The Final Post

Thinking for three days has done nothing to spark any creative way to end this blog. The year is over and it’s time to close this book. Don’t worry the sequel will come out in August but this story is over. 

It has been a story of stress and learning but mostly this year has been one of friendship and belonging. I expected a year long job, doing my best to make it through my year in (what I sometimes referred to it as) fourth grade purgatory. What I needed up with was something strangely different. I ended up with people who are family. I may never look on back on my first class fondly with memories of laughing and good times but I will see my school family and smile. 

I will remember the after school chips and salsa runs several times a week. I will remember laughing about bicycles in the school building and me trying to sport. I will think about the way this group of strangers took me in, took care of me, guided me, and made me feel like I belonged. 

I can count on one hand the places I have truly felt part of and my school numbers at the top. These are the people who have seen my actual worst and still want me around. 

Thanks for a great year, thanks for the memories, and here’s to years more! 

One last time for the year; I love you all! 

Blurt CardsĀ 

It’s not very often I think up ideas on my own that actually work out for my class. Three days ago I brainstormed an idea that seems like it’s having the effect I intended. I was reading articles about how to stop kids from blurting out. My students often assume that they should just say whatever they want whenever they want. It doesn’t matter if I am talking, if the room is silent, or if the principal is in the room. My students assume that whatever they want to say they should at whatever moment suits them. It’s been driving me crazy recently. My class will just start having 14 conversations right in the middle of my sentence. So I researched. 

I found quite a few good ideas that would work for classes that were less challenging than mine. I thought about using beans, as someone recommended, and take a bean away every time a student shouted out. I wasn’t so sure about that with my class because too many of them would knock each other’s beans away on purpose. 

I read so many good ideas that were just not quite right for my class. Then I thought, “what if I wrote prizes on cards and every time a student blurts or the class starts talking while I am talking, I will turn one of the cards over and the students will not get that prize.” 

I grabbed some card stock and a marker and got to work. I put magnet tape on either side so I can easily flip them over. The students can earn 3 extra Friday free time minutes, 2 go noodle songs the next day, up to three dojo points each, and a joke of the day told by a student picked at random. 

I thought for a while about all the things that could go wrong with it. My biggest fear was that students would blame each other for loosing the prize. I decided to try it anyway. I put the cards up on the board and let the students ask about them. They seemed really interested. I told them it would be hard at first to get the prizes because we have trouble with blurting out. I also told them that if one person blurted and I turned over a card that if the rest of the class complained or yelled at them I would turn over two more because we are all learning, we all make mistakes, and we should try to encourage our friends to do better next time instead of just making them feel bad. 

It seems to work so far. I had to turn over 4/5 cards today but we were a little crazy today. Spring break is right around the corner and the kids can feel it. 

I just hope these cards work out the rest of the year. I might make a second or third set to switch out every week so they don’t get bored with the same prizes. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s working. 

I do what I want!

Things get messy in groups of people with different opinions, ways of doing things, and past experiences. It’s not an easy thing to live in the world we live in. So many things are difficult. So many things are unfair. 
So many times we look at our lives and wonder why the things that happen to us happen. We get angry and think we would be better off somewhere else… anywhere else!

Then you have one of those weird moments where the world shifts. Someone says salsa and you bolt out of a staff meeting and actually run through the parking lot talking to your coworkers about doing whatever you want. And you realize, “I can do whatever I want.” 

It takes a lot of kinds of people to make the world go around. Some people that are like you and some people that are different. You need people who are different to show you how you can be better. You need people just like you to remind you what you like about yourself. The thing is though, you get to decide. 

You get to choose how you feel about every day! You get to choose whether you crawl into a hole and think about all the stuff that’s awful or run through the parking lot yelling and get yourself some salsa. You have to look and see things the way you want to.

You have to look at the people around you and know that this person is everything you like about yourself, this person is smart enough to show you what you can work toward, this person is going to be there to support you, and this person is going to walk beside you and make the same mistakes you do! 

Your life is your choice and a terrible attitude will cause even the best life to look like one that doesn’t matter. Bad things will happen. People will yell. You get to let it happen, yell back, or smile at it and get you some salsa! 

Genius Hour

My students have been working extra hard on a preference based independent research project while were not taking ISTEP+ this week. It has been so great. One student wanted to do her project on the first artist. It has been so wonderful watching her learn about cave paintings and different famous cave paintings.

I asked her today if she expected to learn what she did. She said, “no but this is so much cooler! I thought I would learn about Picasso or something but these cave paintings are so cool!”

I love that this project gave her a new perspective on learning. She never knew that this information was out there and it just took a little push to help her learn something that interested her. I love teaching. I love that I have the opportunity to guide students in their learning without spoon feeding it to them.

Real World Applications

Here are my suggestions for state test questions based on real life scenarios so students can apply their skills to real world situations. 

  1. If Miss Haley goes to the office 19 times today and it takes her 200 steps to get there, how badly does she want to put the student who caused her to have to do that in ISR?
  2. Part A: If Miss Haley starts with enough snacks to give each of her 26 students one after each of the four tests but she stress eats 16% of the snacks, how many trips to dollar general will she make in the week? 

2. Part B: If Miss Haley stays up until midnight stressing about the ISTEP and has to get up at 5:20 a.m., what percent of the candy she bought will she eat before 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday? How will that change the number of times she has to visit Dollar General?

            3. If Miss Haley and the teacher next door spend approximately an hour and a half testing students on Tuesday and spend approximately twice that time testing on Wednesday, how many state standards could they have covered if they did not have to take the test? 
Look out IDOE, I have more where those came from! 

Time Travel

One of my students approached me today and said, “if you could travel back in time and see one thing, what would it be?” 

I took a moment to think before answering, “I would go see George Washington be inaugurated as the first president of the United States.” 

He nodded and told me he would see giants… didn’t want to burst his bubble about giants not being real.

The student next to him looked up at me and said, “I would travel into the future.” 

I asked him what he would see and he shrugged and said, “I would go to McDonalds…”

I love my kids! If they could go anywhere and do anything it would be see giants or visit a future McDonalds. 

But Maybe

A lot is going on where I am. I’m sick and I refuse to take a day off to go to the doctor. ISTEP is coming up and the kids are stressing and I am stressing. But something about sitting in our school library with the  afternoon breeze blowing in surrounded by a group of people who are so kind was very eye opening to me. 

I like the place I am. I didn’t think I would ever think that. I didn’t think I would like fourth grade. Maybe it’s not the place I would like most but it’s the place I have come to love. Maybe it’s that my class has been really good. Maybe it’s my super goofball friends. Maybe it won’t feel quite like this every day.

But maybe things are good in the world.