Monday, June 29, 2015

Do you feel stuck?

This year I packed up my twenty-fourth classroom and decided not to return next year.  I submitted a letter of resignation and I'm currently looking for a job outside of education.

This wasn't the first year that I considered leaving public education.  About nine years ago I went to my first retirement seminar to see what options I had.  At that time I decided I needed to teach five more years to reach twenty years of service.  Each year after that I found a reason to keep teaching.  This year I knew by September 12 I had had enough.  I progressed through the year with the goal to make this year the best possible for this group of fourth graders, and simultaneously I made an exit plan.

My first attempt at this blog post was whiny -- detailing all the things I believe are wrong in public education, but I am not really a whiny person.  I like to take action.  I have decided to share in several blog posts how I have decided to move forward.  There are plenty of blog posts encouraging teachers to stay in teaching.  I want to share what happens when you know it's time to move on.

This spring I read a book called Do Over by Jon Acuff.  I was encouraged by his four areas of assets people have as they consider a career move: relationships, skills, character, and hustle.  Working through the book, I could see how many abilities I have that will transfer to a different industry.  I am enjoying reconnecting with friends and family.  I am taking an accounting course to learn some new skills.  I have the next few steps of a plan.

Notice that I wrote I have the next few steps.  I'm not completely sure where this path will take me.  What I know for sure is I have peace for the first time in a long time.  I don't want to discourage the teachers who know that education is still their calling.  I want to encourage those who just feel stuck.

I plan to keep blogging this next year to share the ideas that I have collected over the last twenty-four years.  I invite you to keep reading.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Metric Measurement Review

This post wraps up the series of measurement activities I have been sharing for intermediate students. To find all of my measurement activities, click on the "measurement" tag at the bottom of the post.

 This activity is based on my Odd One Out series of activities.  I give each group a half sheet with four items on it and students write everything they know about the measurements.

The full paid product is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store and my Teacher's Notebook store.

Happy Friday!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Junior Genius Guides by Ken Jennings

You may recognize the name Ken Jennings as a winner on Jeopardy.  He has also written a series of informational books for elementary students. 

The books are engaging and interactive.  Each book has suggestions for related activities and a quiz at the end.  The books are also infused with the type of humor that grade school students enjoy.  (He has school-aged children.)

Several of my students enjoyed reading his books this year.

For an explanation of my rating scale, click here.
Find me at Goodreads.

Monday, June 22, 2015

I don't need the slide show

Recently I attended a gathering for a pastor who has served his congregation for 28 years.  The hosts showed pictures and videos from his time showing his work and how much the people appreciated him.  I've been in my district 24 years, but I've decided I don't need a slideshow.
You see I have the real thing.  Every week this year, I have run into my former students out in the real world in their jobs and lives.  They are glad to see me...glad to tell me what they are doing.  I know that I have made a difference in my community.  They are still my kids.
I have really needed this constant reminder this year.  I worked with the most challenging student I have ever met.  Her life has been so difficult, I don't blame her defensive posture.  Due to changes in her foster family and her educational placement, she did not finish the year with me.
Fortunately, I knew before she did that she would need to move.  It gave me the chance to prepare her instead of just being one more adult that gave up on her.
I had told her about seeing former students all year long and telling her that I still think of them as my kids.  On her last day with us she told me that she might move schools.
"That's okay," I told her. "Remember that no matter what you are still my kid."  I refused to say good-bye.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Quote of the Week -- June 21, 2015

Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid of only standing still.

Chinese Proverb

Have a good week,

Friday, June 19, 2015

Customary Measurement Review

This activity is based on a set called Odd One Out.  For each of those problems, students have to determine which of a set doesn't belong and justify the answer mathematically. 

I decided to change up this activity and make it a group review.  Instead of eliminating one of the items, I give the students a half sheet and have them write everything they know about the measurements on the page.  The page below contains two activities.

The full paid product is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store and my Teacher's Notebook store.

Happy Friday!


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Twice Upon a Time Series by Wendy Mass

I recently finished my fractured fairy tale unit with my students.  The stories my students crafted were so creative that I really enjoyed reading them.  There are several series that are based on fairy tales that have been altered somehow.  The Twice Upon a Time series by Wendy Mass is perfect for the upper elementary students.

For an explanation of my rating scale, click here.
Find me at Goodreads.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Our Settlement

Update: Click here for a printable graphic organizer to create a character description and background information for a writing activity.

I'm in the process of cleaning out my room to get ready for summer.  I snapped a picture of the settlement we created as a part of our social studies unit.

I usually have students research what life was like for settlers in Washington State.  I use photographs from the local university and historical society to show students what life was like then.  We research different inventions to make sure we have no anachronisms. Next I have them write a journal as though they were living here in that time.

This year, we created the settlement as a class to have a common place and events to include in our stories.  The students developed characters to write about.  We even had some claim jumpers and land grabs in our settlement. Some students were placing buildings on other people's claims.  The land office (me) had to settle disputes.

I have several writing assignments like this one in my Writing Historical Fiction product available in my TPT and TN stores.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Quote of the Week -- June 14, 2015

The way we see the problem is the problem.
Stephen Covey

Have a good week,

Friday, June 12, 2015

Estimating and Measuring in Centimeters

I'm in the process of sharing measurement activities I have developed for my classroom.  To see all the posts for teaching measurement for upper elementary, click the tag for measurement at the bottom of the post.

Last week I shared Measuring in Inches.  This week's one-page freebie could be used to teach estimation and careful measuring.  You could also run the two pages back to back and have students compare results between metric and customary measurement.

 To download Measuring in Centimeters, click here.

Happy Friday!

You can order 12 meter sticks from Amazon, buy clicking the affiliate link below.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Brixton Brothers Series by Mac Barnett

The Brixton Brothers aren't really brothers.  In fact only one of them, Steve Brixton, is obsessed with being a detective.  He constantly reads the Bailey Brother books, studying their techniques to use in his own practice.  By copying his fictional heroes, he becomes a famous detective while still in the seventh grade.

I love mysteries and found these entertaining.

For an explanation of my rating scale, click here.
Find me at Goodreads.

Monday, June 8, 2015

What Are Your Summer Plans?

This post isn't entirely school related.  My house and yard are so out of control right now, I struggled to find a photo I was willing to post publicly.  I gave up.  The overflowing dishwasher above is symbolic.

This is my summer plan...get more organized.

So far all I've managed to do is organize my pins on Pinterest.  I humbly share them with you now. 

Follow Mary Bauer's board Household Projects on Pinterest.

I think the next step is to pick one or two realistic projects and start there.  

What's on your summer to do list?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Quote of the Week -- June 7, 2015

Outside noisy, inside empty.  Chinese Proverb
Have a good week,

Friday, June 5, 2015

Estimating and Measuring in Inches

Over the next four weeks I plan to share four measurement freebies I use with my fourth graders.  Frequent readers know that the district adopted curriculum I teach from doesn't have nearly enough measurement activities.  Students learn by doing.
This one-page freebie could be used as a recording sheet for a math station, a small group activity or even as homework.  Students estimate the length of an object in inches and then measure to see how close their prediction was.

To download Measuring in Inches from my Google Drive, please click here.

Happy Friday!


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein

I've read several books for the upper elementary age group that have puzzles interwoven through the story:  Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman and the Winston Breen books by Eric Berlin.  My students enjoy them.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is in the same category.  Luigi Lemoncello remodels and reopens the town library and invites twelve kids to a sleepover party at the library.  So begins a contest to find the way out of the library.  

Here is a tool called Elements and Events for readers to create a summary of the book.

For an explanation of my rating scale, click here.
Find me at Goodreads.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Math Spies: Reclaiming Chaos Compound -- Math Problem Solving

Math Spies is my math problem-solving website where I have posted every Wednesday morning this school year.  Reclaiming Chaos Compound is a series of seven problems where students need to record all of the factor pairs of a number. 

I use problems like these to help my students make sense of problems and communicate completely their answers.  I tell them that if I handed their paper to another teacher who wasn't in the room, that teacher should be able to understand how they solved the problem.

Here are the links to the seven problems:

Update: I recently expanded this unit so students solve the problems and analyze others' mistakes.  

Math Spies Problem Solving with Factor Pairs is available for purchase here in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

This product is also available in my Teacher's Notebook store.

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