Saturday, April 12, 2014
Monday, April 7, 2014
Sunday, April 6, 2014
After the first decent night's rest in three weeks, I have come to the conclusion that everything goes better with sleep. Everything.
For my money, everything goes better with some beach time, too, but you can't have everything, can you?
(Photo by Christy Hardin Smith.)
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 10:36 AM
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Life has gotten away from me the last few weeks. Way too much work, way too little of anything else but running from one thing to the next.
The truth is that I am struggling to find any balance at all these days, and it is wearing me out entirely.
Perhaps it is due to having just finished breast cancer treatment. The testing, then surgery, then chemo, then radiation, all in rapid succession, took a lot out of me. If I am being honest, I still haven't quite found my feet at this point, but I am much further along than I was at the end of chemo, so I am definitely grateful for small mercies at this point in the game.
But suddenly teaching five days a week? You can't plan for that to just show up out of the blue.
My class is a wonderful group of kids, and I am thoroughly enjoying getting them well prepared to move forward to 6th grade next year, while at the same time trying to encourage their love of reading and learning as much as possible.
But it is a LOT of work. Do not ever let anyone tell you differently: teaching is a constant challenge, and requires an enormous amount of planning, with a daily need to tweak what you think you may do as the needs of your students change over time.
There is never a time when I am not working on some plan or another in my head, whatever else may be going on around me over the course of any given day. That is just the truth of it.
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 9:06 AM
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Just a note to say thank you to everyone who has used the Amazon search link in the right-hand column to order anything.
Your generosity in orders, over the course of this past year, has enabled me to get several mythology books for the unit that I have been teaching to my 5th and 6th grade library students. It has also helped me to get some materials for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for my current 5th grade class. AND 4 new books to read for fun for the library collection as well.
So thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!
Please consider using the Amazon link on this blog for future purchases. It really does make a difference for my classroom!
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Toward the end of the school year, the kids get a little restless: the weather warms, the sunshine beckons, and keeping a classroom full of pre-adolescents engaged can be rough on the best of days. This year, after so much snow and ice and arctic blasts of deadly frigid air and cabin fever, that is proving to be true already.
They simply want to be outside in the fresh air.
Frankly, I can't blame them, because I feel the same way. This winter has been brutal, and we are all longing for some flowers and leaves and fun.
So, in anticipation of this summer break antsy pantsy-ness only growing as the calendar moves forward, I am planning a bit of fun for the end of school that will, I hope, keep everyone engaged while we attempt to still learn a little something. If nothing else, I'll have some fun with it, but I do hope the kids do as well.
We had planned on having a Harry Potter party for The Peanut this year for her 11th birthday. While we were at Universal on vacation, we picked up some fun items to use for invitations that you can only get in Hogsmeade, and had planned a surprise way to deliver the invitations by "owl post." (Bless you, people on Pinterest, for your genius ideas!)
Rather than let all my pins and internal planning go to waste, I've decided to use it for the amusement of my class instead. Will be posting some ideas as I firm them up, but I wanted to throw out to the crowd the fact that I'm looking for some great, educational ways to use the Harry Potter theme in the classroom over a two week stretch.
Figuring the last two weeks of the year will be a lost cause, am trying to come up with a way to make that not be the case. Perhaps it is naive of me to think this can be accomplished, but you can't blame a girl for trying, can you?
Any thoughts on ways to do actual lesson planning in a Harry Potter context?
Am thinking about setting this up so that they have "wizarding" classes each day instead of our regular ones. But I haven't quite figured out how to morph our regular classes into the wizarding ones just yet. Things I have contemplated thus far:
Monday, March 24, 2014
My daffodils have finally begun to bloom, and are cheerily nodding in the breeze.
Whatever snowstorm may theoretically be lurking off in the distance should be on notice: if my blooms get frozen, there will be some serious grumping in this house.
You have been warned, Mother Nature...
Although, just in case, I did manage to get out this evening and fill all the bird feeders and suet baskets. The fact that they had been completely cleaned out, and that our big feeder had a tiny chickadee in it scratching at the leavings trying to find any seed remnant, makes me a little afraid that we might actually get a boatload of snow again. Aiiiyeeee -- it is the Energizer Bunny winter this year, isn't it? It keeps going and going and going.
Please miss us. Please. I beg you, winter.
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 7:48 PM
Monday, March 17, 2014
'Tis the season, I suppose, but the poor birdies have clearly had enough of the white stuff. So glad that I got out to fill the feeders yesterday afternoon, just as the snow began to fall.
Am tired of the snow and the lingering winter, but grateful for another day off to use for curriculum planning and grading.
The good news for our rescue kitty, Sheldon, is that the Cat TV (birdfeeder) is seriously active today.
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 10:56 AM
Sunday, March 16, 2014
These snarky Heinz labels are hilarious!
This week has gotten away from me entirely in terms of posting here. Teaching is taking every ounce of energy I have at the moment, and I apologize profusely to readers who were worried that something had happened this week to keep me away.
Things are really good, just a wee bit on the crazy side of the line.
Got some really good mammogram results back this week: according to my full diagnostic report, everything looks as good as we could have hoped for it to look. No evidence of any new growth, nothing that gives them any pause whatsoever. It's a miracle, and one that I will gladly accept.
Hopefully, we'll get a little bit of a break for a while on the health front. Heaven knows we could use one.
We'll be starting a reading unit on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in class this week. I figured if I am working the kids like crazy on math, social studies and grammar, then reading should be a little more fun from now to the end of the year. So we're doing this novel unit and will hopefully be laughing a lot in the next few weeks.
Hope life is treating everyone else well.
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 10:04 AM
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Excuse me while I fill my brain up with mathematics.
Lesson planning takes a lot of time. Don't ever let anyone tell you that teachers aren't hard workers, because I can tell you with absolute certainty that there is never a time when you are not working, thinking, or thinking about what other work you need to do.
This week's challenge: moving from multiplication and division into decimals, fractions, and parenthetical equations, and more.
Having a School of Rock moment this morning.
Jack Black rocks my world in this scene. More of him in movies, please. Watch and have a giggle on me.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Although we are not in New Orleans today (alas!), we will be celebrating Mardi Gras nonetheless, regardless of all the snow and ice still hanging around outside.
Or perhaps because of it. We desperately need a little more Mardi Gras in our systems at this point in the relentless winter storm-o-rama we have dealt with this year.
Life has been insanely busy for me this week. Lesson planning, curriculum revisions, hand-out revamping: all of the above has been taking up my entire weekend and beyond. It will be worth it when we get going, but the recent snow days have just been extending my obsessive need to get this exactly right.
So, time to stop for a little while. It is break time to think about something more delicious: which New Orleans style meal do I want to make for dinner tonight in honor of Mardi Gras?
So many delicious choices.
As I sit here planning what I'm going to make for dinner this evening, I thought everyone else might benefit from some delicious Mardi Gras meal ideas and recipes as well.
So here goes:
Friday, February 28, 2014
With the winter cold and nasty weather forecast still dragging onward, my need to garden is going gangbusters at the moment. Seed catalogs have arrived in abundance at our house, and all the glossy, colorful photos are making me long to get out into the yard and prepare giant beds for all these lovely possibilities.
It is like sunshine captured in a catalog.
Last year, I threw myself into prepping our little veggie garden and weeded like a mad woman to get the flowers into decent shape as early as possible, because I knew that I had surgery and chemo and all sorts of other breast cancer treatments coming close on my heels. I did too much, too early, and then everything languished as treatment, especially chemo, brought me to a standstill for far too many days in a row.
This year, I am trying to be a bit smarter about my planning.
For the veggie plot, I am going to stick to things I know we will use pretty much daily and that are healthy choices: fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes, a couple of larger tomato plants (these didn't do well for me last year at all, although the cherry tomatoes grew like crazy, so I'd love suggestions of what is working for everyone for slicing tomatoes these days!), Swiss chard, some early lettuce, and onion sets. If I get the chance, a couple of zucchini plants will go in by the front porch, with their sculptural leaves providing a nice, green complement while their prolific squash grow discreetly underneath.
But not much more than that: overdoing it does me no good this year, so I am desperately trying to keep it simple this year. At least in my mind, that is the current plan.
With the flowers, it will be mostly pots of annuals, and a few more perennials added to the mix in our beds, and that is about it. I want to focus on weeding more regularly this year: it got away from me entirely last year, because I didn't feel like getting out day to day for obvious reasons, and I fear that this will be the summer that I am forced to reclaim most of my beds from thistles and all sorts of other nasty interlopers that sneaked in while I wasn't able to keep them out.
If I can accomplish most of that this year, I will consider it a success.
What are your garden plans? Any good gardening books to recommend, especially the sort with glossy, lovely pictures? We have some more snowy, nasty days ahead, and I know I'll be dragging out the seed catalogs and books again soon.