The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

So Much Going On

Wow. I know I have decreased my blogging frequency this year, but I just realised that it has been over two weeks since I last updated and that is pretty bad, even for me.

Sorry.

It has been a really busy two weeks. In addition to everything we have had going on in my classroom, I am in the final weeks of my master’s degree program (graduation is on May 14!) and I have been spending a lot of time after school working on collecting artifacts from my internship, writing reflections, and doing a massive online training module that is required for my principal’s endorsement. (Speaking of which, I am 99% certain I’ve mentioned this at least once in the past two years, but my master’s degree is going to be in educational administration and I will be receiving my principal’s endorsement so that I can one day move from the self-contained classroom to the principal’s office. I am not sure when that is actually going to happen, though.)

So, what has been keeping us so busy over the past two weeks? Here are a few highlights:

We had a special visit from the United States Air Force Band of Mid-America‘s  Starlifters Ensemble, arranged by our principal whose cousin is Technical Sergeant Keisha Gwin, female vocalist for the group! They sang a variety of pop songs that entertained students and teachers during a whole-school assembly.

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That same week we had a visit from the Urbana Middle School’s music ensembles, including the band, strings, and chorus! I was surprised to only see one of my former students in the whole group, but it was fun to finally be one of the teachers in the room who could say, “Oh, look, she was in my class my first year teaching at Wiley!” (As an aside, it has recently dawned on me that my first class of fourth graders will be entering high school next year, and my first class I taught as a substitute will be graduating high school!)

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Continuing with the busy-ness of just the second full week of April, I got to go with the building winners from our Young Authors Contest to the district celebration, where we heard a professional storyteller, went into breakout sessions (I led the session for fourth and fifth graders, writing collaborative stories that had to include random elements generated by Story Cubes.) Then we had lunch with parents before a recognition ceremony that was capped by members of the Urbana High School Drama Club acting out several of the stories that had won. (One of the stories was written by our building winner, a kindergarten student in Miss C’s class who was inspired by his baby sister’s very loud crying to write a story about two super-heroes, one of whom can freeze the hearer with her loud cries.)

Somewhere in the midst of all this, I had my students make play-dough from flour, oil, water, and salt so that they could design soil models to go along with a mini-unit on geotechnical engineering. The students were supposed to be able to collect core samples from their models, but they didn’t quite work out as planned. Still, fun was had by all and they still learned about how the surface of the earth in impacted by the processes of erosion and weathering.

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We’ve also completed two projects with our learning buddies! The first was inspired by a session Miss C and I attended during our district’s Winter Institute. Students drew pictures of each other and wrote simple math problems that told the viewer the student’s age, number of family members, and favourite number. We modeled this for the students. Miss C drew a fantastic picture of me and then the students came up with these problems to describe me: 20 + 13 (my age), 5 + 5 (number of people in my family, referring to my parents and siblings), and 10 + 16 (my favourite number). After we did mine, the students got to work with their buddies to make their own.

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The other project was about bees, flowers, and pollination, using a couple of fun videos we found online, including this hilariously awesome stop motion video:

This week has been a week of PARCC testing (English/Language Arts and Literacy units one and two) and a fun PBIS dance party today to close out the week.

Like I said, it has been a busy time. Each one of these things was supposed to be a post on its own, but I’ve had to cut down on the blogging to make room for more important things, such as planning for instruction and passing my classes in grad school.

And even though I feel like I’ve been saying it all year, maybe next week will be the start of my final push to the end of the year, with a new post every day to report on the awesome things we are doing, including a social studies unit on America’s Westward Expansion, Illinois and Champaign-Urbana history, possibly a visit from a local astronomer, the last of our PARCC testing, a math unit on plane figures and measuring angles, and a trip to Chicago at the end of May. Yep, things sure are going to be busy over the next several weeks!

What do you do when things are busy? How do you prioritize?

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