Ugh - I am finally done!  I've been flying under the radar recently so I could find time to finish my artifacts for my teacher evaluation.  Does anyone else have to do those?  We don't have to turn in any printed artifacts like I've seen some of you doing with evidence binders.  Our artifacts are all uploaded to an online program.  And even though I know many teachers in my building are happy with just photos and pdf documents, I had to go one step further (thanks to a colleague for the idea!).  Here's an example of a couple of my artifacts:
 Honestly, once I created the template the border, text and photos, it was pretty easy to go in and change the pictures an the description.  Doing it this way made more sense to me than just uploading a bunch of photos or documents.  (And call me crazy... but I may have even enjoyed creating the slides... just a little... :-)

Anyway, now that the artifact part of my eval is done, I can turn my attention to other things.  I wanted to share a really fun an successful activity I did with my kiddos a while back to show point of view.  Yep, we're all about Common Core in my room and this lesson just kind of happened.... have you ever had one of those happy occurrences?  As we were reading the story, Mr. Putter and Tabby Fly the Plane (and we were reading it to find friendship traits and for character development in the first place), one of my sweeties said, "Boy, Mr. Putter and Tabby really see things differently!"  Head slap!  Of course!  This turned out to be a perfect opportunity to work on point of view.

First, I created a sheet with copies of illustrations from the story at key points (which I cannot share because I really did just COPY the illustrations I needed).  I put the illustrations down one side of the page and drew thought bubbles from each one.  As we read the story and got to each part, we stopped and asked ourselves, "Hmmm... what would ______ (Mr. Putter or Tabby) be thinking right now?"  Then everyone wrote down thoughts in the bubbles.  I encouraged the kiddos to think and talk like the characters would.  Their responses were hilarious - and right on target!!  (I really WISH I had taken a picture of some of their papers.  No luck, they all went home.)  Everyone really understood the fact that poor Tabby was so anxious and Mr. Putter was "reliving his childhood" (quote from one of my darlings).

After we shared our ideas, I took ideas from different students to create this display in our hallway.

 ADORABLE!  My students still go by and read the thought bubbles sounding like the characters.  And they really go the POINT about perspective (haha.... funy, funny...)!

Since I can't share my original document with you, I created this one that you can download if you want.  Just click on the picture.
These next few weeks we are working on folktales and fables - and some dictionary skills.  (Random, I know... in my world it really does make sense.)  If anyone has some great dictionary skills ideas for second graders please share them!  I have a feeling this is going to be a tough one for my kiddos.

We have been knee deep in everything MATTER-related these past few weeks.  We've explored the properties of solids, liquids and gasses.... looked at how states of matter changed and did a TON of fun experiments.  We also did a LOT of writing - predictions, hypotheses, lab reports, sharing results.. it was a blast and my kiddos really learned a lot. 

We focused on three main texts for this unit:

I used a bunch of ideas from Hope King's "As a Matter of Fact" unit, as well as Science for Kids' "All About Matter" (aligned to the NGSS!).  I also added a few extras from ideas I found on Pinterest or other sites.  Here's a peek into a little of our fun!

I started out with a quick assessment of what everyone already knew about matter.  They completed this thought sheet: (click on it to download)
Their definitions of matter were hysterical.  Everything from "what is important" to "what you believe in".... to one smart thinker who said, "It must have to do with liquids, solids and gasses because that's what's on the page!"

First we explored solids - nothing too exciting here.  We sorted by properties, tested if they rolled or stacked, could sink or float, were magnetic or not...

Next came our exploration of liquids.  We started by observing three different liquids and discussed their properties.  We used words like "viscous" and "fluidity" - they LOVED being so scientific!
Then we used what we had learned to make predictions for our "Drop Races" - which liquid would flow the fastest and why?  Each group had a sample of 3 liquids and used the eye dropper to make a "small puddle" of each on the plastic tray.
On the count of 3, my little scientists tipped their trays to see what would happen. 

We wrote about our experiment an our results in our science journal. 

Another favorite activity was our "Rainbow Jar."  (I got the idea from HERE.)

We started by observing a variety of liquids and noticing how they were similar and different - especially in their thickness.  Then we predicted what would happen if we poured a layer of each into a jar.

Here's the beginning...

And here's the final product!

My kiddos were amazed at how well the layers stayed separated.... and the first question they had was, "What would happen if you freeze it?"  Soooo.... of course we did!  (Disclaimer - we decided to try freezing small cups of each liquid, rather than the entire rainbow jar.  This worked beautifully and we got results so much faster - thank you to our wonderful cafeteria staff for use of their freezer!)

Listening to their prediction about the rubbing alcohol was very interesting.  Most thought it would freeze quickly, but one little scientist said she thought it might freeze, but be really fragile and easy to crack.  Great thinking!  And they were all amazed when the alcohol didn't freeze at all.....

Gasses were a BLAST to learn about - literally!  We started our focus on gasses with a simple observation.  What would happen if a certain kind of solid (namely, an antacid tablet) was placed in a liquid (water)?

After testing it out individually, we worked in groups to test how the antacid tablet would react with other liquids - and got some fun and interesting results!  We tried dish soap, soda, milk, orange juice and corn syrup.

Then we moved on to a "Matter is Poppin'" experiment.  What would happen if you put Pop Rocks into soda?  Again, more thinking, discussing, hypothesizing and writing!  Then, the big test!

I purposely chose Mountain Dew as one of the sodas to test, thinking it would blow the balloon WAY up... nope... the Coke one actually did better. 

After that, my kiddos were able to use what they knew from the soda experiment to make their predictions and come up with a hypothesis for the soda rocket (Mentos and soda).  The results?
WOW! I never expected it to really go that high!

All in all, our matter science unit was a big success!  Oh - and after we finished our unit I found this great idea from Mrs. Foxwell of First Grade in Foxwell Forest:
Too late for me to use this year, but I will definitely be making these with my little scientists in the fall!

Well, I'm off this week on spring break and I am soooo looking forward to it!  It has actually been warmer and spring-like around here the last few days.  I'm hoping to reconnect with my Kindle and enjoy some good reading!

What a game!  Who would have thought that UCONN would be one of the two teams still standing in the tournament?  (And yes, that is the OLD Husky logo... I do not like the new one.)  Now it's time to take on the Wildcats and see who gets to call themselves champions!  This CT girl and UCONN alum will be rooting for the dogs tomorrow night!
(And of course, the women tonight!)
Ok, back to business.  I have a confession to make.  It's a dirty little secret that I have finally decided to own up to.  Hey - they say the first step is admitting you have a problem, right?  My confession has to do with this:

I do not like putting up bulletin boards.
Don't judge me. 
Now to be fair, I used to LOVE putting up bulletin boards.  I would have beautifully creative boards every month or 6 weeks that would make you drool and made the teachers on my floor annoyed.  Really.  You've got to believe me.
But... somehow... after 20+ years of teaching... the thrill is not there anymore. 
Now - it's a chore.  One that I obviously put off and procrastinate and do NOT like to do.  Here's another example of my shame.

And this one is in the HALLWAY, people!  What is wrong with it, you ask?  It is filled with WINTER writing.  And it is SPRING now.  (I think... unless we have snowstorm or something this week, which is entirely possible given the moodiness of Mother Nature this year.) 
Honestly, I am surprised my teammates have not risen up and rebelled and ripped it all down and replaced it with something springy themselves.  (Which would be fine with me, just in case anyone I teach with is reading this...)
Here's a picture of my teammate's board in her room by her door - just recently done. Can't have any outdated displays in there.
I'm not sure what happened to get to this point.  I have tons of cute and colorful borders that match with any theme.  I have a billion and one letters, neatly organized in bags - and a Silhouette Cameo at home on which I can (and have!) made letters.  My students do all sorts of cute and creative things to show their learning - any one of them would be  perfect on display. 
I had high hopes for that yellow board in my room.  We have been neck-deep in character traits these past few weeks - character traits, how characters change, how they respond to challenges... (Can you say CCSS?)  My plan was to put up a variety of character traits and their definitions and then add pictures of the characters as we went along.  Didn't happen, as you can see.
 I have already decided that the yellow board will not be used as a bulletin board next year.  I'm going to move my word wall to there.  It is over the sink (a real pain to get to anyway) and it would be the perfect spot for the word wall.  That would free up the space in the front of my room (where the word wall is now) to be used to display anchor charts, teaching posters, etc. - and I have NO room for that now.
So what do I do?  Is there a support group you can suggest that I join?  A 12-step program?  Maybe I should just ask if I can pay my teammates in baked goods if they put up all my boards next year....  Oh joy. 
So how do you feel about bulletin boards?  There must be someone out there who can relate to this.
And just so you don't think I'm completely hopeless - here are the boards now:

That spring one should last me through the beginning of June.... the other one will have to be changed in a few days when the balloons deflate.  Not the best choice.
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