Nathaniel Bacon, William Berkeley, & Susquehannock

If you’re a history buff, then you know how these three guys relate to each other. If you’re not, then here’s the skinny. In 1632, William Berkeley was governor of Virginia. Nathaniel Bacon, a wealthy plantation owner, was his right hand man. Bacon (of the famous Bacon’s Rebellion) wanted the Indians land. However, since Governor Berkeley was making money trading furs with the Indians, he didn’t want anything to change. If he gave into Bacon’s demands and threw the Indians off their own land, he wouldn’t make money trading with them. So, Berkeley kept putting Bacon & his cronies off; telling them to basically make peace with the Indians. Well, this wasn’t good enough for Bacon. He decided he was going to have the land whether Governor Berkeley said so or not.

So, why do I mention all of this? I mention this to tell you about my student’s re-enactment of this moment in history. I wanted them to be able to see things from others perspective. However, things took on a life of their own (in a good way). That’s why I put this in their MUST DO packet. They really got the message. I will videotape it next year. So excited!

What Will My Quickening Experience Be Like This Year!!!

What will my Quickening experience be this year? I am so looking forward to this. I am eagerly awaiting the experience. I remember the first year when I had my Quickening experience. I could not believe how intense the experience was. It was like all the information I was trying to absorb during the year was suddenly being absorbed all at once. I quickly wrote that information down and put it to good use. Right now, I am in the planning my room change. I am going to get some thematic fabric from Joann’s and cover my boards with them. Then I am going to structure the classroom so there’s a better flow to it. I will actually post before & after pictures my room in August. I am really looking forward to planning and relaxing. So, let me get to it. Bye for now!

This Time…

So many times I’ve begun this journey; so many times I’ve failed. Oh, but this time would be different, I told myself. And somehow, I knew that it would be. Today, May 18, 2011, is the re-beginning of my journey. Yes, I did say re-beginning. Hello, New Beginning!

Ghirardelli For Everyone!

My 4th graders are finishing up Chapter 9 in their Social Studies book, “Oh, California”. One of the immigrants we’re studying, who came to California to seek his fortune in the gold mines, was Domenico Ghirardelli. Thankfully for all you chocolate lovers out there, he didn’t make his fortune in gold. He made it in chocolate and his legacy lives on.

In order to make a connection from the past to the present and make the lesson real for them, I gave them all Ghirardelli chocolate squares. They were super excited. I think they’ll remember that Ghirardelli was important to California history, don’t you?

A McGyver-Like Presentation!

You know how McGyver was able to make a bomb from a chocolate bar, a rubber band, & something else? Well, that’s what I felt like yesterday. I was able to throw together a presentation from some string and two pieces of bubblegum. Well, it wasn’t that drastic, but I only had a granola bar, two packets of syrup, a packet of ketchup, a bottle of ginger ale, a couple bottles of water, a bottle of Broma Cleanse (a colon cleanser) and a bottle of Oil of Oregano.

Here’s the story. Yesterday, my school had Family Fitness Night. Every teacher had a station. My original station was a physical activity station that I was not too thrilled with. I wanted to do the nutrition presentation, but it was already taken. There’s a long story in here, but today I don’t feel like writing it. So, to make a long story short, I left my P.E. gear at home since I was running late. By a sheer stroke of luck, I was assigned the nutrition presentation at the last minute. Even though I had no presentation materials, I wasn’t worried. I am excellent at presentations. This is what I did. I practically did it with a shoestring and two pieces of bubble gum. I grabbed a Sweet & Salty granola, ketchup packet, two packets of syrup, my Oil of Oregano, a bottle of Bromacleanse (a colon cleanser), a bottle of ginger ale, and a couple bottles of water. I looked at the stuff that I had and wondered what they all had in common. Lately, I’ve been researching the harmful effects of high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup is in nearly everything. So, of course, there’s high fructose corn syrup in ketchup (3rd ingredient), syrup (1st & 2nd ingredients), and ginger ale (2nd ingredient).

So, that’s the way I decided to go. I explained the Food Pyramid to refresh everyone’s memory, asked a couple questions about that. Then I went it for the kill (j/k) with the questions regarding the high fructose corn syrup. Finally, I tied it all in with the Oil of Oregano and the Bromacleanse after I  presented an example of a healthy menu. I was pretty proud of myself. I’m not sure if you can understand what a great feeling I got from this, but I do. I am so proud of myself. I definitely pulled a rabbit out of my hat with this one.

It Still Surprises Me!

It sill surprises that all my students bought into my classroom management system. I use Lakeshore Learning money. They get so excited during payday. They relish counting their money. They count it like it’s real. Even though I’ve been using the Lakeshore classroom money for three years now, it still surprises me how much they enjoy it.

At the beginning of the year, when I created the time sheet, I showed them how to fill it out. I also showed them how to write a check. So, every three weeks, I pass out three time sheets & three checks. If they lose either of them, they don’t get paid. I’ve had much success with this. Only three students have lost checks or time sheets so far. If you guessed that I stuck to my guns and did not pay them, then you are correct. They were pretty upset at first, but quickly realized that I was not going to cave.

For those of you unfamiliar with my classroom management system, here’s a post.

What I Like About You!

Since it is nearing the end of the year, I”m thinking about the beginning of next year. So, today I polled my students and asked them what they wanted to change about the class. This is what they said they did not like about the class:

  • Slow internet connection,
  • Not enough field trips,
  • No math workbooks (We’re getting EnVision ones next year),
  • No A/C (we were burning up),
  • Heater doesn’t work (we were freezing),
  • No couch or chair in the classroom (I’m bringing the one from my garage for next year),
  • The stealing in the classroom,
  • Some students not doing their homework or trying (only 2),
  • More science

Now, this is what they liked:

  • All of my personal books that I brought to the classroom,
  • Organized classroom,
  • Centers,
  • Art supplies (purchased with my own money),
  • Cleanliness of the class,
  • Computers in the class,
  • The tables for the centers,
  • Group & the ability to work in them,

This is what I did NOT like:

  • The stealing
  • Some students not turning in their homework or making little or no effort,

This is what I DID like:

  • Everyone in the class gained at least 25 w.p.m. (D.I.B.E.L.S.)
  • Everyone’s attitude changed for the better. Although there are some I would have liked to have changed more, I am still happy with the change.

I saved the BEST for last. This was what more than half the class said, “Miss, you are the best teacher in the world.”

Of course that made me blush. I am really going to miss them.

It Took All Year, But…

It took all year, but Olive Boy has finally come around. He has stopped the incessant arguing while I’m trying to help him. He easily admits his faults now & takes responsibility for them. I had a rough year with him, but it is so nice to see the results of all the work I’ve put into him. The change in him is worth at least four children. However, for awhile, nothing seemed to be working. I don’t know what it was that caused the change; maybe I started looking at him through different eyes. All I know is, one day, I started seeing him differently. I love that he is maturing and getting himself together. It’s too bad, I won’t have him again next year in my class. But, at least I get a chance to see him for three more years as he goes from 5th to 8th. I will enjoy seeing him mature further.

Looking & Feeling Really Tired!

Lately, it seems no matter how much sleep I get, it’s just not enough. More than one person today has commented on how tired I look. I would say that I really need to get some sleep, but I keep doing that and still feeling like I have not. I’m going to try it again when I go home. So, bye for now.

What Do You Get When You Combine A Mother with A Teacher?!@#$

My daughter, being the Beggin’ Bessie that she is, keeps asking for money to join all these different websites. I, being the wonderful teacher that I am, did what any mother would do- I charged her the $4/monthly fee. (Only time will tell if she wants to spend her own money next month.) But before I collected the money, I made her write me a persuasive essay detailing why she should be able to spend her money. Yep! That’s what happens when you combine a mother and a teacher.

Just Do This!

My daughter, in all of her 9-year old wisdom, gave me an unsolicited answer to a very complicated question. “Well, Mom,” she said, “you can fix it if you just …” The rest doesn’t really need to be written. It’s what people do. They give unsolicited advice, thinking they’re helping by minimizing.

Now, I’m not mad at my daughter. She’s only 9. The recommendation she gave me was actually pretty good. I can actually remember thinking like her when I was nine.  I don’t have a problem with a child’s simplistic answer. My problem is with ignorant, but well meaning adults. That’s the thing with teaching, everyone thinks they can do it. However, if you’ve been teaching for any amount of time, you know that is not the case. Teaching takes years to master. It’s not like anyone can just a walk into the classroom and do it. Although there are some that can. They are very rare indeed.

My advice to you: If you know a teacher (especially a new teacher), please don’t say to them, “Just do this…”

The Past and Present!

Oh, how I love PDs that actually get your juices flowing, motivates you and makes you raring to go. I had a PD today that did just that. It was a wrap-up of 6 months worth of writing instruction with a writing coach. I learned so much today and this whole year. I can’t wait until summer when I can sit back and enjoy The Quickening, when I assimilate all the information I’ve learned this year. It’s funny how it hits me like a bolt of lightning. It gives me the strength to put the changes into place. In fact, I’m putting the changes into place as we speak. Although you can’t see it, I am in two places at once- the present and the future. In the present, I am writing down all my ideas and plans for the future. In the future, I am decorating my classroom and putting together all the pieces of the puzzle I’ve learned this school year, and I have to tell you, my classroom looks amazing.


Just the other day, I posted about the summer slide and how to avoid it. Well, I discovered a great way to help combat it. Here’s the latest website that I signing Phillise up for. It’s called I’m also requiring my students to sign up for it for the summer. That way, I can keep track of them and will know approximately where they are (academically) when they return to school. It’s a cool site and it’s free. Check it out!


Lakeshore Learning-Buy 1, Get 1 Half Off!

Here’s the newest coupon from Lakeshore. It’s valid from 5/21/11-5/22/11.

Present this coupon at time of purchase.
©Lakeshore coupon code: 4005
Offer valid 5/21/11–5/22/11. Purchase one item at regular price and receive the second item of equal or lesser value at 50% off its regular price. Valid on in-store purchases only. Limit one coupon per customer. Offer excludes sales tax & shipping charges. Valid on in-stock items only. No ship-to or special orders. Not to be used toward the purchase of gift cards or in conjunction with any other offers, prior purchases, sale items or Great Buys. Limit one item per coupon per transaction. No cash value. Must present coupon at time of purchase. Offer void where prohibited.

Examination of Conscience!

This post is in response to one of my posts from a couple weeks ago regarding Reconciliation. The student in question & I had a chat right before Confession on the day before Spring Break. He said that he wasn’t going to do confession. I called him and talked to him and told him that he needed to have some type of remorse for what he did. I know it was only an eraser, but all things start small. So, I told him to examine his conscience and see if he should be sorry for what he did. He sat and thought about it for a minute, then he said, “Okay, Miss. I’m going to do it.”

So, he went to confession.

That’s not the end of the story, though. On Friday, as I was paying my students their weekly salary, he told me, “Miss, I’ve changed. Ever since I stole that eraser, I’m not the same. I’m not as selfish. I share. I don’t want to steal anymore. I almost had to look around to make sure I wasn’t on Candid Camera or something. It was just the perfect ending. I can’t even believe it happened. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending.

Thank goodness I teach Religion!

Behavior Challenges in the Homestretch

I just read an article by this name on the Responsive Classroom website. I’m happy that I found it because I am indeed having behavior challenges in the homestretch. And here I thought I was the only one having this problem.

The problems aren’t really bad. The main problems I have in my classroom is the off task behaviors like talking and petty bickering. I was starting to feel like I’d done something wrong. I was thinking that maybe I didn’t teach them well in the beginning. Well, after reading this article I was assured that I wasn’t a slacker. I simply need to follow the advice in the article and re-teach my rules and expectations. I will begin bright and early Monday morning.

So, if you would like to read it for yourself, here’s the link: Behavior Challenges in the Homestretch

A Chat With A Grateful Parent

This post is a continuation of A letter from a grateful parent. At the Parent-sponsored Appreciation lunch, one of the parents thanked me for working with her son. She told me that she loves how far he’s come on an academic and personal level. She even said she sees a difference in all my students. She would know since she’s known my students since the 1st grade.

“You deserve to be appreciated more often. Thank you for being the best teacher he’s ever had,” she said. This made me tear up. I really felt special that day. I guess I am making a difference!

A Letter From A Grateful Parent

Yesterday I had my students make birthdays cards for Peter’s mother. Well, today I got a pleasant surprise as Peter handed me a Thank You card from his mother. In the note, she thanked the class for the birthday cards & thanked me for doing such a fantastic job with her son. It felt really good to get that note.

Plus, to top everything off, the parents surprised me with a Teacher Appreciation Lunch. I gotta’ say, today was a good day at school.

Resources for Transcontinental Railroad

If you use Houghton Mifflin’s Oh, California! there is a small poem regarding John Henry that is a perfect tie-in to Chapter 7 (which is all about building the transcontinental railroad). If your students are anything like my students, then they will become curious about John Henry. Thankfully, I already have the John Henry Book by Julius Lester  & animated video by Scholastic. However, for those of you who do not have them, there is a nice video on Youtube that has an introduction by James Earl Jones. It’s about 11 minutes long, so it’s broken into two parts. However, since WordPress has stopped allowing the embedding of Youtube videos, I can only provide the links. So, if you’d like to see them, here’s the link: John Henry, part 1, & John Henry, part 2.

You Betta’ Recognize! (or Looking At Pocahontas Through New Eyes!)

Since my 5th graders are studying Pocohantas, John Rolfe, & the colonists, I wanted them to watch Pocohantas before Spring Break. However, I could not get my hands on it. I tried frantically to find anyone with a VHS tape or DVD of Pocahontas, to no avail. Many told me they had it, but no one was able to produce it. So, I ordered it through Netflix. I didn’t order the Disney one though. The one I ordered was still animated, but in the interest of class time, I ordered one that was only 45 minutes long. The students were super excited about watching it. I told them there was a catch, they had to watch it with “new” eyes AND they had to take notes. This was basically the same speech I gave them when we watched Bugs Bunny.

In the beginning, in order to familiarize them with the note taking process, I paused the DVD to ask if what they were watching was important. Of course they knew it was important, since I stopped them. They wrote it down while we discussed why it was important. As we progressed, I gave them less & less time to take notes. I told them they needed to be able to recognize what was important and take notes without stopping the film. Initially there was bellyaching & moaning until they got the hang of it.

I had to stop the DVD right before lunch time. But, before they left for lunch, I had them read their lists just to make sure they understood. So far, so good. Once they return from lunch, we will continue the movie. I will then have the 5th grade students write a summary, read it to the class and vote on the one they think best to go on the Social Studies board. I will let you know how it goes.

Bye for now!

Snap Back to Reality, Part Whatever!

Yes, I am back from Spring Break. The break was way too short. I definitely could have used more time. That’s okay, though, there are only about 7 weeks left in school. Boy, I cannot wait for summer. This summer, I am putting Phillise in cheerleading with my niece. Not only that, but she’s going back to guitar lessons, & I am thinking about dance @ Lula Washington. Activities for David will include art lessons at Barnsdall & some type of sport or self-defense (probably karate). He was in karate before and didn’t want to do it, so guess what, I didn’t make him. That was a big fat mistake that I intend to correct. But, that’s a post for another day; probably later on today.

Bye for now!