Truly, I have much to be thankful for.  I hope that you are able to enjoy time with your families this weekend, and remember how fortunate we all are in so many ways.
By the way, good news!!  I won Ms. Bainbridge's 2600 Follower "I'm Thankful for You!" giveaway.  Her products are amazing (as you all know!)  My absolute favorites?  Glad you asked.  :)

Partner Reading Comprehension Activity Pack {Partner Reading Party!}

Pet Shop Math 2nd Grade Common Core Center Set

Gobble, Gobble, y'all!


Have you heard?  There's some crazy shopping sales going on... and I'm participating!!



Sadly, I spent a couple days last week teaching my 2nd graders to bubble so they can take a standardized test the week after Thanksgiving.  Fun way to spend the week before track-out, right?  ;) 

Anywhoo... I found this cool bubble sheet generator from Catpin Productions.  I'm not the world's biggest supporter of multiple-choice-only tests, but facts is facts, and my 2nd graders don't need to learn how to bubble during the test.  I like the option to create only the number of questions as the actual test contains; there won't be any extra answer lines.  Also, I'll be revisiting "What Mrs. Sykes Can't Do."  Last year when giving this test, we had tears, students on number 45 when there were 40 questions total, and students under the table.  Wish me luck!!  What do you do to prepare for standardized tests?
This post is a personal one for me.  Don't judge - it just makes me feel better to put it out there.  ;)

Some of y'all might know I'm a *bit* stressed crazy nuts stressed about report cards, assessments, Profile Cards that do not align with my county's pacing guide, developmental expectations being thrown out the window as I prepare 7 year olds for standardized testing (complete with bubbling), and tracking out of my classroom for the first time in years.  It's The Super Teacher Myth.

What isn't helping matters is my personal battle with depression.  I have been battling this illness since being diagnosed when I was 15.  Most days, I am fine, but during periods of high stress, it becomes unmanageable.  That's when I rely heavily on the village of support I have around me: family, friends, coworkers, my amazing therapists, my kids' teachers, strangers, etc.  We have more frozen meals, more cozy family time, and a messier house.  I am learning to accept that it is acceptable to work at 70% instead of 110%, but this is difficult for me, as I really want to climb into bed and work at 0% occasionally.

During this school year, I have made a conscious effort to remember my blessings and try to bring kindness into my everyday interactions with others.  This is difficult at times, as I have had interactions with other teachers where my personal battles became evident, and they have not been as understanding as I had hoped.  Luckily, this is the exception and not the rule at my school.  I am trying not to dwell on the things that make me stressed, but we all know that is easier said than done.

I'm not even sure why I'm sharing this with you, except that it feels a bit cathartic to put it out there that no one is perfect, and that everyone is fighting their personal battles, even if they present themselves as fine.  Some days, we feel as though we aren't making much of a difference, but it's important to remember that what we do is important.  Here's a much needed reminder:



Thanks for letting me ramble on.  :)
I was inspired to write this post after a chat with my buddy Casey, and we were talking about the way I use music in the classroom.  I have different music that goes with different moods/tasks.  For example:


For Writing, we listen to Enya.  Specifically, Watermark.  (Really, anything by Enya would probably accomplish the same thing.)  It's dreamy, new-agey background music, and my kiddos can still focus on their work.  I play it softly, and if our conferences are getting too loud, I simply ask someone at the other side of the room if they can still hear the music.  They stop and listen, then tell me they can't hear it.  That's the cue for the class to be quieter - they know if people can't hear the music, they can't have their calm, focused writing time.  Love it!!
Shepherd Moons


For Partner Work and Math, we listen to Vince Guaraldi.  This year, we're listening to Oh Good Grief!  My kiddos love it, and they recognize that this is "Charlie Brown" music.  :)  It's upbeat, jazzy, and still helps us modulate our voices so the class can hear the music!

For Rewards, we have a few favorites.  Our current favorite is the Super Mario Galaxy Official Soundtrack. My green beans this this is so cool, and I only find it mildly irritating, so it's really a win-win!  When they've had a great day, they'll ask if we can listen to "Mario Brothers."  Again, it helps with the voice levels in our classroom - see a pattern developing here?!?  :)

For Fun, Fluency, and Comprehension, we listen to Shel Silverstein.  I do adore some Shel Silverstein; note to new teachers who haven't learned this yet - don't let your kiddos just Google him.  Some of his work is inappropriate for young eyes/ears.  Both Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic CDs are out of print, but you can still find used copies around with a bit of effort.  He performs his poems with such enthusiasm and voice, that it is a wonderful way to show how performers can create a mood with their voice.
A recent addition to our classroom collection is Fun, Foolery, and Folktales by Donna Washington.  I found this in my mailbox several weeks after she had visited our school, and played it for my kiddos.  They absolutely love the rhythm of her voice, and the different ways she uses her voice to represent different characters.  Only yesterday, when I was talking to Casey, she pointed out that it actually belongs to our grade level.  Oops!!  I really didn't mean to monopolize grade level materials, and I feel kinda bad about that.  I brought it home this weekend to make a backup copy, ya know, in case it gets scratched.  :)

What about in your classroom?  How does music play a role in your day?

Checked the calendar, and realized that I'm really late to Farley's Currently linky!!  Forgive me, y'all!!  It's been a madhouse insane cray cray a bit busy lately.  Here we go...
I'd really love to begin my Christmas shopping, but I need to show restraint until I have a bit of money set aside.  The haircut debate is always at the back of my mind.  It's shoulder length now, but I'd love to just chop it short and quit using the ponytail, 'cause I don't take the time to blow-dry, style, flat iron, etc.
Yes, I really, really need to be working on report cards, since I hand them out November 30!!  I've only got 12 student days left until track out.  Whoo-hoo!  Also, I'm only a few followers away from a personal goal of mine, and I'm planning a cool giveaway.  Check back later for more details! See you later, alligator!
My green beans have really been making me laugh lately...

Kiddo (with an apprehensive look): "What is Gooey Dance?"
Me: "I don't know.  What is Gooey Dance?"
Kiddo: "Mrs. Sykes, it says on the schedule we have Gooey Dance tomorrow.  I don't know how to Gooey Dance."
Me: "We are having a Guidance lesson tomorrow.  No worries!"  :)

Kiddo #1: "Do you know who you're going to vote for?"
Kiddo #2: "My dad said I should vote for Omaha {{Obama}}, but I don't know yet."
Kiddo #1: "You need to vote for Omaha if your dad says to.  He's probably right."
Kiddo #2: "I know, but the other guy is named Mitten.  That would be pretty cool."


Hope all's well with all of y'all, and the folks impacted from Hurricane Sandy can begin returning to a bit of normalcy soon - know that you're in our nation's thoughts.
Y'all know I have a huge crush on VistaPrint, right?!?  Check out my latest order...

My personalized 2 G flash drive

Magnetic Clip

Stress Ball - for a couple of ADHD kiddos
A measuring tape - since I can never find mine!

Grand total - 4 items, including shipping and tax...  $11.05 (I had 30% off from an email).  Absolutely love these!  If you are new to VistaPrint, be sure to click here to get a special discount using my code.  I haven't quite figured out how the code-thing works, but we can give it a shot.  :)  All of these items are located under Promotional Items, and prices are given for large quantities.  Click the item you want, and look for the words "Try a Personalized Sample" - only $7.99 for the flash drive.

I think I'll be picking up a few more as teacher gifts - what teacher doesn't love personalized stuff? What are you going to shop for?
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