Sunday, June 28, 2009

I know, I know...

It has been forever and I realize this. It's just kind of hard to update the blog lately. We've been so busy, and also it's just not as much fun when you don't have funny first grade stories to share!

Let's see. There are only 3 MORE DAYS of summer school so I'm excited to begin my summer (finally)! I tested my summer school kiddos last Thursday to assess their progress in reading (both fluency and comprehension) since the beginning of summer school (this was only 13 days of instruction). I brought 9 more of my students up to benchmark level, and 2 of them were already there! That means only 4 of the 15 kids who remained in my class throughout the program are left behind. I hate to leave any behind, but that's a pretty good number considering these students are the ones who have struggled all year with reading.

I have also figured out how I'll be spending my days for the rest of summer. Kevin and I finally joined the Flower Mound Community Activity Center, so I'll be working out and then LAYING out! Awesome. It's got to be the coolest CAC ever. The inside is awesome, but the pool is the best part. Along with the indoor and outdoor pools, there are 4 water slides, a lazy river, and a huge splash pad pool with zero degree entry for kiddos. Next three days, please pass quickly!

I also have some projects - starting my couponing binder, cleaning the blinds and shades in our house, emptying our fridge and freezer to sanitize it, etc. Those aren't quite as much fun as the FMCAC.

In other news, Bella has allergies, which just started recently. She's having a flare up right now, so I have to give her ear drops and baby Benedryl twice a day for several more days. Poor little baby - she's been shaking her head so hard (because her ears are bothering her) that the tips of her ears are very bruised from banging against her head. The Benedryl knocks her out and all she wants to do is sleep and cuddle on my lap. She stares at me for long periods of time and I think she is telling me "thank you for taking care of me," which of course makes it all worth it even more.

Kevin and I have some busy times ahead. We've got weddings, campouts, a trip to San Antonio, and a trip to the coast with friends to look forward to. It'll be a fun "busy," though!

Hmm...what else (this is kind of a thrown-together update, huh)? I'm finishing up my 4th grad school class, which means I am 1/3 of the way through! That's a good feeling. My next class is School Law, and I've heard its the most interesting in the program so I'm excited. I've been doing a lot of planning for 3rd grade (remember, I'm changing grade levels next year) reading. There are a lot of new things that I would like to try, hopefully for the whole team but at least in my own classroom. The more materials I find/make and the more ideas I think of, the more excited I get! I think I'm really going to "find my place" in 3rd grade.

I guess that's about it. I'm supposed to be watching a movie with Kevin right now, and apparantly sitting next to him on the couch updating my blog is not satisfactory. I'm getting a dirty look so I think I'll sign off.

Have a great week!

Just trying something...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Camping = Chaos

Kevin and I decided to go camping this last weekend to celebrate both my birthday and our two year anniversary. My parents were so great to buy us a big nice tent for a belated house-warming gift (funny, I know), so were were excited to use it. We made a good reservation for a site at Twin Coves on Lake Grapevine. Well, there were terrible storms on Wednesday of last week and the campgrounds were completely torn up. They were officially closed by Friday morning, the day we were supposed to head out.

So then my wonderful, sweet husband drove around for 4 HOURS Friday morning trying to find us a new spot. He finally found one fantastic spot at another camp on Lake Grapevine, The Vineyards, which was still open. It was on a cute little peninsula with water on both sides of us. We were so excited!

We rushed home from work on Friday to load the truck and headed out. Once we stopped to get ice and a few last minute things, it was almost 5pm. We unloaded ALL of our stuff at our site and began to pitch our new tent. Just then, a park attendant came over and suggested that we wait to put up our tent because some weather had changed course and was headed toward us. When I looked at my iphone, we made the decision to pack up and go home. There was grapefruit sized hail headed straight for us, and a tornado warning. 2 hours earlier it was all sun in the forecast!!!

We got home and watched the weather while we ate dinner. 2 hours later we decided to go back, as the weather never came close to us. It never even rained a drop! We put up our tent (for the first time ever) in the dark while being eaten alive by mosquitos. But at least we were there!

Saturday was great - I got terribly sunburned but I still enjoyed myself. We swam, played with our dogs, went on a nice long bike ride, and just generally relaxed and enjoyed each other's company. Saturday night we saw some light rain in the forecast so we put up our rain fly just in case, even tough it was stuffy in there. We went to bed at about 11pm.

At 12:45 in the morning the wind picked up and the porch of our tent collapsed, sending it barreling into the main part of the tent and burying me under a massive pile of tent parts. The wind also blew our rain fly right off of the tent and almost blew our entire tent into the lake. We woke up, screamed, and started packing up. We packed our entire campsite in less than 15 minutes, including deflating our air mattress. It was a mad rush of running, screaming over the wind, grouching at each other, shoving things in cars, and trying to beat the rain. Then we were off. And so ended our first camping experience.

Not so relaxing, not so smooth. But very much Meagan and Kevin. I've been told you haven't really camped until you've had an experience like ours. At least ours is out of the way now!!!

Tomorrow is our two year anniversary - I can't believe it!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A day in the life of a summer school teacher...

Summer school is exhausting! Allow me to share some info about my days with my 19 little ones. First off, the curriculum is designed for small group instruction, and 19 students is BY NO MEANS a small group. I am obviously not happy about this.

7:45am - Pick up all 75 first graders in the gym. Break up approximately two fights and answer the questions "When is lunch?" and "Today are we going to recess?" about 16 times on the short walk to our classrooms.

7:50-8:00am - Students journal while the breakfast-eaters trickle in. Replace at least 3 pencils which have now been broken within the first 10 minutes of class.

8:00-9:15am - Fluency and Word Work practice. Explain (again) to many students that there will be no recess in summer school. Question the fact that they all "manage" to read 60-80 words per minute of the fluency passages, yet only read about 20 words on the benchmark measure. Sing word wall songs and try to make students stop laughing at me when my voice cracks with the high notes.

9:15-9:30am - Restroom break. Stop at least 5 boys from scaling the bathroom walls to look out the high windows and/or splashing each other with water. When they see the playground out the window, explain (again) that there will be no recess during summer school.

9:30-11:00am - Attempt to do small groups and learning stations. Pick a team leader for each of the three groups, who hopefully will not let the "power" go to their heads. Put on reading hat to (attempt to) convey to students that I cannot be bothered during small group work. See each of my three groups, while simultaneously supervising two other stations. Tell about 15 students that they cannot go to the restroom, since we just went 5 minutes earlier. Replace 12 broken pencils, and ask at least 4 students to "make dots" for unnacceptable behavior. Explain that there will be no recess during summer school, and answer the question "WHEN IS LUNCH???" about 9 times.

11:00-11:30am - Wrap up reading instruction with a culminating activity. Pass out crayons again, as this is typically creative. Threaten students within an inch of their lives not to break my crayons intentionally. After the activity, throw away at least 8 (intentionally) broken crayons. Oh yeah, and replace 4 pencils.

11:30-11:50am - Lunch. Try to enjoy your lunch while dining with 7 year olds for 20 minutes. Do your best to ignore the fact that the kid next to you just sneezed on your sandwich and reached over to touch your apple. Answer a lot of questions, some of which are about recess. Pretend to understand kids with speech impediments who are speaking with their mouths full, by saying things like "Oh wow," "that's cool," or "You're kidding!"

11:50-12:00pm - Restroom break. Read above account of restroom breaks.

12:00-1:15pm - Math block. Attempt to control the now out-of-control students who are ready to go home. Make many of them "make dots" and threaten many others within an inch of their dot-free days. Attempt to teach an entire concept every day and move onto the next concept the next day. Try not to let it bother you that half of the class is staring at you with a glazed-over look.

1:15-1:25pm - Pass out the day's work and attempt to use what little is left of your voice to talk over the chaos in order to give instructions. Repeat the exact same thing at least 12 times before seeing any results. Pack up and head out.

1:25-1:45pm - Supervise dismissal. Try your best to make sure that every one of the first graders gets onto the correct bus to their home school. Explain to panicked parents that you will find their child. Frantically try to think of the word for "last name" in Spanish (apellido, I believe). Answer two more questions about why we didn't go to recess that day.

Who wants to teach summer school???

Sunday, June 7, 2009


I'm sorry it has been two weeks since my last post (AGAIN)! Let me give you a little photo tour to explain how busy I have been during those two weeks:

This is my first grade classroom all packed up, with all of my things ready to move to third grade for next year:

Imagine packing all of that stuff up and moving it during the last (crazy) few weeks of school!

My parents, who are absolutely amazing and the best parents that have ever walked the earth, came in with Kevin on Thursday after the kids left for the summer and helped me move a bunch of furniture. Then they came to school with me on Friday during the staff development day to help me set up my new room. We actually got it ALL FINISHED and ready for August. When I go back, I will have very little to do :) Here are some pics of my new third grade room. I have decided to go with a red carpet movie theme:

This is my classroom library, some storage, and some of my movie theater decorations. The organizer boxes will be for fluency partners and centers organization.

My reading table

I love this new poster! It's a ketchup bottle that says "Catch-up on your work!" I'll clip work that absent students missed on the clothespins and they can take it when they come back to school.

Lights, Camera, Vocab! This bulletin board has "boring" words that the kids should try to get away from in their writing. When I go back in August, I'll hang words of synonyms on the pegs underneath the words. These words will be good for TAKS prep as well. On the bottom there is a yellow incentive chart where if the kids correctly use 10 of these words in their writing, in place of the boring words, they can get either a prize or a number of tickets.

This is my math wall. It's very full already!

This is my Focus Wall. It will be used to display all the information that goes along with each Reading theme and selction throughout the year. I have these printed and laminated already, and some very sweet first graders helped me cut and bag them by selection during the last week of school.

My word wall is across the alphabet strip above the white board. I will clip the words onto the ribbons under each letter as they're introduced. This was my parents' special project.

The next two pictures show the organization around my desk.

This is where I'll have my calendar, and down the left side I'll have announcements and reminders. The cart under the board is for students to turn in homework and notes from home. They'll clip a clothespin with their class number on their homework before placing it in the basket, making it easy for me to see who has not turned it in.

More organization. The closed in cabinet is where all the messy things go, lol.

I love my little cubbies! These will be packed full of math manipulatives and supplies, but I had to pack several boxes up to take to summer school.

Ah, summer school - my other stressor the last few weeks. Yesterday was my first official day of summer, and I spent it at my summer school location preparing my classroom and lesson plans for school, which starts on Monday. It will go through July 1st, and there are 17 struggling 1st graders in my room. I think it will be fun, though, an it pays really well!

I feel so much relief after ending this tough year, getting moved into my third grade room, and also preparing my summer school 1st grade room! Maybe life can go back to normal soon!

I hope you've had a wonderful week, and I wish all of the teachers a fantastic summer vacation - I know you deserve it!