Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day!

As a kid, I always LOVED Earth Day!  It is a little surprising because in the adult world Earth Day comes and goes and no one really even pays attention to it.  As a kid however, teachers always made an especially big deal out of this day.  We would spend the day decorating our room with Earth Day crafts, reading stories about keeping the earth clean, and almost always finished off the day with a little trip outdoors to do some "trashbusting." (That's what my third grade teacher called trash cleanup).  I'm not sure why I am admitting this but I would even pick out one of my "Save The Earth" t-shirts to wear to school (yes, I had more than one to choose from).

Although we are in the midst of benchmark and end of unit testings, I could not let Earth Day go by without doing a little something crafty with my class to celebrate.  I wore a blue and green outfit (I don't own anymore of those wonderful "Save The Earth" t-shirts anymore) and I posted a big cutout of an earth on the front board.

I had to tie this Earth Day Craft into a writing activity so I thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce cinquains to the class.  I did a little mini lesson on Cinquains and modeled one of my own, entitled Earth.  Then, the students were sent off to write their own. They did a phenomenal job on this. I really thought they would struggle with fitting into the 1,2,3,4,1 pattern of words but they followed it with no hesitation.

After we did our writing we created our little "Earth Man" craft.  The kids LOVED making these and adding their silly face designs to them. They were not given any tracers to design the land.  I could see them having lots of fun with making the continents.  The Earth Man craft is something I came across in one of my favorite blogs so I can't take credit for that being my own. Amy Lemons really has some great ideas that I can't resist using because they are so cute. We did add our own slight variations to it.  Here are some pictures below.

 second grade blog

The inside
 second grade blog

 second grade blog

Happy Earth Day Everyone!!!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

My First Day Back

This is the third maternity leave I have taken in my twelve years of teaching.  Coming back this time was a very different experience.  Both of my daughters were spring babies. So once they arrived I had the whole spring and summer home and then returned with a fresh new class in the fall.  My son is a fall baby. Therefore, I only spent two weeks with my class in September so coming back at the tail end of March after a 6 month hiatus made me a little nervous.  The wonderful and pleasant substitute that was in my room was who the students grew to know as their teacher and how could I step in and take over?

The morning of my first day back the kids' reactions to seeing me were anything but what I expected.  They walked in with a casual, "hey Mrs. Schneider" as if I had never even left??? Of course there were a few who couldn't hold back their excitement and shouted down the hall to the others on their way up to the classroom, "Mrs. Schneider is back!" For the most part though it was just another Monday. These kids must be very well adjusted to changes.

I however wanted the day to go perfectly to set the tone for the remainder of the school year. I wanted the students to feel comfortable with me, to trust me, and to take me seriously as the one in charge.  I thought long and hard of an activity to do with them on my first day back and came up with something that was exactly what I hoped for.

I created a subway art entitled "Our Classroom."  There are many of these floating around on the internet so I can't take full credit for all of the sayings on it, but the design is by yours truly. I showed this to the kids and talked about the expectations of our classroom. The kids loved the funny letters and fonts. They also were proud to display this on our front bulletin board.  Here is what it looks like.

 second grade blog

The next thing I did was display a subway art that I designed of myself entitled, Mrs. Schneider.  The students really loved this because it was a chance for them to get to know me.  I included details that would interest them about who I am outside of being their teacher.  
 second grade blog

The next part of the activity was my favorite. I gave the students a template which only had some boxes on it. The boxes were randomly placed on the paper the way that they are in a subway art poster.  The kids were told to use any color, font, size words they would like to describe themselves.  It was so much fun reading the things they wanted to share with me. 
This lesson activity was a great way to get to know each other on my first day back in the classroom! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Back Into the Swing of Things

Yesterday, I returned back to work after a 6 month maternity leave.  As it turns out, the anxiety leading up to my return date turned out to be harder than the actual return.  Yes, it was extremely hard leaving my three little loves. I was so fortunate to have all that precious time home with them in which I soaked up every moment of every day to its fullest.

The month leading up to going back I started to mentally prepare myself. I reconnected my work email account to my phone. (That really made it seem official to me). I reviewed the curriculum, read some of my favorite teaching blogs, pinned hundreds of pins on Pinterest. I even bought myself a new "teacher bag." All of these things got me in the right mindset to return to work but nothing could prepare me for the task of getting all three kids fed, dressed, and packed for a day away from home at their preschool and babysitters.  It took three days of practice runs but we streamlined our morning routine to the point where I even get to work 45 minutes before the students.

Surprisingly, the most popular questions I was asked on my first day back was, "How much do you hate being here?" "Are you just counting down the days until summer?" "How hard was it to leave your kids?"  Hmmm.  Not sure how to answer that? If I say I hate being back I'd be lying, but if I say I like being back, then it seems like I don't enjoy being with my kids???  Truthfully, it did feel good to be back.  I don't feel guilty admitting it (well maybe a little).  I truly love my job.  Teaching is a huge part of what makes me who I am.  So, although leaving my kids was hard I felt like a big part of my puzzle was back in place.

Now, let's revisit this next month when the "newness" of this life change wears off, and I may have a different opinion of it all. We shall see.