Thursday, April 26, 2018

Play and STEAM

We've had a rush, rush, rush day... or at least it's felt like that to me. Maybe the word I'm looking for is 'steady.' We've had to work steadily all day to accomplish all the tasks we needed to.

This morning, I did oral FAST testing with 9 out of 11 students. I still had to meet with my normal Thursday people, so it felt like we crammed a lot into the three rounds we did. Also, our piano schedule was more tightly packed this morning since we went to the MLC play this afternoon.

We left right at 12:20 so we'd get there in time for the 1pm show. I had a student getting picked up at 12:30 for an appointment and worried about what to do with her during the 10 minutes between when we left and when she got picked up. We couldn't just leave her by herself at school alone! Thankfully, my recess helper agreed to hang around until the student's mom picked her up. Whew!

The play was decent, Cinderella and the Substitute Fairy Godmother. It starts at fairy godmother headquarters where the boss is pre-celebrating the company's success with the upcoming Cinderella job. After she marries the prince, everyone will want a fairy godmother and they'll be wildly popular! But at their pre-event celebration, all the fairies eat potato salad that's been sitting in the sun too long and... they get food poisoning. Cue the substitute fairy godmother. Except, it's actually a fairy godfather whose passion in life is selling scented candles (scents like toe fungus and hog barn). His last mission ended up turning Pinocchio into a yak instead of a real boy. But there's no one else!

Meanwhile, Cinderella's family ordered 100 llamas so they can make cheese and sell the fur and make lots of money! And Cinderella has to stay home from the ball to build the barn, dig the new outhouse, and wait for the llamas to come. Her godmother sub arrives and doesn't do his magic right, summoning the three pigs instead of footmen and the big bad wolf wearing an ugly dress instead of dressing Cinderella in a beautiful ballgown. (My favorite character was one of the pigs: the one dressed like a gangster. The others were dressed as a cowboy and an English gentleman.)

The substitute godmother gives Cinderella money to hail a cab and she makes him fork over his smelly moccasins since he can't make glass slippers. But! Things turn out in the end. She goes to the ball in the ugly dress, smelling like cows, wearing the moccasins, riding in a taxi. She dances with the prince, leaves at midnight, and arrives home to find all the animals still there. Then the stepfamily shows up.

It ends where the prince followed her home by talking to the cabbie, he asks her to marry him, the fairy godfather tries to transport everyone back, but it doesn't work, so they have a dance party while they wait. Kind of an abrupt ending and it felt like there were many loose ends.

There have been better plays, but man, they really outdid themselves on the hallway decorations! I wish we could've lingered in the hallway a bit more to really look at them.

We barely got back in time for the buses. After school we set up for STEAM night. It was a roaring success, but man, I'm beat! My table had two stations: which shape paper column holds the most books? triangle, circle, square; and build a flotation device to hold an action figure's head above water for at least one minute.

The flotation device activity was SUPER popular. It makes sense; who wouldn't want to play with water? We made a big mess, but just this afternoon a helper dropped off towels for us to use, and we used them all! Most everything is put away now, or it's at least out of the gym; I have materials spread out on tables in my room that I'll put away tomorrow. Or have some of my students do it. ;)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Week of Webinars

There's a site I like to use to listen to educational webinars: It's awesome: it's free, you can earn continuing ed credit for listening to them, you can preregister and they send reminders, you can watch it live or watch a recording later.

This week I've had a webinar every day so far. Monday's was during the school day, so I couldn't watch it live. Instead I watched a webinar about the benefits of audio books. Tuesday's was about classroom management techniques. Today's was not from edweb, but from the FAST testing company about how to use test data to decide what to teach/how to group kids in the fall. Tomorrow I don't have one scheduled, but I'll watch the recording of the one I missed on Monday (it's about ending peer cruelty).

Today was Miss T's last day of teaching. She'll be here the rest of the week, but tomorrow afternoon we're going to the MLC Play and won't have time for science or social studies. Friday is an art day. My favorite education professor from Bethany came to observe her. It was so good to see her again and catch up! I love when she comes to observe because the suggestions and comments she makes to the student teacher are good reminders for me too. Every time she comes it seems like I learn something I should be doing different or better.

The three of us had an interesting chat while the 5-6th graders were at PE with Mr. E. We were talking about the merits of getting students to make connections to the content they're being taught, and Dr. B summed up her viewpoint of teaching. "Teaching can be boiled down to two things: building vocabulary and making connections." That's basically it in a nutshell.

I also heard some sad news today. We've been praying for Dr. B for the past few months because her cancer came back. I hadn't heard any updates on it, so I assumed it was going well. Mrs. E also has a student teacher that Dr. B observed today and the two of them got to talking. Dr. B shared with her that her cancer is Stage 4 and in her bones. You'd never guess to look at her! She's her normal perky and cheerful self. She's taking treatments, but even if it would go away, it would likely come back. But what a great witness for us! Living the life God gave her to her full capacity, knowing heaven is waiting when God decides it's time to take her home. Still, I'm going to keep praying for a miracle...

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


My students are so sweet... one of them made me a card for me for my birthday. This morning I heard them whispering as I left the classroom to make my rounds at the 7-8th grade room. Something about a card and they had to sign it. I had seen her typing something last week with my name on it (she covertly tried to minimize it whenever I got close to her, but I still caught a look).

Here's what it looks like:

Then, during lunch, one of the recess helpers left me a little something on my desk... it was a bag of loose leaf tea, lavender/peach... mmm! How sweet! Can't wait to use it!

The day ended on a not-so-sweet note though. One of the 5th graders landed on her ankle wrong in a game of wagon wheel (like tag) and could hardly move her foot. Two classmates carried her inside, got her an ice pack, and comforted her while I checked her out and called her mom. She could still wiggle her toes, and over the course of 15 minutes the pain lessened, so I don't think it's broken. Maybe a sprained ankle? Not that I'm an expert! Her brother has broken his ankle three times, so her mom knows what to check for!

Monday, April 23, 2018

No Shoes

Boy, was there a lot of attitude at school today!

It was so nice outside that my class wanted to go outside for recess. The 7th and 8th graders always pitch a fit when we do that. If it were a Tuesday or Thursday, I could appease everyone by going in the gym for noon and outside for afternoon recess. But there was PE today, so no afternoon recess. And no helper had signed up to watch recess, so I couldn't even divide and conquer.

We ended up going outside at noon (I had them ask Mr. E what he thought). But the 8th grade boys wouldn't listen to me! They kept shooting baskets in the gym! So I tattled and Mr. E kicked them outside. One of the boys said he couldn't go outside for recess because he was wearing $100 tennis shoes. They had a specific name, but I don't remember. That's probably an accurate price. So when Mr. E sent him outside, the 8th grader left his shoes and socks inside and rolled his sweatpants up high so they wouldn't get wet. He was obnoxious all recess, making bets with his classmates about how long he could stay on the snow pile with his bare feet...

Normally it's the 5th and 6th graders I have to watch most closely at recess. This time it was the 7-8th graders! They were throwing snow at each other, shoving each other in the snow, trying to tackle each other... it was exhausting. Meanwhile, the 5-6th graders played a (mostly) friendly game of 4-square. In the end, the upper grades did have fun; one boy asked if we'd be going outside again tomorrow. Weather permitting, yes!

Friday, April 20, 2018


Ooo, the BLC Jazz concert was amazing! Since my classroom has windows facing the parking lot, my kiddos were super distracted starting when the band pulled up. Once they set up in the gym, they ran through a few of their songs, which my class could hear through the door to the gym... Yeah, it was tough to focus.

The songs they played were energetic and got our toes tapping. There were quite a few who sang vocals along with the band. The first young lady who sang blew everyone away. The little first grade boy who sat in front of me turned around and said, "Whoa! She sounds like really good, kinda like a professional. She sounds like you do Miss H!" (He sits next to me in chapel so he hears me singing).

The last song was called "Minnie the Moocher" and whew! The guy who sang really belted it out! He did some scat singing with us echoing him. Great way to end the concert!

Our school cook said she wants a concert like this every Friday.

My 5-6th graders 'toured' the instruments afterwards and listened to how each one sounds individually (since we're learning about sound and all).

The rest of the day was kind of crazy. We turned in answers for Mystery Class, did pinatas, played outside on the giant snow pile and got soaking wet (my students at least). One girl spent recess cutting stairs up the pile. She was like a crabby janitor, "Don't wreck my stairs! ...Now I gotta do them all over again!" It was good-natured though. I wonder if the pile will still be there on Monday... we're finally getting nice weather!

My birthday is tomorrow, so I'm Fulda-bound again this weekend, probably with a stop off in Truman. Mr. and Mrs. E gave me African Violets, a balloon, and chocolates this morning, so they are currently brightening up my desk. Now, to bring the violets home or leave them at school?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Found Poetry

My kids LOVED what we did for Writers Workshop today. I knew they would, so I was super pumped to show it to them. It's called found poetry. You take a page of a book (or a page of typed words), pick out specific words here and there to make a poem, and blackout the rest of the page.

That's where it gets interesting. You can blackout everything regular all over, do it in patterns, make a picture... possibilities are endless!

I had a stack of book pages in my apartment leftover from when I made my Pride and Prejudice book purse (cut out the inside of the book, leaving room for purse stuff!). Good thing I kept them! They were perfect for found poetry. Lots of them didn't want to stop; some even brought extra pages home so they could make more! Yay!

Here are two that I made:

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

No Snow

Yes, we had school today. I didn't even have to scrape anything off my car this morning. Snow began to fall around 10:00, and it still is snowing, but nothing is sticking to the ground. Lots of schools south of us were called off though! I heard that at the very north part of Iowa got seven inches in about two hours. Yuck!

The 7/8th graders were supposed to go tour MLHS today, but they didn't have enough drivers, so they decided not to go. Well, they were cancelled today so it's just as well! It left me in a bit of a bind though, planning-wise. At the beginning of the week I didn't expect to teach them Wednesday, so my student teacher wasn't either. We're learning about early American cultures like the Mayas, Incas, and Aztecs, so I thought why not have a movie day? We started watching The Road to El Dorado today and have about a half an hour left. The movie features people who share a culture similar to that of the Maya and the Olmec.

This morning when I told them we'd be watching a movie, they were excited to not have normal class, but then they thought it was an educational movie and got less excited. Only one of them had seen it before, and he started to talk about it... that got everyone excited again.

Miss T taught the 5-6th graders again. The best part of her lesson was when she had them guess what decibel different sounds were. She rubbed her hands together, flipped pages in a book, played the recorder, and sounded the alarm on her phone. Students had a chart on the board that gave common examples of sounds at specific decibels. It was neat! I tucked that idea away for future years...