Sunday, October 7, 2012

October Currently

Edit: Whoops, forgot the actual link up part of this linky!! D:

I'm sorry I'm being so boring!  You all are posting the coolest things that you've done and implemented in the class and here I am just blah blah blahing.

I can say that I've made progress on the blogging in the class!  Our county has Edmodo approved... my school's media specialist and I are still exploring.  However, I'm disappointed in it so far.  It definitely has cool features, but as far as I've seen... it's not to the level of Kidblog. I'll need to create a fake student's account to see, but so far it doesn't SEEM like I can control their posting.  This concerns me.  That was my biggest selling point to get approval from all the other staff members I've brought it up to.

As far as my kids go, I know THEY will be excited because it's remarkably like Facebook.  However, since it's more Facebook-y, it's less blog-y, which is another disappointing piece for me. :(  We'll see, I guess! I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, here's the latest currently!

And hopefully the next time I post, I will be the proud owner of a new car! I tell you, being an adult is obnoxious! I never want to buy a car ever again for all the heartache I'm going through! Bah, humbug! :(

Anyway, I'm off! Wish me luck on our Open House tomorrow with the parents! I'm decidedly less nervous this year, which makes me happy.  I was also recently observed in a math lesson with my principal. I'll let you know how that goes! Our conference is Tuesday.  I may post about that lesson depending on what she thinks... I think it had some good stuff!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The First Goodbye of the School Year

So yesterday, the first of my babies bid us farewell.  It was rough, and led to some touching moments.  I was heartbroken, because I had been thinking we had until November with him, and just found out this week that that was not the case.  We just finished up essays about personal heroes, and, despite only knowing me a month, he wrote about me.  It was extremely touching.

This will be brief (but also repeated, as there is a good chance that another of my darlings will be leaving NEXT Friday, which is just about more than I can bear to handle.)

I just wanted to share a few moments I witnessed - one in particular, which really touched me.  Now, here's the thing: you should be aware that most of these fifth graders have been going to school together since Pre-K.  I'm pretty sure the same is true for him. You should also know that I'm a total crier - so I tried to tough it out as long as I could, but lost it when they started eating their ice cream treats in our special eat-in-the-classroom I sponsored for him.

Anyway, one boy had confided in me that his goal was to get another friend to cry over this student's departure.  Lo and behold, at one point I looked over to see him red-faced, with some boys around him comforting him.  The student leaving kept a brave face and had yet to break down.  As the understanding he would be gone started to sink in, the boys around also started crying.  And yet this student, the one saying goodbye to all of his friends, was still straight-faced.  I will never understand this strength, but I respect it so much.  (Because obviously, I was a mess at this point.)

But the one thing that REALLY got to me was... one of my dear math students came in during dismissal for some reason unknown. (To avoid the confusion of two "he"s, let's call him Math.)  I don't think he was coming to say goodbye, because Math was deeply concerned about my tears and asked what was wrong.  I waved him off, trying to focus on something else and left him to his errand.  The next thing I knew, I saw Math and my student sitting at our reading table.  They said nothing, just simply sitting down next to each other, both staring straight ahead in complete silence.  Math's eyes were red, my student's eyes were watery.

Fresh wave of tears here, people!  There is just something about the image of these two boys sitting side-by-side, thinking god only knows what, in mutual understand of each other's sorrow.  And nothing was said the entire time they sat there.  Somehow it's like fate knew to leave them alone.  Usually my student's bus is one of the first ones to arrive. Yesterday, he was the last to leave my room.  Math's bus came unusually late as well.  When they called his bus, his face crumpled a little as he heaved a heavy sigh and got up.  For the first time since I'd observed them, the boys finally spoke.  My student and Math did one of those little bro handshake-hug things.  Goodbyes were exchanged, and Math left.

I just....

Phew, boy.  It was the sweetest thing I'd ever seen.  The good news for these two and the rest of my boys is that this student didn't move far - just far enough to be out of our school bounds - and they will be reunited next year in middle school.

The same will not be true when my girl leaves, whenever that is.  It all depends on her mother's schedule at work.  She will be well and truly separated from her friends

I'm definitely not excited to return to school on Monday and see his empty desk in the corner. Our mood will certainly be a little more somber.  Hopefully at least I won't return to news that the girl will get a reprieve at least for a few months.

It's always so tough for students to leave the school they grew up in when they're SO close to being done. My heart grieves for them.

Somber post, I'm sorry.  Next time, I'll hopefully post about math rotations...I did Guided Math for the first time!  But I just can't bring myself to update on that now.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Nostalgia Lane

I haven't really anything new to report, but the theme of this week for me seemed to be all about my old babies.  They were literally everywhere this week!!  It was insane - in a really, really good way.

Don't get me wrong - I love my new babies bunches, and we're already forming some nice bonds if I do say so myself - but there's something about your first class.  (Probably especially when they leave you at the end of the year, never to be seen again unless they take it upon themselves to call or visit.)

So I imagine this post won't be very interesting to you.  For that, I apologize.  But I'm posting this for me, because ... well, it just warms my heart and makes me feel good.  Like I've done something right, for them to be so eager to see me again.  And it's those moments you need to hang onto when things get hard.  So this is going to be a post for me to return to whenever I'm questioning myself.

Wednesday, a boy I posted about earlier came to visit. The one who sat outside my window before school and was the first voice I heard every morning greeting me brightly with that big smile on his face.  My current kids tapped me on the shoulder to tell me he was there and I was so excited! I gave him a big hug, but unfortunately was working with a current baby who took priority.  I told him to give me a few minutes, and he and his friend promised to come back after visiting a few others.  Sadly, they never did. :(  But I think he might be back since he's walking distance to the school.  I was a little sad because I wanted to tell him I missed his greetings.  It's the little things, you know?

That same day, I got a phone call from three girls.  One of them was in the other class, but I had her brother, so we talked enough.  It was so sweet! They told me all about school, the new people they were meeting, their new teachers, and how my other friends seemed to be doing.  They asked to come back to get their community service hours, also.  I now have 4 students who are interested in coming to help.  It means lots of stuff will be getting done! :) lol  We chatted for about a half hour before my battery started dying and I had to get home anyway.

And finally, Thursday was our Back to School Night.  My teammate came in telling me she saw one of my boys outside waiting with the rest of the parents and I swear to god... I did this amazing SpongeBob imitation when I said, "Reeeeally??" and covered my mouth.

Sure enough, I opened my blinds and saw him and his best friend (another of mine).  I tried waving, but neither noticed me.  So I went about my business until they finally did, and they came bounding up to my window.  Cue heartmelt!  I gestured for them to come in, but they screamed that they weren't being allowed in.  So I opened the window to talk to them through the screen.  We caught up a little, I gave them screen-high fives and aside from being really odd because we were talking through a window screen, it was just like last year.  My teammate walked in again and laughed when she saw my chair pulled up next to the window.  She said she figured we would be at the window.

Parents started coming in, so I had to step away for a bit.  My current babies took over for me, sitting in the chair and chatting away.  I gotta say, though, this group of parents is outstanding! They were early, so they all left to let me continue catching up.  Most were amused at the antics.  So my new babies and I tried to figure out how to get them in, but alas...they were rejected each time.  The night began, and I gave my presentations to the parents.

I do so hate that part - I'm just talking so much and I'm overwhelming even myself!  I can't imagine how these parents feel!  But as it usually seems to go, no one had questions, so I kept on chattering.  I had a really great turn out for the first session!  The second session only had one parent, so it was tailored towards her son haha.  By then, my boys had managed to get in, and were relaxing in my library (which they were upset to see had a new chair - "Not fair!!").  It was actually great that they were there, because I got their feedback on some field trips we had planned, which I think the parent appreciated.

Once that was all done, the boys and I talked some more, they explored the changes in my room, marveling at it, and I just.... so miss their ridiculousness.  While most teachers were getting the heck out of dodge, I was in my room just enjoying their presence.  We wandered out to the hallway when one dad popped by to get them.  He's the sweetest, though, because he lingered to let us continue.  Other staff members got their hellos in and hugs and grinned knowingly at me.  I talk about these guys so much, I think they all knew how much it meant to me.  Finally, dad went to go pick up the little ones from the daycare and they opted to stay with me for a little more.  They showed me the new shoes they were getting lol (which is just so typical).

Even after he returned with their younger brothers, he still gave me a little more time.  I tell you, this dad is the best! He's the one I was talking to at the picnic, asking about his son.  I so, so appreciate how thoughtful he was.  He gave me all that extra time when he could've simply left after session 1.

In all, I spent an extra half hour at the end talking to my boys, missing them and reveling in the moment.  It literally made my week.  Those two have a special place in my heart because of the things we went through last year. 

Anyway, that's about it for the nostalgia.  It was a really, really good week for me.

I did, however, find out that it sounds like a new baby, who I already love desperately, will be moving.  Her mother approached me after the first session and we cried a little bit together.  Oh, it's so sad.  It breaks my heart!    But then the girl came up to me the next day and I think her mom managed to find a solution not too long after making me cry haha!  So if it works out, I will be sooo excited.  It would break my heart to see her go.  Hers is a whole saga that I hope ends well.  I'm already upset one of my boys will definitely be leaving us in November.  I can't take her leaving, too. It's just too much.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Currently & New School Year Update

First things first! Farley's latest "Currently"!  I finally figured out why I haven't been getting these in the email...silly GMail marked it as spam! :(  In any case, if you're as behind on the times as me, go ahead and click that picture! It'll lead you straight to it.

Next on the agenda - school updates!

Our school received some big, big news a few weeks ago! I want to wait on the actual reveal until it turns out to be fruitful.  I know, I know - why bring it up then?? Answer: I have no idea why I'm bothering to mention it.  I guess just wanna let anyone reading this know we had something very exciting happen!

I have also gotten the go-ahead from my media specialist via her boss for blogging.  I am super, super excited to bounce ideas around with her.  We need to schedule times to meet up to discuss and get it set up.  My thinking is that we'll probably be fully up and running late October, early November with blogging.  I cannot wait to give you all the update on how I structured it and how it's being received! So, so excited for this green light!! :)

Still working up the nerve to implement my rotations in math & reading.  Any last minute insights or help would be greatly appreciated!!  I'm incredibly nervous about it even though all I hear are great things. I think it's just the overwhelming idea of all the things I'm trying to undertake right now...  It just seems like so much, but I know rotations are rewarding and worth it.

It's crazy to me how it's already starting on week 4 this Tuesday!! So much has happened and yet so much still needs to be done to get this year well and truly underway.  My to-do list is part of the reason why I haven't yet uploaded pictures of my room.  Some things still need to be put up before I'll be satisfied enough to do the reveal.  It is currently lacking - and I really, really need to set up my rotations board!

Let's see... what else...  my school is starting off the school year with a few interesting after-school events to welcome families back into the year.  I've been to both so far, and they've been great! The first was a picnic, where I got to catch up with old students and their parents.  It was wonderful to see two of my girls sound like they're thriving in their middle school environments.  It made me so happy.  I also spoke to the father of one of my boys and while hearing about his adjustments to middle school, I also got to brush up on my Spanish! I'm really rusty, especially since our summer break. :(

The 2nd event was a soccer game... I got roped into it and (not to be stereotypical, but of course...) my boys were REALLY excited to hear I was going.  So... I went.  I played.  More importantly - I HAD FUN! Now, I am not a sporty person by ANY stretch of the imagination, but boy!! It was so much fun reliving my own middle school "glory" days playing defense.  I was a somewhat fierce contender if I do say so myself...! Two of my boys on the opposing team were pretty impressed with me.  Go figure the one actually ON my team thinks I didn't do anything.




Anyway, that's pretty much a wrap!  It's pretty quiet out there - is anyone listening?  Are you there BlogWorld? It's me, Cindy!  Please let me know if you're interested in anything I've posted about in previous... posts lol.  I'd love to share, but don't want to go through the trouble of uploading resources if no one is interested.

Oh, one more thing.  I've failed on reading picture books thus far.  GOTTA get back up on that! But, I did sign my class up for J.K. Rowling's podcasty thing from Scholastic. Debating doing Taylor Swift's.  Decided on reading Sorceror's Stone for my read-aloud.  Half are pleased, half are not thrilled.  I always feel bad about read alouds! I can't imagine they're enjoyable for everyone... that makes me feel bad.  Hmm.  Hoping watching J.K. Rowling will change their minds.  My 6th grade Reading teacher introduced me to HP with a read aloud and changed my life forever.  I hope I can do the same.  That's why I chose it, really.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Few Week 1 Activities

Well, I am pleased to announce that Week 1 went, overall, very smoothly!  What I love about the fresh, new start of every new school year is that you get to learn from your mistakes or the things you didn't like and try to fix them.  I started a few things much earlier this year, I'm employing Whole Brain Teaching, and my new babies are really responding.  I'm so proud of them & their behavior.  To toot my own horn, I have been getting a few compliments from my coworkers as well.  Most excitingly, I am introducing the WBT style to a few coworkers as well and they are very intrigued - especially by how well it seems to be working already.  I tell ya, people, try this out if you're not yet!!

I'm doing baby steps - I introduced the 5 rules (tweaked number 3 at my teammate's very wise suggestion), Hands & Eyes, Class-Yes, and Teacher v. Student scoreboard.  Kids seem to love it all so far - especially the opportunity to be creepy with hands & eyes :)

Now, I've mentioned a few times my desire to take some card games and turn them into math facts games.  I am most pleased to announce that I have already implemented them!!  At the get, my class did not sound as wildly excited as I'd hoped.  However, at the end of the lesson, as they were finishing up....lo and behold!  The decks slowly but surely disappeared off of my table!  I was SO excited that I took some pictures!  Here is one I took without any students.   This pair is playing Trash with 4s.

In hindsight, I would like to fix my cards in a few ways - for convenience & aesthetics.  One, like a real deck of cards, I want to put the facts so that you can read them no matter how it's turned.  Two - and I can't believe I forgot to do this!! - I would print it on scrapbook paper next time so that the backs are cuter.  So mad I didn't.  Look how blah those are! :(  Unbelievable.  Three, I need to write the numbers on the back (2s, 3s, 4s, etc) just so that if, heaven forbid, they ever get mixed up then the kids can sort it with more ease.

If this intrigues anyone, let me know! I am more than happy to share this!  And learn from my mistakes! I was far too eager and printed everything out and made 2 copies on cardstock.  Foolish. :(

The other notable thing we did in math that I'd like to share is about rounding!  In week 1, our goal this year was to review some topics that are important later on in the year.  I focused on rounding, and managed to find on Google this brilliant idea where students would go "grocery shopping" and round out the total - just like one would in real life!!  And as luck would have it, I had in my car an ad for Safeway.  As luck would still have it, it also came with a funny story about how I grabbed it because I was mad I went shopping, saw BOGO chicken, got charged for both, but didn't argue it after pointing it out and getting shut down.  I lamented to my students about how I grabbed it to check, but was chagrined to see it wasn't in the meat I was wrong.

Then wouldn't you know it?! I handed out their copies so they could go shopping, and one of my babies cried out, "It's right here!!" LO. AND. BEHOLD!  There, in black in white: Chicken: BOGO!  I was extremely pleased!  I told him I'd go get my money back haha and thanked him profusely.  Sadly, I left the ad at school, and now it's prooooobably too late, but I'll still try. :)  It was real cute. Anyway, here's two of my cherubs pouring over the ad, trying to decide which 5 to put on their shopping list.

The activity seemed to be a hit!! One of my babies even asked me if I could make it a center!  Why, yes, darling...I most certainly can and will!  I love the love of learning! :)  I can't get over how sweet this group is so far. So eager to learn, so grateful! Bless their wonderful previous teachers and parents for ingraining this in them.

For my homeroom, we did 2 things that I love and want to share with you.  As our "get to know you" activity, I had them anonymously write 3-5 facts they were willing to share with the class.  Once everyone had done that, I told them to crumple the card.  You should've seen their sweet faces! They absolutely dropped.  I must admit it made me laugh.  I assured them we would still share - so please don't go ripping it up or anything!  We got in a circle with our crumpled facts and for 1 minute, had a SNOWBALL FIGHT!!!!  After 1 minute, we each picked one up and went around in a circle, read it, and guessed who the card belonged to.  It went perfectly, which was a relief.  Both times I did it last year we lost a few. :(  And wouldn't you know it - the same kid lost his both times.  I felt just terrible!  I learned my lesson though and told this bunch to throw softly and to feet, not people.  I thought it would be less fun, but my goodness, they were SO excited by it!

Lastly, we read a really sweet picture book, Daft Bat.  It had a really great lesson in it about seeing things from someone else's perspective before rushing to judge them.  It was so, so cute and we LOVED the ending!  I'm going to resolve to read more picture books with lessons this year.  My next planned book is one about how words and actions hurt even if you apologize.  I found this real cute activity last year... if you haven't heard of it, just give me til next week! I'm hoping to do it Thursday.

I'd like to close with two brief anecdotes from my last year's babies.  I was inspired by Mrs. H's post about the effect we have on our students.

  1. One of my current darlings shared with me that he was hanging out with several of my old boys and passed along that they missed 5th grade & having me as their teacher.  Cue heartmelt! :]  I wrote them a note telling them I miss them, I love them, to remember our talks and make me proud, and to come visit me ANYTIME - for fun or for homework help.  Current student handed it to them through the window of his bus and reported back that they were so excited ("REALLY?!") and swore to try and come back soon.  Tsk.  That warmed my heart so, so much.  I offered to this group in particular to come to my classroom after school to work on homework and I remember how excited that idea made them.  They couldn't wait.  Mind you, this was the beginning of the school year, and by the end they just couldn't WAIT to be out my door.  Too cool and all that lol.  It's just so ... wonderful, for lack of better adjectives, to hear that from them.
  2. One of my former math students has been keeping on-and-off contact with me about his summer homework.  Let's just say that the boy lost it and we went back and forth for two months while I was at camp before I finally got my vacation and personally delivered another copy to his home lol.  Well, I sent him another message hoping that middle school was going well and that if he ever needed ANYTHING to let me know and I would be more than happy to help.  He replied back that he couldn't believe he was saying this, but he missed me.

I love my boys.  I miss my boys.  Sigh!  Does it ever get easier to say goodbye to your old students?  I need to know.  My teammate made a comment earlier last week that was soooo true after I shared that I told my class they were my babies and I was like their school mama.  He said he told them, "You know, after a year together, I really grow attached to you.  By the end of that year, I love you.  We really are a family."  (Our school really pushes the idea that we're all family.)

I know I have to let them continue to grow without me and become the strong, independent, successful human beings I began to see flourish last year... but it's hard.  They have such a profound effect on my life it's almost impossible to let them go.  It's surreal for me this year, as it's my first year teaching the same grade in the same room, to not have my old group.  I can still see one of my old students sitting out on the bench outside my room and waving good morning to him.  Then right when that clock strikes 9, hearing him greet me cheerily before I see him and his wide, bright smile.  That's how each of my mornings started, without fail.  It's almost wrong to not start it with him.

Anyway, my point, before I got off track and got all weepily emotional was... they have such a profound effect on my life.  It's always such a... joy... to see it return back to me in the "I miss you"s and the phone calls and emails trickle in slowly with this new school year.  Making a difference is why I got into this career path.  Those little things are the best things my babies could ever do for me.

With that aside, I look forward to this new journey with my new bunch.  I hope you all are having an equally amazing time with your new crews!

Now I'm off to go "shopping"!  Would you believe it?  My school won some money to spend on our classrooms!! First on my list is an iPad or two! :)  I don't know if that's feasible, given the roadblocks I seem to be coming up against left and right with technology....but fingers crossed!

Til next time!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Food For Thought, With the 1st Day Upon Me (Us)

Why I Hated Meredith's First Grade Teacher: An Open Letter to America's Teachers

What a sweet, amusing reflection on the profound effect we as teachers can have on our students.  Warning: I did cry.  I am the weepiest son of a gun... God help me when I have children.

With tomorrow being the first day again with my lovely 5th graders...I will strive to keep this in mind every day.

Sorry for the short post, but preservice week certainly kept me busy.  I am significantly happier with my room this year, though!  Pictures to follow once it's done-done.

Have a great first day everyone who hasn't started yet! :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Blogging Ideas

This is like a write-as-I-go type entry, so you will definitely be seeing me solve my own dilemmas in this post.  I hope it helps anyone who is interested in starting a blog, but wasn't sure what to do or how to start like myself. STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS! That's the fancy term for what I'm talking about.  Sorry for the all caps.  I couldn't remember the name for it, it bugged me, and I figured it out. Hooray!!

Introduce writing posts & commenting etiquette by creating a "paper blog."  Lesson found here.  It's filled with truly wonderful ideas... I would be thrilled to give this project a shot!  And I think the final results would make for great bulletin boards!  Like I believe the page mentions, it's great for students who have been together since they were old enough to be in a school setting to learn something new about their peers.  My group is in the same situation!

Adding comments to a paper blog.

I found a few ready-made permission slips, each with brilliant ideas.  One being choose your child's privacy level.  If memory serves, kidblog would allow me to customize each kid's settings.

This site has ideas for blogging activities, which is a great springboard for me.  I'm kind of liking the idea of letting students take the lead on their posts, with prompts from me every once in a while, but... I don't know if that vagueness would fly if I must get this idea approved of.  Here is another site with a few other ideas.

I also really like the way this article lays out the first few days and talks about the responsibilities of the students.  The questions they must ask themselves translates really nicely to facebook, also...which is important to me. I've seen a few of their accounts, and it concerns me.  I, in my trolling, also stumbled upon a site where there is a brief post on the analogy of the internet being like the mall - very smart.

Here is an excellent resource, entitled "What You Wanted to KNOW About Student Blogging."   It is amazing and covers topics like should you assess posts, and if so how?  Or how to increase your target audience.  I think ideally, I'd like my students to have a blog that others outside of the class can see and post on, but I don't know the realism of that, and again...that would require a looser hand on what they post, I think.  No one would want to read reading-related posts.

Free internet safety pledge.  Very smart idea.

Ah, I may have just found it! The perfect idea for posts!  In 14 Steps to Meaningful Student Blogging, Mrs. Ripp (who is quickly becoming my blogging goddess) links to her blog where she posts blogging challenges.  GENIUS.  Many of her posts allow students a way to respond to their educational environment honestly, so that she can get to know what they think and how they feel about numerous topics.  Some examples are testing, rules, her as a teacher, etc.  In general, I think this site is amazing.  It is where I am getting most of my ideas from.  Mrs. Ripp, you are an inspiration!!

Anyway, that's it for now.  I'm glad I did the research... I am now armed with more solid ideas to present when teachers report back to work tomorrow!

Ahhh, I can't believe the time has finally come!!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Blogging in the Reading Classroom?

This post is a call for help and suggestions!  Some time ago, I stumbled upon a post someone had where they talked about and using it in the classroom.  Below, you can watch a video I found which very nicely explains how it works and what the security features are.

For one, I cannot seem to find that pin, so if anyone remembers seeing a post like that - or if it's yours, even! - and could point me in that direction, I'd really appreciate it.

With the school year just around the corner, I finally decided to forward it on to my school's technology teacher with a short blurb on the security of the site...since that's a huge deal and all, I figured THAT had to be my sell.  I figured I would also have to draft a parent letter, because, well, let's be or not, the idea of your child posting on the internet is still ... scary, I think.

Her reply surprised me.  Apparently, my county frowns on blogging in the classroom.  Hmm!!  This makes my idea much more difficult to implement, and also critical that I solidify exactly WHAT I want to do with blogs.  She's willing to go to bat for me, but it means I need to know precisely what my plan is.  Which is where my "for two" comes in.  So...

For two, I'd really appreciate any suggestions on how to implement the blogs in my classroom.  Assuming I get permission.  I was thinking of sticking to a twice-a-week schedule.  It would be a part of my students' rotations twice a week.

I think in the blog, they had mentioned starting off by having the students comment on the teacher's welcome post and introduce themselves.  What they like to read, their reading history, etc.  It's a good way to get them to started into the blogging world.  In googling, I then also found where some people use the comments as a way to link Reading Comprehension Strategies.  For example, you could comment on a classmate's post by making a connection.  "This reminds me of the time..."

So... I think comment-wise, I'm good.  It's just, if they're going to possibly be making connections to a post of their peers... then what guidelines should I implement for their posts?  What exactly should be their purpose for posting to their blogs?  What could their entries be about?

Please help!!!  Any suggestions are widely appreciated.  I'd like to nail this idea down by the time we report back to work on Monday so I can chat with her about how to go about doing this.

In return, I promise I will dedicate an entry to blogging in the Reading classroom without the question mark (again, should permission be granted).  A sort of view into my classroom and how it works, how I use it, how the students are responding to it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Two Infamous Linky Firsts! - Currently & Made It (Crate Seats Walk-Through Edition)

I am extremely excited (not to mention extremely late) to finally hook up with two of the most fun linky parties I've encountered!

First, the August currently!  I am finally linking up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade. This is making it harder and harder to resist the mustache craze! Between that and the cute owls... I have no idea why I fight it!  Please excuse the length of my answers. I happen to be a rambler.  Hopefully this is something you get used to. Been this way all my life, unfortunately.

1. RULE OF 3... if you link up I ask that you go and look at the 2 in front of your link and the one after you AND comment... this SPREADS the LOVE for sure!!! and it was a HUGE success last time :)

2. on the B2S must haves... I am completely OK with you promoting one of your store items HERE... BUT if you promote one of yours I am asking that you also promote someone else too... so if you think you have an item that someone JUST has to have for B2S go ahead and PLUG IT but please PLUG from another store too...

Next up!  My first-ever MADE IT MONDAY!

On Sunday, I met up with a good friend from college with the mostly-sole purpose of creating our very own crate seats! We added lunch, a movie, dinner, some Olympics closing ceremony watching, and other randoms to our to-do list... basically made a day of it! It was great fun! :)  Anyway, the end result of the day:

Click on through if you'd like some instructions!  Though for the record, this ended up costing more than I expected! I was surprised.  So in the cut, you'll also see prices.  That way you can be well-informed. :)  But good gracious, all the cashiers & workers who helped us were greatly confused and simultaneously amused by our goal.  A precious few were concerned about the safety of our idea, too!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Blog Awards

To open up this post, I want to share part of the sweetest message one of my babies from last year sent me.  It started my morning off right!   She said she had the best year ever with me and wanted to thank me for that. <3 It really warmed my heart.  It's the one thing I've always, always wanted a student to do.  I didn't, in my wildest dreams, think it would happen already.  I love that group so much. :]  That message has soothed my impending nerves for the new year.  And reaffirms for me that I am doing something right!

Again, thank you SO MUCH to all the wonderful bloggers who nominated me for these awards! I am so, so honored. :)  I don't know many bloggers, so they are a challenge accepted to integrate the new ones like you have for me! :)

First up!

The rules for this award are as follows:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you
2. Include a link to their blog
3. Include the award image in your post
4. Give seven random facts about yourself
5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award
6. When nominating, include a link to their blog
7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated

So a huge, huge thank you to Ms. Feuerstack at Fun & Learning in First & Wendy at Teacher's Toolkit

And of course my 7 random facts!
  1. I have been working at the same theatre camp for the last 6 summers.  Every summer has been a blast, and I hope to have the strength to keep on doing it for some time more!  I'm afraid I'll be running out of steam, soon.
  2. I used to try and teach my uncle's cat to speak English by setting up a board with the alphabet. Sadly, my efforts were for naught.
  3. All of my pets have been named after Disney characters.  Best life decision I ever made when I started that trend as a 5 year old.
  4. I have a bit of an unhealthy obsession with an app called Robinson. It's awful.
  5. I am also getting heavily into nail art!  Allow me to show off with some pictures below. :) (And kindly ignore the tie-dye stains around my nails in the first picture!)

  6. Multiples of 5 are my favorites. Otherwise, I hate odd numbers - especially prime ones. So this whole 7 business is making me cringe a little bit.
  7. I love to take pictures because I love memories.  It's something that started, I suppose, when someone gave me a diary when I was 7.  Since then, I have been chronicling my life via journal entries...and then evolved to pictures.  One of my newest favorite quotes depicts this perfectly:
Sometimes, you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.

 Let's see how far I can get on the bloggers....Sorry for any repeats, guys! I'm going to troll the Newbie Blog Hop for this. :)  And bear with me... I will slowly but surely be editing this to add more to this meager initial offering.
  1. Enchanted with Technology
  2. Clever Little Birds
  3. Mrs. Payton's Precious Kindergarteners
  4. Fluttering in First
  5. Piles of Pencils
  6. Mrs. H's Resource Room 


1. Follow the person who gave the award.
2. Link back to the person who gave the award.
3. Pass this on to 15 new bloggers and then let them know they have received the award!

Thank you to Ashley at Inspire, Dream, & Create, Vicky at Keep Calm & Imagine & Holly at Fourth Grade Flipper!

As for the bloggers list - same disclaimer as before.
  1. Clever Little Birds
  2. Mrs. Payton's Precious Kindergarteners
  3. Fluttering in First
  4. Piles of Pencils
  5. Mrs. H's Resource Room   


1. Link back to the person who gave it to you.
2. Post the award to your blog.
 3. Give the award to at least 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers.
4. Leave a comment on the 5 blogs to let them know that they have been offered this award.

Thank you now to Mrs. T at Teaching Mrs. T! :)

  1. Enchanted with Technology
  2. Clever Little Birds
  3. Mrs. Payton's Precious Kindergarteners
  4. Piles of Pencils
  5. Mrs. H's Resource Room 

Hopefully that covers all the people that nominated me! I got overwhelmed with the comments and just needed a brief pause moment.  I have been living in virtual hermit-dom since camp ended last Friday.  I've only gone out for mail and a quick visit to the gym (a fact that would have many of my friends keel over from shock).  So I've spent the last few days lounging and watching copious amounts of television. It's been amazing!

Okay, okay, I've also been looking up new car-to-be potentials.  And trying to figure out what to do with my life - i.e., what to major in.  I asked some friends and family for advice... so far hasn't helped too much.  I think my problem is that I really just have zero idea where to go from here.  I love being in the classroom, so those of my friends who are already burned out and advise me to look into majors that could get me OUT of the classroom one day just aren't resonating with me. I suppose it's a smart's possible one day I'll wake up and be tired of the daily grind.  There was one helpful suggestion that I'd never really thought about - ESOL.  It's something I could possibly be interested in and if I were ever in that position, would get me out of the classroom.

Otherwise, I've been contemplating math - it's a field I thought about before I got a job and before I was told by my county's HR that the idea of finding a job as a middle school math teacher was lol-worthy.  I also love technology... I think that could be a fun job.  And my last real thought was reading to strengthen my reading skills & open for me the possibility of becoming a reading specialist.

And...with that, I'm out and off to dinner! I will notify my nominations soon! Enjoy the rest of your week. I'll probably be posting soon with an update on my math facts card games! :)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

"Vacation" In T-Minus 5 Days!

First of all, I would like to apologize for being M.I.A. with comments. I have gotten and read them, but have been awful and not replied to one in a week or so. I would like to acknowledge and thank those people for taking the time to visit, compliment, follow, and nominate for awards!! I am so, so grateful for you. I will properly post about the awards in the following week when camp is over. (As I have seen all of those require I go hunting for other well-deserving blogs.)

However, as camp is winding down/winding up simultaneously, I grow more tired and I've backed off the blogworld. I'm even 2 weeks behind in Monday Made-It! (Gasp, shock, awe!!)  I run a theatre camp, so come Thursday & Friday, we will be putting on our musical that we have been working on for the past three weeks. This week will be filled with shopping for props, set pieces, cast party goodies, and passing out in front of the TV. So I apologize for my lackluster status, but hopefully promise to pick it back up after it's all over. (But give me a grace period of a day or two in case I fail to report back here immediately haha)

I will so miss my 40 James Bond/Trash/Speed players. (And sadly, yes, that also includes my amazing 5 coworkers.) It will be my goal to introduce my new set of students to it so I can have 20 new players.  Moreover, I'm really intent on figuring out a way to make math games out of Trash & Speed like I intend to do with James Bond... Oop, I think I just figured one out for Trash using division!  It happened when I spaced out lol.

In any case, onto teachery business! I am SO excited to have received my copy of Guided Math so I can read along (or, rather, catch up) with the rest of you wise, wise bloggers out there! I'm really excited for it! I've already devoured most of Chapter 2 since Chapter 1 seemed to be mostly filler that outlined the rest of the book.  I really look forward to starting a rotation in math and improve the way I teach.  As a new teacher, it's nice to start changing my ways before I get too set in them. I consider math to be my strongest subject, so I think it will be the easiest change to make first.

I'm getting Debbie Diller's Making the Most of Small Groups because I hear good things about her, and I'm also aiming to improve my reading group instruction. I figure it may also (in a general sense) tie in nicely to the idea of Guided Math. I'm looking forward to bettering myself this upcoming year!

On that note, I have two requests:

  1. I shared Guided Math with a friend, and she inquired about any good books out there on teaching writing. I second this question!  Teachers, are there any resources out there you have found helpful in making the most of writing time?
  2. Then for myself, I'd really like to read up on any great books on inclusion or special education.  I had an inclusion classroom last year and I really don't feel like I did my kids justice. I really just don't know much about special education or anything that goes along with it. I only took 2 classes in college and they pretty much glossed over everything. I'm not entirely sure, but I don't think my principal will be giving me that class again this year (even though ironically I would love it because I've formed a pretty good bond with one of the students), but I'd still rather be ready in case she does!  I think the only possible reason I could get it again is because of the aforementioned bond.
Anyway, I'm off for another week!  Can't wait to get back into my classroom and start setting it up so that I can focus on the teaching aspect and not the aesthetic one. :)  This weekend I attended a former students' brother's birthday party and seeing him made me miss my little buggers. I hope they all come back to me at least once next year!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Newbie Blog Hop!

Well, isn't this just perfect!  I've been thinking about how to get myself out there, and lo and behold...this linky appears!!

1.  what state you are in 
2.  your current teaching position 
3.  your teaching experience
4.  when you started blogging
 5.  share a blogging tip / blogging resource

  1. Maryland
  2. I currently teach 5th grade, and I love it beyond belief! (Though I could definitely do without the copious tears at the end of the year when the realization that they'll be gone forEVAH hits.)
  3. I have been teaching for a year and a half, subbing for that first half.  I was a long-term in 2nd before I got my full-time position as a 5th grade teacher at the school. I have probably literally never been so happy as when I got that position!
  4. In general, I've been blogging for, oh, 10 years. Jeez. I wish I was kidding. That number sounds crazy! Teaching-wise, I recently started in the beginning of July.  Unfortunately, I'm not too terribly active quite yet for a few reasons.  The first being that it is summer, and I am currently in my summer job as a camp counselor.  Therefore, it keeps me busy and unable to get into my class to work on stuff.
  5. Hmm... I recently saw in another blog (and I'm so, so sorry... I can't remember which one! I do a LOT of hopping!) that if you want blog authors to reply to your comment, you should make sure your email address is available!  To do that, follow this link, which I found after googling.
In any case, I hope to start becoming more active and regular in two weeks or so - that's when camp ends, so I'll have nothing but free time! I have an entire board of summer projects to accomplish in my two free weeks before teachers report back, so I'm hoping that means lots of blog entries!

Please feel free to leave comments! And especially check out my previous entry... I'd really like some opinions on my James Bond math game. Some campers and parents told me it'd be cool. I'd like to hear from you!

Friday, July 13, 2012


Oh man, I wish I had cool stuff to post!  But right now I'm somewhat stuck in no-man's land... it may be the summertime, but I work in the summer.  It'll (sadly) be over in 3 weeks, so then I'll have two weeks until teachers have to report back for my school.

So in the 2nd week of August, this little blog might get a mite more exciting.  Sadly, until then, I expect it will be kind of dead.  But if you pop over by my Pinterest page (located to the right sidebar), I've pinned some things I want to work on in those two weeks.



The above is what I'm considering for first priority... This toolbox is FANTASTIC and fits me PERFECTLY. I can't believe it didn't occur to me before I made my hideous one!  I'm also now digging the whole make-your-own-seating craze.  I hated it at first... but the more I see it on the Made It Monday linky, the more I love it.  I think the bench is hands-down the coolest, but it would take some serious skill to pull off this perfectly.

The easiest one I'm considering right now is something I saw also on the Monday linky, slightly modified.  As a camp counselor, I get to learn my share of really REALLY fun, addicting card games.  My obsession every year is James Bond.  Only, we don't play quite so strictly. We totally trade more than 1 card at a time and flip over our piles whenever it's complete. No point in hiding it.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to take the idea below and adapt it to James Bond.
My thought was that, since the point of the game is to get 4-like cards together in a pile, instead of fill in the blank, I could put different multiplication facts that have the same answer and an answer card. For example, one pile could be filled with:
  • 8 x 3
  • 12 x 2
  • 24 x 1
  • twenty-four
But I'm not sure if that seems too difficult or not. So if by some miracle, there's someone out there in bloggy land reading this post - halp! Does this sound reasonable to expect from 5th graders?  I know the group I had this year, the game would've been really tough.  The problem is they just DON'T know their multiplication facts! I would be making this with the understanding that, unfortunately, most of them will struggle, and it will not be a game about speed.  My hope is, though, that that would only be at first. James Bond is SUCH a fun game that I hope it will encourage them to get better, faster, stronger with their facts.  I guess it's a matter of trial-and-error.

This is the idea I'm most secretly excited about. I absolutely love James Bond. In the words of Ke$ha, I've got a sick obsession...

Until next time, dears!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

1st Official Post, Introducing Me!

Bear with me, folks. This is bound to be a lengthy one!

As the "About Me" sidebar says, I'm still what I would consider to be a new teacher, despite having 2 classes under my belt.  Obviously, I still have a lot to learn about the craft of teaching.  I'm still not completely satisfied with the way it's been going, but word on the street is that one never I'll try not to be too hard on myself in that aspect.

But I do like to think that what I lack in skill and technique, I make up for in my passion for the kids.  I have loved, with my whole heart, every single group that I've ever had the privilege and pleasure to work with.  I call them my babies (and being COMPLETELY new to 5th grade this year, this was a shock to them. I was met with many cries of "I'M NOT A BABY!"  They soon learned fighting it was futile.)  Some frown upon that terminology, and I can understand why, but I think it worked nonetheless. I guess until my old babies return to me from big, bad middle school and tell me I shouldn't have babied them, I will continue it.

Now, it is summer time, which is usually considered to be a teacher's well-deserved period of rest (unless they're teaching summer school, of course - which, luckily, I am not!).  However, I fill my summers with working at the best summer camp my county has! No rest for the wicked, as they say. Since this crazy storm hit though, camp was canceled for 2 days because of power outages.  Therefore, I've been enjoying a peaceful 5-day weekend.

In this 5-day weekend, I've been blog stalking (stalking is such a harsh word... I prefer intense research) numerous teachers and their beautiful blogs, their lessons, their freebies, their classrooms, and already I feel like I've learned so much more.  It's overwhelming, really!  One of the first things I learned (and actually well before this weekend, but it's just that this was the weekend I decided to get off my butt and make a blog!) is a principle I am flagrantly disobeying.  What is this thing you call a "color scheme"? I love bright, vibrant colors WAY too much to obey that!  Therefore, my color scheme is the rainbow.  As you can clearly see. *gestures around to the color-crazy blog*

Hopefully that fact isn't too terribly bothersome to you, the visitor.  But the thing of it is, all the colors are so bright and happy... and it makes me feel warm inside! I love looking at it.  And in the end, that's all that really matters, isn't it?  My classroom is decidedly the same. Each bulletin board is covered with the most vivid colors money could buy at the local fabric store. Despite the fact that I lack any real organizational skill (and thank GOD it isn't just me!  Papers get so overwhelming during each busy school day, and then you get distracted by one thing or another and it's just never-ending!), I do make sure to try and enforce one for my babies.  Each subject gets its own color, and naturally the colors end up being those of the rainbow! Thusly, I tried to match my boards to the colors of the folders. Last year, many, many things got in the way of that, however. Too many to bother naming. I'll look into fixing that this upcoming year. We'll see.

I suppose, without further ado, I should introduce the few pictures I took of my room that will give you any real sense of it.  Unfortunately, these pictures were all taken around the start of the year.  I am still kicking myself for never getting updated ones or even a panoramic one (my camera has that delightfully nifty feature, you know).  But one of the things I do as a teacher who loves her babies and memories, is create a memory video. Therefore all my pictures were of my little minions doing what they do best....making me smile.

Coming Soon! :)

This is a test for the blog. It is currently under construction.