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Sunday, May 27, 2012

A call to action....

Only a few days ago I created a new post asking all the Potter fans who follow our blog to help me change things up a bit by posting some Potter related ideas for my already Potter themed classroom.  Well, my new friend at A GREAT TITLE not only offered some help, she wrote an ENTIRE blog entry full of a ton of ideas. (Thanks so much!)

Here is a link to her post:  A GREAT TITLE 

Check it out and keep the Potter ideas coming!
The Reading Buddies

Father's Day and Eric Carle

Father's Day is quickly approaching and if you are still in school (like us) here is a great activity. First read Eric Carle's book Mr. Seahorse.  This will lead to a discussion about how dads take care of their children.

Then trace, cut and paint two seahorses.  Add tissue paper seaweed and some shells then fill out inside of card.  There you have it, a cute lesson and a Father's Day card.  Just click on the link below for this unique and easy activity.

Hang on the end is near!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Harry Potter Ideas

Hello buddies-

If you follow this blog you may have seen my post about my classroom theme: HARRY POTTER!  This year I am looking to change things up a little and am asking for your help.

If you are a Harry Potter fan and have an idea for something Harry Potter related I can do in my classroom for my theme-SEND IT TO ME!  I read the first two book with my kids so anything connected to those two would be a BIG plus.

I am open to all ideas, regardless how big or small.  I have been inspired by my buddy Kelly to change things up and change things up I will!

Thanks in advance for your creative ideas and energy!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Why Teachers need Summer Break!

Mr. Clemons is a genius, and I had to share this article with you, from one exhausted teacher to another!

Why teachers need summer breaks

Letting teachers have summer breaks are for the public’s benefit
The most annoying question a teacher gets is, “What are you going to do all summer?”
The asker is implying one of two things, each determined by where he puts the emphasis. If the asker puts the emphasis on the “do” – “What are you going to ‘do’ all summer?” —  we teachers understand. He likely pictures us sleeping until 10 a.m., sipping Kool-Aid in a plastic kiddie pool and reading Harlequin novels while Prince plays in the background.
That is an unfair stereotype born of and perpetuated by jealousy.

One problem is that the public observes retired teachers leisurely making crafts or gardening on a dewy morning; that image is projected onto all teachers. What people don’t realize is that any random teacher gardens because of her psychosis. The lady is so fried from years of repeating herself and being disrespected that she has been reduced to compulsive gardening as a form of self-therapy.

It’s quite healing for a seasoned educator to work with an object that cannot talk back, run away or lie to its parents. A person needs to see progress, so gardening for a teacher is perfect because the plants grow quickly, and if not, strangulation is still legal. Plus, she can lead a plant to water, and it will actually drink. If her plants get mixed up with the wrong weeds, she can rip the weeds out, however passionately, and people will compliment her thoroughness.

But when the asker puts the emphasis on “all” – “What are you going to do ‘all’ summer?” — I have a problem with that.

He foolishly perceives summer the way he did as a child — the days bled into each other as warm and breezy evenings served as pauses in one long adventure. Waters, suntan lotions, girls who did not yet know him, bicycles and Jeeps – these made great memories. Surely each summer is 90 Saturdays in a row, he thinks.

That person’s view is skewed by his failure to understand what teachers did “all” fall, winter and spring.

In August, each teacher came in with a hopeful glow and the dove of peace on his shoulder. He also used na├»ve phrases such as, “There is no such thing as a dumb question.”

By September, the dove was gone, but there was still a job to do. The teacher chuckled, remembering that students are and have always been difficult. He felt that with a few more corrections, the kids’ bulbs of self-control would light, and he would write a book someday with lots of Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes in it.

By October, the teacher identified the children who had been “left behind,” and he formed a revised plan. He also pushed his weekend honey-dos back to Christmas break and wondered if he was the only one to think there were a few legitimately dumb questions.

By November, the teacher knew why the children had been “left behind” and subsequently denounced everything he was forced to learn about education from his college professors, all of whom worked only with adults and thus disqualified themselves as authorities.

By December, the promise of a break made the teacher smile. He read self-help books and formulated his own poetic halftime speech. He even began to shake off the frustration he was developing with a few students: Answers-rhetorical-questions-in-the-middle-of-a-lecture Boy; Squid Boy, who can’t keep his hands off of those around him and has a habitual fancy for ink; and even Entitlement Girl, who misses two days a week, never makes up any work yet is genuinely shocked when her grade is low.

January was rough, but he only looked on a few times. He re-clarified the classroom expectations and introduced a list of dumb questions.

By the end of February, he found himself having to shake off sarcastic thoughts: “You’re like the little sister I never wanted”; “I think you just had an out-of-skull experience”; or “Have a brunette explain it to you later.”

March was bearable because the thought of spring break made him think of beaches, and even though his room had no windows, he changed his desktop background to a beach scene and tried not to think about Missouri weather in March or his honey-do list he had put off from fall and winter.

In April, like a prisoner with tally marks, he began to count things. He was on his third stapler, nine girls and one boy had cried in his class this year, and he was shocked to discover that he had been asked, “Are we gonna do anything today?” 427 times — just one short of the threshold he set in March, at which a sacrifice would be required. He estimated that by the end of the next month, he would have graded more than 1,100 essays this year, all demonstrating such a low level of progress that in order to avoid the despair of a wasted life, he would have to convince himself that the whole class was actually deaf and he had never noticed.

May, though, was better than he feared. He renewed his contract and answered congenially the first 10 times he was asked, “What are you going to do ‘all’ summer?” In private, he researched emotional disorders on WebMD and became dissatisfied with all humor except statements that were punny.

See, summer breaks are essential to public health. People should wisely remember how cranky most of their teachers were and then imagine how unsafe a school could be if those teachers did not have time to tend garden or do crossword puzzles or visit places like Maine. So, teachers should “do” whatever it takes “all” summer in order to not “injure” people.

We teachers love our students like family. But the best of families need to get out of the minivan and stretch every so often.

Brad Clemons lives in Columbia and enjoys toning up his puns.

Hang in there my friends!
-Damien and Kelly
The Reading Buddies

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

SmartBoard Perimeter and Area FREEBIE!

Hello Buddies-

Today I created a SmartBoard Activity, minus many of the SmartBoard bells and whistles, to get my kids to apply their Math Critical Thinking Skills and their knowledge of Area and Perimeter.  It is a simple activity but really forces your kids to think about what they are doing when it comes to finding and applying Area and Perimeter.  Did I mention that it is FREE?

Anthony's Pool Problem (Area/Perimeter in Action)

Make sure to check out our TPT Store for the activity. 
Our TPT Store


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Don't forget...

Hello Buddies-

Don't forget to check out our TPT sale

Damien and Kelly
The Reading Buddies

Earth Day, The Lorax, and a little Dirt!

For Earth Day Kelly and I fully embraced everything LORAX!

We started by reading the Dr. Seuss tale about a little orange creature who "speaks for the trees".

The day before we got together to examine the story.  We completed character analysis activities on both The Lorax and the Once-ler using an activity I created for my SmartBoard.

Using the SmartBoard to drag character traits to the appropriate
character. Some character traits are shared by both characters. 

Reading Buddy pairs used photocopied excerpts
 of the story to find character traits and support
 from the story. 

We had the Reading Buddies identify a character trait and write support from the story.  I modeled an example on the SmartBoard to make sure my first grade friends knew what was expected of them.

Then we had a debate about two famous Dr. Seuss villains-The Grinch and The Once-ler.  We had previously gotten together in December for celebration of Grinch Day and spent a day discussing and dissecting that story. So, we asked the kids: "In your opinion, who is the worst villain, The Grinch or The Once-ler?"  

Quite a debate occurred with quite a few reasons given and supported from the story.  In the end, we seemed to agree that The Grinch was the worst villain because he set out to hurt people on purpose, where the Once-ler caused his destruction accidentally.  Our Lorax SmartBoard activities is available or purchase at our TPT Store

in the afternoon we got together in Kelly's room to create decopage cups and plant our own land of the Lorax.  We used plastic cups and some watered-down glue to attach tissue paper to the cup and then coated the tissue paper with glue for a final coating.  Once that was completed the kids colored paper Loraxes and Trufflula Trees and mounted them on popsicle sticks.  The next day, once everything was dry we planted grass seed and the effect was quite wonderful. 

A Reading Buddy pair working on their pots. 

Coloring the decorations that will be placed in their
Land of the Lorax

Two finished products
Kelly's Lorax bulletin board
My Truffula Trees and personal Lorax writing tasks. 
I took pictures of my kids with The Lorax Mustache
so they could protect their trees. 

About two weeks later we have grass growing in our plastic cup pots.  The kids were thrilled to see this and Kelly's couldn't wait to take their Lorax Lands home so they could "cut the grass and watch it grow again".

This was another FUN and EDUCATIONAL 
Reading Buddies Activity!

Damien and Kelly
The Reading Buddies

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Teacher Appreciation SALE!

Hello buddies-

I LOVE shopping on TPT and I LOVE a good sale!

Kelly and I are participating in our first Teachers Pay Teachers upcoming Teacher Appreciation Week Sale.  We've put the whole store on sale for 20% off (starting May 5th through May 8th):

-Author Voting
-The Lorax Character Traits SmartBoard Activity
-Mother's Day Pocketbook Card
-Basketball Math (fractions, decimals, percents)
-Spring Retelling Activity
-Goldilocks and the Three Bear Activities
-Edible Circumference Centers


So, feel free to check us out and spread the word to your friends.  We would LOVE more blog and TPT followers!

Happy Shopping!
Damien and Kelly

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

State Testing Good News

Hello Buddies-

First off, I hate state testing.  For a teacher who has recently diagnosed himself with a slight case of ADHD pacing the classroom for 115 minutes is absolute torture! However, I did get some good news this week in relation to state testing.  Pardon my bragging, but brag I must!

I was on a recent rant about state testing, judging student's actual ability, and my skills as a conveyor of skills.  Somehow I mentioned that I may not be the best at instructing the specific skills my students need as readers.  My principal then interrupted me and told the following story. 

She was recently called to central office to discuss the way my school has been performing on the state test.  It seems someone had organized the results by grade level and gender.  My principal, probably a bit nervous, asked what the concern was.  Central office asked her why the boys in the 5th grade score as high, if not higher, than the girls in the grade level when all research states that their should be a significant difference between the scores of both genders and they are seeing those difference in other elementary schools in the district.  When my principal looked at the names of those students, they were mostly my former students. (YEAH!)

My principal, who has a gift with words, stated (and I am paraphrasing here) that these results could be based on 5th grade boys that are put in a positive environment with a positive male influence who not only teaches reading, but makes reading come alive.  The administrator asked "how".  My principal began to talk about the way I teach, my teaching approach and philosophy, the authentic and engaging literature (think Harry and Hunger Games), the lunch time and summer book clubs.  My principal left with quite some bounce in her step and, I have some bounce in mine as well.   :0)

The best part of all this (besides my students accomplishments) is that I do not conduct any test prep what-so-ever in a school where some teachers test prep from day one!  Kelly always loved how I never conduct one writing prompt, not one all year math review packet, not one test prep reading-NOTHING!  I just TEACH!  

It is nice to know that results can be attained without caving in to the pressure to "teach the test". 

Happy Testing!