summer background

Friday, March 30, 2012

Reading Month, electricity rules, and flying the coop

 What a month! What a week! What a day! What a moment!

Wait a minute!
I'm done! The kids are gone, the power is all unplugged from every electrical appliance in our building! (I'll tell you more about that in a bit.) And now I'm finishing up on a couple things and I'm off to Florida tomorrow afternoon.

Remember at the start of March we decorated our building with beautiful artwork? Well the finale was last night. We hold Stars on Stage every March. This is a time for each classroom to perform for the families. There were songs, plays, and poetry and it was very well received. Also in each room there is another activity going on so the families have something else to do while they are waiting for their child's turn on the stage. One room has tattoos, one has A Minute to Win It games, one had bingo, one was a dance party with disco ball too! One room you could make a book mark, and also one room set up with snacks and tables full of lost and found items for parents to identify. Our library is also open with computers on for kids to show parents what they can do on them. We have a book mobile outside which is a local book store brings a trailer filled with books (new and used) for the families to buy.

I know it was a hit, because the weather cooperated and we had 450 people who signed in. . . keep in mind we are a small school with only 150 students. It was a great night. . . . . a long one. . . home by 8:30, but a great night for families.

Today was a piece of cake. . . couple of specials and a read a thon, plus our principal dressed up like a clown because our students met the challenge to read 5,000 books. However, they read 8,800 books instead! Remember that number of only 150 students. . . that's a whole lot of reading in one month!

Oh, the electrical thing. . . Several years ago they did a study of how much electricity we could save if we turned things off every night and if we turned EVERYTHING off on long breaks. It was a pain at first, but now it's a habit and it has really saved us a lot of money. Every night all computers and monitors must be shut off, anything with a light on it must be off. On long breaks they are not only shut off, but they must be unplugged too. You see even a monitor pulls some electricity when it's still plugged in.

So you may be wondering. . . ok, so I don't turn it off, who cares? What's the big deal?

Well that's called the Energy Natzi!!! He is a retired teacher (that we truly all love!) and he has been hired to come in after hours especially when it's dark, to see what's been left on. If he finds something still on, he puts a smiley face ( A SMILEY face? like he's happy? Nah, like he's gotcha!) on it so you know he's been there and found the something that you left on. Then a report is given to our principal showing who isn't doing their part. .. So all in all we do try to help out and turn things off as much as possible. If it saves more money so they can pay me more, all the more reason, I'm willing to do it!!!

Have a great week. . . I will try not to blog while on vaca, but I will at least be reading yours. . .
Until Easter
Happy Happy!


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pulling Teeth

For several years students have come to me to have their teeth pulled out. . . . I know. . . kind of silly.

I didn't go to dental school, nor do I want to.

But I don't mind pulling teeth.

My hygenist found out that I am doing this so she made this cute little kit for me! Isn't that just so sweet of her?

Inside are gloves, gauze squares, rolled cotton (like the ones she has in her mouth) plastic teeth to put the extracted tooth in, and stickers to give the brave child!
I do love this lady who takes such good care of my own teeth and cares for the teeth of my students!

Today little Miss Di comes to me and asks me if I can pull her teeth. . .  teeth? as in more than one? Yup she has two that are ready! 

So she braves both of them and is so proud of herself, she is even willing to pose for a picture for me! 


Monday, March 26, 2012


My kids love . . .love. . . LOVE to play BAM! I don't know who created it, and if you did, I'd love to give you credit for doing so. (I even searched google for BAM and didn't find it!)

I created a BAM game with some of the words our students need to take the MEAP test in Michigan. These are words for the language arts portion of the test.

Rules for the game. Each child takes a card  from a pile with the cards face down and reads it. If they can read it, they keep it in a pile in front of them. If they can't read it, they place it in a pile near the stack of unread cards. If they draw a card that says BAM, then they must turn all of their cards back to the pile near the stack of unread cards. The person with the most cards in the end is the winner. You can reshuffle them and play again.

(When I first played it and drew one of the BAM cards I wanted to say DAM! So I'm pretty sure that the creator thought of that when they named it!)

A couple suggestions. Don't color in the words BAM, because my kids could see ahead of time when it was coming. Also, they are probably too many BAM cards, so feel free to take some out. Playing the game this way only asks kids to be able to read the words. But you could have them define the word also if you'd like in order for them to be able to keep the word.

I'd love to know how you feel about this game. . . I think this is very appropriate for 2nd, 3rd, or 4th graders.
 Click on BAM to get your copy of the game. . . I couldn't include a picture of it here because it was created in EXCEL and apparently you can't save things as jpgs. . . who knew?

3 more days and I'm on spring break and off to Florida. . . yippee skippee . . I can't wait!


Saturday, March 24, 2012

blog help and a BABY on the way!

I still feel very new to this, BUT with the help of many others and some very good tutorials, I have been able to learn much more about cutsifying my blog. I went to for some free things. . . and ya all know we love free! I listened to her advice on how to change my header. . . and thus, I have something new to share! She advises going to Foto Flexer to add your photos. It was so very clear and easy to do. . . Thanks so much Shabby Blogs!

Whew! The report cards are done. . . and while they are on the computer in a program called Data Director, they still require a lot of assessments and checking ahead of time before I can enter all of the data. We have our report cards lined up with the common core standards which means a lot more things have to be checked and accounted for. It's much more informative, but it's a pain. . . thank goodness it's only 3 times a year since we are on trimesters.

I think I have shared this before, but my husband and I will be grandparents for the first time in early June. Perfect timing for teachers, (which our son and daughter-in-law are) except that we are in school until June 14th. . . I can see already that those last two weeks will feel really long when I would rather be holding that baby!!! I thought I'd share a picture of her with you. Each week she posts this on FB and changes the numbers to coordinate with the week. It's been a big hit with our friends and family.

I hope to make some more fun activities this week. But for now, I'm going to get my Easter decorations up in my home and enjoy this nice weather.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Not tonight . . . . dear!

This is just a quick note, because I don't have time to blog.  . . .

I don't. . . . So don't try to nudge me into doing it!

I have to seriously put my nose to the grindstone and finish my report cards! FINISH!
As in get them done, fill in all those little boxes, write something nice about everyone. EV. ER. Y. ONE!
NICE! not negative. . . encouraging,. . . and progressively positive. . . hmmmm. oh  we'll see. . .

So if you see me here, would some one please slap me back into my report cards? They have to go home tomorrow. . . or else. . . . . they'll go home on Monday. .. . (hey that wouldn't be so bad would it?)

After tonight, I'll be free to post something more exciting. . . . Stay tuned.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Hit counter for your blog

Would you like to add a counter to your blog?

 Would you like it to be free and easy to do?

Well, follow this link and it's as easy as pie! Plus you can choose many different styles to fit your STYLE!

Once you fill out the information, go to your layout. Click on the gadget where you want the counter to be. Go to the add html/java script spot and click on this. Add the code to the body of the box. . . . and wa la! you have a counter!

There are many other different free counters. All you need to do is google it and you'll find others that might appeal to you more than this one.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

AWARDS!! and some blogs to follow

One of the happiest things to see on your blog is when someone gives you an award! How inspiring awards are!!! That means that someone thinks you're doing something right!
 I love that!

Many Thanks to Corinna Gandara from Surfin' Through Second. She awarded me with the Beautiful Blog Award a while ago, and I'm just now getting around to posting it.
 I'm sorry for the delay. . . better late than never. . . right?

And then I also received the Top Ten Blog Award from  Teresa Williams 2nd Grade Pig Pen.

This is so inflating my ego! Really?

Two awards so close to each other?

That's just too special! Thank you very much!

These awards were created to encourage new bloggers. But I think it's for making us bloggettes feel super uber impowered to keep on blogging! What a lift this gives me to think that someone else is looking at my stuff. . . . yea, MY  STUFF!!!
Like it really matters!
Thank you.  . . thank you very much!

Now, I need to find some blogs who also are fun to follow and would also like some recognition. I'm giving each of these blogs both awards. Be sure to click here to see more about this award.
Have you heard of these: Check them out!

Jamie at 2nd Grade Stuff
Cynthia in 2nd Grade Pad

Now if all of you would give each of these a little jingle and see if their blog is worth adding to your list. Don't forget to update the blogs you follow in your layout so everyone's new blogs show up!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Testing questions and a freebie

I haven't been away. . . . I've been reading your posts.

I haven't been any busier than any of you. . . . and this week will be worse!

I think the time change affected me more than I wanted to realize. .. . or maybe I'm just feeling lazy!

And it only took one. . . .

One message from a new follower to get me back on track!

So Thanks Lesa Moore for lifting my energy and reminding me that blogging is something I love doing.

My kids need more practice with regrouping and subtraction. That's what they need. . . practice. . . some have it. . . some don't. Today's freebie is just that. . . practice but cutsy-fied! They may want to have some scrap paper available to help them find the answers, while some kids can do this right in their heads.  This is no longer available. . . I took it off and remade it with Subtraction Stars.

I have checked and double checked to make sure the answers are all correct, but if you should see something, don't hesitate to let me know.

We had Friday off to look at data. I hear you. . . "that's sounds real interesting!" NOT!!  But truly, it wasn't so bad. We looked at the kids we had last year to see how they did on the MEAP (this is a Michigan assessment that is given in the first 2 weeks of 3rd grade after they have had the entire summer off  and most kids aren't even used to getting out of bed early yet!)  {I know. . . DUMB!}

I found this interesting because some of the kids did amazingly well as I would have expected. And then there were those who I expected to do well who didn't! That was a SHOCKER!

Why is that? Why do kids who you know can do it, . . . DON'T? What changes from year to year that causes them to not do their best? Is them? Is it the teacher, of course not! Is it that long summer they just finished? I wish I had an answer, but I don't.

All during their 2nd grade year we are pumping them up to take this BIG test. (we probably scare them more than anything!) We encourage them to read during the summer, practice flash cards, etc. . . but still their scores go down the tubes. If any of you have any ideas of what your school does to encourage good test taking, I'd LOVE to hear it!

I did think about sending a post card with a congrats on it to those students of mine who did a great job and passed. I wondered if that might help them feel good about it.  (oh and another problem. . . you remember WHEN they took the test. . . ? In September.  And when are we seeing the results? . . . March! That gives me a lot of time to work on this group that I have right now!)

This post is getting way too long . . . so enjoy your St. Patty's day from your friend, St. Patty! I hope you can use this subtraction activity! Let me know if you grab it!

St. Patty!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Some Family Pride for an MSU fan

WARNING. . . this is not educational  . . . per se. . . but it's inspirational. . . 
This article is about my dad, John F. West, who is an avid Michigan State Fan.

With the start of March Madness, I thought I could sneak this non educational article in. . . . I hope you don't mind. 

I'm just very proud of my parents. They are 89 and 90 and in wonderful health and have a zest for life. I hope you read this and will agree that I am very fortunate to still have them around.

And by the way. . . .



Monday, March 12, 2012

MRA notes

I want to share a few things that I heard this weekend at MRA (Michigan Reading Association Conference) I was very inspired by many speakers and fellow teachers there.
The first one I heard was from Mary Bigler. If you have ever heard her before, then you know how funny she is and what a hoot she is to listen to. She used to be a teacher and she has many wonderful stories that make you giggle. She also has a book out that tells of these stories. It's a must read if you need to make connections with someone who has walked in your shoes before. She emphasized that the best thing we can do is allow our kids TIME to read. We spend so much time teaching them to read, but if we don't allow them TIME to practice those skills in school, then we are losing ground fast.

The next words of wisdom came from Nell Duke who has also written about book about Genres. She said that we have to think outside the box and not have our kids learn the same way that we did, or assign the same kinds of work that we have assigned for years. For example, instead of asking your students to write a report about a state, have them learn the facts from that state and then make it into a board game. Teach them how to write the directions of how to play the game. Teach them how to make a game board and how to lay it all out. Let them play it with their own classmates, other classrooms, or take it home to play with a family. Doesn't that sound like a much better way to learn something than to just write up a report!

She also said that instead of writing an informational report have them think about their audience and write for them. What environment is this informational writing about? For example The Potter Park Zoo in Lansing wanted some new literature to give to the visitors. So a summer class of kdg - 2nd grade underprivileged boys learned all about the animals at the zoo and they wrote up the brochures in kid friendly terms and that was what the visitors to the zoo received when they walked in the doors. That also sounds much more worth while than just "write a report!"

How can you use this kind of writing in your classroom? Well what about making a book about your school? Write the book for a new student or family moving into town. What would that family like to know about your school? What are the strengths of your school? Then put that book in some Realtors hands, on the tables at coffee shops, at doctor and dentist offices, at the library. . . anywhere someone would have a minute to read something. After all, who knows your school better than your students?

The last thing I will share with you comes from Donalyn Miller from Texas. She wrote the Book Whisperer. She is a reading teacher of 5th grade I think. She talks about what we need to do to make our kids life long readers, but what does that really mean? So she took a survey and found out what avid readers thought they needed to have. One of the things they need is books. But not just one book. Make a plan. What are you reading now. . . . what are you going to read NEXT, and what would you like to read in the future. Keep a book with you ALWAYS!!! Her kids know that if the teacher has to step out to the door to talk to someone for a couple minutes, they all grab a book out of their desks. .. .They always have something to read. She expects her students to read 40 books each year. . . and I'm sure she isn't talking picture books!

Sorry this is so long. But going to MRA fires me up and rejuvinates   inspires me to do more for my kids. . . see you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

Friday, March 9, 2012

BAM game and spelling tricks

When I first found blogs back in November, someone posted a game called BAM! It's a game with words on a cards, and several BAM words scattered throughout the pile. I made the game back then, but didn't do anything with it until this week.


My kids loved it. They said it's the best game ever and wondered where they could buy it! Wow! That's quite a testimonial. They want to only play that game every day.  .  .

Well, that got me thinking that I could make that same game but use words from science, or social studies, or math or MEAP test words or what ever!!!

However, I don't feel comfortable stealing this idea from someone unless I can give them credit for it. . . . so if you know who made it and if you can direct me back to the owner, I would surely appreciate it.

Spelling tricks.

I have a neumonic device to help my students spell a couple words.  I thought it might help some of yours too.

When spelling the ould words like should, could, and would, teach them to remember "Oh You Lucky Duck!" This is the spelling for O.... U... L... D    For some reason this sticks with my kids and they rarely miss this kind of word.

Then this week we have the word around. . . and we came up with "Oh You Naughty Dog!" for O .... U....N... D   words like found, round, sound, hound, etc.

Maybe that will help you!

Off to MRA (Michigan Reading Association Conference tonight!) Maybe I'll see some of you there! Stay tuned till Monday to hear how it goes!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Accelerated Reader award and butterflies are free!

Gosh! I just couldn't stay away! Oh bother! I love blogging. . . sometimes I curse the teacher in my building who turned me on to this. . . but really, it's not her fault. . . I'm the one with an addictive personality!

So be it. . I'm here, and I'm staying!

I'll make this quick. I have a couple photos to share.

One is one of the rewards we give kids who reach high points in Accelerated Reader. They get to sit in their locker and read a book. Their picture is taken, then it goes on a bulletin board in the hallway so others can see that they've reached that level. The kids always look so cute! And once in a while we have a student who is too large to fit into their locker, and we don't want them to feel bad, so we get a ladder out and they get to sit on top of some of the lockers that aren't set into the walls. They love this!

The other photo is of butterflies that my kids make. They are supposed to color them symmetrical. . . . but that doesn't always happen. Then they paint the 3 sections of a cardboard egg carton (I know they are hard to find these days!) After attaching them to the wings, then we put on pipecleaners for their antennas. They look real cute and they are 3D.

The wing pattern is something I've had for a long time, maybe from a Frank Shafer magazine. . . . ok, now I know I'm dating myself! Most of you are going to say, "Who? Frank Who? Don't know him!!!"
Have a good night everyone! And an even better weekend as we change our clocks and get one more step closer to Spring!!! Yea!!


Sunday, March 4, 2012

March Is Reading Month + help me get some friends

This is what our building looks like. We have a terrific group of people who love to make our kids get excited about reading. Two of our educational assistants put in many after school hours making these wonderful creations.  Friday after school we asked some high school students to volunteer to help it come together. Thank goodness they need community service hours so they were very willing to help!!!!  We will leave this up for the entire month. The theme is Let Your Imagnination Fly! I'm sorry that this makes the page seem to go on forever, but I thought I could get the pictures to sit side by side. However they didn't want to cooperate!

Now, I have a freebie to give you, but not yet! I really want to get to 50 followers. So if you can spread the word about my blog, when I get 50 friends, I will post an activity for separating syllables, very similar to the one that is posted below. Except this one has words with 3 or more syllables. It's free for everyone. There's no random drawing, no first person to respond. Just get me some friends! Lonely ol' me wants to know more peeps! It would be great to reach 50 sometime this week. We'll see how fast this happens. Thanks a bunch and now, you can enjoy the photos!

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 3, 2012

No More Word Verifications (((((thanks Reagan))))))

Reagan at Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits shared this about NO MORE WORD VERIFICATION for the comments. I think many of you might also like to find out how to do this. I did it for mine, but of course I won't know if it works till someone lets me know! Would you help me out and leave me a message and see if it works or not?


blogging question

Is anyone else out there having a lazy Saturday? I know that tomorrow I'll be feeling overwhelmed because I didn't get anything done. Why do I do this? This seems so unproductive to lay around blogging, playing games on my ipad and even getting a nap in. I know. . . a nap! Do you remember those? Boy it felt GOOD to take a nap.

I'm feeling sad for the people who had their homes and lives shaken up by the storms this weekend. I love thunder storms, but tornados scare the bajeebers out of me. Please know that  all of us bloggies are keeping you in their prayers.

I have a question for you experienced bloggies. . .. is it better for me to put my free things on a place like teachers pay teachers or teachers notebook, or to just post it for free here? I don't think I can sell my stuff since I use djinkers and I don't have their permission to sell it. I don't mind giving it away, I just wondered if it's better doing it from a different place than just on my blog.

Please give me your opinion, I'm sure there are others who are wondering the same thing.

P.S. (can you do P.S's on a blog?)
P.S.S. don't forget to check out my latest freebie about syllables!