Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Farewell

     It's hard to part with my little ones.  Today was sweet little Emma's last day before she and her family moved to Texas.  I had the privilege of having her brother in class a few years ago.  He was precious as well.  I was hoping to have their little sibling in a few years, but it was not to be.

    Their parents are a shining example of the support we teachers hope each of our students will have.  They made sure their children had their homework completed and went over the items they missed on papers I sent home.  They sent them to school well fed, well rested, and eager to learn.  They were always willing to send things we needed in class and for school events.  Mom always helped with class parties and special activities.  She even spent time at home working on cutting out or making things I needed in class.  They had perfect attendance when it came to parent conferences.

     A little piece of my heart is going with this family.  Their new teachers will be blessed!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday Teacher Tip

The other day I finished reading Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown to my class.  My class loved this imaginative tale about a boy whose bulletin board fell on him in the night.  He woke up a half inch thick.  He has an assortment of adventures well suited for a flat boy and one dangerous one.  He helped capture the sneak thieves, who had been stealing paintings from the local art museum.  He wasn't keen on his shepherdess disguise, but he was successful in helping to nab the criminals.

Each student crayoned a beautiful masterpiece and "framed" it with construction paper.  Then they designed a costume for Stanley and "hid" him on the picture, just like what happened in the story.  Below is the resulting art show in our class gallery.  Unfortunately, the picture quality isn't that good.

 Here is a link to the Flat Stanley books.

 Here's a link to Stanley templates.              

 Flat Stanley's origins

 I have a scrapbook full of Stanley pages I made from photos of Stanley, who accompanied my students, my friends, and I on various outings and vacations last year.  We'll be adding to it this year as they take him home for each holiday.  They enjoy plotting his travels on a map in our classroom.  Did you know  there is a free app for your phone that puts Stanley in the pictures you take?

Flat Stanley's looks have changed since the series began in 1964.  Check out his style evolution.  Here is a chat transcrip with Jeff Brown from 2000.  Sadly, Mr. Brown passed away in 2003.

What fun Stanley activities have you done with your classes?  I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday Workshop

 I use workshop-style instruction for math in my Learning Garden.  This year it occurred  to me to adapt the names of the components to my Learning Garden theme.  Thus, we no longer have Math Workshop; it's the Math Garden.  The Teacher Table has become the Potting Shed.  Practicing skills during Seat Work is now Weeding.  Applying skills in real-world tasks changed from Work Jobs to the Flower Show.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tuesday Tune

Here is the verb song I taught my students today. 

It goes to the tune of "If You're Happy & You Know It," modified a bit to match the rhythm of the words used.

If you can do it, it's a verb.
 (clap cl-clap) syncopated
If you can do it, it's a verb.
 (clap cl-clap) syncopated

If you move, taste, touch, or feel it, 
Dribble, bunt, pass, kick, or reel it,
  (Mimic the actions mentioned in these lines.)

If you can do it, it's a verb.
  (clap cl-clap)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Milestone

While it's barely still Monday, I'll note this milestone.  I've now had a visitor from another continent drop by for a ride on my little red wagon.  Hello, Australia!  Greetings as well to those from China and Indonesia who stopped by lately.

I would love for you to introduce yourselves.  Don't be shy.  Leave me a comment.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Fun

This week in my little corner of Oklahoma we've had another stretch of 100°days.  About the time I was leaving school this evening, a furious cold front roared into town with gusts up to 50 mph.  The wind tried to shove  my car all over the highway.  I turned off the highway onto the tree-lined country roads that lead to my home.

My radio began playing a Robert Wagner song, which opened with an ominous-sounding passage.   I had to laugh when I realized how perfectly the music went with the scene before me of the trees threateningly waving their arms and violently shaking their fists at me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wednesday Words

Like rain, into each life a little discipline must fall.  Some children have more of those discipline "showers" than others. 

As the school year advances, it can become difficult to deal patiently with the high-maintenance children in your class.  Sometimes it feels like you are spending more time on discipline issues than on instruction.  You feel frustrated because you can see what the child is capable of, but doesn't succeed at, due to his or her acting out.  You also feel sorry for those children who do follow directions, do their work and don't get in trouble.  They have to endure interruptions in their learning caused by behavior situations of other children.

Do I have the answers for all these problem behaviors?  No.  However, I try to maintain a professional attitude about these target children.  Just as my heavenly Father forgives me, I owe it to my students to forgive their discretion's.  Even when a child has been Stinker Supreme the day before, I start the day with their slate clean, a smile and a warm greeting.  I want to give them the daily opportunity to succeed.

Solomon told us in Lamentations 3:23, "His mercies begin afresh each morning."  How can we teachers do any less?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tuesday Tip

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time, the saying goes.

Following multiple directions is difficult for some children.  If you are a primary teacher who had previously been teaching older grades, you have probably noticed this.  Here are a few steps to help the situation.  Parents, these ideas will help you around home, too.

1. Make note of those children who have a challenge remembering multiple directions.  They are probably the very same ones who are much stronger visual learners, than auditory. 

2. Think how you can break tasks down into smaller steps.  Begin with 2-step directions.  When the child can pretty consistently accomplish these, add a third step.

3.  Have the class (or child) say the steps for completing a task.  However, don't embarrass a child or the anxiety will increase the problem.

4. Be sure you have their full attention when giving the directions.  While giving the directions, you may need to stand beside the one who has greatest difficulty recalling steps.

When giving directions for classwork, teach your students some "tricks" to help them remember what to do on each job.  Circle the page number of each workbook page that is to be done.  Mark key words in the directions.  When we are reading directions together, it goes something like this:
"Circle the ...STOP. Circle circle." Then we'll go back and read the complete sentence of directions once they've marked it.  My second graders think it's funny, but it serves to help them remember to do it when reading directions on their own as the year progresses. 

Time spent training your children well from the beginning of the year is time you won't have to spend fighting the same battle the whole school year.  This is true not only with following multiple directions, but with procedures and discipline as well.