Helter-skelter Periods…

I love strong, stubborn kids – and my class is full of them this year!  However, it can be exhausting trying to change the way they do something…example:  periods.

“The ideas are great.  It’s a slice of life.  But, you don’t have any punctuation.”

“Aghh…fine.”  She skips away to add punctuation and then comes back in minutes.

I reread the slice and there were periods now, but they seemed to be randomly placed throughout the piece.  “Achoo, (her nickname…)  it seems like you just put periods in random places…”

“Because that’s what I did!”

“Hmmm..Well, that’s not how punctuation works. ”

“But people reading it need a breath.  They’ll get tired.”

“You are very right about that, but not in random places. The periods need to be at the end of sentences, so your story makes sense.  You can’t just put them wherever.”

“Ms. Bless, that’s just who I am.  You can’t change that.”

Oh boy…

I honestly don’t remember the continuation of this specific conversation, in large part because I just couldn’t move past, “that’s just who I am.”  And also, because before and after this, Achoo and I have had many conversations about punctuation. I know she can find the right places for them, once I can get her to accept that it does matter WHERE you put them…

Me + Hulk = ?

Kids say the best/worst possible things at the best/worst possible times.  The problem is…you never know which one it will be…

“You know…if Hulk was real,”  a student starts, pointing to the cartoon of Hulk on my sweatshirt.  “If Hulk was real, you and him would really get along.”

“Really? Why is that?”  At this point it could go either way:  best/worst. Based on the student and the fact that we were standing outside at the end of a long day, I was betting on worst…something about anger, maybe?

But she surprised me!

“Yep.  Because you and Hulk are both brave and strong.  And he doesn’t wear shoes either!”  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Best possible thing at the best possible time!

Me + Hulk = Soul Mates

Simple Joys

#SOL16 was a success!  Our class wrote a total of 227 slices in the month of March!  20160405_073734

Yesterday we raffled off some prizes for the slicers and then gave the kids some free time as a reward for all of their hard work.

During their free time, eight students took turns throwing up the bucket of tickets – making it rain down.   Twenty minutes they spent doing this!

“Ready!  Set! GO!”  They’d dance around as the tickets fell like snowflakes.

After all the tickets finished falling, all eight students dropped to the ground in order to collect all the tickets.

They continued to repeat the entire twenty minutes!  Taking turns and making a game of it!

All the while, I marveled at how kids with an imagination need so little to keep themselves entertained.  In a room full of technology, these students chose to spend their free time playing with used raffle tickets and a bucket! ♥


Moments that Matter

I sat next to a student, conferring with her for the first time on her current fairy tale.  I complimented her on organizing her writing into paragraphs.   Then, we discussed substituting other words for said in order to show how the characters are feeling.

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It hit me how far she has come this year.  I needed to show her, so I pulled up her first published piece from the year.  And as she looked at her work, her eyes got big and bright.  She saw how she has grown and it lit up her face.   And that is why I teach – for that moment that a student realizes what she can do.

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This is her first published personal narrative piece from the beginning of the year.

SOL #26: A Gem of a Sentence

I incorporate phonics/decoding into my guided reading groups based on the need of the students.  My groups reading below grade level get phonics/decoding practice every day.

Recently we have been working with r-controlled vowels.  We read them and spell them. Once they’ve got the pattern in single words, we move on to sentences.  I dictate the sentence including a word with given phonics pattern.   They write the sentence with appropriate capitalization and punctuation.

And then, sometimes, I give them each a word and they have to make up a sentence using that word.  It is with this activity that I get to read a gem of a sentence like this one:


Positive Reinforcement…It works for teachers, too!

As I sat at my table during quiet time, after lunch, a pack of post-its and a mechanical pencil was dropped on my desk.  I looked up to see C.  She was just staring at me.

I did the scrunchy eye thing, hoping she would be following up with some words to explain…Nope.  So, I had to ask, “What’s this for?  Do you need something?”

“It’s yours,”  she responded.  “After you earn three erasers, you get something bigger.”

See, she was the one who wrote me a note describing me as “crazy nice and messy.”  So, I decided early last week that I needed to clean my desk for her.  I just felt so bad that my 20160317_163347.jpgmess weighed on her mind.  She would come to sit at my table for guided reading and she would just look and shake her head…the disappointment.   After the first day of a clean desk, she informed me that I would be receiving a prize for each day I kept my desk clean.  So, far I have earned three erasers, post-its, and a pencil from her.

It turns out my clean table is BIG news in our class.  I received a round of applause from the class when they arrived and saw my clean desk last week.   It was also the subject of several slices of life.  Here are a few:

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With all of this encouragement, how could I not keep my table clean!  Plus, the kids give me reminders if it starts to get a little messy again…I can’t let them down!


Fairy Tale Adaptaions in Progress

We are in the first bend of Lucy Calkin’s Once Upon a Time Fairy Tale unit.  Students are rehearsing and drafting their adaptations of either Cinderella or Little Red Riding Hood.  Boy are they creative!


One student asked for help and this is how our conversation went…

“I’m not sure what to write next,”  she told me.

“Tell me about your adaptation so far.”

“Well, I’m adapting Red Riding Hood.  Red Riding Hood has a sister, Nancy.  And Nancy is dating Bill, but she is secretly in love with Juan.  And then Little Red Riding Hood finds out that Nancy is cheating on Bill with Juan and she slaps Juan. And that’s where I stopped yesterday.”  There were more details in here and I may have mixed up some of the events, but I don’t have her notebook with me to reference.

“O.K….Do you know how it is going to end?”  I ask, trying not to laugh too much.

“Yes.  Bill is going to kill Nancy.”

At this point I feel that it is very important for you to know that this student is one of the sweetest, most empathetic girls in the world.  She doesn’t understand why everyone isn’t nice to everyone else.  She often brings up the cruelty she sees on the news from presidential candidates.  She can not fathom how people can possible be racist.  She is THE LAST student that I would ever expect to write this ending…Ok…here’s how the rest of the conversation went…

Pause.  “Um…Where does that happen?”

“At a bridge.”  She replies, without needing to think.

“Alright..How does that happen?”  I ask, more shocked at each response.

“Bill invites Nancy on a date at the bridge, but then he drowns her.”

At this point you may be thinking that I should have put a stop to this very violent conversation and fairy tale adaptation, but I needed to know where it was going.   

“Why does he kill her?”

“Because he found out that she was cheating on him with Juan. But, he didn’t tell anyone.  He just planned the fake date and murder.”

And then I had a thought, “X…do you watch Telenovelas?”

“Yes.  Yes I do.”  She replied.


Tricky Tricky Third Graders

I got sick of the third graders not cleaning up after themselves, so we started fining the kids one minute of quiet time per item we had to pick up at the end of the day.

When we hand out rubrics for writing, we rite their names on it.  This way when it ends up on the ground we know who to charge.

It was an exciting game, but by the end of the first week…the fun was rare.  Kids were picking up after themselves!  Yay!  Success!  (But, can you tell there are some mixed feeling about not finding as many fines.)

Friday, after the kids left, I saw a checklist laying on the floor.  I rushed over to see who was going to owe me a minute.  I did not expect to see this…

The picture isn’t totally clear, but that is MY name at the top!

One of those little jokers put my name on a checklist and left it on the floor!  Wow!  They got me! Let the handwriting analysis begin!


My co-teacher, Christina, is a competitive person.  She likes to win!  (How have the two of us, both very controlling, made it this far into the year without killing each other?)


Yesterday, she was subbing in another room.  The kids and I started trying to read Fox in Socks without making a mistake…not as easy as they thought.  I got to page 12 and most of the brave souls who tried got to 7.  One young reader tied me and stumbled on page 12. 

Today a few students wanted to try before we started our read aloud.  When I explained that we did this yesterday, her hand automatically went out for the book.  She NEEDED to get past page 12.  I knew it, and reluctantly handed over the book.  I did not want her to beat my page, but she just might…





Anxiety built in my stomach…page 5…6..7…8…9…10…11…12

YES! She messed up on page 12…on the same word as I did!  I’m pretty sure I jumped up and down in excitement.  She, however, was not excited that we tied.  And that is why I win!