Monday, April 21, 2014

Do You Hear It? I Know I Do!

The rumble of the impending earthquake has been growing steadily louder over the past week. Finally, the world started to shake in earnest as my son turned to me this evening and asked, “Mom, are there only about four weeks left of school this year?”

Yep, our district finishes around this time in May. That means we have about one month left. Although we had snow less than two weeks ago, spring has finally arrived, and summer is just around the corner. (Today’s 80-degree weather and day off from school definitely add to the feeling.)

State testing begins this week for us, and even though everyone is tired, I know from past experience that the kids will be anything but mellow after those final scantron forms have been submitted.

Nope. Instead, they’ll be wired. They will be DONE with school. Oh, their bodies will still be there, but their minds will be outside, in the sunshine. All the teachers out there know exactly what I mean. J

So just when teachers can smell the upcoming summer break, just when we start feeling like we just want to lay down and let the kids run all over us, (like one of those tired mama tigers with their playful cubs crawling all over them at the zoo) it’s time to step up our game, infuse some creativity, and involve the kids’ hands as well as their brains.

One of the ways I would like to accomplish some classroom FUN while still keeping in mind the almighty standards, involves having the kids create a lap book about what they learned this year. I’m also hoping to keep them busy, of course. :D

It’s not just that, though. I really need a quick snapshot of what they’ve learned and what they’ll remember from our classroom. Even more, I want THEM to know, and to remember years from now, what they learned in fourth grade.

I’m not talking about what percentile they’ve reached, or what quartile gains they’ve made. I want to know how they’ve grown as little PEOPLE, and I hope to find out whatever small influence I’ve had in that growth. After all, that’s why I became a teacher. J

(If you want to take a closer look at this project, you can find it here: 

How do you plan to spend the last month with your students? I would love to hear about it! Please tell me your plans in the comments! Thanks!

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Warning! This Post May Make You Itch!

Warning: today’s post is gross, but I really need some help with this one! As I've stated before, I love to garden. It's kind of like a creative release for me. I get to paint a palette with colorful flowers, nourish the future with an edible landscape, nurture my "babies" any way I see fit, rejoice in their growth, and share the harvest with others. I grew up in California, and before we left had gardened for many years in the hot, dry, inland area of Southern California. 

The summers were brutally hot, with temperatures around 115-116 degrees for weeks at a time. Many beautiful plants would not survive the heat, and I looked longingly at pictures in gardening catalogs showing plants that would grow as far as USDA zone 7, but never had a chance in my zone 9 garden.

When we moved to Tennessee, I thought, "YES!! Now I can grow anything I want!" I bought bare-root fruit trees in January, potting them up until the ground and weather were ready. In April and May I planted flowers and herbs, looking forward to the butterflies and hummingbirds that would come, I knew. Sweat and dirt were my friends, because they were the precursors of beauty, and I COULD NOT WAIT for summer!

Then came July, and the mosquitoes and katydids kept up their noisy whine. Irritating, but the mosquito plant outside the back door would keep us safe from the bloodsuckers, I reasoned. But then came something I'd never experienced before, in all my years in the sunshine state.
Suddenly, I was getting bitten in the daylight hours!

Worse still, I never saw or heard any mosquitoes, but by the time I was done gardening for the day, my legs and arms were covered with itchy red welts. They looked sort of like mosquito bites, but each bite had a raised core, and all of them itched to distraction for TEN DAYS, no less! What in the world! Never had I experienced such itching! Why in the world, I wondered, did these Tennessee mosquitoes pack such a wallop?

I decided to look it up on the Internet. At I found pictures that showed exactly the type of bites I had, but they were not mosquitoes causing this mayhem. They were something called "chiggers" which I had heard about from my mom when I was little. I found out that they are microscopic red spidery things that bite. They don't suck your blood, either. Instead, their saliva dissolves your skin cells into a liquid form. Your body reacts by hardening nearby tissue, resulting in a hard center core through which the chigger sucks up its meal. YUCK!!!!

You can't see them, but they will bite you. I spent the rest of the summer last year spraying bug spray on my extremities several times a day, AND I stayed out of my garden. Anybody have a solution to this problem? I miss gardening!

Thank in advance for any help or advice you can offer!

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Currently! at Carol's Teaching Garden

I love Oh Boy 4th Grade's Currently! I can tell that she's tired of standardized testing (Aren't we all?) and is looking forward to the end of the year. It's not that we teachers don't love our students. We do! It's just that it seems like there's less and less teaching and more and more testing going on in our classrooms. We're over it and the kids are over it, too!

That's why I look forward to the class time AFTER testing. Then I can relax and enjoy my students. We have our grade level play and picnic, hands-on science rotations from room to room, and a field trip. So here's my April Currently!

For this month's "Currently" you might wonder who Spotted Pelt is. You might think she's a mouse, or maybe even a guinea pig, but she's not. She starts to squeak softly when she gets her back rubbed, and she grooms her chin in time with the rubbing. Can you guess? Be the first to leave the correct answer in my comments section and receive my Elapsed Time Math Task Cards set FREE! (Make sure to leave your email address, too, so that I know where to send the task cards. :)

For those of you with (soon-to-be) teenage daughters, perhaps you can relate? I love my children more than anything, but it hurts my heart when my daughter throws a temper tantrum and refuses to speak to me for DAYS or even WEEKS sometimes. What do you do when you have adolescent hormones raging in your house?

Next on my list, I love gardening, but I'm afraid of the chiggers! Anyone know how to protect myself from these microscope little fiends?

Of course, I love chocolate! I think it should be its own food group, because sometimes I think I need it to survive! :D What's your favorite kind?

I think the rest is self-explanatory. I hope you've enjoyed reading my "Currently." Don't forget to leave your guess about Spotted Pelt (along with your email address, so I know where to send the task cards. :)

Thanks for reading my "Currently!" Have a wonderful week!
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