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Thursday, April 26, 2012

April 27th...One Year Later...Life Goes On

   One year ago today started out like any normal Tuesday.  At the end of the day I hugged and high-fived all of my students good bye.  I never imagined as I walked my former firsties to their buses or put them in their cars that some of their young lives would change forever... On April 27, 2011 there were 208 EF 5 tornadoes that ripped through the state of Alabama, killing 239 people in my state alone.  Among the many areas devasted that day, the little town I taught in was affected.  The small community of Shoal Creek Valley was basically demolished, and there about 15-20 lives lost.   Many students and teachers at my school lived in the Valley.

   I remember watching the news and worrying about my students.  I couldn't sleep, and I eventually made a list of all the students I could remember that lived in the Valley.  I found out that children at my school were hospitalized along with their families.  Other students had lost their homes.  Other students had lost family members that day.  Driving through the Valley was heartbreaking.  I would see just remnants of a home left and I would think this is where one of my little boys lived or this was the house that one of my little girls lived or I can't imagine how this person survived.  I spent the next several days volunteering at the Red Cross Shelter sorting supplies and helping survivors find what they needed.

   I listened as some survivors wanted to tell their stories and I cried with them.  I saw an elderly couple from Texas come in looking for their daughter and grandchildren that were missing, and I listened as someone told them how to find their missing loved ones.
When it was time to go back to school, I didn't know what to expect.  I knew I had to be strong for my students that were dealing with heartbreak.  I was so nervous, but so happy to see their sweet faces walk into my classroom!  Some of my students did not know anything had happened, while others had heartbreaking stories that would send chills down your back.  I had one little boy that lost his home and he told me over and over what he remembered--and it was always the same word for word.  Even though I knew how his story would end, I listened as if it was the first time he was telling me his story!

   In my classroom we talked about what a tornado was, and we read some books about them.  I had my students write a book about how they knew everything would be ok after the tornado as part of our healing process.  The little boy that constantly repeated his story wrote "He knew everything would be ok because Ms. Newberry still smelled like flowers, and still gave everybody hugs!"  Bless his sweet lil' heart!  I ended up letting him keep the book our class made because it seemed to really help him cope!  He talked to me today about the "nader" as he calls it and still has the book!
   There are still remnants of that fateful April night, the Valley has it's scars and will never be the same.  The students will never be the same.  Every time there is a thunderstorm some of their little faces show fear and they get scared of the bad weather.  Tomorrow will mark one year since so many peoples lives changed forever here in Alabama and other states.  My heart will be with my former students tomorrow as they deal with memories and all kinds of mixed emotions of what they went through one year ago. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Green is the New Black...

Hey ya'll!  Since Earth Day is coming up I thought I'd share some ideas I've found on Pinterest.  One thing my students always did was bring in old newspapers.  They would paint on the newspaper and then would create anything they wanted to out of their painting.  I had lots of awesome creations from animals, their friends, or even themselves! I love it when the kids have the same instructions on an activity but totally different results!  I wish I had some pictures of their art to show you!
Mel D has a super cute Lorax activity for free on TPT!

I love this art activity with mixed media from Mum Paints Lives.

Rachelle has an awesome Earth Day freebie pack on TPT too!  I love her stuff!

Here is a cute contractions freebie from First Grade a la Carte.

Here is a freebie with several great ideas for teaching about taking care of the environment.
This is a super cute writing and craft from Room 36

And of course, to end your celebration a little dirt puddin' will do just the trick!  Then you'll be the coolest, most awesomest teacher, right?!?
Dirt Cups recipe

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tag! You're It!

I got tagged from my Alabama friend Jada at Daisy Days for Learning
Here are the rules: 
*Post these rules 
*Answer the ten questions the tagger posted for you
*Create ten questions of your own to ask the people you are about to tag
*Tag ten people and link them with your post (and let them know they've been tagged!)

Here are Jada's questions:
1.  What is your proudest teacher moment and why?
My proudest moment was during my first year teaching.  I had a little boy that had a speech problem, and he would not talk to me or the other students.  I noticed early on that he enjoyed art, and I would try to get him to tell me about his drawings and sketches.  The other students encouraged him too.  By the end of September he was talking to me and making friends, but was still shy to answer questions in my class.  My students had an animal research paper, and part of their grade was to present the project to the class.  I pulled that student aside and asked him "Do you want to tell everyone about your project or just tell me about it?"  I was surprised when he told me he wanted to present the project to the class!  I had to keep from crying when he stood up and started reading his paper!  All of the students were so supportive of him, and I made sure he knew how proud I was of him!  All of his past teachers kept telling me how they could tell I had gotten through to him--he never would talk to any of them!  I'll always remember that little boy!

2.  What is a moment you are not so proud of and why?
We all have moments we aren't proud of, but I can't really think of anything off the top of my head!

3.  How did you know teaching was "it" for you?
My mom is a teacher, and she kept telling me that I would be a good teacher.  However, I was determined not to be a teacher like her!  I went into communications--I wanted to be an investigative journalist like Lisa Ling!  HA!  I didn't like any of my communication classes, and I thought about how when I babysat I always had a "theme" for the day.  I changed my major to elementary education and told my best friend Sarah (who was also in communications).  I thought she was going to be so mad at me because we had decided we would take all of our classes together!  She had changed her major to elementary education too at the same time and was afraid to tell me!  HA!!!  So we ended up still taking all of our classes together, and we knew that teaching was for us because we loved our teaching courses!

4.  How do you find time to work on "teacher/blogging" without taking time away from your family?
I'm not married...no kids...One day though...hopefully!  ;)

5.  What do people say is your greatest strength as a teacher?
Everyone thinks I'm so patient with my students. 

6.  What do you think is your greatest strength?
I'm very creative and organized.  I always notice every little thing!  I always surprised my students when I would ask them if they had gotten a haircut or new tennis shoes!  I'm just observant I guess!

7.  What do you think is your biggest weakness as a teacher?
My weakness is that I want my students to have good grades, so I grade homework or classwork...which ends up with me having more papers to grade!  I always do because I struggled in math when I was in school.  I kid you not when I tell you I had to take pre-cal 3 times in college!  Totally brought my GPA down!  The third time I took it my teacher counted homework and classwork for a grade...which is how I ended up finally passing with a C!  So I know how those struggling students feel, and that is why I'm constantly grading papers!

8.  What is the highest degree you have earned, and do you plan on trying for something higher?
I have my Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education.  I am studying for the MAT test now, and I think I want to get my Masters in counseling.

9.  What grade do you teach, and how long have you been in that position?
I didn't get a teaching job this school year.  I taught third and fourth grade for one year,  Then I taught first grade for one year.

10.  Do you have a teacher tip for us?
My tip would be to ask a fellow teacher on your team to sit in on your conferences.  They can help you with your conference and put their input in.  That helps you and the parent!

Here are my questions:
1.  What is your favorite teacher moment and why?

2.  What is your favorite food?

3.  What is the highest degree you hold, and do you plan on going further with your education?

4.  What is your favorite blog?

5.  What is your favorite subject or theme to teach?

6.  What advice would you give to a new teacher?

7.  What is your favorite television show?

8.  How many years have you been teaching?

9.  Where is your favorite place to vacation?

10.  How many places have you traveled to?

Tag!  You're It!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Jumpin' Jellybeans!

Hey ya'll!  Today I've been busy filling out an application for a school system in Alabama...is it sad to say that I've never even heard of the town?!?  I don't care where in Alabama...I just really want a teaching job again I'll move anywhere!  Today I wanted to share some Easter activities using jellybeans that I've found on Pinterest.  Maybe some of you can use these ideas...and  I hope I can use these next year! ;)I found these awesome math activities from Simply Learning Centers.  They even included a parent letter asking for jellybean donations! It's an awesome site to check out for sure!
Check out Fun With Little Learners for a fun science experiment using jellybeans. Click here for a page with the scientific method for this activity from Hope King.  She also has a cute jellybean fractions activity!
If you teach at a private school I love, love, love this jellybean prayer
And this is a tradition that I plan on doing with my future kids...but you could totally do at school with younger kids.  You plant the  "Magic Jellybeans" and lollipops "grow".  Too cute!
What are you doing for Easter in your classrooms?