Wednesday, July 31, 2013

And so it begins

Up early today.  Picked up my keys for school-- Floors have been waxed and all items are back in our rooms.  As I peered into my room I anticipated the worst case scenario. I never know where to start.  My first thought is-- Arrange the furniture.  But some of the furniture is underneath that big stack of boxes and tubs. 

As I moved furniture around and unpacked, I realized I have boxes from last year that were never touched.  I have a good mind to put them in the hallway for the custodian-- and not even peek to see what is inside.  Once my room is done-- I will post pics...

A Moment of randomness-- I am on the school Data Team this year and we are going to have our students keep Data Notebooks. As I look around, I have found a TON of resources.  My concern is that I bite off more than I can chew, and that I end up spending valuable time on data and organization during class with the kids and neglect instruction. I want the notebooks to be meaningful and effective for student and parent  responsibility.  I teach ELA/SS and I know I need to start off small, but these are areas that I think I am going to have them track:
  • Behavior 
  • reading fluency/running record
  • spelling
  • Books read
 In class we will track homework being turned in -- But I am wondering what else if anything should be added.  Goals will be established once we do a base running record and spelling pre-tests.  (I use Words Their Way) I wonder what I am missing.....

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Feeling a Little Crafty Today

I went to Micheal's and found all kinds of great things.  First before you go, check the weekly ads.  They will sometimes have  40% or 60%  off a single item, 20% off the purchase and then make sure you have your teacher ID--and  Boo YOW!  an extra 15% off! (This even includes CLEARANCE!!)

We have to keep our classroom locked at all times-- and I am awful at keeping up with my keys!  I found a great owl lanyard at Educational Wonderland, and decided I would use it to help me keep up with my keys.  Well, while I was at Micheal's-- I found some fabulous sparkly embellishments, and I decided I would sparkle up the lanyard on one side.   I do love some sparkles!

In one of the clearance bins outside, there were spools of ribbon.
I have been tired of using sticky notes as bookmarks in the interactive notebooks, so I decided to get some ribbon, and we will hot glue ribbons in the back of the composition books so no one will loose their spot, and if I want to do a notebook check, I won't have to go on a scavenger hunt to find something.  (Yes, we do create a "Table of Contents", but for some reason I always have  a few students who don't follow directions, skip pages, don't keep up with their contents and I am hoping this will help. Maybe?)

My next  project I am working on is a homework club display. I saw the idea on pinterest, and decided that I would try it.  Per our district policy, homework is not to be graded in anyway.  So, I am looking for a way to reward those students who do complete their homework consistently. I think I am going to use student numbers rather than pictures due to the high turn over rate of students at our school. I love the idea of using pictures, but getting student photos in a timely manner when a new student comes in isn't feasible. I will post pics of the final product.

The last project that I am working on are my Data Notebooks. Every student will have a section. That is still a work in progress as I try to gather everything that I want to use for student assessment-- individual, and small group- but I did find a  site that has free running records and record forms.
this seems like it would be a great RTI source. 

Well, off to target to see what other "goodies" I can find to feed my "new school supplies addiction."

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Who DOESN'T like free?

Teachers spend so much of their own money on teaching supplies, it really isn't funny.  Every year  year at tax time when my husband asks me how much I spent, I tell him to use the max-- (I think it is $300) but the truth is-- I spend way more than that. What other profession does someone spend their OWN paycheck so htat they can do their job?  Granted, I am my own worst enemy When new school supplies are put out-- but the other stuff, chart paper, book baskets, labels, 3x5 cards, and other activity suplies- well, it adds up.  That is why I am on a mission.  We all know we are still going to spend money-- but if things are out there for free-- or there is a chance you can get it for free, Teachers need to know about it.
oh Boy 4th Grade is having a $100 giveaway.

Over the next week, I will be posting freebies that I find for Daily Five.  If you havent read the book, it is fantastic, and really helps you organize your ELA time so you have time for those important small groups.  A great place to start is my Daily 5 Wiki. It is still a work in progress-- but has some great freebies.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer Time Planning

I love summer.  It is time to sleep, beach, and plan.  Yep. Plan.  I am such a nerd.  I spend my summer thinking, reading professional blogs, professional books (a couple of fun ones in there too,) pinning educational lessons on Pinterest, salivating at the teacher store, and  reexamining my long rangeplans  from the previous year and tweeking some things.

 Even with my toes in the sand, I have a notepad in my hand, and the book Teach like a Pirate  in the other and am looking at ways that I can "hook" my students first thing with my lessons-- ( reminds me of the old PET model of teaching) If you haven't read the book, the last section of the book gives ideas for different types of hooks to grab their attention. If you are familiar with multiple intelligences, the hooks run along the same lines-- just a few are:

  • Using music
  • using art
  • using magic
  • using a puzzle
  • a costume
  • using a short video clip
If you frequent pinterest, you may have seen a site that has movie clips to use.  The movie clips are a great resource.  They are short, and you can find a variety of familiar clips to use for TONS of lessons.

One use was for identifying character traits and using the video to cite reasons for that character trait.  For example, I used a clip from Wizard of Oz And played it for the students.  They watched the clip and recorded character traits for the characters in that clip. With CC I know that giving evidence is key, so as students watched the clip again, they recorded incidents in the clip that would prove their choice for the character trait.  (They begged to do more of these)

I absolutely love pinterest.  At some point I need to print off my boards and file them into my unit notebooks.

Friday, July 12, 2013

I need an intervention....

As I walked into Walmart today I saw the supplies.  New crayons.  New markers.  Nice clean composition books.  Glue sticks.  A big multipack of them-- for ...$1.  I love school supplies.  I am addicted to them.  Never mind I still have a tub of dry erase markers at school that are perfectly  fine--(multiple colors)  Never mind that I have every color of the rainbow ink pen for grading papers-- and probably double green and purple. (my favorite colors to grade papers) Never mind that I have some black composition books left over from last year that weren't used. (I like the colored ones a little bit better...) When I get back from the beach-- it is on.  Unless my husband finds out.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Technology Bug has Bitten...

There is so much technology that can be integrated into our classrooms, and so much in our daily lives that I am not sure if I can keep up.  There is so much out there-- I am trying hard to keep up with the times, but frankly I am finding myself overwhelmed with it all.  I try to do something new every year-- something that I can continue the next year and tweek into perfection.  Something that will be a time saver for me and beneficial for my students, but I have found myself wanting to do it all.  I think I need to sit down and come up with a plan rather than jumping in and drowning in all this technology.

 I tried the webpage that will text parents when you want to send out an announcement, but I started it late n the year and only had one parent sign up.   I work at a Title 1 school, so student access to computers is minimal. Although I do have some parents whose children are on free and reduced lunch and they have a car and phone better than mine-- but that is a soapbox for another day.... I am wondering what new thing I should take on this year. Perhaps I will perfect the texting announcements.... I am working on a  Project , but it isn't completed yet-- I would like some Kindle Fires for my classroom for "Listening to Reading." And the QR codes--

My mind is racing at how I can implement these into reading.... I hope I am not biting off more than I can chew....

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Notebook

Yeah-- not the movie.  I mean that notebook that you keep all your student data in-- test scores, reading levels, and conferencing notes.  If you are like me you probably have more than one notebook.  Who wants to lug around a 3 inch binder with all that stuff in there?  As I search for the perfect form to record my notes, I find myself changing every year-- sometimes even mid year. last year-- I had blank boxes to keep notes.  Nope-- didn't work for me-- too much writing, and I spent WAY too long on the conferences. I was only getting to 5-6 kids a week-- not a good number when you have 23 to reach.  With common core in our midst, I keep wondering how I need to change my blank box.   And then I found the The Teacher's Corner.  I think I have found the answer to my student data notebook.   I am already going to use up half of my copy allotment for the 9 weeks before school starts, but I am excited that I will be keeping better records this year. :) 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Starring 4th Grade

One thing that I am always striving for is to be better.  To be the best that I can be.  (Sounds like a commercial for recruitment to the military.)  But I believe the way you perfect your teaching skills is to get rid of what isn't working, and try new things.

 I love to collaborate  with other teachers and learn from them.  Yes, I have been teaching for 21 years, and I have found many things that I love and will continue to use, and then there are still those areas that that I haven't quite perfected yet. I would love for you to visit me on facebook and as I continue on my adventure of teaching-- (because yes, that is what it is-- I tend to learn as much as my students some years) As I find resources to share for teachers-- especially as we embark on the common Core.  I welcome others to add their successes, suggestions, questions, and even "train wrecks."  After all, we are in this together. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Ah Sweet Summer

I have so many ambitions every summer.  Books I want to read, units I want to revamp, andnow, Common core is staring at me straight in the face.  This year I will be teaching ELA and social studies to two clocks of students. It looks as though there will be about 21 or 22 students per class.  I know that isn't many, when you look at other teachers' classes across the nation who have 30 or more students. So I shouldn't complain. It is a little tough to swallow, though, when I had 16 or 17 students for a few years and wow.  What a difference.But I digress.

As I have piddled a little with the ELA common core standards, started on my long range plans, and tried to interpret what these standards are needing me to teach, I have gotten a little frustrated with the lack of resources that spell out exactly what the standards want.  There are some out there that are guessing and give minimal guidelines... but I guess what I want is something that spells out what the standards mean.

On top of all this I am trying to integrate my ELA and social studies completely. For example, In social studies,

Week one :
Fictional piece : Wooly and Fang (skills: summarizing, story elements)
Nonfiction piece: Cloning a wooly Mammoth (skills: Discussion, supporting an opinion)
Poetry:  Mammoths on the Move (skills: Rhyme scheme, repetition, onomatopeia, alliteration)
Writing:  Writing an opinion with supporting details (cloning)
Extension: Mammoths (researching)

I know that all these have some sort of cost, and over the years I have paid for a membership of different sites and when I make my copies of the resources, I have them for several years.  With the first week of school I talk about the continents, archeology and mammoths and it takes me right into the land bridge theory.

Doing my ELA strictly around my social studies units is going to be the only way to step up my game in the content area.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Oh Summer, Where have you gone?

As  I begin to look at what I have left to do this summer, I realize it is almost gone-- and it is only July 3rd!  I have one week to clean my house and pack for the beach-- I have a week at the beach-- then I have one week to unpack from the beach and pack my boys off for their youth retreat to Panama City.  They will be gone a week-- (That week I think my daughter and I will just bask in the awesomeness of summer) then I really need to start getting into my classroom and getting it all together! How is that the last week of school can go by so slowly and a summer vacation be gone in a wink of the eye?