Saturday was Dr. Seuss’s birthday, and last Friday was Read Across America at school. I made paper bag Cat in the Hat hats with all the K, 1, and 2 classes during the week. I worked with the PTA president to put together some fun prizes for a Dr. Seuss door decorating contest. I sent out Dr. Seuss trivia all week. It was a great week for books, and it was also the first time in my current district that I’ve tried working on school-wide programming for Read Across America. Last year I was on maternity leave by now, and the year before that it seemed like teachers really did their own thing. So I haven’t been in the spirit since my last big program 3 years ago. It was great.
We’ve had quite a rash of snowstorms since the new year, with none of them turning into snow days. Which is just as well, since a snow day at this point will mean a longer school year in June–we’re still making up days from Sandy. But, I still have winter snow fever. So a few weeks ago I read these two stories to my kindergarten and Multiply Disabled classes:
So my first year teaching I wanted to have a game for my 2nd graders to explore the library and discover new books. I’ve blogged briefly about this game before. We spend a lot of time in second grade talking about how we choose our books, how to find summaries on the backs and inside the dust jackets of books, and basically just how we find the books we like. I do another activity called “Judge a Book By Its Cover” (I talk about Drop Everything and Read in that post). Judge a Book By Its Cover came in real handy this year when my 4th graders started Wonder; they remembered the 2nd grade game immediately and understood what I wanted them to do.
I love this time of year at school. Every year during the short Thanksgiving week I have the 3rd and 4th graders help me change The Library Tree from fall to winter. It’s a small thing, but I love those rituals.
I cannot overstate what a marvelous fall read-aloud Bob Raczka’s Fall Mixed Up is. I have read it to all of my 1st grade classes, my Multiply Disabled class, and I’m getting ready to read it to my kindergarten classes. I think this might even be my favorite read aloud of the year so far.
I bought this book last year hoping to get some use out of it, but I guess in my pregnant haze I decided it would be too confusing after all to read with classes. Not to mention the fact that I was furiously trying to squeeze in all of my Big Important Units with each grade before I went on maternity leave—we were kind of rushed last year. But this year I brought it out, and it was a huge hit.
Last week was Respect Me Week at school. We focused on anti-bullying education as well as just general acceptance–it was a big school-wide week of tolerance. I suggested and loaned lots of various titles to the classroom teachers and then kept a few to use in my library classes. Here’s what we did:
I went back to work today, and I did much better than I thought I would. Adam stayed home with Hannah, and I got lots of photos and updates about her during the day. But I also just felt surprisingly good to be working again. Using that entire catalog of brain functions and social skills again just made me feel like a better mom when I got home. Yes, it sucked not to be able to give her hugs at any moment. And yes, I may get hysterical tomorrow when I drop her off at the sitter’s and see how she reacts to being left with someone she doesn’t know very well yet. But today I was able to leave home at home to get stuff done for the kids’ arrival tomorrow, and then I was able to leave work at work, zero in on her when I got home, and then do whatever prep I had left for tomorrow after she went to bed. I was one of the first teachers to leave the building today, and I did not feel guilty about that.
It’s February 1st, a month and a day from the start of my maternity leave. And things at school have kicked into high gear since New Year’s while I wind down my school year and try to fit everything in with the kids before I go. I’ll be back for 2 weeks in June, but really this is my end-of-year in a lot of ways.
So it’s Clementine season again with all of my first grade classes. We’re actually almost finished with the now-annual adventures of Clementine, Margaret, and the pigeons.
Before the holidays I took a page out of this teacher’s guide for the book and asked the kids to think about whether they were more like Clementine (messy, active, gets into trouble, comfy clothes) or more like Margaret (neat, nice clothes, tidy room, lots of rules, kind of bossy). Then the kids illustrated some pictures of their characters. I was surprised how many boys identified with neat and tidy Margaret, I thought for sure I’d see some more gender divisions there. It was great, and their pictures were pretty neat, too.
Yes, it’s been more than a week since I’ve posted anything. The holidays are snowing me under a little bit, I’m still in denial that Christmas is a week away. And it’s not that I don’t have a ton of stuff to post, it’s that I’ve just been running on full holiday steam since Thanksgiving.