Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Putting Myself in My Students' {Dancing} Shoes.....

This summer my dear sister-in-law suggested that we take a dance class together.  I guess after two years spent together in the ballet studio's lounge waiting for our daughters, it seemed like a decent idea.  So....even though I have zip-zero-zilch in the way of dance experience, I agreed to join her for a six-week summer session of ballet/hip hop/modern/jazz.  And hey - I've watched every single season of Dancing With the Stars! How hard could it be?
 Well........... here is my visual of how I would look in dance class:
(That was before I discovered that we would not be wearing pointe shoes.  Hmph.) And here is how I actually looked in dance class:

I know because there is a GIANT MIRROR running all the way across the room. I sorta kinda forgot about that. And here's the thing I realized - I never try anything that I don't think I'll have at least some success with.  I'm just not used to failing so miserably. And that first week was - as my students say - an EPIC FAIL. I immediately sympathized with those students I've had that hang out in the back of the room hoping desperately that I don't call on them. Two things happened in that first class that helped me take on a new perspective.

1. The class went WAY too fast for me.  Most of the dancers had much more experience and already knew the moves and dance lingo. I barely had time to absorb one set of moves before another was added. Lesson Learned: Give my students time to practice at their own pace. Explain and demonstrate any tricky words.

2. My sister-in-law did something awesome and was singled out for praise. I messed up and was singled out for correction. Ouch. I shook it off and tried to do better, but....still....ouch. Lesson Learned: Find a way to give corrective feedback in a quiet way and in private if possible. Always find something to praise, too.

And although I am not going to be a prima ballerina anytime soon - I can say that with some focus and practicing on my own at home - each week has gotten a little easier. And I've taken the "Finding Nemo" inspired advice of my classmates: "Don't worry - just keep dancing...just keep dancing!"  And there's a lesson in that, too.

Tonight when I got in my car to head home after dance class, I laughed out loud when this song shuffled through my ipod - and I just had to sing along.............

"I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" - The Scissor Sisters

" I'll just pretend that I know which way to bend....."     :-)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Last Day of School - Hooray!

Let me tell you - I am SOOO sleeping in tomorrow morning!!  For the last week, I've been up at all hours of the night entering grades for report cards, finishing the reflection for my APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review), and creating/framing the personalized Wordle gifts for my 50 students.  But...they came out PERFECT!  So a little lost sleep was well worth the smiles on their faces.

Take a look!


It was lots of fun experimenting with different fonts, layouts, and colors to create a look unique to each student.  (If you haven't seen it before, you can check the full directions and a free guide to download on my previous post right here.

Okay - now off to do something mindless - watch an episode of True Blood and have a little Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Therapy ice cream.......  Hello Summer!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Black Hawk Visit!

This afternoon a crew from Fort Drum landed a Black Hawk helicopter at our school.  So awesome!!

Every year, the Character Connection Club teams up with the local Lion's Club to coordinate sending huge boxes of supplies and goodies overseas to the soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

The soldiers were greeting by a screaming throng of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders (no one can scream like a middle-schooler!) as well as our local Patriot Guard Riders.

You can also check out our news clip here:

A super thank you to Captain Fernando Martinez and everyone from the 10th Mountain Division!  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Show Me Sunday- Favorite Websites Linky Party

It's that time again on 3-6 Free Resources..... Show Me Sunday! 
This month's theme: Favorite Websites Used in your Classroom

Here are my top three sites:

Terrific site where students can design their own storybook. We used this site to publish our Fractured Fairy Tales with color illustrations, title page, dedication page, and an About the Author page. Every student received a free color paperback book with the option to buy extra copies or a hardcover version.  So awesome!

I cannot recommend this site highly enough. There are literally thousands of educational videos on any conceivable topic - from Basic Addition and Biology to Art History and Physics - all totally FREE.  All the videos are in bite-sized chunks about 10 minutes long done with a microphone and virtual chalkboard.  Most of the topics are clearly for a high school or adult audience, but there are several topics geared toward the lower grades and I love to explore this site when I need (or just want!) to know more about a topic. Free and easy content knowledge enhancement!  This would also be a great at-home resource to share with parents and students.

Love this website! It's a terrific tool that helps track and manage behaviors in real-time with your computer or smartphone. It's flexible, fun, free, has great features for parents, and the company is constantly upgrading in response to teacher feedback. I started this in the last quarter of the school year and I can't wait to begin the year with it. I have blogged about ClassDojo before, so if you want more detailed information, check out this post.  :-)

What are your favorite websites to use in your class?
Check out 3-6 Free Resources and join the Linky Party right here!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Farewell Flash Mob!

Check out our school's flash mob send-off for our students last year!

It was such a blast - even though I am an AWFUL dancer and refuse to reveal who I am in this video!
I can't wait to see what they planned for this year.......

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Having the "Stinky" Talk

Well, it's that time of year again.......the temperatures are blazing into the 90s and my poor little oscillating fan is merely pushing around all that damp, stagnant, STINKY air.....ick! So it was time for THAT talk.  Chatting with a room full of 12 year-olds about their body odor can be a little dicey - but if done with some humor and a light touch, I think they actually appreciate the information.
I typically wait for one of the first stretches of really hot weather, and a day when the mood in the class is really upbeat and there isn't a lot of interpersonal tension.  I make a big deal out of a student closing the door, so that we can have a quick talk - "just between us", and say something like:

You may have noticed that it's getting to be that type of weather when it's a bit more difficult for us all to stay as.....ummm...."fresh" as we'd like.  You're more active now, and you're growing up, so I'm just passing along a friendly reminder that showering and deodorant routines should be stepped up as you grow up. 

Then I might make some connections to Science class, where they recently learned about the skin in their Human Body Systems Unit. We talk about using sunscreen, and we share a few sunburn stories. Finally, I pull out the deodorant samples and they talk about the various options for "dude" deodorant and "chick" deodorant. 
Since stinky feet are also a huge problem in my class, I pass along my Mom's anti-stinky-feet method - I demonstrate how to use spray deodorant on your feet after a shower (yes, I actually spray my own bare feet in class!) and how to spray a little in your shoes to keep that nasty Micrococcus Sedentarius bacteria at bay. (I frequently have high school kids come back to tell me how much they still appreciate that bit of advice!)

How do you handle a "stinky" class?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ice Cream Party!

A couple weeks ago, our team had a Penny War Competition to see who could raise the most money for a charity.  Our girls raised a whopping $255.52 for the Make-A-Wish-Foundation!  And since I promised the winning team an ice-cream party......I opted for the hottest day of the week and scooped out 25 bowls for my gals.....

They brought in various toppings to share, and we had a "chill" afternoon just chatting.  It was really nice to relax for a bit and just enjoy each other's company without an academic agenda. doesn't that look delicious?

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