Category Archives: activities

Pizza Party

My class was the upper grade class that raised the most money for our Pennies for the Cure fundraiser.  That meant we got a pizza party.  The class still went through the lunch line, but then went right back to our classroom, where 2 pepperoni and 1 cheese pizza was waiting for them.  I even got half a sausage and artichoke pizza for myself.

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Drinking Fountains

Here’s my problem.  I’ve just finished some PE, and my class is tired and thirsty.  I sit my class down at the lunch tables near the drinking fountains, and I let a few go at a time to get a drink.  That way they don’t get restless and into trouble while waiting in a long line.

Then another teacher finishes PE and just lets her entire class run over and get a drink.  Now the lines are very long, and my students have to be in the back of a long line.


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The Space Shuttle Comes to School

The Endeavor Space shuttle was being flown from Florida to LAX, and it’s last leg of the trip took it right over Anaheim.  We were told to expect it anywhere from 11:30 to 12:30, and it was said to be flying low to let people a good look.

After watching it take off live in the morning, I was excited about having the class see it fly over in the afternoon.  The general consensus from the teachers was to get the kids out out by 11:45, so most of us did.  Now, what do you do with 35 students out on the field, with about 15 other classes of 35 waiting out there as well?

I saw Mrs.  Carver brought out some flash cards, so I borrowed some, and we played a round of “Around the World” with them.  But that took forever, so we just played the one round.  So then I just let the students talk amongst themselves.

It was getting hot out there.  I noticed when we were going out there, that Price School had some classes out there, but as we were coming out, they went back in.  I started wondering if we had missed the whole thing.  I notice some classes were moving to what little shade there was on the field, right against the southern fence.  So eventually, I moved my class there.

A teacher’s husband was watching the process on TV, so he was sending updates to her.  My in-laws just texted me that it had landed at LAX, when all of a sudden I hear some kids start screaming.  I looked over to the northwest and saw the gigantic 747 with the shuttle on top of it just coming into view over the trees.  It looked huge!

The kids went wild!  It looked sooo cool!  It was flying nice and low, so we got a good look at it.  I put my hands in the air and just yelled (I’m not sure why, it just felt right).  Then I tried to video it with are camera.  It turned out that I didn’t really get a good shot of it.  The sun was making it so I couldn’t see the viewfinder.  So when I went to a wide view, it was too small.  But it was cool hearing the kids scream with excitement.  I don’t know why, but they all seemed to run after it and follow it.

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State Testing

…is here.

It’s a bittersweet time, at least for me.

Testing means no planning for the morning.  No teaching.  Just a quiet room full of test-takers.  So planning is easier.  During the testing weeks, we also get a longer recess, so that’s nice, too.  But walking around during the test, I can get a glimpse of the answers the students are putting.  And sometimes that can be heartbreaking.  Seeing a student put the stupidest answer, on a type question we just went over the week before, just makes you want to cry.  Or watching a student who struggles with reading (yes, even in the fourth grade) tear through the test and finish first, in about an hour too early.

Or the kid who breaks his pencil at the tip, then tries to hold it together to answer the questions, instead of raising his hand and asking for a new one.

You tell them to take their time.  You tell them to read carefully.  But sometimes, that just doesn’t help.

Testing takes all morning.  We start the test at about 9, and don’t finish until 11:15, which is our recess.  Just about everyone finishes in that time, but some just barely finish, and some have to go to the extra time room to finish.  You want students to take their time, because if they finish too early, they may sit around for close to an hour with nothing to do but read a book.  Sure, that sounds good to me and you, but to a student, that’s grueling.

I had one boy today that, during the math portion, would just stare out in space from time to time, as if the answer was written somewhere on the ceiling.  I have another boy who just sits and gels for about 5 minutes at a time.  It looks like he stayed up til 3 a.m. or something (I doubt he did, but you never know).

It gives me a lot of time.  I’m supposed to walk around the class and monitor, and I do.  But I can’t walk around for the entire 2 hours and 15 minutes.  I walk around, then sit.  Walk around, then sit.  Sometimes I’ll check papers while I walk around, or while I sit.

But I gotta keep moving.  One year, our principal walked around the school, and if she found teachers sitting at their desks, wrote them a note in their box reminding them to keep moving.

What ever.

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A’s Writing

The king who rained

I remember when I was little.  My family were saying weird word that I didn’t know, like my sister has a frog in her throat, and my daddy says there fork in the road, or sometimes my mom tell me to get the hair spray and when I give it to her she says I am a little deer.  But when I grew up the wird word they told me were hyperbole.  I will never forget those word.

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Spring Break

Just under a day left!  I love the Friday before vacation!  We’re taking a district test (the DCA), and the jog-a-thon in the afternoon.  Woo hoo!

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Test Time in the Classroom

Spring Break is coming soon, and with that is the spring DCA’s (District Common Assessments).  There are 3 of them, math, language arts, and writing.  We’re taking all three this week.  I try to spread them out some, as to not overload the students.  But while they are taking the test, I find I have some extra time, which is always nice.

While they are busy, I can get some things done, like correcting papers.  Papers that I need to use for their grades are usually checked by a volunteer parent (I have about 6 of them that I can send work home to be corrected) or checked in class.  Then I put percentages on them and enter those percentages into my grade book (I use Microsoft Excel).  A lot of papers I just need to look at and mark to let them (the parents) know that I’ve seen it.  Then those papers, as well as the ones I’ve used for grades, go into the basket at the back of the room.  From there, they are put into each students cubby, by me or student volunteers (a favorite classroom job).

But while they are working quietly on their tests, I do have a few minutes to glance at the headline news on my lap top.  Don’t tell anyone, but I can check the hockey standing (not that it matters for the Ducks these days) and see what the Lakers are up to.  It’s also a good time to straiten up my room, but that usually involves correcting/checking papers (see above).

I have to confess, I love when the class is testing.  It’s nice and quiet, and I can get things done.  To bad they can’t test every day.

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Report Cards, Finished

I finished my report cards yesterday (the day they were actual due).  I had take my laptop home a few days to bang out some grades and some comments, and I had to check some assessments at home as well, but on the day they were due, I left school at 4:15 with my report cards finished.

That’s got to be some kind of record for me.  I usually tell other teachers, when they ask if I’m finished, that I have until midnight the day they are due.

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The Writing Test

The test came today.  I picked it up from the vice principal’s office first thing this morning.  You have to count your tests to make sure you have one for all your students, then initial to indicate you received the same amount of tests that they say you did.  The first thing I did after picking them up was to look inside one of them and see what genre of writing it was.  Let’s just say I was happy (I’m not allowed to say what the writing genre was).

Our test directions (they call them the DFA’s – Directions for Administration) tell us exactly what we can and can’t say to the class.  We have a direct script that we need to read.

I think I was more nervous this morning then the students, especially before I got to school and saw the writing prompt.  Some of the writing genres are so difficult, especially the ones where the students have to read a passage and either write a summary about it or respond to it.

A lot of my students struggle with reading, and if they have to read something BEFORE they write about it, just makes the test that much more difficult.  It’s almost like it’s a reading AND writing test.  Which would be okay, but the reading test comes later in the year.  This is just supposed to be a writing test.  That is also why I wish we could read the writing prompt.  It’s not very long, but believe it our not, some of my students have trouble reading it.  I don’t understand why a teacher just can’t read the writing prompt to the students.   That way the students can be clear on what they are supposed to write, and they don’t get penalized because they aren’t good readers.

But don’t get me started.

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The Writing Test

Spending Monday morning writing with my class.  We have four genres to review: narrative summary, expository summary, personal narrative, and fictional narrative.  We’ll be wiring thinking maps for all of those in the morning.  And maybe putting one or two to a rough draft.  But the thinking map is the key.  It’s their plan.  Once they get that, the rough draft should be easy.  So we’ll be practicing that all morning.

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