Monday, December 31, 2012

January Currently

It's time to link up with Farley for her Currently!

At this moment, the house is silent and I'm loving it. I am a little worried, however, as there are four adults and two children lurking around somewhere. But for now it's quiet. So time to blog!

We just got back from an exciting and very competitive college basketball game. Although my team came out on the losing end (to the #1 team in the country), it was still a good game. I got to watch two of my friends in the alumni pep band (which I hope to do next time) and cheer with a dozen of my friends.

We are attending a New Year's Eve party at a friend's new restaurant, so that should be fun!

I am ready for routine again. But I don't want to have to go back to work to get it. Oh well!

My little one has been off schedule as well, and it's been affecting her sleeping. I think that we're all ready for our normal routine.

And related to that, my one little word is patience. Mine seems to be running a little thin these days. Hope to find it again soon!

And if anyone wants to help with my 100 follower giveaway, please drop me a note! Thanks! It should be a good one!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

What's Ahead in 2013? and a Freebie

I'm linking up with Making It As A Middle School Teacher for her year in preview party.
I'm not sure how much detail to go into here, but some of these things I've already blogged about, will blog about, or are self-explanatory.

And now I'm sharing a freebie that I use right away when we come back to school from break. It allows students to quietly share as they fill out the organizer and then "get it out of their system" so we can return to our regular lessons. Students draw or write about something fun, something new, something surprising, something special, something crazy, and something else. I give them about five to ten minutes to do this or longer if needed. Then I draw a stick and have the student share one thing from their paper. Click on the picture to go to my TpT store for the download.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Toys and 100+ Followers!!

Over break, I received two new toys office products to play with! One I received as a gift, and one I asked the company to review.
First I'll do the review, and yes, it's for the pencil sharpener that everyone loves! Classroom Friendly Supplies sent me a sharpener so I could experience it for myself. I tried to go into the test run with an open mind, but knowing how much everyone else loves this sharpener made it difficult :) And everyone is right! I LOVE this sharpener! It gives the nicest point of any sharpener I've used. It seems to take away more of the wood casing to expose more lead, so the pencil can go longer between sharpenings (which apparently isn't a word, according to Blogger). And it's very reasonably priced, especially considering how long electric pencil sharpeners last (or don't last).
I had my first grader try it out to see how easy it was for her. I used the included brace to attach it to the table to hold it steady and demonstrated it a few times. The only part that she had a hard time with was pressing the black pieces together to insert and remove the pencil. She was physically able to do it, but she just kept forgetting that step. That will take a little practice. Each time she pulled out a pencil, she said, "Ooooo, sharp!" So she was obviously impressed as well! Or maybe it was because we finally had a decent sharpener in the house :) We used it to sharpen all of her colored pencils, too. Sorry to inform her that it's going to school! Thank you to Classroom Friendly Supplies for the sharpener!
The other thing that I'm excited about is my new electric three-hole punch. I put it on my Christmas list, and I actually squealed when I opened it. Then I received very odd looks from my family members, which, if they know me at all, they should have expected. Since I keep most of my papers in binders, this is an awesome gift. I also do social studies notebooks for three units for three sections of students. To translate, that's sixty-five copies of each page to punch. So yeah, I'm excited ;)

And speaking of excited, I reached 100 followers! Thank you to those of you who offered to help me with my giveaway. If anyone else is interested in offering something for my giveaway, please let me know by the end of the year. I'd like to conduct my giveaway after the new year :) And thank you and "hi" to all of my new followers! It's very flattering to think that there are 100 people that considered reading about my experiences, so thanks again!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Resolution Update

Teaching Maddeness
Amanda at Teaching Maddeness is having a linky party about resolutions. This is a good opportunity for me to go back to my beginning of the school year resolutions to see how those were going.

My first resolution was to implement parts of Daily 5/CAFE into my literacy teaching. So yeah, that's not going well. There are a few problems with this one. First of all, I only have fifty-five minutes for literacy, plus a half-hour following lunch. After taking attendance and lunch count and announcements and the pledge, we're already ten minutes in to the period. Our district wants us to use a basal, so that is what I primarily use. But the main reason is that this particular group of students has an incredibly hard time working/reading independently. When we're not doing whole-class activities, I spend most of my literacy time keeping students on task. I don't know what else to do. I've set class expectations, we've had a town meeting of sorts to discuss our frustrations, and I currently have the whole class on a point sheet. It just seems that no one wants to take responsibility for their behavior. So meeting in small groups while others are independently working just isn't a reality right now. Maybe some of you who have been through this with your class would have some pointers for me.

Now, my second resolution is going well. That one was to have a more organized classroom. Since I essentially started with a clean slate, it wasn't that hard to do. But I thought about going in during break to move my desk and some bookshelves, but that might have to wait for spring break.

My third resolution was to get to know my new coworkers better. Due to scheduling, there are teachers and staff who I see everyday, and some who I never see. Ever. So I think that I have been successful with those who I see often, and I still need opportunities to get to know those who I don't get to see.
Jen at The Teacher's Cauldron is also having a linky about resolutions. My blogging resolution is to write useful posts that might be helpful to others.

As far as personal goals, I need to drop another fifteen pounds and become better at keeping the house clean. (Which I could accomplish if it weren't for the efforts of my six and two-year-old!) So Amanda is asking us to ask how far she ran today when we comment on one of her posts. Maybe you could ask me what I cleaned today? Or what I avoided eating ;)

Oh, and I'm two(!) followers away from 100! I need to think about a giveaway. Any ideas?

Enjoy the rest of your break!

Monday, December 17, 2012

New Anchors Away Linky

Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher is starting a new monthly linky called Anchors Away. It is dedicated to anchor charts.

I have three charts that I'll be sharing this month.
The first one I used a lot when my fifth grade class was more self-contained and students stored their personal supplies in their desks. We developed this desk rubric so I didn't have to answer the question "Is my desk clean?" twenty-four times every Friday. We started with what we thought a 5 desk would look like, what a 1 desk would look like, and then what a 3 desk would look like. In order for them to go to Friday Fun, their desk had to be at a 4 or 5 (some of my students preferred their books to be flat instead of standing). I still had one or two insecure students who just needed that verbal reassurance, but for the most part, I had no questions. I was able to have a student be the official desk-checker just to make sure that students weren't sneaking out before they had a clean desk. It made the expectations very clear.
The second anchor chart that I've used frequently is a copy of the word collector from CAFE. I use one for every novel that we do, and the kids love finding words to add. I usually call on four to five kids per chapter to add one of their words to our class collector. After we've talked about the meanings, I will give them a sentence with a word missing, and they have to find the word that fits in the sentence.
The last anchor chart is from when I used to teach math. The G stand for gallon, the Q's are for quarts, the P's are pints, and the C's are cups. So if you want to know how many cups are in two quarts, you count up the C's that are in two Q's. Very handy!

That's it for now. Go link up with Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher so I can see your anchor charts :)


Sunday, December 9, 2012

12 in '12

I am linking up with Miss Kindergarten and A Teeny Tiny Teacher for their 12 in '12 linky.
12. Favorite movie you watched: Um, mo-vie? I'm unfamiliar with this. I think that the only new movie I watched this year was Magic Mike. I think... Is it sad that I had to Google popular movies of 2012 to realize that I also saw Rock of Ages and The Lorax (on DVD)?

11. Favorite TV series: The Office. Kind of sad to see it go, but it had a good run. Guess I'll have time next year to find a new series.

10. Favorite restaurant: We had a lovely little place called the Bluebird Cafe open in our town. Local ingredients. Enough said.

9. Favorite new thing you tried: Blogging, I guess! I also got a Cricut, and that's a lot of fun, too!

8. Favorite gift you got: My past, present, and future diamond band for our tenth anniversary!

7. Favorite thing you pinned: I have no clue. Everything I pin has the potential to change my life ;)
This one's pretty good:
6. Favorite blog post: My most popular one is {this one} about my milk crate seats. I really enjoyed writing {this one} about our candy elections. Even though a candy bar elections isn't my original idea, I really think that my teaching partner and I took it up a notch.

5. Best accomplishment: Successfully starting the school year even though everything seemed stacked against me.

4. Favorite picture: I take a lot of pictures, so it's very hard to choose just one. This one is special because it's a side-by-side of my daughter and me when we were in first grade.
3. Favorite memory: This same daughter caught the bouquet at my husband's cousin's wedding, and her reaction is something that I'll never forget!
2. Goal for 2013: To have more energy to do the things that I want to do. And I need to work on allowing myself to make mistakes this school year. It's a new situation, and no one else is expecting perfection.

1. One Little Word: Relax.

Is It Break Yet?!

What an exhausting week! First of all, I've been fighting this nasty cough since Thanksgiving. The running joke is that "I can quit smoking whenever I want!" I don't smoke, but I have *that* cough.

And my kids have been very talkative and rude to each other this week, so I put them on a class point sheet. In previous years, I have done point sheets for specific kids that have had problems with behavior, and I have done point systems for my class when they go to other teachers, but this is the first time that I've done a full point sheet for my whole class. Each day, one student will be responsible for getting it filled out by the teacher. We'll see if that can get me through break.

To start, I expressed my frustration with having to constantly redirect behaviors. It put me in a negative mood. Then I said that I thought that some of them felt the same way, too. So we had a Festivus-style airing of grievances (without using names, of course). From that list of grievances, I created five goals for the class. They can earn up to two points per goal per class, with a total of sixty points for the day. If they achieved 80% of that total, or 48 points, then they earn one day towards our class party (which will be a PJ/electronics day). I randomly award PBIS bucks to a student for every extra point above 48, so four extra points means that four randomly drawn students would get a PBIS buck. For every point that they were short, they owed me a minute after school with their heads down and no talking. The earned exactly enough on Wednesday, owed me four minutes on Thursday, and today is looking good. Here is what the point sheet looks like.
We spent most of the week preparing for Thursday's explorer test. One of the favorite review games is Wordo, which is pretty much like Bingo. Students fill in their own boards with terms and phrases that I project on the board. Then I read sentences or definitions that go with each term of phrase. Five in a row wins. For the first few rounds, I let students raise their hand to answer the questions so we can all hear the correct answers. After they have heard each clue once or twice, then I don't call on anyone, but I do allow them to quietly help their neighbors. This allows the lower-ability students to still participate (and win). I allow the students to win more than once. However, when a student who has already won that day wins again, I still let them get a prize. But instead of making everyone else clean off their boards, I keep going with the game until we get a new winner for the day. It helps to keep the mood positive if the same kids (who probably studied at home for the test) keep winning. Another variation that I do with about ten minutes left in class is to let them trade boards. Then when someone wins, the person whose board s/he's using wins, too! So if John won, and John used Mary's board, they both get prizes. They love it, and it gets them cheering for each other!

I also started my TpT store. It's pretty weak, but I wanted a place to put things that I wrote about on Fifth Grade Freebies. I don't know if I'll ever have anything that would cost something, since I'm still trying to get a handle on what fonts and clip art I can and cannot use for commercial use. And if buying the commercial license would be worth it...
And we started using Kristen's Season's Readings. The kids really like the one where you design the ornaments. Of course, they love anything where you get to draw!

Ten more days until break!

Update:
I'm linking this post up to a Friday Flashback :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

December Monday Made It

I have three things to share for this edition of Monday Made It. I will say that they were all adapted from things that I saw and they are not my original ideas :)

The first one is similar to last month's project. Tara made a "Be Merry" banner, but I redid it to fit my pennant theme. The background is from Maree Truelove, and the font is DJ ChunkM from DJ Inkers.
The second one is an adaptation of something that I saw on I Love My Classroom. I wanted to change them a bit so they would work with my class, who I only see three times a day. I wanted to make a color image that I could display on my board, and then have something that students would have to turn in to me to be accountable (sometimes they have a hard time being nice to each other, which is why I wanted to do this in the first place). I made task cards for five days, and then they will draw new names next Monday and the following Monday. The clipart is from Melonheadz and the font is DJ Holly Days from DJ Inkers.

The last one is something that I found on Pinterest. The original picture is much prettier, but all I had was a pink tomato cage (I'm not sure why my husband bought pink for his tomato plant. I HATE tomatoes!) and colored lights, some of which don't work, which I discovered after wrapping it all up first :/ Oh, well!



Sunday, December 2, 2012

December Currently

Everything here is pretty self-explanatory, but I would like some tips on how to start listing items on TpT. And I don't mean the technical aspects. I mean more like what do I need to make sure that I do? What have you learned from your experiences that you want to share? How do I know that I'm not infringing on something? Things like that. Teach me, oh blogosphere!!

Now go link up with Farley!