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Fantastic Story!

Has anyone else seen this metaphorical story floating around facebook or other teacher forums? It's fantastic.  Check it out:

The Pigs and the Scale
The farmer wants his pigs to be fat. Of course he does. The fatter the better.  
He became concerned when he realized that, even though he fed them all the same, some pigs were fatter than others. The problem, he concluded, was that he wasn't weighing the pigs enough. So he began to weigh the pigs a few times a year. Still, while some of the pigs were getting plenty fat, many of them were still skinny or, at least, not fat enough.  
The farmer decided that the best thing to do to solve the problem would be to weigh them again and again throughout the year. So, the farmer invested a lot of his resources in weighing. He developed new types of scales. He began keeping complicated records of the pigs’ weights. He devised a system where he could compare the weights of the pigs not just individually but between each different pen and also based on what color each pig was. All the while, the pigs weren't getting any fatter. The only thing that seemed to be getting fatter was the wallet of the scale-maker. 
So, the farmer added more weigh-ins. And in the days and weeks leading up to each weigh-in, he held practice weigh-ins for the pigs. One day, the pigs were looking longingly at the food piled up around their pens. “No time to waste sitting around eating,” the farmer said. “I need you to practice weighing. Here are some tips on how to make yourself seem heavier.” The only weigh-in strategy that seemed to help at all was eating a good breakfast.  
But even on the days that one particular group of pigs wasn't weighing-in or practicing weighing-in, the farmer didn't like them to eat. Pigs are noisy eaters, you know. They might disturb the others who are weighing-in or practicing weighing-in. Besides, there was no one to feed them, anyway. All the workers on the farm were overseeing the weighing of the pigs or the practicing of the weighing of the pigs in some of the other pens, so the pigs that weren't being weighed or practicing being weighed were herded over to one particular area and told to sit still, be quiet, and wait.  
After the last weigh-in of the year, everybody relaxed. But the pigs wondered, “Why bother to eat now, if we aren't going to even be weighed anymore?” The farmer told them that the weighing was only to help them get fatter. But the pigs didn't believe him. They knew that the scale was much more important than the food. They knew that it’s the weighing that makes a pig fatter. They had been taught that well.

When the crunch of the test is on, it's always good to find something to remind ourselves that the primary function of students is learning their subject matter. Of course, we need to prepare them for the test, but we can't lose sight of our first role in the classroom- teachers.

And now, for the completely unrelated... this gif makes me laugh out loud, every time. I just had to share:

I totally can't believe it, but I am almost upon my first blog milestone- 100 followers! I am putting together some details for my giveaway. I'm going to do an e-gift card to TPT, and hoping that a few people may want to contribute! This is my very first giveaway, so I'm hoping it goes well. :) If you are interested in contributing, please fill out the form below:

RELAX poster

Happy Friday everyone!

Check out this quick freebie I made for our upcoming state testing. I've had this posted on an anchor chart in my classroom, but decided to give it some color and make it digital. I don't take credit for the strategy terminology- that is an old one that has been floating around on posters since I was in school! :)

Download it (free!) here.

Now time to for the Friday linkup with Doodle Bug's 5 for Friday!

1. Our school track team has sold almost 600 bracelets to benefit the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. Wowza! So proud of them and how they have chosen to be "helpers" instead of bystanders as our state and it's people recover. 

2. As I already mentioned, state testing is coming up! I went and bought snacks, gum, and drinks for all 4 days of testing for my kiddos. I was out of a few other classroom things, like papertowels, lysol wipes, and tissues, but I ended up spending about $100. Eek! At least this will all get me through to the end of the school year. 

3. I'm a bit of a crazy cat lady, if you didn't know. Today is my fur-baby's birthday! He is 6. I can't believe how time has flown. Happy birthday, Joey!

4.  Spring has finally sprung! It looks like a beautiful weekend. My husband and I are thinking about taking our first bike ride of the season in our local park. I don't know if you are from New England, but the feeling when spring arrives is simply euphoria. We've struggled through blizzards, temperatures in the negatives, grey days, and the sun setting at 3 PM. When the sun starts staying out until 7, your energy is renewed. When you get a 70 degree day, it's as if you have won the lottery. It's almost worth the spring fever the kids have!

5. Along with spring, promotion season is upon us. I can't believe it! My fifthies are going to be moving on to middle school. I'm not sure what I am going to do to celebrate just yet. I'm thinking slideshow and a little party with some treats, but it just seems so blah. Do any of you have promotion ceremonies? If so, what do you do to celebrate?

And, finally, a fun & inspiring linky. Rowdy in First Grade's "tell me something good."

The idea is to tell one good thing from home and another from school. Here it goes:

My grandfather has been undergoing chemo treatments for b-cell lymphoma since September. He had his last treatment a couple weeks ago, and had his final bone marrow testing done. He got the results from his oncologist, and the news is great: he is cancer free! His blood counts are back to normal. It's a miracle! Yesterday was his 76th birthday. Best present ever!

I have a student in my class that suffers from an immune system deficiency which causes her to have to receive IV treatment monthly. She missed some school because of this, and as she has been at our school since 1st grade, most of the students know about it. Not only do the darlings in our school accept her as she is, but recently they started a "business" making hair bows. They sell the bows for $2 each, and are donating their proceeds to the hospital that the student receives treatment at. Talk about inspiring! Those little girls warm my heart. They've sold through their first two batches, and are working on making their third. Amazing.

Lots of great giveaways to share today. Check them out! I signed up for them all... here's hoping for a win. :) 

Have a wonderful weekend!

Close to home

The bombing of the Boston Marathon has shaken me. As a lifelong Bay Stater, it was painful to see my city hurt in such a way. To make a difficult time even more difficult, I was thousands of miles away- on another continent- and worrying about friends and family. Every newspaper cover had pictures of the bombing (some quite graphic) and all the news stories revolved around it. I found myself looking for familiar faces in the pictures, afraid of what I'd find. Cell phones were shut off in the city to prevent detonation of more bombs, so it was difficult to reach people for a few hours. Fortunately, everyone I know was safe and sound- although many people I know were in attendance, and some of the hurt are friends of friends. Sean Collier, the police officer at MIT that was killed, graduated from the same University I received my Master's degree at, around the same time I did. His funeral tribute was fitting of his courage and his ultimate sacrifice.

Marathon day is always held on Patriot's Day, a Massachusetts holiday which commemorates the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the first battle of the Revolutionary War. All state offices, including schools, are closed, so it is the perfect time to hold a large event like the marathon. The Red Sox hold an early game, and many people watch them play before heading to the finish line to watch people complete the race. Many teachers and students from my district were there to enjoy the warm spring day. 

Although I didn't know it until I came back to school this week, 2 members of my teaching team were right there when it happened. One was in a bar down the street, and escaped by running down the same alley way the suspect ran down. Another was volunteering for the Red Cross at mile marker 25, and spent her day helping runners get food, shelter, and transportation home. 

So, for the past week I have counted my blessings. I am shaken, but not broken. I will continue to live my life, and do the best I can do help the people affected through fundraisers and events. Our track team has already started selling bracelets to benefit the One Fund, and I've got myself a sweet new shirt (proceeds to the One Fund, of course!):

Just a day after the bombing, this moving version of the National Anthem happened at the Bruins Game. 

Stephen Colbert summed it up best:
Look, before we begin, I just want to take a moment to talk about the attack in Boston yesterday. Obviously our thoughts and our prayers are with everybody there. And as the President said, we don’t know who did this, but they will be found and they will be brought to justice.
But whoever did this, obviously did not know s*** about the people of Boston—because nothing these terrorists do is going to shake them. For Pete’s sake, Boston was founded by the Pilgrims, a people so tough they had to buckle their hats on. It is the cradle of the American Revolution—a city that withstood an 86-year losing streak; a city that made it through the Big Dig, a construction project that backed up traffic for 16 years! There are commuters just getting home now. Even their bands are tough. It’s the hometown of Aerosmith who, in their fifth decade, are still going strong. Even Steven Tyler looks fantastic— for a 73-year-old woman.
But here’s what these cowards really don’t get: They attacked the Boston Marathon, an event celebrating people who run 26 miles – on their day off until their nipples are raw – for fun. And they have been holding it in Boston since 1897. And do you know how tough you have to be to run in a whale-bone corset? And when those bombs went off there were runners, who, after finishing a marathon, kept running for another two miles to the hospital to donate blood.
So, here’s what I know: These maniacs may have tried to make life bad for the people of Boston, but all they could ever do, is show just how good those people are.
Watch the video of it here:

Several bloggers have gotten together to make a Peace, Love, and kindness linky, to share the "warm and fuzzy" moments. So, despite how difficult these past couple weeks again, this is my warm and fuzzy. I have been overwhelmed and awed by the kindness of strangers to those affected, and inspired by how caring people have been. I could go on for hours about the things that have moved me, but I will leave it with this. While Watertown was on lock down, a family with 2 small children ran out of milk. A police officer learned of this, and went and purchased the family milk.

So, in the midst of putting his life on the line to protect citizens from a terrorist, this man found the time to help give comfort to the children he was protecting. Incredibly heart warming.

Proud to be from Massachusetts. Love that dirty water... Boston, you're my home.

I'm baaaack....

Well, sad to say I am back from London. We had a blast! I can't believe this view won't be greeting me again every day....

So, back to the grind. The final push is on- state math testing is in a week and a half, and science testing is the following week. My little cherubs have spring fever, too, so keeping them focused and on task has been a challenge!

Time to get back to planning lessons and grading- I'll make sure to be back to post more later this week!

Lazy Sunday

I think the best part about Sunday is lazy Sunday mornings. The hubby and I sleep late, eat pancakes in our pajamas, and catch up on TV shows we missed during the week. It's silly and simple, but these lazy mornings are the best part of my week.

So I'm a day late on this one, but I love the new link up that Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching is hosting!

The idea is easy- just post something you do to help keep your students motivated. So, here it goes!

In my classroom, we use a classroom currency called "Hoot Loot" to go along with my owl theme. My students earn hoot loot by turning in all assignments for a month, getting 15 class dojo points in a week, having a clean desk, or for a random act of kindness. I even give paychecks out on Friday to students who completed their class jobs that week. Once a quarter, we have a class auction for school supplies and little toys that I picked up from the dollar store or the Target dollar bins. The kids love the prizes, and saving up all quarter helps them stay motivated. What's your student motivation tip?

This week I had an out of body experience. I was teaching science before lunch, and we were learning about the universe and our galaxy. The kids were really into it, asking questions about other parts of the galaxy and planets in our solar system. When the bell rang for recess, I told them to get ready to line up. No one moved... which was odd. One student raised his hand, and said "Mrs. B, can we have more science time instead of recess today?"  My jaw DROPPED! I was so impressed that they were so into the science that they wanted to give up recess. Of course, I sent them out to burn off energy anyway, but I had a big smile on my face as I did.What a great moment- I won't forget that any time soon!

I'm creeping up near 100 followers... wahoo! I am planning a giveaway for when I reach 100. I'm thinking a gift card? This is the time of year that everyone can always use a little extra cash. Speaking of freebies, there are some great giveaways this week- check them out!

Pencil Sharpener Giveaway @ Wild Rumpus

Math Walls

This year, my district is requiring all teachers to use a math wall in their classroom. Although almost all teachers post the vocabulary words and concepts in their classroom, the math wall differs in that they must be all in the same location. For instance, last year I had vocab words on my word wall at the back of the room, while any math posters were on the whiteboard. This year, I've relocated to one wall at the back of the classroom.

Although it seemed trivial at first, I have noticed a change in the way my students refer to the information. If a student can’t remember something, they don't have to search the room to find what they need. They know they can always find the math concept on this one wall. It took training, but it is not uncommon for students to now get up in the middle of math and walk over to the wall to refresh their memory on what they learned yesterday. 

My wall includes my common core "I can" statements, kid-friendly Standards for Mathematical Practice poster, topic specific vocabulary, the essential question, samples of student work, and a mini poster of the concept. 

Although it was frustrating to get everything together at first, in hindsight I think it was worth it. My students know the information is there for them to refer to, and they are able to build their knowledge on missed concepts more easily. If students are absent, they know they can check out the math wall for help understanding the topic.  I've definitely noticed a difference in my students' learning!


I can't believe it's April! Thankfully, my crazy month of March flew by. Glad it's over! Now, time to gear up for report cards (already?!), math & science state testing, and promotion.

Since it's April first, I'm linking up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade for the April Currently!

I didn't know what to put for advice, so I thought I'd go some good life advice. :)

Latoya at Flying into First Grade is on week 4 of her Let's get Acquainted link up. I'm loving getting to know so much about other bloggers!

The theme this week is favorites. Here are mine:
Place to Shop: The Loft. Cute clothes, and the skirts are knee length- hard to find lots of places!
Favorite Show: It's a toss up... Game of Thrones, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire? I have an HBO addiction. All time favorite show is Friends, though!
Sweet Treat: Gifford's black raspberry frozen yogurt... yum.
Food: Pasta! I could eat it every day.
Restaurant: The Green Elephant. It's a couple hours away, but it is seriously the best restaurant I have ever been to. It's hard to find a favorite restaurant when you are a vegetarian, and this one is insanely good.

Do you use math journals? I do, and I love them. I started the year using them sparingly, but I have really found a niche for them in my instruction. I use them for students to take guided notes in, copy important vocabulary, respond to prompts, write reflections, and complete practice problems. I've noticed a correlation between the amount they use the journals to write about their thinking in math and the quality of their verbal responses to questions in class. I love the fact that I can refer back to entries from early in the year to show the students where they came from, too! They can see how far they have come, which is really inspiring to struggling students. Here is an example of something we would put in our journals. I project up on the projector and create the entry along with them. I was inspired by something on pinterest for this, but it was several months ago so I've lost the creator. I changed the name and added a bit, but the shape of the PEMDAS was theirs. I'm sorry- comment if it was yours so I can give you credit!

How do you use math journals?

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