Making Over Third Grade!
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Monday, December 3, 2018

Doing a Double Take - Feels Like I Need to Explain...

Sometimes someone says something and it stays with you. Nagging. Bothering you and you just aren't sure why.

This happened to me this week. Someone I respect inquired about my new position and how I liked my new school. I was honest and said I loved it! Her response is what threw me. She said she knew I was happier because I was tweeting more. 

I am not sure that is accurate. I am tweeting more. I have more time. I am not on any after school committees. I have collaborative during the workday rather than after. More of my time is mine to focus on what I am teaching and how I can help others. When I sit down at lunch or at the end of the day I remember to tweet the photos I took rather than working until I go to bed (by choice usually) I have an hour or two to do something else. 

I loved my class at my former school. I loved my job. I do not love this new job anymore or any less, just in a very different way. I think the difference really comes down to the fact that I was at the same site for 9 years and that was the longest I had ever been at a site (we had pink slips and movement during the first part of my career), or in a classroom. 

Earlier in the week, someone else had said that she "knew [I] always wanted to be at [new site]". This bothered me too. 

I did not spend the last 9 years bemoaning my situation, sad that I wasn't at another site. I was happy working there but I needed a change more than I realized. That is not to say I wasn't happy where I was, I am just happier now. 

When looking back over the last 9 years the majority of them had some major negative, heart-breaking events happen each year. My mom was sick, I had miscarriages, I found out I wasn't going to be able to have a family, and then my mom died. Tragedy after tragedy. So much heartbreak. 

So changing schools is not just a return to a site I was once at, or a new opportunity (though it is that too). It is a fresh start. My classroom has no memories of tears associated with it. No fears of bad news. No awful events. I think that makes a huge difference. One I didn't realize was an issue, at least until it wasn't. 

So, yes, I am happier where I am now, but it has way more to do with me than with anything work-related. 

Have you ever had to reexamine something about your job after someone made a seemingly innocuous remark? Tell me about it in the comments below, I would love to hear about how it affected you. 

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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Breaking up is hard to do, even when it is your choice, even when
you know it is coming, and particularly when it is a prolonged breakup. Maria and I have accepted a job position at another school site. It is going to be a wonderful change and I know the school and class will be great. Still, joining one site and starting one class, means that we will have to leave another site and say goodbye to a group of kids that have stolen our hearts. 

This break up isn't easy! 

We were hired by the new site on September 20th. We told our kids on the 28th. We were ready to go. We packed up some of our classroom, we took things to the new site, we worked for hours upon hours after school getting the new classroom ready (it is almost there).  Then we had to wait. They needed to find someone who would take our class before they would release us to the new site. Understandable I guess, but it was hard to deal with particularly after one of the students this week told me that he had cried when I lied to him. I asked him what he meant and he said when we said we were leaving. I swear you could hear a pin drop when I told them that we hadn't lied, we were moving, but that they had to find a new teacher for the class. 

This is an AMAZING group of kids and it breaks my heart that we will have to say goodbye. I feel conflicted and torn by this. I want to go to the new site, I want this new adventure. I can't wait for it to all begin but..still, there is a part of me that is so sad that we will have to say goodbye so soon. You see, we found out on Friday that they have a teacher for the class. It is a friend of mine.  I am so happy for her and for the kids. It is going to a great year for them so I don't need to worry about them. But...still, I will. I can't help it. They are a part of my heart now, they always will be. That happens with every student, every year. It doesn't matter that I have only known these kids, "my kids," for 7 weeks. It doesn't matter that they will be in great hands. It hurts to say goodbye. Yes, I know it is my choice and yes, I know, this new job is one I really want. Still, Monday is going to be hard. Seeing their faces come into a stripped down room, seeing them realize they are losing us, that we are losing them, is going to be gut-wrenching. Yes, I know that they will get to meet their new teacher and that she is excited to meet them. Yes, I know that this is a good thing for her and for them too. Yet..., leaving the room I have had for 9 years and the kids I have had for 7 weeks means that Monday is going to be a hard day. One I am both looking forward to as it is a step towards my new job and dreading as it is a goodbye to this amazing group of kids. 

I know it is going to work out. I know that it is all for the best. I know that I will be happier once the dust has settled. Still, breaking up is hard to do. 

I would love to hear about a time that was difficult for you during your teaching career and how you overcame the difficulty. Please share below. 

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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Snailed it! - It's so Punny!

Creative Teaching Press has a number of new product lines for the 2018-19 school year. As an Ambassador for their company, I have been given the gift of several of the products to try out in my classroom. 

They have three new lines Mid-Century Mod, So Much Pun!, and a unicorn Magical line that I choose to select items from. As soon as Maria and I saw the So Much Pun! Reward stickers we were sold. The "snailed it!" sticker was so great that it has now become a tagline in our classroom for the year.  We love them so much I got over 20 packs of them - yep, snailed it!

In addition to the pun stickers I just had to have the unicorn reward stickers - they are amazing, they are large, and the students just love them! I know, because I had one package of these last year and every student just wanted to have them until they were all gone. So these were a must-have. Another must have been the Mid Century Mod Retro rewards stickers. They are just so colorful and make me happy. Okay, yeah, I have a sticker addiction. I know. I can't help it! Stickers are awesome - or should I say paw-some. *wink*

Teachers can't live by stickers alone, so of course, I just had to have a number of the new borders and posters. The Mid Century Mod schedule and blank charts are so pretty I can't wait to use them. I also had to have the motivational posters from this line as well. They are so bright and their words are
fitting for our class focus of never giving up and of being kind. You can also see I didn't get away without getting the So Much Pun! incentive chart. I thought it would be a nice way to track our blog posts and keep the kids laughing.

Last year we bought these camper cutouts and they perfectly match the Mid Century Mod On the Road to Learning Mini Bulletin Board set.  I already have a bulletin board in mind for this as we take a road trip through third (end of the school year student highlights of what they have learned). On the road, next stop third! For the beginning of third grade. This is perfect too since our classroom bulletin board for the school is in the second grade hall (don't ask - it is just the way our site is built).

I have just the letters and borders to choose from for these boards too! Aren't they great?! The letters are 7 inches tall! No way they won't be noticed in the hall! Most of the bulletin board trim is from the So Much Pun! line - I just love the plaid, large whimsical dots, and the white one. The light bulb border will be perfect for our technology unit. Can't wait to use them all this year! 

Do you like to decorate in a new way or to change things up each year? Tell me about it!

*This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.*

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Sentence Surgery! Room Transformation

After reading The Wild Card by Hope and Wade King I decided that I needed to become super creative with some of the content I teach.

At the beginning of the year, it always seems that third graders have a sudden issue with punctuation, capitalization, and subject-verb agreement. This year I wanted to do something crazy to help students focus on this and to really take what they are doing to heart.

Maria and I decided to do sentence surgery and create an experience the kids would not forget.

Is there a doctor in the house? There were 26 in fact! It was the most amazing lesson and the kids couldn't stop talking about it. In hindsight, it was simple to plan and to undertake but it was a jump off the creative bridge into the unknown - this lesson could have gone south quickly- but it was all worth it!
Mrs. Lopez ready for surgery
I bought isolation gowns, o.r. caps, and face masks from Amazon. Don't you just love Amazon? The gowns were a bit pricey ($45) but I got 100 of them so I can use them for future lessons.  I created a sentence fragments and complete sentences to provide each pair of students. The intention was that they would match up the fragments and make complete sentences but it turned out so much better than that because the kids cut up all of the sentence fragments and created complex sentences using different pieces of several different original pairs that I had planned.
number of

Maria and I went out to pick up our class from lunch in our gear - we told the kids that there was an emergency in our room and that they would all need to conduct surgery in order to save the many patients that they had waiting. They were so excited and shocked by what was happening.
makingoverthirdgrade.blogspot.comMaria, our vice principal, Mrs. Lopez, and I put each student in their operating outfits and had them stand by their tables. They were given directions to discuss their "patients" and to diagnosis what was wrong before making any surgical decisions. They were completely engaged, Maria and I gained a lot of formative assessment information about
students and they are all working very hard now to ensure that they continue to correctly use capitals and punctuation correctly.

Mrs. Lopez recorded the lesson for us, you can see the majority of it (the last 10 minutes are not recorded as she had to leave the room to address another issue) here.

Students couldn't wait to share what they did when they got home and many of them took the gowns with them to show their parents. We kept the caps and masks for future work editing and revising our work. The kids put them on when editing and revising and they love it!

What is one of the most engaging lessons you have taught? What gave you the idea for approaching it the way you did?

**Please note that this post is cross-posted to Spot On in Third!, the blog Maria and I have for our class.**

Image Resizing

When I decided to make this blog cute in July of 2014 (what it has been that long?!?) I mentioned the use of a free resizing site for images. At the time I used This is a good tool and I have used it successfully for a while but recently a reader (thank you Lily!), sent me information about another site, On this site, you literally drag and drop your images and they are compressed for you. This is very helpful and I wanted to pass the information along.

What tools do you find invaluable when working with images online?

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

New School Year and I'm Returning to Blogging

It seems that the more I vow to blog the more I tend to wait for "something good" to write about and then I end up writing yet another post about how I promise to start blogging more and posting regularly. I am not going to do that this time. This year I intend to write when I have time - finding the time will be a goal! 

Maria and I had a rough go of it last year with two difficult students who seemed to always be at each other's throats, there were (aren't there always) a million things going on at the end of the year, and Bailey was very sick. I just didn't feel like anything I had to say was going to be very positive. So I avoided writing, Well it is a new year, and I have decided that it is going to be a great one! Whether it is difficult or not, it is up to me to see it as a blessing or a burden. I am choosing to see the blessings in each day. 

So with that in mind, I hope you are all off to a great start to you year. We have been in school since August 15. Maria and I have an amazing group of kids and this promises to be such a fun year. 

I read a lot of professional development books over the summer and of all of them, Eduprotocols and The Wild Card were the two that spoke to me the most. I can't wait to have a monthly room transformation, What about you? What are you looking forward to this year? 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Donors Choose is Such a Gift

Do you use I have had a few things funded in the past, mostly thanks to chairs as well some large floor pillows.) I was so bummed! I wrote to them and they reissued the gift cards and surprised me with an additional $15 since the original gift cards had (no joke) expired on my birthday.
my family - hey I will take it any way I can get it. Wouldn't you? I had a number of gift cards from my family from last fall when there was a matching drive. (I am not above asking for things when I think that they may give to my class - each gift card at the time up to $40 was being matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.) I didn't realize that these expire in 6 months so when I

went to use them when we found some really cool flexible seating. (Wait until you see it! I found it via Twitter as someone in my district was buying samples for teachers to try out and since 1. I didn't know about this and 2. once I saw it I was so upset as we had just posted a request for these chairs so you can imagine how excited I was when I was able to pay for the request with the gift cards and still had a few dollars left. (These photos are from my shared blog for our class.)

I created a second project for seat disks (can't wait for them to arrive!), a changing pod which we are going to use as a recording booth for flipgrid and other video projects. We got this idea from another teacher in our district (thanks Shawn!). We found out that this was funded just before the #bestschoolday that announced that a company had paid off all of the projects on the site. Were you one of the lucky teachers who got their projects funded by this surprise?

So after that day, since was on the news I figured it would be a great idea to create another project as we may have a better chance of getting it funded. So I requested a new iPad after Apple announced the new cheaper iPads for schools and an Apple pencil. Even though we are a 1:1 class with iPads our devices are older an do not have all of the functionality of iOS 11 so I am very excited to be able to show students how to conduct research by dragging and dropping information from one app to another. This was a rather expensive project so I was so happy to learn that Verizon was matching funds and we would only need half of the overall amount to get our project funded. I jumpstarted the giving with a small donation (I always like to make a small donation to motivate others) and kept tweeting and adding Facebook posts asking for money. I didn't really feel comfortable doing that as much as I did it but I was so worried I would lose the matching donations if I didn't really push it. So you can imagine my surprise when I received this email a few minutes ago:
So here I am awestruck and gobsmacked that we were able to get so much for our class in the last few weeks. I can't wait for the items to arrive and to share them with you when they come. 

Do you use What is the last project you had funded? I can't wait to hear what you have been gifted with.