Run now, sleep later

I awoke this morning already sweating.

Sacramento is experiencing a heat wave that we usually don’t get in June.

Multiple days of over 105 degrees, and no relief in sight.

It’s summer vacation – I should really be sleeping in.

Most people would have looked at the clock,

which read 6:56, and rolled back over and forced themselves back to sleep.

Me, on the other hand, decided that I’d much rather sweat while running

than sweat as I unsuccessfully attempt to go back to sleep.

(For my adorable little apartment does not have central AC.)

Though this early morning run was far from cool,

it was, in my opinion, the best way to start this day.

Since returning to running from an injury,

I haven’t quite gotten that feeling yet that I’m back where I used to be.

There was a time that I was approaching 9:15 minute miles

and was close to making that my norm for my training runs.

I was on the edge of breaking a 2 hour half marathon

and 3 miles was a joke of an easy run.

But now, my pace has slowed to a respectable 10:15-10:30 mile

but 3 and 4 miles are definitely challenges at times.

However, today was the first day that I ever felt like I could return to the runner I once was.

My knees did not ache, my pace was up, and I never felt tired.

I’m not sure if it was the haze of the heat or if my mind was just in the right place,

but this morning was one of the best runs I’ve had in a very long time –

to the point that I said a little prayer of thanksgiving when it was over.

Thank you for this run.

This run makes me feel clarity, feel strength, feel peace.

I feel ready for this day!

So cheers to feeling like the runner I once was,

and hopefully the runner I’ll always be.

Strong. Healthy. Free.

And now I will retreat to my couch,

where I can feel the cool breeze from the wall AC unit

and return to slumber.

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Beautiful, Beautiful Books

photo-21This picture was my happy place today.

No time in the school day brings me more joy

than our moments after lunch when we read our chapter book together.

My class is about two thirds of the way through our last novel of the year,

Holes, by Louis Sachar.

The best part is, I actually have a class set of this one.

My heart does a little pitter patter every time I see my students

get comfy with their copy as they follow along.

One girl loves to rest her chin on her desk with her eyes on the text.

Another boy likes to rest his forehead on the desk with the book in his lap.

Another is literally consumed by his book because it practically covers his face.

Just when I think I’ll catch one off task, I realize, they’re just getting in their cozy spot.

They’re bonding with their books!

So as we read today, I had a lightbulb moment.

Wouldn’t it be cool to see all the books we’ve read together in one big stack?

As the students traded turns reading pages,

I did a quick rummage around the room to collect them all.

Eight in all, and what a beautiful pile of books!

I wish you could have seen two of my girls who sit in back

oohing and ahhing at the sight.

Those are our books!  We’ve read them all this year! one whispered.

Wait, let me count them! the other joined in.

I’m telling you, books have bonded us together.

As I look at each title, I am reminded of a different time frame of the year.

It reminds me of the journey we’ve taken through this school year.

And it makes my heart feel so full.

There’s already a countdown in the teachers lounge

for number of school days left until sweet summer begins.

And I’m not going to lie, I’m more than ready.

But today, that stack of books brought me the bit of joy I needed.

What will be your Space Jam?

Inspiration comes from funny places sometimes.

This week marks our first week of state testing

and I have to say, I feel just as exhausted as the kids.

Not to mention, stress levels are a little high around campus.

So in an attempt to hide from the negativity and the stress

I hid in my classroom, threw on some Iron and Wine Pandora,

and checked my email.

And there was this happy little gem of inspiration.

The perfect encouraging video to brighten my day.

Today I showed this video to my kids

as a method to lighten the mood amidst the anxiety of testing

and remind my kids life goes on beyond this almighty test.

I have to admit, as I sat at my back table, and enjoyed this video with them

I did get a little teary eyed.

Every kid was glued to these words from Kid President

and genuinely enjoyed every minute of his words.

Sometimes when we feel like giving up,

its the exact moment we just need a little push to keep going.

A little bit of inspiration from an unexpected place.

Thanks, Kid President.  Thanks for your pep talk.

Dreams of Disneyland

 I spent my lunch with another teacher

and all our students who had earned “Community Lunchbox,”

a reward students can earn for doing their homework all week.

Just as I was about to finish eating,

a group of girls came to my table area and began asking,

“Miss Friedrich, can we come to your wedding?

Can we come over to your house and hang out with you after school?”

(There are two girls from this group that ask me this on a daily basis.

I don’t think they get that teachers and students don’t hang out

and have play dates like they do with their friends.)

Of course I said no to both, but with a smile.

Our banter about them coming over has become a daily joke.

Soon, they began asking questions about my ‘future husband’

and the pictures I had up in the room of he and I.

When I pointed out a picture of us at Disneyland,

they immediately began asking,

“If we can’t come over, will you take us to Disneyland?!”

My quick wits gave me a great idea.

“Sure!” I proclaimed.

Their eyes lit up and smiles spread across their faces,

“Really?!?!?” they asked.

“Yes.  I will go to Disneyland with you when you graduate college.”

My thought was that the likelihood they’ll actually contact me

after their college graduation could be slim,

and it sounded like a fun promise if it ever actually came true.

We laughed and joked about how they’ll need to Google me

to look up my contact information when the time finally comes.

“It’s a deal!” one said.  “But we need to shake on it.”

I complied, shaking on the deal.

As they excitedly ran out of the room to recess,

bragging to anyone who walked by,

“We’re gunna go to Disneyland with Ms. Friedrich!”

My team teacher and I looked at each other and laughed.

She warned me that in about 13 years

these girls actually could be calling me.

And you know what?  I’m okay with that.

If the memory of this pact does anything to motivate them in school

I’m completely okay with that.

I’ll let you know in about 13 years or so if we make it to Disneyland.

And to tell you the truth,

I’d be delighted if this dream really does come true.

Joy Factor

I often talk about something called the Joy Factor

when it comes to getting students engaged and excited about learning.

Well about a month ago, I definitely added a new layer to this idea.

One of my team teachers and I decided to do something a little out of the ordinary

to bring the Joy Factor to our students.

I’d like to call this episode of Joy Factor “Class Swap”

because we did just that.  We swapped classes.

Olivia is a writer as well as a teacher

and she’s currently in the midst of getting her first novel published.

My class was finishing up writing personal narratives,

and to give them a little bit more enthusiasm,

Olivia came and taught them a lesson on the editing process.

Meanwhile, I visited her class to bring an art lesson

that accompanied her science unit on the water cycle.

It was a fun experience to step into a new class

and I have to say the kids were definitely into the swap idea.

This experiment could have easily been a bust on either end,

but I think both classes enjoyed a surprise lesson with a new teacher.

 Water Conservation Lesson – 5th grade Science

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This lesson was focused on the fact that only 1%

of water on Earth is usable by humans.

After brainstorming ways we as a community could save water,

I introduced the students task at hand –

to create a persuasive poster to encourage others to conserve water.

Each student was provided with a “must haves” checklist –

-provide four ideas to encourage water conservation

-use pictures, symbols, or words to persuade the viewer

-include two vertical lines and one horizontal line to divide the poster

-98% of the poster should be covered with color

-markers should only be used for outlining

I was impressed with the ideas the students came up with

and the ways they decided to articulate them on their posters.

I’m telling you – save the arts in our classrooms!

our students today are definitely motivated by creative projects!

Though the students were not able to finish in the 45 minute swap,

I assured them that their teacher would make time for them later.

I’m pretty proud of their work and can’t wait to hang them up in our front hallway!

To you teachers out there – how do you bring the Joy Factor to your classroom?

Grammar + Art = Fun!

Grammar can be boring.

For me, I always loved it!

Diagramming sentences, explaining parts of speech,

I loved it all!

However, sometimes you need to bring in the Joy Factor

when it comes to dry grammar lessons.

For example, this week I taught my kiddos how to

correctly punctuate a line of dialouge.

Discussing where quotation marks and commas belong

in dialogue can be pre-tty boring!

Here’s how I made it come to life:

I read Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus,

which is basically dialogue throughout.

Students love it!  And not to mention, it’s a great series!

We then examined a quotation from the book,

written correctly with quotation marks and a comma.

Students were then each given their own quote from the book

but written without any punctuation.

They rewrote it, demonstrating appropriate punctuation.

We also had a great discussion about words that can replace said,

like yelled, replied, answered, and more.

I encouraged the students to find a new word for said to add to their quotation.

Finally, I surprised them with a guided drawing of Mr. Pigeon himself!

Art brings wonders to the classroom!  I’m telling you!

Who knew quotation marks could be so much fun?

Here makes a great plug for a project I’ve posted on Donor’s Choose.

I’m hoping to add more art activities like this one to my classroom,

especially when I teach science.

If you’re feeling a little generous, check out my project.

Save the Arts in our classroom!

Just for Mom

Today was one of those school days I look forward to.

My mom’s birthday is Sunday

and every year I have my class surprise her

by calling her to sing a rendition of “Happy Birthday,”

cha-cha-cha’s and all.

And I love it because every year, without a doubt,

she is just as surprised as the first year of this tradition.

I think one of my favorite parts is

watching the kids sit squirmy and giddy,

smiling ear to ear as they wait silently for me to give them the cue.

Just another way I bring the “Joy Factor” into my classroom

and a way to tell my mom I love her.

Happy birthday, Mom!