Thursday, January 23, 2014

Did It Really Work or Did It Just Look Good?

Happy Thursday!   Last week, I was surveying my domain, and felt a little bit like a fraud.  I realized that some things I had posted about were either not being used because they were a colossal FAIL, or because this group just wasn't ready for them. 

Over the summer, "we" tend to have these brilliant ideas about how our classrooms are going to magically look and run.  We spend hours "researching" on Pinterest or blogstalking.  We are green with envy as we look at the perfect room decor, organizational tips, and tips.  The adrenaline of the first few weeks blurs our perception, and then the reality of Winter sets in; what looked so wonderful and showed so much promise before those children invaded our perfect domain, is now dusty and unused. 

Well, in the spirit of transparency and honesty, I am going to come clean.  As promised, I am ready to run a few victory laps (well, walk really fast) because of my brilliance!  And I am ready to admit defeat and failure on a few other "brilliant" summer ideas:(.

Victory!
Yes, my closet still looks like this!  Every day I am so glad that I took the time to clean it out and reorganize it.  It is wonderful to have all my materials in one place.
The only things I forgot to leave a space for were the broom and dust pan, and the little table trashcans that I got over the summer.  They go on the floor, up against the wall, but I would like to have the floor totally clear.  I left a dedicated empty shelf to hold my purse.  This closet is the only place I can lock anything up.

Failure!

Aren't they pretty?  They are all color coordinated, with matching envelopes and plastic baggies.  The plastic baggies match!  They are still pretty, in a basket, on one of my bookcases, gathering dust.  My intention was to have the students check out sets of math flashcards.  
 
The first few weeks, I stood with my basket, patiently waiting for a student to come forward and ask to check out flashcards.  I guess that I imagined they would be motivated by the pretty matching plastic baggies.  One of my boys finally asked to check one set out.  I think he did it to make me feel useful.  He grimaced at the colored baggie as he tucked it in his backpack.  He is a good boy.
 
They are so pretty sitting on my shelf, in their little pink basket.  It will break my heart when I have to take them off the shelf and cannibalize them for parts.  A little review lesson on "just because they are pretty, doesn't mean that they will use them."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"300" Celebration Winner and Thank You (shhhh.....and FLASH FREEBIE)!

This weekend, Erin and I had our 1st Giveaway!  I would like to think that it was a success all the way around!  I am excited to plan another one, but Erin appears to avoiding my emails:)  I suspect she is totally exhausted from wrangling the beast that is the Rafflecopter - seriously, I suspect that the next plot of Supernatural will involve a Rafflecopter.  

Honestly, I have to thank Erin from the bottom of my heart for hosting this "300" Celebration with me, and for tackling the Rafflecopter portion.  Me?  I made pretty pictures.  

 If you haven't already checked in with Erin, click on over there to see who is the lucky Grand Prize Winner!  Since she did the Rafflecopter, I will leave that honor to her!

Thank you to everyone for joining in on the Scavenger Hunt, and a special thank you to our wonderful bloggy friends who graciously donated their products for the Prize folders!  It just wouldn't have been a party without you!
Make sure you check back later in the week for an installation of my new series, "Did It Really Work or Did it Just Look Good?"  Halfway through the year, I think it is time to revisit a few Pinterest inspired creations from the summer, and make a few confessions (or victory laps).

Again, thank you again for "following" and playing along with our Scavenger Hunt!  As a little extra reward, and to keep the celebration going for just a little bit longer....my Book Recommendation Form will be up as a FLASH FREEBIE until NCIS is over tonight (PST).  Mmmmm...I do love that Mark Harmon:)  


Monday, January 20, 2014

Only 12 Hours Left!

There are only 12 hours left in our "300" Celebration Giveaway!
We have some wonderful bloggy buddies who are celebrating with us!
You will need to visit their blogs in order to find the answers you need to unlock the Scavenger Hunt Prize folder.  Just in case you don't have them all on bloggy speed dial, links are provided below:)


a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway  
    Included in the Scavenger Hunt "Everyone Wins" prize folder is my Vertical Number Line for the classroom.
    Common Core recommends using a vertical number line for positive and negative integers.  Some of you might be asking why??  Well, just a few reasons are altitude, elevation, and temperature.  They love using those terms and concepts in word problems.  It is a little difficult to illustrate altitude on a horizontal number line.  

    Last summer, I played around with the idea of a making a vertical number line and even shared it.  But it was not the most practical of number lines.  As Elizabeth of Hodges Herald shared this morning, not everyone has a 12 foot wall to hang a giant number line on.  However, she did do a fantastic activity with her students using the giant number line, so go check it out!

    Over Thanksgiving break, I had time to spread out and create.  After numerous tries and revisions, I came up with a number line that I am really proud to show the world.
    Directions, options, and approximate sizes are included.
    Included in the Grand Prize folder, are my Vertical Number Lines for Students.
    These can be printed desk size or Interactive Notebook size.
    So, you still have time enter our "300" Celebration Giveaway, and get some awesome prizes (including my numberlines). 
    Or if you don't like Rafflecopters, feel free to go over to my TpT store and buy them.  Me, I would give the Rafflecopter a try first!  Just like my dad used to say, "You can't win if you don't play."

    Sunday, January 19, 2014

    A Peek at My Week

    Sundays take on a whole new feeling when they are in the middle of a three-day weekend!  They are lazy and slow, just what I needed.  Before I let myself sink into another round of Netflix, I thought I would come out from my cocoon of heat packs (yes, I am still hurting from my fall, but slowly getting better), and link up with my friend, Jennifer.
    Tuesday: 
    1. Clean up loose ends from the sub plans, that were hopefully followed on Friday.  Deal with any discipline issues - please, let there be only small ones!  
    2. Set up HW in their Agendas, pass out HW, and start warmups for the week.
    3. Continue working on adding and subtracting unlike fractions - small doses, carefully picked for opportunities for success, with lots of praise.
    4. During rotations, edit the Perfect Paragraphs written on Friday - please, let the paragraphs have been written on Friday!
    5. Continue with the Social Studies Text Breakdown - the kids loved the lessons last week!  It worked so well!  So worth the time! 

    Wednesday:
    1. Continue working on fractions - I might actually bring in a couple pans of brownies and cut them up differently to help illustrate equivalent fractions.  And they might get to eat them, if they behaved for the sub on Friday.
    2. Move ahead into our Read 180 Workshop on Alien Invaders with emphasis on cause and effect- full of snakes, and creepy crawlers, they love it!
    3. Then more Social Studies Breakdown - I have been giving them points for answers that make sense, taking points for careless answers, and then giving other tables an opportunity to make a "save."  It got a little rowdy, but they were totally engaged.
    4. Set up for another sub!  
    Thursday:
    1. Spend the day at the district office for training on Common Core - please, let it worth my time!
    2. Back to the site to teach my little Intervention Math group - not sure how this is going to work, but I will figure it out.
    Friday:
    1.  Clean up loose ends from the sub plans, that were hopefully followed on Thursday.  Deal with any discipline issues - please, let there be only small ones!
    And that should give you a pretty good idea about what my week is shaping up to be like!
    Before I go, I wanted to remind you that our "300" Celebration is still going on!
    We have some wonderful bloggy buddies, including Jennifer, who are celebrating with us!
    You will need to visit their blogs in order to find the answers you need to unlock the Scavenger Hunt Prize folder.  Just in case you don't have them all on bloggy speed dial, links are provided below:)



    It has come to our attention that one of the prizes in the Scavenger Hunt folder was not complete, Erin has fixed it.  If you downloaded the Cupid Shuffle earlier in the weekend, please go download the revised product.  So sorry!
    Don't forget to go over to Mrs. Laffin's Laughings to take a Peek at [Everyone Else's] Week!

    Friday, January 17, 2014

    "300" Celebration Scavenger Hunt and Giveaway!

    300! 300! 300!
    Well actually, it is over 300, but these CELEBRATIONS take a little planning!


    Erin and I have joined forces to celebrate reaching the magical mark of "300" followers.  We wanted to thank our long time bloggy friends and new followers for allowing us to be a tiny part of your lives.  I would love to bake everyone cookies, but the logistics of that would blow my mind.  

    Obviously, a Scavenger Hunt Giveaway and a Grand Prize Giveaway are the only logical options.  So, we have asked some our bloggy friends to join us for the giveaway and scavenger hunt by telling us about their favorite teacher. 
    You will need to visit their blogs in order to find the answers you need to unlock the Scavenger Hunt Prize folder.  Just in case you don't have them all on bloggy speed dial, links are provided below:)

    My Favorite Teacher

    This is a difficult question to ask a teacher.  As I grow more "experienced," I find that my current students and class influence who I think of as my "favorite" teacher.  This year, I find myself thinking about Mrs. Sample.  She saved me.  It wasn't until I was an adult and a teacher, that I fully understood what she had done for me.  Just for me. 

    As a child, I had a serious speech "defect" - it was the Dark Ages, that was what they called it.  This was before IDEA and mainstreaming, if there was "something wrong" with you, there was little to protect you.  My mom took me to the school up the block and tried to enroll me in kindergarten.  The administration refused, but the kindergarten teacher took me anyway (according to family lore, she was retiring the next year and made a stand).  After two weeks of the office telling my mom to take me home, and two weeks of my mother and teacher pretending not to hear them, they relented.  It might have seemed that the fight was over, but it was just starting.  At that time, the teachers could refuse students with "defects."  My mother and kindergarten teacher had to find a 1st grade teacher willing to take me, and they started campaigning early.   

    I have vague memories of being sent on "errands" to 1st grade classrooms; apparently, I was supposed to charm them into taking me.  Some of the 1st grade teachers came to visit me, and I remember feeling like a zoo animal.  Then one day, a beautiful lady came to eat her lunch with me as I painted.  She had a pink suit on and fancy hair, just like Diahann Carroll (I loved her TV show).  She talked to me, and pretended to understand me when I answered.  Her name was Mrs. Sample, and she agreed to take me.

    She was tough, but I adored her.  She never babied me.  I was expected to answer questions in class, and I was definitely not allowed to cry when kids made fun of me.  She told me, "Kids are going to make fun of you, because you do talk funny, now no crying in this class!"  Sounds harsh, but after that I do remember her standing on the playground during recess with her coffee, staring kids down.  She also encouraged me to be friends with a "Kelly."  "Kelly" was a brawler, and quickly became my playground defender.  Mrs. Sample even took on my mom when she argued that I was ready to recite a poem for the Christmas Concert.  My mom was going to keep me home; she was sure I would be embarrassed.  What she didn't know was that for weeks at every recess, Mrs. Sample and I had been practicing.  Mrs. Sample won, and my little reindeer poem brought the house down.

    The first day of second grade, I was so excited because I in Mrs. Sample's class.  I remember hugging her when she told me that she had picked me for 1-2 combo.   As an adult, I learned that she volunteered for the combo after finding out that the 2nd grade teachers refused to take me.  After I started teaching, I made the mistake of complaining to my mother about a certain "challenging" student.  She looked at me and said, "Mmmm, I wonder if that was how Mrs. Sample felt with you."  

    As time goes by, I appreciate her more and more.  I hear her in my voice when I am dealing with struggling students.  I understand what a struggle and pain in the butt having me in her class must have been, and yet, she picked me and kept me when other teachers would not.  She saved me.  

    Favorite Teacher Scavenger Hunt

    Now that you know my current "favorite" teacher, click on my name in the first Rafflecopter below and write "Sample."  Then visit each of our fabulous participating bloggers to read about their favorite teachers, fill in the names to unlock each of the options below to reveal a link to your prize pack.  Included in the prize pack are products from 12 fabulous bloggers, and my Vertical Number Line for display in your classroom!  

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Grand Prize Giveaway!

    The second raffle is the Grand Prize Giveaway. This prize pack includes more than 20 amazing products, a $10 Starbucks card, $20 in TPT gift certificates, AND a package of goodies from New Zealand!  No "hunting" required.  The more entries you unlock, the better your chance to win!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Thank you so much for joining us!  We hope everyone enjoys the giveaways, and we hope you might be a little inspired by our tales of favorite teachers!

    Special Graphics and Fonts used for Giveaway images by Confetti Graphics, The Learning Site, Lovin' Lit, and Shelia Melton

    Sunday, January 12, 2014

    A Peek At My Week!

    I am in denial.  Definitely in denial.  My three week break is coming to an end.  So, I am reluctantly linking up with Jennifer for her A Peek At My Week linky.
    First of all, I need to explain my recent lack of presence on the blogosphere.  You might remember me joking about my awkwardness and lack of grace on land?  I am proud of my childhood spent swimming, but all those workouts did not leave much time for developing grace on land.  Fast forward to last Monday.  I am working out in my "boot camp" class, doing Tabata (basically a timed torture), and it involved running.  I swim, and apparently I don't run.  I fell, headlong into the mirrored wall with the ballet barre (yes, I literally saw the irony in slow motion as I was falling).  Don't worry, it was the one of the few times my voluptuousness actually came in handy - as built in airbags.  Just a little bump on the head, but a bruised sternum hurts.  Really, seriously hurts.  Sitting upright without an icebag was not really something I enjoyed for the majority of the week.  Thankfully, I had the week off or I would have never survived a day at school. 

    So after a week of reclining, watching Netflix, with ice and Motrin, I am back to slowly planning my return to school.  Lucy did not think very much of it.
    Obviously, I have betrayed her by even getting the textbooks and laptop out.
    She finally gave up and started her passive protest.  Excuse her lack of fluffiness, brushing her daily was not possible this week.
    Unfortunately, her feelings mirror mine exactly:(.  

    Luckily, I did some planning before I left campus three weeks ago.

    New This Semester
    New Afterschool Math Intervention Group
    Grammar Homework Packet
    Build an Essay (paragraph by paragraph)- a work in progress
    Long Division Homework Packets (no more than 10 problems a night)
    Social Studies Text Breakdowns - treating the text like the R-Book

    Not to mention we need to hit fractions hard!

    Coming on Friday 
    Erin and I joined forces for our "300" Celebration.  We are hosting a "Everyone Wins" scavenger hunt and a chance to win a GRAND PRIZE!  We have some wonderful bloggers who are joining in on the celebration and giving away some awesome products!  Make sure you check back in later this week with Miss Lifesaver and me for more information!  So excited!

    Hope everyone has a great week!
    Be sure to join us for our "300" Celebration Giveaway this Friday!


    Saturday, January 4, 2014

    300!

    This post is a big thank you!
    I took a day to drive up to Solvang to visit some family.  While I was there, I checked my email and started squealing!

    I am sure that there is a celebration in order!  I want to thank everyone for clicking on that Follow button!  It really means a lot to me!
    Give me a few days to come up with a plan:)
    THANK YOU!

    Thursday, January 2, 2014

    Text Breakdown for the Throw Down!

    I have a long "To Do" list, but linking with Erin from I'm Lovin' Lit for her Thursday Throw Down is definitely on the top - and way above mowing the backyard.
    One of the things that I have been working on is not a product for my TpT store (but if you feel compelled to go over and buy something, go ahead, because this girl needs a gardener:).  Instead, it is something that is a little time consuming, but I believe it will be worth it in the end.

    My students are struggling readers.  "Grade-level" textbooks are torture for them.  What the GATE students next door zip through, my boo-boo babies slog through as if they were mired in quicksand.

    For example, my kids go for the "obvious" because they feel lost with all of the big words on the page.  This section of our text kills them every year!  I took the liberty of highlighting the words and phrases that my kids would have no idea about or words that are not used in the context they are used to...and you can see why they struggle.

    ".....Motivated by a desire for trade, the people of Phoenicia became expert sailors. They built one of the world’s finest harbors at the city of Tyre. Fleets of fast Phoenician trading ships sailed to ports all around the Mediterranean Sea.....The Phoenicians’ most important achievement, however, wasn’t a trade good. To record their activities, Phoenician traders developed one of the world’s first alphabets (Holt, p78)."

    In an effort to streamline, Holt clumped the bit about trade on the Mediterranean Sea in the paragraph with a transition into the next section about the ALPHABET.  Your students might zip right past that transition and into the next section, not my kids.  In the chapter summary, the "clumping" is even more obvious, and in an effort to be "interactive" they placed a question asking about the Phoenicians greatest achievement to the side.  Well, Mediterranean Sea is in bold print, so that must be the answer.  Seriously!

    So, I have started making my own "Interactive" readings for my students.  I have tried to anticipate which words or phrases might trip them up, and have chunk-ed the text with room for them to write.
    We spend so much time teaching them to "mark up" what they are reading, then they cannot do it in their textbooks.  And yes, I know they could use sticky notes, but that gets expensive.   I could just give up and let them listen to the audio, do the quizzes together (and we have resorted to that in the past), but the reality is that they will have to deal with "grade level" textbooks and passages for quite a few more years (God willing and the river don't rise...please let them graduate!).  They need to learn to break it down into chunks, and I can help with that:).

    It may seem like a lot of work, time, and paper, but I don't think so.  Consider the time and frustration saved from going back over the textbook, again and again.  These will take the place of any worksheet in the grade book, and will be much more meaningful.  These two pages will take us about two days, or three.
    Plus, thanks to my mother's insistence on taking typing, I can "type" pretty fast.  And yes, we are just starting Mesopotamia...this is a real class, with real struggling kidsWe spend our days reading, reading, reading, doing math, doing more math, and when we have time...a little Social Studies.  Hopefully, this will help us get caught up a little too.  I would really like to get to Greece this year.  I seem to remember that there is a section about Rome too...I am Spartacus!

    Wednesday, January 1, 2014

    100th Post and January Currently!

    This is it!  My 100th post!  Destined to go down in blogging history...or at least make me happy because it is a significant even number:).  Happy New Year's everyone!


    Except for the last one, these really don't need any explanation.  However, I would like to point out that my neighbor has been mowing his lawn forever, and that he has been known to actually measure his grass.  Not to rub it in to my bloggy buddies in the colder portions of the country, but I am waiting to mow the lawn because the sun is too bright and it is too warm right now.  I am a pale white girl - according to one of my favorite students, "Don't take this the wrong way, but you are the whitest person I have ever met, except on TV," - and I have to be careful with my fragile milk white complexion (not to mention that I avoid people seeing me in direct sunlight, not all that flattering at my age).

    As for the Santas, I love them!  Several of them have been in the family for as long as I can remember.
    This Santa, with his reindeer and sleigh, is my absolute favorite.  Somewhere along the way his hat got broken, but I still love him.  I would stare at him for hours, thinking that he was magical and would come to life if I sat very quiet - growing up, we did not have TV for several big chunks of time, and I had a vivid imagination.  Since I loved him so much, I got him.  Recently, I have been on a quest to find a matching set, because he needs more reindeer.  The fact that he only had two reindeer, really bothered me as a child.

    Before you click on over to Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade to check out what everyone else is up to, I wanted to let you know that I just changed my Skip Counting Cards to a forever freebie.  
    It was my original intention to do so, but then I had ISSUES with finalizing them and got cranky.  Now, I am over it.  I figure if you need Skip Counting Cards, you really need them.  Enjoy!

    While you are over at Farley's visiting old friends and acquaintances, make sure you check out a few new blogs too!