The HappyEdugator

The HappyEdugator
People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, my intention to post something everyday obviously didn't pan out. I had a very busy week, and I have been recovering from some flu bug that really wiped me out. I came home from work everyday and sometimes ended up going to bed by 7:30! Not much time for blogging,

When we returned to school from Veteran's Day weekend, my students were so happy to hear that I had planned an unusually "fun" week. We took on some drama this week! Really. They were tickled to get to read the play "The Monsters are due on Maple Street." It is a teleplay of the TV series The Twilight Zone, and was first aired in March, 1960. (About a week before I was born!) I built background about life in the 1950's, and then my students read the play out loud. They loved acting it out, and they really read with expression. We finished Act I on Tuesday, and Act II on Wednesday, and on Thursday we watched the actual video. They love seeing their characters come to life!

Everyday, we still continued reading our anchor book, Red Scarf Girl, and we made the connection between the two texts about "mob mentality." It was interesting how everything fell together. We had a great discussion how people can be swept up by how others are acting, and how important it is to step back and think for yourself. In Red Scarf Girl, they could see how Ji Li Jiang was at first enthusiastic about the Cultural Revolution and chairman Mao, and how she was caught up in the fervor until she started to think and see for herself. In the play, the Monsters are due on Maple Street, the people panic and become a mob that destroy themselves based on fear. Only one character seemed to be rational and speak out against this behavior, but the mob took over. My kids were able to make the connection about the way they behaved in the play to events in the novel, and even to historical events they knew about, such as the Salem witch trials.

All this led up to our main event on Friday, the day before our Thanksgiving break. We watched the movie "The Hoboken Chicken Emergency" which is a silly movie about a boy who gets a giant chicken for Thanksgiving when he goes out to buy a turkey for his parents, and the chicken gets away and creates a panic in the city. (Again, mob mentality) The ending was a lesson...the citizens come together with love and kindness instead of fear and panic to bring the chicken "home."

After we watched the movie, and made even more connections, we then performed "Gobble it Up... A Thanksgiving Reader's Theater" (for sale in my TPT store) and everyone had a part to do, and some had two. What fun! No mob mentality here...just Mr. Turkey Lurkey running for his life. (He doesn't make it). If you want a copy, here is the link:

Beyond the classroom, we had a special luncheon on Wednesday for our Veteran's, Thursday for Parent Appreciation, and Friday for our teacher Thanksgiving! Whew! Here are photos of our Veteran's Day luncheon and the display case we put together of teacher memorabilia from the heroes among us.

At our Veteran's Day luncheon, the VFW came by and 3 of my students were announced winners in this year's Patriot's Pen Essay Contest! 

They had their picture taken, along with our principal, vice-principal, the representative from the VFW and myself for our local paper. Way to go girls!

As you can see, it was definitely a busy week! And our Thanksgiving dinner was amazing. (I didn't have to cook...just decorate.) I would put photos of that up, too, but I am still learning how to get them off my new smart phone.

I want to give another shout out to those of you who have been following about the TPT teacher who was in CCU in Atlanta. The family was told she might never wake up and to pray. Well, prayers have been streaming in from all over the world, and she is awake, off the ventilator and talking! The many sales of the TPT special packets put together to raise money for her medical expenses has brought tears to her eyes. What a great kindness! It looks like she will make it, and the money will really help. Last I heard, over $2000 had been raised. You can still help. Just check out the links in my previous post. :)

Also, TPT is having a CYBER MONDAY sale on November 26. I will be offering 20% off everything in my store, and TPT will take an additional 10% off of that! Wow! Now that is a great deal!  So, have fun with family, don't eat too much turkey, enjoy Black Friday, rest up and get ready for Cyber Monday!
Blessings to you all, always.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veteran's Day, Being Thankful, and Helping a Teacher in Need

Happy Veteran's Day Weekend! As I mentioned Friday, I was honored to be honored by the veterans I honor when I was asked to ride on their float in yesterday's parade. Well, when I got there, I was overwhelmed by their love. One of their kids had made me a sign to hold in the parade. It made me nervous, but it was quite the honor. Who cares if "teacher" was misspelled?

Don't forget to stop by my TPT store for a big sale this weekend. 20% off many Thanksgiving and Christmas items in honor of Veteran's Day. 
I can't believe that it is almost Thanksgiving! I am just so thankful for all I have in life. No matter what, or how many problems I wake up to, I have to be thankful for a wonderful life. :) I had to share this:

That brings me to some sad news. A fellow teacher at TPT is critically ill and fighting for survival. The teachers at TPT are joining together to try to raise funds to help! Please read below about this loving effort and please join us in helping Teresa and her family get through this crisis:

Thanks for helping!
aka HappyEdugator

I’m sure it is rare if there is anyone out there reading this post who has not heard of Teachers Pay Teachers, better known as TPT.  Not only is it a great site for teachers to share their wonderful teaching ideas, it is also a place of true heartfelt kinship with other teachers and many of the teachers form virtual bonds with each other in friendship.  This is one of those times.
One of my best friends, 2nd grade teaching buddy, fellow blogger and TPTer is in CCU in Atlanta with critical medical issues. 
I asked for all of my wonderful friends on TPT to help pray for her.  Prayers have been sent up for Teresa from all over the world.  I truly believe that prayer can bring about miracles and Teresa is certainly in need of prayers.
These very wonderful and special teachers then began asking, "What can we do to help?"
Out of their love and concern came
Teresa has pulmonary hypertension and is experiencing complications. She loves teaching and has a wonderful sense of humor that keeps us all smiling. The most important thing we can all do for her, is to offer prayers on her behalf. Financially, you can help by purchasing one of the below packages. All of these items have been donated by her fellow TPT colleagues who wish to help across the world.

If you visit Teresa's blog you will see she LOVES all things piggy...hence all the pigs! :-)
You can also view her great products on her TPT store.

We know how medical bills can quickly become astronomical, especially when in the Critical Care Unit. Therefore, we are offering you some wonderful deals in exchange for donations.

We have a HUGE pack of goodies in return for your donation of $25.
This is a value of $115.
You will receive all of these items via e-mail when you purchase.
After you purchase, please complete this google document so that I can e-mail your TPT units to you.
Click on each picture to see more information about the products.



In addition, several teachers have joined in another collaborative effort to form a piggy unit (Teresa's favorite kind).  This unit is available on my store for $10.  All proceeds will also be given to Teresa to help with financial needs.

Thank you so much for your donations.  I really appreciate it, but most of all, keep those prayers going!
Thank you

Friday, November 9, 2012

It's Friday! Veteran's Day Weekend! Time for a SALE

Hopefully, you had a wonderful Friday. Mine was. Except for one little glitch. My LCD projector stopped working. The light just went out, so I knew it wasn't getting power. It turns out, the breaker went out, and ALL the teachers on my side of our hall have lost power to their projectors. Problem is, we don't know when it will be fixed, for the part had to be ordered. So, no Smartboard lessons next week, or PowerPoints, or any video clips... :(

What is really terrific is that we have a three day weekend! Love it! Veterans Day Monday! I thank all of our service men and women who serve to keep us free. Tomorrow morning I will be riding on the VFW float in the Veteran's Day parade. The VFW honored me the year before last as their Teacher of the Year, and I was the state winner of their National Teacher Educaton Award. I am honored to have been invited once again to ride on their float in our small town Veteran's Day parade.

So, in honor of Veteran's Day, I have also decided to have a sale in my TPT store. Please stop by 11/10 - 11/12 for 20% off a large selection of items!

Have a great weekend everyone!

aka HappyEdugator

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Blogging...Making Time...and Implementing CCS

I have been trying my hand at blogging for a short while, but I think I have been missing the point. Sorry folks, but I haven't been posting every day. I have been reading some tips for beginning bloggers, and the number one tip says to POST DAILY. Wow! I haven't been doing that. So, I am going to try to post more often, and my goal will be to post daily. I will just have to start sharing with you my daily experiences in the classroom, and hope that you will find it entertaining, and perhaps, even useful.
So, I will back up a little to let you know how my year is going. The new common core curriculum is much more rigorous and more demanding of our students, but it is also very demanding on teachers as well. One thing we are finding very difficult is the new district requirement for us to all teach the same novel at the same time. Is everyone else having to do this, too? I have never had to do this in 17 years of teaching! Now we are teaching these novels as a grade level, which means the gifted teacher and the self-contained special education teacher are teaching the same book as well, and we are all supposed to be approximately in the same place!
Another challenge this year has been that the teachers at our school had to choose our novels before state units were released because of budget, and we had to make extremely quick decisions, too. We only had a window of a few days to choose our extended texts, so we really did not have time to read the books. We just had to choose hurriedly from lists of available books that had correct lexile levels.
Furthermore, we had to create units built around these books, including supplemental readings that included more focus on nonfiction. We could not use the state released units, but had to model our new units on the state units, and we are having to create everything with no extra time in the day.  We are trying to teach and develop new units all at once! Now, my colleagues and I are trying to write our next unit with limited time. Our district is writing mastery assessment tests for each unit, and we are evaluated on our student performance on these district tests. The problem is, like state tests, we don't know what will be on the assessment, only the standards it covers. Needless to say, it has all been overwhelming this year. I sometimes feel that I being asked to shoot the arrow at a target blindfolded, and if I don't make a bullseye, I am somehow a failure. Yet, I still go on. The children are what are really important, right?
So, 7th grade read The Cay by Theodore Taylor in our first unit this year.

The first unit was literature based, so we supplemented the unit with some poetry off the internet, and some short stories from the Prentice Hall Literature book, such as 7th Grade by Gary Soto and Rikki Tikki Tavi by Rudyard Kipling. It went well, but I think the book really was too easy for the gifted class and too challenging for the special education students. However, all the students really seemed to enjoy this book!
Our second unit, the one we are in the middle of right now, is a nonfiction based unit, and our extended text for this unit is Red Scarf Girl by Jili Jiang. It is the true story of her life during the Cultural Revolution in China under Chairman Mao.
This book has been very challenging for all the students, and especially the children in the special education classes. The book has many Chinese names, along with large and confusing words. My students like the historical lessons in the book, and are very interested in what was happening during the Cultural Revolution, so most of them are pretty engaged. I have had to come up with little tricks to keep them on track. We all keep our notes in "little red books" modeled after the books Mao had everyone carry with his quotations in them. Our supplemental readings have included nonfiction articles and fiction stories, and poems like The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes and The Cremation of Sam Magee by Robert Service, which are both good ghost stories for Halloween. We are also reading the teleplay, The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, which was one of the first episodes of the Twilight Zone TV series. It is a fun way to teach about "mob mentality."
So, now we are up to date on what the 7th grade classes at my school have been reading. We have also been writing! My students just recently finished writing essays for the VFW Patriot's Pen Writing Contest. Every year, the VFW sponsors an essay contest, and the national winner gets a $10,000 savings bond, and there are great runner up prizes as well. They have to write an opinion essay, and every year the theme changes. This year, the theme was "What I Would Tell America's Founding Fathers..."
We also proudly display our county's winning essays on the cafeteria wall in a huge display for our Veteran's Day luncheon, when we invite military family members for lunch to thank them for their service. So, I have been really busy getting ready for our upcoming event! In 2010, we posted the essays in a display in the hall. Here are a few photographs -



 So, I will conclude tonight with a wish for all of you who are struggling with developng new units, and making adjustments to a new curriculum. I wish that you will remember that no matter how stressed out you get, the children are what really matters.
I am going to try to blog some more each day, but I can't guarantee it! :) If you don't hear from me, Happy Veteran's Day!

Here is a link to a fun Veteran's Day Scramble you can have your kiddos do if you have extra time to fill in.

Peace. Out.
aka HappyEdugator