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.

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Art is Alive!

May is probably my favorite month in the classroom.

Not only because the school year is almost done,

but because this is when art comes alive in my classroom.

Here are just a few of the creative happenings in my room lately.

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Teaching warms the heart

At the beginning of the school year,

I was busy reminiscing about my old students,

missing their jokes, their love for reading, and even sometimes, their defiance.

My class this year is so different.  Much different.

Going from almost sixth graders to used to be third graders

has definitely been a strange adjustment.

My students felt so little, like babies even,

and it was hard to bond with them and see them as my students.

I’m not sure if has a little bit to do with the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary

but this week I’ve definitely felt a little closer to my students this week.

Whatever the reason, today I started to find myself falling in love

with my little rascals (as I loving refer to them as.) even more than I ever have.

Every Wednesday we have something called Community Lunchbox.

It’s a reward students can earn when they play Homeworkopoly,

an amazing game that students get to play if they’ve completed their homework all week.

Students are allowed to bring a “Plus 1”

and they get to come eat lunch with the teachers.

The kids LOVE it!

Most Wednesdays, the students all sit together,

not really paying any attention to their teachers at all.

But today, five girls raced to my back table,

“We want to sit with you, Ms. Friedrich!”

Surprised and half bummed I’d miss out on the “teacher talk” my co-teachers would be

sharing as I sat with these girls, I took a seat and began to eat my lunch with them.

I figured they’d talk amongst themselves and I’d just listen,

but instead we shared laughs, gabbed about our favorite foods,

and one even confided a story about why she got grounded for a whole month.

My favorite was when one girl tried lobbying

 for another girl in the class to be student of the week.

“She’s been raising her hand a lot in class and has been working really hard.

I really think you need to pick her,” she said, dead serious.

The two aren’t close friends, so I knew she was genuine.

It seriously was such a pleasant lunch,

my heart was a little bummed when it was time for it to end.

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!

cursive is not dead

Do you remember learning cursive writing as a child?

My third grade teacher would always turn on classical music

as she taught us proper form as we learned each stroke of each letter.

I remember feeling very grown up,

like I was finally in on how adults wrote in this fancy, sophisticated writing.

Yet, as the years went by, my printing always survived

and my cursive was saved for signing my name on checks

or writing thank you notes for gifts.

It’s sad to say that cursive is a dying art.

Do you know many people who only write in cursive?

I don’t.

But lately I’ve been wondering if I should push myself to use it more.

Which leads me to say that cursive isn’t quite dead yet.

I’m teaching it in my classroom

hoping to give my students that same experience I had

and praying that they’ll love it and continue to use it through their adult lives.

One of my students wrote me a letter using cursive. Perhaps cursive will live on again!

Another student with beautiful cursive. Who knew boys could write so beautifully?

The truth of the matter is

perhaps cursive is a dying art because there is no time

in the teaching day for cursive writing.

We are slammed with math and reading

and science here and there

that for a lot of teachers, cursive gets lost in the shuffle.

What would the world be like without cursive, I wonder?

Would it be normal for people to never learn

to craft their very own signature?

Strange!

There is a student in particular that inspired this post.

She surprised me with the sweetest card on my birthday.

Which was written in her best cursive.

And it made me smile.

Because maybe, just maybe,

cursive is not dead.