the computer lab. By the time I reach them I knew--15. 

All was good. I counted 15. We got the all clear and headed back in. But writing time may not happen any more. 

Except I had an idea. Everybody--balloon. Great, one more time. Fabulous. Now we could get back to writing. 

I am glad to have taught the kids about breathing. To relax. To calm down. To energize. To whatever we need it to do.

Sometimes I feel a bit guilty about the amount of control I have over these kids. And it could be related to me having them breathe. And breathing is good, right? So, no more guilty feelings.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

And There Was Some Snow and Many Snow Days

Today is day six of being away from school. And not one sick day or personal day. How does this happen in Kansas?!?!?!?

I loved snow days when I was growing up. I love snow days as a mom and a teacher. Found days. Stay at home. Drink warm drinks. Watch tv.

Two years ago my good friend Angela taught me and her then kindergartners the "Snow Day Dance." We danced several times this past Wednesday.

Thursday and Friday were snow days. 

Saturday and Sunday were gorgeous days. The sun was shining. We got weekend things done. (I may have done the dance in Dick's Sporting Goods on Sunday while shopping with my niece and sister-in-law.)

Monday and Tuesday are snow days. 

Now I am sitting here watching a live reveal of Season 16 DWTS Stars and Pros and planning what I could get done today.

I could work on this list I made yesterday. Of many pins that it is time to make.

I could wash mini-blinds.

I could watch HGTV.

I could make long-term lessons plans.

I could play with a glue gun and craft sticks and see what happens.

This is likely the last snow day I will have for several years. I have to make the most of it. Such pressure.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Five for Friday--Snowday Edition

I was planning on skipping this week. But then when I started thinking about today, I just couldn't.

So, I am linking up with 

to share five random things from my week. But today it will be five random things from today. And today was my second snow day (in a row!) this year.

1. First thing this morning I started two batches of oatmeal bread. Yummy. Pretty sure I have not baked bread since, well, I don't know when. Maybe not since school started, and I don't bake in the summer. They finally just came out of the oven.

2. While the bread was rising, I took my boys to Mount Hesston to sled and be silly with their friends. This is not a good picture, but it makes me smile anyway.

3. I sat in the truck waiting on my younger son to be finished sledding and got to read a book. For pleasure. I have read the whole series before, but decided to read it again.

4. I drove to school this afternoon to meet our new lambs. Oh so sweet!

This is me with the dark faced lamb. She was super tired while we were there. She loved me scratching her head.

Here Wil is getting the plain faced lamb to sniff his hands. I love the smile on Wil's face. I am so fortunate to work at this school and be able to give my own children a slice of animal love (because we do not have animals at our home). This lamb nursed almost non-stop while we were there. I love how natural everything is with animals. No pitocin. No formula. Just love and support from your sister (Wooly) and the people at our school.

5. Yesterday (but yesterday was a snow day also) I made some sight word sticks for game time. They match up with the sight word set I have (Rainbow Words). I have been needing to make them for several weeks, and I finally had the time.

There you have them. Five random (or planned) pictures/things from my day. If you are interested you can hop on over to Doodle Bugs Teaching and read more randomness. That is where I'm heading.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Happy Birthday!

Yesterday morning it looked like Lily (our ewe at school) was getting close to the birth of her baby.

I went out to the barn in the afternoon to check (and hope to be the one to find the lamb), but what I found was a laboring ewe. That was good also.

I could kind of tell when she was having a contraction. She got really still. And neither sheep made any noises. 2 small grunts from Wooly and one small grunt from Lily in the 20 minutes I was there.

We went out again after school to see if anything was happening. And to prepare for today (a no school day due to the snow and blizzard-type conditions we were having). Nothing, and still no noises. 

Noises are very common for these ewes. They baaaaaa a lot. 

30 minutes ago my phone was buzzing off the hook with texts about the lambs that were born over night!

And then I checked Facebook and saw the cutest picture since 2002 (the year my younger son was born).

The boy was in my class last year. He and his mom (sheep ranchers that live a mile away from school) came to the school this morning to check our ewes and this is what they found. So exciting. They were able to do the "newborn" stuff that needs to be done. So thankful.

Now I have mixed feelings. I would love for this blizzard to continue throughout the night and give us another snow day tomorrow, but I really want to go see these cuties.

Wonder what our kids will name these additions to our school family. Mom is Lily. Last year's baby was Lucy Belle (born 2-15-12). This year we have 2 ewe lambs, born on 2-21 (or 20) -13. 

Here is what is keeping my husband and younger son busy this morning. Shoveling and playing. Can't see younger son, but he is out there with his good friend from down the street.

The news this morning said this may be our biggest snowfall in history! 
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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How to Make the Day Grrrrreat...

Take the kids out to the barn and tell them to clean out the sheep pen. 

Each kid got five scoops with the rake and then passed it on. Four didn't rake, they hauled the wheelbarrow out to the tree row. Adding the new straw happened in the evening.

In a quick and informal vote, more kids gave cleaning a thumbs up than today's reading lesson. 

Something has to give when we do these special activities. Today I had to give up writing. But tomorrow we can write about cleaning out the pen. Perhaps we can write about a lamb. If s/he is ever born! We are getting very impatient.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Bugs for Reading

On recommendation of the retiring teacher last May I had my school order a class set of National Geographic Young Explorer. It is a great magazine and I am finally getting around to the Jan./Feb. issue.

I had a streak of good luck on Saturday, because I came up with a great plan.

Use this as a whole class reading lesson. I planned two lessons, one we did today, the other will happen tomorrow. I do not think tomorrow's will be as cool, but we shall see.

I started off the time with a property activity. Each table group was given a large construction paper with a picture of an insect. They wrote words that describe the insect (science standard). After a minute or two, I rotated the papers. Eventually each table group was able to write on each paper. I told them to read the other groups writing, so as to not duplicate, but that seemed too difficult for these firsties.

They were super quiet, and super engaged, and writing!

(Don't mind the girl falling off her chair--her teammates aren't. She was ok. I think it is funny, I can laugh, because just last week I did the same thing in my friend's room after school. And my face probably looked the same.)

Next I handed each child their own copy of the magazine. We searched for hunks and chunks, underlined blends, predicted what words we may see, and read (and reread) the first story.

I really enjoyed their enthusiasm when they discovered that our Phonics Dance info can really help them read real books.

We had a bit of time, so I had them read it again. This time by them self or with a friend. Everyone choose with a friend. I had a couple friends read with me at my table. It was a quiet buzz around the room, reading and learning with a friend.

We hung the completed posters on a cabinet door. I told the kids that they could add to the posters if they wanted to. I caught a boy (in a good way) writing on it later. Such a good thing.


I continue to get notes throughout the day. It is nice, but apparently they can write the notes and listen to instruction at the same time. I know that because both of these notes were handed to me in the middle of this afternoon's lessons.

(To Mrs. Bar I love you even when you are teaching. HAHA. And I am smart. Glad she knows it!)
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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Our School's Story Goes Big

Back in January a writer and photographer came to our school. We are used to that (sort of). They wanted to do a story about our school. We are used to that. They were paid to come and do this story by Reuters. We are not used to that. (I wrote about that day here.)

Last night my husband saw a friend of his share the link to the story on Facebook. And then I checked my email and found a Google Alert about the article. :) 

Happy reading on a gorgeous Sunday (and some random pictures).

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Five for Friday (2-16-13)

This recap is going to be short and sweet (I think). My five randomnesses are...

1. My jugs.

I laughed so hard (this year and last year) when my friend came into my room and said, "I really like your jugs."

2. My mug and cupcake.

The mug is so cool. It is a chalkboard mug. I wonder what I will write on it. And a red velvet cupcake. Perhaps I will have the cupcake for breakfast...

3. The party.

We delivered our cards first thing in the morning. 2 or 3 delivered and the rest of us completed some heart math pages. Then we opened our Valentine's and ate some (2 pieces of candy/chocolate). The only food that was delivered for our party was cheese sticks. So glad for that, but disappointed that the fruit and crackers did not show up. I think next year I will have to be more proactive in the party planning. That makes sense now that I think about it...I have no room parent for any of our parties. 

One card was attached to a red crush glass bottle. It was so cute. Yep, we opened them at 9:25. Only two spills. Now I know that you dump water on red pop RIGHT AWAY. I didn't do that and now our custodian has her work cut out for her. More lessons learned.

4. On Thursday (yep Valentine's Day) our PTO sponsored "Donuts with Dad" before school. I got to school early so that I would have a parking place to get more work done and be ready for the day. It was neat to see many dads at school with their kids. Dads talking with dads. Kids talking with kids. Dads talking with kids.

5. Friday was a PD. I was in a room with the other first grade teachers (and some Reading Recovery teachers) in the district from 7:45 until 11:45. We were "unpacking" the ELA common core. We wrote essential questions and I can statements. I guess that is a good way to make sure we all know what the standards are, but sitting that long and being on task did take some work. Luckily, I was in the back row, so I stood when I wanted to. The afternoon was spent collaborating at my school. 

If you want to read more real or random, hop over to Doodle Bugs Teaching. Happy weekend!

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Picture Update

Today I finally got around to getting a photo of the "Love Birds" that the kids painted and wrote about.

Yesterday my friend brought her class out to the hallway and showed them this work. I overheard her tell them that she is having them write so that next year they can be writers like this also. Made my heart sing.


I am feeling so much love and commitment to this class I am amazing myself. These first graders are blossoming right now. Readers, writers, mathematicians.

Tonight I am thinking...When I get these kids off to second grade I think I should be done.

How can I go back? Get a group of fresh first graders, bond with them, teach them, and get them ready for second grade. This class has come so far. Can that happen with a different class?

That is what I am thinking tonight.
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Monday, February 11, 2013

Fun With a Fly Swatter

Early this year the PE teacher asked to collaborate with me. He wanted to bring some physical movement into our class to go along with the academic lesson that I am teaching. We put it off for ever.

Today was the day. The lesson was subtraction in the 10s family (10 minus a number).

Each table group got 10 bears and a fly swatter. We hung small pieces of paper on the board with the answers. Mr. PE gave the problem (he had even created a powerpoint of the questions), the kids had to work out the problem and then go to the board to swat the answer. Go back, pass the swatter and repeat.

This one is so dark, but I love that you see the kids running.

We played for almost 15 minutes and then as we were cleaning up Mr. PE asked each group who they thought had one. 4 out of 5 groups said their own group. One smartie girl said she thought everyone had won.

Mr. PE said, yep, everyone was a winner. Everyone had fun and everyone learned. I liked that conclusion.

Tomorrow's game...I think it will be this

Instead of blends, how about subtraction problems? I got this idea from Classroom Game Nook. Head on over for complete instructions and more great ideas.

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Tell Me Something Good

Often when I tuck my son into bed he will ask me, "what was your best interaction with me today?" Sometimes it is easy to answer, other times it is difficult. 

I like that he is reflecting on his day and that he asks me to join in with him. Personal reflection is one way that I work at being the person I want to be. I am glad that my son is starting this reflection as well. I wish I had learned it as early as he is learning it.

Reflecting on good things is soothing for me. So I get pretty excited when Jennifer @ Rowdy in First Grade fires up her party. It's her "Tell Me Something Good" party. Something good from home and another from school. 

My good from home: tonight I am going on a date with my husband. Yes, it is a date on a school night. We have tickets to see "Jersey Boys." And we are going to a sushi place beforehand for dinner. Neither one of us has tried sushi before. We will be sitting near some friends from my school and I am looking forward to a great evening.

My good from school: I am loving how my LA block of time is transforming into an amazing learning time. Some Phonics Dance, some handwriting, some Reader's Workshop (Kim Adsit's unit called Revving Up), some Writer's Workshop (Deanna Jump's Writing Through the Year), and some small groups. I don't think the small groups are where I need them to be, but I am totally a work in progress. 

Hop on over to read more good things. I would love to read your good things--on your blog, or in my comments! Have a great week!

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Five for Friday (2-8-13)

Let the reflecting begin.

1. "Doing" art with first graders is awesome, inspiring and wonderful. I must do it again.
     *On Wednesday I led the kids in a directed drawing that I got from Julie @ First Grade Critter Cafe, who got it from Kathy @ Art Projects for Kids. We even watercolored. Of course, I did one (as an example) and I enjoyed being creative. Then on Thursday after my rocking writing mini-lesson on details (thanks Deanna Jump) they wrote the most amazing stories. The pictures and stories are hanging in the hallway. Come on over any time and read them. I wish I had remembered to take a photo, but I didn't, so now you can do a little imagining (until you come and see them for yourself).

     *This is my painting...

     *Now imagine a first graders' drawing  and painting, and then add a page of writing underneath. Beautiful. Lovely. Love Birds.

2. My homeroom had chores this week. Not much to talk about. Basically they need a grown-up to make sure everything gets done (that is me) and to direct them to the board with all the directions for each animal listed (me again). It is great for fourth graders and kindergartners and everyone in between to work together to feed the calves, donkey, sheep, and chickens, because there is reading and measuring involved. No pictures, just good memories. 

3. Baby lamb has refused to come into the world on her due date (last Sunday) and every day since. We are still eagerly watching (and not so patiently waiting) for her/his arrival. Perhaps tomorrow when I go chore I will have a little face (or two) looking at me.

4. Spring conferences are over. Thankfully. Two evening conferences makes for a long week.

5. I did not use the math textbook this week. I thought about what I needed to teach with subtraction, and then created 4 days worth of lessons using a Whole Brain Teaching method that Stephanie wrote about here. Amazing. These concepts seem to stick. The sequence of lesson is similar each day, so the kids get to know what to do and when and what is happening next. After the lesson (which was no longer than 10 minutes) they worked in math tubs or with me reviewing or with my aide working on addition facts. I am excited to use this again next week.

Often early in the week I think, "this is a great idea to write about on Friday." And I think that numerous times. So my post could be 15 for Friday. But then Friday comes. I have forgotten to write anything down and I just hope to come up with five blog worthy stories. Next week I could keep my paper handier and Write. It. Down. as is happens. Great in theory, let's see how it plays out.

I'm off to link up with Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching and read everyone else's 

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