Sunday, October 27, 2013

Never Ending Evaluations

What has been on my mind 
for the past 7 days non-stop?
The fact that you haven't
had a nice cold Coke
for waaaay too long?
(I REALLY could have used one last week...
I had to settle with a couple of Sprites.
Not the same thing......
not the same thing at all!)

Wait for it.....


What?  Girrrrl, you've
been doing this for how long?
I'm sure you breezed through it!
You're right....
I just get all hyped up.....
and exhaust myself 
and everyone who lives with me while I'm at it!
I'm like an excited, little hamster running like crazy 
on my little hamster wheel!
I gotta do this.....Now I have to do that.....
Oh, I forgot about this......
Run, run, run....Go, go, go.....
Oh, wait....I'm still in my cage....
I haven't really "gone" anywhere....Rats!

I don't know about you,
but in my district ALL teachers 
are now required to have 
2 formal evaluations 
every year.

Do you know that both of the words 
"EVIL"  and "ELATION" 
can be found in the word 
Just sayin'.


"Evil Elation Lessons"
I think that's what
I'm going to call it
now whenever
I refer to my biannual
dreaded lessons.

Side Note:  
OK....I just googled it...
and NO ONE has coined this term.
It's officially MINE!
(I think I'm the only one quirky 
enough to even THINK about it!
I'm not saying this like it's necessarily a GOOD thing!)

Evil for all of the time
 and money I put into it...
not to mention the stress and sleepless nights 
of constant planning/thinking,
rethinking/replanning, etc.

Again, you've been doing
this long enough not to sweat it!
You could have pulled it off
with your eyes closed!
(But then, I wouldn't have been able 
to see my magic mirror....Duh!)

Elation for the total relief
once it's over,
and knowing that
I did MY best....
no matter the outcome.
One more Evil Elation Lesson down! 
A gazillion more to go!
Maybe  not a gazillion....
there's a few less than that 
for me to reach 
early death.
A gazillion?
You're gonna give me 
an early death thinking about that!
I know...right?

Yup, that's me up there.
Awesome, yet dead.
Innovative, yet interred.
Creative, yet cremated.
Let's have a moment of silence.

I've informed King Common Sense that when I die 
I want to be placed on a beautifully made raft
....ooh, Angela....maybe your Bobby could help with that....
he does have some mad woodworking skills, right?
He's certainly capable....but I'm sure he'd be
freaked out to make that!
Float me out to sea, 
and light me up like a Viking Princess, 
flaming arrow and everything....
Ok, now you're just freaking me out!
(It is the week of Halloween!)

Just make sure I'm REALLY dead first.
AW SNAP!  Hate when that happens!
King Common Sense just grunts
whenever I bring it up.
I've tried discussing this with him
on SEVERAL occasions...
it just never seems to stick.
The most I get out of him is: 
"You're kidding right?"
and while you're at it ...
make sure that there are flowers 
all around me with my hair flowing, 
and a long, billowy dress would be nice.) 
Thanks, now I have a picture
in my head for tonight's nightmare.
(I could order up a raft for two....
after all, you DID say that just thinking about 
all of the gazillion of lesssons 
would give YOU an early death...
let me talk to my husband about that!)
Whenever I bring up my funeral plans,
King Common Sense 
just gives me THE LOOK 
(the look of all things rational and logical),
and then he goes back 
to whatever practical thing
he's tackling at the moment.  

Focus, Regina, Focus!
Back to my Evil Elation Lesson...

I am very blessed to have two 
ladies that run my school. 
(Seriously....I'm not just saying that 
because they might read my post!)
So my bosses are not 
what (who) makes me so tired
just thinking about it.
It's just that when I create my 
Evil Elation Lessons....
I want them to be 

In my mind I'm envisioning 
a pleasantly plump Cat Woman 
rubbing her hands together making her 

Oh dear friend...perfect is impossible.
We work with short people remember?
At any given moment,
could happen.
That's when you sink or swim sista!
(I'm swimming....I'm swimming....
Getting Tired.....But I'm swimming...
...Where's my lifeguard?...I'm still swimming!)

So...this morning I woke up
(yes, I do sleep on occasion)
and I was thinking about my lesson (of course).
It just  occurred to me
that maybe some of you
may want me to share my 
Evil Elation Lesson with you.

Last year, I had made a double bubble
vs. The Three Little Pigs.
I absolutely LOVE your double bubble maps!
Thank you!  Two of my teaching compadres 
(actually I should say "comadres" if I'm being accurate) 
suggested I start making them...Thank you ladies!

(click above for a link)
I loved using this last year,
and it worked great for 
a regular, daily lesson.

This year I have a student teacher
Lucky her!
(for about a month)
who has never taught
in front of a class before.
My poor student teacher is stuck with me--
I don't call myself 
Queen Chaos without good reason!

I knew that I had to sign
up for my own Evil Elation Lesson
within the next few months,
so I offered to do it within a week's time
so that she could see a lesson
and replicate it for her own lesson
(which is booked about 2 1/2 weeks later).
I just happened to be teaching
folk tales when I met her and offered
to do this for her.
She can only come in the afternoons, 
so she is only with my last 2 classes.
That's right.  You don't have one class.
You teach reading to 
of  Kindergarten kids at your school.
No pressure!

Because of her scheduling...
this is the first year that I have EVER
 offered to give my Evil Elation Lesson 
during the afternoon.  
For those of you who 
don't teach Kindergarten....
This is HUGE!
Any seasoned K teacher will tell you:
"Get it done in the mornings, 
or prepare yourself!
You never know what can happen 
with a tired 5 year old!"
Not to mention with the tired teacher
that's been large and in charge of all
of those short people all day!
We read, acted out, retold, 
and filled out 
story organizers BEFORE
the official
Evil Elation Lesson.
The Three Little Pigs Story Maps
Goldilocks And The Three Bears Story Maps  
I made all of the visor hats out of foam. 
About five years ago, we had a Kindergarten play 
where our students needed costumes.
I found out I had a strange talent of eyeballing 
and whipping out 
foam visor hats for 
different storybook characters.  
Odd....who knew?
Well that's just too stinkin' clever!

Writing this post, I just realized why my right arm 
may have been having twinges of tendonitis 
a few years ago....
outfitting 5 classroom characters
took a whole lot of cutting.
Now WHY couldn't I remember that 
when the orthopedic surgeon was asking me 
what I had been doing with my poor, right hand/arm?
I just looked at him, and said, 
"I teach Kindergarten." 
That just about wraps it all up in a nutshell.
Seriously!  We need to get hazard pay.
Just saying...

*AttaGirl Funnies by Angela Furgal AKA Fairy Funtastic*
If you see this pinned somewhere else...know that you saw it here first!

I guess my mind is going downhill with the rest of me!
 Thank goodness it just took some shots 
and some will power for the twinges to go away (kind of).
I have to stop talking about this, 
or my arm is going to start bothering me again.

We also made some
really simple pigs and bears
that I hung from my lights
(back to back)
so that when they "spun"
you could see
pigs and bears
Click Above If You Want To See This On TPT.
I made these, because I wanted my students 
to have a fun character "craftivity", 
but I didn't want it overly complicated.  
Plus, I have 54 students....
so I wanted something that 
didn't take my entire paper supply.
54 short people?!
Again, no pressure.

We labeled Goldilocks 
and The Big Bad Wolf.

 This just cracks me up....
you know that I AM the queen 
of graphic organizers...
Yes you are my friend!
I mean come on, 
I have over 700 products on TPT...
..that completely blows my mind!
crazy, but true.  How I got that many...
 I have no just kind of happened.
That doesn't just are talented and super busy!
Anyhooo......look very closely at the bottom middle organizer.
I just couldn't get everything just right
(as I had sooooooo carefully planned---imagine that!)
...there's just not enough hours in the day (or night)!
I ended up having to hand draw
Uh, I can draw a stick person.  Impressed much?
an organizer (spur of the moment) 
for an earlier lesson and there it is,
hanging with pride on my bulletin board.
I thought about redoing it (to make it look pretty), 
but then I thought:
Nope....This is Real World Teaching!
Plus, I thought it would put a smile 
on a new teacher's face 
to see that we ALL have those days 
when we just have to wing it!

You know you're a teacher, 
when you have days that you have to whip something up 
with a snap of your fingers!

Click HERE If You Want To See Wolf Labels On TPT.
Click HERE If You Want To See Goldilocks Labels On TPT. 
I actually went to Office Depot
and spent around $100.00 (cha-ching!)
OUCH!  That's just painful to read.
on my two label posters, 
(Goldilocks Labels and The Big Bad Wolf Labels)
my Folktales poster

Click Above If You Want To See A Preview On TPT.
and my double bubble lesson 
(the double bubble frame + 
the answer bubbles enlarged
 to the same size).

It was a whole lot of money,
but everything turned out

FYI....I STILL haven't gotten
the posters enlarged that I wanted
for the beginning of the year....
but at least I was able to do it for
this lesson. 
Oh, the things we do 
(and the money we spend) 
for Evil Elation Lessons!

This is a poster I made several years ago.
I can't remember where the picture came from....
but Karate Princess helped me color it....
I long for the days when my children WILLINGLY
helped me with my Classroom To Do List.
At 8 and 11, my kids are so done
with working in my room.
I think it's fair to say they do NOT think
teaching is all that glamorous. 
If you happen to have a willing helper at home...
enjoy it while it lasts!  
At some point, 
they're going to say 
Here's another....
this one I had gotten a long time ago on the internet.
I don't know who the original author or artist is, but it's not me!

For the actual day of the lesson,
we read through:

3 Bears & 3 Little Pigs 

Easy Reader With Moving Pictures

Click Above If You Want To See A Preview On TPT.

My kids like the part when 
the objects/characters "move".
It has all of the same sentences 
that are on the double bubble,
so that my students can practice 
reading through the words 
before sorting the circles.
Very cool!

I took my simple double bubble,
and I added pictures, words, and sentences 
so that I was differentiating 
for my different leveled students.

My kids loved the letter "b" bears and the letter "p" pigs 
that I made to go with my moving reader.
I had fun putting the little, animal faces on the alphabet letters.
The silly things that make me smile!
Life is in the little things. 
 I was so excited to have a lowercase "b" and  "p"
for the kids so that they could also 
practice the trickier letter recognition.
(These can be found at the end of the moving reader.)

I made enough cards so that every student 
had a "b" bear and a "p" pig card.  Every time
we read a sentence, they had to decide which folktale
 it referred to and hold up the corresponding card.  
If the sentence referred to both stories,
 they held up a card in each hand.
Assessing on the fly.
Again, you had nothing to worry about my friend.
 Click on the picture above if you're interested.

All Encompassing Differentiated Sorting Activity: 
Some students can sort by just looking at the pictures, 
some can sort by reading the single words
(with the beginning sounds underlined),
and some can sort the circles 
by reading the sentences.

I had 4 centers for my students.
My time with my classes is very tight.
(Remember, this is the first year 
that I am the Reading Teacher for 
3 Kindergarten Classes).
I only had 1 hour for this class to be in my room, 
so I decided to only do 2 centers, 
and have a follow up the next day to finish.
If I was back to having a regular Kindergarten class 
(like I've had for the past 7 years), 
I could have gotten all 4 centers completed 
during my literacy block. 

The first center was set up for my students 
to do their own double bubble activity.  
I initially was going to have my students
cut the circles out themselves 
(we can always use cutting practice). 
True that! 
When I tried it with the first group of my first class, 
I realized that it was taking my kids 
too long to cut the circles for the short amount of time 
that we had for the centers.  
So, I quickly pre-cut the circles
...because you have nothing
but time on your hands...NOT!
 and placed them in plastic bags 
(1 bag with 8 circles per student).
I put up folders so that I could  accurately tell 
who understood the concept 
of comparing/contrasting 
and using a double bubble.
We call those our "offices."
They love to be so official.
--Ooh, I LIKE that! Great idea!

For the second center, 
I used a trick that I've seen on Pinterest.
(where all good things come from)
I put 2 hula hoops together to make 
a Venn Diagram.
(I tied them with yarn 
so that they wouldn't come apart easily.)
It took me one cycle of my centers to realize 
that I needed to add tape.
I must have missed that part on Pinterest....
or maybe they weren't dealing with 5 year olds...
I'm not sure which, 
but the hoops
were sliding all over the place 
even with being tied with yarn.
It was just a massive Venn Diagram being
pulled and stretched by my Kindergarteners.
(Instead of 2 circle hoops being moved everywhere 
which is what I envisioned and was trying to avoid.) 
EACH of my students
regardless of gender, race, or creed,
age, financial status
thought that it should be placed 
in front of 
instead of in the middle 
of the entire group. 
After all the world does
revolve around them. 
To avoid the possibility of 
Kinder Wars erupting,
within seconds... 
I had to add the tape,
(clear packing tape is a classroom staple)
Go through rolls and rolls of it.
pull all of the table chairs to 
one side of the table, 
and tell tell them to take turns pulling a 
sorting card from a basket.

3 Bears & 3 Little Pigs: Picture Sorting Cards

Luckily, I was able to tweak
the venn diagram center
 in my morning session 
(Guinea pigs!)
so that during my actual Evil Elation Lesson 
(later that day),
this center ran much smoother.
Thank goodness I had the chance 
to reevaluate my procedures during my morning class 
and fix it for my afternoon lesson.
(I think that was good Karma for 
being willing to do it in the
afternoon to begin with...Woot-Woot!)

By the way, I AM sharing my trade secrets with you!
I've always thought that the best teachers 
are the ones who share!
Absolutely!  Teaching is often
beg, steal, or borrow to get what you need.
Hopefully, you'll find something useful in this post!
Uh, ya think?!

Here is the rubric I used.....
OMG!  Again, I love how you take
those higher level tools 
and apply them to Kindergarten.
You are all that and a bag of chips!
which actually includes the double bubble center 
as well as the venn diagram/hula hoop center.
(They have to show that they can help a friend to get a "4"
which they have a chance to do at the hula hoop center).

I decided that since I have such a short time 
with my 3 separate classes....
my vice principal would see center work 
during my evaluation that covered alphabet letters
and sight words as well as the two centers focusing 
on comparing and contrasting. 
I have limited time, and every minute counts!
Sad but true...
We have to know our letters and sight words
or guess what....we won't be reading! YIKES!
That's just not an option on my watch!
Again, no pressure!
Sooooooo.......for the third center,
I had both alphabet letter mats 
Click Above To See on TPT.
and sight word mats (with a wolf theme)
Thank you!  
I had wanted to make my own NEW sightword mats, 
but I ran out of time.  
I was able to use old mats that I had made 
several years ago.  I found this blank, 
dotted picture that I had handwritten 
sight words in around 8 years ago.
I believe it was made for paint stampers 
(the bingo type markers), 
but I just added sight words to it.
Students were able to choose cards,
and cover the alphabet letter (or sight word) 
with a counter.  This was my Student Teacher's center,
and she used either the alphabet mat or the sight word mat 
depending on the students' reading abilities in each group 
(differentiation is key).
For sure! 
  I LOVE the counters.  
They are see through so that you can still read the 
words or letters even after they are covered.  
I'm pretty sure that I ordered them from course!
I have flashbacks to my
"tiddly wink" days.
My last center was loosely
based from a S.T.E.M. activity I made last year called
The Three Little Pigs Stem Activity: 

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math
Again, you have a gift for simplifying
higher level skills into Kindergarten friendly activities.
That's a gift my friend!
I had to rework it
to better fit my new role
of focusing on being the 
reading teacher for 3 classes.

I made a paper for my students 
to draw and design a house 
made out of either alphabet letters 
and sight word paper cards 
or alphabet letters and sight word blocks 
that I have in my classroom.

Building Letter & Sight Word Houses 
For The Three Bears and The Three Little Pigs
  In my pre-observation meeting 
with my vice principal, 
I asked her to play 
the part of The Big, Bad Wolf
and use a blow dryer 
to blow the houses down.
Now that's pretty cool that
she rolled with that!  
I asked her permission to post her picture 
on our blog, and she said, "Absolutely!" 
Where's the line for autographs?
(See why I love my bosses?)
The kids had so much fun 
making their alphabet/sight word houses, 
and most of them really put thought into how to protect 
their paper characters that they were 
required to have in their structures.
One of my favorite parts 
of this lesson was when 
one of my little girls 
(with big, huge eyes) said, 
"Mrs. 'Chaos', is there any way 
that I can change my 
building materials to blocks?  
I had NO IDEA that a blow dryer 
would do that to paper!" 
(This was after she saw a friend's paper house 
get blown straight across the classroom.) 

I also noticed that the houses started getting tighter looking 
with rooftops becoming essentials 
as the children observed storybook characters 
getting blown away by the wind.
My kids LOVED having their vice principal 
try to take down their houses!
She's such a good sport...
I had told her about the blow dryer 
in our pre-observation meeting, 
but I completely left out the part 
about wearing the wolf hat.  
I just left it by the blow dryer as a prop.
She put the wolf hat right on, 
and started blowing down houses left and right....
She's a definite keeper! 

To wrap it all up, my students were given 
a reward of 2 hand stamps 
when we finished--a bear and a pig (of course)....
one for each hand. 
I went to Michael's and I bought
a bunch of stamps for the year
since having a reward 
is part of our evaluation protocol. 
(That was another $100.00...CRAZY!!!)

Can I just tell you....if you have EVER 
bought ANYTHING from my store on TPT.......
Good point!  Most folks may think
that TPT income goes to hoity toity vacations.
Nope, so much of it goes
right back into the classroom.
Dare I say our students are spoiled?

are the reason
that I'm able to pay for 
stamps at Michael's 
and enlarging posters at 
Office Depot for this lesson.
ALL of my 
Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrfect Plans 
would have gone awry without you!
My inner Cat Woman says that:
"You're The Cat's MEOW!"

Right now, 
one of the buzz words 
in education is 
for teachers to be
Being an 
Innovative Teacher 
is the highest ranking
a teacher can receive 
in my area.
We all try our best, 
but it's not always easy or 
even seemingly possible to achieve.
Being innovative to me is the ability 
of making something out of nothing.
Maybe I'm right, 
or maybe I'm wrong....
that's just my take on it.
I think that's a fair definition.

Why is being 
innovative so important?
Watch the following video....

 I wonder what these kids would say, 
if THEY were asked:
"Does having an innovative teacher 
make a difference?"  


I have actually been to places in 
Mexico and El Salvador 
that remind me of this area.

I remember looking out at the tarmac 
after flying back to the U.S. from El Salvador once,
and thinking that if the plane had the stairs 
leading directly to the ground, 
I would have gladly bent down 
and kiss the ground before heading 
to go inside the airport.  

The word "humbling" 
doesn't even begin to cover it.
I have to remind myself 
of all of the blessings I do have
when I just can't afford 
what I would like to be able to afford.
I am not kidding or exaggerating 
when I say that my 
bilingual education students
 in Texas only had rocks and sticks 
to play with at home...

I always SENT home 
school supplies 
with my students 
at the beginning of the school year 
so that they could do homework at home 
(pencils, paper, scissors, glue, etc.).  
I had to send home 2 pairs of scissors 
for my students, because I found out 
that their moms were using the scissors 
to cut meat for their dinners.  
I didn't want my kids to use the 
"meat" cutting scissors for their projects.
We're talking drastic poverty.
The funny thing is....
they considered themselves lucky.

They were in America.
Wow.....humbling is right.
Dare I say, WE are spoiled!
God Bless The USA.


God bless ALL the teachers 
of the WORLD 
who work tirelessly for their kiddos!

No matter what country you claim, 
or what language you speak....
I know that teachers are out there 
doing their best for their students!

  OUR STUDENTS are the future....
and hopefully all of 
sleepless nights
of endless planning
will  help to make 
that future bright!

 photo Queenchaossignoff-2.png

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