Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Summer Bucket List

I'm sitting here sipping my coffee this morning.  It's rainy and a bit cool which is extremely odd for this time of year here in Northern California. This is our dry season which means we might not see rain until September.  But here it is.  I'm hoping, even though we desperately need the rain, that it's over quickly.  Because, as much as we need the precipitation, I need the guarantee of outdoor P.E. and morning recess so these 5th graders can burn off some energy. We've had a cooler than normal May that has left many of us wondering where summer is.  Teri over at A Cupcake for the Teacher is hosting a Summer Bucket LIst linky which leads me to believe that summer is just around the corner.  So what's on my bucket list for this summer?

1. More mountain biking. 

Okay, so my mountain biking doesn't usually include mountains, but there are hills involved.  I'm new at this AND I'm accident prone.  That means I'm cautious. For now anyway.

2.  Spending lazy mornings with the three musketeers.

Mornings with these three don't qualify as lazy.  During the school year, my husband takes them for a frisbee workout every morning.  I'm looking forward to joining them with my cup of coffee in hand.  

3.  Travel to Italy

My son and his wife just moved to Sacile, Italy. They live on this very river.  I think a visit is in order, don't you? I haven't decided whether I'm going this summer or next.  As I type this, I'm leaning towards THIS summer.

3.  Cleaning out the garage.  No, there isn't a picture for this bucket list item.  But if I do get around to it, I'll be sure to take 'before' and 'after' pictures.  It's bad.  Really bad.  It has been on my 'to-do' list for quite some time.  It doesn't qualify for an episode of "Hoarders", but it is a mess disaster.  

What's on your bucket list for this summer?  Head over to A Cupcake for the Teacher to see what everyone else is doing.  You might just find a thing or two to add to your list.

Monday, May 27, 2013

What Will You Do Differently? Linky Party

With only seven days left of school, this is the time of year when my thoughts flip flop between "Is this year OVER yet?" and "Next year I'm going to do ___________differently."  So what perfect timing for Kim over at Finding Joy in 6th Grade to decide to host her What Will YOU Do Differently? linky party!   I knew I just had to join in!

I start off every year with the best laid plans to be organized. This is the cover of my teaching binder this year.  I thought it would help if I had a cute cover.  Silly me.

By winter break, my organizational habits start to fade.  The pile of 'to be filed' papers starts to grow.  Oh, I know all about the 'handle a piece of paper only once' rule.  I just don't practice it.  I'm a shuffler.  By the time January rolls around, I find myself shuffling through the same pile of papers on my desk at least once a day.  So next year I want to be more organized.  

I added a few extra opportunities for art this year and my students loved it.  Okay, not ALL of them, but many!  
Our planet art.  Students conducted research and wrote their planet reports.  Then we had fun 'discovering' new planets.  The new planet had to 'fit' in somewhere in our solar system and have similiar characteristics to surrounding planets.  After they wrote about their discovery, they picked up some oil pastels and had fun.

Okay, some people might not think of this as art, but I do!
Giving kids a chance to express themselves through art and movement is important.  So this summer I'm going to look for ways to incorporate more art into our year.

Almost all kids love to have some sort of public recognition of their successes in the classroom.  I'm not sure what it is I'm looking for here, but I want to celebrate those successes more often.  

Last summer I made a "ME" schedule.  I actually put my 'quitting time' for each day on a weekly schedule that was kept at the front of that binder I meant to keep organized.  I didn't stick to it as much as I hoped to, but it definitely helped me acheive a better balance between my work and my personal life.  So this coming year I plan to refine it a little bit to bring that perfect balance a bit closer to reality.  It certainly helps that my teaching partner is on the same page as I am.  We've done a great job of dragging each other out of the building at the end of the day.  

There are half a billion other things that I'd like to change racing through my mind and, once I turn in my key (only 7 days left!), I'll sit down and prioritize the ones that are most important to me.  But thanks to Kim's linky, I think I'm off to a good start!

So what are you going to do differently?  Hop on over to Finding Joy in 6th Grade's linky and let us know!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Currently . . .

I have a mental list of all the things I'd RATHER be doing than cleaning house.  Linking up with Farley's Currently May is one of them.

Listening:  I'm sitting here on this quiet Saturday morning, listening to nothing but the sound of myself crunching on kettle corn.  Trader Joe's makes a rather yummy 'lite' kettle corn in little snack sized bags.  It's my current food crush.

Loving:  My mountain bike.  I feel like I'm 10 years old again on this bike.  This morning was the first time I've actually taken it off the beaten path (paved bike path through the state park) and I survived some single track riding and some uphill climbs.  My husband, an avid road cyclist, went out and bought a mountain bike for himself so he can ride with me.  And if that's not wonderful enough, one of my best friends is ordering her bike this weekend! I'll have riding partners!

My view from this morning's ride.
Thinking:  I'm not going to lie.  I'm thinking about summer vacation.  My summers usually include a major surgery to fix some broken body part.  I counted the other day and realized that I've had 16 surgeries in my life.  Of those, 11 have been of an orthopedic nature: knees, shoulders, and wrist. So far, and I'll knock on wood as I type this, there are none planned for this summer.  I've more than made up for it recently with 3 surgeries on my left shoulder in only a year and a half.  I think I'm good for a while.

Wanting:  Girl time.  My birthday is tomorrow (Happy Cinco de Mayo!) so to celebrate, I'm getting together with a few friends to just sit, drink some wine, and share some good conversation.

Needing:  Sometime this weekend, there are three dogs who will be getting a bath.  It's a workout, so I need to schedule it in as part of my exercise for the weekend.

Tucker, Gus, and Aggie

Summer Bucket List:  I would love to take a trip to see my son in Italy.  I haven't actually planned it yet, but I've been scouting air fare.  My other son lives in Albuquerque which is a much less expensive destination.  I'm sure I'll get out there for a few days.  Most of all though, I want to spend some quality time with family and friends.  My step-daughter gave us a gift certificate for a few nights in a yurt in Big Sur.  I think that would count as quality time with my husband and would be a great way to start my summer!  How many days do we have left?

The inside of a yurt at Treebones Resort

Big Sur
 Alright, now it's your turn to go link up over at Farley's Oh' Boy Fourth Grade.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Life Lessons

This is not the kind of post I thought I would ever need to write.  In fact, I almost convinced myself not to.  But the more I thought about it, the more I thought it might help to get it off my chest.  So here goes.

The students at our school are pretty amazing little human beings.  They know how important it is to help those less fortunate which is amazing in itself given 96.6% of our student body receives free or reduced lunch.  My students are the financially less fortunate ones in town, but they don't know that.  They know that they can make a difference in the lives of others...so they do.  Each year, I have my fifth grade students choose a community service class project.  This year, the student council decided to particpate in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Pennies for Patients program.  We were all amazed when the student body rallied together and raised over $1,700 for LLS.  The best part was that they raised this money in honor of one of our own fourth graders who has been battling leukemia for several years now.  We celebrated the success of this fundraiser and sent the money off to LLS.  It was another good life lesson learned.  No matter what your own situation might be, you can always do something to help others.

It would be nice if I could end this happy story here, but I can't.  Apparently, our kids had another life lesson to learn. Several other fundraisers were held at our school this year.  They fell into the category of typical school fundraisers: Scholastic Book Fair, Santa Shop, Friday snack sales, and the ever popular candy bar sale.  They were all organized by our PTO, but the kids worked hard doing their part.  Why?  Because they knew their hard work would pay off.  PTO fundraising money translates into field trips and fun end of the year activities.  The fundraisers were a grand success...almost.  When I asked the president if the PTO would be able to support our fifth grade promotion celebration with a donation of $100, I was told there was no money. Seriously?  Well, one thing led to another and an investigation was launched.  The end result was last Friday's arrest of our PTO president on felony embezzlement charges.  Stealing from kids.  Nice work. Over $10,000 that should have been used to support our students is gone.  How do I explain that to my students?  While there isn't enough time to recoup that money for the rest of this year's activities, you can bet that we will bounce back next year.  The Fremont Bobcats are a resilient bunch.