Saturday, December 28, 2013

December Hodgepodge

Woke up yesterday morning and it hit me...I hadn't had a single cup of coffee for 7 days. What was happening to me??? CouldI actually survive without my daily cup of caffeine intake after all??? Survive...yes. Survive in an organized and clean no. A quick look around my house would confirm this. It was a wreck. Stuff was everywhere, my closet was a certified disaster zone, and my big plans for getting January hammered out before school starts back up...uhhhh I hadn't stepped one foot much less a toe into that territory. I made a cup of caffeine motivation and my closet got organized, the kitchen was tamed, Christmas gifts were neatly put away, the fridge was cleaned out, and papers were graded. I treated myself with sushi.

Snap to today where my closet has exploded {{again}} and the daunting task of planning out January is hanging over my head. My silver lining: I slept in until 10 this morning and only had one teaching related nightmare. Before I enter full blown crazy teacher mode and tackle January I need to catch up on all of the things that happened in December.

Hodgepodge Stop #1: Elf on the Shelf Invasion 2K13
I blogged about Week 1 of Layla's invasion {{here}} && then life got too busy to make the blog trilogy that I planned to link up with a reality. I know it's way late, but it's never too early to start planning for next year! Here's Week 2 of Layla's elf antics:

I stuck with the plan for days 6 and 7. Layla made a Christmas count down chain (they died with excitement) and she relaxed in a bath of cotton balls sans relaxation mask because she had kids to watch (ain't nobody got time to sleep when kids are acting fool). For day 8 my original plan had Layla making a Q-Tips snowflake and scatter brained me forgot the dagum Q-Tips! I swapped in Day 9's antic, Layla hung from a tissue paper pom, and an absolute disaster was avoided. Then a true disaster occurred. My normally talkative and wiggly bunch took a double dose of drive your teacher crazy at lunch, so to prove a point Layla didn't fly back to the North Pole that night. Instead she stayed perched in the pom. On Day 9 they were heart broken to find Layla in the same spot because she was too exhausted from all of the talking and wiggling that they did on Day 8 to fly. They really tried to hold it together during our morning portion of the day so  during special area Layla climbed down from the pom, built a snowflake and left a note. Who knew a little note was all it would take to wrangle them back in to acting like the well oiled machine that I've trained them to be?? In case your eyeballs can't read that small of print on the picture, this is what I schemed up that worked like only magic could: "Boys and Girls, I like my spot way up high, but please be good so I can fly!" They were as good as gold for the rest of Day 9. On Day 10 this teacher was way too exhausted to make the gingerbread ornament that Layla was supposed to bring according to my master plan so I had to improvise. Layla climbed up the tree in our library and perched closest to the most talkative of my tables. Again, magic...pure magic.

Elf on the Shelf Invasion: Week 3

Week 3 only had 1 small deviation from the plan. On Day 11 Layla made a magnetic letter message. For Day 12 Layla got wrapped up in the lights on our We Can objective board. On Day 13 Layla spied my delicious hot chocolate goldfish crackers and went fishing for them (the kids went nuts). For Day 14 Layla was supposed to have a snowball (cotton ball) fight with the bear. Being that I spent Day 13 trying to reel them in from the excitement of Layla going fishing, I put two and two together and realized that a snowball fight wouldn't be the best match up with the pounding headache I woke up with. I opted for a less crazed option and that was to have Layla sky diving from the old/ancient/dinosaur/unused TV in our room. With Day 15 being her final day with us, Layla brought cookies and a goodbye letter. She was supposed to bring a marshmallow/candy cane treat, but store bought cookies were so much more appealing with the time crunch I was facing. After all, cookies are always a safe bet to make && as predicted they ate them all up...clever huh? In addition to the daily tricks (and sometimes treats) courtesy of Layla, she also left encouraging notes to my friends who were on task, following directions, and turning in beautifully completed work. I can't be the only one out there completely sick of the sloppy work?? Chickens could put a pencil between their toes and make things look neater than the work some of my friends are turning in. 

 Again, who knew that a simple note could turn kids back in the right direction...well...most of them.

Layla invading our class was only part of the madness that December brought. We also had our annual Christmas carol performance which was a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e as usual. All of the practice and constant discussions of appropriate singing voices (not screaming/screeching/grumbling) paid off and the performance was a crowd pleaser. A lot of my sweet little carolers didn't make it to the show. One didn't want to be on stage (I totally get it), a few didn't have transportation (parents working), and some were just no shows. Of course I had to snag a picture with the ones who did come to sing their little hearts out && I have to say they were the cutest little carolers ever! (Sunglasses added to conceal their identities...much more clever than the typical black bar huh?).

With all the fun we had in December, some learning was tossed into the mix too. We finally finished up our opinion writing unit && can I just say how absolutely heart warming it is to see them finally internalizing what I've been blabbering on about for 5 weeks?? Seriously I almost fainted hearing them talking their way through opinion piece parts as they put their ideas on paper (opinion sentence, reason #1, reason #2, closure sentence). I forgot to take pictures of their opinion writings about a trip to the North Pole, but I do remember one kid's opinion verbatim (inventive spelling not included): "I think that a trip to the North Pole would be a terrible idea. I think this because the North Pole is very cold. Like very, very cold. You could turn into an ice cube! What if you got lost up there? You could die from being cold! That is why I think going to the North Pole would be a terrible idea."  Truth! Absolutely the truth...and hilarious! We did a flashback to narrative writing with our "If I was Rudolph" craftivity. We were a little rocky with it in the planning stages, but they slowly started remembering that they rocked their faces off with this before our opinion unit started. It doesn't get much cuter than inventive spelling!

In math we worked on what felt like hundreds of topics. The most tricky of them: missing addends/subtrahends and word problems incorporating these missing components. Thankfully they did so much better this time around proving my thought that September is far too early to discuss such a topic with first graders. Their poor little minds were blown by the concept back in September, and they rocked their socks off this month. We practiced, practiced, practiced...and then we practiced some more. Then came the craftivity. Most of my friends did awesome...&& then some acted like they hadn't been making math happen all week. Step 2 was taking what we learned about finding missing components and incorporating that knowledge to solve word problems. It was madness at first...and then a beautiful thing happened. It connected in their brains that they knew how to figure out the missing parts without having to read every single word in the problem. They followed the steps: find your numbers, use the part/part/whole box, find your whole, take away your given part and BAM...your missing part is found! Problem solved! We still have some work to do before everyone in the class feels comfortable with it, but dangit when they're making missing component word problems on their own and showing their work to solve it for fun...I'm declaring a win!

&&& there's my December...most of it. I could blog for hours about everything that we did during December, but there's chicken noodle soup to make && a hungry husband to feed. Until next time, live, love, && enjoy the rest of what 2013 has to bring!

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