Veterans Day

My school is on a military post. Almost of all of our kids (except a handful who come because their parent works there) are in military families. That makes Veterans Day a big day for us. Tomorrow, the actual Veterans Day, is a holiday for the kids so we celebrated today.

We had an assembly with our choir (I don’t think I’ve heard a choir concert since COVID and today was a treat), some Buffalo Soldier reenactors, and some performers from the U.S. Army Band. We also went through several stations in the afternoon, including learning about a service dog, folding flags, learning to march, and checking out some military equipment. It was a long day but a surprisingly good one.

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Field Trip Finally!

Yesterday’s field trip was fantastic! Most of our third graders have never been on a field trip, as they’ve never had a school year not impacted by COVID. So that made yesterday extra special.

The guides at the nature center were wonderful. The structure of the program was well designed and never had the kids sitting for too long. I am so glad to be back taking field trips!

Tomorrow is the Day!

For the first time, in the four years I’ve been at my current school, we’re going on a field trip! I forgot what a pain is to collect all the forms and the money and I’m dreading the bus ride, but I can’t wait to take these kiddos to a local nature center!

Schedule Change

As a team, we third grade teachers have been frustrated by our daily schedule. So we consulted with everyone impacted by it and proposed a change (really, we said, this is what we’re going to do unless we’ve missed something – we didn’t really ask for permission). Today, as the first day of the second quarter, we started our new schedule. I don’t know how everyone is feeling, but I’m thrilled.

We now start the day (after our morning meeting) with math. Today’s math time was amazing! We did do a Desmos activity, so that could have been a factor. But I also think I had more energy and the kids had more focus than when we did math right after lunch. Fingers crossed this continues to be fabulous.

Gift Fun

The second day back after two weeks away was even smoother. My kiddos started exploring multiplication and division while I was gone and it has been amazing to see their understanding already. They’re making great connections and supporting each other beautifully.

Because the day was less chaotic than yesterday we managed some things (our afternoon tweeting, watching the end of day news show, etc.) that didn’t happen yesterday. I also managed to save time to give the kids the scarab bracelets I brought them from Egypt. They were more excited than I had expected, which was a treat.

Good to be Back

I’ve been in Egypt for the past two weeks (a trip of a lifetime that we couldn’t pass on). Prepping to be away from my third graders (and my undergrads) was a ton of work. And I was dreading going back into our classroom today. I knew I’d find a mess and a need to reestablish many of our routines.

There was a mess. But not nearly as bad as it might have been after two weeks. And we did need to review some routines and get back into some better habits and that won’t end today. It’s also clear, however, that my kids did some great learning and reading and writing and thinking while I was gone.

I am exhausted and I am also glad to be back with my kiddos.

Never Done This Before

This evening I am on my way (with my husband) to Egypt for two weeks. It was an opportunity of a lifetime that came our way and we grabbed it. Writing two weeks worth of sub plans and trying to be sure everything was set up to be away from school for that length of time was a serious challenge.

But the good thing is that my kids have such ownership of the classroom and take care of so many things there, that it’s easier for someone to come in for an extended period. And our routines are pretty firmly established.

They are third graders and they’ll push the boundaries and things won’t run as smoothly as they normally do, but that’s okay. We’ll get back to normal when I return. And they’ll (hopefully!) be glad to have me back.

Running for Joy

Today was a hard day. I teach on a military base and there was an accident (a pedestrian was struck and killed) that closed off some roads outside the base and cause massive traffic problems. My 20 minute commute took 50 minutes and about half our staff couldn’t get to school on time. On our team, half of us were there before kids so we each took an extra class to start the day. For the first hour or so, I had more than 40 third graders in my room. It was barely controlled chaos.

We also had our annual fun run scheduled for today, meaning we didn’t get our planning time. During our specials (art, music, PE, etc) we were outside with our kids for the run. Only having about a 20 minute break from kids at lunch makes for a long day, even with a normal start.

But I ran with my class, all of encouraging each other as we went. Some kids sprinted while others walked. Some, not many, but some, found a good pace and just kept going. After running we got popsicles and had time to just play. It was shared joy. And much needed.

Welcoming Families

COVID really threw a wrench in one of my favorite activities (well, to be honest, many of them). In the before times, I invited families into our classroom about once a month to join us for various activities.

Today was the first time since Valentine’s Day, 2020, that families were able to be in our classroom in that way. I invited families to join our third graders for morning meeting. As a first time to invite families in, it’s a great choice because they get to see how we start our day.

I had 21 students in the room at the start today and 11 of them had a family member join us. It was so fabulous. I had the chance to casually chat with many, which is always a treat. And they got to see their kids doing what they do everyday in our classroom. Some family members were even able to stay for a bit and read with their third grader after morning meeting.

I’m looking forward to what we’ll do together in November!

Peace

Our district has a well thought out and impressive planning and pacing guide for teachers. In spite of that, our team decided to make a change. We moved the poetry unit in reading and writing to near the start of the year. It’s usually in the late spring but we’ve found that our kids really FEEL like writers through this unit and we wanted to see if we could make that happen sooner and then build on it all year.

So far it seems like a good choice. This is the second week of the unit and lots of kids are writing fiends. One teammate sent a student to me so she could share her poem because he was so wowed by it. We tend to spend at least part of recess talking to each other about the work the kids are doing (to be fair, recess is right after our writing block).

One of my kiddos shared this poem today.

In case you don’t read a lot of third grade writing, here is what it says:

Peace

I wish for world peace.

Peace is like the subtle breeze.

I like the way flowers bloom.

I like when the world is peaceful.

It’s like nature when there is peace. Where peace lives, I wish to also live.

It’s just we’re not peaceful.

I wish we were.