Thursday, February 23, 2017

Narwhals

Today was probably the calmest day in the classroom this week (and even so, it wasn't very calm). Everyone was freaking out about the big storm coming.  I have no clue what to believe anymore. Some say it was supposed to start at 1:00 (nope, no snow/rain yet). Some say at 6, or 8, or 9.  Or the worst is going to be from 8-10 tonight... or after 2:00am.

And the boys basketball team is in a tizzy. They've been calling Mr. E nonstop.  Some parents want to take their families up to the Cities tonight. Others are going to wait until tomorrow.  It sounds like the storm will be lower in MN than originally thought, so the Cities are not going to get much snow.  If people can get 40mi north of Courtland, they should have decent driving weather.  So.  We shall see what happens.

Not many people around here anticipate school tomorrow.  My plan is to hunker down and catch up on my InCoWriMo correspondence (and read books too!).  And correct papers. If I have to. I guess.  Mrs. B arranged to check out an internet hotspot from the library today and dropped it off at school so I'd be able to enter grades/have internet.  Hopefully I can figure out how to make it work!

Today I cracked down on the mean comments/retaliation that's been going on for far too long in my classroom.  I asked them what we could do to get the negativity to stop... their answer was 'to write sentences.' So the new rule is if someone says something mean or makes a mean comment back to someone, they get five sentences (a bible verse about being kind, etc.). If they say another thing, then it's ten sentences, then 15, then 20, and so on and so forth.  Only two kids had to write (so far).  It definitely made some kids think twice before speaking, which was my goal.

In Daily 5 this morning I did a bunch of book commercials for the books I checked out from the library.  The two graphic novels I'd grabbed got snatched up right away.  I previewed them last night and liked both well enough, although they won't become my new favorites.  My kiddos LOVED the Narwhal book.  It's about a narwhal and a jellyfish that become friends. They sing a song, they eat waffles, it's a bit ridiculous and I thought it was a bit lacking in the plot area.  Two 6th grade boys read it first. They were using crazy voices (a southern accent at one point), and the goofball of the class actually sang the narwhal's waffle song.  And he didn't sing quietly either.  Soon the whole class was listening whether they wanted to or not! Most of them couldn't help giggling.  And then there was a mad clamor over who got to read it next... and even a request that the 6th grader read the book aloud to our class!  He wasn't so keen on that idea.  Now they want me to buy the book for our class library.

Speaking of books to add to the library... one of the reluctant 5th grade readers popped onto the Bookmobile today to get a movie and ended up coming back with a book! The newest Bird and Squirrel graphic novel had come in and he's the first to get to read it.  He was so excited. He said he might even bring it home so he can read it on the way to the state basketball tournament.  Woo! Score one for books!  I'm a little sad because I ordered that book from the book order and had looked forward to surprising him with it, but oh well, he'll still be excited that he can read it whenever he wants to now.  And his classmates will want to read it too; an extra copy will be good to have around.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Weather Buzz

The whole school has been abuzz about the storm expected this Thursday night into Friday... anywhere between 10-20 inches of snow is predicted for us.  Gross.  Well, the snow lovers are excited! The boys' basketball team, not so much; the state tournament is this weekend.  So far, the guys in charge up there said, 'come early so you don't get stuck in the weather.'  Huh. Do they want us to all skip school or something??? 

I stocked up on books at the library and got groceries last night, so I should be all set if we do get the forecast blizzard.  Parents and students have been asking me what will happen if school is cancelled on Friday, spelling/handwriting/memory-wise.  I told all my kiddos to try to say their memory work tomorrow and just get it done so they don't have to worry about it.  Handwriting I think most of them could finish by tomorrow (though that's not a big deal if it doesn't get handed in until next week).  Their spelling packets are due tomorrow anyway, so the test is the biggest thing to get pushed off.  I had thought, "Oh, we'll just do it Monday, no big deal." But we're going to the state capitol on Monday! So we'd have to do it Tuesday.  And then take another spelling test a few days later on Friday.  Hmm, not the best timeline.  But I guess we'll have to live with it!

So many things are coming up... and they're just far enough away for me to think, "Oh, I've got plenty of time!" But they're coming sooner than I think: midterm grades, Young Writers and Artists Conference, National Lutheran Schools Week, Lenten suppers/bells/singing, Fine Arts Fair, science fair projects due, art projects due... yikes!!! Maybe a snow day would be a good thing?

I found out that the library has two internet 'hotspots' patrons can check out so they can have internet anywhere.  I thought about getting one for a week, but ended up deciding not to.  Now I kind of wish I had, especially if we don't have school Friday.  I could enter all my grades online from the comfort of my home!  Shucks!  Hindsight is always 20/20.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

State Capitol

Our 5-8th grade trip to the capitol is coming up next Monday.  The parent volunteer who has been organizing the trip came to school today to teach the kiddos about the stuff that happens at the state capitol.  It was really good! She had a powerpoint and everything.

She showed them pictures of our representatives for both Nicollet and Brown County, how a bill becomes a law, what it means to be senator/representative, what the Ways and Means Committee Hearing is (we'll be sitting in on part of one), and expectations for them the day of the trip (NO JEANS, firm handshake, sack lunch, etc.).

To wrap it all up, Mr. E found a website that had pictures of the renovations at the capitol (you can see them here).  We want the students to have things to say to the representatives about us/our school, so the parent is going to write a 'script' and we'll have student volunteers read/say specific things to the people we meet with.  Things like, our school is pre-8th grades, over 150 years old, teaches such and such, etc.  I told them if we didn't get enough volunteers, I'd start drawing sticks to get enough.  And the volunteers would get to have first pick on what they say.  So far there are seven volunteers to speak.

Hopefully the weather will be good for our trip!  We'll be gone all day, 8:30-6:00ish.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

World Read-Aloud Day

Guess what day it is today? World Read-Aloud Day! I hadn't been planning on it, but we spent pretty much our whole morning doing read-aloud.  Of course we had religion and took our spelling tests.  But other than those things, we read the whole morning.  It gave everyone time to catch up on all the assignments that were due today.  We read 68 pages total!

This afternoon we went to a play at Nicollet put on by MSU students. It was called, "The Stolen Wind" and was about a guy (who looked like a pirate) who stole the wind so all pirates couldn't do any bad, piratey things.  But there were three pirate friends who were good and needed the wind so their boat could take them places where they could help people. So they went on a quest to get the wind back.  It was really good! The message (being kind and supportive to each other) didn't overpower the plot.  The singers were AMAZING.  The costumes were neat.

The best part about these plays is that students do everything... the writing, composing, lyrics, set design, costume design, acting... All the actors/actresses were either 18 or 19, so they must be freshmen.  They started working on it in early September. From the question/answer session it seemed like the seven actors we saw today just did the acting part of it and other MSU students created the other parts of the play.  Still, I give all the people involved major props! It was very well done.  

Meh, I have a mountain of papers to correct. Since it was a short week (we don't have school tomorrow), everyone had one less day to do their usual weekly assignments, meaning everything got turned in today instead of trickling in periodically earlier in the week.  Since there's no school until Tuesday next week, I really don't feel like doing any 'teacher' work, but I know I should do it now since I have so many plans this weekend!  My good college friend's birthday is Saturday and she has a half day of school tomorrow so I'm heading over to Faribault to see her. Then Saturday I'll be in Truman.  Sunday I'll head to Fulda and be there until Monday.  So tonight and tomorrow morning are my chances to get things done! Let's hope I can drum up some motivation!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Missing Glove Found!

The lost has been found!

During read-aloud this morning, one of the 6th grade boys opened his desk and pulled out my glove, starting at it in shock like, "What in the world is this thing doing in my desk?"  I recognized it right away.  One of the other boys said, "Hey Miss H, is that your glove that you were missing?" I had written a note on the office whiteboard asking if anyone had seen my glove. Just minutes before my glove got pulled out of the desk, the boys in my class had had a meeting in the office with Mr. E about going to the state basketball tournament.  They'd seen my note there.

The boy who found my glove in his desk had no clue how it had gotten there.  But another 6th grader saw one of the 5th graders put it in there.  He revealed that another 5th grader had thrown it at him, so he threw it back, and that guy threw it back... anyway, long story short, one of them found the glove on the floor of the gym by the coat room.  I must've stuffed it under my arm after grabbing the banana papers Monday morning and it must've slipped out on my way through the maze of the coatroom.  Regardless of how it got there, I'm glad to have it back!

Lunchtime.  The fruit and vegetable challenge is still going strong though some of the 5th graders, while determined to win, are not so enthused about actually eating all their produce.  One girl was feeling creative and sang as she shoveled applesauce into her mouth, "I can eat all things through Christ who strengthens me, Christ who strengthens me, Christ who strengthens me!"  That's one of the songs we'll be singing in church in a few weeks... but the words are "I can do all things."  I have such creative students, don't I?

My Valentine's Day date was a hit. My farmer came over for supper and I cooked him a recipe he'd found a while ago on facebook (one of those video recipes).  I had been a little nervous to make it since it involves shrimp; I'm not a fan of seafood and I've never cooked shrimp before.  But the shrimp alfredo pasta wasn't too shrimpy and the rest of it tasted really good! I'll definitely make it again, although next time maybe I'll substitute a different meat for the shrimp.  After that we watched The Emperor's New Groove.  We hadn't talked about doing gifts at all, but I figured I'd be on the safe side and get him some Reeses Peanut Butter Cups (his favorite candy).  Good thing I did!  A while ago I'd seen an infomercial for a bright LED camping lantern thingy that I thought was super cool (and would be good for camping trips).  I said something about wanting to get one and then kind of forgot about it.  That's what my farmer got me!  Not the exact infomercial one, but this one is better because it has a dimmer switch and a compass.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day

My kiddos were much calmer today, even with Valentine's Day.

Sharing treats was optional today, so only a few students brought things to share with the class.  They loved the gum I gave them! Many said thank-you two or three times throughout the day!

We watched two Wishbone episodes, one of the "to be continued" episodes.  We were only going to watch one today, but it was a cliff hanger ending, so we ended up watching both. And we still had time to do most of our Daily 5 rounds.  That was kind of our Valentine party, watching Wishbone.  They earned the two episodes as a marble prize, so really it wasn't much of a party, but they didn't complain at all.  Not many of them are super thrilled with the whole Valentine thing, aside from getting lots of candy.

We played a few rounds of Valentine would-you-rather before lunch.  Here are some of my favorites:
Would you rather:
  • Get a kiss from a big, slobbery dog? or from a camel?
  • Eat heart shaped dog treats? or rose petals?
  • Go to a Valentine's party with really good food but not much to do? or go to a party with no food but really fun games/activities?
  • Spend Valentine's day with your family? or friends?
  • Get candy from your teacher? or a homework pass?
Some of their choices were surprising!  It was 50/50 family or friends. Most wanted a homework pass instead of candy (hint for next year!).  Most picked a kiss from a dog.  

Well, I'm the last one at school and this was the last thing on my to-do list, so I'm going to pack up and head home!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Frustrating

Today was a frustrating day.  My day started great! But unfortunately it went downhill from there...

As I walked into school, I paused to pick up some extra banana reading logs since my class had been running low. I took off my right glove so I could grab the papers and accidentally left it on top of the shelf by the preschool room.  When I remembered, I was already situated behind my desk and thought, 'Oh I'll get it later.'  After school when I remembered again, it was gone! And it wasn't in the lost and found either.  Grr... what happened to it??? Who would take just one glove?

Back to this morning. After running my errands on the other end of school, I headed back to my room (still in a fairly good mood at this point... I hadn't known about my missing glove yet). But once I got to the coatroom, I could hear bickering emanating from my classroom.  Lovely.  I made them start the day over by going out into the coatroom and walking back into the room, pretending it was the first time they came in today.  It worked for a little while.

Pastor did our religion today on stewardship.  He had some neat activities for them to do about budgeting; the kids really 'got' it.  A lot of them said they had fun! And after that our day went downhill... too much talking in Daily 5, retaliation, distracting others, not focusing, not caring about school...

One cool thing we did was start writing letters to an English class in Malaysia. I found this teacher's address on the InCoWriMo address exchange. She said she's an English teacher.  And while she didn't say she was looking for people for her class to write to, I'm guessing she's not going to be disappointed when an envelope full of letters shows up at her door.  Maybe she'll even write us back!  Things have not worked out pen-pal-wise for us this year.  I still haven't heard from the Slovakians.  I'm forcing my 5th and 6th graders to write a letter.  The 7th and 8th graders, I'm letting them do it for extra credit.  We'll see how many of them write something.

It became a teachable moment for the 5th and 6th graders.  I showed them a map of Malaysia and how far it is from the US. They wanted to know what language was spoken there (and if they'd have to write their letters in Malay. Really? How many of you actually know Malay?)  Then they wanted to know what it sounded like to speak that language. Cue the Youtube videos.  We found a dinosaur themed language video where they taught us how to say cat, dog, and bird.  Then I looked up "What is your name?" via Google Translate. Some of my kiddos even wrote that in their letters!  Man, I really hope they write us back!  I don't know what age they are, so who knows if they'd even match up.  I tried looking back on that post to find her address again and maybe ask her about exchanging classroom letters, but too many other people had commented since then and I didn't find it.

This afternoon we did a speed lab outside for 5/6th grade physics since it was about 40 degrees.  They were all over the place. It was nice out, it was sunny, the lab involved throwing tennis balls.  And we only had a half an hour before PE class.  Yeah, we didn't finish the lab.  But we got through the most critical outside part, so we'll be okay if the weather suddenly gets colder.  One group broke their paper clip before the lab even started. We were outside so we couldn't just grab another one.  Earlier in the morning one boy had taken a paperclip and threw it at his classmate across the lab table. That boy unwrapped it, making it unusable for the lab.  A paperclip isn't the end of the world, but it was still annoying.  And when I went into the closet to grab supplies, I found one of the metal slinkys mangled and bent.  Grr... another lab supply to replace.  I tried bending it back into place; it's jammed between a bunch of books right now. But I have a feeling that one has bit the dust.  Sigh.

At least this week is a short one.  No school Friday or next Monday!  And we have a play to go to Thursday afternoon.  Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. I need to make valentines for my kiddos still.  I found gum on sale a while ago and bought enough for my class.  Then I found a picture of a person blowing a bubble and put the words, "You BLOW me away, Valentine!"  Of course they're going to want to chew a piece during school...