Friday, October 10, 2014

Five for Friday - 10/10

I'm FINALLY chiming in with a Five for Friday!

I know this excuse is probably getting a little tired, but I've been super busy getting everything ready for our adoption home study. There was a bunch of paperwork to prepare, and of course we had to get our house in order. I have to say, one benefit of this whole process is that my house is now cleaner than it was when we moved into it! The good news is that the home visit for the home study is complete! Our caseworker stopped by last Friday and interviewed us, collected our paperwork, and toured our home. She said that we were more prepared than anyone she's worked with! Hurray! The home study has to be written up by her and submitted, but it is safe to say that we passed! We've already started to get information about some birthmothers, though I must admit the situations we've seen so far have not been a good match for us. 

But, the positive thing is that my home is finally back in order, the construction on the basement and bathroom are totally done, the paperwork is collected, and now we just have to sit and wait for the right birthmother to come along. We'll definitely be learning patience in the coming months! I think the waiting with nothing to make progress on is actually harder  than working on a to-do list of things!

On the school front, we've got a lot going on too! We're studying healthy habits in science right now. I wanted to share this cool game all about the new MyPlate stuff that the government has made to replace the Food Pyramid. It's called Blast Off and it is a great way for kids to practice making healthy food choices.

One of my favorite questions to answer is "What are we reading?" I thought I'd share my plan for our class read alouds. I use my read-alouds as part of my mini-lesson and as models for teaching the CAFE strategies.

We just finished The Year of Billy Miller, and the kids loved it! We'll be finishing up Dear Mr. Henshaw next week, and the kids can't wait to find out what happens. I'll be going a different route with Lulu and the Brontosaurus next. It's a fun book with a unique structure that I hope will serve as a little break after a more serious book. Finally, I'm really anxious to begin our novel study of The Invention of Hugo Cabret

I've also been working on several new things for my Math Workshop that I thought I'd share. The first is our current project based learning project. It's all about making a lemonade stand. The kids have been really enjoying it. The kids have taken the profits from their original stands and built new stands to make Lemonade Empires! We're finishing up the project this week. 

I also made this fun version of the popular game Battleship. The kids play the game just like normal, only the grid where they place their boats is a multiplication table! It has been a great way for them to practice their multiplication facts...something they always seem to need a lot of work on! This game is available in my store for just a buck! Go grab it up!

My PTO has started a new tradition that I'm in love with! Free Coffee Friday! Every Friday morning the PTO sets up a big carafe of coffee with a selection of flavored creamers. It saves me the time of making my own coffee that morning, and the different flavors of creamer are great too. This led to the discovery that most of the people in line before me were mixing their creamer in inefficiently. When I showed them my simple method, they loved I figured I'd share it with you as my latest Lifehack for Teachers!

This year I've been honored with (and I'm not being sarcastic, I really DO see it as an honor) the task of mentoring two first year teachers in my building. It has been great working with them and my yearlong intern from Penn State. I feel like mentoring is a great way to push yourself to stay on top of your game and to push yourself further. I mostly just get to answer a lot of their questions, help them set up their workshops, and I share my lesson plans with them to serve as a guide/starting point. I'll also be doing some Peer Coaching and observing in their classrooms, which I'm really looking forward to. We talked a lot lately about whether our "espoused teaching platform" matches our actual "platform in action." For those that are unfamiliar with that lingo, you probably know it as your "philosophy of education." 

These discussions have made me think a lot about what my espoused platform is (what I SAY I believe about teaching) and what my platform in action is (what I am actually DOING in the classroom). The goal of course is for those two things to match. I think I'm doing a pretty good job with that, but I have definitely had some things to reflect on. Most of my reflections have all gone back to something to do with time. Mainly, could I use my time in better ways? I spend a lot of time making fun math games, making projects for my kids, spicing up our bland science and social studies units, devising interesting writing lessons, and making individualized strategy group plans for reading groups. I believe all of those things are important, but I've started to realize more and more that the work hours I've been imposing on myself for the first 14 years of my career are not reasonable, and will not be realistic once I have a child. 

A professor I know made the point that no other professional
sees more than one client at a time. Doctors see one patient,
and Lawyers see one client, an hour or so at a time. Teachers
see 20-30 at once, all day...and are meeting all of their needs.
So, what's going to give? Will I allow myself to let something give? I've reached that point in my career where I feel relatively confident in my ability to teach well...but I am always trying to be better. It goes against my instinct, but I guess I need to give myself permission sometimes to let something be "good enough" so that I can be sure to take care of the rest of the things in my life! I'm sure this is something all teachers have dealt with. What are your experiences with this? How do you decide when something has to give, or is "good enough?"

Be sure to stop by Doodlebug Teaching to check out the other Five for Fridays!


  1. To go along with your lemonade stand project you should have your students read The Lemonade War. It is an amazing book that also features math. My students are currently half way through the book, and they can't wait to find out what happens next.

  2. How sweet your PTA hosts the free coffees for you! I always put my creamer in first because I don't want to fill my coffee too close to the top and then not have room for the yummy flavored creamer!

    Learning at the Teacher Table

  3. I found your blog through Five For Friday! I am so excited to follow you! This is my first year in a multi-age classroom, but I have K-4! I am so excited to find a blog to follow for grades 3-4!

  4. I absolutely LOVE Hugo! The students always flip over the illustrations.

    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle


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