1 down, 35 to go...

It's been a while since I blogged, but I wanted to wait until I actually had something school related to talk about. So...how y'all doin'?

Many of you have probably been back to school for a few weeks or so, while some of you don't start until after Labor Day. But here in Texas, if you teach in a public school, you probably started back with kiddos sometime last week. My district started last Monday.

I have to say, there is some serious cuteness going on in my second grade classes (hopefully I will be able to say that in December). I only teach science and math, so I have two groups with a total of 48 kids. They all came to school in their brand-spanking new uniforms and tennis shoes. They had their super-duper backpacks stuffed full of supplies that weren't on the list...lol. Hey, I'm good with pencils, paper, hand sanitizer, and Clorox wipes.

We started with this  All About Me activity from Creations by Kim Parker. The kids had a great time with it, and naturally I forgot to take pictures....of theirs! Mine turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself

Of course the first days are always hectic, but I eventually got to some good old-fashioned place value. Oh. My. Goodness. What is it about place value that jacks up some kids? I know it is a huge concept that requires lots of time and practice to comprehend, but I wish I had some sort of secret strategy that made the lightbulbs go on. I had a serious panic moment (or two), because the expectations just seem to get higher and higher for the kids (and the teacher for that matter) to perform in a shorter amount of time. Am I the only one that thinks we need to slow down and let kids learn more deeply at a more relaxed pace?  If I hear the word "rigor" one more time, I think I may vomit.

Teach Junkie - 60 Hilarious and True Teacher Confessions

I'm digressing. Back to the panic moment. After perusing the textbook (which sucks by the way), and my district pacing guide (which is bare bones), I decided that I will move forward with more "authentic", (for lack of a better word) activities that align with the TEKS and just spiral in place value through number of the day activities.

Many years ago, a very wise teacher (who I plan to introduce you to at a later date) told me "Hester, you have to be your own publisher." I didn't get it then. I was new to teaching math, so I simply followed the program which was in place at the time. Not to toot my own horn, but my kiddos were very successful that year. But then, that program was also a good one. We have had two adoptions since, and in my opinion neither were, or are, stellar.When I was moved to second grade and encountered all of the bland and boring materials available through traditional adoptions those sage words finally made sense. Here are a few of the activities that I filled in with to try to refresh my little ones' place value memory.

These were assigned as easy activities that also helped the kiddos get back in the groove of having homework.

We also managed to get started with math notebooks. I wanted to include some reference pages for my little ones to start with so that they weren't always asking me how to spell this or that, etc... I have had a lot of success with students using their notebooks as a reference tool. It really promotes independence on the student's part.

Here's one little girl's cover sheet. They were told to just draw and color a math-related picture.

This is the same student's reference pages. I've already seen students open their notebooks to help them write their numbers in expanded form! Yay!!!

This morning math activity has been a lifesaver. It's a two week morning math freebie from Clutter Free Classroom. I'm really thinking that I need to invest in a few more months!

We also took scientist pictures of all the students wearing safety goggles. Check out Shelby, my student teacher. Isn't she cute?

So, that is pretty much my week in a nutshell. It was fast-paced and tiring, so I decided to treat myself to a little goodie on the way home. Have you noticed that Wal Marts are putting ice cream freezers by the cash registers? Well, that was all the encouragement I needed. I bought this little goodie and sat in the silence of my care and enjoyed the moment.

 I thought I'd leave you with some of my favorite moments of the past week.

1. "Bye Mom! I'm going to have a great day because I took my pill!"
2. "Mrs. Hester, I think you are about eighty years old." Same kids as #1.
3. "Oh...my...gosh...this is delicious!" as student bites into rather unappetizing cafeteria pizza-like roll stuffed full of some sort of gummy cheese.
4. "Mrs. Hester, I promise I am going to pick up his medicine today."
5. "Mrs. Hester, you are going to have your hands full with this one", as she backs out the door and high-tails it to her car.

Have a super-duper week and....
Happy Back to School!

Stay tuned for 2 down, 34 to go...Math Centers!
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