Friday, May 31, 2013

Weekly Recap

Oh friends, thank goodness for Friday!  It has been a long, long week.  I still have one more week of school and I am ready for this time next week!  
1)  We began the week by celebrating my son's third birthday!  We had his party last weekend.  Here are some pictures from his party! He had the best time!
2)  Part of me can't believe I'm saying this, but he got a mini iPad for his birthday!  He loves it so much and there are some great apps out there, even for his age.  He loves a Spelling app and this Monkey Math app!  Do you know of any good apps for the Pre-K age?
3)  My fourth graders have LOVED solving logic puzzles this week!  I have had one on the board each morning for morning work and they have really enjoyed them!
4)  I was excited this week to get these class sets to use next year! I got Number the Stars from the current 5th grade teacher.  I can't wait to read it next year! :)  I placed a book order recently with Scholastic and got a free $10 to spend.  Island of the Blue Dolphins was on sale for $1 so I got 10 for free and spent $10 to get 10 more.  Woohoo for a class set of books for $10!  Then, another student placed an order online so I got another $10 to spend so I got a few more copies, plus two copies of the book Holes.  
5) With one week left of school, my classroom is in disarray and is driving me bonkers!  Luckily, I don't have to move classrooms, but I have had to get rid of everything for 4th grade (including my entire library) and replace it all with 5th grade materials.  This doesn't include anything that needs to be packed for the summer.  Eeeekkkkk!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Next Year

As teachers, I think we are always thinking ahead and planning ahead!  I know that I haven't even finished this year and I've already started working on things for next year!  So, this was the perfect linky to join!  Finding JOY in 6th Grade is hosting a "What Will YOU Do Differently?" linky! 
Since I am looping up to teach 5th grade next year, I will most definitely be learning new standards and teaching all new things!  We are also implementing Common Core standards in Reading and Math AND adopting a new Math book!  Eeeeekkkkk! 
I am looking for new read-aloud's and have some great ones on my list!  With looping up, I had to get read aloud's that will be new next year.  I have found some great ones, but am always looking for more!  I also hope to read literature related to Social Studies, such as Number the Stars!
Next year, I am changing the way I keep student data.  This year I had a student binder with a tab for each student.  It just didn't work for me.  Next year I am using manila folders for each student.  These folders will house beginning of the year data, parent communication log, SIP and BIP data, and tardy slips.  My plan is to tape/glue a library pocket in each folder for tardy slips.  I think this will work better for me! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Optimum Organization

When I saw this linky, Optimum Organization, I knew I wanted to join in!  I have really tried to get organized at school and am continuing to work on it! 
One of the best organizational tools that I am using is my teacher toolbox!  Since I went desk-less this year, I knew I had to find ways to organize my materials.  The teacher toolbox has been perfect and has helped me stay organized with all of these little materials!
I have always liked how my classroom library is set up.  Although my bookshelves are mix-matchy (take what you can get, right?), I do like how I have my chapter books organized by genre.  I worked so hard the summer before my first year of teaching to label every book and make labels for my baskets.  Yellow sticker = realistic fiction, dark green sticker = historical fiction, etc.  Since, I am moving to 5th grade next year, I have to give away ALL of these books.  :( :( :( :(  That's why you see some space missing on the white shelf...I've taken out all of my personal books. 
Although I don't have a picture of my binders, I do have a binder per subject (a very large one for some) that I keep all of my papers that I use yearly.  Now that I'm moving grade levels, I am working on creating new binders!


Now, this is something that I think I will do DIFFERENT next year.  I wasn't going to share it, but thought I would because I like to see what works/what doesn't work and how people make improvements.  I have two main binders: a teacher binder (where I keep calendars, data, MAP test info, etc) and a student binder.  Inside the student binder, I created a tab for each student and planned to put things behind their tab like: their parent contact log, Dominee data sheets, Interest Inventories, etc.  
BUT, I am getting rid of this student binder because for me, it has not been effective.  I've found that lots of things don't fit in it, such as little tardy slips, behavior referrals, small group data, SIP (Student Intervention Plan) and BIP (Behavior Intervention Plan) info, etc.  Next year, I plan to use plain ole' file folders and have one folder per student.  Inside, I will place their contact log, Interest Inventory, Dominee data, MAP data sheet, behavior referrals, BIP info, meeting notes from IEP meetings or 504 meetings, etc.  I am going to tape/glue a library pocket inside each one to hold tardy slips.  What I've found is that I neglect to refer students with multiple tardies because those little papers end up everywhere. With this system, I will be able to easily see how many tardies students have.  Also, this year we implemented a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) for a student in my class.  I found that I really needed his referrals and my documentation all in one place.  So, this is how I plan to change this next year!  I really think it will be much more effective than the system I am currently using.  It will be easy to grab that student's folder for meetings and have everything all in one place!

Monday, May 20, 2013

End of Year Reflections

I am linking up with Miss Lifesaver today to participate in her linky, called End of Year Reflections!  In my Masters class, I've talked all about how important reflection is for students and teachers, so here we go!  She asked three questions related to our year.

Question 1: What was the biggest professional challenge you faced this year? 

Two things come to my mind.  First, I have to say that I've got a wonderful class with very smart students, but I also have a student that struggles more than any student I've ever had.  This child is basically illiterate, has very little number sense, and struggles tremendously.  It's been challenging to teach students that are higher than I've ever taught and lower than I've ever taught, all in the same room.

The other thing that comes to my mind is being asked to move to 5th grade next year. Although, that may be a professional challenge next year as I learn new standards!  

Question 2:  What was the biggest personal challenge you faced this year?  

The biggest personal challenge I've faced this year is definitely BALANCE.  As I have worked on my masters online this year, I have really had to learn how to balance my life as a teacher, a wife, a mother, and a student.  I won't lie, it has not been easy.  Many nights I got about five hours of sleep because I stay up late working on masters work.  I've tried to take away as little time as possible from my son during this process. The good news is that I am ALMOST done!  I will finish the first week of July!!!

Question 3:  How do you think you've grown from your experience?  I have learned several things that I have applied from my masters courses.  I feel that as a teacher I grow each year.  I also am embracing my upcoming transition from 4th grade to 5th grade.  I've taught with a wonderful teacher who was my mentor and who is my best friend here in SC.  I've learned so much from her!  

Friday, May 17, 2013

Five for Friday

Hello friends!  TGIF!  Summer vacation is so close!  10 full days and 3 half days before it's here!  How long do you have left?!

It's time for Five for Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching!  This is a great way to recap your week!
Since we don't implement Common Core standards until next year, we have to teach a Common Core Math fraction unit after PASS testing to help get our students prepared for fractions in 5th grade.  We started this unit this week and it should last until the end of school.  

One - One of our activities involved an activity called Race for One.  In this activity, students work in groups to try to get to the whole number first.  They draw cards, mark their spots on the appropriate number line, and try to be the first one to get to one!  
Two - Another activity involved students working in groups to put fractions in order on a number line.  They started with their whole numbers, then moved to mixed number, before turning all improper fractions to mixed numbers!  There was some confusion, but overall they did soooo good! I have several really smart kiddos this year!
Three -  In our lesson today, we pretended we were at a place called Kellan's Candy Company.  At this special candy company, all guests get 8 free pieces of candy and you can make any selection you wish.  First, we decided what color was what flavor.  Yellow=pineapple, red=strawberry, brown=chocolate, etc.  We then drew our "candy" in our notebooks and identified the fractional pieces for each color.  
Four - Since it's the end of the year, I am determined to clean out my closet.  I am pretty organized in my classroom except for my closet.  I am almost embarrassed to show you the before (left).  I cleaned out the right side and the top two shelves so far!  It's a work in progress.  Anyone else relate?
Five - We have been working hard to transform my son's nursery into a big boy room.  He is turning 3 very soon so it was time for a change.  He LOVES animals, especially elephants and jungle animals.  We are finally finished and LOVE it!
Happy Friday, friends!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Fraction Design

This week we are working hardcore on fractions!  Our district requires us to teach a fraction unit (in addition to the one we teach throughout the year) after PASS testing.  These units are based on Common Core standards to help prepare students for Common Core standards next year.  Today's lesson called for students to create fraction designs using square tiles.  My class worked in partners, drew cards, and made designs.  Cards G and H gave them a little trouble, but they did really good overall!
 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up

It is with happiness that I can announce....state testing is OVER!  Thank goodness!  My 4th graders were tested in each subject and by Friday, we were all just ready for it to be over!  Now, let's hope for great results!  Does anyone else walk around the entire time thinking of all the things you could/should be doing in your classroom?

Between PASS testing, cleaning out one drawer/cabinet per day, regular demands at school and at home, and masters classwork, I just haven't had time to blog anything this week.  Although between PASS testing and PASS review, it hasn't been too exciting!  BUT, I still have a few things to share for Five for Friday, which is coming to you on a Saturday!

One - With testing, my partner teacher and I created little sayings and attached a piece of candy to them.  We thought they were cute!
Two - I did manage by swing by our book room and snag a few books I thought I would use next year. Number the Stars is a guarantee.  I stocked up on lots of units from Teachers Pay Teachers this week for this text.
Another one that was really good was The Sign of the Beaver.  Although it probably fits better with 4th grade standards, we will still use it as a read aloud.  I found it very interesting and read it all in one day!
I am a Star is a book I read this morning, but probably will not use when I teach 5th grade next year.  I enjoyed reading it, but I think it may be a little much for 5th grade when it comes to details about concentration camps.  Although I read it in no time from start to finish, it did make my stomach crawl just reading about the horrible conditions Jews went through. 
Four - After testing each day, we worked on Mother's Day projects!  We took each child's picture holding a sign that said, "I love you to pieces!" We purchased frames at the Dollar Tree with money we had raised from our class play.  Students decorated puzzle pieces and glued onto the frame.  They were cute!  As much as I love doing projects like this, it's always so hard on those students whose mothers aren't in their life.  This year I had several not make one for a mother, but for someone else.  And if you've been reading my blog, you'll remember that one of my students lost his mother a few weeks ago.  He still wanted to make one, but his card broke my heart in a million pieces.  
Five - I sent out my last book order this week and saw that Island of the Blue Dolphins is on sale for $1!  I had been thinking of using it next year as a novel study, but could only find 6 copies in our book room.  I am seriously considering purchasing a class set since they are on sale!

How many weeks/days do you have left?  We have 15 full days and 3 half days....but who's counting, right?!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May Currently

It really is hard to believe it's already MAY!  I am super behind on linking up with the May Currently, but better late than never!
Listening: 64 Zoo Lane on the Sprout channel with my little man! I like this show because it's only around 12 minutes long and he loves it because he loves animals, so it's a win-win.

Loving: I have a big to-do list and I am just glad to be home all day {in my pajamas, might I add} to work on it!

Thinking: My mind is constantly thinking of ideas/questions about moving up to 5th grade next year!

Wanting: To fast forward through next week because it's state testing...ick.

Needing: Organizing my son's closet and chest of drawers is a MUST today!  

Summer Bucket List: 
1) Beach and Tennessee - We have two beach trips planned and a few little trips to Tennessee to see friends and family!

2) Home with my little boy - I LOVE being home with him during the summer and envision lots of fun activities this summer with him, such as: zoo trips, playing outside, playing with his new sand and water table, working on colors, ABC's, etc.

3) 5th grade curriculum - I definitely will be learning the 5th grade curriculum and meeting with my partner teacher, as well as go to district meetings.

On another note, I am sure you all have seen the photo a day series on Instagram!  These are two that I am currently participating in!

If you are on Instagram, you can find me at "4 The Love of Teaching"!
Have a great Saturday, friends!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Five for Friday!

It's time for Five for Friday over at Doodle Bugs Teaching! This is a great link up to reflect on your week!  I am GLAD it's Friday!  

1) We had a few fun experiments this week in Science (teaching some Math skills!).  One was called Sponge Squeeze.  We let a sponge soak in a cup of water.  Students estimated how many milliliters they thought they sponge held.  We used graduated cylinders to measure.

2) Another fun activity was a car race!  We estimated how many centimeters their car would travel.  We used a meter stick and focused on the number of centimeters in one meter.  Then, we used tape to mark spots on the floor for 100 centimeters, 200 centimeters, etc to help us measure.

3)  If you've read my blog lately, you'll know that I am moving grade levels next year.  I am looping up with my fourth graders to teach them again in fifth grade.  Luckily, I don't have to move rooms, but I do need to switch out lots of materials.  One of my goals is to clean out a drawer or a cabinet each day.  I am hoping to start packing up 4th grade materials to give to the teacher who is moving to 4th grade and to start making room for 5th grade materials that the 5th grade teacher (she is moving) is starting to send me!

4)  I am not a tech savvy girl at all, so I am going out on a limb here and making myself look like silly asking this....BUT, you never know if you don't ask!  So, I am wanting to create binders for fifth grade materials and want cute papers like this to label with subjects.  I have CUTE chevron paper, but how do I make the something like that scroll with words on it?  Help! :) 

5) We finished one of our favorite read alouds today!  Tara introduced me to the Humphrey series about a year ago.  We had read the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th book in the series.  I haven't been able to find the 4th one yet.  Love this series!  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Day in the Life of a Teacher

I am joining a fun link over at Second Grade Nest called A Day in the Life of a Teacher!!  How fun!  Click over there to join in as well!
My day starts at 5:20 when I wake up.  Lately, I've been going to bed late because of masters work.  I will be so glad when I am finished!  7/7/13 cannot come quick enough!  I am usually finished by 6:00 and then I get my son up, get him dressed, pack his breakfast, my breakfast, and my lunch!  By 6:30, we are off to go to school! 
This is what gets me through rushed mornings!
My drive to school takes about 40 minutes, about 20 minutes on the Interstate and 20 minutes on country roads.  I teach at a small, rural school.
8:00 - Today in Math, I did a reteach of division because my students have struggled with the steps.
9:15 - ELA:  We began with Spelling, moved on to a game of charades with our vocabulary words, and then read a story about the rainforest.  We made great connections to what we've already studied about the rainforest!  Then, it was time for PASS Practice since PASS tests are next week!
10:30 - Social Studies:  We reviewed the Boston Massacre and Boston Tea Party.  

11:15 - What a dreary day for recess, but of course, my fourth graders still love it!
11:30 - Cleaning Swimmy's fish tank!  His tank looks MUCH better now!  I love that 4th graders *want* to clean out yucky fish tanks! 
12:00 - Lunch: We have to eat in the cafeteria with our students, but we do get to sit at a table with the teachers so we usually catch up during this time.

12:45 - Science:  Today we reviewed capacity and had a little experiment with a sponge.  Students estimated how many milliliters the sponge soaked in the cup of water.  We used graduated cylinders to measure.  
1:35 - Planning, planning, planning before a busy afternoon of class discussions, and bus duty!

3:15 - After school, I met with my new grade level teacher for next year and we talked about some things we plan to do!  Then, the BEST part of my day was picking up my sweet little boy!  Today, during Social Studies, I got a phone call that his daycare had been put on a lockdown because a man who was suicidal had a gun in the town where the daycare is located (approximately 10 miles or so away).  My heart was beating 90 miles an hour upon hearing his daycare was on lockdown.  It was the worst feeling.  I was so relieved when I got a message that the lockdown was over and the police took the man in custody.  I still felt MUCH better picking him up this afternoon!

5:00 - By the time we got home and changed, I decided to order a pizza for supper because I really need to go to the grocery store.  Thank goodness I saved up a lot of my Weight Watchers points for supper because I definitely used them!
And that friends, is about it!  Add a little cleaning up of toys, a bath later for my little man, bedtime reading, and that is my day!