Wow! It’s really getting close. I know I’ve said that multiple times, but it keeps hitting me. This week we did lots of learning, had the theater project that visited us in April come again for a follow-up visit, and had our end-of-the-year picnic at a park.
It’s nice to have the week broken up by little events. On Tuesday, Creative Action cam to do a follow-up visit with our kids to talk about the things discussed during the four-day-play in April, namely conflict resolution. The kids liked seeing the characters come back, the characters liked the kids enthusiasm, and I liked getting an extra planning period!
On Thursday, the pre-K, Kindergarten, and first grade went to our neighborhood park for an end-of-the-year picnic. I was so glad we split the elementary into lower, and upper elementary because the little ones had so much more fun.
- They didn’t have any “big kids” being too rough with them.
- We took them to a small, gated park that gave them more freedom to run around instead of being with the big kids at big, open Zilker park and having to stay close to the teachers all the time.
- Since it was a small group, we let them bring bubbles, balls, and a piece of bread to feed the ducks. Big kids could never do this. They’d leap into the lake, instead of calmly sitting on the ledge like the little ones do.
The kids had a fantastic time eating their picnic lunch in the shade of the big oak trees and just having a fun day. But, let me tell you: we almost had a mutiny on our hands when we came back at one o’clock and the kids were told that they’d have to do math. They were incredulous. *rolls eyes* silly munchkins…
We’re really winding down now. I mean that in terms of days, not in terms of work. We’re still working very hard in first grade. As long as we are working hard, the kids don’t realize how close summer is. We are plugging along in all our classes, getting ready for second grade and learning new things.
In language arts we began our last vocabulary unit and learned about main idea and details. We also began working on our last book of the year–our purple book. The purple book is a summary of first grade. We made a class timeline beginning with the first day of school and ending in May. The munchkins added field trips, fun science labs, competitions, and other noteworthy first grade events. Then they picked 6 events to write about. They wrote 20-25 words about each event. That’s 120-150 words for those little hands! I’ve been so proud of their hard work and diligence. I can’t wait to show them their red book (the first book of first grade) so they can see how much they’ve improved!
We also started our last unit in math, which is data and graphs. Every day begins the same:
1. I show you: I introduce the topic and demonstrate
2. You do it with me: Students write down answers as I guide them through the problem.
The munchkins yell “THIS IS SO EASY!!! IT’S BABY STUFF!”
3. I do it with you: Students work two problems on their own and we check the answers together. They take a bit.
4. You show me: Students work independently and collapse into graph-induced sobs and wail about how difficult it is.
Every day. Every day. EVERY. DAY.
You see, graphs take patience. You have to examine the graphs carefully and create them just the right way. There’s no almost in it. And first graders in May hate being patient.
Another week, more learning, not much new or different for the munchkins. Things, however, have been very different for me because I got a job tutoring after school for an hour. The public school district pays private school teachers to tutor students who need it. It’s a nice way to make extra cash and help big munchkins. I tutor two lovely girls in third and fourth grade. The time goes by so quickly and feel really great about helping them. It will go on all this month.
In first grade, we studied compare and contrast in language arts. The kids read books and pointed out the similarities and differences among the characters, the settings, or even noting how characters changed over the story. They didn’t always get the things that I wanted them to be looking for, but they did compare and contrast. It’s interesting to see what first graders pick up on.
In math, we finished up learning about time. The kids were dreading the test on Thursday, but half of them ended up making 100s, so I will never trust them. 🙂
In science and social studies we’ve been learning about goods and services, and weather respectively. Both topic have room for lots of exploration. My favorite activity from last week was studying “scarcity” in social studies. We played musical chairs! In one round, there were more chairs than kids, so no one rushed to sit down because they knew they’d get a seat. In the second round, there was one fewer seat than children (the traditional way). The kids got pretty excited, but not like when I told them that ONLY the red chair counted as winning. They went crazy! We then had a great discussion about scarcity and how scarcity increased value.
This week was truly uneventful, which makes it exceptional since our class has had activity after activity these past few weeks. At this time last year, I was 100% ready for the year to be over and each day dragged on. This year, I am still excited for summer break, but I look at my students and don’t want to give them up, and I’m excited to teach every day. I think this is mostly due to the fact that I am so much more put together than I was last year.
If you will recall, I only had 2 weeks to prepare for school before it began and I ended up playing catch-up the entire year. And everything was hard. Writing to parents, making lesson plans, creating tests. It was all new and unfamiliar and I just couldn’t wait until the next year when I could do everything the right way.
I am still not doing everything as correctly as I wish, but I feel so much more relieved and relaxed this year. I’m taking time to smell the flowers.
We’re still plugging away in all our classes. We worked on inferences, poetry, and compound words in language arts. Some of the munchkins’ poems are priceless. In math we finished up measurement and began learning about time. In science, we finished learning about habitats. Student created their own habitat book complete with illustrations and explanations about the inhabitants of each ecosystem. In social studies, we began talking about economics: needs and wants, goods and services. Most of this week has been dedicated to explaining to the kids that ATMs don’t just give you free money and credit cards don’t erase what you owe. Wouldn’t that be great if they did, though?!