Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm celebrating with a beautiful orchid this year instead of roses. I love how delicate these flowers are, even though I can never keep them alive for more than a few months. I love coming home and seeing them first thing when I walk in the door. They really brighten up the entire room. What are your favorite flowers? 

Five for Friday {February 13, 2015}

I don't know about your week, but mine was a tough one. I am happy happy happy that it's Friday. Especially since we have next week off! I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to share five random things from my week.

We've just finished our Opinion Writing unit, and I'm so happy with how much the students learned and grew as writers. It was nice to break from the narrative writing we've been doing. They really developed ways to share ideas about books in such a thoughtful way! This unit definitely challenged even my strongest writers, and I'm glad I kept it short and sweet. Normally I teach a 20-lesson unit, but I'm glad I decided to change things up! Plus, my students were begging to give their letters to the people they'd written to. :) I didn't think it would be fair to make them wait any longer!

With Valentine's Day tomorrow, I thought it would be nice to incorporate some role play with these kindness scenario cards. As you probably know, second graders can be VERY dramatic, and this gives them the opportunity to build language around friendship and emotions. And who couldn't use more of that?

Have you ever seen anyone ride a unicycle? Let me tell you, it's entertaining! My boyfriend happens to have a unicycle, and it's been collecting dust in our apartment for quite a while. When a friend came over last weekend, they discovered their shared love for unicycle riding, and did several laps around the neighborhood. Who knew??

Maybe you've heard about Nibblr? It's a snack subscription service perfect for snackers like me! They put together a box of 4 small packaged snacks, meant to be savored, not inhaled (although most of the snacks are so delicious that I could easily eat several in one sitting). You can even rate the snacks they send you, ensuring you get more of the ones you love, and never get the ones you don't like a second time. This is my most recent box. Initially, the idea was to take them to school, but usually I end up eating one each day after I get home instead.

Finally, in celebration of friendship and Valentine's Day, we made compliment booklets for all of our friends. Since students have been learning about character traits during our reading workshop, it worked perfectly to teach new (positive, compliment-worthy) character traits with this resource from Blair Turner. The kids had a blast doing this... Especially at the end when they were able to read all of the compliments their classmates had written about them!

Have a great weekend!

A Waste of Time and Money?

I don't consider myself a germophobe, but I don't like to touch door handles or spend too much time in public restrooms, and I insist on washing my hands before eating. But I've never bought into the hand sanitizer craze.

We have hand sanitizer dispensers posted all around our school. The kids either ignore them, or press their grimy hands into the dispenser to get a giant glop of it, and then happily smear it all over their hands and arms. Personally, I never use the stuff. It creeps me out. I love the feel of soap and water, and so I cringe at the idea of massaging this slimy gel into my skin.

Anyway, I started wondering about the actual health benefits of using hand sanitizing products, especially in school environments. I did a bit of research (the peer reviewed kind), and discovered that--guess what?--there's very little to no evidence that hand sanitizers prevent illness in school settings. Why is this? Here are several likely reasons: 
- The alcohol content of the hand sanitizer is less than 60% 
- Students don't regularly use the hand sanitizer, so germs still spread 
- Students don't use enough of the sanitizer, or wipe it off before it dries
- Hand sanitizer doesn't remove certain types of germs

So why do we keep buying the stuff and forcing it on our kids? Maybe because we feel proactive by using it? Or because it's more convenient when we don't have access to a sink? I always ask students to wash their hands before lunch, after using the bathroom, or after they sneeze into their hands. And all those other times? Well, I just try not to think about it.

What do you do in your home or classroom?


Currently... February!

I'm so glad that February is here! More sunshine, a few holiday weekends, my birthday month, and overall a much better month than January. ;)

Listening: I recently discovered the On the Media podcast, and I really like it. One episode is long enough for my commute to and from work, so that's always a bonus. Plus, the stories are long enough to have some depth, but short enough to stay interesting. 

Loving: I don't want to rub it in, because I know there are a lot of people dealing with terribly cold weather right now, but winter on the west coast has been sunny and mild. I keep wondering when winter will start... and then put on a light jacket. I love all this sunshine, but part of me is really jealous about those snow days I keep hearing about! 

Thinking: In school related news, we're finishing up our Opinion writing unit, and will embark upon an integrated Informational reading and writing unit next. This will be the first time I've taught this unit to 75 second graders, so I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by the amount of preparation and work it's going to be. But I know the kids will LOVE it!

Wanting: Now that I'm back in the U.S., travel is much more time-consuming and expensive than it was in Europe. I miss weekend travel, and it's definitely time to make some plans. We have a break coming up in February, but I think I'm going to save for a bigger trip in the Spring. Maybe Hawaii?

Needing: Ha! See above. Even though I won't be traveling, I definitely need to catch up on some R&R.

Pageant Title: Well, if you scroll through my blog, you will notice how frequently I post about sweet treats. :)

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