Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Winding Down

I have to admit I'm getting a little jealous of everyone already on summer vacation.  These last couple of weeks seem to be dragging by!  Thankfully, we've had some fun things to do, so that does help a little.  My students have been working in their memory books, and they've been a huge hit with my students.  They're only completing a page or two a day, so they're not quite finished.  I have absolutely LOVED reading their responses.  Some of them have been so sweet and heart-warming, and some well......make me wonder.  Here's a picture of one that really cracked me up that I just had to share.  The page says, "My hero is...because..."  Hopefully it's not too blurry to read the response.

I also tried out something new that I will definitely do again next year.  Since we don't have any textbooks in my school, it can be a real challenge to find grade-level appropriate reading materials that actually teache our standards, so I had my students create a class science textbook.  I broke my students into small groups and assigned each group a different unit (habitats, adaptations, rocks, etc.)  The groups were responsible for recording the major facts that they learned in the unit, as well as included pictures, diagrams, vocabulary words, and other nonfiction text features.  When all of the pages were finished, we added a table of contents and glossary.  This was a great way to reinforce the science concepts my students had learned throughout the year, as well as review nonfiction text skills.  I took pictures of a few of the pages, and I definitely should have scanned them, but I've been having all kinds of technical difficulties lately.

I glued all of the pages front to back and bound everything together to make an actual looking book.  If I'm feeling fancy, next year I may scan everything and print it out as a booklet.

If you're looking for more end of the year activities, be sure to check out the linky on Minds in Bloom, where you're sure to find lots of great ideas.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Whatever it Takes

I'm coming to the realization that I will do anything most anything  to help inspire and motivate my students.  At the beginning of the school year my students were on fire with reading and needed little extra incentives, but as the year progressed they started to need a little extra push to help them maintain the same effort.  My grade level partner came up with the idea of having our homerooms compete against each other by seeing which class could read the most during the last 9-weeks, and the losing teacher would have to kiss a pig!  Both groups were so excited about the contest and read like crazy!  My class won by a pretty good margin, but they wanted ME to kiss the pig too.  They said, "You're a girly girl, so we want you to kiss it".   They had worked so incredibly hard, so how could I turn them down.

I was happy to see that the pig seemed nice enough, but a little surprised at how hairy it was.
There were at least 100 third graders outside watching, so I had to pucker up!

Now we're trying to think of ideas for next year.  In the past, we've had a water balloon fight, had to dress up as Mario and Luigi all day, and now we've kissed a pig.  It's starting to get hard to think of new things that we're both willing to do!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Memory Books

Last night as I was supposedly working on lesson plans, I kept staring at my computer screen.  I'd check my email, look at Facebook, check a blog or two, and then stare some more.  I just couldn't think of anything I wanted to do this week!  We're wrapping up our Olympics unit and mass unit, and I don't think I want to start anything brand new with only 13 days left (not that I'm counting).   I wanted to do some out of the ordinary things that didn't require a ton of preparation and materials.  After wasting more time than I care to admit, I finally gave up and called it a night.  Thankfully the creative juices hit this morning, and I've thought of some exciting ways to culminate the school year, and I'll be sure share over the next couple of weeks.

My first project to get finished is a class memory book.  I'm printing my books tonight wanted to share what I've made with you.  There are 14 pages for students to complete, so I'm hoping to have my students complete two pages a day for the remainder of the year.  I'm printing my memory books as a booklet, so I don't have to use a gazillion sheets of paper.  I think you'll only need for pages per student if you print it as a booklet.  Just click <here> for your copy!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Countdown Begins

I don't know about you, but these last few weeks are wearing me out!  I always forget how crazy this time of year can be when there are so many things to do, and everyone is just a little more stressed that usual.  My students are so ready for summer, and I may be more excited about it than they are!  Don't get me wrong, I love my students, and I'm sure I'll miss them, but I just can't wait to sleep a little later and have time to slow down.  Not to mention my house and yard could use some major attention!   

One fun part about this time of year is to see how engrained your classroom routines are.  I'm not necessarily talking about official classroom routines, but the little things that you don't even realize you do everyday.  It's funny to me, because my students know me so well and are ready to do things before I even ask.  For example, every morning as soon as the announcements are over someone will ask me if I want some ice, or whenever we go to the back table they know exactly where I'll sit, or they'll add paper to my printer whenever it runs out, and just all types of little things like that.  They really do pay attention to the little details of the day, probably much more than I will ever realize.  I also forget how quickly my students complete their work at the end of the year.  They can now finish most of their work so much faster than they could even a couple of months ago, and it's not because they're rushing through it and being sloppy.   They've just grown so much academically.

Despite DIBELS, DRA, finishing portfolios, and all the other fun end of the year requirements, I've had time to start my Olympics unit with my class, and I have to say it's been an awesome end of the year activity.  I originally created the unit with the intention of teaching it at the beginning of next year for the 2012 Olympics, but I hated for my current students to miss out, so they're getting to do it now.   I've been so surprised at how excited my students have been over the unit.  I've had several students beg me to let them take it home with them, so they could do extra work.  My jaw about hit the ground when I heard that!  There are several parts to the unit, and right now we're working on an Olympics choice board with 3 writing, 3 math, and 3 social studies activities, and students choose 1 of each to complete.  They've been working on it for a little over a week, and they're absolutely loving it!

We're also graphing medals (we're using data from the 2008 Olympics).

 We've made torches and crowns for our big Classroom Olympics.  We haven't actually had our Classroom Olympics yet, but I'll share some pictures as soon as we do.  I anticipate this being one of the highlights of the year for students!

I've posted the entire unit on TpT if you're interested in doing your own Olympics unit.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Spilling the Beans

I usually try to keep this blog completely focused on what's going on in the classroom, but I just had to share this with my blogging friends.  Yesterday, I finally told my class that I was going to have a baby next year!  I really don't know how they hadn't figured it out yet, because it's starting to get obvious.  I told them through a hangman activity, and it was absolutely priceless to watch their faces process that information.  They had the funniest looks on their faces, and I could almost see the wheels turning as they thought about it.  Their first reaction was complete disbelief, and when they finally believed me their first question was "when".   I told them it would be at the first of October, and naturally their second question was, "What will the baby be for Halloween?"  I told them that I hadn't thought anywhere near that far ahead  They proceeded to ask dozens of other questions, and one of my favorites was, "How did you find out?"  which required a pretty creative response.  They were also very concerned with baby names (especially girl names), and I let everyone share their favorite name, which was actually quite entertaining.  It was so much fun just sitting there and chatting with my class, and their sweetness just melted by heart. 

Needless to say I'm excited, but I'm also more than a bit overwhelmed when I start thinking about juggling everything.  My almost 3 year old almost wears me out, so it's hard to imagine doing it with two, but I guess I'll learn!  Before school gets out I'd love to find a substitute, and this summer I'd like to get all of my plans ready.  Maybe I can find a great way to organize everything, and I'll share it with you if I can figure it out:) Let me know if you have any words of wisdom of things to do to prepare as best as I can.