A Slice on Sunday

I am slicing today because Ruth and Stacey live on the east coast and they are hunkering down for the “storm of the season” I hope the weather men are wrong as they usually are here, and it all passes them by. Stay safe eastern bloggy friends.

There are some days when I can barely drag myself to school. It is awful to admit, I know. But between the discipline, the testing, the state mandates, and just the day to day “stuff” I honestly at times feel it would be better just to stay home, and hide.  
Until I remember the horror of sub plans. And the horror of the day I return. And of course how much I will miss my kiddos.
Last Thursday was such a day. All week I had been conducting parent teacher conferences, having heated discussions with a fellow teacher about the “benefit” of timed test (or the lack thereof), and trying very hard to keep one of my kiddos engaged in learning and out from under her desk. All the while fighting 40 MPH winds at recess and during after school duties. It had been a loooongg week.
And then Thursday morning I was greeting my kiddos as they entered and one little guy handed me a card he had made. I have to admit I get a lot of pictures and items in the morning and I usually thank them and hang them up by my desk as I tell them how much I love their art work. I don’t spend a lot of time with each item, just enough to celebrate their work and tell them thank you.  
But some reason this one caught my attention and I stopped what I was doing to read it.

          It made my day. I love the part where he wrote "I like you in the beginning of the day." "I like you in the middle of the day." "I like you at the end of the day." Isn't that the sweetest thing you've ever read?
         It made the chaos of the morning and week melt away and fill me with gratitude. Gratitude for the job I am able to have. Gratitude for the parents that entrust me with their children every day. Gratitude for these kiddos that keep me on my toes and still make me feel loved every day (even when I don’t love myself). Gratitude that I work with people that I may not agree with , but are still willing to appreciate their opinions. And gratitude for coming to school even on the days I would rather hide away in bed.
I have to take a moment to brag about my school. I don’t know if you state is “grading” your schools or not, but ours has just started. Of the 1700 plus schools in our state 45 elementary schools received an A. Our school was one of these schools.
Ever since my children were small and attended this school I have told people what a great school it is. Now I have proof. Here is one of the reasons. Here are a couple of pictures of my kiddos and their first and second grade teachers. They have been retired for a few years now, but they still treat my kids like their own. We were celebrating their first grade teacher's 70th birthday with a surprise party. They were the only "kids" that came. I had to have a picture.

Stay safe and dry east coast bloggers! Our thoughts are with you. 


Parent Conference Slice

Tonight there was a grandpa, two sets of mothers and fathers together, two moms on their own, a very nervous single dad, and a mom who is distantly related. One didn’t show up and one that I just text. It was the first night of parent teacher conferences.
I like parent conferences. I like telling the families good things about their kids. I like seeing the pride on their faces when I tell them how well their child is doing, or a funny story about what they did in class today. Even when the child may be a bit “trying” I always find as many positives as I can, and end with a cute story or positive note.
I miss having parent conferences for my own children. I miss hearing the great things they have done, or the funny stories about their classroom antics. I miss hearing how well they are doing, or what great readers and students they are. I miss signing the report card, and telling them how proud of them I am.
I like parent teacher conferences. I miss them too.
I wonder if Hadley’s college advisor would let me visit her, so she can tell me how great she is, or if Kanten’s boss would mind if I showed up at his office, to tell me a funny story.
Nah I already know!    


Silent Stamina...I think Not!

We have been working very hard on building that stamina that at seems so elusive in first grade for "silent reading."

It is the first thing we do every morning. We come in, put our binders away, pick up our book bins, open our “good fit books” and read.
I like starting my day this way because it sets the tone for the rest of the day, and let’s face the biggest chunk of our day in first grade is reading. It also gives me time to unload binders of notes, take the lunch count, attendance, and get my thoughts in order. It is time for my kiddos to settle in and practice building that sought after stamina. My few that take AR right now can take their tests, check out new books, and record their scores.
It has taken A LOT of practice this year to get the stamina and practice part to kick in, but the other morning I took a moment to look around, and my heart warmed. They were reading! All of them. Readingor at least acting like they were readingwhich is good enough for me right now. I quickly got out my phone and grabbed a quick video. It was too cute the way some of them were “reading like the teacher.” And of course it is anything but silent!

Another way I like to squeeze reading into our day is with my morning message, and now that we have to “post” what our kiddos will be learning each day, it is a good opportunity to “tell them” what they will be learning. I like things simple and easy and this covers both. I have the common core standards posted that we are learning, but really I can be covering the same standard in a variety of ways for weeks. So to simplify it for my kiddos- and me, I write it out in a morning message on the board. The messages look something like this:
                          Good Morning Kiddos!
                Today is Monday, October 22, 2012.
Today we will be finding nouns and            modifying them with adjectives in sentences. We will discovering character traits in our stories, and finding the main idea. In math we will work on counting on by two. Use your journal to write about something fun you did on fall break.  
I always pick a kiddo to read it to the class after our "silent reading." Sometimes I don’t get the message up until the kiddos are already reading, and it warms my heart to hear them read along as I write.

Parent teacher conferences are the week, YAY :/ sarcasm inserted here. I have to say though our school does have some amazing parents. This year Mr. Principal said we could do our conferences the evenings before conference day (Friday) which means a couple of late evenings, but Friday OFF!
Do you post your targeted learning goals in your classroom? If so how do you connect them to learning for your kiddos? My next goal is simplifying all that data keepingthere has to be an easier (and less time consuming) way for my firsties to gather and understand all this data that’s supposed to make them better learners. Really?        


Reconnecting and Redirecting

Seems like it’s been forever since I have blogged, I have been perusing all of your amazing blogs, but just can’t seem to find the gumption to connect to mine. BUT today is the first day of our fall break, and I am ready to get back on the road of blogging and slicing. I know I have said this beforebut just like a diet (ok my diets) it’s not that you eat that piece of cake, it’s the fact that you eat salads the next three daysright?  I hope soJ

Our first day of fall break has been WINDY 50MPH gust with DIRT and DUST it reminds me of the dust storms in Arizona I lived through as a child. All I smell and taste is dirt. And smoke. Because that is where my hubby is- fighting grass fires. They had to shut down part of the interstate because of 35 car pile-up. Tomorrow I will dust!  
I have found some great new blogs while I have been MIA. I’ve also been reminded of some great ideas on some of my favorite go-to blogs.
I am not a great fan of spelling tests. I think the “learn them and forget them” way of spelling practice leaves a lot of holes and is not very practical. I would rather my kiddos become cognitive of their spelling in their day to day writing in writing workshop. Tammy at Forever in First has a great way she teaches spelling that fits perfectly with this. You can read about it here. I am starting my spelling notebooks Monday with the new nine weeks.
The new nine weeks will also bring some assessment of the past nine weeks. I was going to make up a phonics assessment, but then I found Jenn at Seriously Primary and she has just made this awesome assessment. So ta-da no work for me! YAY!
Tonight while hiding from the dirt, I found Nikki at Teaching in Progress. She had a really interesting post about behavior charts and discipline.
Like her I have never used behavior charts. I do have a few tricks I use though. I have one little cutie that has a few.issues should we say. If I had a behavior chart she would see red dailyor I would. Anyway I have discovered if I send her on an errand, say to get me a box of paperclips from the office, she is golden the rest of the day. My note often says (in cursive of course) “__ needs a moment away and I need a moment too, please send me a box of paperclips.”  Of course the school secretary and I have joked that by the end of the year I may own every box of paperclips in the school.
I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures I took at school this week as a couple of moms picked up their kids. One of the great things about a small rural school!  


Amazon Has Gone Whacko Giveaway

I think Amazon has gone whack-o. 

I order this book a few weeks ago when I saw it pinned on Pinterest. I thought it looked like the perfect book to teach how to pick a good fit book, but sadly it was back ordered. So I placed my order and decided to wait.
 Finally about a week ago I got my order. I opened the box and there were TWO of the same book. Ok I thought I must have hit the button one too many times.
But then this week ANOTHER copy showed up! It’s a great book but THREE copies?? What will I do with three? I could send them back, and get my money back. Or I could sell them. But then I thoughtwhy not share them??
So there you are. I’m giving them away. TWO lucky winners will win a copy of the book AND a 5$ gift card to TpT to buy the wonderful pages that Irene Hines made to go with them. 
I'm going to try my hand at this Rafflecopter thingy- ma- gig but if it doesn't work I'll go back to my old standby. The Hubbycopter.

Before I leave I wanted to show you a picture of one of my sweeties.

  She was the first one to take home "Mr. Ted E. Bear" and one of our family involvement journals. Ol Mr. Bear is bigger than my teeny tiny firstie, but her excitement was GREAT BIG!! The kids have been LOVING the Family Involvement Journals. You can find them here if you'd like to take a peek.  


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Currently, Mountain Lions, and George Clooney

I'm linking up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for the October Currently! You should too!

Oh my it’s October already?!? Good grief where did September go? I read this week there is only 83 days left until Christmas!! And that was about three days ago. Good Grief bring on the stress!!!

On a happy note my baby girl is home, it is fall break for them. She spent the day in Pawhuska at the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, for the state Range Club meeting. She was very excited. There was a wildlife biologist who spoke about mountain lionsin Oklahoma. They are here and very near. But we still don’t have mountainsmaybe they’ll come later.
 I really don’t see why she was so excited. She did not get to see George or Julie or Meryl, as in Clooney, Roberts, and Streep. They are in Pawhuska too! Filming a movie!!! I have been so excited, but I have yet to spy them. I just knew Hadley might get a glimpse today. No such luck. SHE was looking for mountain lions, and grass. Strange child.  
I might have to take a drive out that way this weekend. I just know George would LOVE to come and talk to my first graders! In his spare timeJ

On the set in Pawhuska.

In case you’re interested the movie is called August Osage County. It is written by a man that grew up here. It has been a Broadway play for years, and now Mr. Clooney is making it into a movie with Julia, Meryl, and Liv Tyler. I don’t know who else is in it, but I can hardly wait! They have been spotted at many nearby eating places, and a mall in Tulsa. I think a first grade classroom sounds like much more
So back to my currently my favorite fall book is Barn Dance by Bill Martin. 
I love the way it flows and sings. We always make scarecrows afterward. This year I bought the Glyph Girls Scarecrow pattern. I love those girls.
Tomorrow is FRIDAY! And I have one of my kiddos at home. 
Currently... Life is Good! 


A "Fluent" Slicing Rant

I'm linking up with the Two Writing Teachers for the Tuesday Slice of Life Writing Challenge! You should too! 

Fluent-spoken or expressed effortlessly and correctly, able to speak a language effortlessly and correctly. This is the definition of fluent. Fluency is a noun, fluently, adverb.

If you are “fluent” in something you should be able to express it effortlessly and correctly. In no part of the definition does fluent mean FAST.
Synonyms for fluent are-flowing, confident, self-assured, glib, smooth, effortless, and easy. NOT fast!
I can be fluent in Spanish, a fluent reader, and move fluently, none of which makes me FAST!
Our state standards and the new Common Core Standards state that first grade students should be “fluent” in math facts to 10.
In no part of either standard does it say they are to be TIMED or FAST.
Fluent DOES NOT mean FAST. Just saying.