Sunday, September 30, 2012

Shine On, Shine On Harvest Moon!

When my sister and I were little, we watched some musical cartoon (Disney, I think?) all about the harvest moon celebration.  All I remember is the "Shine on, shine on harvest moon!" part of the song and the moon winking at the end.  Anybody else remember that?  Just thought we could share a little blast from the past on this fine Sunday afternoon! :)

This year has been really rough so far and I haven't had much free time to blog.  In fact, I'll be starting a second job here on Tuesday (eek!).  It's just tutoring at a learning center, so it's not hard work, but I'm hoping I can summon up the energy to work a few extra hours after spending the whole day with a class full of third graders. I come home exhausted as it is already. Plus, I still have my ESL endorsement classes, so as you can see, my plate is full!  I really do apologize and I hope I can be a little more present on here in the upcoming months.

Speaking of the moon, I do have a freebie for you today to make up for my absence.  Hooray!  We have begun our study of the moon and its phases in class.  I'm currently working on an entire moon unit to put up in my shop, but I've only been able to make one thing at a time, so I'll let ya'll know when it's ready.

This freebie is a moon tracker that you can use with your kids as they observe the moon each night.  This is a seven day moon tracker, so it's perfect for the younger kiddos as well as the older ones. All they have to do is draw what they see each night.  You can easily extend this project to facilitate more learning if you'd like.  The download includes the tracker and detailed instructions on how to use this in your classroom.  I hope you can find some use for it.  Even if you don't study the moon, it could be fun to use in conjunction with a story about the harvest moon.  You can download it by clicking HERE.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Trouble in Paradise...

Hey, all!  It's been awhile since I've updated and I apologize for that!  It's been a really rough start to the year for me.  I have a couple of interesting students this year that have a talent for storytelling.  Combine that with parents who believe everything an 8 year-old says and don't bother to ask the teacher her side of the story before going to the principal and that's been my year in a nutshell.  I know that people say the parents are the same wherever you go, but my experience has taught me otherwise.  I teach in a very affluent district where most of the moms don't have to work.  This is great for parent involvement, but it's really hard on the teachers because our time is constantly taken up with the tiniest of complaints.  Many of these parents can't help but put off this superior attitude when they talk to the teachers and I've never heard of teachers receiving such awful emails before.  My experiences aren't even as bad as some other teachers I know, but I'm very sensitive, which is my biggest downfall as a government worker.

Let me tell you a hypothetical story. Little Sally doesn't bring her homework one morning.  The teacher says, "Alright, well, try to remember it tomorrow."  Two days later the teacher is called down to the office because a parent came in and said their child was made to stand in the front of the room while the teacher encouraged the other students to berate Sally for not bringing her homework and call her names.  As an educator, I know that a teacher would have to be nuts to do something like that to a child.  I find it especially hard to believe not only because it sounds so awful, but also because I don't really believe someone chooses a job that pays $28,000 annually for the money.  To top it off, this parent claims to have authenticated this story with another student in the class.  Keep in mind that this is the first the teacher is hearing of the incident because the parent didn't feel the need to address the issue with the teacher first.  The teacher is shocked of course when she hears the accusations against her and asks for the principal to schedule a meeting with the parent during her lunch time.  The parent arrives, the teacher gets to tell her side of the story which includes how the student admitted to her that the story had been made up, but the parent spends twenty minutes yelling and talking down to her because her child was getting called names on the bus after school.  Somehow in her mind there was a connection between the homework incident in the morning and the teasing on the bus after school.  Her logic said that had the homework "incident" never of happened, her child wouldn't have been teased.  The parent proceeded to say that she took it upon herself to contact every other parent in the class and let them know what kind of things were being done by the teacher so they would all be aware.  The best part is that the child who corroborated Sally's story isn't even in the same class as Sally. The meeting ended with the parent stating she did not want Sally taken out of the teacher's class because the teacher had a good reputation and the kind of structure Sally needs.  The principal says she won't remove the child and does nothing else.  The end.

Are we all sleepy now? :)  So, once again, I'm sorry I've been absent and I'm sorry for this negative post, but I'm just really feeling down lately about my job and have lost a lot of motivation.  I know I need to remember all the good times and keep working hard, but I'm feeling very under-appreciated, underpaid, and overworked. :( I hope everyone else's year is going much better though!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Falling Leaf Silhouettes

We managed to get through enough Reading Street to do our first official art project!  Hooray!  I was given boxes of chalk by one of my favorite colleagues who left me for another non-teaching position last year and I really wanted to put them to good use.  Since fall is (almost) here, we chose to decorate our room with falling leaves.  I wanted to actually teach a little about art, so we made silhouettes and talked about positive and negative space in a picture.  My hubby came up with this idea 'cuz he's a billion times more artsy than I am. It was a little messy, but I think they turned out really cute and the kiddos had a blast.  They were so excited to come into the room and see the leaves hanging from the ceiling this morning.

This is how we made them:
  • All students need: a glue stick, scissors, chalk, paper towels, a piece of white paper and a piece of black paper of equal size, string, white crayon
  • Have students use multiple colors of chalk to color both sides of their white pieces of paper.  I encouraged students to only use colors we'd naturally see on leaves (red, brown, orange, yellow, green, etc).
  • Student should draw the shape of a leaf on their black piece of paper with a white crayon.  (I had them use a pencil first in case they didn't like how the leaf turned out and wanted to try again.)  Using scissors, they cut out around their leaf, taking care to only have two pieces when they're done: the leaf itself and the rest of the paper all in one piece.
  • Use a paper towel to wipe off excess chalk on both sides and glue the leaf on one side and the negative space on the other.  Hole punch and tie string so that it can be hung from the ceiling.

This one on the left is my favorite because it looks like a hand giving the finger! :)  (It's been a long week and a half.  Give me a break! lol)

If you try it out, I'd love to see pictures! :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lions and tigers and 3rd graders, oh my!

So....I didn't get the memo how tiny third graders are!  I was shocked by their size and the lack of attention spans on the first day.  It's such a huge adjustment to make from having sixth graders.  They're really cute though and I'm hoping to have them all roped in here soon!

It's been a rough first week simply because I've been trying to get used to all the Reading Street stuff I have to get through.  We didn't have any specials at all this week and I still didn't have any time for extra activities like art or even cursive.  Reading Street took up every second we had and I'm hoping that this next week will allow us to do at least one art activity and two social studies lessons.  We'll see how that goes!  I have a cute art project planned out so if I get a chance to do it, I'll post all about it.

One thing I do dislike about Reading Street is how they set up the practice stations.  At least half require "Teacher-made word cards" that I don't really have the time to make, but I worked really hard on my long weekend and got a few made up.  You can click on the pictures to check them out at my TPT store (one is a freebie!). I only went ahead and made this set because they are used for the first 2 weeks of practice stations, so I can still get a good week's use out of them.  It's nice knowing that even if we stop using the program, I'll still be able to use these cards for third grade practice in my class.

I'm in love with Labor Day right now.  Seriously....I needed an extra day like you wouldn't believe!  I even baked a pie this weekend.  I hope you all got a chance to relax a little bit like I did.  We certainly deserve it, that's for sure! :)