A Rare Day

Today was one of those rare days that teachers love. Our county had a snow day, but the staff had to report on a 2 hour delay. The agenda for the day? Brief meeting with the head principal during our planning and the rest was up to us. All of us appreciated that so much!

I prepped from 9:30-10:15 doing vocabulary cards for this week and next week. At 10:15 Meg stopped in to tell me Fay (head principal) was ready to meet with us. We walked up to the conference room and the meeting went well. However I was surprised when Shauna spoke up and asked if it would be possible to keep me in my 4th grade position next year. And from there she and Meg chimed in with how well I fit into this grade. That they love that even though I’m a 1st year teacher I’m holding my own. Shauna is super impressed by my classroom organization and classroom expectations. Meg loves that I seem to teach so effortlessly. Fay told them that if she could find a way to keep me in that position she would. And what was I doing? Sitting there red in the face and trying so hard not to tear up. I do not take compliments well. I never have. I just turn bright red and begin hiding my face with my hair.

After our meeting I went back to my room and kept working on some math stuff. Before I knew it Shauna was in my doorway asking when we were going to lunch and where. I really love my grade level team and I swear if I’m not in this position next school year I’m going to miss them. We went to a restaurant nearby and had a nice enjoyable lunch. When we got back I started working on my social studies project.

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We will start this next Monday and my hope is that my students will enjoy it. Granted I’m not an art teacher but I’m still kind of proud of how this turned out.  Overall today was productive and I was already happy when I left at 3:30. But then I received a very special and so incredibly thoughtful surprise. My day was officially made then.

So how was YOUR Wednesday?

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Nerd Mode Achieved

You know when your students are really passionate about something? Like Legos, Star Wars, or Harry Potter? Well guess what? Teachers get that way too. And today my students witnessed their teacher fully geeking out about American history.

Now before you get excited, no it wasn’t about Alexander Hamilton (despite the fact that I do LOVE that musical). Nor was it about the Schuyler Sisters.

Our reading story this week is all about elections, government and why people run for public office. We were looking at a photograph in the book of men walking in protest in 1929 for better health coverage, employment and the state of the economy. Looking at the opening line it mentioned The Great Depression. I asked my students if they had even heard about it or knew anything about it. A few had heard it but had no idea what it was. Grabbing a dry erase marker I got to work. I wrote the word economy on the board and we discussed what we thought that meant and several thought it had to do with the environment. Once I told them it was about money I switched back to the Great Depression. I wrote October 29, 1929 below the heading and started discussing the stock market and how it works. Drawing a small graph we discussed how it’s okay to see a rise and small dip because that’s just how the stock market works and there’s no need for panic. But the next graph I drew I showed a steady incline and then a sharp & sudden decrease. One of my students gasped and said, “Ms. Barrick, I have a feeling that means something bad happened on that date.” I nodded my head and launched into how it became known as Black Thursday.

Transitioning from the Great Depression I moved onto the Dust Bowl and the big dust storms in the Midwest during the 30s. I noted that the Great Depression ended in 1938 but unemployment didn’t begin to be on the decline until 1941.

“Why did unemployment begin declining in 1941,” I asked them. They started thinking and I could see them thinking, ‘Do I know this? Has she told us something about this before?’ I let them discuss it in their groups but no one guessed correctly. This led to me writing December 7, 1941. Cameron jumped out of his seat and yelled, “PEARL HARBOR!” But then he had a look of utter confusion on how the two correlated. I began talking about how up until 1941 we stayed out of WWII. One of them asked, “Wait WWII began before 1941?” Well that got me started…

WWII is one of my two favorite times periods to study and discuss. My 4th graders got a 6th Social Studies lesson today. As they were lining up one of my boys and I had the following exchange:

“Ms. Barrick, were you nerding out today?”
I looked up and just replied, “Yes, I was but were you interested?”
“YES!”
“Good, then that’s all that matters.”
“Ms. Barrick?”
“Yes?”
“You made learning dates and facts really fun. How did you do that?”
“Easy, I had an interest in it. If you have a genuine interest in it then you’ll want to keep learning more.”
“Are we going to talk more about it after lunch?”
“Oh yeah…that is if you want to learn more.”

That earned me a big smile and a high five. I love it when I can ignite the love of new knowledge into my kids.

 

3…2…1…GO!

*beep….beep….beep….DING*

Closing my eyes I start the box jumps. ‘It’s only for 40 seconds,’ I think. I hear the DING again and I pause. Catching my breath I prepare myself for the next round of 40 seconds of box jumps. I do this for a total of four times.

  • Rounds 5-8: Deadlift with a tricep extension
  • Rounds 9-12: jumping jacks
  • Rounds 13-16: Single Leg Hip Bridge (left leg)
  • Rounds 17:20: Single Leg Hip Bridge (right leg)
  • Rounds 21-24: In & Outs
  • Rounds 25-28: Rainbows (Left Leg)
  • Rounds 29-32: Rainbows (Right Leg)
  • Rounds 33-36: Planks

By the time I hit the plank part of the workout my legs I’m starting to give out. But then I get this message:

❝You can do it! Hold 5 more seconds.❞

About that time I hear my timer counting down with the 5 clicks. I grit my teeth and finish out those last 5 seconds. Their encouragement came at a much needed moment.

20180319_191724853658502.jpg20180319_1936311020899922.jpgSlowly but surely I’m getting back to my fit self. I know I can do it-I just need to follow through.  And stick with it this time.

Sundays of Past

There’s been a theme of slices others have been writing: childhood and grandparents. After sitting in church today it came to me what I wanted to write about today.

I’m sitting on the floor impatiently waiting for Mom to finish combing my hair. The second she’s done I’m up and running for my room. Looking into my closet I stand there not sure of which dress to wear. Do I wear the purple pansy dress Mam made me or do I wear the red with white polka dot one? I pick the red one and slip on my favorite black shiny shoes. 

“I’ll be right back,” I yell to Mom as I run out the back door. As I leave I decide to go the back way and veer right toward the gate. Barely opening it I’m a blur as I rush up their backstairs. 

Well there you are,” I hear a voice.

Smiling big I look at the swing and see Pap sitting there. He’s already dressed for church and is wearing my favorite maroon jacket. I join him on the swing and we sit there listening to the birds chirping while waiting on Mom and Mam. We don’t say much. But then I hear a cardinal singing away and I automatically look at him. He’s already pursing his lips to whistle a reply back. I sit up a little straighter and start looking for a flash of red to come flying our way. A reply comes and it’s a little closer this time. He replies then the cardinal. I try but I still can’t whistle like him so I give up and opt to sit there and watch him. 

The backdoor opens and out walks Mam in her mint green jacket with a black skirt & white shirt. Mom walks through the back gate and then we head for the garage to get into Pap’s car. On our way to downtown Pap asks where we’re going for lunch after church. I pick our usual-Dairy Queen.  A few minutes later we arrive and all walk in together. Mam, Mom and I head for the sanctuary and Pap heads for the room where the Elders and Deacons go to before service. Sitting down in the pew I look around and like always I’m fascinated by the lights hanging from the ceiling. They look super fancy to my four year old mind and kind of heavy and imposing. My thoughts are broken by the opening notes that Fran is playing on the organ. I turn around quickly just in time to see Pap entering with five other men. He’s in the second row which means he will sit on our side. I start hoping he’ll serve our row and maybe this time I’ll get to have that little cracker and juice. I still don’t understand why Mam and Mom won’t let me have it. It’s a little frustrating to be honest.  

Moving to Mam’s lap I make myself as tall as I can to catch a sneak peek of the bells. But this time it looks a little different. It’s the youth bell choir playing today. I lean close to Mam and whisper, “When I’m old enough I’m going to do that.” The bells finish and then the boring part begins. By the time the choir finishes their song I’m quite bored and wishing I had stayed home with Dad. Until I remember that Dad is at work. Next thing I know Mam is handing me her little wallet that’s full of photos. Flipping through those I’m easily entertained for the next ten minutes. As I’m handing it back to her I see Pap standing up. I start getting excited thinking it’s time for that little cracker and juice. But no-it’s the offering.  Mom hands me $2 and I start watching very carefully. As Pap’s row starts to head our direction I see that he’s on our side. I start waving and getting excited. I place the $2 in the plate and hand it to Pap. He winks and moves onto the next pew. The organ plays and next thing I know Pap’s walking by again following those other men. 

One song and a prayer later the men are all lined up again. I look at Pap and keep my eyes on him hoping that he will serve our pew again. Looking down the pew I see the tray coming with those crackers and juice. Mom takes one of each and then…

Passes it right over my head to Mam. I glare and then look at Mam but she just shakes her head and hands the tray to Pap. Again-so frustrating. Why do they get the tray and I don’t?! We bow our heads for one final prayer and then church is over. We leave and head for the car. Pap isn’t too far behind us and now I’m very excited. It’s time for DQ! 

Arriving there we head in and I already know what I want. 2 hot dogs, fries and a cherry Misty Slush. I eagerly await while Mom orders and go to sit with Pap. We start talking about the cardinal we heard this morning and what needs to be done in the garden this week. The food comes and we eat. Before I know it lunch is over and we’re getting back in the car. We get home and I head back through the gate and towards home. Looking back I yell over to Pap that I’ll be over later. He just winks and tells me he’ll see me then.

I still go to this same church and even now at almost 30 I still walk into the sanctuary and stare at the lights in fascination. I’m in the bell choir and Fran is still playing the organ. Last year I was a deacon like Pap in the church and next month I make my debut as an Elder-just like him. But Pap has been gone for nearly seven years and I miss him more every single day. Oh and I eventually did learn how to whistle to talk to cardinals.

 

 

Saturday Shuffle

20180317_1445501138913365.jpgEvery Saturday from noon to 4 or 5 PM this is my view.   There’s classical or jazz music playing and a mix of oils being diffused in the air. On those rare Saturdays where all I have to do is make copies then Paramore or a Latin playlist is playing. This was my view as of 2:25 this afternoon. Today was a rather busier Saturday than most.

Today I:

  • made copies
  • Put my Easter borders up
  • Prepared the work packets for my two students who are going to be in ISS on Monday
  • shuffled the desks around (again)
  • finished my plans for the week
  • put up new lights around my chalkboard.

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These ones are two strings of lights that go nearly all the way around my board. I think this looks much better.

I just know when my kids hit the room on Monday they’re going to be so confused (again). But I think by this point they’ve come to expect to walk in on Monday to find their group has been changed. But I like to put them in new groups for literature circles or in this case for the new science kit. Oh and those were moved into their proper place too. I’m going to have complete the inventory on them soon but I probably won’t start those until next week. This Wednesday and Thursday the kids are going to have the time of their life taking the practice test of the big test. I’m hoping they do their best on it. They have to take the Reading one first and for a couple I’m crossing my fingers that they don’t fly through it. They hate it when we take a STAR reading test but they’ve finally learned that if they complete 34 questions in 6 minutes that I will make them re-take it. Hopefully they remember that for this test.

Artwork of Youth

Do you know what one of my favorite reasons to work in elementary is?

Their artwork. It’s not perfect by any means but there’s such an innocence to it. Even if they are fourth graders.

One of our skills this week was Latin & Greek roots. I found this awesome and new favorite pack of worksheets on TpT. My kids LOVE them. Yesterday the root was hydr & the three words we picked to define and illustrate were hydroplane, hydrophobia, & hydrotherapy. Now I’m no artist by any means and I told my kids that stick figures were perfectly acceptable. As they finished they turned them in and began SSR.

Well this afternoon I finally got around to checking all of their worksheets and I came across this:

29249463_10214000092188300_7793110419337379840_n29257736_10214000093148324_6098218214397837312_n29313143_10214000094188350_4691496260362829824_n Now let’s start with the first one. Can we just take a moment to appreciate the fact that she wrote Noah’s Super Fast Ark on the side. Apparently the ark was a hydroplane. This was brand new information to me. And then you have the giraffe. That’s just downright cute. The hydrophobia one had me laughing because all I could hear was someone saying, “Nope, not today.” The third one…where do I start? I have no words.

But these pieces of artwork are some of my favorites. I can’t wait to see what else she draws for the remaining root words.

Old Books

Have you ever read a book, fell in love with it, and then misplace it?

I have and this past Saturday when I was looking through some boxes I came across my missing book! It’s The Stone Forest by Karen Harper. I remember I bought it when I was in 7th grade and my family went on a trip to the beach in South Carolina. We had stopped in Charlotte overnight and somehow I convinced them to find a Barnes and Noble. After walking up and down the aisles I came across said book.

The back cover said it ❝had many twists and turns❞ and is ❝an exciting, chilling puzzle, a real page turner.❞

Now when have back covers ever been correct in their description? In my experience it’s kind of rare. Typically they over-hype the plot and it’s only a twist or two at best. But this book was one of those I couldn’t put down. I needed to know what happened next and who was behind what. In the years that I had first bought it I had read it several times over. But a couple years ago I was changing my bookshelf around and happened to place it in a box that was going into the basement. I labeled it on the box but didn’t put it in the right one. Somehow I’ve always missed going through the box it was in and I may have done a little dance of joy when I found it again.

I came upstairs, fired up my reading playlist and dove right back in. It pulled me in once again and even though I knew how it ended that familiar feeling of needing to know returned. There were a couple of twists I had completely forgotten about.  I’ve read other books by this particular author but none of them compared to The Stone Forest.  If you want to read this book, good luck because I don’t think it’s in print any longer in paperback format.

 

7 Little Things

As I sit here listening to Drops of Jupiter (yes I’m still listening to this song) I’m finding my mind wandering. Not on what to write, but the last few days.

Happiness is a beautiful thing. And I’ve been overflowing with happiness lately. Why?

  1. I’m back to teaching and seeing my kids again.
  2. I’ve been receiving several hugs the last few days from my kids.
  3. I love being back with my grade level team.
  4. I found a book that I read several years ago and after re-reading it it’s still a favorite.
  5. I found out yesterday that I wasn’t RIF’d. Instead I’m a transfer which means I have a better chance at staying at my current school.
  6. New music artists make my day.
  7. Being serenaded twice yesterday.

There are other smaller reasons but these seven are the most notable. And reason number 7 is my favorite one of all.

A Simple Question

It started with a simple text:
“What is your favorite song?”
That left me flustered.
“For?”
Did they want to know for a specific moment? Mood?
Good question. First song that comes to mind that you love.”
I sat there for 10 minutes my mind sweeping through all of the different genres that I love. And then two came to mind. Everybody Wants to Rule the World Drops of Jupiter. 
Both songs open with an intricate notes but completely different messages. The first song has just an 80s feel to it that I love. But the second one every time I hear it I can see my high school’s percussion ensemble performing it. The programmed lights to the song was purple and I still think that purple was a good choice to represent Jupiter. But when I listen to the actual song I absolutely love the lyrics.
 Tell me did the wind sweep you off your feet
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And head back toward the Milky Way?
And tell me did you sail across the sun
Did you make it to the milky way to see the lights all faded
But what was even better was receiving both songs as an audio message. My morning was officially made.