Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Field Trip

We took our last field trip of the year today! We traveled to a nearby state park which is a battle site of the American Revolution. The American Revolution is a big area we study in Social Studies. First we learned how they made fire, bullets, and more.

Then, the students got to make pretend gunpowder, march, and pretend to be Patriot soldiers with a fake wooden musket. They loved that part!

We had a picnic lunch and then learned about the Musgroves, the family who lived here when British soldiers set up camp in their back yard.

We went on a 1 mile hike and walked to the river that soldiers crossed.

Positives: All students came and brought lunch. The kids asked wonderful, meaningful questions! They connected their experience to what they'd learned in class. They behaved pretty good, well most of them did.

Funny comments: "Mrs. Geren, oh my gosh we have walked so much I bet we lose 30 pounds." Haha, oh if only it worked that way. "Oh man, I just finally gained some weight and now with all this walking, I'm going to lose it." Kids say the funniest things!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

4th Grade Play

I have to take a minute to brag on the 4th graders! Every year we do a 4th grade play. This was something that was started before I started working there. Each year we pick a Social Studies theme. This year was "The ABC's of Independence". Our students wrote their own lines, learned a song called March of the Minutemen and the Star Spangled Banner, and created their own props. We have worked SO hard on it and tonight they performed their play!

I am so proud of them!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I learned quickly after I began teaching, you constantly have to make adjustments in your instruction, schedule, etc. This year I have had a hard time fitting in small groups during my independent reading block because I have a couple student going through the SIP (Student Intervention Plan) process and that is when I've been doing my interventions, documentation, and probes (almost on a daily basis). After a meeting today and sharing my frustrations and concerns, I now have time to do small groups. So tonight I re-arranged my small groups since I've had 3 new students join and I changed my small group schedule. I group my students by ability in five groups and meet with them once weekly.

I'm so glad to fit this back in my schedule. Sometimes I feel like while working extra with one student or a small group, I am neglecting my other students. I am also thankful to have administrators that are open to listen to our concerns and frustrations! It really is a blessing!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

My Teacher Bag

Today I am linking up with Clutter-Free Classroom to show you my teacher bag. I have showed you one in a previous post. Since then I have changed bags because my Vera Bradley one didn't hold everything I needed in it. So, I am now using this Thirty One bag.
Here is a peek inside of my bag.

Inside I have: a binder with my Masters papers and calendars

I also have some folders, a notebook, and an umbrella.

What do I love about it? I love that this bag is easy to carry and big enough to carry what I need, but not TOO big.

What do I wish was different? The only thing I was it was is monogrammed! I need to get it done!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Yesterday I attended a meeting about Science notebooking. I am fairly new to notebooking, but we plan to have one for every subject next year. One thing they mentioned was allowing students the time to reflect in their notebooks. I'll admit, my students have never reflected in their Science notebook, only in their Math Reflection Journal, which is a post for another day. Today we had some extra time (which rarely happens) so I gave the prompt "What have you learned about magnetism and electricity?" Here are some of their thoughts.

We talked about how real scientists kept notebooks with their thoughts and drawings.

They were eager to share aloud, which I hadn't planned but it was a really nice few moments of reflecting.

This is something I'd like to make more time for. My students really enjoyed it. In the meeting they also talked about sentence stems like "I wonder...", etc. I could even put a morning work question like "What do you think would happen if...." and let them write their thoughts in their notebooks. I've got so many ideas and just not enough time I'm the day to do them!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Come and gone

Well Valentine's Day has come and gone. My class was excited to pass out Valentine's cards and have a little snack during independent reading when we read our cards. One student brought me flowers. It made my day!

We had some sugar filled goodies and chips.

My "son" (AKA father-in-law) was so thoughtful and sent me beautiful flowers from Easton. Again, made my day!

And my Secret Pal did pretty good, too! Professionally, it has probably been one of the most intense, stressful weeks in my teaching career. There are so many, many needs in my classroom and new students coming in that fall in that category and IEP meetings and no planning and after school meetings, needing and wanting to speak up and be an advocate for my students, even if it means stepping on a few toes, etc. Obviously my Secret Pal knows me well and for Valentine's Day, she got my red velvet cake and an 8 pack of Coke Zero. I may or may not have dove right in to the cake!

I think it's important for us as teachers to not only share the wonderful things we are doing in our rooms, but also keep it real when it comes to weeks like what I described earlier. I hope it doesn't come off as complaining, but more that I'm trying to "keep it real" and acknowledge that things aren't always perfect!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Good Deal

I love getting a good deal on anything classroom related. Books are no exception. Yesterday while shopping at Dollar General I came across these classics for $2 each. What a good deal! I'm sure my class will enjoy them.
This week we are starting our Freedom Crossing unit. To say that I LOVE this book is an understatement. Anytime you can integrate across the curriculum is a good thing. We are about to study the Underground Railroad and have already talked about slavery so we are beginning this book in our ELA (English Language Arts) block. Since we have two 4-day weeks coming up, it'll take up a little over two weeks to finish it. I highly recommend this book. Every year my class LOVES it!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine's, Bulletin Board, & Award

Yesterday we had training over the Common Core Standards and let me tell you, it was information overload! I am a little nervous about the implementation of the CCSS, but we still have a little while. Have any of your states/schools implemented them yet? This past week I let my students decorate bags for Valentine's Day. I'll be honest, we just do not put much emphasis on Valetine's Day. We have a Christmas and Easter party and honestly, that is plenty for me! We do let students pass out Valentine's and we are going to have snacks, but it's not really a party. We don't decorate the cute shoeboxes or anything like that. But, at least our bags are ready!

Each month the big bulletin boards in our hallways are assigned to a teacher. It was my turn for February. I let my class decide what they wanted to do and they picked the Solar System! They decided they wanted to work with a partner and research a planet. So, we researched, wrote a first draft, edited, and wrote a final draft. Here is a look at our bulletin board. The yellow thing is supposed to be the sun. :)

Mrs. Lyon awarded me with the Liebster Blog Award! Thank you so much! According to Mrs. Lyon, liebster is a German word that means beloved, dearest, or favorite. I'll take that! Click her name above to check out her awesome blog! Here are the rules:

1. Thank the award presenter and post a link back to their blog.

2. Proudly put the award on your blog.

3. Pick 5 blogs with less than 200 followers, let them know about the award, and encourage them to pass it on.

I'm going to be a bit of a rebel and break the rules and give it to one blogger whose blog I really enjoyed reading. The Art of Learning. She is passionate about teaching History and brings History alive for her students. How I wish I could sit in on one of her History lessons!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New Arrangement

It was time for another seating arrangement in our class. I like having groups, but got tired of hearing "He's bothering me." or "She keeps messing with me." or "Her feet keep touching mine." or "I can't sit by him anymore." You get the point. So, we are going to the U shape, which I also like.

I made a row of 3 in the middle and may even add 2 desks in front of or behind it to make the "U" a little smaller. Rumor has it we are getting two new 4th graders next Monday so I'll have 22 students. Tomorrow I've got training over the Common Core standards so that'll be a nice change of pace, if it isn't too boring. :)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Glue, glue, and more glue

I teach in an area where most of my students have a low socioeconomic status. In teacher terms? They barely have any materials and most parents won't send any more. Now, I do have a few wonderful parents and grandparents that will send materials if we need them, like tissues, Germ-X, etc. But most of my students are running out of glue, pencils, erasers, etc. We even made a list in our Family Message Journals (which parents read and respond to) that said "Materials I need for school". One out of twenty one responded. Nice. We use LOTS of glue with notebooking and my class goes through erasers like there's no tomorrow. Off to the Dollar Tree I went.

It's not that I can't afford to buy these things, it's the principle of it. Most families own all the latest gaming systems but can't afford to buy their child necessary school supplies. Priorities, people. Anyone else deal with this?!?! Off my soap box now!

We started raising money for Pennies for Patients and I have been so proud of how much spare change my class has brought in. It doesn't officially start until Monday and we've already got a container full. Maybe our class will raise the most money! What a great cause!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hands On Learning

We all know children learn best when they can explore and participate in hands-on activities. The magnetism and electricity unit we are doing in Science is my favorite because it is so hands on! Literally, my students are asking for more and more Science and in any free time, they want to explore Science materials. Here's a look at what we've been doing. We've explored how magnets attract.

We've explored how magnets repel.

We took a bag of test objects and sorted them into things we thought would stick to magnet and things that would not. We determined magnets stick to iron or steel.

We saw that iron fillings will move towards a magnet.

With that, we used iron fillings to find a magnet hidden in a box.

We explored circuit bases, wires, motors, a switch, and D-cells. We hooked it up to make the motor run and determined if the switch is open, electricity does not follow. We connected this to the light switch in our room! We talked about electricity receivers, electricity sources, open circuits, and closed circuits.

We made lightbulbs light up.

I had an observation today and it went great!! We never know when we are going to be observed so it's always a surprise but she came in whole we were finishing cards for my student who lost his dad and then transitioned into Math, which had lots of student involvement. We've had great week of learning!