5 Things I Loved About Last Week 10/27/2013

Earlier today Mr. Schu and I announced the picks for the November #SharpSchu Twitter book club. Having a post scheduled for today made me almost forget about my “5 Things” post.


Here goes:

1. An Amazing Week of Reading

The first month of school is always hard on my reading life. September is always so busy, and it takes everything in me to just survive this wild and crazy month. This year I switched grades and school districts. These major changes have caused the start of the year craziness to extend through the second month of the school year. I’m pretty sure the whole year will be nuts, but I’m happy to report that last week was my best reading week of the year. I read some great books and I read a lot.


2. Sick Kid

I’m not really glad that my 3 year old was sick, but I am glad that I was able to help take care of her. In the past my wife has had sole kid duty anytime daycare called. It was pretty cool being able to be a dad when my little girl wasn’t feeling well.

3. Be Brave Guest Reader

Each Friday we have a guest reader come in and read to the class and then share a story about a time when they were brave. This is becoming my favorite part of our week. On Friday, we had TWO guest readers: a firefighter and a police officer. The firefighter even brought his firetruck. They both did a great job reading, and their be brave stories were powerful.


4. Teaching Social Studies To Third Graders

I am learning a lot this year about how to teach third graders Michigan History. It is really hard. Most of the resources I have are written at a level too high for my students. On Thursday, I tried reading an article with them about the Mackinac Bridge. It was a disaster. It was long, sort of boring, and I didn’t abandon it when I should have.

I felt discouraged for the rest of the night.

I woke up super early Friday morning and put together a blog post on our class blog filled with images, videos, articles, and facts for the students to use during Friday’s social studies session. This lesson went about a billion times better, and I’m starting to think that I might just be able to teach these third graders some things:)


5. When Life Gives You OJ?

Many of my students are learning how to read chapter books. Sticking with books for more than one day is a struggle. Last week one of my readers devoured Erica Perl’s When Life Gives You OJ. He immediately started reading Aces Wild. I loved seeing the growth as a reader that this kid made in one week. It was just plain awesome.

5 Things I Loved About Last Week 10/20/2013

Last week had a lot of ups and downs. The “ups” were way awesome and the “downs” were way stinky.

Here are the 5 things that I loved most about last week.

1. The Library

At my old school I hardly ever took my students to the school library. I was frustrated with many things about the library, and I noticed that my kids hardly ever read the books they checked out from the library. I probably should have taken them more. Sigh.

On Friday, my students and I had a great first trip to the library. I almost didn’t take them because I was a little worried that busting out of our normal routine might ruin an otherwise awesome day. I’m glad we went. It was awesome. I even checked out a couple of books myself. It was the first time in over 20 years that I checked a book out of the Parma Elementary Library:)

2. Clorox Wipes

Our classroom has been functioning the last couple of weeks without Clorox Wipes. Things were starting to get a little bit icky. On Wednesday, I sent out an email to parents, and I dropped a note on our class Facebook page, asking if anyone would be interested in donated a canister. By Friday I had enough Clorox Wipes to last a couple of months. Considering how much we use them 2 months worth is a ton! I’m feeling very thankful for the supportive families we have at Parma.

3. Be Brave-Guest Reader

Each Friday we welcome in a guest reader. They read a picture book and share a story about a time we were brave. I found the Be Brave story this week to be extremely inspiring. I’m hoping that these stories are impacting the mindset of my young learners.

4. The One and Only Ivan

If you haven’t read The One and Only Ivan please stop reading.

This past week we read the part in Ivan where Stella dies. I feel that it was an important moment for my readers. The look in their eyes showed me that they haven’t had a lot of reading experiences in their lives that garner that type of emotion. Baby steps.

5. Super Hero For a Day

I got a message from a parent of a student that I taught last year at Minges Brook Elementary. The mom let me know how much I was missed and how sad she was that I wouldn’t be able to teach her son in a couple of years. A day doesn’t go by where I don’t think I see a Minges student walking the halls at Parma Elementary. I miss those students and their families terribly.

The mom also let me know that her daughter dressed up as me for Super Hero Day last week.  I cannot put into works how amazing that made me feel. I, of course, do not think of myself as a super hero in any way-shape-or form, but knowing that one of my students thought enough to dress up as me makes my heart smile.

5 Things I Loved About Last Week 10/13/2013

It is finally starting to not feel like we are in that start of the school year mode. We sure do have a long ways to go, but entering the next next phase of the school year has been a lot of fun.

Here are five things that I loved about last week.

1. Home and Back

Many of my students have never taken the book they are reading home to read it at night. I think that they have often seen reading at home as a totally different animal than reading at school. When I’ve asked them what they thought about reading the same book at home as they read in class, they look at me like I’m crazy. Reading the same book at school and at home is not something I would ever require, but I do think that it is an important reading habit that I hope many of my students develop.

2. Choose Kind

Yesterday I went in and worked on a little painting.

choose kind

Part of being a Leader in Me school, each classroom shares their mission statement outside their classroom. Our mission in third grade is pretty simple: “choose kind” and “be brave”. I’m not thinking that people that walk by our classroom will have any question about the mission of my class.

I’ll be working on the art for “be brave” soon:)

3. Telling Time

When I gave my 23 students a quick assessment on telling time, I was shocked to see that most of my students had no clue how to tell time. The next day at school I noticed all sorts of ways they were able to know what time it is without using our analog clock: looking on my classroom phone, checking an iPad, asking a friend, looking on the classroom desktop computers. Although I would much rather see my students just use the clock on the wall, it was fun to see how they have learned to cope without being able to tell time. I learned a lot about my learners.

Update: most of my students can now tell time:)

4. Saturday School

Yesterday, was one of the most beautiful fall days that I have ever experienced. Going to school to finish painting took a lot of willpower. I felt a little guilty making my kids go to  school on such a lovely day, but when I asked them if they wanted to ride their bikes around the track at school they got super excited.

In order to get to the track they may or may not have had to ride their bikes through the school.


5. Homecoming

Friday was homecoming. Being able to wear my old high school football jersey to school  was so much fun.


5 Things I Loved About Last Week 10/6/2013

I cannot believe that we have completed 5 weeks of school. It feels like yesterday that I accepted my new job and moved into my classroom.

1. The One and Only Ivan

I have been wanting to read my third graders The One and Only Ivan since I accepted my position as a third grade teacher. We made it 19 days and two chapter book read alouds before I felt that they were ready. Our first four days of reading Ivan have been amazing. I really love the group of girls that follow along in our classroom library copy as I read. They get so giddy when I start reading. Bliss.


2. Journey

The conversations had by students after reading a great wordless picture book tend to be amazing. Our chat after reading Aaron Becker’s Journey was powerful.

3. Hot Wheels Books

One of my developing readers was having some trouble last week finding books in our classroom that were bot interesting and not too hard. I checked out a gigantic stack of books from the public library to support him and a few other readers in my class, but I cannot seem to keep up with the demand that these students need. As I sat and talked with my young reader I learned that he LOVED a Hot Wheels book that I had checked out from the library more than any other book he had ever read. We immediately grabbed the iPads and did a quick Google search for “Hot Wheels books”. Somehow we ended up on Scholastic’s website and before I knew it we had downloaded the Storia app and two Hot Wheels books. My little reader was in heaven.


4. Crazy Assembly

On Friday we had an assembly with “The Animal Guy”. It was completely insane. He brought in all kinds of exotic animals.

I’m really looking forward to seeing if the students feel differently about the assembly as we get deeper into The One and Only Ivan.


5. Choose Kind Paint

I can’t share too much about this little project, yet, but it is going to be awesome.