Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Teacher's Warm *and Snowy* Heart

Well, friends, my week started with me doing a little snow dance...
    and when I tell you it worked, it really worked....too well, I believe.

Snow fell on Atlanta Tuesday afternoon, and it's been mass chaos ever since.
I have been so moved by the acts of kindness of strangers, and the hearts of teachers since this whole thing began that I felt compelled to blog about it all, and say a big THANK YOU to teachers everywhere.

So, let me back up.
  Tuesday morning...  everyone knew snow was coming, but it wasn't supposed to be that bad, so teachers, parents, and kids alike grabbed their bags and headed to school.

  Flurries started and it was just so pretty!  I took the kids outside (most of whom could NOT remember the last time they had actually seen snow!), and they danced and caught snowflakes on their tongues. It was wonderful..and beautiful. The sight of those sweet little innocent faces so excited about actual, real, snow!

  Then, it just kept snowing.

  Finally, we get the call that school will be dismissing early, so we needed to get on the phone & call parents to come pick up kids.

   Too late.  The phone lines were jammed... Teachers were crammed between file cabinets and windows trying to call parents (not awesome cell service in the building), and by that point, parents were stuck on the roads.

  When I say stuck.. I mean STUCK.... iced in... S. T. U. C. K.
These are people trying to leave the city and get home...get their kids...get to their families.

Chaos, right? And I know, I know.. if you're up north, you can't imagine how 2-3 inches of snow could possibly create such a mess right? Well, we're simply not prepared like you are. We don't have the resources..we don't have the trucks, the salt, the sand.

There are 5.5 million people in metro Atlanta and simply not enough equipment, or need for it (on most days!)  People I work with from "up north" even said, "I've never seen anything like this", or "It's just a sheet of ice out there!".

Buses were running, but several slid off the road or got stuck and couldn't drop off kids.

Parents were sitting on roads and interstates and couldn't get to the schools.

At my own school, teachers and administrators stayed until 10 p.m. until the last child was picked up...
  ... and we were the lucky ones.

In my district ALONE (and there are a lot of school districts in metro Atlanta), there were over 3,000 children stranded at schools and had to spend the night.    People all over the city slept in their cars, and were stranded on the roads for 12....14....16 HOURS.  Some sought solace in local businesses where they slept in aisles or on patio furniture...
Ahh... but the kindness....
    "They" say that sometimes the worst situations bring out the best in people, and through all this, that statement rang true time and time again.

People were opening their homes to stranded motorists, those with trucks that could navigate the snow and ice were rescuing people, Chick-Fil-A and other businesses were handing out food and water...

And the teachers..

Well, of course, I think teachers are always amazing. But, the committment we (they) have to children never ceases to amaze me.

So many slept in gyms or classroom floors...or not at all... to comfort scared and crying children as their parents tried to make their way to schools to take them home.

They did not get to go home to their warm beds, or their own families and children, but rather they stayed at schools and helped children.

This is just ONE picture of ONE school in Atlanta...
It truly warms my heart.
It makes me proud to call this my profession.
And it makes me sad that so many don't see the true value in teachers all over the country.

Teachers LOVE their students.  They don't just teach them content... or test them... or discipline them... or babysit them, as many think... they LOVE them, and they'll do anything to make sure they're okay.

So, with the month of February.. the month of LOVE.... just right around the corner, I wanted to say thank you to teachers.. to ALL teachers...those here who stayed overnight with those everywhere who love their students with everything they have....THANK YOU.

So, it's Thursday now, and we're still snowed in. Many schools are already closed tomorrow, so I'm waiting for the news to know about my own district.

I sit here and read the stories and look through the pictures of the last few days, and I'm just humbled... and filled with lots of those warm fuzzies I tell my kids about.

I hope you all are warm..and happy...and safe... and appreciated this Thursday afternoon, and every day. What you do matters every. single.  day.  :)

*All photos courtesy of Google images and AJC*

Friday, January 24, 2014

Five For Friday (FINALLY!) and Exciting News! :)

It's FINALLY Friday.. and I'm FINALLY linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching (after being gone for way too long) for the fabulous Five for Five linky party....

 It was only a four day week for us with the MLK holiday, but it was a FULL four days, that's for sure. We had a lot of fun, but I am thankful for Friday. :)
 It was the 100th day of school on Wednesday, but we celebrated all week with some super fun centers!
      We made 100 Day Cupcakes and Gumball Machines....
Our gumball machines will be part of a later math lesson. The kids each wrote a subtraction equation on the inside of their machines. Next week, the kids will trade with partners to see who can solve it using the "gumballs" and their subtraction skills :)

 We created pictures using the numbers 1, 0 and 0. This one was just too cute not to share....
We also counted kisses... each one is labeled with a number & they have to pull a kiss, and color in their 100 chart to match the color on the kiss. They keep going until the whole chart is full. Definitely time consuming, but the kids loved it & they all got kisses, too! :)

And cup-stacking....or building... or something. This is the kids' FAVORITE center, and they all can't wait to do it. They have to build ONE structure or something using all 100 cups.  I got this idea from Pinterest, and traced it back to Joyful Learning in KC..... HUGE success!
 It has been COLD... and I mean, COLD in the ATL this week.  Now, I know some of you don't want to hear me complain about 9 degrees this  morning, but for us southerners, that's like dropping us off in the Arctic Circle with a fleece throw and a hat. We just don't have the clothes... or the thick skin...for this stuff!
But I did get to wear my cute sweaters, boots, and coats that never get to leave the closet, so that made me happy.  I do love winter...but after all this cold weather, I'm ready for spring...
 My "ready for spring" attitude leads me to #4.... 
Beach Trip Booked!!!
Every year, my best girlfriends of almost 25 years and I take a long weekend and head to the beach. We all live in different places, and certainly live different lives, so it's one of the things I MOST look forward to every year... and it's booked !!!  Bring on the Florida Sun and Fun!!  The countdown begins...
  I am so excited about my #5.. I am on!!!! :)
For those of you that have read my blog, you know that I am a member of the new teacher material website, Buy, Sell, Teach. Well, they have linked up with Scholastic & my product is on the splash page!
So exciting :)
 You can click the picture to see what Scholastic and Buy Sell Teach have to offer...
and if you are a seller, join up! :)
My January/February Math & Literacy Centers are exclusive only to Buy Sell Teach, and you can check them out by clicking the above picture.... All Common Aligned, too!

Skills include:
1 - True/False Equations
2 - Time to the Hour and Half Hour
3 - Even and Odd with Even Steven and Odd Todd
4 - Nouns, Verbs, and Adjectives
5 - 4 Types of Sentences
6 - Homophones

So, that's it for me, friends!  It's my mom's birthday, so I'm heading to do a little visiting and celebrating with the family this weekend.  Oh, and some relaxing... NO alarm clock tomorrow, that's for sure. 

Is it just me, or are 4-day weeks even longer than the "normal" ones? :)

Have a happy weekend, and as always, thanks for stopping by!!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Do You Have an Opinion?? Freebies x2!!

It's a three day weekend.... Hallelujah! Hallelujah!  
Can you hear the singing?  Oh I can.....  I so can. :)

I have been just awful about blogging, but it's just been one of those years. Every time I take two steps forward, I feel like I take 3 steps back, and blogging.... well, it just hasn't gotten done.

We just keep getting new kids, and I know there are gazillions out there with enormous class sizes I can't even fathom having,  but it's been an adjustment. 

And the testing.

Oh, the testing.  It's constant, and there's "talk" of implementing even more next year. Ugh.  I am starting to wonder when there is going to be time to actually teach....and be creative...and love learning...amidst all the testing.  But, it is what it is, right?!

Anyone else feel tested to death?

So, enough of my whining, it's SATURDAY, and I'm about to go get some retail therapy to make me feel better...cause, you know, that totally works (until you get the bill! haha!)

I wanted to share our super cute opinion writing with you...I am in LOVE with this activity.

I'm sure you've seen this all over Pinterest, which is where, of course, I found it.

Lyndsey at A Year of Many Firsts posted this catching snowflakes freebie, and I was sold! She got the idea from Artsonia where you can find so many super cute craft ideas... you should definitely check them BOTH out while you're blog stalking. :)

Anyhoo.... this quarter, we have to work on our opinion writing.  Keep in mind, this was our very first opinion piece, so the final products are fairly simple, but it was a perfect kick start to our study...
 We used a graphic organizer to state our opinion about whether or not we liked winter & then, wrote three reasons to support our opinion. I had the kids draw a smiley or frowny face at the top to start their writing.  For some, that visual reminder helped them write their opinion and reasons.
When they finished working on their graphic organizer, they moved to their draft.
Upon writing that, they added a closing sentence to "bring it all together".

I swear, that closing sentence is the absolute hardest thing in the world for my firsties to grasp. I'm trying to get them away from repeating the first sentence again, or just writing, "I like winter".

We've got work to do, for sure, but they really worked hard, and I loved how they turned out! 
This little guy didn't include one of those infamous closing sentences or remember to draw his snowflakes, but I am still so proud.

They each filled out their own grading rubric, and then I added commentary to the bottom of each one.

The opinion writing sheets and rubric are FREE if you click the below picture :)

And, don't forget to visit A Year of Many Firsts for the awesome craft freebie!

Next, I have another freebie for you....
   We have been studying pronouns, and I created this little Pronoun Polar Bear cut and paste activity that was a great way to assess my kiddo's understanding and mastery of using pronouns in sentences.
 There are 2 versions - one with sentences, and one with simple pronoun substitution practice. The kids cut out and glue (only on the star!) the proper pronoun to create little "fur balls" all over their polar bear.
They loved it, and I got a good idea of who "got it" and who didn't.

This FREEBIE is available only at Buy Sell Teach, an awesome new marketplace for teachers.
Just click the picture to grab it!

If you haven't checked out Buy Sell Teach , here's your chance...
There's a few hours left in a blog hop, freebie giveaway that could win you $150 to spend at the site and a bundle of 14 amazing products!

Check out the GIVEAWAY post HERE to grab a bunch of great stuff, and enter to win!!
Get ready to hop to some amazing blogs!! :)

So, that's it for me, friends... time for that retail therapy!
Even if I don't really need to spend anything... maybe I'll just window shop. Yeah...sure..that's what I'll do....

I don't know about y'all, but we get paid once a month.. and our last paycheck was before Christmas, and we're two weeks out from our next one...  

This is definitely how I feel this month...
Anyone else have this feeling?? :)

As always, thanks for stopping by & have a happy LONG weekend!!! :)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Chillin' and Hoppin' Winter Blog Hop - Freebies and an AWESOME Giveaway!!!!

Have you made any New Year's resolutions?  Have you made new goals for your professional life, too?  If so, you will probably need some new materials to use with your students.  You are in luck!  Some friends of mine and I have organized a blog hop.  You can hop from blog to blog and get a freebie on each blog.  That's a bunch of amazing FREEBIES!!!  And, you have the chance to get to know some bloggers you might not be following. :)
We have some amazing prizes for you, too!  
  • Fourteen lucky teachers will win a bundle of lessons.

  • One very lucky teacher will get a $150 gift certificate from Buy Sell Teach AND the bundle of prizes.

Be sure to enter the rafflecopter on each blog because each blogger will pick her own winner. The more blogs that you enter, the greater your chances are of winning.

We realize this is a busy time of year so you will have a week to visit our blogs.  The winner will be announced on our Facebook pages the evening of January 19th.  Make sure you follow our Facebook pages!

Click HERE to download my freebie.

Be sure to enter the rafflecopter on each blog because each blogger will choose her own winner!

*Please note that only ONE winner will be chosen for the $150 gift certificate - the winner will be chosen from the bundle winners from each blog *

Do you follow my Facebook page?  I share freebies, my followers have a chance to win my new packets, and helpful teaching tips.


Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas

My (Not So) Elementary Life

ELL blog
It's LMN Tree

Ready Set Read

Special Teacher for Special Kids

Beverly's Tools for Learning and Clip Art

As always, thanks so much for stopping by & for entering this awesome giveaway :) 
FINALLY, I am getting back into the swing of things, and I couldn't be happier about it. I'm definitely ready for a slow-down! This week, we are working on some fun measurement and pronoun activities - I can't wait to share them with you, so stop back by soon :)