Thursday, December 8, 2016

Christmas Setup

I think we have a floor map planned out for the Christmas service... it took some figuring, but I'm pretty sure we'll have everything in place so we can still move around somewhat easily.  Complications this year include having bells/instruments accompany two choir songs.  Where to put them? A place where they're not covering anyone up, but they're not in the way the rest of the program.  We decided to have the two tables set up in front of the manger scene for the first part of the program. We're not using the manger, so they won't be covering anyone.  After those songs, the kids will move the tables and put their bells away.  Actually, they'll be playing tone chimes so the bells can be set up on other tables for our offering song.  Those tables will be set up, but shoved against the wall so they're not in the way.  We'll pull them out when it's time to play on them.

Miss S showed me some of the special bell techniques we'll be using in our offering song.  We've been practicing the song with normal ringing, but next week we'll add the fancy effects... things like "marting" or striking the bell on the table (I usually call it table damping) and malleting (or striking the bells with mallets).  We've never used mallets before so it should be interesting!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Birthday Surprise

Mr. D's 50th bday is tomorrow.  The 3rd and 4th grade parents planned a bunch of surprises for him today so he wouldn't suspect.  First, everyone in school wore all black today.  Only two kids forgot!  I thought for sure he would figure it out before school, but he didn't.  He didn't even figure it out in chapel when we were all together.  But once we gathered in Mr. E's room for Christmas program practice (after chapel), THEN he figured out something was up.  After the fact, he said he thought something was suspicious when all four volunteers that went up during Pastor's message were wearing black, but he chalked it up to a coincidence. But after seeing the sea of black accumulated in Mr. E's room... The funny thing is, he said he almost wore his black shirt to school today!  Wouldn't that have been funny?

We sang Happy Birthday, of course, and the 3rd and 4th grade parents got cupcakes for the whole school.  Tonight, some of the older girls are decorating his classroom with black decorations (and putting a few presents from the parents in there as well).  I bet he'll be surprised!

The Christmas program is coming together... Mrs. E and I got the seating chart figured out (I think) and the bulletin covers have been selected.  Well, there are seven choices.  The church secretary will have to narrow it down from there.  Each year, students get to draw a possible bulletin cover, and the best ones are used as the covers for the Christmas program bulletins.  I've helped the secretary print them in the past, and it's actually a lot more work than you'd think.  I don't imagine she'll want to print seven varieties... but we'll see what she says!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Since I bought more yoga balls last night, today was the day for cracking down on usage behavior.  We had a class discussion about what was distracting and what was acceptable.  I made a Rules chart and posted it on the front of my podium.  It already came in handy twice today!  One boy dribbled his ball and all I had to do was say his name and he put it away in the closet.  The other time was when the 7th and 8th graders came in for class. They were jacked up about the extra balls and were bouncing and kicking and dribbling, so I pointed to the chart and said, "Not allowed!" And they calmed down right away.  One 7th grader got his taken away and he fussed a bit, but I held my ground.

Here are our rules:

  • Moderate bouncing/wiggling
  • Use your own ball (don't ask to use a classmate's)
  • No dribbling
  • No kicking
  • No hitting the sides
  • No rolling around
  • No warnings! Ball goes in the closet
I also put up charts about what to do in Word Work, Work on Writing, and Writing Workshop.  Since our routine changed during November for NaNo, going back to the old way is taking a bit more time.  They keep asking if they can do specific things during Daily 5 rounds, so now I just have to direct them to the lists posted on the door.

We did a science lab on mixtures today.  It took a lot of setup, both before science started and after I passed out the lab sheets to my students.  Still, they had fun and we were able to find a good-ish stopping point.  Now I have a large pile of dishes to do.  Two test tubes were broken in the course of the lab.  One while a student dumped out the contents into the dump container (she tapped it against the side of the glass).  The other was while they were rinsing out their glassware; somehow another broke.  Thankfully, I have a "sharps" container in the closet.  And I also have plenty of test tubes.  Still, I don't like dealing with broken glass.

Tomorrow we'll have to finish the second portion of the lab and work on our conclusions/review.  I was hoping to get to another lesson so we could have a second lab this week since next week our science/social time is going to be used for Christmas program practice.  Oh well.  We'll see how tomorrow goes.

My church doesn't have an advent services, but my farmer's church has them Tuesday nights, so I'm headed down to Truman for church tonight.  The weather is good so far! I think there's a small chance of snow and it's supposed to get cold later, but that won't be terrible to drive in.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Flexible Seating

The adventures in flexible seating continue...

This weekend, I bought a few exercise balls for our classroom, one 55cm and one 65cm.  Monday morning my kiddos blew them up.  The 65cm ball was HUGE! They were so excited to try it out.  The only thing I didn't like was that it was too big to fit under the desks.  The kid who got to use it (we're rotating who gets the privilege each day) is a bigger guy, and he has trouble staying in his 40 acres as it is... He enjoyed sitting on it, but he did take up a lot more space.  I would tolerate the size more, except it doesn't fit under a desk, so it's a bit more free-floating.  Chairs where they're not supposed to be drive me crazy!!!

The 7th and 8th graders want me to convince Mr. E to let them have exercise balls as seating in their room.  Today, the boys took over the pod the girls usually sit in (so they could use the yoga balls).  The boys were much quieter, but the girls at the table were super loud today! Normally they're the quiet ones.  Maybe I need to outlaw sitting at the folding table.  I brought it up to Mr. E after school while we teachers were waiting to wave off the buses.  He's not too thrilled with the prospect, but he feels like he should have more of an open mind about it.

The 7th graders' idea was to have them use regular chairs during their lessons, and while Mr. E is teaching the other grade, then they could use the balls.  Mr. E was not a fan; it would waste so much time!  True enough!  I'm stopping at the store tonight to return the big 65cm ball and replace it with another 55cm ball.  I offered to get one that would be passed around to other classrooms to see how they like it (before we commit to a ton of them).  This weekend I sent a note to go in the bulletin that if people have extra exercise balls they don't want, they can send them the 5th and 6th graders' way.  We'll see what happens!

Our first home basketball game was tonight, only B squad (we played their A squad team there last week).  I watched the last half of the girls' game and the first half of the boys' game.  Girls won! Boys have a closer game, but we were behind when I left.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Listening Art

This afternoon for art, we did a project I stole from Miss S.  She plays a classical music piece for her students, and they draw the picture they get in their heads from the music. They also write about what they pictured. My kids LOVED it!  I didn't have any classical songs picked out, so I played a song by Waterflame (a video game composer).  They were dancing and having a grand old time!  And they wanted to do it again!  This time, I played "Green Onions" by Booker T and the MGs.  They loved that song too, but most had the same visual because it's played in the movie The Sandlot.  Then I played more Waterflame.  Next time, I think we'll do some Lindsey Stirling or maybe try some classical composers.

As I scrolled through the songs I have on my desktop computer, I noticed sound effects from the summer reading program's "soundtrack scrimmage" or "sound effect scrimmage".  I have a feeling my kids would like to play that too.  Maybe next week!  Except we are starting Christmas program practice at church soon, which will take up most of our afternoons.  I've been considering cutting down on Daily 5 time in the morning to squeeze in some science/social studies time.  I have another week before I have to decide that though.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Seed Dinner

Gotta keep this short tonight. We had a faculty meeting after school, and there is a seed appreciation dinner in Truman I'm a plus one for...

NaNo update: all 10 of my kiddos won their NaNo! Our class word count total was 92,268, which was 4,768 over our cumulative class goal (87,500).  Lots of words!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas Presents

Only two kids are not to their goals yet! And both of them are above 95% finished.  Hopefully they write tonight!  The kid who was sick yesterday did write a little at home.  I typed for him this morning until he had 20 words to go, then I made him type so he could get that sense of accomplishment in typing the final words.  He was excited.

I myself have finished my book... I ended my story at 30,911 words, 911 over my goal.  My students were impressed I wrote 3,000 words last night.  I really wanted to finish the story!  Now I have time to catch up on things... like doing dishes, and reading, and making Christmas presents.

Speaking of Christmas presents... over Thanksgiving break I learned how to make those yarn-covered metal hangers.  Perhaps a good parent Christmas present? I also have a big block of white candle wax in one of the cupboards at school.  Decorative candles as a present?  I had my students vote and 9/10 picked the candle.  The one boy who voted for the hanger said that his grandma has a ton of them so he thought she would like one.  I told him he could bring in metal hangers and I'd teach him how to do it.  So far he hasn't taken me up on the offer.

So we're going to make candles for Christmas.  Mrs. B has baby food jars we can have.  I just need to buy some fragrances and wicks.  Otherwise I have fabric paint (to decorate the outsides), food coloring, and wax.  Mrs. B was wondering if the wax was the right kind to make candles, so I checked today and the wax I have is labeled candle wax. We should be good to go!