Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Slim Down Saturday (on Wednesday)

I am joining Third Grade Tidbits for her slim down party. I am late to the link up but I need to stay motivated and figured this is a good way to keep myself in check.
I love this link up because of the focus on being a better me. Being balanced means better health, better wellbeing, and having more options.
Here are my results.... 
Ultimate Goal: Lose 20 pounds, and be more fit. I am trying to accomplish both with T-25 workouts after school 4 days a week and making better eating choices.
I missed Monday's workout, had a killer headache. I am doing better with food choices, but the temptation of chocolate is tough.
Gains/Losses for last week: Last week I did not lose anything. That is OK. I did not gain either. Since I was snowed in, I was pretty inactive. I played  a little outside with the boys, but my heart was not pumping as much as during the workouts.
I have lost and maintained 4.2 pounds since getting back in to the workouts since January. Totals: Woohoo. Last night, I even thought I could feel a change in my body shape. And for the first time, someone said, "Are you losing weight?" I will take that.
Positives for the week: Saying no to food is not my forte. I like to eat. I was taught to comfort myself with food as a child. I am slowly breaking that. I am working at not turning to food to ease my stress. I am not feeling guilty if I indulge a little. I am learning to stop when I am full. These steps are making  me feel better about myself.
Something to improve: Workout even when I am home. That is tough with 3 boys at home, an always growing chore list, a school bag full of papers to grade, and projects I want to complete. I need to make time to take care of me.
Goal for this week: Drink more water. I am simply bad at it. If I have water on my desk from the get go I may do better with drinking more.
One word: Overwhelmed. The snow days last week really wreaked havoc on my class. They forgot how to do everything and we are so behind. I am taking it one day at a time, one crisis at a time, and one behavior at a time. I am leaning on my friends and we are working our way through it together!

It isn't too late for you to link up with Third Grade Tidbits. I will be posting again in a few days, since it is also my goal to be on time to this party!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Seven for Sunday

   After 4 snow days this past week, I am ready, yet not ready, to be back to school.
  My sons need to get back in the routine for sure, and I am certain many other parents are ready for the doors of the school to be open again.
  I enjoyed the time off with my family, but at this point the boys are starting to irritate each other. Their bickering means I am being rubbed the wrong way, and that is never good. I think we need to do something fun today and definitely need to get out of the house so we all don't end up under each other's skin. Think the park across the street might be just what we need, now I just need it to warm up, it is still 31 degrees.
  I missed linking up with DoodleBugs on Friday, so I think I am going to add a little to the post.
  How about 7 for Sunday?

    Snow, ice, and cold! That summed up my week. Here are some pictures....

  While at home, the boys created some art. They were so helpful with each other and very proud of their work. I really love the piece my oldest son created(the one in the middle).

  He was inspired by his art teacher at school and she was really excited to see how he carried out the lesson on his own.
  In case you ever wonder if your students listen to you, they do, even if they do not show it!
  Last week I mentioned that my oldest son wanted a snow board. He was inspired by the Olympians we watched. We hardly get snow, and there are no snowboarding places to go nearby, so it is not practical.
  Well, he made do with what he had (skim board) and the kid might actually have some potential. Think we might need to schedule a trip to a ski resort.
 We all had fun playing in the snow and sledding on our pool tubes.

  By Friday we were sick of being indoors. School was cancelled because the roads were too icy to run buses on. Even a 2 hour delay would have been too risky since the ice did not start melting until after 10.   We did not stay home all day though. We picked up a friend, ran some errands, and then went to the park. I thought it would have been warmer and that the snow would have been melted, but it wasn't. It ended up being perfect though, we had the whole place to ourselves and the boys had fun playing in the snow and at the park.

    No, I am not a worry wart mom. I don't require my son to wear a helmet when playing at the park. We brought scooters to the park with us, and my youngest kept his helmet on for a good portion of the time.
  How about this for random? We had an earthquake on Friday night at about 10:23 p.m. I was laying on the floor and felt the ground rumble about 4 times. The quake lasted about 5 seconds.
  After the tremors, my husband and I both looked at each other wondering if it was a quake. Using my science teacher skills, I sent him searching on the USGS website. Sure enough, about 7 minutes later the earthquake registered on the website. The epicenter was in South Carolina and registered at 4.1. We did not have any damage and nothing fell. Although, we did feel the shaking.
 Talk about wacky weather last week in Georgia! Snow, ice, and an earthquake! It will be great for our earth science discussions next week.
   Ok, so I mentioned that I am not really ready to go back. Why? Well, being out for 4 days last week I feel overwhelmed and behind! Losing a week is a big deal during this time of year. I need to shake off the stress and roll with it. Easier said than done.
  Of course, I can pick up where we left off, but we really need to move on a little faster now. 
  We are now down to 2 weeks before the HUGE writing test. This means super crunch time. Time to confer, time to empower, and time to practice. We were working on stamina and the week off means they are out of their routine. Writing for 2 hours straight is going to be tough. We will need to stick to building up their stamina daily.
  To inspire the kids, I created some posters for our hallways to cheer them on. The images were inspired by World War II images, figure I need to kill 2 birds with 1 stone as much as possible nowadays! 
  During the year we did "Live" lessons that we play over closed circuit. We make them fun and always open with a theme song with images of the teachers dressed in fun costumes. This year's theme song is, Brave by Sara Bereilles. So the posters also incorporate that theme. Our students know the words by heart and sing along to the opening credits. We will be hosting a writing boot camp 2 days before our test that will include the same theme. Here are some pictures of the posters...

   We have an awesome poster maker at school, so I can have them printed poster size and hang them throughout the hallway. I also made a power point with the propaganda pictures to help the kids understand what the role of the images were during World War II.
(The pencil in the one picture is from the awesome Ashley Hughes and her Amazing Accents collection - she has a total of 14 days of freebies! The background in the Uncle Sam picture is from Graphics from the Pond, Teacher Maker Set, a great collection of papers and frames and on sale still for $3!) The other images are public domain pictures.


I did some planning during the days off and am ready to finish up our fractions unit. The pages for their notebooks and practice problems will keep us moving.

    Eventually I will finish this packet and make it available in my store. I think I am trying to hard to make it perfect, it is taking forever!
    To help ease my planning stress, I grabbed this awesome deal on educents. Have you tried educents? This awesome math packet is available for under $10. A total steal with tons of practice for multiplication, division, decimals, and fractions.
   The packet price is already a discount as bundled. I was able to save 10% off with the coupon code Pres10. If it is your first time making a purchase, click here and you will save 20%.  
    I am really excited about the basketball madness set from Fifth in the Middle. I think my students, boys especially, will love competing and having choices of which problems to solve.
For this week I am going to use Fourth Grade Flipper's Multiplication with fractions math centers. I love the game boards and the set up of the centers. I know the kids will have fun while practicing their fraction skills.
    I know they are tired of working with fractions, so getting a chance to play will be a nice break!
    I also really like Fifth in the Middle's Mighty Multiplication packet too, think I will pull some of my struggling students and show them the box method to help them with their multi-digit multiplication. Sadly, I still have a few who are forgetting about the middle numbers and are weak with the process. 
Approaching the problems in a new way, may be exactly what they ordered.
      Have you seen I {Heart} Recess' Fractions with Yummy Recipes? Oh, the sheets are fantastic. It includes the recipes and then math questions to go along with each recipe. I am going to add some reading comprehension questions on sequence to go along with the packets. Reading recipes is usually a new concept for my students, and there have been questions on our state exams using recipes, so the packet is a complete recipe for success!
  I cannot let this past week slip by without mentioning Valentine's Day. We had a pretty laid back day with simple treats.
  The boys helped me pick out a gift for their Dad, then we picked up some treats for them. They were so excited with some sweets and a new movie.
  My husband showed me some love with some roses. So sweet, and calorie free!
  For dinner I made the boys' favorite roast with their favorite pasta. My youngest son was delighted and jumped up to give me a huge hug and a kiss saying, "You are the best! You made this for us, because you love us?" Oh, that made it worth it!
   We missed Valentine's Day at school, so the boys will deliver their treats on Monday. Using my awesome Silhouette I created these lollipop flowers for the kids (thank goodness for the days off, 4 classes took a long time). The design is by Lori Whitlock and I downloaded it from the Silhouette store. (Dum Dums for the Pre-K's, and BlowPops for the older kids)
   For their teachers I created these cute boxes and bags and filled them with Dove chocolates.

Whew, that turned out to be a long post! I guess I had a lot to say, thanks for hanging in there with me! Hope you have a relaxing Sunday and a fantastic week!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Snow Day

Well, it happened. School was cancelled today due to the potential issues on the roads.
When I first woke up, it was just raining and it was 41 degrees. Well by 7 am, it was snowing and the temperature dropped.

It is now a steady snowfall and it is accumulating.

Meteorologists say the temperatures may increase mid-day so it will melt, but then it will freeze again tonight and turn to ice. School has not been cancelled yet for tomorrow, yet I anticipate a Remind 101 text tonight.
We do not have snow annually, this is a rare event. Everyone panics and everything shuts down. Driving is simply dangerous. If we had more snow plows and salting trucks we would be at school. The major highways are treated, not the other roads. Seeing as it is hilly and curvy where we live, it is best to stay home.
I am so thankful I sent my kiddos home with lots of work yesterday. Seriously, their eyes were bugging out as I passed out the assignments (spelling, reading, science, math, grammar, and writing). We are behind and losing 1-3 days this week will not help us. I let them know that if we had school this week, they would have class time to complete the work, it was work we would do together, but if school was cancelled I really wanted them to practice their skills, and everything would be due on Friday, February 14th (Happy Valentine's Day to me!). Once I explained it to them that way, they were a little more on board.
I had 2 parent conferences yesterday and those parents were thankful for something for their kids to work on this week. 

I also emailed my parents to let them know about the work, and to make sure no one called up to complain that I gave them a million assignments to do in one night.
If they do it, fantastic, they will be rewarded. If they don't, oh well. I learned long ago not to take it personally.
Since I sent home a packet from Fifth In the Middle's Go for the Gold set, I talked to them about the similarities between athletes and math students.
  • Athletes practice to perfect their skills. To become better at math, we also have to practice.
  • Athletes sometimes fall, hit some bumps, and make mistakes. In math, we do the same.
  • Athletes will never persevere if they give up, neither will math students.
I stressed that I wanted them to practice, persevere on the problems they might initially struggle with, and that just like an athlete they will be rewarded for their hard work. Now, I need to get working on the medals of honor for them, thankfully Diane includes brag tags in the packet!
I also plan to reward them with some extra credit points. Just like snow, extra credit points are rare!  
They also took home a science passage to read and complete a tell me what you learned text sheet with it.

We are a few weeks away from our writing test so they also took their daily writing notebooks home with a plan to complete an informational paper throughout the week. I really hope they work on the process this week. I broke down the process in to daily steps to encourage more quality writing.
So what does a teacher do on a snow day?
Well, in a little while I will join my sons for some snow play. I will be pelted with snowballs and will freeze as we slide down our back hill on summer pool tubes. They are excited about the snow. I need to let go of my practical side and play like a kid.
Just like I prepared my kiddos for work at home, I brought plenty of work home too. I don't know about you, but my teacher bag seems to always be full!

I might even tackle the dry laundry I quickly stacked on the dryer yesterday morning.

I am striving for gold too. I am trying to finish up my massive multiplication with fractions packet.

I think I might even kick back, for a little while in front of the fire, to watch Up, with my boys. It has recently become their favorite movie.

Oh, and don't forget to enter the giveaway at Apple For the Teacher.

Cheers from the chilly South~

Monday, February 10, 2014

Olympics, Snow, & Math

I love the Olympics!
In 1996, I was able to experience the Olympics first hand when the Olympics was in Atlanta. I saw the torch being carried through the streets, I actually went to watch it throughout the whole city. Living out a dream, I attended some events to cheer on the Olympians.
The Olympics is the epitome of hard work, devotion, and perseverance. All things I admire. As well as qualities I desire to see in my students.
I have enjoyed watching the Olympics in Sochi this year and sharing the excitement with my family. I love the questions that my sons are raising and watching them appreciate the amazing talents of our Olympians. One of my sons has even been bitten by the bug of extreme sports, I predict I will be asked to buy some snowboarding equipment for his upcoming birthday.
Normally I would say, honey we don't have anywhere for you to use it, but with the crazy weather that keeps whipping through our area, I can already hear his counterargument, "Mom, I can practice in the backyard every time it snows."
We are under another winter weather watch. Some are predicting 2 storm fronts to come through our area and leave us at home for possibly the rest of the week. What? Not in Georgia. Oh yes, in Georgia!
As a kid I would have welcomed more snow days. As a teacher, I am not so excited.
We are trying to stay in the swing of things and maintain our routine so we will be prepared for our upcoming tests. Making up days after testing is over is not the solution. I cannot stop the snow or weather, so what is a girl to do? Well, avoid panicking and plan ahead.
I decided that I would send my kiddos home with some extra assignments for the week in case the forecasts are correct. Thankfully, I have some awesome tools in my teacher files! I have one that ties winter, the Olympics, and looming days off together.
Diane at Fifth In The Middle created this awesome packet. It aligns with common core skills perfectly. As advertised, it is ink-friendly, and leaves you with tons of choices! Diane has created this differentiated set with a focus on major 5th grade math skills. The pages are set up with workspace, and includes a mixture of word problems and computation. I also love the reward tags included to provide as prizes for the students who complete the various levels.
I planned to use the pages as review or follow-ups during the month of February. Instead, I am copying the pages in packets and sending them home with my kiddos tonight.
To encourage completion, I am assigning it as an extra credit project for the week.
All but 1 page (conversion) will be new for my kids. However, Diane has included a conversion chart on the page to make it a little more do-able. I have done a few conversion problems with my students, but it is a weak skill for them, so that will be the hardest page.
Since I am sending it home, I chose the levels that I thought would be the least frustrating for them. I want them to spend time practicing their skills and to be successful. If I wasn't sending it home this way, I would let the kids choose which level they wanted to complete so they could earn gold, silver, or bronze for each skill.
If you are looking at, or have recently had, a plethora of snow days, I highly recommend this packet to capture the excitement of the Olympics and motivate the kids to perfect their math skills. Just like the athletes, there will be some bumps and falls, but with practice, they will all be winners!
Fingers crossed that I will be at school all week. If not, I will make the most of it and enjoy the Olympics from the warmth of my couch!