Friday, April 27, 2012

Rounding Third, Heading Home

I am so excited to link up to an amazing (and timely) End-Of-The-Year Linky Party!  To see the links, visit her super-cool website.  Thanks for visiting!

  • What is your favorite end of the year activity?  Kickball Tournament

  • Do you have a hard time keeping your kids focused the last few weeks of school? Do you have a hard time keeping your kids AT school the last few weeks? I don't anymore....thanks all to kickball.

    Did you play baseball, softball, or kickball growing up? I played softball.  Loved it.  Still do.  But, that doesn't mean I was very good at it.  The only way I could get on base was to get walked, get lucky, or get hit by a pitch (it happens, ok!).  Here's the good part; if I could get on base, I was pretty sure I could score. For some reason, all the good batters came up to bat right after me.  Hmmmm.  When they would hit the ball, I would run like the wind!  I used to love rounding third base and heading for home.  I was usually tired by the time I got to third.  Yet, I knew I was so close to home.  So close.  I could put in that last burst of speed.  That last push of effort.  Teachers, now that we have finished state testing in our classrooms, we are rounding third and heading for home.

    Kickball.  The awesome sport where all you need is a playground ball for about 50 kids.  Seriously.  That's all you really need.  No need for gloves, bats, helmets, or catcher's gear.  Just one ball and 50 kids.  

    A few years ago, we had a problem with kids ditching school or just not coming back to school once the state tests were over.  I started a kickball tournament that would take 3 weeks to complete.  I set it up for 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade.  Guess what.  It was a hit!  Or, um, should I say, it was a kick!

    The games are always at the end of the day.  The students need to have good behavior all day to play in the game. I put a big bracket on butcher paper in the central hallway, so they can show their families how they are doing.  I have heard students tell their friends that their parents wanted them to stay home or to go shopping but they wanted to come to school because their game was that afternoon.  Yeah baby.  

    This year, we are trying something new.  We are setting up a double elimination tournament.  That way, if a team (classroom) loses a game, they are not out of it.  They will still have incentive to keep coming to school.  Since there will be more games, the tournament has been stretched to 4 weeks.  The final four weeks of school.  We are rounding third and heading for home!

    What do you do to keep your kids in school the final weeks of the year?

    What is it about summer vacation that you are most looking forward to?
    A kidney transplant for my husband.  He was suddenly diagnosed in October last year, and it has been a very challenging year.  Through it all, we have been learning to rely on God for all our needs.  We have been referred to the Mayo Clinic and are awaiting a donor.  If all goes well, he should have his transplant this summer.  On a teachery (is that a word?  Guess not because it has red squiggly lines, but you know what I mean) note: we will have to stay at the hospital for 4-6 weeks after the transplant.  I am looking forward to reading a stack of books and doing little projects to get my classroom ready.  I have pinned a ton of your blogs and posts to my pinterest and can't wait to have "free time" to put it all together.

    Share your tips for wrapping up the school year:
    Does your school ever change curriculum?  Add new professional development?  Give you new technology?  My advice is to not wait until next year, but to start implementing those elements at the end of this year.  It takes awhile for us to figure things out and work out the kinks.  I, for one, have to practice how I'm going to phrase things or what I am going to call certain areas.  If I practice a little with this year's kids, I can make those mistakes.  I can also see the potential challenges.  For instance, I saw on a blog recently (I LOVE this blog and have read everything she has) that the teacher posts the learning target and a little red and white target.  At the end of the lesson/day, if the kids feel that they have mastered that learning objective, they may draw back an imaginary bow and shoot an arrow at the target. Brilliant.  If I had waited until next year to try it out, I would have overlooked the fact that boys will pull out their imaginary bazooka and machine guns to shoot the target.  I'm being serious.  I'll wait for you to stop laughing.  Since trying it out, I now know to preface my explanation next year with which weapons are acceptable.  I love using this technique and always feel so much more comfortable with the new professional development, curriculum, or technology when the new year starts.    

    P.S. This is my first linky and I am new to blogging.  If any of you experienced bloggers have any tips/hints for me, I am open to comments.  Thanks!

    where Glory meets my suffering