Thursday, May 30, 2013

Next Year

Such a sucker, I am. For great parties

Kim is having a party, and you don't even need an invitation to go. So, I'm going. And, it is her first party, so you should go too, so she feels the love.

What am I going to do next year?

Ahhhh. I've been reading about data binders and it is making me giddy with anticipation. I will have data for meetings (like parent/teacher conferences and student support teams), and data for the kids to know how they are doing.

I am committing to regular exercise this summer, so my goal is to continue during the school year. That will be a good thing.

Put everything away when I am done. Organize papers/units/materials.

What are you DEFINITELY going to do next year?

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Blog Lovin'

Bye-bye Google Reader.

What to do? How will folks follow me?

I'm working on a Blog Lovin' follower situation.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Hoping this is as easy as it has been in the past.

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

My Summer Bucket List

I made a bucket list for last summer.

Last year I started it in April when I found out I was switching grades. I participated in two book studies and was all about getting ready for first grade!

Right now, I'm sitting at home. My first day of summer vacation and I have yet to make a list.

I'm not switching grades. I will be moving rooms. And I have not been motivated to make a list.

But it is time. I do not want to fritter away my lazy days. What if I don't get enough done?

So bring on the list making...

Thanks to Teri @ A Cupcake for the Teacher, Hadar @ Miss Kindergarten, and April @ A Modern Teacher I have a place to link my list.

Let's think about this in terms of categories...

1. At home...
* clean each room (thoroughly)
* organize the downstairs room (where all my teaching stuff finds a summer home)
* purge my things (not husbands or kids--they would have a fit) and donate

2. For my family...
* be consistent with meals and the shopping
* be consistent with laundry (during the school year my wonderful husband does it, but now it's summer, and I take the job back)

3. For myself...
* read novels, just for fun
* exercise regularly
* find something to do creatively 

4. With my family...
* baseball and basketball games for my boys
* travel to IN to see my parents
* swimming pool

5. For school...
* create a master plan for the school year with my teaching buddies (this makes me so happy)
* create some data sheets that I can use next year
* travel to MN for the National Ag in the Classroom conference
* attend two days of LETRs training

6. For church...
* be the point person for our photo directory sessions (in June and July) and then create the directory (someone thought I would be good at this because I write a blog, they may be sorry when they see the finished product!)

No "official" book study this summer. But I may read Mosaic of Thought with my buddy and we will have many informal discussions on our way to and from MN, as well as when we gather to create our "master plan" for next year.

Happy summer everyone. May you relax and do things that you don't have time for when school is in session!
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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

S'mores Day

This is "Classroom Campout" week. (Rather 3 days.)

Yesterday we set the stage and did some fun stuff.  But today was the BEST!

It was S'Mores Day!

When they did math with marshmallows you would have thought I gave them $100. The best part was the thrill of a promise to eat them. However, by the time we did everything we needed to do, most kids decided that eating the marshmallow was not what they wanted.

We made oven s'mores. They were so yummy.

Some great moms had time, came in and helped us bake.

And check out this lovely... Her earrings are s'mores! And her shirt is a campfire shirt. She always dresses for the event!

A nature hike was the highlight of the afternoon. That means we walked downtown (a total of 2 blocks away), over a block and back to school.

We ended our hike in our "prairie restoration garden." It is on the edge of a wind break. So there are trees. 

We were very quiet. So we wouldn't scare away any animals. Some used their binoculars. A couple saw a bear and a fox. Another saw a raccoon. Still one more saw a squirrel (that is the only one I believe). Most of us saw nothing. But is was amazing how quiet they were.

Tomorrow we are doing more campout. I can't remember what. Time to look at the lesson plans.

P.S. All of these campout ideas came from End of the Year Classroom Camp Out. Check it out, it is pretty cool.

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Big Tasks

I dislike big tasks. They overwhelm me.

Report cards.

Parent teacher conferences.

End of the year slide show.

I have never done a slide show before. Let alone one on a deadline. School is out on Thursday, so if I'm going to do it, it has to be now.

Mrs. Jones is creating a slide show. She is young and all and knows all about PowerPoint. So hers is going to be I know. I saw the beginnings of it yesterday.

Because of that I felt compelled to create one for my class. (No, I'm not trying to keep up with the Jones'! Ok, maybe I am.)

All those sentimental feelings. Looking at old photos (from this school year). I just want to capture that in a memorable way.

Fast forward 4 hours.

I have it put together to the beginning of April and I just want it finished. I'm not even sentimental anymore.

It is 5 minutes, 28.3 seconds long. Tomorrow. I will pull it out again tomorrow.

Next year I am so going to do this month by month as it happens. (Giggle, giggle, yah, right, how am I going to have time for that?)

Speaking of next year... I am going to have a student teacher next year. I get to meet her on Wednesday. 

I had one once before. Back in the nineties. When I taught special ed. 

So, it appears I have another big task ahead of me.

I need help blogger friends.
1. What do I need to do to be organized for a student teacher?
2. What do I need to do to be organized for a student teacher?

I hardly feel organized for myself, now to add another person in. 

If you don't respond, I will have to scour blogs, and Pinterest and I don't have time for that. I'm going to make data binders and pacing guides and all manner of goodies. (Big task?)

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I have a class full of characters. If you know what I mean. I may be one too.

My teaching buddy and I discovered Kim Adsit and her wonderful reading workshop units. We taught her unit on "Revving Up" and now I am finishing her unit on "Characters".

The last week of this unit is all about Reader's Theater. My kids are eating it up!

The unit can be found on Teachers Pay Teachers.

They want to practice at recess, before school, any time they have their work finished.

So fortunate to have several options for them. A Teeny Tiny Teacher has some wonderful plays for two  people. (Look on TpT.) 

They would rather miss lunch (probably not, but being late would be ok) than not have a chance to perform for our class.

This is how it works. Two kids practice. Until they think they are ready to perform for our class. Then we decide. Are they ready, or do they need more practice. If they are ready I send them out into the world. 

To disrupt another class. To interrupt whatever is going on. To read their play. 

I have been selective so far. Only allowing some teachers to be the recipient of such good reading and theater. Once the word gets out, I will have all the teachers begging me to send kids to disrupt them. 

You see, we have 6 days left in the school year. And everything is going just swimingly fine. Wait, that is just a dream. It is CHAOS! 

Testing, field trips, and all around summer behavior.

So, soon, the teachers will be locking their doors and not allowing my students entrance.

That's ok. We still have the office. The secretary and principal never lock their doors.

Before lunch today I sent two kids to read for our principal. When they returned I asked, "How did it go?" One reported, "She started crying. She said we read with expression." Yahooy!

Now it is every student's goal to make our principal cry. :)

This afternoon (after 2 birthday parties) I wondered--how will I contain this energy (theirs, not mine)? Move the desks and work on Reader's Theater.

 This group of kids are waiting their turn to perform. (And they were patient--that rarely happens.) Their names are on a list. We have to be organized, or someone may get 2 turns!
 Performing a play.
This pair decided to get some extra practice before signing up.

So, I am in love with reading. We all know that. And these performances make me smile.

This note also made me smile.

I know I am not the best teacher. But I strive to be better tomorrow than I was today. I am certainly glad my firsties feel my love and dedication to them. 

Notes like these are priceless. And I've been getting a lot of them recently. 

Perhaps in my last newsletter home I will include my address. How cool it would be to receive a letter this summer.
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Monday, May 13, 2013

The day the farm school went to the farm...

Today was a glorious day. The weather cooperated. The program was magnificent.

Our whole school went to Mrs. Roux's farm. The high school FFA students planned and delivered 10 informative stations.

We had many parent volunteers to help supervise and enjoy the day with us. Thanks! We could not have done this day without all the volunteers (FFA, Farm Bureau folks, friends and family).

Can't be a farm day without boots. Even though there was no mud, I wanted to be prepared.

Checking out the inside of a combine.

And the backside.

The three of us happened to be at the same spot at the same time. I made them take a picture with me. Now you can put a face with a name... Mrs. Jones is on the left, I am in the middle, and Mrs. Roux is on the right. We were having a bit too much fun taking this picture. The reason I know this is... Another grown-up came and asked us to be quiet (they couldn't hear their speaker). OOOPS!

Some kids earned geraniums at a station by estimating how many soybeans there was in a small baby food jar. Any idea how many? 707! I know, I was quite surprised.

We got a hay rack ride, but there was no hay, so one of my students said it was a carpet ride. Because the trailer was covered with carpet. I only had several incidents of nervousness--stay on your bottom, move away from the edge, stop yelling at the dog. We went around the block, in the country that equals four miles.

Love this picture. Looking out to the wheat fields. Watching the kids enjoy nature. Soaking up the sun.

Hot dogs and baked beans for lunch and then back to school for the afternoon.

Classes? Lessons? I don't think so. Recess? You bet! Since I was still wearing my boots I gave pushes on the swings. As I was finishing a fake underdog I heard a student saying, "this is the best day ever."

Love these kids so much I can't even say how much. Every.One.Of.Them.

To relax even further we (ok, not we, they) practiced some reader's theater plays. I definitely need to get more, because they are LOVING them. Tomorrow I will surprise them with six new plays from A Teeny Tiny Teacher. Can't wait.

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sunday Linky Fun

I am a snoopy person. I want to know stuff. If I know your stuff, I should tell you mine also.

But I never know where to start.

These questions come from Mrs. Reed at Flying into First Grade.

1.  What made you decide to become a teacher?
When I was young I like bossing people around and that's what teachers do, right? Even when I was young I loved school: going to it, playing it at home and wherever I could, and teachers have the coolest school supplies. That's why--school supplies.

But, seriously, teaching runs through my veins. I love school. Even on the weekends, and vacations I am always thinking school. Sometimes I have to think hard about something to talk about that is not school. (My family and friends don't always want to hear about the snot-string I saw or the math lesson that bombed, or the ag lesson that rocked.)

2. What has been your most rewarding experience as a teacher?
Maybe the non-readers who make sense of letters to become readers, or the "family" I have created in my classroom.

3. If you were not a teacher, what would you be?
For a while I wasn't a teacher (SAHM), and vowed to not return to a classroom. I was on the brink on taking courses to become an Occupational Therapy Assistant (the teaching in my veins was dormant). Then I got the teaching fever, some feedback from trusted professionals and headed back to the classroom. So, right now, if I wasn't a teacher, I'd be an OTA.

Now you know a bit more about me, it's my turn to learn about you. Please share! Send an email if you don't have a blog (Cathy and Lois--what're your stories, why is it that I do not know?!).

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Conversation Overheard

Thursday evening at the Ag Fair I overheard a conversation between my student and her mom.

It revolved around my cranky cream.

When the mom noticed the cranky cream, she asked her daughter, "do you use the cranky cream?"

Daughter responded, "No, only Mrs. Bartel uses it."

I was a bit embarrassed. Now a parent knows that I might get cranky. Sure, we all know many people get cranky, but to admit it?

The mom was very nice, talking about the multisensory aspect of rubbing the lotion, smelling it, etc.


One day, in the last couple of weeks, I was whining to Mrs. Jones about something I can't even remember now. As she was walking out the door, she laughed a bit and asked, "do you need some cranky cream?"

At first I was offended, but then, smiled and said, "yes, I do."

So thankful that I have strategies to help myself in times of trial, and that I have taught others to use them also.

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Friday, May 10, 2013

May 10, Five for Friday

Sitting on my small deck. Watching the clouds come and go. Feeling the breeze on my face. Reflecting on how much love I have felt this week.

It was like my birthday, only BIGGER, because it went on ALL WEEK!

Never before have I been spoiled by my student's parents as I was this week. It has been amazing and humbling. I love my job. It is more than a job. I love my hobby. I love my students. And the parents have let me know in many different ways that they appreciate me and what I do for their children.

The cards. Oh the cards. More than one brought tears to my eyes. The ones written by parents, and the ones written by my students. They are all so amazing.

Let me share just a few pictures... and then I will link them with Doodle Bugs Teaching and her Friday linky.

1. This student is a charmer.

And this is how he looked last night at the Ag Fair. Love all of it. As he walked through the class I just smiled. Good thing he charms me. Because he is often writing when is supposed to be listening. Yesterday when I got on him for that, I was quickly put in my place. Because he then presented me with a handmade card. The first he has ever given me. Thanks, friend.

2. Homemade (school-made) salsa with chips.

Last week the students made salsa. With some ingredients grown in our greenhouse. Yummy. It was our snack this morning.

3. Root beer float.

Not sure what the kindergartners were celebrating, but while I was working on my weekly newsletter a sweetie brought me one of my own. Yummy. 

4. Geraniums.

I so didn't do anything fabulous for the moms. Thankfully our gardener helps the students plant and care for geraniums. Perfect to send home for Mother's Day.

5. Bracelets.

The red and pink friendship bracelet was made by one of my students. He gave it to me yesterday with 6 sparkly pens. The black bracelet was made by a different student's mom, and they gave it to me this morning. I am not usually a bracelet person, but I think I will wear these for a long time. Maybe even every day. It is a lot like love on my wrist.


I'm not counting down the days because I am wanting to send these kids on. I'm counting down because I have to know how many more fun days I get with these kids. My first group of firsties. They will always be special to me.

9 more days.

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ag Fair 2013, It's a Wrap

My kids have been working on their ag fair projects for a little over a week. They have been studying butterflies. 

They have been memorizing lines. They have practiced alone, to our class and to the other first grade class.

Today was the big day. We were open from 1:30-2:30. The kids did great! See...

 Ways Butterflies are Helpful to Farmers

The Lifecycle of a Butterfly

Predators of Butterflies

Types of Butterflies

Ways to Attract Butterflies (how to create a butterfly garden)

Then I drove home. 

I knew I was tired, but...

I pulled the van into the garage, let my son out, and closed my eyes. Just for a moment.

But, 30 minutes later, I woke up with my mouth catching flies. 

I took a nap in the van, in the garage. A first time for everything. I recommend naps in the van. Not a single child interrupted me!

Not done yet, we had another ag fair session from 6-7. When I arrived at the school my class was already full!

So much work, but so worth while. I think my friend summed it up when she remarked on the student's independence.

Today, for those 2 hours, I sat back and watched. Smiled. Marveling at each student and his or her contribution to the presentation. I'm glad the grown ups had cameras. Today was a good day to document.


We finally got around to our final quilt for the year. I think this is my favorite. (But I say that each time we make one.)

Tomorrow is Friday. And "Muffins with Mom" at school. I will so be ready for a weekend!

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