Tales From A 4th Grade Teacher

It's All Good……

I got the Leibster Award!!! January 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrsbarker @ 6:19 pm

I am starting to feel, in the words of the great MC Hammer “2 Legit 2 Quit”!  This is the 2nd award I have gotten recently by my fellow teacher-bloggers and it is such a great honor! This means at least two people are reading my blog (well 3 if you count my mother, lol!).  A big THANK YOU to Cindy over at Fun in Fourth Grade !  Check out her great blog if you haven’t already!

The goal of the award is to spotlight up-and-coming blogs with less than 200 followers. The rules are:
  1. copy and paste the award on your blog
  2. thank the giver and link back to them
  3. reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog
  4. hope that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers

Here are the 5 blogs that I chose to honor with this award as well:

Go Fourth! With Mrs. Owens

 4th Grade Frolics

 Oh Boy! Fourth Grade

 Fantastically Fun and Fresh Fourth Grade Ideas

 The Teaching Thief

Check out these great up and coming blogs and follow them all for great ideas and inspiration!


Vesatile Blogger Award- Thanks Fabulous Fourth Grade!!! January 14, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrsbarker @ 10:17 pm

My blog has been awarded the Versatile Blogger Award! What a great honor! Thanks for the nomination Fabulous Fourth Grade!


The rules for receiving this award are that you…
1. Thank the person that presented you the award and link back to them.–Thank you again!–
2. Tell seven things about yourself.

About me:

  • I am married to my best friend and we have an amazing 11 year old son. We are transplants to the South and love living in a city that has a small town feel. We have 2 dogs and 2 cats.
  • I love books….in fact it is hard for me to go into a bookstore without going home with an armload. And I am dangerous when the book fair comes to our school.
  • Besides loving books, I also love to read (duh!)….I really enjoy finding and reading books that I think my students would enjoy.
  • Before I became a teacher , I was a cake designer, and had my own business called PattiCakes Bakery. I loved making cakes and I still do. But I only do it on the side, for family and friends.
  • I am a huge Red Sox fan. The very first professional baseball game I ever attended was a Red Sox game in 1991 and I have been a fan every since.
  • My favorite subject to teach is Social Studies. I love history and I try  to make it interesting to my students because most of them find it boring. I like to find ways for them to become part of history and that seems to make it more interesting to them.
  • My favorite television show is “The Big Bang Theory” I watch it every Thursday night and Sheldon Cooper is my favorite character, because he is great at using sarcasm, loves to use the word “Bazinga!” and has an obnoxious laugh!

3. Pass the award to 15 other newly discovered blogs. These may not be new to the blogging world, but new to you.  Link this post onto a comment on their blog. Enjoy these fabulous blogs!
















All good things must come to an end….. January 1, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrsbarker @ 8:33 pm

Today is the final day of a much-needed 16 day break from school. But I miss my kids…I miss my colleagues…I miss my classroom.   What do I have to show for my long break…signs of rest. I slept late, I ate way too much, I stayed up late. What I did not do much of was school work. Oh I looked at it…everyday as I passed the home office. I looked at the tub of ungraded papers, my laptop still in its case…the teacher’s editions and workbooks I brought home. But still it sat neglected and untouched for most of thse 16 days.  And I am perfectly fine with that. Now I have to go back tomorrow which means that I spent today….my last day…playing catch up.  I graded papers, I read through the novels I am going to start with my reading groups this week.  I finalized my lesson plans and sent copies off to my brand new student teacher who starts with me tomorrow.  So much for my plans of going back to school relaxed and refreshed…now I am getting a little anxious about whether or not I am truly prepared for tomorrow.  What I am certain of is I am 100% prepared to see the faces of my 19 little friends tomorrow morning,….to hear their stories of Christmas, their favorite gifts and how they spent their break.  I expect them to be sleepy, but excited to be back, and maybe a little taller. 16 days is an eternity to them….and we are going to have to hit the review hard, because one other thing I am certain of, is that they have forgotten a whole lot of what we have covered in the last 16 weeks…..oh brother!!


Thanksgiving Break…but is it really a break??? November 23, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrsbarker @ 2:13 pm

Today is the first of a 5-day break from school. Yay! I have had these 5 days circled on the calendar since August..but as this week arrived, I was already planning in my head what I needed to get done over these 5 days.  Most people’s to-do list included cooking, cleaning and spending relaxing time with family. Mine does too, but with a few added tasks, finish unit/lesson plans for the upcoming weeks, grade writing papers and read a few books for my reading groups. No, I am not an overachiever, and I am certain I am not alone.  Earlier this week I was talking to a fellow teacher and we were comparing holiday plans. Both of us admitted we would love nothing more than to go home Tuesday afternoon with nothing in our hands. The reality is, I packed my wheelie cart and “teacher bag” with stuff yesterday afternoon thatideally I would/could get completed over the break. 

Don’t get me wrong. I am blessed to have a job teaching children, and I am very appreciative to have a job, period.  Especially when so many, including teachers, are out of work. But I think back to the years prior to me becoming a teacher. I worked for 15 years in the corporate world…yes the hours were long, and stressful, but 99.8% of the time, when I closed my office door and left for the night (and weekend), I left the work at the office.  Not to mention more often than not I got to eat lunch out in a restaurant with adults and travel meant business trips, not a field trip to the zoo with a bunch of 9 year olds. 

Now before those non-teachers begin preparing to burn me at the stake for my upcoming 16 day Christmas Break and my summers off….let me say I am happier doing what I am doing than I was working in an office.  I would trade a great performance review for a hard-earned “C” from a struggling student, and an annual bonus for a sweet homemade gift or card from one of my little friends.  I am in no means complaining, let’s just say I am doing a little educating of those not-in-the-know…..before you think “How hard can teaching be? or “They get their summers off, what are they complaining about?….just know that while you are relaxing with family over this Thanksgiving holiday, thank a teacher for the sacrifices they make….and the hours they put in to educate our children. 

Happy Turkey day everyone, and don’t forget to put your napkin in your lap and eat all your veggies before you eat dessert!



This one rings pretty true…. November 10, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrsbarker @ 1:54 am

I was on Facebook today (big shocker), and came across this link posed by In Defense of Teachers. It really hit home because this is the type of stuff my fellow teachers and I(and thousands of teachers across the country ) are fighting on a daily basis.


It really got me fired up (again) about how teachers have been vilified in the press as the reason education is failing. I knowingly admit there are bad teachers out there (heck some days I would even lump myself in that category), but they are the exception rather than the norm. Yet the press wants everyone to believe it is all the teachers fault that kids are falling behind. Why aren’t we holding parents accountable? They have just as much of a responsibility here to make sure that their child is doing their homework, and studying for tests so that they are passing classes, or are behaving in school…even attending school.

And just as there are bad teachers out there, there are also good parents. I have had my share, but in my experience, those parents, again, are the exception, rather than the norm. Many of the parents I encounter don’t want their child held accountable, therefore they don’t believe their child should face any type of consequence if they fail a class, fail to turn in homework, misbehave in class. Parents who are told their child is misbehaving and it is becoming a detriment to the learning of the other students in my class, yet they fail to take action, or hold their child accountable or follow the recommendation of the school when it comes to options that might help their child get said behavior under control.

Some days I feel like I am living in the movie “Groundhog Day.” It seems that the same issues continue to present themselves with regard to students wo are failing and/or are misbehaving. It’s that feeling of “here we go again” when I am writing a referral for the fourth time on a child are we are barely into the 2nd nine weeks. Or I am collecting homework and the same students fail to complete it (and give me the same excuses–“I did it but I left it at home”….yeah, sure, that makes perfect sense tome that you would do your homework, then forget to put it in your book bag.)  

I am not asking to be completely absolved of any responsibility when it comes to my students…in face I am willing to should more than I probably should when it comes to their failures, and less when it comes to their successes. But I need someone else in the boat rowing WITH me…and it has to be the parents AND then student  if we are ever going to get anywhere.

Stepping down off my soapbox now…..




Technology, Turkey and Time Off!!! November 5, 2011

Filed under: Teaching- General — mrsbarker @ 3:49 pm

Wow…I am officially a slacker/blogger!!!

So, um, my last post was well over a month ago! I guess that officially makes me a slacker. Well, not exactly. I have been busy. I mean REALLY busy…like forgetting to eat a meal busy (and that, like,  almost NEVER happens). 

Without getting too personal…I have had some family health issues, and school has been in overdrive, PLUS I have been taken a graduate class on technology in the classroom.  But I am back, everyone is getting healthier, school is never going to calm down, so I have accepted it. And last night (well, this morning at 12:05am) I submitted the last component of my project for my grad class. Just have to do a presentation on Tuesday night, and then life will return to normal. Just in time for Thanksgiving!! And then Christmas.  And as much as I love both of those holidays (I mean who doesn’t like eating yourself into a coma, football and presents????)…..they are crazy, busy times too. The silver lining though…5 days off at Thanksgiving and 16 days off at Christmas!!!

I am going to post some links later this weekend (or maybe early next week) with some cool stuff I learned in this class. And on top of that, I got a brand new Promethean board in my classroom this week. Yeah, don’t hate me because I have new technology….save it for early 2012 when they replace my antiquated Dell laptop with a new one (no it’s not a Mac, but beggars can’t be choosers) and also the desktops in my classroom!!!  Our district is going through technology “refresh” so lots of new stuff is being ordered and installed!!!

As I say this, lots of people are going to curse my name, and put my picture on a bullseye (hey that’s better than a milk carton, huh!?!?). I love my job, and my team, and the fact that even in this economy, when lots of teachers are losing their jobs due to budget cuts, I am fortunate to work in a district and school where they have been so pro-active in their finance/budgeting prior to this recession, that not only have we not lost teacher jobs, there is money to spend. Obviously, since I did not pay for that sweet new Promethean board out of my money!

And you know what the best part was? Watching how excited my students were when it was finally installed and up and working. I could barely keep them in their seats yesterday morning,  they were so excited!!!  Of course, we have to have the “don’t climb on it, high-five it, lean against it” talk. And now I am going to have to really bring my A-game everyday because they are going to want to use it EVERY FREAKIN’ DAY…so I have my work cut out for me!!

So, I will sign off…but I will load some links and stuff later……and I promise it won’t take a month this time!!!!


I am beginning to think this merry-go-round is never going to stop!!! September 24, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrsbarker @ 9:23 pm

Wow, I can’t believe how little time I have to blog! I had these dreams of grandeur that I was going to be able to post at least a couple of times a week. However, I feel so overwhelmed with all things school, that I just never seem to have the time to post, let lone read the other teacher blogs that I started following this year.  The first 3-4 weeks of every school year always seem to be a bit on the crazy side, and this year is no exception. And couple that with the fact that I am getting old(er), and my memory is not what it used to be.

Since I have not posted in a while, let me cAtch you up on what has been going on in my little teacher-world. Pardon the bulleted form, but I am being lazy today as well….

  • We are already past the mid-way point of our 1st nine weeks and interim report went home this past week. SOme of my little friends are not where they should be, so I am working on modifying my curriculum and doing a bit more differentiation, to see if I can help them be a little more successful.
  • We have completed fall MAP testing (we test in the fall, winter and spring), and I am working on analyzing  their reading levels (from the running records I did with them) with their reading RIT scores, so I can put together my reading groups which will start next week.
  • I met with my principal, and a bunch of resource folks to identify academic and behavioral needs of my class for CAST.  We have started the A-team process on a few and I am looking forward to getting some additional support for a few of my little friends that are struggling with so much!!
  • We have finished our 1st 20 Days (Fountas and  Pinell) in Balanced Literacy and we are ready for reading groups to begin next week…can’t wait!  This is year 2 of the program in our school so I know my little friends are going tobe shining stars at rotating through listening and computer centers, SSR and reading group rotations.
  • We also finished our first unit in Social Studies and are working on making scrapbook pages of the 5 Native American Groups we studied. Next up–Explorers!!!
  • My attempt at using Words Their Way for spelling went better this week than last. A few of my little friends are still struggling with VC, VVC, VCC nd VCe patterns and long and short vowel sounds. They all did a great job giving/taking their spelling tests with a partner this week..woohoo!!!
  • Empowering Writers is a little rocky…I am planning on changing things up a bit net week so we can finish Beginnings and more onto Elaborative Detail.
  • I team-teach with another 4th grade teacher and between the two of us we  have 38 parent teacher conferences to by the end of October.
  • On top of that, Monday is curriculum night so Monday is going to be a LOOOOONNNNG day..but hopefully I will have a good turnout of parents and I can share with them the wonderful things their children have been  doing in the last 5 weeks of school!!!

Last but not least, I stated a graduate class on technology in the classroom last week and that is a huge demand on my time. However, I am gaining some great ideas for my classroom and will introduce some it to my class next week when we start our Explorer unit.

SO that is what I have been up to…how are things in your classroom?????