Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Finishing Well

I was looking back over my posts and realized that April has been a little sparse. Five For Friday keeps me motivated (most of the time), but in general I feel like most things start to fizzle out in April because the end of the year craziness is approaching. Let's keep it real. Some teachers seems to keep it all together all year long, but I am definitely not one of them! ;) I've had many moments this year that I have felt like I am hanging by a thread. Other moments where I am amazed at how things are clicking, and that, in spite of it all the kids are flourishing and growing. 

Those moments make it worth it.

Normally, by April, I'm already thinking how next year will be "different" I start doing a lot of end of the year reflecting on how I need to change things for next year to help things run more smoothly. My "next year" list starts forming, and growing. 

But this year I feel the need to make sure I am finishing well. I want my kids to enjoy every minute until the very end. I want to make the most of the time that's left to keep pushing my kids forward. I want to teach the content, but make sure we are having fun as well. 

It can be so hard though. Spring fever has hit my classroom. The weather is beautiful. Needs are great and it makes kids emotional. It can be exhausting to stay two steps ahead. Its hard to find the right balance. The balance between staying on schedule and taking advantage of spontaneous moments. Maintaining order, but letting loose sometimes. Sticking to the expectations or giving some extra motivation. It's HARD!

How do we finish well?
I would love some more ideas, but here is what we will be trying!

Popsicle (POP SEE KO. you know you say it like that too.) Fridays: Our team started this a lot earlier last year, but if the kids have had a good week, they get a popsicle at recess on Friday. Last year the kids that didn't had a little inside, practice time. We wanted to make sure we were rewarding kids that always tried their best, and hopefully motivate the others too.

Gardening: We are finishing up our unit on how the world works and moving into how we organize ourselves. We have a bunch of seeds we have started growing and some brand new raised beds that are needing to be filled. I thought we could bridge our units and figure out how the way we could work together to keep the garden thriving and manage chores and such. Plus the outside time will be a bonus.

Teamwork Time: That is coming back full force. The kids are having trouble getting along again so we are going to go above and beyond to make sure we stay friends to the end. ;) It will be fun to try out some of the same tasks now that they are almost second graders! 

Partner Reading: Once or twice a week we are going to make sure we are getting together with other classes to practice our reading. We have fourth grade buddies that we have met with all year. We can read with other first grade classes, read to kindergarteners, listen to second graders read to us. We have practiced reading all year long. Now it is time to show off to others what a great job we are doing. (Plus being able to chat briefly with another adult is a bonus! ;) )

Make it fun: Go Noodle and Kahoot. Learn while you play and move. At this stage you sometimes just have to fool those kids into learning!

Go Home: Really, at the end of the day. Sometimes the best way to finish well it to leave the mess behind and recharge doing whatever makes you most happy. 

So. I will finish well. I will give it my best. And on the days I am not to sure, I will reread this post and remember these ideas. ;) 

What would you add to the list?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Five For Friday: Fun Week! :)

Well, this will be mostly about home fun and not so much about school! I took a couple of personal days this week to hang out with some family visiting and it was JUST what I needed! :)

I started the week out at our church's ladies retreat. It was such a refreshing time of fellowship, soaking in the word and enjoying the mountains! I also won the coolest door prize! A pillow with a compass on it! Our theme was Navigating the Heavens. Such a great reminder!

This is the BEST view to come home to! This little man is always full of smiles and learning more words by the minute! He is going to be 2 next month! I can't believe it!

BEST. story. ever. A retired teacher saw a project I had posted on Donor's choose. She wasn't able to donate to it, and the project never got funded, BUT she sent me three boxes of books instead! Most of them were books that I had been asking for in the project. I thought it was such a kind and thoughtful gesture! The kids were really excited to see all the books too!

My sister from Indiana was at Hilton Head for the week, so I took a couple days off so we could go visit them (and enjoy the beach!) We went to Hilton Head last summer for vacation and I was excited to go back AND hang out with my sister and her family! It was so fun to see our boys and their cousins playing together! I enjoyed the change of page for a couple days too! :)

I came back just in time for our school carnival. :) We end the carnival with teacher entertainment. Our First Grade team makes sure to never disappoint the kids! ;) 

I am glad it is Friday! I have lots to do this weekend to get ready for next week! I can't believe how quickly time is flying by. The year is almost done and there is still so much to do.
Be sure to visit Doodle Bug Teaching's fun Five for Friday linky party! :)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Five for Friday: Shapes, Plants and some Freebies!

We have been busy this week! 

I love teaching shapes! We are having lots of fun with workshop stations! They got pretty creative with their pictures too! You can grab that activity sheet here!

As we got ready to start talking about plants, I gave each learning club some chart paper and they recorded what they knew about plants already. It was so interesting to see their sentences and pictures! The details they included helped to show what they know!

These boys! I am thankful we had some sunny days at the beginning of the week because it has got more and more dreary as the week has gone on! My boys at home are just as antsy as my kiddos at school! 

Grilled pizza is my FAVORITE!! We eat pizza quite often in the spring and summer... but we have been perfecting the art of thin crust so it is not too unhealthy right?!? ;) We use the recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes. It's perfect!

The day after we wrote what we knew about our plants, we made some predictions and planted our seeds. You can read more about that fun here!

If you want a copy of the plant observation journal, you can grab it here for free! 

Linking up with Doodle Bug Teaching's Five for Friday! It's always fun to see what others are up to! :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

How the world works

I LOVE teaching science, but honestly, sometimes I feel bogged down with how to fit it all in. Especially In the way that flows best for my kids' learning needs and the direction of inquiry.
Before spring break we started our 5th unit of inquiry--how the world works. Our central idea is: Patterns are a natural occurrence.

After brainstorming some patterns we see in nature, we kind of landed on patterns in the sky for a while.

This led perfectly to our provocation--there is no more light! One morning, I kept all the lights off in the room and covered the windows with black paper. The kids were so confused when they came in. At one point we even closed the door so there was only a tiny bit of light coming from the window in the door. It was dark! But we could still see a little bit and one of the kids pointed out it was because there was still some light in the room. I asked them what they thought the world would be like if there was NO sun. I wrote down their remarks in the dark and transferred it to a chart when we turned the lights back on. They had a lot of great thoughts and it led us to some areas to continue to take our learning.

Later that morning when we started our read to self time (and because it suddenly felt so bright in the room!), one of the kids noticed that the sun was reflecting off of the cover of her book. One of the boys pointed out it was a reflection and it was a PERFECT connection to when we read The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons later that morning. The kids really understood how the Moon does not make it's own light but reflects the sun thanks to our earlier demonstration! :)

We proceeded to start tracking the moon phases to notice the patterns there, and we have done a lot more with the sun, moon, light, shadows, etc.

BUT we are not totally done. The kids kept talking about how we need the sun so plants will grow, and I wanted to start growing some stuff, so I shifted us on to plants a little more, just by the books I put out during read to self time etc. It was a little hard to make the shift, but today we finally immersed ourselves in the world of seeds and plants.

Today was one of the days where I felt like I was able to really integrate my science and reading block together. We did shared reading using a  text from Reading A to Z about how seeds grow. During workshop, the kids were reading plant books during read to someone and writing down words worth noticing. There was a group using some books to help make some predictions about what kind of seeds were in the bags, and the writing group was beginning to draw a picture of what the playground would be like with no light (they will start writing in the next day or two).

Then we used our writing block to start our plant journals. We made some predictions, wrote down some questions, made some initial observations about our seeds before "planting" them and making more predictions. You can grab a free copy of our journals {here}!

Because we are in that tricky time of year when attention spans wane, and active levels go WAY up, it makes the need for hands on, engaging lessons so much more important! I want to work really hard these next several weeks to better integrate my ELA standards into our inquiry unit so that the kids are applying their reading and writing skills in more authentic situations.
Next week is going to center around the parts of a plant, so hopefully the kids will learn a lot through the integration and have a fun time learning in the process! :)

Don't forget to get your plant journal freebie!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Currently April

The beginning of the month came and went and it wasn't until today that I remembered there is always a Currently with Farley to look forward too! :) I blame the fact that my brain is on spring break! 

{listening} I'm catching up on shows over break, so Will and I had saved up a bunch of Parks and Rec episodes to watch. OH. My. Goodness. that series finale about had me in tears! It was the perfect way to wrap up the show. Gave me lots of closure, which is what I always need at the end of a series! ;)

{loving} Spring break has been good to me this year! Just the right amount of busyness and productivity, but lots of rest and fun times in there too! I can't believe it is almost done though.

{thinking} I want to work on a new tpt product, knit, or read. I don't know which one I will do yet, but my fun to do list is definitely not going to get completed this break! 

{wanting} Ice cream sounds like the perfect ending to this crazy day... but thankfully there is none in the house! It's too tempting to have around much! But the boys were both in moods today and it made for an exhausting day!

{needing} I stayed up way to late last night and am exhausted today. Its going to be hard to readjust to waking up so early next week! I'm more of a night owl... especially in the busy days when my only ME time is at night!

{the name} Teaching and learning is a journey that we never quite have all the answers. But the more we inquire, the more we will grow in our understanding of the world around us! I hope that my blog reflects the questions I have and my journey to find the answers! :)

Five For Friday: Spring Break Edition!

Friday really crept up on me this week! It's hard to believe we are nearing the end of Spring break. It has been the restful, productive break I needed. My Spring Break to-do list was a mile long and I have been able to accomplish bits and pieces of it, there are definitely not enough hours in the day! 
Here is a taste of break! :)

Alex and I enjoyed a bike ride/walk along the park at the beginning of the week. He is really getting the hang of riding his bike! It makes him look so much older! We have been having some sweet conversations about Jesus as we have been thinking about his death and resurrection. He is such a sweet boy!

Alex still had pre school on Tuesday and Wednesday so Liam and I enjoyed a library trip and some fun time together! He is such a hoot when it comes to playing with his stuffed animals! I have enjoyed all the extra time with my boys this week!

I finished one dish cloth and am almost done with another! This one is full of mistakes and not at all square, but the second one is turning out a bit better! ;)

These two crack me up. They are so similar in many ways, but their personalities are so different too! They both make life very interesting! :)

To help my kids as we do some shared research this next quarter, I started making some country fact books. My list of things I want to create is so long and I have barely dented it! But this was fun to work on over break. I hope to get a couple more little books together this weekend. You can go here to find out more about them, or click on the picture to see it in my store!

That's a bit of what this week has been! Back to reality next week! ;)

Linking up at Doodle Bug Teaching's Five for Friday party!