Wednesday, May 28, 2014

12 More Days....

.... and counting.
I know some of you have less (jealous) and some are already done (super jealous!)  And some of you have more (so sorry).  We had an extra day tacked on, thanks to Old Man Winter's harsh treatment this year.  Lucky for us the other snow days were excused by the state.   Anyway, 12 more days.  The kids are so ready for summer.  We usually make it through the morning fairly easily.  The afternoons, however, get antsy.  Time for fun activities and lots of movement breaks.

Over the last few weeks we have been focusing on biographies.  Each student picked a person and researched that person's life.  We have been using Hilary Lewis' Biography Lapbook and the kids are loving it!  They are so much more engaged and interested in the people they are learning about than in past years.   Check out how Hilary uses the unit on her blog Rockin' Teacher Materials.

   Biography Lapbook to Research Any Person - CCSS 1.W.7,   2

We've also been exploring polygons.  Great fun for those antsy afternoons.  They have loved using the geoboard dot paper and drawing different shapes.  Today I gave them an attribute and they drew a shape to match.  A couple of kids then drew them on the Promethean board (using a dot paper template).  We compared the shapes and discussed how they are the same, but can still look different.

The kids are also having a blast using tangrams to create polygons.  We've been using this site from NLVM on the Promethean and in the lab to help us out.  Once they get the hang of how to turn and flip the pieces they are good to go!

I always find it interesting to see who gets tangrams right away and who struggles to make the polygons.  You can definitely see who the visual thinkers are!  Sometimes they surprise me.

Finally, we made these cute little polygon books I created  "Hi I'm a Polygon".  Each page has a cute little polygon graphic (courtesy of Ashley Hughes).  The kids have to identify the name of the shape and how many sides and corners it has.  I also included a circle.  They then have to explain why it is NOT a polygon.  I'll be uploading this to my TPT store soon.


So, like I said...12 more days.  That made today "N" day in our ABC countdown -- "No More Homework This Year!"  Smiles for the kids.  Smiles for the teachers!


Friday, May 23, 2014

The Old Fashioned Way

Everyone has those days.  You know... those days where you just want to get back in bed and sleep until the next day.  I had one last Friday.  And yet, by the end, at all turned out just fine.

Our superintendent was visiting our school Friday, so we were all ready to impress.  I had prepared all my materials and made my copies.  And boy am I glad I did.  Overnight it had rained buckets, enough to flood the road I take to work.  The alternate trip to school lasted about 30 minutes longer than usual.  No fear, all I had to do before the kids arrived was to get my Promethean board up and running and do a little last minute straightening.  No problem.

First thing, set up the computer..hmm, after a little game of cat and mouse with my mouse, I finally got ActivInspire open and my Promethean Board on.  Projector working fine, check.  Touch screen, not so much - no Promethean Board, really!? Well...on to plan B.  Isn't that what teachers do best - improvise!  A lesson one of my students also seemed to have picked up along the way, since he initiated taking the lunch count on paper by creating a nice chart for the kids to sign up on.

Mixed among the chatter of a busy Friday morning rings out, "Mrs. Rill, what are we going to do if the Promethean Board isn't working?"  "I know", replies another, "We can do it the old-fashioned way."  So that's what we do.  I write the plans on chart paper displayed prominently across the top of the Promethean with a "Please excuse our technical difficulties" message for our special visitor.  We then go about our day without the ease and convenience of our normal technology.  And the kids did great without it!  They worked on their independent work.  They played at centers quietly and without arguments. I was amazed, but not surprised.

I was meeting with a reading group when the superintendent walked in.  He observed the kids all working nicely.  He came over to our table and listened as we went over cause and effect.  He introduced himself and even talked with the kids.  No one mentioned our lack of a 'big screen.'  And our day continued, just as it did in the "old fashioned days."

It is amazing how quickly we become accustomed to the "new ways" of doing things.  When my Promethean board wouldn't start, I must admit I started to freak out.  What would the superintendent think?  How was I going to manage the day?  What would I do?  How would the kids react?  I momentarily forgot that just last year, I didn't have this wonderful technology.  But as all teachers do everyday, I used my creativity, flexibility and ingenuity and reverted to my tried and true methods.  Sometimes the "old fashioned way" really is the best way.

Happy Friday everyone!
Sunday, May 18, 2014


So I am ready to jump into the world of blogging!  After teaching elementary school for twenty years, I decided to share my "wisdom" with all of you.  A little about me... as I said I've been teaching for twenty years.  I've had stints in kindergarten and first grade, but most of my time has been spent in second grade, where they still  enjoy school and want to do well, but can do many, if not most, things for themselves.

I'm also a wife and mother to one 8 year old daughter "K" and one 80lb labradoodle, Shack. Of course we love spending time together just hanging out, playing games, watching our favorite shows and reading.  Both my daughter and dog also have food allergies, which places additional challenges on our day to day lives. We are now expert label readers and have become "uber" aware of food in our culture.  K, though is amazing, and faces her peanut and tree nut allergies head on, taking amazing responsibility for herself.  The dog on the other hand ... not so much.  He'll still eat anything, including the chicken that makes him sick.

Over the last few years, as our district has adapted to the Common Core and our new curriculum, I have found myself re-energized and excited about teaching again.  (Of course the new Promethean boards are an added bonus!)  These changes have me seeking new materials for my class.  My enthusiasm has lead me to begin creating my own things for my class, and am now offering them on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Please stop by and check out my store at   I'm always looking for new followers.

I'm looking forward to getting to know all of you and hearing about your teaching and life stories!

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