Friday, October 26, 2012

October No Late Homework Club

Today we had our second No Late Homework Club party. If you don't know what that's all about, read this post. This month's reward was an outside "tailgate party" with food and tailgating games (I don't know the real names for these games, but the bean bag toss with the two boards and the ladder one with the golf balls.) Turns out, most fifth graders don't know how to play these games, so it probably would have been a good move to teach them the games first. Since I was stuck at the popcorn machine the whole time, so I didn't get to witness the partial chaos or take any pictures. Maybe that was a good thing.

Anyhow, we are still brainstorming what to do for November. Maybe some of you would have an idea?

On an unrelated note, I remember reading somewhere that a teacher rang a bell every time he/she heard a negative comment in her class so that the students would realize just how often they were doing it. Does anyone remember reading that or where I might find it?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tell Me Something Good Linky

Time to get positive with Rowdy in First Grade.

Something Good at School: The totem poles are staying up (for the most part)! Nothing is more frustrating than doing a cool project and coming in Monday morning to find everything has fallen... Also, my fellow social studies teacher and I were able to finalize some plans for our take on a candy bar election. I purchased the original plans on TpT, but we changed them a bit to include a larger number of students and the electoral college. I will post more about that when we teach it.

Something Good at Home: My bulbs have arrived and are ready to be planted. I hope that the weather holds up this week so I can get outside and move some things around. I'm a little OCD about my flower garden, and things never grow as I thought they would and bother me until I move them. Some don't survive the move, but oh well.

Have a great week!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Totem Poles - Lots of Pics

During our study of the Northwest Coastal Native Americans, we did a totem pole project that I found on Pinterest. I downloaded and used the keynote PDF to introduce the project. Students also had copies of If You Lived with the Indians of the Northwest Coast (which is a GREAT series of books) that they could also use for reference.

I asked them a series of questions that my co-worker found somewhere to help them choose what animal to create:
  • Have you ever felt drawn to one animal or another without being able to explain why? This could be animal, including birds and insects.
  • Does a certain kind of animal consistently appear in your life? This doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical appearance, it could be represented in other ways such as receiving card and letters with the same animal pictured over and over, unexplainable dreams of a particular animal, watching television and seeing the same animal featured time and time again, or, actually having the animal show up.
  • When you go to the zoo, a park, wildlife area, or forest, what are you most interested in seeing?
  • Are there any animals that you find to be extremely frightening or intriguing?
  • Is there a particular animal that you see frequently when you’re out in nature?
  • Have you ever been bitten or attacked by an animal?
  • Have you ever had a recurring dream about a certain animal, or a dream from childhood that you have never been able to forget?

Then I had them make a sketch of what they chose. It was hard for them to understand that they needed to take up the whole paper, not just draw a picture of their animal on the paper. I also emphasized that they would not be using any markers or colored pencils for their animal. Everything had to be cut and pasted from construction paper. Some of them turned out better than others, but they really enjoyed this project. I was impressed by the creativity and ability of some of the students!






Native Americans Linky

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Procrastination and a Giveaway

It is a gloomy, rainy day here in my part of the world, and instead of planning my election unit, which I begin tomorrow, I am in prime procrastination mode. Instead, I am analyzing my two fantasy football teams, listening to my daughter listen to Katy Perry's "Firework" for what must be the twentieth time, and blog surfing. And eating. On the blog surfing note, make sure that you stop by Tara's 2000-Follower Giveaway!
On the plus side, I'm finding a lot of good ideas. On the down side, none of them pertain to the election. I did buy five or so units from TpT, but I still need to go through them and make actual concrete plans. And the good news it that I will teach it three times tomorrow, so I guess it's kind of urgent. Oh, well. Time to bite the bullet. Maybe after football...

Monday, October 8, 2012


Since 2010, I have been upcycling/recycling trash through TerraCycle. This companies pays my school (or any non-profit of my choice) for sending in trash (like chip bags, candy wrappers, markers, etc.) that would normally end up in landfills. In turn, they create items, such as notebooks and fencing, out of the trash. So far, we have earned about $2,000 and have kept over 100,000 items from the landfills.

Here's how it works.
  • Go to
  • Sign up your group to collect certain waste streams.
  • Collect items until the box you're using is full (or you have reached the shipping minimum, in some cases).
  • Download a pre-paid UPS label and attach it to the box.
  • Take to your local UPS or leave in your office if you get frequent UPS deliveries.
  • TerraCycle will credit your account, usually 2¢ per unit in your shipment. So a box of 500 chip bags would be $10 earned.
  • Repeat.
  • Twice a year (May and November), designate to which non-profit you want a check sent. Or TerraCycle has other options for donations, like giving a baby chicken to a family in need.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday Funday - Sub Plans

Luckily, I am blessed with a healthy family, so I'm not unexpectedly absent from school all that often. I don't have any emergency sub plans ready to go, although after reading many other blogs, maybe I should. But since I live thirty-five minutes from school, I do have a sub plan template that I can easily fill in at six in the morning when I am half-awake. My plans get rave reviews from my subs.

Here is an example of my plans (with the lesson specifics omitted since this is a template that I fill in for each absence - most of this stays the same)-

All of this information is already in the template. I have a template for each day of the week since specials and duties and things are different every day. I have information on morning procedures and who are reliable students. I also have information on who could be problematic. Also included are the associates that float in and out during the day and where to find information about special health needs.

A little note on what bribery works... :)

Times are classes are already included so i don't have to remember what specials are on what days or when everything begins and ends. I also note which students leave for help during certain classes.

Then, when I have to be gone, I fill in the specific lesson plans under each class. Any procedures that are the same are also pat of the template so I don't have to remember to write all of the steps each time.

Remember to include duties!

More routine assignments that I don't have to retype.

So this is what I do when I have to be gone. If I'm doing this in the morning, I email these plans to another fifth grade teacher or the secretary so they can be printed for the sub. Now that I'm in the middle school, I'll have to tweak some things, but most of the same information will be included. If anything, there will be less to type since I'm only teaching two subjects!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

October Currently

Time for the October Currently!!

We just finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so we watch the movie to compare and contrast to the book. The Depp version creeps me out, so I use the Wilder version.

My friend, Jennifer Livingston, has been all over the place lately. She is the news anchor that responded to the viewer email about her weight. I've known her since we were in kindergarten, and she is truly amazing!

Still don't have my main whiteboard. It's been over eight weeks...

If you have never read Halloween by Jerry Seinfeld, it is hilarious! The CD version is even better!

Happy October!

Monday, October 1, 2012

September No Late Homework Club

I'm probably cheating for this month's Monday Made It, but I've spent a lot of time making signs and things for various reasons. I was particularly proud of this group of signs and invites...

Assignment completion is a big deal at the middle school level. When my fifth grade was at the intermediate school, we were able to have a weekly time at the end of Friday to reward all fifth graders who were caught up on work. Everyone would gather in the gym to play dodgeball while those who weren't caught up had to stay in the room and finish. It was highly motivating.

Unfortunately, we don't have the same opportunity at the middle school. Scheduling just didn't allow it this year. And the students started to not care if their work was in or not.

So I had a brilliant (I think) idea! The No Late Homework Club. We gave students a fresh start and told them that if they had no late homework for the rest of September, they would be invited to the end-of-month movie and snack party. Things started to turn around! We ended up having half of the students qualify!

Here are the invites that I made for each student:

And the signs for their lockers:
For October, we are planning an outside "tailgate" party for those students who have no late assignments for October. We will be playing flag football and games such as the bean bag toss and the golf ball toss (I just realized that I have no idea what these games are really called...hmm...). They can wear jerseys and we'll provide snacks. We started promoting it as soon as the movie was over, especially to those students who didn't make it this month. I anticipate a lot more participants next time! :)