Confession: This year is the first year I’ve given out my personal cell number to parents. I don’t know why I thought that if I gave out my number people would abuse it. Did I think I would have parents calling me in the middle of the night? Silly, right? The reality is giving the parents a line of communication outside of school hours has been great! Many parents work until 6 or 7, and by that time they can’t contact me at school. Also, I’ve had texts from parents who I had never had contact from before; they feel much more comfortable sending a text than actually calling me.

And it has also been rather humorous…

Text from a mom: Miss O,  Jack says he only has to do his Novel Project if he wants to…

Call from a Grandmother: Miss O, I keep trying to show Lindsey how to do two digit multiplication but she insists that I’m not doing it “Miss O’s way”…can you please help us?!

And then of course, some most of my students have cell phones, and a few have gotten a hold of my number…

Student Text over Spring Break: Miss O, I am car sick!

I also have a student who texts me her spelling words every Friday!

This was by far the most creative! This student did not want to finish her homework, so she sent me the Pink song “Pretty, pretty please!” (The CLEAN version!!)

So, yeah, I get a few random texts telling me about being car sick and pictures of new puppies, but it doesn’t bother me a bit! I really like the connection between home and school, and I always get a good laugh at my kids’ texts!

Teachers: Do you give out your personal numbers? How do you stay in touch with parents?


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The weekened ate my homework…

Confession: I have a stack of grading 6, 7, 8, 9 inches high that has been collecting in my “To be Graded” bin…and I didn’t even look at it this weekend!

I had a paper for my master’s project, grading, planning and blogging to do this weekend, but it was 90 degrees, sunny and breezy. The patio was calling my name…and I answered! So, the grading is not graded, the blogging is not blogged, the planning is not planned, and the paper is not…papered (eh, it almost worked). I guess you could say that the weekend ate my homework.

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April Fools!

I wanted to share this April Fools joke that I just played on my 4th graders…

I copied this word find and gave it to them as bell work. I told them since it was Friday I wanted to give them something fun. I also told them whoever got all the words first would get to pick from the treasure box. They all began furiously working…but unbenknowst to them, none of the words on the list were in the word find. Except, of course, the word: APRIL FOOLS.

When they began to get frustrated I told them to “Look harder.” or “Concentrate.” I even had a student say, “Miss, I can only find the word ‘FOOL'” Bahahaha. My co teacher (who was doing the same activity) stopped in to drop something off, and when she heard my kids having trouble said, “I don’t know what the problem is, my class is already done with theirs!” LOL.

Finally, before they reached a breaking point, I told them I would give them a hint and helped them find the “A” in April Fools… they loved it and they are all bringing them home to dupe their families and friends 🙂

Find the trick puzzles here: http://www.chrisdunmire.com/fun/worlds.hardest.puzzles.shtml

Or download the one I used here: April Fools Puzzle

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And the Survey Says…

One objective of our math curriculum deals with Probability, Graphs and Statistics…uff-da! (a little Minnesotan for ya 🙂 Probability concepts are super tricky for 4th graders! So what is a nerdy teacher to do? When it comes to difficult math topics, hands-on is usually a good approach. Instead of just showing my kids graphs and having them interpret and answer questions, we made our own!

First of all, the kids chose a survey question. Popular ones included: Favorite color, animal, soda, and TV show. They took their surveys to recess, home to their families and I scheduled to visit 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms to gather data. They were so cute and professional with their clipboards:

After we gathered our data, I taught the kiddos how to make a graph in Excel.  Since this was our first adventure with Excel, I decided to make a template that the kids would use to enter their data. (Download template here:  Survey Results) This was my survey about Ice Cream Flavors:

Survey Results

Ok, so we have learned about surveys, and my kiddos understand that data and graphs aren’t just “made up”, but  they actually mean something. Next up, we have to analyze our data! I know, analyzing sounds really boring…but there are ways of making it fun! Here is what we did:

I used my graph to model and explain the different types of questions that are asked when analyzing data:

Informational Questions–Which one got the most/least votes?

Comparing Questions–How many more people liked vanilla than cookies and cream?

Inference Questions–If we asked 100 more people, how many people would most likely choose vanilla?

Then my kids wrote three questions based on the information in their graphs. Having kids write their own math questions is always interesting and requires them to think really critically about the math concept. They also had to solve their own questions so they could make an answer key.

Now the fun begins continues! I put on some upbeat music and a timer for 10 minutes and all the kids used whiteboards to go around and solve the problems (kind of like Writer’s Roundtable). They used the answer key on the back to check their answers. Of course someone asked, “What if we get them wrong?” We added an element of accountability and each kid kept track of how many they got right on their board.

And the survey says: Probability, Statistics and graphs? EASY and FUN!

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Share it Forward: Week in Rap

Oh my goodness, this week was crazy! I felt like every day I went from dawn til dark without stopping…and then, when I crawled into bed I just didn’t have the energy in my tired fingers to type a blog post! (Insert big sigh and whiny voice here 🙂  But this weekend has cured my sleepiness, and here I am on Sunday morning with a big mug o’ coffee and nimble, rested fingers ready for typing 🙂

Up first: SHARE IT FORWARD! Yes, my little Sunday tradition where I share something I have read, found, or used during the week. This week it is resources for Current Events.

Social Studies is often sorely overlooked in 4th grade because of all the other TAKS tested subject areas… so recently my team and I have decided to insert a little “Current Event” block into our schedule to keep our kids up-to-date about what’s going on in the world.

Through out the week we use http://www.dogonews.com/ to talk about current events and watch current event videos. Then on Friday we will use Flocabulary’s Week in Rap to look at things that happened around the world here is the Week in Rap from this week:


The Week in Rap – March 25 from Flocabulary on Vimeo.

We watched the Week in Rap for the first time on Friday  and my kids LOVED it. We had to watch it a twice and then we talked about all the events that were mentioned. It was only 10 minutes before lunch, but it sparked tons of good conversation. The Week in Rap is published each Friday and once you start showing it in your classroom your kids will beg you to watch it each week.

Note: Flocabulary also publishes other videos and they are all fantastic! Take a look at this rap about the 5 elements of a short story: Plot, characters, conflict, theme, setting –yes these are the 5 things that you’re gonna be needing when you’re reading or writing a short story that mad exciting! (trust me you will have this rap in your head!)

Flocabulary – Five Things (Elements of a Short Story) from Flocabulary on Vimeo.

Some Other Awesme Flocabulary Videos:

MLK: Let Freedom Ring (Black History)

Year in Rap

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Wardrobe FAIL!

Yesterday we were back to school after Spring Break, and I certainly started the week off on the wrong foot! As I got out of the car, I spilled  coffee ALL down my shirt…FAIL! (Quick commercial for Tide To-Go Pen…worked a miracle!) Then about half way through morning I noticed there was a general “tittering” around the room. I finally stopped the lesson and demanded what was going on. One of my sweetest little girls raised her hand and said, “Miss, you’re wearing two different shoes.”

“Why yes, yes I am!” Second FAIL! Now, in my defense, I get dressed at about 5:45am, and this was the first day back after spring break so I was rather sleepy. Also, I had on long trouser pants, so when I looked down my feet looked like this:

You can hardly tell, right?

Ei, yi, yi! My kids got such a big kick out of this and I had a good laugh too. We decided that Friday would be mismatch shoe day in Miss O’s class.

Life sure does teach this nerdy teacher not to take herself too seriously!

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You can Haiku too!

Spring has sprung, and every spring we write poetry in 4th grade! We always start out small with Haikus. I love the simplicity or Hiaku poems, with other types of poetry sometimes I feel like I don’t quite “get it”, but with Haikus I always fee like I can be a poet!

We start out our unit with a little reading unit using Grass Sandals: The Travels of Basho by Dawnine Spivak. Grass Sandals is a lovely story about the Japanese poet, Basho and the kids love it. There are Japanese characters and a Haiku on each page and the illustrations are just perfect.

Next we tried our hand at Spring Haikus with very good results! Check out our Spring Haikus:

Go ahead:

write a spring haiku
playing with words and  senses
you know you want to

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