Currently ~ Superb September!

     Hello there!  It's already another month which means that it is time to link up with Anne in Residence for:

 Beginning

Well, it is that time again:  Back To School.  I have been preparing my classroom.  The desks need to be 3 feet apart, and we will all wear masks.  I am happy that the kids get to come to school.  It is so important to have that interaction.






Ending

My summer vacation is ending.  I'm always amazed at how fast the summer flies by.  Labor Day weekend is the time to close the pool.




 Loving

I really love deep cleaning and organizing my house and now my classroom.  It makes such a difference to be in a neat place where everything belongs in a certain place.  Of course, I need to figure out how to maintain the clean and neat house and classroom.  If you have discovered the secret, please let me know!




Picking

I picked out my first day of school outfit!  I still need to have a brand new and special outfit for the first day of school.  I got the skirt at the Nordstrom sale over the summer!






Posting

I really wanted to post to my blog every week.  I did try.  Link-up parties really motivate me to write and share my news.  I'm writing a blog post about how I clean and organize my classroom.  I am holding off on posting because I want to include how to maintain a sense of order.  When I am teaching, I tend to throw everything on my desk ~ which is not a good habit, but I want to be present to teach and help my students.  

Tomorrow is my last day of vacation.  My classroom is in pretty good shape so I'm hoping to enjoy this Labor Day Weekend!



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Professional Development For Next Year

Hello there!  Thanks for popping in for another edition of Hot Lunch Tray's Blog Challenge!







Next Year and Professional Development

     I wish that there was training in how to avoid Back to School Anxiety.  I get so worried about being prepared for Back to School.  I know that once I am back at school, and the students arrive, I will be fine and happy.  Knowing that the summer is dwindling and that life will be new and different once school starts, causes self-doubt and nail-biting.  If anyone has the solution to this situation, please let me know.

     In real life, I could use professional development in the following areas:

*Fountas and Pinnell Reading Program:  We are starting this exciting new program, and I need to learn how to use all the new materials.

*Fundations:  This new phonics program is brand new for 3rd grade next year.

*Lucy Calkins Writing Program:  Last year was our first full year.  I have made many slide decks, but I would love to learn how to deal with students who do not want to write.

     Well, those are my top areas of "Needs Improvement."  What makes Professional Development memorable and helpful for you?  I would love to hear your thoughts!



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Currently August is upon us!

Hello there!  Can you believe that August is upon us?  Time sure flies when you're having summer!  It is time to link up with Anne in Residence for:




Admiring

We went to Block Island off the coast of Rhode Island last week, and I really admired the beauty of the place:  the ocean, the bluffs, the scenery in general...The Abrams Animal Farm was right across the way from our hotel, and I went there every day to check out the alpacas which were my favorites!



The owners of the farm shave the alpacas and make yarn.  You can even buy socks and others items made from the yarn!



Anticipating

As soon as August arrives, I start thinking about Back to School and what I have to do to prepare.  There is uncertainty because of the the new variant, but I am really hoping to have the rug back in my classroom.  I have heard that students need to sit 3 feet apart so I'm not sure if they'll be able to sit on the rug yet, but I remain hopeful!
A flashback to a visit from a therapy dog on our classroom rug!


Enjoying

I am enjoying the sunny and mostly dry weather.  In Massachusetts, we had one of the rainiest and coolest July's on record, but it seems like the weather is improving, finally!  Now that it's August, the weather seems to be settling into temperatures in the 80's, low humidity and less rain (hopefully, now that we are not having a drought anymore)!



Spending

Of course, I spent some money at the Nordstrom sale.  I bought two winter coats (although I'll only keep one at the most).  My at least 10 year old red Lands End winter coat is no longer waterproof so I need to replace it.

Did you buy anything at the Nordstrom sale?


Saving

Last but not least, I am saving book recommendations.  Anne recommended the book, The Soulmate Equation, and now that book is on reserve for me at my library.


I just finished this book and really enjoyed it:  The Henna Artist which is a Reese Witherspoon Book Club Selection.  This book takes place in India and centers around a woman who is trying to make an independent life and living as a henna artist.


If you have any book suggestions for me, please leave them in the comments!

I hope you are enjoying the summer and staying healthy!  Thank you for checking in today!





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Next School Year is Right Around the Corner! What I'm Keeping, Losing, and Trying!

Hello there!  It is so nice to see you again!  Welcome to this week's prompt:  What will you keep/lose/try this coming school year?





Next year....

     I am already thinking about what next year will be like.  In Massachusetts, I have heard that the desks only need to be 3 feet apart vs. last year's 6 feet.  I am anticipating wearing masks again as the amount of cases here is on the rise.  Plus, my students are too young to be vaccinated.  

What I'll keep...

     My students LOVED directed drawings last year so I'll definitely keep up with this activity.  Last year I reinforced  what we learned in class with a comparable directed drawing.  I have the kids draw and label the drawings.  In addition, I have them include important information.


 Here is an example of a Wampanoag long house.  You can even find the directions here for free!

     Morning Meetings are a must-have that I will always keep.  Kids need practice learning how to greet others and have conversations.  Listening is another super important skill that I model and emphasize to my students.  Most kids claim that their parents are "always on their phones" or "too busy to listen."  Morning Meeting time becomes even more important and necessary!

What I'll lose...

     I want my students to spend less time on the computer.  Before the pandemic, we used the Chromebooks twice a week in school for one hour each time.  I want to return to less dependence on technology for learning.  

     Last year most of my students had never used a dictionary or heard of encyclopedias.  I know they can look everything up online, but it's also helpful to learn of the "old-fashioned" way for finding information.  There is a comfort in holding a book and turning the pages.

What I'll try...

     Next year I am very excited to dive into our own new reading program:  
     

     



If you are currently using this program, I would love to hear any advice/tips.  I am so excited to offer a new reading program to my students!

     New year we are also starting Fundations in third grade.  We have had one training in June, but I still need to adjust and learn how to use something new.

     Please let me know if you have any insights into any of these activities.  I would love to hear from you.  Thank you for visiting the blog today!





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Communication: All Are Welcome!


Hello friends!  Thanks again for visiting the blog for this weekly link-up sponsored by Hot Lunch Tray!




All Class Virtual Day on Wednesdays!

Every Wednesday, I always signed on to Google Classroom at 8:15.  Class did not start until 8:30.  This way students and/or parents could pop in for a quick check-in or question. It was actually a very nice, casual atmosphere, and we would just chat about whatever the kids wanted.  Plus, parents and other family members were quite curious about online learning and enjoyed listening in.

In addition, I offered a snack story time during our online day on Wednesday.  I even invited siblings if they wanted to join us and listen to the the story.  I would borrow ebooks like Scaredy Squirrely by Melanie Watt and other fun titles:


The younger siblings especially loved being included.  I was happy to oblige because I love reading, and if these kids are happy for 10 minutes, this time makes a difference!  

Remind

This year we used Remind to contact parents.  Remind sends messages directly to the parents' cell phones.  Rather than sending home newsletters (although I did do a few), I sent quick and relevant messages to the parents.

I read many articles last year about how parents felt overwhelmed with the technology and online learning.  I tried not to add to their burden.


Online Conferences

I know that I LOVED having this option.  The parents seemed to like having a scheduled Google Meet set up just for them.  Of course, teachers had to go to school to do conferences due to the contract, but I was happy for the parents to stay in the comfort of their own homes.  


In closing

 A while ago, a student's father remarked how "at this age, you pretty much live with us."  Visiting online gave me the opportunity to have a glimpse into my students' lives and families.  Of course, I would prefer to communicate with my students face to face, but I think we all made the best of a difficult situation and became more resilient in the process!  






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Terrific Technology To Try!: Week 4: Summer Blog Challenge

Hello there!  Welcome to another weekly installment of this Summer Blog Challenge!  Thank you for visiting today!







Screencastify!

While we were fulltime remote and later in hybrid learning (from September until the end of March), I read a chapter from a book every day as part of "At Home Work."   I borrowed ebooks from my local library.  I would then read a chapter and record as I read on Screenscastify.  To ensure the kids had listened and understood, I made quizzes.  I would screenshot (I bet I have broken a lot of copyright laws) a passage and ask a question on a Google Form.

     Here is an example from a Poppleton book.  I love and cannot live without the snipping tool which allows me to make these screenshots.  I still use the snipping tool and highly recommend checking it out if you have not used it!

       Thanks to all my videos, I got recognized in my district by Screencastify.  This is the first time I am telling anyone about this because I don't think my family would even understand (even though they hear me reading and acting out the voices).



Next up is:  More About Google Forms

     A lot of my At Home Work I assigned was made on Google Forms.  It is self-correcting, and I know right away who still needs to finish work.

     During hybrid learning, I wanted to make sure that all my students read the Morning Message, so I turned that into a reading assignment:


This way all students got to read the message and answer the questions.  I always had 5 questions, and one of them was the answer to the Fact of the Day.  My Morning Message also reviews something we learned the day before.  When we have time, I like to ask questions that relate to what we read in the message.  Reading the Morning Message is the last part of our Morning Meeting.

     You can read more about Morning Meetings here.


More About Pear Deck

     I am a HUGE fan of Pear Deck.  I spent so much time teaching myself how to use this add-on and how to use it in breakout rooms.  Here is a link  to a blog post I wrote about Draggable activities.  

      In addition, you can even earn badges!  Badges must be the new thing because I have created a folder for them!

     As always, I appreciate your visit and comments!  





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Currently: Just July and Summer!

Hello there!  Thank you for popping in today!  I am linking up with Anne in Residence for her monthly link-up:






Eating

Now that it is summer, I am trying to eat more vegetables.  My new favorite is spring mix lettuce, strawberries and feta cheese with balsamic vinaigrette.


Feeling

A week ago we had extreme heat:  95, humid, sunny.  Then the temperature dropped to 55 and rainy.  On Friday, I was shivering and put that down to the big drop in temperature.  At night, I rotated between shivering and sweating.  The doctor had me do all this blood work and a chest X-ray.  This cycle started 5 days ago, but I'm feeling/hoping like my fever might have broken last night.  Also, the blood work showed that I have anemia.

Anyway, yesterday I went in the pool to vacuum, and this insect paid me a visit!  I looked it up, and a praying mantis is a sign of good luck.  I'm hoping that I will started feeling better very soon!


Going

My husband and I are going to Block Island in Rhode Island during the last week of July.  We are staying for 3 nights.  I have never been so I am excited to check it out!

Click on picture to read more!



Ordering

My daughter is getting married next June which means I need a mother of the bride dress.  I have learned from my sons' weddings that finding a dress is no easy feat.  Dresses that look great don't always look good in real life.  This dress ~ I fell in love with but waited until it went on sale to buy it.  The dress arrived a few days ago, but I haven't had the energy to try it out.  I am hoping for success!




Realizing

I live for the summer!  I love going in my pool with the sun shining on my sunscreened back looking at the tall, green trees and the bright, blue sky.  I love reading books!  I highly recommend this one:

Click on cover to read more at Amazon.

This book kept my interest, and I read it in two days!

Well, this is all of my news for now.  I am wishing you a happy and healthy summer!  





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Week 3: Summer Blog Challenge: Additional Supports for Students



Hello there everyone!  Happy 4th of July and Happy Summer!  I am delighted to link up for the third week of Hot Lunch Tray's Blog Challenge!






Student Supports

     The cohort part of the year (from September to the end of March) made transitioning back to in-person learning easier.  I met with each student every day multiple times to check in and to help academically.  We spent a lot of time reviewing; even with new material, the students needed more opportunities to retain their new learning.  In the past, I would do centers, and this year, it was each student learning on his or her own.  Luckily, I was able to actively help due to small class size, but then... 

     My students needed even more empathy and support from me.  When we went from cohorts to full-time learning at the beginning of April, the kids were miserable the first week:

"We're so tired."

"We're starving."

"We need the bathroom."

     We had additional class meetings (other than our usually scheduled Morning Meeting).  We thought of solutions to their problems.  One students asked if she could have a second snack during Quiet Time after lunch recess.  Many students jumped on that bandwagon!  That definitely helped with the hunger issue.  The fatigue and need for the bathroom adjustments were fine after that first week.

A support I really missed:  my rug!

     During normal times, my students and I spend a great deal of time on the rug:  for morning meeting, read-alouds, sharing,...  Our rugs were removed to make more space so that the kids could sit 6 feet apart.  I wanted my students to have a change of scenery, but they had to stay at their desks.

     Instead of going to the rug, we had a morning stroll around the perimeter of the classroom.  This was during the cohort part of the year.  We walked for about 5 minutes.  I called it the "train."  Kids would hop on as I passed their desks, and we would just walk.  Special teachers knew we walked at 11:30 every day so they would pop in to join us.

Directed Drawing

     Last year my students and I did a lot of directed drawings.  I tried to make them go along with what we were learning.  I even made my own because I could not find one on how to draw a longhouse!


      While reading over this post and thinking about last year, I can't believe we did it!  Even with all the supports, the success depended on resilience, teamwork and problem solving.  I am so proud of all of us for getting through each day because each day was an adventure!









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Week 2: Collaboration with Peers and Students by using Pear Deck™!


Hello everyone!  Thank you for popping in to the blog this week as I link up with Hot Lunch Tray for the second week of her Summer Blog Challenge!







Collaboration.

     Teamwork.  Creating teaching lessons and materials.  Being on the same page.  These skill are so important to our professional and personal success.  Last year required us to work together in my district.  We met weekly with our third grade team leader, Mrs. Formisano.  She reviewed what material we should all cover that week.  Next year (when life is hopefully back to normal), we will continue to meet once a month to ensure all third grade teachers are on track.

     For twenty years, I worked in person with two other colleagues.  Last year, I only worked with one colleague as there were only two in-person third grade classrooms.  Last year was a difficult and tedious year for many reasons.  Next year I will work with two other teachers again:  Mrs. Sheehan (back from maternity leave) and Mrs. Billings who is joining us from 2nd grade.  I am looking forward to working collaboratively with these two ladies and sharing ideas. 


     One web site I fell in love with last year was Pear Deck!  It allowed me to work interactively with my students during online learning and after.  When the Resource Room teacher would visit, I would do breakout rooms and start a Pear Deck.  It gave us an opportunity to give on the spot feedback to students! 

If you want to read more about Pear Deck, head here to get started , logging students in or Draggable™ Activities. 

     If you have any questions about anything in this post, please let me know in the comments!

     Happy Summer Days are here!






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Week 1 of Summer Blog Challenge: Relationships


Hello there!  I am so close to summer vacation that I can almost taste it!  My vacation officially starts on Friday, June 25th, while my students' last day is Monday, the 21st.  I am ready to start writing in my blog again so I can link up with Hot Lunch Tray  This post is week 1 of 8 in the #8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge for educators.







Background Information


We started school in a hybrid model way back in September.  I had 2 cohorts:  Cohort A had 10 students, and Cohort B had 6.  Having cohorts enabled me to get to know and help each student individually.  Students went home at 1:00 p.m. every day to eat lunch so there were no special classes:  those were held virtually during at-home days.  On Wednesdays, we all stayed home and had a virtual class altogether.  


The students and I all adjusted to our new schedules.  We started each day with Morning Work and Morning Meeting.  The kids had recess and could enjoy playing together.  I loved getting to spend time with each student because we made strong connections.



March Arrives:  In School Learning Mandated!


Two weeks before April vacation, we all went back to school 5 days a week all day.  This first week was a HUGE adjustment.  The kids were all tired and hungry.  Plus, they wanted to go to the bathroom all the time ~ just like at home!  It was tricky.


Luckily, I had attended a Responsive Classroom

training years ago and implemented Quiet Time.  Quiet Time occurs right after lunch recess.  I put on quiet music.  The kids can finish work if they have any.  If not, they can read, draw, color or use their Geoboards.  Amazingly, Quiet Time became a welcome relief!  Many kids brought an extra snack to have so that they wouldn't be hungry for the remainder of the school day.



Next week is the last full week of school.  I think my relationship with this group of students is strong.  We all worked and adjusted together.  I am concerned about academic gaps.  We will be doing A LOT OF REVIEW in all areas next week.  Plus, I still need to teach about magnets and the second part of the American Revolution.  The bottom line is that we are all a team, and we will get the work done!








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