Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Random Bulletin Boards and Such...

Today, I was able to get home at a decent hour!  Since it is still too warm for a walk - it was pushing 90 degrees today in SoCal - I decided to share a few bulletin board pictures that are long overdue.

In our district we are required to post the standards.  Apparently, it magically makes the lesson better.  Now, I have always talked about the "target" of the lesson, and I have even made sure that the students wrote it down on the top of their assignment, but I am not so good at posting the standards. 

  • First of all, most teachers write the standard as it appears in the state framework.  Most of the time, I am not entirely sure what that means.  
  • Some teachers just write the numbers and letters of the standard...I can guarantee that method means nothing to the students. 
  • One year, I had big notebooks at each table and made the kids flip to the correct one at the beginning of each lesson.  The kids loved it, but the notebooks took up too much space, and the flipping through my perfectly color-coded targets took too much time.
So, with the new Common Core standards, and the renewed emphasis (been teaching a while now, and that mythical pendulum that you scoffed at as a new teacher...well, it really does exist) on posting the standards, I had to come up with a way to stay on top of it.  Heaven forbid if I get a "Where are your standards posted?" note!  Seriously, I would die because I have to please everyone.

This is not a real bulletin board, so I was able to hammer in a few nails to hold the clipboards.  I am working on my own set of "I Can" statements, because I have not found any that match exactly what I do and how I break it down in my classroom.  Not to mention, they have to emphasize the standards that our district are emphasizing.  Those will be available this summer on TPT.  The little clipboards are perfect!  I just switch them out at will and don't have to think too much about it. 

Next to the "I Can" statements is the chart tablet that I write their meager reading HW on - ACTION magazine.  It is pretty much in shorthand, but they totally understand what they are SUPPOSED to do.

Below is the class calendar of testing dates, trainings for me, after school intervention dates, and of course, minimum days!

The little clipboard to the left holds my OCD lesson plans.  They are randomly checked too, and it makes it easier if they are hanging, and more impressive to the parents.

Why a bulletin board and not a white board?  I only have ONE white board!  That was the main problem I had with posting the standards before!  I have to actually USE that white board. 

This board is about to come down.  It occurred to me that I had not taken a picture of it.  These are the kids that showed growth on the SRI before Christmas.  Just recently, we took a new one and they have even more impressive scores to show off, so it is coming down.  A few on the bottom row were not so impressive, but I have Special Ed students in my afternoon group, and they do not always show the growth as consistently as my "regular" students.  See the student with the lowest growth?  Well, he just jumped 114 Lexiles on this last one:).  Different ways, on different days!
Last June, I scored at Big Lots and found these really cool square plates.  I just typed in their names and growth into a square with rounded corners, my TA and I trimmed them off, then we taped them on to the plates.  If they had reached their goal, they received a giant gold sticker to make it even more impressive!  The students love looking at their "plaques" or plates.  When I said that I was going to take them down, several jumped right up and asked to keep their plates.  Sillies, of course they are getting their "plaques."

Well, the washer and dryer are calling my name!  Some boring chores have to get done before Lucy and I take off for our walk at the park.  Last night, there were herds of bunnies...they come in herds, right?  Anyway, Lucy was most interested in those big eared hopping creatures.  It is such an exciting life we lead:).

Friday, April 4, 2014

Finally, Five For Friday!

Yes, this is actually a new post!  I could list the reasons and excuses that I have for not blogging recently, but that would be whining and borderline comical.  Suffice to say, things have been busy, hectic, and stressful around here.  Posting was the last thing on my survival list and there many things that came before it.

So, what better time to jump back in to the blogging world than a Five For Friday with Doodle Bugs?

This will simple, pretty much photo-less, and to the point because I simply too exhausted for anything else.

1.  Math textbook adoption committee meetings, [insert deep sigh]!  Oh my word, why is there not a button for us to slap down on during sales pitches?  You know, like the one they have on America's Got Talent?  A big giant X?  One that will make them stop talking?  Forty-seven million meetings later (I might be exaggerating a tad), we finally have it narrowed to to 3 textbooks and we are starting to pilot.  I won't say anymore, because I don't want to be hauled off by the Textbook Adoption police.

2.  We started our trial run of something that is very stressful and something that I signed a legal document swearing not discuss [insert deep sigh].  I never thought I would say this, but I miss the old one.  This new one brings stress to a whole new level.

3.  I finally managed to physically finish moving my office furniture out of my living room - where it had been since right after Christmas, where I had moved it before going to workout and falling headlong into a mirror and hitting my chest on the ballet barre...I am so graceful.  My office and sewing room is almost ready to take pictures of and share.  I just have to set up the closets.  It is so nice to not have furniture stacked in random rooms of my house!  I want to have it all picture perfect before I share it...so exciting, I have a worktable/cutting table at standing height!

4.  My kids and my teaching partner's group rocked the SRI out of sight!  Our average growth for 80 kids for the year was 195, and we still have one more to go!  The bar graph comparing the other schools in the district came right before we went over to take the Language Arts portion of the very stressful thing that I am legally not allowed to discuss.  I was able to share it with my kids, and it really helped pump up their confidence for the thing that followed.   As one of my kids said, "We totally beat those other schools!"  I know that learning is not a competition, and that I am supposed to be the grown-up, but we totally "won" the SRI, again:).

5.  Since my beloved Hank puppy dog is being fostered by my brother and sister-in-law, I have been trying to drive up most weekends to visit and bond.  During our Spring Break last week, he came down and stayed with me!  Oh joy!  It was so nice to be a two-dog house again.  He and Lucy did great together.  She jumped up and hugged me when I brought him through the door.  She has been one lonely little fluffy dog.  He has grown, just a little:).
This is the last picture I shared with in the blog.  I think it was around the week of the big February TPT sale.
This was taken about three weeks ago (Lucy is still wet from her forced bath, because I do not get in the car for a three and half hour drive with dogs who roll around in dead things they found exploring the yard).  Lucy is 30lbs, soaking wet.  Hank has totally caught her, and he is still growing.

I promise to post more often, but this year is kicking my butt!  8 more weeks for us, and I might survive them.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Did It Really Work or Did It Just Look Good? Part 2

I thought I would surprise you all and post today:).  I am sorry for the lack of posting!  Since I am feeling just a little better everyday, I have discovered a backlog of things that need to be done (and yes, I made an absurdly compulsive list of everything that needs to be done).  Little things like mowing the lawn, serious cleaning, and changing bulletin boards have been taking up my spare time.  Not to mention that my after school hours have been filled with IEP, SIT, and Math Adoption Committee meetings.

Since today it looks like it is going to rain at any moment (and we NEED it) and edging the lawn does not seem like a good idea, I thought I would do a quick installment of Did It Really Work or Did It Just Look Good?
First up are my Read 180 Rotation signs!

Not the best picture, but it will have to do.  These are a HUGE success!  I use them everyday!  My kids check for their start position and we go from there!  The listed behavior expectations were invaluable for the first few weeks of rotations, and we revisit them from time to time.  These are available in my TPT store as a FREEBIE with the Classroom Expectation signs.

Next are my OCD Lesson Plan Templates!
These are used every week!  I love how they keep me in a routine.  At our school, lesson plans are checked weekly, and having this set up really helps me stay on top of them.  Right now these are hanging up on a clipboard under our weekly standards - for students, visitors, and administrators to see.
This week, they are five pages long.  I might have been a little stressed this week.  If you would like a copy of the template, just leave a comment and make sure you are not a "no reply" person.  This weekend, I will find the time to send you the template for you to play around with for your class.

Big Sale!
Before I go and read through some essays (and okay, watch NCIS on the DVR), don't forget to check out the big sale on TPT starting tomorrow!  It will be a Thursday and Friday sale!  All items in my store are 20% off, plus the TPT additional discount!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Divisibility Rules Reboot and Sale!

Good Morning Everyone!

Real quick post today, because it is too beautiful of a day here on the West Coast to be blogging!  First of all, I wanted to remind everyone that today is the last day of my Puppy Day Holiday Weekend Sale in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!
He is thinking about all the dog food that I am going to have to buy for him.  Look at those paws!

Also, I have gotten a bunch of requests to "share ownership" of my Divisibility Rules foldable that I shared last summer.  

I have to admit that I am not all that sure about the etiquette of Google Drive, nor am I sure as to why the requests are bunched in the last week.  To solve the issue, I spiffed them up a little and put them for free in my TpT store.  Please click on over there for the Divisibility Rules foldable.  It will be a forever FREEBIE - just basic stuff that every teacher should have access to, and I am happy to share!  For more information on how I use them in my classroom, click here to read the original post!

Peace out!  (I am such a dork!)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Five for Friday and Puppy Day Weekend Sale!

It has been forever since I was able to link up with Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday, and this one will be random, short and sweet!

1.  My injury is definitely on the mend. Thank you!  I am one of those people who do not "sit" well.  I need to move, clean, organize, and create.  I actually feel the difference when my house is clean, and the yard is neat and trimmed.  This week, I spent every afternoon working in the yard for just a bit.  The front yard wasn't too difficult.  The back yard had not been mowed in FIVE weeks.  It took me two nights to weed whack it down to a height that the lawn mower could work.  And then three rounds of the lawn mower before I called it quits tonight.  Something tells me that it is not a wise thing to mow the lawn using the porch lights to guide you. 

2.  After several years of harassment and hostility from my friends and family regarding my stupid phone.  I gave in and got an iPhone.  On Monday, I finally entered the new millennium.
What was I thinking?  I love it, but of course it doesn't fit in my wallet!

3.  Homework!  I have had a cute little HOMEWORK pennant banner up on my board for the WHOLE year, and it still has every letter.  This week, after a serious mean teacher talk, my kids almost made it.  One kid left his at home.  I didn't give in, because this kid always leaves it "at home."  It killed me!   I didn't have to say a thing.  I just lavished points on everyone else, and I suspect that there was some serious positive peer pressure going on at lunch.  

4.  My sister was out of school today, and she came by to see me.  It was hysterical!  I thought she was going to get there before lunch, and told the kids that she was coming.  One of my students asked, "How are we going to know it is her?"  They are not allowed to open the door unless they know the adult.  I told them that they would know.  At lunch, I come out of the lounge and rushed up to the front office because I could hear this huge ruckus!  I thought that the secretaries needed help handling a fight or a riot.  It was a riot...of my kids.  They had seen my sister come on to campus, and had ran like maniacs to the office to introduce themselves.  My sister and I are obviously sisters, and they were fascinated by how much we looked alike.  They followed us to the classroom, chattering away at her.  Sometimes, they are just too cute...even if I still have every letter of HOMEWORK on my board.

5.  So, I decided to have a Puppy Day Holiday Weekend TpT Sale in my store!  This is a picture that my sister in law sent me of my puppy - she and my brother are fostering my puppy for me until school is out (yes, I know how lucky I am and how amazing that is:).
The first day, he totally fit in that little bed.  What follows is the text exchange between us.

Her reply was followed by a series of pictures that looked like this...

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Money, Money, Money!

Hello Blogging World!  Sorry that it has been so long since I posted.   If I were teaching 7th grade Social Studies, this could have been a cool post about a real life simulation of the Black Death and how it decimated a classroom in one week.  Alas, I am just teaching 6th grade, so consider this a warning; when the first kid bolts out of your classroom for the bathroom, just go ahead and make sub plans. 

Since I finally feel like a human being, I thought I would post about my promised money activity and do a double linky with Joanne's Spark Student Motivation
and Erin's Thursday Throw Down.
Do you remember how exciting it was to play with money?  You know, before it became a depressingly real thing in your life.  Play money was the best!  Since I have been teaching before the dawn of time, I have been able to "inherit" items from retiring teachers and those who were moving on.  One of my best finds was a tub full of play money.  I remember standing there in the lounge hugging the tub close and wondering why anyone would ever toss it out.  It was play money!  Over the years, I have used it to teach decimals and just life skills.  Last week, I got it out for an open-ended activity with my Intervention group.

Twice a week, I teach a small "7th period"  or Intervention class of 6th graders.  I really enjoy it because it allows me to really teach to what their needs are and not to the pacing guide.  Also, it allows me to try activities and lessons, that might end in disaster with a larger group.  With a smaller group, it is easier to switch gears and make adjustments if things go awry.  Sometimes, that is when the magic happens.

Before the kids came in, my TA and I counted out six groups of $170 in various denominations (including quarters and half dollars, for which we used little Dixie cups to sort and hold them).  We included only ONE twenty dollar bill.  All of this was laid out on the back table.  They squealed when they saw the money (very much like I did when I found it years ago in the lounge).  They zipped through the warm up.  No complaining about the timed drill, no fights over snacks, and who sat where, because there was money waiting to be played with on the back table.

I had them pair up, and gave them each a small piece of butcher paper to use a counting mat and scratch paper.  Then I gave them all of their money.  Before they could count it all, we reviewed what each denomination was worth - yes, this was necessary.  Then they had to count their money and give me a total.
This was so difficult for them!  I went around and "coached" them into grouping and then multiplying.  There were so many lessons that I could have pulled out of this, but I kept it simple for them.  After much checking, they discovered that they all had the same amount.  Their reactions were so funny!  

Then we talked about how many $20s they could get out of their $170 pile of money.  The immediate response was to hold up their only twenty dollar bill and argue that they only had one.  But finally, one student looked at me and said, "Eight?"  After he explained how he divided 170 by 20 to get his answer, he showed us all one way to make $20 without using their only twenty dollar bill, it was on!
For the remainder of the period, they counted and regrouped, talked with each other, shared ideas, and begged me for "change" to make it happen.  They quickly learned that to make it happen, they had to continually shift the money around, regroup their piles of $20. 
I had planned on them making a chart of their combinations and then comparing them with the other groups.  At the end of the period, we realized that we did not have time to the chart.  Because of my sick days, I only got to meet with them one day this week and they begged to play with the money again.  Since I was not exactly 100%, we went with something smaller.
Best $6.25 I ever spent!  My little group struggled with it, but loved it.  After the "Bingo" occurred, they had to add up their Bingo cards, and show me how they did it.  Needless to say, I got a little informal formative assessment done while they were adding up the decimals.  I let them add up the coins one at time, then I reminded them of how they had added up the money last week.  Some of them actually needed the play money to figure it out.

There are so many possibilities with play money!  My kids loved it, and were excited to be there working with me.  Several of them found me out doing my duty and asked me if we were getting the money out again.  We meet for 7th period after school on Thursdays and Fridays.  On a Friday afternoon, after school, they were bouncing with excitement about getting to do math.  Bazinga!  Interactive Motivation!

One last thing before I get going, Kelly of An Apple for the Teacher, is having her 300 Follower Giveaway this weekend!
Make sure you head over there and enter to win all of the amazing prizes! 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Puppy Peek at My Week!

I am sure Jennifer will not mind if I hijack her A Peek at My Week linky for a chance to share some puppy pictures:).  She asked for more pictures!

And I have to be honest, there was no real lesson planning done this weekend.  I have a pretty good idea of where we are headed, and will sit down tomorrow and map it out for the week.

Fractions:  Yes, there will be more multiplying before we move to dividing.  My hope is to be in decimals by the end of the week.  Last week, I did this really cool activity with my Intervention group.  It was supposed to be an activity for equivalent fractions.  It turned out being something entirely different and totally phenomenal!  I will share it later this week.

Read 180:  Brown Tree Snakes, they love the snakes!  We will be starting a persuasive essay this week.  It will be slow, and we will do it together.  Plus, I have an idea for vocabulary centers that I need to get on.  Our training last week was pretty good!  I have a few freebies and tips to share in a later post.

Social Studies:  We are moving slowly through Mesopotamia.  Last week we worked on an irrigation plan.  They had to show me that they really understood the "irrigation" part of Mesopotamia.  My job would have been so much easier if we lived near an actual river, and not one paved in concrete.  So, this week, we are back to our text breakdown of the Social Studies text.

And now for the puppy pictures!  Oh my gosh, he is so adorable and the absolute smartest puppy ever! I know that some of you are rolling your eyes, but just you wait and see:).  He is a German Shepherd/Border Collie/Cattle dog mix from Old Yeller Ranch Rescue.
His name is Hank, and his paws are my favorite feature.  They look like they got dipped in an Oreo Blizzard.
He just walked in and started chillin' by the slider in the sun room.  Apparently, he has decided that it is his room.
My sister-in-law and I ran to the store, leaving my sweet 13yr old nephew puppy sitting, and this is what we came back to.  When Hank finally collapsed and fell asleep, my nephew covered him up with his own jacket because he didn't want him to get cold sleeping by the window.

Needless to say, we all have a case of puppy love - including the older members of the pack!  I am so grateful to my sister-in-law for volunteering to puppy foster him for me until summer break.  It works out well for them too; one of their dogs is getting up there and not doing so well, so Hank will be a welcome distraction and comfort for the kids when the inevitable happens.   My Lucy is quite the road-tripper, so we will be spending a couple weekends a month up there with them.   Whereas the drive is long, the drive is also beautiful up the 101 and the views are spectacular.
This was the view from their kitchen this morning.  I think I can suffer through it:).

Have a wonderful week!
Don't forget to check back, I will be posting on that great activity later in the week!