Reflecting on the First Semester and Looking Ahead

It has been a very long time since I have written, and I apologize for that. I’m sure you can understand; the semester was a bit crazy. I have a little bit of time to write, so I thought I’d share some things that we have been doing in the classroom.

I adore my students, and I’m so grateful that I get to teach them. It hasn’t always been easy between the up and down with virtual and just managing COVID in general. But we made it through the first semester, and despite all of the challenges, I saw amazing improvements in my students. They have grown so much with-in our classroom community. They are working on kindness (they do fight like brothers and sisters since they have been together since pre-k), patience, self-control, service, and many other important social/emotional skills. We still have a ways to go in this area, but I will never stop working on it! It is always so amazing to see the moments when they show extra kindness to each other. On the day of our Christmas party, they decided together to pray before we ate. It made my heart so happy.

They have also grown in their reading and writing skills as well as their math skills.

Third grade math is a HUGE jump from second grade and they missed so much last year that it took a while to just work on the gaps and get them up to where they needed to be at the beginning of the year. But now we are working on the “harder” concepts and they are doing well. We will be focusing on multiplication and division for the first six weeks of the next semester. We will push through it to be able to get to the next concepts that are super important as well. These include a deeper understanding of fractions, measurement, two-three dimensional figures, algebraic reasoning, and more!

We began multiplication with some Santa arrays with marshmallows. They had so much fun. It has taken us a little longer than expected to get to this because we have been working on deepening our understanding of the hard concepts of 3-digit addition, comparing numbers up to the 100,000s, rounding to the nearest ten and hundred, and more. I didn’t want to move on until we had these concepts down.

They have also all improved in their reading skills and comprehension. The need for them to be able to dig deep has grown and they are up for the challenge. They are learning how to determine the meaning of a word through context clues, affixes (prefixes and suffixes), and more. They are gaining the ability to decode words through phonics instruction. They are learning about characters, setting, problem and solution, sequence of events, making inferences, theme, making connections to personal experiences, writing a response to a text, retelling, notetaking, and SO much more. It’s going to be a busy semester!

They will be working on writing personal narratives, informational pieces, a poem, and an opinion essay. They are also learning conventions (grammar) to help them create more meaningful writing.

Science is going to be super fun! We will be studying the solar system, weather, ecosystems, structures and functions of organisms, and life cycles. I’m so excited about these units! Last semester we studied matter, energy, force and motion, weathering and erosion, volcanoes, earthquakes, and natural resources (renewable and nonrenewable and taking care of the environment).

Social studies will include units about governing communities, running a business in a community, and making a difference in a community. They have studied communities (the foundation), culture, history of the US, and physical geography and environment.

I will be starting something called Guided Reading and Guided Math. These are ways to teach the kiddos on their levels and doing things in a fun way. This will be done in small groups so that they get more individualized attention.

I am determined to have them prepared for 4th grade!

ALSO! The kids absolutely love doing “Brain Breaks.” They have a certain channel that they adore and we try to do these when the kids obviously need some movement. It definitely improves their ability to focus!

Let’s hope and pray that we don’t go virtual again, but if that happens, we will make it work. I know that the school is just doing the best that they can, and we will push through it.

I truly want what’s best for these kiddos and will continue fighting for that.

The Past Few Weeks: So Busy!

Each day I write down a “Daily Precept” for the kids to ponder. These come from the book/movie Wonder and a book titled Mr. Brown’s Daily Precepts. If that day’s precept doesn’t apply, I skip it and find another. But this one was so perfect for what we were reading in our Reading Workshop time.

The pics/descriptions in this post probably won’t be in order, but I wanted you to see all that we are doing!

As you all know, I wasn’t able to be at school this week. And I have also mentioned how sad that has made me! I miss your kiddos and being in the classroom. I’m excited to be back Monday!

Anyway… This white board shows many things. One, we analyzed characters using the book Miss Rumphius then transferred that to the story in their book. We also learned all about subjects and predicates! Our vocabulary words are also on this board (we did a lot of work with them).

To the right under the words “I Can,” I write down the objectives for what we will be learning that day for each subject.

If you look to the right on our Writing bulletin board, I have listed the Writing Process, which is what we have been working on learning about. They also started their personal narrative (which they are finishing this week). The students using their Writer’s Notebook for our writing workshop.

Here they drew pictures/wrote words about things that they love so they can turn here to find ideas for writing.

I don’t have pictures of other things in our English/Language Arts/Reading that we have been working on: spelling/decoding, vocabulary activities, some fluency, etc. These are mostly done in small groups!

For spelling and decoding (which is sounding out words) we have been working on long vowel sounds. The basics: a, e, i, o, and u + different spellings of e and a sounds (ee, ea, ie, ay, etc). This coming week we will be working on different spellings of the long o sound.

For vocabulary, we have been doing some different activities including different vocab foldables for the reading workshop notebooks, vocab 4-squares (a paper folded into four: word, sentence using the word, the definition, and a picture), and so much more!

A few weeks ago we learned about Literary Elements. This includes characters, setting, problem, solution, and events in order.

We used the books A+ Custodian and After the Fall to practice this together, then we read part of Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match in their books and practiced with that. They applied their learning by reading a book of their choice and filled in parts of a graphic organizer each day in their reading workshop notebooks.

I used similar drawings to teach nouns: common and proper. My son randomly drew a tree so I used that to review common and proper nouns. He also wrote the Daily Precept that day (it’s a really good one). Also, the book that we get those from is shown here.

We love math in our class, but I don’t have a whole lot of pictures!

Every day we do something called the “Math Meeting.” I feel it is SO incredibly beneficial because it’s daily practice of very important skills such as calendar, money, time, temperature, counting and skip counting, patterns, word problems, the number of the day (including ways to make that number with number sentences), and more!

Then I teach a lesson and we do a guided practice today and they take the back of that worksheet home to complete for homework.

Most of the pictures that I have of science and social studies have the kids in them! If you want to see those pics, let me know! I can send them to you.

Here, we were talking about what we know about states of matter (solids, liquids, and gases) and what they want to learn. After we learned about things, they filled out that last section. This is called a KWL chart. They had one of their own also.

We watched a lot of really great videos on Discovery Education, did some reading about it, and then did a really fun activity: Making Oobleck. The video that we watched before we did the activity is below:

It got a little messy, but the kids had so much fun. I have a LOT of pictures from this activity! But again, the students are in most of them!

One kiddo got a little overzealous with it. Haha. It’s okay, many students pitched in to help clean it up! I was super impressed!

The students also learned about science safety and created science notebooks! This week they learned about heterogeneous and homogeneous mixtures.

For social studies, we have been learning a whole lot about communities! We started with learning about discussing what a classroom community should look like. Then, we learned about the different types of communities: rural, suburban, and urban. We watched some videos, read about it in their books, and did a fun “Community Carousel” activity. I wrote the different types onto big sticky chart paper and they rotated in groups to write different things that they know about that type. We also learned about community workers! At the end of all of this, they completed an acrostic poem including different things that they learned about (I told them they didn’t have to do “y” because I couldn’t even think of anything!).

Last week we learned about cardinal directions, reading maps, map scale, map key, and more! They finished that unit by creating a map of our town making sure to include the things that they learned about that. I will get those grades out soon!

I will be writing a post after this to share what will be happening this coming week!

First Few Weeks: Figuring Things Out

Getting Into a Routine

I really appreciate your patience as we figure things out and get into a routine.  The first several weeks can be rough on the students, but they are rockin’ it.  I truly love your kiddos and look forward to seeing them learn and grow academically and emotionally/socially.  We are working hard to be a true classroom family, and I want them to feel that this is a “home away from home.”

Please know that any discipline that they receive comes from a place of love and care. They will come home with notes in their folders at times and there are various consequences that I will give them. Sometimes I will have to call you. I desire for them to learn and grow into the people that they are meant to be and in a positive way. I appreciate your support in this area. If behaviors are consistent and don’t change, we will create a behavior contract. More on this later.

Take Home/Homework Folders

It is very important to sign their behavior charts each day. This will also be a place where I write notes if it’s something short and quick.

On Mondays, they will have a paper stapled inside that will show the number of graded assignments that I have sent home. I need you to sign that as well. I want to make sure you are seeing all of the graded work. That will be stapled in the folder this coming Monday.

Also starting Monday, I will sometimes be sending the math homework that is required with the curriculum that we are using for math. It will be the back of the work that we do together. So it’ll be a number and B. For example, 5B. It says homework on it! I probably won’t send it every day, but always make sure to check their folders!

I also just want them to read for 20 minutes. Please write the title and pages read on the reading log that I will be sending home.

Google Classroom

This is very important! Soon the students will each have their own Chromebook in class. This is amazing because I can just assign things on there for them and they can work on it right in class. We will still do so much more than this, but it is a great resource!

Things Happening in Our Class

Our reading and writing curriculum teaches SO much. I am focusing on some specific things because I want them to really master things before we move on. But it really is fantastic. Starting next week I will be very focused on one reading comprehension skill, vocabulary, spelling/phonics, and fluency. I will be meeting with kiddos that are struggling on a 1:1 or 1:2 basis several days per week. I will be adding in some enrichment activities for those who are moving faster!

We do our spelling in class each day. They have a menu that they choose from to practice their words. For example, they can write their words in different colors, three times each, in silly fonts, in alphabetical order, etc. They seem to enjoy it! They are practicing words that have the short vowel sounds.

Our math is fantastic. Every day we do Math Meeting and they review so many important skills during this time. Each day the students learn a new small skill to add. I teach the lesson, we do a practice page together, then they do the back for homework to review that skill.

I believe in keeping the students engaged in learning, and sometimes that means having “brain breaks” where they are able to get up and move a bit so that they are more awake and aware so that they are at their best. I try to also do many activities that have them engaging with their classmates as I can. Yesterday we did a community carousel where they walked around and wrote things are large sticky chart paper that they have learned about communities. It was fun!

Graded Work

The students will come home with this each Monday along with their graded work. You will need to sign showing that you received the graded work. I will also note if there are things missing.

Lastly

The kiddos went to the library today for the first time. Some of them have already tested on their first books. I will be requiring that they choose a chapter book next time they get books because I don’t want them to just fly through books for the test. I want them to slow down and enjoy reading. I will be working this out over time. I also allow them to check out 1 book that is a little higher IF I feel it will work for them. They must test on it. If they are consistently struggling with the higher books, then I’ll have to require that they stay with-in the range. We’ll see how this plays out.

I hope this wasn’t too long! I just wanted to communicate well!

Please let me know if you have any questions. You should have my contact info!

Welcome to our Home Sweet Classroom

Welcome to Our Classroom!

I cannot wait to spend time with your kiddo all year and get to know them well.  I hope to help them feel at home, feel loved and wanted, to grow through challenges, to gain confidence in who they are, to learn how to get along with others well, and to learn to work hard to achieve goals! 

A Little About Me

This picture was taken on our porch on Easter because of Covid.
We called the pictures “Porchtraits.”

I have been married to my  husband Robert for almost 17 years.  We have three kiddos: Karis (14), Ethan (12), and Levi (10).  We live at Camp Eagle and have been here for over 5 years!  We have two dogs that we adore and 11 chickens!  In my spare time you will find me/us camping, sitting by a fire, cooking and baking, reading, listening to music, writing, watching movies, and playing games with friends and family. 

My Experience

I have a degree in education from Texas State University and certifications in early childhood through 4th grade all subjects, 4-8 English/Language Arts/Social Studies, and I’m ESL certified.  I have taught pre-k, 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 8th grades, and I am looking forward to teaching 3rd this year!  I have also homeschooled my kids at most ages (1st-8th grades) and believe that all of my experiences help me be the best teacher I can be.  I am very passionate about seeing kids grow and learn and change through the year because they are people who have a future!  

My Teaching Style

I adore teaching things in rich ways including reading and writing workshop, guided reading, reading aloud each day, grammar and spelling in context, poetry, arts and literature, math in ways that they are using in everyday situations, guided math/math games and activities, literature based and hands on science, literature based social studies/history with videos and activities, and so much more!

Why Home Sweet Classroom?

My goal is to create a home-like space for my students to be who they are, to have big conversations, to work through their struggles, to be celebrated, and to be loved.  I want them to feel at peace when they walk into my classroom no matter what has been going on in their world.  I want them to know that despite how they do academically, they are known.