Sunday, December 16, 2012

What will Monday Bring?

As a teacher, how often do you face a situation where you don't have the answer?
At least a possible answer...
Well tomorrow will be one of those days.

What will Monday bring?

My school district's position is to reassure students they are safe, and we will review our policies.

That sounds very official. 
How does that look to my kids?

So being a person of action, I think I have devised a plan. 
I am sharing this with you, in hopes that it helps someone.

I have heard all the experts on every channel talking about what kids need.  I hope my plan honors that.

A little background about my 5th grade class.
This year my kids have really struggled with respecting each other.  Members of my class have issues with kicking and pinching each other.  We have also had incidents of targeted bullying.
So at the beginning of the year, I started doing a weekly social skills lesson, in addition to the counselor's bi weekly lesson.

Monday morning, coincidentally is our weekly social skills lesson time.

I am going to start with a thumbs up, thumbs down, undecided activity using these two questions:

How much have you heard about Sandy Hook Elementary School?
How comfortable are you with people talking about the news story?

My goal is not going to be informing students of the news.  My goal is to find out who has been exposed to the information and images or if any of my kids are potentially going to spread misinformation that may put fear in the other kids. 

If there are a large amount of students who aren't comfortable with people talking about Sandy Hook, I will ask that all of my students respect that and make the choice not to talk about it. 

Then we will talk about our school motto: Be respectful.  Be responsible.  Be safe.

First, we are going to focus on "Be safe." We are going to discuss what to do if we have a drill of any kind and you are out in the building, hallways, restrooms, or out at recess.   We will also talk about the importance of listening to adults and following directions during all drills. 

If we have enough time, we will talk about "Be respectful."  That Golden Rule I keep trying to impress upon them. 
Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Listen when others are speaking, because you want others to listen to you.
Keep your hands to yourself, because you don't want people touching you.
Use good manners, like holding the door for someone, because you would want someone to help you out if you were in need.

As I try to think of what Monday morning will bring, I hope my planning helps.
One thing is for sure, as I stand at my door Monday morning, I will greet my students with a high five and smile, like always.  Because that's what my kids need. Routine.
All the while, I will be thinking of the teachers in Newtown. I will be wishing them thoughts of prayer and healing.

Here is a link that my counselor sent this morning!  Talking to Kids about Sandy Hook


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Reunited... and it feels so good!

Is your stress level astronomically high?
It's that time of year, I guess.

What better to relieve stress than a Girls Night Out?

That's just what Antoinette and I had tonight with 5 of our close teacher friends.

We were finally in the same place at the same time! (For those of you who are new to our blog, we used to work in the same building, but Antoinette is now a Teaching and Learning Coach at 2 other buildings.)

We all aired our grievances, shared stories, and had plenty of laughs.

We even talked about some teaching ideas, hopefully we will get around to sharing them soon.

How do you relieve stress this time of year?

Now onto something you can possibly use!
We are talking about narrative non-fiction in my classroom.
So of course I had to read Tarra & Bella.
Then we watched the videos of the them.  If you click the image it will take you to the CBS page with the videos.  (I only got watery eyed this year!)

I really wanted to emphasize to the kids that narrative nonfiction can be great for kids that don't like non fiction.  Heart warming and emotional, not just facts.

I had several other examples for kids to read during readers workshop.
Of course they are all knew:

and a Show Me Award (MO book award) nominee:

What books do read to start a more in depth study of non-fiction?


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Currently December RIP and no longer MIA

It's December!?!
Seriously... where has the time gone?
It feels like it was just Halloween.

Antoinette and I have been slightly overwhelmed by work.
But... we have made time for Farley's Currently.  Its too fun not to participate.

Emily's thoughts will be in red.  Antoinette's thoughts will be in green.

Let me explain!
I am loving Pillows and Pain Pills right now, because I had an outpatient surgery on my ankle.  I did it on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving break.  (I thought it would mean writing less sub plans.)  Yeah, it ended up being more invasive than they thought.  (Even right before the surgery they said I would be able to walk the next day.)  Well the best laid plans...
Here's what it looked like on the first week:

I ended up taking about four days off after Thanksgiving.  I am back to work now, but not on both feet.  Using the school wheelchair in the hall, and my desk chair in the classroom.
It will be better soon.  And long term it is supposed to make my ankle MUCH better. :)

With my right ankle being out of commission for another 2-3 weeks.  I will not be driving any time soon.  :(  
It has also put a damper on decorating for Christmas.  (That and my husband finishing grad school in 8 days. He is counting down, believe me.)  Then it can be Christmas at my house!

I am thinking of my 3rd grade teacher, since I found out she passed away at the end of last week.
I have such fond memories of her.  She was always so welcoming.  She introduced me to Beverly Cleary and for that I will be forever grateful.  Rest in Peace Mrs. Roach.

How do you honor someone who touched the lives of kids for 30 years?  

Hopefully I can make half the difference she did.

Well hello all you people of blog world.  I have been MIA for quite some time.  My new job has been absolutely CRUH...A...ZYYY!!!!  Not bad but amazingly busy.  Enough about that though.  Once again, Emily is keeping things going in the blog world for us.  What would I do without her (MISS YOU GIRL)!!  The world is not the same without seeing her everyday.  That's not just a RAK it is that absolute TRUTH!

As far as RAK- gotta a plan for tonight but am thinking I need to do a few others as well.  I was thinking that with life being so busy, I seldom take the time to tell the people most important to me how much they mean to me.  I struggle in the world of Christmas cards but am thinking that I might send a little card to all those people who are there for me no matter what life brings.  This is a RAK because I can't remember the last time I sent out Christmas cards lol.  I have one other RAK in mind but it's a secret!  I will tell you about it after the fact! He he!!

So here's my Currently and my first post it maybe a month or so.  Thanks Emily for reminding me. :)  Ouch- I just checked; October 29th was my last one.  Sorry people, I'll try to be better about posting.

BTW...  I am not a Bah Humbug, promise!  I have to say I am LOVING this weather. Not a fan of the cold; only during the week of Christmas. lol

Have a great December!

EmilyK & Antoinette

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving's not too late!(freebie)

Ok, we have been out of commission lately.

We are overwhelmed with all the late fall tasks.

Just hoping that it's not too late for a Thanksgiving day post!

I am planning to use this Thankful Book with my 5th graders tomorrow.
I am thinking they can add real photos or drawings what ever they want!

Click the pic above to get the freebie!

We are thankful to be part of this great blogging community.
To able to share with all of you, and to read your ideas has been a blessing to our professional careers.
We hope you enjoy your family and friends over the holiday!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

To Honor Veterans

It has been a long and busy week in my classroom.  Between the election and finishing our argument essays we have barely a minute to spare, except where Veterans are concerned.

Last year I saw many people blogging about this book:

After reading the summary, I knew I had to read it this year.

As we read we set the Rememberance Table.

After I read the story I shared with them my connection with the story.

This is my friend Scott.
He felt drawn to serve America after 9/11.
He served two tours, one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq.
He has recently left the military to pursue a career in education.
Last year, he got married on Veterans Day.  At his wedding reception, they had a Rememberance table.
So touching!

After the students heard my connection to the story, they wrote about someone they thought was a hero.

Many wrote about grandpas, or family members that served in the military.  One of my students has a mom who teaches special needs students and she has a service dog to help with her work, so he wrote about his dog.  Others wrote about school staff like our nurse or custodian.

It was one of those melt your heart moments.

How do you honor Veterans in your classroom?


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ultimate Presidents in History(freebies)

The election is coming up.  Just days away!!

One of my teaching partners and I created this fun twist on candidates for a mock election.

We were talking about the election, and I felt strongly that we needed to have a mock election.  My teaching partner and I both felt strongly that we didn't want to talk politics though.  

As 5th graders so much of what they believe is based on what they hear at home, not on life experience or facts. 

We are from Missouri, if you haven't heard about our Senate race, its controversial.

I just don't want to touch the election topics with a 10 foot pole!

We decided instead to elect the Ultimate Presidents in History.

Washington and Truman vs. Lincoln and Jefferson

I created these campaign posters.  (Click image to get them for FREE!)
Poster 1:

Poster 2:

All the presidents we included have been in the Social Studies curriculum, so they had knowledge about the candidates.

Now on to the election prep!
I created this Voter Registration form for my kids to fill out on Monday as we prepare for our election on Tuesday.

Also a Freebie!  Click the image to download.

Then on Tuesday we will vote!  Click the ballot to download it for free!

All items have a table number because we will be having a mock electoral vote as well.
Each table will have its vote go toward one pair of candidates.

So excited to see how it all turns out!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hocus Pocus... Let's Hope We Can Focus!

I actually love class parties.  (Yes we still get to have them.)

It gives me that bit of nostalgia.  Remember the costume parades, the excitement, and the candy. :)

Though I love parties, I still find it hard to contain the excitement throughout the day.

I am hoping I have found something to help.

I saw this blogpost last year. Mentioning witches brew.  Click here to see the post at What the Teacher Wants.
Have you checked out their blog.  It's one of my faves.


She has created a cute Halloween snack. 

I am going to give it to my class as our morning snack tomorrow. 

I went ahead and mixed it, though I kept some to use for demo!

So Hocus, Pocus... let's hope they can focus!

Also, we are going to read one of my fave Halloween books.

We are going to continue to work on our argument essays.

I shared this freebie the other day, and the link didn't work. :( 
So I think I fixed it!

What special things do you do for Halloween?
Do your kids get to dress up in costumes?
Happy Halloween! 


Monday, October 29, 2012

Motivational Monday Linky Party

First, our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone exposed to the horrible storms from Hurricane Sandy.  Keep safe everyone!

So I stumbled upon this AMAZING linky party.  It is SO my kind of thing because I absolutely LOVE quotes.  Thanks to the ladies who came together to start this linky party- Sara from Smiling in Second Grade, Kimberly from The Learning Tree and Danielle from Classroom Cupcakes. 

The issue lies in that there are so many amazing quotes out there.  I will try to control myself though. lol

The first is one of my ABSOLUTE favorites!  It is so true!!!

Who doesn't love some Dr. Suess Quotes!  Especially this one.

LOVE THIS ONE!!!  I created the frame for it and one day will hang it in my office. lol

 This one is important for all students and adults to hear.  We are all where we are today because of mistakes along the way!  Ohh... That last line can be my own personal quote. lol :)  This one will one day be hanging in my office also.

Another one that will eventually hang in my office! lol  Also another FAVORITE of mine!!!  Created the background myself using Powerpoint (I think).

OKAY... I'll stop already!  Quotes are so my thing!  Would love to hear your motivational quotes.  What are some words of wisdom that help you keep you head up high?

Antoinette :)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

150 Giveaway Winner and a Freebie

We are so excited to have reached 150 followers!

Over the past year, we have been able to be part of a great community of teachers who love to share with each other.

We hope that we have positively influenced your teaching.
We know all of you have done that for us.

Now on to the give away winner!

And the winner is... (imaginary drumroll please)...

Congrats, Lori!!!!

We sent you an email, so you can receive your prize!

Now on to the freebie!

With the Common Core being implemented in our district, now 5th graders are supposed to write an argument essay.

It has gone better than expected, because we are using this document to help kids organize their thoughts.  Click the image below to download the freebie!


EmilyK & Antoinette

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tears and a Smile- I LOVE teaching

As many of you know I switched grade levels this year.  I was a 3rd grade teacher for a few years, then I switched to 5th grade.  Partly because Antoinette became a Teaching and Learning Coach, and left me... :(

Well that gave me the opportunity to teach some of my former students again.  (Yeah and eeh and the same time.)

I asked to have one student in particular again.  (For my story, I will call her A.)

The year A was in 3rd grade, the parents were very concerned about her lack of progress.

We had to break the news to them that her language skills were equivalent to a 4 year old.

By the end of the year, A was diagnosed with Autism.

Everyday of 4th grade she would stop by my room and say hello.  (Or rather stand in front of me, and wait for me to greet her.)

Fast forward to 5th grade.  Her mom cried with joy when she found out I was going to be her teacher.

A has undergone intense therapy and it shows.
She is an amazing kid.  She tries every day and has improved so much from the girl I met 2 years ago.
She made the A/B Honor Roll.  (Modified grades, but this is a huge accomplishment!)

Tonight at conferences her dad was so pleased at what the resource teacher and I shared.   When dad got a look at the report card he cried.  When A saw her A/B Honor Roll certificate she just kept repeating "I can't believe it!"

So on this Wednesday night, as I sit having worked for 12 hours the last 2 days, I have a smile.
The happy teacher smile.  The smile of someone who knows they've helped a child, my A.  (I love that kid!)

I hope you have had this moment.  I hope there is a child in your classroom that is thankful for all you have done, and will continue to support them as they grow.

Do you have a student that just melts your heart?


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Prepare for the Marathon-Conference Week

This week is the longest week of the year!

Dun...dun...dun..tada...dun  (dramatic music)

Conference week!
We have them Tuesday, Wednesday, AND Thursday 4:30-8pm.


In order to prepare myself, I took Sunday afternoon off.  (Not Sunday night though.)

I had a great day today with my hubby.

We took the afternoon to carve pumpkins!
Mine is the one with the dimples!
And I tried one of those cute pumpkins I have seen all over pinterest lately!

Here's the before:

Note to self, when trying this:
*Make sure there is no wind.
*Hot glue the crayons on the item.  (Thought I could just hold them.  It worked until the end.)
*Wear old clothes.
*Good call using old crayons.  The paper peeled much easier.

Here's the finished product:

It was SO much FUN!

How do you keep yourself going through a long week?
I am desperately in search of some tips.

I don't want to be the teacher showing videos most of Friday, because I am too exhausted to teach!

Plus, Antoinette and I would love it if you entered our 150 followers giveaway. 
You could win this:

Just click here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

We've Been Boo'd!! Twice :)

This is such a cute idea!  A couple of my schools have done this and it is always so much fun!  Thanks Tori for bringing this to the world of blogging.  Click the image below to link up.

Thanks Jessica from
The Polka-dotted Teacher

and Jenny from

You ladies were so kind to think of us!

So here's the rules of linking up:

If you've been booed, copy and paste the above pic and these "rules" into your post.

1.  Give a shout out to the blogger who booed you and link back to their site!
2. Share 3-5 October activities, books, products (yours or someone else),
or freebie(s) that you love!
3.  Share the Boo love with 5 bloggers- make sure you check this link to make sure you don't boo someone again:
And don't forget to tell them that they have been BOOED!

October Activities:

In the October Currently, I mentioned the book The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg.  This is a great fall book and requires higher level thinking skills to fully comprehend.

An activity I did last year with my students was to enhance their vocabulary skills through laying to rest some tired, worn-out words.  Sorry the pic is on its side. lol

My last October activity is something I found on Pinterest.  Thought this was SUPER cute!!!  Click on the image to go to my Pinterest board.

Great ideas and resources, Antoinette!

I have 2 books that I love to use:

I love a good parody.  It is super cute!

This book is about a special day in fall, Veteran's Day.
This one of those books I insisted the librarian purchase.
It helps kids understand POWs.  
One of my best guy friends is in the Army.
He got married last year on Veteran's Day.
They had a white table, and he explained all the aspects this book mentions.  It was heart wrenching.
**This book will make you cry.

Sharing the Boo love to:

Mrs. Corbit

Learn to Teach and Teach to Learn


Monday, October 15, 2012

My World of Demo Lessons, Picture Books, and 150 Follower Give-Away

I want to first start with a shout out to Emily!  She is the best co-blogger in the world!  She is so good at posting while I struggle.  I start posts... just don't always finish them. lol

Part of my new position this year is doing demo lessons for individual teachers as well as for the entire staff.  For some strange reason, I decided to start with the younger grades and move my way up.  Considering I have always taught intermediate grades, looking back on this, I am highly amused.  It is definitely a different world with those little ones. lol

I have been able to share some great picture books through my lessons, and thought I would share them with you all also.

I used Mr. Lincoln's Way for an whole staff professional development lesson on inferring character traits.
I used The Turnip in kindergarten for a lesson on retelling. 
I used Little Cloud in kindergarten for retelling as well.

I used Thank You, Mr. Falker for a 5th grade lesson on Metacognition-  reading is thinking.
I used The Wednesday Surprise for asking questions before, during, and after reading for 2 whole group professional development lessons.
 I used National Geographic for Kids to for a 2nd grade lesson over asking questions about nonfiction.

I used Wemberly Worried for a lesson to help 1st graders use schema to better understand the characters. 

I hope you enjoyed the picture books I have been using in my demo lessons.  I will probably have many more lessons to come, so would love to hear some great ideas from you all.  What picture books have you been using in your classrooms to teach reading?

Also-  don't forget our 150 Follower Give-Away!  We are giving away a SUPER cute 31 mini-pouch.  Click here to see the give-away!