Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Last Weeks of School: Part 2

Woah. Those last two weeks of school went by SUPER QUICKLY. I know I was going to post all of our great ideas, but I felt as though I didn't even have time to breathe those two weeks!

Here are some other ideas that were in our balloons that we popped. (Confused? Read the original blog post here.)

  • Serenade the principal. We sang "My Girl." The kids didn't know the song before we started. We only learned the first verse and the chorus. It took us about 4 minutes to learn, then we were off! It was fun!
  • Extra indoor recess.
  • Play board games.
  • Read outside.
  • A student sang a solo for the class. He made it up as he went. It was hysterical :) (He chose to do this, by the way!)
  • Play the Wii. We did this the last day of school. I finished up packing report cards while the kids played. Woohoo! Our school has two Wiis for teacher-checkout in the media center. They were bought with a special grant for our PBIS program! The kids played Mario Kart. Each student raced one race, and they were the same players each time (Player 1 was Mario and 2 was Luigi). They raced the events in order, no arguments, no switchies. My students are numbered in alphabetical order, so we played #1 against #28, #2 against #27, etc. I know my kids at the last of the line hate going last, so we played this way!
I know there were a few more, but those weeks were a blur. Those are the ones that stood out in my memory! I have heard from many of you who are doing this in your classrooms, and I'm so glad it's been such a success! Thank you for sharing what you are doing with me. I have a few new ones from Twitter followers I certainly want to incorporate when I do it again next year. Thank you for learning and sharing right along with me!

To those of you who are already done with school, happy summer! And for those who still have a few weeks or days left, I'm sending relaxing thoughts your way!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Last Weeks of School Part I

You might be thinking that the title of this post implies that there will be more than one in a series. You'd be correct.

At the time that I write this, we have only two weeks of school left in my district. A while back, I saw an idea for the end of the school year on Pinterest. In true scatterbrain fashion, I forgot to pin it. However, the image stuck in my mind.

The teacher who wrote it (sorry I don't know the source; if it's YOU, please tell me so I can give you credit!) blogged about blowing up balloons and, inside each balloon, was a fun activity for each day of the last weeks of school.

I wanted to do this for the last three weeks of school, so I bought a bag of 15 balloons and worked with the students to come up with a list of 15 random things that would take anywhere from 5-20 minutes to do. The kiddos blew up the balloons, inserted a slip into each one, and I pinned them on a bulletin board.

balloons on the board, not in rows, or patterns or anything
Each day, at a different, random time, I popped a balloon. The kids had a new countdown each day; when there were 15 days left, they counted down from 15 to 1. When there were 14 days left, they counted down from 14 to 1. I think you get the drift.

I popped a balloon, read the slip, and we proceeded to do whatever activity the balloon commanded! The kids and I are ALL having a blast with this, as a matter of fact! The morning that we popped "musical chairs" was quite hysterical, especially when it was time to change classes, and my team teacher was at the door watching all these fifth graders play a little kids' game. We laughed and had such fun! I really recommend that you do this with your students!

Here's a photo documentary of all our activities from last week. Next weekend, I'll share all the activities of the coming week. If you choose to do this with your children, will you leave a list of some of the activities your kids came up with?

Here are the first five on our list.

Musical chairs (we removed more than 1 chair at a time to speed it up)

Take a Nap Day - Favorite of EVERYONE! A 10 minute rest made for a great afternoon :)

Learn a New Dance (we learned the Spongebob from

Joke Day
*We also had "Talk in Accents Day" but I forgot to snap a picture! 

How are you planning to wind down the school year?

Friday, May 4, 2012

My Class's Antibullying Campaign

I love Twitter - shocking, I know. But I do love it because I get so inspired by reading comments and blogs by other teachers I follow.

One of my favorite posts lately is by Eric Johnson (@yourkidsteacher), from his website, called "Erasing Meanness." Read his blog post here. You need to read his before you read mine. His post inspired everything I'm about to say here.

I'm working with another 5th grade teacher from Canada (@FlyontheCWall) on a shared blog for all of our fifth graders (see it here) for the months of April and May. Our topic for May has been bullying. So naturally, I started looking for things mid-April for our classes.

I LOVED Mr. Johnson's "Erasing Meanness" idea. I felt like it was a message my students really needed to hear, plus it fit our blogging theme for the month. Mr. Johnson was nice enough to send me a link to the videos he used in his classroom.

I'm going to post pictures and videos below for you to use if you would like. At the end of this week, my students made our own music video. Here's what's cool about this - I found the song "Perfect" by AHMIR (it's a cover of Pink's original) on YouTube. These guys have such beautiful voices, and I love that the video for their song is about bullying. If you buy their version on iTunes, part of the proceeds benefit the Trevor Project.

My students loved the video and song, so I tweeted the guys (@AHMIR) on Twitter. I told them the kiddos loved their song and asked if I could use it. They told us that we could use the song, so we proceeded to make the video. (There aren't many that are very appropriate for elementary, I don't think, so we tried to make our own to add to the options out there.)

After I tweeted out a link to the video, they responded back! How cool! They wrote:  so awesome! We're honored and proud to support anti-bullying with you and your students!

They even left us a comment on our YouTube video! What cool guys! (This is my not-so-subliminal message for you to check them out.)

Here's my students' video:

Here's my Erasing Meanness Timeline

Day 1 I cleaned the board really well, removed everything else from the board, and wrote "mean" in the middle in big letters. (No picture, sorry!) I showed "Anti-Bullying PSA: The Price of Silence" (then discussed for a minute or two).

Day 2 Before the kids came in, I had written several synonyms for mean, hate, bullying, etc. Yes, I know abhorrence is misspelled. I wrote it about half a billion times before I noticed it. My apologies. And yes, lots of the words repeat. Then I showed the "Stand Up, Stand Out: No Checking, No Capping, No Bullying" video. My kiddos really responded to this, especially when students said they didn't feel like teasing sometimes, and it really hurt their feelings.

Day 3 Before the kids came in, I had written "How do you want to be remembered?" on the board. It took forever and it looks kinda bad. Whoops. Then I showed 3 videos: "Being a Friend," "Stop Bullying PSA," and Mark Wills' "Don't Laugh at Me" music video. The kids and I talked a lot about how, perhaps more important than standing up to a bully, it is very critical to make others feel wanted and important. We talked about how easy it is to walk up to someone after they've been bullied or if they are lonely and talk to them. Just having a friend can make a huge difference in someone's life.

Day 4 The kids noticed the board hadn't changed. They wondered what was different. I told them that they were going to change the board; they had the opportunity to erase some of the meanness and spread love instead. Before they erased the words, we watched Ahmir's "Perfect" video. The kids lined up to wait on their turn to "change the world."

the line to change the world


Again, be sure to read Mr. Johnson's "Erasing Meanness" post. It's a great way to start an anti-bullying campaign. And you never know - it might help save a life one day.