Thursday, November 22, 2012

 Turkey in Disguise

Well I'm done ranting, at least for now. ; ) I have several things I want to share. The first is a little song my daughter wrote (words and music) about Thanksgiving. As you may or may not know, I am rather behind in technology, so when I taped her singing this on my phone, I didn't realize the video was going to be sideways. I never could figure out a way to rotate it. Yes! I fixed it on Facebook!

The district did allow us Monday and Tuesday for review. So I took the opportunity to finish their Turkey in Disguises. I didn't send it home because I wasn't sure if all of the children would have someone to help them. So last week they did a little brainstorming, made a sketch of what they were wanting to do and made a list of materials they would need. They also wrote a story about how their turkeys would escape. A lot of them seemed to totally forget everything they had planned when they saw feathers and sparkly pom poms. Oh well, they had fun making their creations. Some of them, I have no idea what they made, here are the pictures, maybe you can figure it out.
She made Spiderwoman.

He was making a peacock.


I'm not sure if you can see it clearly, this is a King Cobra. This little boy is very creative.

Some sort of feathered princess.

A soldier

He said this was Scorpion.

Ho Ho Ho, Santa Claus.

I think this is Superman with feathers for legs. haha They were just so excited when they saw those feathers.

Hmmm, Santa Bird??? I'm not sure.

She said it was Barbie. I love how she just slapped the fabric and felt on with out even trying to cut it!

He worked really hard on this, but I'm not sure what it is.

I think this one is Miss Viola Swamp. :)




This one is a cheerleader. Oops, she lost one of her pom poms.

I have one more picture to share. It is a follow up to my Mousetrap post. I think they must have scared the mouse from our room, I haven't seen it again. The morning after they set the "traps", my sneaky daughter went in and took one of the apples out of the "trap". All of the kids thought the mouse had eaten it during the night. They had to tell everyone as they came in. Ha! During journal writing this is what I got from one of my boys.
It says, "The mice eat poison food. They come out to eat food the mice got kill.
I love it this the best writing I have gotten from this boy!
Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

 Taking the Fun Out of Teaching and some Math Freebies

WARNING: The following post was written by a frustrated teacher. Proceed with caution.
When I read all of the blogs out there, I feel bad for my kids. My district has a curriculum guide we are supposed to be following and it doesn't leave much room for "fun stuff". I had to give a reading and math benchmark test last week, plus stay caught up with the curriculum guide. It left no room for anything Thanksgiving. We did make some Turkey in Disguises that I will share with you tomorrow.

Last year I would do little reading and math craftivities for morning work which let me fit in seasonal art. This year my state came up with a new grading system and our score was low. So now each teacher meets with our principal once a week to show her the mini assessments we've given, writing samples from the week, samples of the morning work aligned with low areas from the benchmark tests and samples of our academic vocabulary notebooks. 

We are using Core Knowledge (not to be confused with Common Core). It comes from the books What Your First Grader Needs to Know (there is one for every grade level). There is a guide set up telling us which units to teach each week. So for the last 3 weeks we were supposed to be teaching about the Incas and the Aztecs while everyone else is teaching Thanksgiving. In December, we are supposed to teach about December???? "That should make for some great plant experiments." the teacher said sarcastically.

I actually like Core Knowledge, but one of the frustrating things is we do not have literature to go along with it. I think there are some trade books, but there is just one copy. So I am using Treasures and while I am supposed to be teaching about the Incas and the Aztecs, we are reading The Fun Kid's Band, On My Way to School and Kate's Game. Of the 3 stories, one is realistic fiction and the other two are humorous stories. Do those stories sound like they would support learning about the Incas? I haven't even taught any of the Core Knowledge for probably over a month. Now during our meeting with the principal, we are supposed to telling her what we have been doing for Core Knowledge. Yikes! Hmmm.... let's see....cough, cough....nothing. I didn't realize it until this year that I am rather rebellious.

We started using Everyday Math, which, so far,  I do not like. I know it is supposed to keep spiraling around, but so far, I feel like I have a lot of kids that just aren't getting it and I am constantly trying to reteach while EM is going on ahead and throwing out more. I personally don't think EM spends enough time on one topic before it goes to another topic. Any Everyday Math users out there? What's your opinion? I like to teach the topic thoroughly and then continue to revisit it the rest of the year.

OK, so if you have read all of my complaining, you deserve a reward. here are a couple of math freebies for you. The first one I used as an assessment for Tally Marks and Ten Frames.
Here is the link.
The next freebies is a little book for making tens. It goes along with the idea from Pinterest of using the Unifix cubes in 2 colors to show the different way ten is made. I added the hands to go along with the EM penny grab game. Note the first two pages have the page twice so only run 1/2 of what you need, page 3 and 4 you will need to run a full set.
I'm sorry each page is separate, the old program I use won't let me do more than one page at a time. I hope to get a new program soon. My kids loved this book.
Sorry for the rant,

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

 How To Cook A Turkey

This is a video of some of the cute Pre-K students at my school. There's a chance the video will be on the Today Show on Wednesday. How neat is that!
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Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Just a quick post to share a couple of pictures. Right before we went on Fall Break, my class was reading "Prairie Dog Home". We studied about their habitats. When we got back to school after the break, Isaiah brought a prairie dog home that he made. I just had to share a picture of it. I love that he chose to do this during his break.

 I don't know if anyone else does this or not, but we eat breakfast in the classroom everyday. The other day, one of my boys was so excited, he came up to me and said, "Look Ms. Dugan, I made an exclamation mark in my apple!" He was so proud I had to take his picture. ;P

We have had a very warm fall until this week. This week has sent the mice searching for a warm place. Today while my class was in art, I saw one scamper across the room. When the kids came back, I told them there was a mouse in the room because I didn't want them to be scared to death if it came out of hiding. Well that was all it took, my resident bug catcher decided he was going to catch it. It was so funny, he had a friend sticking a broomstick behind the bookcase and was waiting at the other end. Then I noticed all of my table top trashcans laying around the room. They had decided to set some traps. NOTE: Please over look my tacky looking floor. They pulled the tile up over the summer to get my room ready for renovations and so we're down to the bare concrete.

Here is a picture of their last traps they set. If you can't see it, it is one of the trashcans with a bug box in it and  an apple inside the bug box. I asked them how they were going to catch the mouse and they thought the mouse would start eating the apple and they could close the door on the bug box and catch the mouse. lol

These are the kind of things that make teaching such so special.
Hope you have a mouse-free day!
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Thursday, November 8, 2012

 A Tough Week to be a Kid

Wow, my students live such different lives than when I was growing up. When I was growing up my mom was a stay at home mom. She was that mom that was at every party, field trip, etc... She was always there for me.

Last Friday, one of my girls came to school and told me that her mom was in jail. I asked what happened. She said that the cops caught her driving without a seat belt.(obviously that's not why).  She is lucky that she gets to live with her grandma while her mom is away.

Friday after school, my principal told me that another one of my girls had been removed from her home by DHS and was living in an emergency shelter. She came to school Monday and said that DHS keeps thinking that her mom is hitting her and her siblings, but she's not. She is now staying with her grandma. Thankfully, she said she gets to go home tomorrow.

Monday I took one of my girls and her sisters home. They live in a big, low income apartment complex. They told me they are afraid to live there. :{ When the little girl came to school the next day, she told me that her mom had woke her and her sisters up in the middle of the night. The mom told them to get dressed. They were leaving because her boyfriend had tried to choke her.

Then yesterday, one of my boys, who I thought had been sick, came in at lunch time and informed me and the class that he is living in a shelter because his mom and dad got into trouble. He kept telling me that he missed his mom. He also told me loved me about 15 times.

I've always had a lot of foster children in my class, and I have had a couple of kids removed from their home. I can say with certainty that I have never had so many disturbing events happen to my class in one year, let alone one week. It has been amazing to me that the children have adapted to their situations so easily. I don't think this is the first time for this type of thing to happen to them. :{
It is very frustrating to watch my poor children going through these situations because of decisions that their parents are making.
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Saturday, November 3, 2012

 Great News For Me and a Trip to the Zoo

I got some fantastic news yesterday! The projector for my Smartboard is getting replaced on Tuesday!!! I have been living without my Smartboard and document camera for a couple of months and it has not been fun! I didn't have an overhead projector to write use, so I have been having to write everything on the board and my dry erase board is really a piece of shower board that is getting worn out . It's almost impossible to erase anything that has been there any amount of time.

We are moving into the new wing of our building during Winter break. I thought I wasn't going to get my Smartboard back until then, so I'm really excited that I won't have to wait that long.

Speaking of the new building, it is so pretty! The color scheme is a little different than what you usually think of for a grade school. The walls are light gray in the classrooms and darker gray in the halls. There is off-white tile and the accent tiles are orange, dark purple, lime green and berry red. The shelving and cabinets will be the accent colors with dark gray counter tops. I hope my turquoise and hot pink doesn't clash too much. Once we have moved out of our current building, they are going to go in and update it, eventually I'll be moving back into that part of the building.

Our zoo trip before fall break got cancelled due to rain. We rescheduled it for Oct. 31. They are always so crazy that day, that is seemed like a good idea. The weather was absolutely gorgeous!

How do you do field trips? In the past, parents would come and I would split the kids up between the adults. Then our district started having the parents do background checks if they wanted to volunteer in the school or go on field trips. They could go on the field trip, but they couldn't take any extra students. Now they are supposed to take some sort of class too. I had two parents that were qualified as volunteers, but they weren't able to go. Three students didn't go on the trip (parent choice). Of the 19 left, one parent took her child and wandered the zoo by themselves. The other 4 adults chose to stay with the rest of the class. I also had my daughter and one of her friends with us since her class was at the zoo the same day.

This was the first time I have had to take all of the kids with me. My kids were so wild, you would have thought they had been locked in chains for the past month.  They were yelling and screaming. They were starving by 10:00, I did make them wait until 11 to eat. Now when I say wild, they weren't knocking people down or running away from the group, they were just....overly excited.  It was an exhausting day! I do think I may have an idea for next time, if I have them all with me, go to the playground and wear them out for 20 minutes, then start through the zoo.

Earlier in the month we had participated in the International Walk to School Day. The county health department gave each class something different for participating. First grade was given those little nylon backpacks. I wrote the kids' names on the back and then saved them for the trip. Each child carried his own lunch so we could stop when we wanted to and not have to go back to the front to get them. It worked out perfect! The empty backpacks fit in their pocket so I didn't have to carry anything. Here's a couple of pictures from the walk. 

It was nice, there were students, teachers, parents and members of the community. We also participate in a "Walking School Bus" once a month
Last night, Delaney and I went to Target. she had a little of money to spend. She was trying to decide between Taylor Swift's Red cd or Dorothy's ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz (Halloween clearance). I'm glad my nine year old still acts young enough to choose the ruby slippers. ; D

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