Music suggestions!

Since the beginning of school is still weeks away and I still can't access my classroom, I'm thinking of "fun" stuff that I can do to prepare. One thing I'd like to find is some new music that I can play this year. This is more difficult than it sounds for a couple of reasons.

1) I'm usually embarrassed by the type of music I listen to. While I may love "The Roadhouse" on XM in all its 70's-80's country glory, I doubt my students would. I can hear the conversation now.
Parent: "Umm... Teacher?"
Me: "Yes."
Parent: "Little Johnny came home saying he now only likes songs about mama, or trains, or trucks, or prison, or..."

2) I refuse to listen to anything affiliated with Disney. Enough said.

3) You want to play music that sets a calm tone. This pretty much rules out anything the students will actually like.

I have found a few cd's that have worked well. I'm going to share these with you because I think they are great options if you're not completely sick of them like I am.

Say what you will about Enya, but she can calm even the rowdiest of 11 year olds. They laugh and make fun of it, but as time goes on you will hear your loudest critics singing "Carribean Blue" under their breaths. During my student teaching I would hear Enya streaming from down the hall every morning. I came to realize that the person playing it was the fabulous Jennifer Criss, fifth grade teacher extraordinaire. I was lucky enough to get a long term sub position in her room later that year and I kept the morning Enya tradition alive. I think this put both the students and me at ease because we felt Mrs. Criss was there in some small way.

Jack Johnson, Curious George soundtrack. Fun, kid-friendly, and not terrible. Too bad I'm really tired of listening to it.

Finally, Nickel Creek's first cd. The cover of the cd is just too cheesy to be included here. This is a great cd to put on while everyone is working. There's always the guy running off the edge of the lighthouse issue, but I think fifth graders are mature enough for that, don't you?

I have been searching for some new tunes for quite a while now, and I just can't find anything that feels right. I would love to hear any ideas!

Hello Edmodo

Since I'm always looking for new ways to incorporate technology into the classroom, I was very excited to hear about this new free site called Edmodo. A teacher I work with went to a conference where they learned how to use it in the classroom (Thank you Debbie, for sharing this information!). It seems like a great tool to use, and since I'm trying to help my kiddos become computer literate, I signed up right away. It seems very similar to facebook, but you create a private group that only your class can access. I think it might be a great communication tool to use with both students and parents. Also, students don't have to have an email address to sign in. If you're interested, the Edmodo Guide takes you through all of the features.

Has anyone tried Edmodo with their classes? My concerns about things like this are always the same. Will the students take it seriously? Will it just become "one more thing?" (you teachers out there know what I mean when I say this) What about the students who don't have computer access at home?

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

There's always tomorrow, right?

As I sit here drinking coffee, listening to music, and contemplating whether or not I should have even started a blog (my hands sweat when I think about drawing attention to myself), I begin to wonder where to begin in my planning for next year. The easy answer is to go to Office Depot and buy a lot of stuff. School supplies always make me happy, but alas, that is not the appropriate first step. If you haven't shopped at an office supply store lately, let me tell you that everything costs a small fortune. This is especially troublesome if you are like me and suffer from extreme buyer's remorse (even as I type this, my mind is consumed by the contents of a Stein Mart bag that need to be returned. I really do not need anything else purple that ties around the waist. Really I don't.)

Also, the cycle of guilt continues when I buy cute, pricey school supplies only to find that the students have ruined them in a matter of moments. I get angry with them, only to then get angry with myself for getting angry with them. If you've read The First Days of School by Harry Wong (what self-respecting teacher hasn't? Thank you Jennifer Nelson for giving me this book. You have unknowingly saved my life and the lives of many innocent students) then you know that students need explicit directions on how to use EVERYTHING in the classroom. Assume that fifth graders know how to use glue and scissors? Never! You only make this mistake once, and once the bloody, Elmer's glue mixture has been peeled off multiple surfaces with your bare hands (I know, I know, it really is enjoyable to squirt Elmer's glue on things, watch it dry, and peel it off) you realize a couple of things. First of all, you should probably go back and read Harry Wong again. Second of all, you realize that this job is hard and that you're not ever going to think of everything.

Okay, maybe I won't get started today. I still have 6 weeks left anyway, right? I guess for now I'll keep drinking coffee and listening to music. I'll leave you with this YouTube video that I can't get enough of. I first heard this song sung by The Songbirds, a band from Knoxville that just happens to be led by Daniel's cousin, Lisa Speck. She is incredibly talented and I encourage you to go hear them if you're ever in K-town. I didn't realize until recently how many Dixie Chicks songs were actually Patty Griffin covers, so I was very excited to see the fabulous Natalie Maines singing harmony in this video. Enjoy!

First Post!

As summer flies by, I find myself thinking more and more about the upcoming school year. Let me explain that yes, I love summer. I am super lucky that I have a profession which allows me to have 2+ months off a year. I have the luxury of doing things like going to a Dixie Chicks/Eagles concert with my sister on a Thursday night. Okay, that was actually last night and I don't usually do things like that at all... but still. I can if I want to right? I also went on a trip to Jamaica with my sweet husband a few weeks ago, but I digress. Anyone who knows me can tell you that on a good day I'm a total homebody and on a bad day I have full blown agoraphobia. The one thing in life that keeps me relatively normal/sane is my job.

I teach fifth graders, which does not sound like an appealing prospect to the general public. If you don't believe me, just go up to someone and tell them you teach fifth grade. They will look at you with pity. They will then ask for horror stories about how terrible it is. Believe me, it's not all "flowers and sausages" (to quote one of my favorite blogs/books) but it gives my little life purpose and fulfillment.

Back to the matter at hand. I'm beginning to think about next year, and I know there are plenty of other teacher friends out there that are doing the same. We are so lucky! What other job do
you have the opportunity to basically start over each year with a clean slate? I'm going to ditch my ratty old notebook where I usually jot down my ideas/thoughts about the upcoming year. Instead, I'm going to share my brilliance with you. Well, I'm going to share my ideas anyway. There are so many things that have to be accomplished before the little darlings get there. Reading centers, literature circles, science experiments, classroom libraries, filing, organization, etc... I'm getting excited just thinking about it. Can't you almost smell the freshly sharpened pencils?