The End….Now What?

This year has been super great, from Day 1 to Day 176 (or whatever the number is in Missouri….).  And just like any normal year, I got sad when I started thinking about passing my class on to middle school and not seeing them again.  But then, there was an added sense of “finalness” (yep, I just made up a new word) because they would be my LAST 5th grade class.  Maybe not forever, but at least for a while.

Along with my last day of 5th grade also came my son’s last day of 1st grade AND my baby girl’s last day at her babysitter–the babysitter she’s been with since I first left her at 10 wks old.  She’s going to preschool, Riley’s moving to 2nd grade and I’m moving to 1st.  And while these are all welcomed changes that we knew were coming, still there’s a feeling of loss that comes before the new arrives and we celebrate it, you know?

And so packing up my room, which is something I have done at least 13 other times since I started teaching, took on a different meaning than it usually does.  Instead of just packing up all my stuff to use again in a different way with different kids, I ended up packing up and then giving away most of that stuff to someone else.   Some of it was no big deal (I mean come on, every grade has math manipulatives and whiteboards and board games), but surprisingly, the thing in my room that had the biggest impact on me was my classroom library.  Something about that felt different in a more definite way.  Final. Over.  Caput. Done. Moving on.

Out of no where came tears.  I guess there was something about seeing all of my “friends” being packed up to be sent away to someone else (even if that person is my loving husband who is in his own right a FABULOUS 5th grade teacher and will for sure take good care of them), and seeing the remnants of my once-amazing library strewn all over the floor that was just too much for me.  It was just too much.


Boxing up old friends…



6 boxes to begin with, ended up being 14. :(

6 boxes to begin with, ended up being 14. 😦


But the part that was the hardest was this image in my nearby trashcan:

Labels off of my now-empty library boxes

Labels off of my now-empty library boxes

It’s so sad, right?  Somehow this represented so many things to me: hours of time spent organizing and labeling my library to keep it in order for so many readers to use each year; hundreds and hundreds of books read over the years both by me and my 4th-5th grade readers; books that I would no longer be reading to my students, since they’ll be so much younger–that means old friends I don’t get to spend time with anymore.

Ok, I know.  Really it’s just books.  It’s just words on a page packed in cardboard boxes.  And someone else will take their turn reading them now.  And yeah, I’ll have new books to be able to enjoy and share with my new first grade friends, and perhaps some of those will become my new favorites.   But still, this chapter of my life is (for now) over.  Finito. Done.  Bye-bye.  Sayonara.

And so….so long Ralph, Jerry and Sharon (don’t tell anyone you’re my favorites 🙂 ).  I’ll see you later Joan, Beverly and Ann.  Will, Peg, Judy and Margaret, don’t forget me.  We’ll meet again at some time and place in our future lives.  Who knows, maybe I’ll be a published author then, too. 🙂

Classroom Library Tour

Don’t you love this picture?  I do because I love our library, but also because I just used to edit it.  For free.  COOL!  But I digress…

For some reason I have never put any pictures of our library on here.  Which is funny because I love our library, but also because it’s one of my favorite things to check out on other people’s blogs.  So here it is–finally!

Several years ago I went through and made labels with pictures and authors’ names, after seeing the idea in someone else’s classroom!  This is one of my favorite places in our room.  Not sure if it’s because is has some of my favorite books, or if it’s because it’s pretty.  The rainbow boxes look so good in that black shelf, and are so organized (well at least I think so)!

Here you will find the end of the alphabetized author boxes, along with series like The Babysitter’s Club, Harry Potter, Magic Tree House and some genre boxes for fantasy and mystery.  There are other genres on an opposite wall–just didn’t have a pretty picture of them. 🙂

And yes, I know those 400, 500, and 600 boxes are missing labels!  I just keep forgetting to come back and do that.  😦

The box labeled “Good Books” has been around for a couple of years and has some of my favorites.  I lead kiddos there when they are just looking for a “good” book to read.

I love the label I put on this box.  So many “big” kids think they’ve outgrown picture books, but most of them were actually written at reading levels for older kids to work on independently anyway.  I encourage my “big kids” to try these every so often.  And usually they do. 🙂

While our main library is on the other side of the room, it’s mostly fiction and filled with chapter books.  Over here, next to our ActivBoard meeting space, are nonfiction collections.

Thanks for taking a tour of our library!  Glad you stopped by and love to hear what you thought. 🙂

Highlights: The 1st two weeks of 5th grade

I have had good intentions.  Intentions that included adding new blog posts every day of school.  And obviously those intentions did not end up resulting in new blog posts yet.  But here’s a new one.  And I’ll make it worth your while.  I promise. 🙂

So since it’s called “highlights”, I’m going to give you the big ideas of what we’ve been doing so far, and hopefully your 5th grader can fill in the details.  Hopefully.  There are at school every day, afterall.

Ok, so let’s get started:

Reading: Reader’s Workshop has officially begun in Rm. 201!  We have made reading posters to share our likes/dislikes as readers, taken a reading survey, read The Lotus Seed, Something to Remember Me By and Everybody Cooks Rice together, had our first check-out from the Robinson library, gone on a scavenger hunt in our classroom library, took our first SRI assessment on the computer, read Hansel and Gretel and discussed how to trail our thinking as we read and then–you guessed it–we read!  I love how excited this class is to dig into books!  Next week we’ll start to focus on strategies that good readers use to make sense of text.

Writing:  We have already begun so much work as 5th grade writers!  From day one, your writer was busy thinking about ideas for stories, putting thoughts on paper.  We have gotten our Writer’s Notebooks, and spent sometime making them our own.  We talked about how our WNBs should be a snapshot of who we are; we should be able to tell whose notebook it is without even checking the name, but just by looking at what’s on the cover.  This week we started Being a Writer, which is the program that will support our writing work this year.  So far we’ve read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka (which we learned is pronounced CHESS-ka), as well as The Frog Prince Continued, then talked about how to retell familiar fairy tales in a new way.   As a community-building activity, we played a game called “2 Truths and a Lie”, then lifted a line from what we had written to expand our thinking.  We will dig in further to the Writing Life next week as we continue our journey as writers together.  I cannot say enough how excited I am about sharing my writing life with your kiddos!  I loved this quote from someone today as I was writing in my own notebook: “Wow.  You have a Writer’s Notebook?  I’ve never seen a teacher write in their  notebook during the school day before.”  I’m hoping that there’s already a connection forming there–we are growing as writers together this year!

Math: The mathematicians in Rm. 201 have already been very busy!  We started the year by playing a few math games (Dice Duel and Contig), as well as learning how to correctly roll dice in 5th grade. (Really.  Ask your kiddo to tell you all about how I hate the sound of dice on the tables! 🙂 )  We took a math survey, and then dug right into our first unit in 5th Grade Investigations: Finding Factors and Prime Numbers.  So far we’ve learned (or reviewed) vocabulary related to multiplication–factor, product, multiple, prime number, square number, composite number, array, dimensions–and started working on finding factors of a variety of numbers.  We worked number puzzles, and started an activity called Quick Images for ten-minute-math.  This subject has soo much to tell–be sure to have a conversation with your kiddo about all that’s been going on.  Feel free to use this to help them get started talking about what’s been going on.

Community:  An crucial part of the beginning of our year is beginning to grow our classroom community.  We do this by working together to create things, learn procedures and routines that will be used in our room and throughout Robinson, and learn more about each other so we can celebrate our differences and build on our similarities.  We’ll continue to revisit this idea all throughout the year, to keep our connections strong.

Read- Aloud: Read aloud (chapter book) is a integral part of our classroom.  While it is fun, it is also an important time when we think and talk about books.  The choices I make for books during Read Aloud are often Mark Twain award nominees, or have topics related to the curriculum in our class.  The first book this year is called The Boys Start the War, and is a big hit already!  Have your reader tell you about how we use the strategy of “say something” to share with our partners, and have them introduce you to BOT graphs.

I am sure that there’s probably something I’ve missed.  I’m amazed at how quickly time flies when we’re so busy and having so much fun!

Stay tuned for more updates on the fun and learning in Rm. 201.  Maybe next time there’ll be pictures. 🙂