Making Over Third Grade!
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Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Carnival was Complete with a Little Help from OTC

One of the things I love about the end of the school year is the annual (for the last 4 years anyway) spring carnival. I am on the planning committee for our carnival but nearly all of the work and all of the stress for this event is on my teaching partner, Maria. The carnival is her baby and each year all of the stress, hard work, & planning are forgotten the moment the carnival is over. 

Our carnival is a true community event. The PTA sells food & hosts the dunk tank. (Starbucks for any third grader who dunks the principal. Yeah, I bribe them!) We have a parent whose two older kids I have had in my class bring in bounce houses and this year we had the police and fire departments bring in some of their cars/trucks. 

We have local high school students volunteer come in and run the face painting station. It is truly a community event and I love to see all of the kids having so much fun! 

This year we also had help from The Oriental Trading Company. As a brand ambassador for them, I was gifted several items that helped make our carnival an even bigger success. Some of our stations were starting to show their age. We were able to replace one with a football toss game. This required an inflatable football player/catcher

Rather than doing a cake/cupcake walk last year we had a licorice walk. This year, thanks to OTC we had a lollipop walk with we had a licorice walk. This year, thanks to OTC we had a lollipop walk with star-shaped swirl lollipops. This game was a hit! Sadly, we ran out of the lollipops well before the end of the carnival. These grape suckers were a huge hit! Next year we will need to make sure we have a lot more than 3 dozen! 

The carnival committee, okay, okay, Maria, orders quite a bit from OTC for carnival prizes. This year we were able to offset this a bit with donations of metallic shaped smile face rings, an assortment of gliders, and a super toy assortment. For some stations, kids were given any one of these wonderful prizes, for other stations they were allowed to select their prizes. No matter what everyone kids from ages 2 - 69 had a blast and in the end that is all that really counts. And it was a blast, even when it was exhausted! 
 Do you have a school carnival or some other fun activity like this at the end of the year? When and what is it? Do you participate running a game? Or do you just attend for fun? Please let me know in the comments below how your school celebrates the end of the year (and raises money too!). 

Disclaimer: Some of the items mentioned in this post were provided to me for review. All comments and thoughts are my own. 
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Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Pain of Procrastination

I am sitting here at 1:20 AM with a headache and beating myself up for procrastinating once again. I signed up for the third and fourth components of my National Boards in November. I have known about them for months. I know they are due in May. Midnight on May 17th to be exact. So, when did I start working on mine papers? Well in April naturally. I don't know why I do this to myself, particularly when there are so many other deadlines that I need to meet at this time of year. I keep blaming it on the new position and all of the extra work that it has created for me. And in part that is true. But truth be told, for some reason I have always thrived when under a ton of pressure and stress about deadlines. The yearbook was due, my bible study needed to be done. I had some family obligations to take care of. In any case, they were put off until they couldn't be put off any longer. So here I sit, at 1:25 now having spent most of the day working on one of my papers. Gathering and organizing the data and knowing that I have less than 2 weeks to get 2 some 20-odd pages papers done. I am looking at having to take a day or two off to get them done. I haven't even started the paper for component 3 and I still have 20 pages to write for the other. So I will crawl out of my hole in the wall on the 18th having withstood headaches, stress, sore hands and numb fingertips. If I am able to finish on time, it will all have been worth it. So, I'm off... see you sometime on the 18th!
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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day is Here

Earth Day is here this week. This day always sneaks up on me. We are always in the midst of test prep and this year with my new position (can I still call it new after 8 months?), and my National Boards that are due in a few weeks (that is a whole other story) there is never enough time. In any case, I am never prepared - no fancy lessons, no art projects, nada. Then I see some of the other teachers with their Earth Day posters and I feel a pang of guilt that I didn't teach about Earth Day. By the time I get home I vow that I will do a better job next spring. Well. that next spring is here and again there was nothing. Or so I thought. Two days ago I received an email asking me to look over and share an infographic poster if I thought it would be useful to teach conservations each day rather than just focusing on it each April. That is something that I could actually do.
I liked the suggestions offered (all except #5 that is. There is just no way I am giving up meat - sorry, not sorry). The second suggestion has been addressed by law in California. We are now charged ten cents per bag at the store if we do not bring in our own bags - this would make a great lesson on how reusable vs. single use bags are regulated or a persuasive writing lesson on whether we should ban single-use bags or not.

The ideas about gardening can be tied to school gardens, Sprout pencils can be used (these pencils are a bit pricey but they would make a very cool introduction to life science or conservation of resources. These pencils have a seed in them and they can be planted to create a number of different plants so you could even create a class garden with different pencil/plants.

What do you do to teach Earth Day? Or like me, do you usually feel guilty about not really teaching about Earth Day?

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Education Podcasts to Follow

A few years ago I saw a lot about Serial on Instagram. I started listening to the podcast and I became addicted to podcasts of all types. I know there is a long list of educational podcasts out there that are available. I recently found two new education podcasts and thought I would share them you in case you haven't heard of them before.
The first podcast is called The EdTech Takeout. I found out about this podcast via another I will share in just a moment. EdTech Takeout focuses on EdTech but in a casual, this is cool, kind of way. It is irreverent and fun to listen to. Jonathan's Scottish accent is a plus in making the time fly as you listen to him and Mindy. They talk to their listeners as if they are talking to co-workers at their site. Many of the tech items that they mentioned in the first few episodes I was already familiar with but there were much more that were new to me as well. I particularly love their "nuggets" at the end of the podcast where they present several quick tech hints and new ideas.
The EdTech Take Out led me to another new podcast Instructional Coaching Corner. This podcast is hosted by Greg and Jenny. Both are instructional coaches in their district and they are sharing many of the cool things they are doing at their sites as well as sound instructional practices and coaching techniques. Greg is the comic relief to this duo and often uses self-deprecating humor as they share the different ideas. Greg and Jenny have recorded several quick casts that are less than 5 minutes in length. These are always uplifting or have a positive message about being uplifted, or how to be uplifting, in school.

makingoverthirdgrade.blogspot.comThe (bonus) podcast that started this all for me was Check This Out with Ryan and Brian. Ryan and Brian are both EdTech teachers in Northern CA and I got to know them through Twitter and a Voxer group that I belong to. Their podcast has been on my list to listen to for some time but all of the education podcasts took a backseat to all of the others on my list. I love that they introduce new tech ideas, programs, and sites, as well as introduce you to others who are important in tech education. They are funny and keep their podcasts upbeat and quick paced so that the hour goes by before you even know it.

I hope that you check out these podcasts and let me know what you think of them. If there is a must listen to education podcast that you listen to please share it in the comments.

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Field Trip: Off to the Exploratorium

I love going on field trips. No really. I do. I just hate all the nervous build-up to them. I always feel like there is so much to worry about when getting ready for a field trip but the happiness on the kids' faces always makes up for that in the end. This year is no different.

SF ExploratoriumAs a Title 1 school in Northern California, we are able to go to the SF Exploratorium for free.
Schools just have to pay for the buses to get there. Since it is so cost effective, I like to make sure that we are able to go each year. (We are generally allowed only one field trip a year.) This was the third year we have been able to make it happen and the second at their new location on the pier. It is a beautiful place. If you are ever able to visit, I suggest you block out the entire day to explore and engage in all of the hands-on activities.

This year we had four parents plus two teachers for our class (one of the
SF Exploratorium
many upsides of having a co-teacher). As such we assigned 4 - 5 students to each parent and we were able to walk around and monitor the various groups and their behaviors. After this experience, I will never go back to assigning myself a group to watch. This was much less stressful and much more entertaining.

Where do you go on your field trips? How often are you allowed to go on field trips each year?

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Lucky Me (Again) & Oriental Trading

As a teacher at a Title 1 site, I know what it means to not have a lot of money for art supplies and other fun items for the kids. The arts are just as important as the core subjects and they just make the kids beam so I am always willing to shell out money for these supplies. This year I have been so lucky to have been asked to participate in the Oriental Trading Ambassador Club. I don't know how I got so lucky but as a member, I have been gifted with items for my class.

Valentine's Day is usually a big deal for our kids. Most students are gift givers to their teachers (this is huge for them - it is like a candy Christmas). So I usually make sure that they have a party for the holiday that is a bit bigger than our Christmas party and it is not unusual to spend quite a bit on this. On the heels of Christmas and all the family birthdays between November and March, it is not the best time to spend a ton of money on my class but nonetheless, I always do.

This year will be a big year for us and for Snoopy! I have always loved Snoopy but my mom was an even bigger fan. After her passing three years ago I somehow became an even bigger fan. I think in some ways it makes me feel close to her still like she is still with me. So when Eureka came out with Peanuts school decor well it just HAD to find its way into my classroom. Naturally, this means that it is also the kids now love. Oriental Trading has a lot of Peanuts items - especially for the holidays, and Valentine's Day is no exception. No, I mean really, a ton! They have a whole page just devoted to the links to all of their Peanuts items.

This year my students will be bombarded with Peanuts items for Valentine's Day. First, they are getting these super cute foam stickers. There are so many (300!!) that I am keeping 1/2 of them for the beginning of next year for students to use to decorate their iPad cases in August. I mean seriously, they are cute!!

They are also getting Snoopy pencils and erasers. Even though we have iPad in our class and most of our work is done digitally we still do quite a bit with pencils and my students LOVE specialty pencils. These pencils and erasers are sure to be a hit.

I am going to go a bit overboard here - one more Snoopy item...students are also going to receive the Peanuts temporary tattoos. They are so cute I just couldn't help myself. I mean really, how could I not get them Snoopy images to wear?! 
So I didn't go completely crazy with the Peanuts theme (though I could have!). Students are also going to have these plain white favor boxes to decorate and use to collect and take home all of their cards and other goodies. I love that it is sturdy enough to carry their cards, and any leftover cookies and the like.  

Finally, I just couldn't resist these magic color scratch hearts. I love watching the students use their self-expression through their art. These magic color scratch hearts are the perfect quick art project for our end of the day activities. Don't you think so? 

What do you do for Valentine's Day? Big, small, or no party at all? Please let me know in the comments below. 

In full disclosure, I was compensated for this post. All opinions are my own. 

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Monday, January 2, 2017

It's January Already!

It is the new year, a new adventure, and all the promise that a new year brings. I have a list of resolutions that I make each year and each year I watch them go down in flames. This year I am not making any resolutions but rather making changes in my attitude about the things I want to change. Things like blogging more. I say I am going to do, I promise to do it, then, well...I don't do it. I love sharing my ideas and the things (good and bad) that are going on in my classroom with others. I love the reflection that blogging provides for me and that is why this is now going to become part of my weekly lesson plan routine. I am hoping to blog at least once a week so that you will not forget I am here but also not so much that you become sick of hearing from me. :)

This week promises to be a difficult one as I will only be in class on Tuesday and then Maria and I are out for 2 days for training and then we are off to Monterey for a California League of Schools Tech Conference where we will be presenting! I am both nervous and excited about this. I hate getting up in front of a room full of adults to speak but according to Maria I find my groove and then run with it. LOL I promise to blog about the sessions we will be discussing while at the conference. Who knows, maybe we will even see some of you there!

What are your plans for your first week back?

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