High/Low Linky Party

I am linking up with Katie Knight's High and Low Linky Party!  I will be sharing my highs and lows for January.  I hope you will go to her blog and link up as well!

So here we go!

I have one student in my class who came to us at the beginning of the year from another elementary school in my district.  This poor child is developmentally delayed and came to me with an IEP where she gets almost the full 3 hours of time on her IEP and speech.  She needs OT as well, and I'm working on trying to get her those services as well.  This poor child was also the victim of some abuse as well.  My poor kiddo.  She has been working really hard this year, but she has made little progress in reading.  She's learned a few sight words and some of her numbers.  So imagine my surprise when she came back from Math Lab (one of our special areas) with her certificate from Math Magician saying she had learned her +0 addition facts!  She had a little help from the teacher with clicking on the correct responses, but she was the one who gave the answers!  She got her +0 facts!  I was so excited, I went and told every.single.person in the office, her ECE teacher, speech teacher, and SC worker.  We were all so proud.  I love it when I see all the great accomplishments my kiddos make, but I swear, it's the little things that mean the most. :-)  

My low was pretty low this year.  We all know how we get attached to our students, right?  Well, I had 3 students that I lost in a few weeks.  One left right before Christmas, so I came back from Christmas break and he wasn't there.  The other mentioned that he was moving, but I didn't have official word, so I dropped him off at his bus on the last day before Christmas break and gave him a huge hug, told him I loved him, and that I would miss him.  I had tears in my eyes, and I think he did too.  He didn't come back after break.  This child was the sweetest, happiest, most polite, wonderful kid.  I miss him dearly.  I took his picture and hung it with my other 2 kiddos on the wall so I can look at all three of those babies from my table.  These 3 kids were those kids you worry about.  I teach in a school where 94% of my kids get free and reduced lunch, and the 3 that left me were some of those ones I just worry about.  I miss them every day.

The last student that left me, this one broke my heart so much.  So much that I'm honestly sitting here crying as I write this.  This sweet girl came to me at the beginning of the year.  When I looked at her records, there was no school listed for K.  She was super low, didn't know all her letters, numbers, could barely write her name, and I wondered if she had K at all.  Turns out she did (not sure what happened to our system, but it was in her paperwork).  Well, anyway, she and her brother and sister (who are twins) and the younger brother were in foster care.  About 2 weeks into the school year, they all moved to another foster home.  The second day this second woman had them, she brought the littlest one in to school to talk to the teachers. The little boy was wearing the house shoes she had bought him because he didn't want to take them off.  It was the sweetest and saddest thing I had ever seen.  She wanted ways to help this little girl because she knew she was behind.  I gave her everything I had.  (Luckily, she came during my planning, and I gave it up to talk to her!)  She worked with this little girl.  My student came in and struggled a bit at the beginning of the year with some attention seeking behaviors, but those subsided finally.  She moved from an A level to a 3, which for her, was a HUGE accomplishment since she may as well have skipped Kindergarten with her level of knowledge.  (Compare to my high above).  She learned her letters.  We use the Phonics Dance program, and she learned the song.  Used it when she didn't know sounds when she was writing.  Learned sight words.  We worked on place value for a few weeks in November, and she was one of the ones who began to catch on.  When she passed that DRA level 3, I was so proud of all she had accomplished.  It was like she had mastered K in half of the year.  Yes, she was still behind, but she was making SO MUCH PROGRESS.

In December, we had a little scare.  Since the kids were in foster, the woman taking care of them should have been receiving assistance to take care of them.  She wasn't, and she wasn't sure how much longer she could afford to keep them.  She certainly couldn't afford to buy them Christmas presents.  She almost had to have them sent to an orphanage or back into foster care where the 4 of them would be split up.  We reached out to her, because we didn't want this to happen.  One of my wonderful coworkers arranged for someone she knew to buy these kids presents.  Our school found a way for her to provide them Christmas dinner.  When I asked my students what they wanted for Christmas, this little girl said she wanted a teddy bear.  Not a DSI or a PS3 or a bike or the other expensive gifts some of the other kids wanted.  A teddy bear.  I wanted to buy her a teddy bear so badly.  But those kids got a great Christmas, and they got to stay with this WONDERFUL foster lady.

But last week, I got a horrible phone call that broke my heart and sent me into tears for the second time over a kid leaving me in front of my students.  (The other was last year.  Not that I've never cried over a kid leaving me, but this is the second time I've straight up sobbed.)  Her parents had received custody of the kids again in court that morning, and they were leaving.  I didn't even make it off the phone before I started just bawling.  I couldn't even get her name out without crying.  I hugged her, and she cried and said she didn't want to leave.  I asked our 1st grade assistant to stay with the rest of the kids so I could walk her down to the office.  Her foster was there, and I gave her a huge hug and thanked her for all her hard work.  Gave my student another hug and told her to call me if she needed ANYTHING, knowing that wouldn't happen because she's 6 years old, but I needed to say something.  I just needed her to know that I cared about her. I would have taken her in a heartbeat.  I just wanted to help this little girl so badly.  I just wanted her to have some stability in her life.  She had flourished so much with me in just a few months.  And I cried.  I still look at her empty chair and my heart aches.  I wonder and worry.

There is something a little good that came out of this story.  One glimmer of hope.  I found out that the school she went to is the school where I did my student teaching.  She isn't in the classroom of the wonderful teacher I worked with, but she is near her.  The older brother is actually ECE, so he is working with the other teacher I student taught for.  So I can talk to him and see how they are doing.  If they are being taken care of, being worked with at home.  But I just wish she could have stayed at my school, where we know her and care about her.  So that was my low, and it was pretty low.

I just want to email that new teacher of hers and tell her to take care of my little "baby."  I can't understand why I am so attached to this kid, but I am, and I'm still crying over her.

I realized that I probably just blabbed for a looooooong time, but I just I just needed to let that out much more than I thought I did.  I really appreciate if you are still reading this far!  I'm supposed to comment on other posts, but I think I'll just have to do that tomorrow because I'm just worn out over no sleep last night due to high winds and a tornado warning, a fun fun case of sinusitis, and going to class.  I won't forget- I just need to tap out now, I think.

I hope to be back later this week with a much, much, much happier post!  Even if I have to make it up!

This is one massive giveaway...

And I am so excited to be a part of it!!!
I am joining some fabulous bloggers to celebrate Khrys from Keepin' It Kool In Kinderland. She is throwing a HUGE 100 follower giveaway! One lucky winner will win over 25 products and 3 winners will win a product of their choice from Khrys' TeachersPayTeachers store. I hope you will check it out!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you will enter this giveaway! This will end NEXT Wednesday February 6th when the clock strikes midnight. Can't wait to find out who the super lucky winner will be!

Robots in Love!

My second set of graphics is ready and posted to my TPT store, and I'm excited to share them with you!  Like my cupcakes, they are hand drawn and scanned in, then colored digitally!  (They almost didn't make it though, when my scanner started making funny noises and getting stuck!  Luckily, it made it through!  Phew!)

There are 8 robots, 4 color and 4 blackline.  I colored a few more (the little one with the heart in pink, for example), but these were my favorites.  They are available at my TPT store for $2.

I'm so excited about these, I've already made a product featuring them!  So excited!  I also have a product I've made using my cupcakes.  I love being able to create pretty things!

What do you think of them?

I'll be sending the winner of yesterday's giveaway their product soon!  If you haven't entered, you have a few more hours left (since I wrote this post yesterday and scheduled it to post!)  Can't wait to see what the winner creates with them!  They are on sale in my TPT store along with these robots!  Please check them out!

Thanks for reading!  I hope to have a fun freebie or something to post later this week!

My first giveaway!

I am so excited about my new graphics that I would like to share them with you!  You can find a freebie of this graphics set here, but I'd like to give away the set.  It's not much- 8 graphics, 4 color and 4 blackline, but I think somebody could make something cute out of them!

Anyway, here is what you will get: 
4 color cupcakes, appropriately themed for Valentines Day!

And 4 blacklines if you are like me and need to conserve printer ink!

So here is how you can win a set of these:

1.  Comment on my blog (be sure to leave me your email address) and answer this question:
"What is your favorite way to spend Valentines Day?"

2.  Blog about this giveaway on your own blog and leave me a comment with the link, please.  (Again, leave me your email just in case!)

I will choose a winner (or maybe 2?) on Monday night after I get back from having dinner with my friend Laura. :-)

I sure hope I am doing a giveaway the correct way, as this is my first time doing one!  I can't wait to see how this goes!

And if you don't happen to win, you can purchase these graphics from my TPT store.  I will put them on sale Monday night through ... whenever I feel like it!  They are normally only $2, and I may or may not add more graphics to this set sometime in the near future because they are really cute and make me smile!

Thirsty Thursday

I am sure you all think it is quite strange that I titled this post "Thirsty Thursday", and to be quite honest, I feel the same way.  But I'm calling it that just the same.  Mostly because I feel like it.  Maybe because I'm thirsty.  Whatever the reason, I'm calling it that.  I'm thirsty for your knowledge!  Or something like that.

I have a few dilemmas I need help in solving, and I was hoping that my wonderful 13 readers would be able to help me with these small problems I need assistance with!  So here we go!

1.  I was fortunate enough to receive 6 brand new Chromebooks from Donors Choose.  I got them on Tuesday, and they are pretty cool.  (Except they don't run JAVA!  Yikes!)  Well, I had originally thought I could just store them somewhere and move them to a table when I wanted the kids to use them.  Well, I've been thinking, and... I am not a fan of that idea anymore. So I need somewhere in the classroom to put them.    Since I have little to no wall space in this classroom due to the worst layout I think ever exists in any classroom except those strange round ones, and that fact that it is tiny to boot, means I have to get creative.

I have a place to put one of them on the other side of the room,  so I just need to find room for 5 of them.  If you look at the picture, you can see where I am planning on placing the computers, which is under the word wall board.  I need to move some furniture around or get rid of some stuff, which is fine.  However, that's not a very big space and the carpet is right beside it along with my easel.  The first suggestion was to get one of these long tables they have in the gym that has a fold down bench on it.  The problem is that I may not be able to get one of them (I need to ask permission first!)  The second problem is that there is not a lot of space, and the tables are 8 feet long!  Yikes!  Also, the bench folds up and I'm concerned that some kid will pull it down on themself when they are sitting on the carpet or smash their finger in it.  So I need to be creative!

I made this bench for my students to put their book boxes on (they are actually on top and the math bins are on the bottom, and in the correct order now!).  It's not very tall, but it's about 7 1/2 feet or so long.  I don't remember exactly, but that's not the point!  Anyway, the bench wasn't that difficult to make (it was harder getting it in the car than it was making it!) so I thought... hey maybe I could make another one?    Obviously not for book boxes, but for the computers?  The bench could be made out of a piece of 2x12 (the other bench is a 2x10 that I had cut) so it would be about 11 1/2 inches deep.  The kids could sit on carpet squares on the floor.  If I could find a very skinny table, I could do a table, but most of our tables are like 30" deep, and with chairs, that's just too large a space! So I thought the idea of a bench might work.  What would you do?

So that's my first dilemma!  What would you do if you were in my situation?  Any revelations or super smart suggestions of cool, cheap things I can do to get my Chromebooks working!?  Today they used them to get on Starfall while I did my DRAs and they were so excited, especially since they sat at my kidney table to play.  :-)  Oh, and if anybody has any suggestions for getting JAVA programs to work on the Chrome OS, I would definitely be willing to listen!

2. My second question isn't nearly as lengthy as my first... What are some excellent reading and math websites that I can use with my students during literacy centers and math centers?  Right now, they are using a program called Successmaker that is an intervention, but that is the JAVA based program that doesn't work!  Boo!  (I'm actually not at all sad about that, since I hate Successmaker and only use it because I have to!  Sorry if you're a fan!  I hate that it takes away from my instructional time when my kids could be doing writing or calendar or reading or math instead of doing that.  Sorry, I'll step off my soapbox now!)  I am familiar with SumDog and Starfall for reading (and I hear there is math now?!), and a few other sites, but that's pretty much it.  It obviously can't be an app unless it's a Google app because they are Chromebooks and not iPads.

So far, though, I like the Chromebooks, with the exception of the JAVA problem.  They start up super fast, they are really easy to use, there isn't a whole lot the kids can screw up, and they are small!  :-)

Those are my questions for the evening.  If you read this far, I will be super excited that apparently somebody read all this rambling!  I would appreciate any insight you have!  I really need a second brain sometimes to confirm or deny what my first brain is thinking! :-)

Thanks for reading!  I have a cute little freebie I'm going to upload for you all tomorrow!  I can't wait to share it with you!

Five for Friday 1/18/13

I know I'm a little late, but it's better late than never, right?  I even have pictures this week!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!

This week was a better week than last week, for which I am very glad!  If I could just get rid of this persistent strained (not sore!) throat, I'd be one very happy girl.

1.  I got a new roof.
Monday morning, as I was still laying in bed, I heard some very loud, annoying noises that ticked me off.  I thought it was the garbage man, because they come on Monday morning.  I was laying there, just mentally cussing them out for being so loud.  I got up, got ready for work as normal, and was about ready to leave when I heard more noises outside of my house.  I looked out and there was a big truck in front of my house. I walked to the front and there was a whole bunch of roofing material sitting on the front walkway.  So I walked outside with my wet hair and no shoes to ask the guy if he was planning on leaving it there.  (Because it WILL get stolen.)  He said, no, they were going to start on my roof that day.  Color me surprised!  They had said they would be starting on it this week possibly, but they said Tuesday or Wednesday.  So I came home Monday night and had a brand new roof on my house.  
My poor plain little house! :-(  LOVE that dark grey roof!  (It was pretty much white before!)

They came back Tuesday to finish the roof on the garage, and they also put roofing on Molly's dog house!  Her dog house isn't finished yet (we're going to put the old round timbers that were on my back porch on it so it looks like a log cabin!) but the roof is so cute!  I'm also planning on covering her little pillow with some weather-resistant fabric I bought and maybe giving her a little curtain for the door to keep the weather and cold out.

The guys even painted the fugly furnace pipe so it blends in with the house more.  Anything to disguise that monstrosity!  

2.  I went to a baby shower.
My friend Leslie is pregnant and due in March, so we had a baby shower for her yesterday.  Well, I didn't have a baby shower, I went to a baby shower.  It was fun because I got to see some old friends from college (including Leslie) that I haven't seen in awhile!  One of them lives in Alabama, Leslie lives in Lexington, and the rest of us live around the city but we don't really get together often because of our differing schedules and busy lives.  But there were 5 teachers at this baby shower yesterday, so the girl in "charge", who is also named Erica, kept saying silly things like "give me five!" and setting the timer.  LOL.  It was hilarious.  

This was the most creative baby shower I've ever been to!  I made Leslie some of those "taggie" blankets that babies apparently love.  The UK one is for the University of Kentucky, for those not in the know.  College football is huge around here for some reason!  The brown and pink one matches the colors she chose for her nursery, and apparently, the colors for the baby shower!


I also took some onesies and rolled them up into cupcakes, with a pair of baby socks in the middle and a hairbow on top.  They were pretty cute.  I put them in a cupcake box too.  It was a little big, but everybody else seemed to think it was cute.  Another girl made Leslie a diaper wreath and a tutu for the baby.  And another girl crocheted her a hat for the baby.  I've never been to a shower where there were so many handmade gifts!

3.  We studied Martin Luther King this week.
I used this unit from Stephanie Stewart.  We worked on the timeline this week.  My students were so excited about the timeline!  They were so excited to take them home and show their families.  We worked on them for about 3 days, because I had the kids tape them instead of me doing it since I simply do not have that much time.  They did pretty ok with it once they got the swing of things.  


They worked really hard on their timelines!  I hung a few of them in our doorway, but they are kind of big so I couldn't hang them all.  But we watched "Our Friend Martin" on Friday (well part of it... technological issues), and it was really cool to see them making connections to what they learned about Martin's life and the different events such as the bus boycott.  If you want to watch the video yourself, you can find it here.  Granted, it's not a great looking version (whoever taped it played with the tracking a few times!) but my students didn't seem to care.  (They did care when the video stopped multiple times because either YouTube or our internet was sloooooowwwww though!)  We're going to finish watching on Tuesday, and work on the big words activity from that unit too!

4.  I was surprised with an impromptu observation when working on my new unit, and it went well!
In my school, we have 2 district resource teachers that actually work in our school building all day.  One is Math and K-2 reading (she was our math resource person last year) and one is 3-5 reading and writing, though they both help us with anything we need.  I approached them the other day about what I was planning to do in writing (the unit above) and shared reading throughout the next week or so, and they gave me some suggestions on how to make my idea better.  So I took their suggestions and we were working on Thursday when they came in the classroom.  I was doing exactly what they had suggested to me.  I had no idea they were coming, so it worked out really well!  Plus the lesson was going super well!  We are working on informational writing, so we had been reading books about whales to collect facts about whales.  

I wrote a paragraph with some facts about whales, but I threw some opinions in there as well.  We read the entire paragraph sentence by sentence and the students had to give me a thumbs up or down if they thought it was a fact or an opinion.   They did so well!  They even gave me reasons like "Well, I don't think they look funny because they have a blowhole on top of their head so that is an opinion" or "We just read that in that book so it is a fact."  AWESOME!  We also fixed a few of them to be "fact" sentences instead of opinion sentences.  It went so well, our resource teachers told me they wished they had an iPad to videotape the lesson.  The K-2 lady even told my principal about it. :-)  I love when things go well!

5.  I have a 3 day weekend.

Enough said. :-)

Hope the rest of you have a great weekend!

Valentines Day and a freebie!

Valentines Day is about a month away, and it's time to start thinking about what fun activities you want to do with your students.  I wanted to share one really cute one I did last year with my students.  You may have seen something very similar on Pinterest, but I changed what we did just a little bit.

I gave each student a piece of paper with 20 spaces on it.  It may have been a table or just 20 lines.  But I only have 20 students in my class (we are small class sizes) so I know there were 20 spots.  We wrote down some examples of nice things we could write about our friends as a class before we started passing them around.  Each kiddo put their name at the top of their paper, and we passed them around.  Once the papers had gone around one table, they were passed to another table.  Once they were passed around the room, I collected them.  Then I typed up the nice things my students said about each other in some cute Valentines fonts.  (Of course, since I've re-imaged my computer, I lost all my fonts and I'm going to have to re-download them!)  I also typed up their name in a fun font, twice for each student.

Once I finished typing them up, I printed them out for each student and gave them each their own paper and a piece of either pink or red paper.  I let them cut out their own hearts last year, a mistake I will never make again!  Next year, I'll copy the hearts onto the paper and let them cut them out on the line instead of folding the paper in half and trying to cut the heart out.  Bad idea.  Anyway, they cut out the hearts and the nice things their friends said about them and glued them on their hearts.  If 2 students said the same thing about the kiddo, I just typed it up once.  After they glued their nice messages on their hearts, I let them put a few heart stickers on and decorate them a bit.  They turned out really cute!  So I laminated them and hung them in the doorway outside my room.

This is an example of what one of the kids did last year.  I covered up their name, of course, which explains the pink squiggles.  Aren't they cute?

The original link I found on Pinterest had the students make a valentine for another student, which I thought was a sweet idea.  I just have a few students who aren't very neat with their "cutting skills" or "writing skills" or anything that requires coordination of their fine motor skills.  So I would hate for another kid to get a valentine that another kid did and it be a total mess.  So I need to figure out a way to possibly do that because I think it would be fun!

I uploaded a freebie file of something I whipped up quickly for you to use if you decide to do this activity!  The paper is 2 sided, and goes to the number 30.  I may be willing to change what it written at the top if anybody has any great ideas. :-)

Another thing I love to do for Valentines Day is read this book, Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli.  A professor first read this to me in college, and it's been a Valentines Day staple for me every year. I think I still get teary when Mr. Hatch finds out the valentine wasn't for him. :-(  
In the past, I've brought in brownies and lemonade to share with the kids like Mr. Hatch makes for his neighbors.  I usually make brownies in my mini muffin tin so they get miniature brownie bites instead of trying to cut brownies out of a pan.  Just make sure you don't cook them as long or they will get overcooked and hard.  Nobody likes that!

It's been a year, so I'm having a difficult time thinking of other fun activities we did for Valentines Day last year.  I will definitely post if I remember anything else that was particularly cute or fun!  I definitely will be posting about the 100th day of school soon as well- our 100th day is February 5th if we don't have any snow days between now and then!