Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Classroom Management Take One

I don't even know that any of this is going to work.  Kind of hard to try out without children, I should say.  But it's about getting a plan together.  Why is classroom management my weakness anyhow?  I'd say my natural disorganization is a big culprit.  Coming in a strong second, or possible tie for first, is my temper.  And if I had to peg down a third reason, I'd say it's because I'm sort of goofy.  No one takes goofy seriously.  No matter how much taller you are.

I think what I've discovered in the past couple of weeks will help me out with the first two issues.  But I don't know that anything can be done about being goofy.   And I can't say that it's something about myself I dislike either- so it's not like I'm going to really be able to fix it.  Because I'm goofy, I know I'm not going to find a one-size-fits-me management strategy.  I'm going to have to pull a Frankenstein number on this one.  There's a title for ya! But whatevs, I'm already into the composing part.

I'm going to pull thoughts from Daily 5 

Baldrige in Education  

Conscious Discipline 
also check out Heather's Heart for some great posts on this subject of Conscious Discipline

The Responsive Classroom 

and my own brain 

This past Spring I started doing some of the Daily 5 management tips as far as making I-charts for desired behaviors and making muscle memories and I found that it worked very well, even with my kids who'd pretty much trained their muscles to drive me crazy.  I feel like beginning with this method from the start is going to help me a lot this next year.  I also started using the charts and training in all other areas of the classroom, not just literacy.

I admit to not knowing anything about "common core".  It's apparently everywhere though.  And with it comes these "I can" and "We can" statements.  I like the idea of putting everything in positives and avoiding the negative.  I made up booklets for my different class routines using these statements.  The sensational Lyda laminated and bound all of them for me before the end of school.  This one shows a picture that one of my kids drew to illustrate the page, but all of the books were laminated and bound WITHOUT pictures, because I want to give the kids each year an opportunity to draw a picture that matches the pages.  I was also thinking that if they were doing a behavior that I didn't really appreciate, they could read the appropriate book, find the page that was the opposite of their choice, and draw THEMSELVES doing the desired action.  And now considering it, I think I can easily take photos of the kids doing the desired behaviors for the illustrations.  Make it into a powerpoint or something...hmmm.

The categories of books I currently have are: 1) How to Make Every Morning Marvelous, 2) How to Make Writer's Workshop Wonderful, 3) How to Make Guided Reading Great, 4) How to Make a Quality Line, 5) How to Make Recess Really Fun, 6) How to Have a Lovely Lunch, 7) How to Make Math Workshop Magnificent, 8) How to Make Every Encore Excellent, and 9) How to Make Window of Inquiry Incredible.  Corny, I know- but it worked for me.  They have anywhere from nine to fifteen We Can statements each.  Taking a quick moment to read them aloud before each activity helped get them centered as well.  I bound them with a blank page on the front and a Can statement on the back, so that if I ever have to take out a page, or add a page, it can be easily done.  I bought photo tabs to put on the blank pages to hold the pictures I take or the kids draw.

I saw this chart on Pinterest:

what respect looks like and sounds like- could make these anchor charts for all of the PYP attitudes, kids could keep mini-ones in their data binders.

And that had me thinking about the PYP attitudes, and how I could easily make charts to go with them.

And I also ran across this visual scheduling pin: (she has great stuff PERIOD, besides just this)
VISUAL Learning: Cues, Supports and Systems used in Preschool and Elementary for Children with Special Needs

My oldest son has autism, and has used many visual schedules in the past.  And considering how many times my kids asked me "When is..." "What are we going to ....." everyday all day- I can't believe that a visual schedule could be bad for anybody.  I also discovered on the Conscious Discipline site that the part of our brain that handles self-control and rules is also visual.  So I'm definitely going to amp this aspect up next year.

I also have to consider the behavior system my school already has in place.  We do a lot with Baldrige when it comes to Quality Students, Quality Teachers, Mission and Vision Statements, and mottoes like "I am Responsible for the success of my own learning" and "I am response-able to the success of the group".  I can beef all of these up with better visuals and more concentrated classroom meetings.  We also have a star punch attitude card system where when they get ten punches for the desired behaviors the card gets sent to the counselors office and she sends up a small prize like a pencil or eraser.

I have a tendency to forget about those cards.  It's just not something I want to stop and do- go punch someone's card when I'd rather be teaching.  I also confess to hating sticker charts as a behavior management tool. I know, going to teacher jail. But I can't help it.  I want to be teaching, not patting heads all day.  But I also know that I am RESPONSE-ABLE to the success of my group- the school- and I need to do my part when it comes to this school-wide expectation.  So during the year, I came up with a chart to help me figure out who needed punches.  I confess it also helped me monitor poor behavior, and I used it as a tool to get kids to notice what they were doing.  Of course, now, after reading all of these positive discipline blogs- I feel like the devil.  But, learn from your mistakes, right?  So I'm going to change it into a chart to NOTICE good behaviors of others.

So, combining two Pinterest ideas:
  Dry erase boards made out of picture frames! This would be awesome for a teacher's desk to keep reminders/to do's on. Wouldn't get lost in all the other papers :)

The first one is from What the Teacher Wants, and the second is a pin that does not have a website link so I'll just connect it back to my pin, and then if it is anybody's, they can let me know.

I'm going to use the picture frames on a bulletin board to visually represent the desired behaviors : A smiling face for using kind/polite words, a hand with a heart inside it for helping others, an ear for great listening, a brain for making great choices, the fifth will be the PYP attitude of the month, and then the sixth will be a graph.  Each frame will have all of the kids names underneath the picture representation.  So whenever I NOTICE students doing those things I can say a NOTICING statement and circle their name or add tallies as the case may be during the week.  These tallies will equate to punches on their cards, and I developed a system for slowly making more tallies equal a punch across the year.

Then, the brownie points deal- I'm doing a moose/cupcake theme next year, so on the bulletin board I'll have my moose baker holding a cupcake tin.  In the school behavior program, 80% of your class has to turn in a punch card each month to qualify for the March Madness Basketball competition.  So keeping with that guideline, each week, if any given frame has 80% of the class names circled, that earns a cupcake for the tin. I think I'm going to try to make them 3-D so that I can open the top somehow and put a class reward idea inside.  Once the class fills the tin, I'll work out some system for having someone pick a cupcake from the tin and we'll see what they got.  It should roughly take three to four weeks minimum to earn a class reward.  And let's say they are just AWESOME, it's basically three celebrations a quarter or 12 for the year.  And that is o.k. by me.

I was inspired by Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations when it came to classroom rewards.  I don't really want it to be material.  I don't think I'm doing anybody any favors by buying them gifts.  She has great ideas for free rewards that are really simple and easy.  I've decided on 12 that I think will suit me, and I broke them up into three types: full day, half a day, or one class period/short time.  When they choose cupcakes for the celebration the first will always be a short celebration, then half day, then full day.  I guess...Haven't really decided...

Full Day: Crazy Sock Day, no shoes required; Crazy hat day; Pajama Day; and Stuffed Animal Day.
Half Day: Outdoor School- plan some sort of teaching experience outside for the second half of the day; Book to Movie- watch a movie related to a book we've read and do a compare/contrast (see, keeping it LEGITIMATE);   Experiment Extravaganza- getting dirty with the science experiments even if they have NOTHING to do with standards.  We're at least going over the scientific method; and Craftivity- crafts gone wild.  I'm sure I'll TRY to make them relate somehow to what we've been doing in class.
One Class Period to 15 minutes: special snack; extra recess; dance party; DEAD time.  Saw that one on Pinterest too, Drop Everything and DRAW.

And I'm not completely satisfied with the last set, so tweaking will be necessary.  But I trust in Pinterest, see? Something will turn up.  And looking over it now during my preview, you know, the full day rewards are actually the most simple- so they might be the automatic first choices.  Followed by the short time period and then the half day things are sort of the big deals, right? Hermmmmmmm...

And that, kittens, is the beginning of my thoughts.  I know there is a lot more to accomplish.  I'll be working on that building of a classroom community that is featured in ALL of these management systems, and I'll be retraining myself to get rid of some bad habits and try some new techniques, and kinda let go of the stress.  I agree that I should come home tired from a day of work- but it shouldn't be a painful exhaustion.  It should be a charged energy high of a great workout.  Sleep should always come peacefully.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer Strategy 2012

Nice title, eh?  Already expecting doing another one for 2013.  

Anyhow, I've had my week "off".  I have spent time reading some books about Guided Math.  I have written lots of notes to myself and drawn plenty of pictures in my Wonder Woman notebook about teaching ideas, to the point it is almost full and I will have to make a new plan for a new notebook so that maybe it's not so messy.  I have pinned so much on Pinterest I actually got a notice that they were concerned that I might be "spamming" and wouldn't let me pin anything for a little while. Nearly died like a crack addict in detox, I tell you!  Luckily, it was in the evening, so I just went to bed and when I woke up all was well in the world again.  Got a new obsession with Bento Boxes, so my daughter and I have been trying our hand at playing with our food a bit.  I believe our favorite was making hot dog and spaghetti octopi and boiling them in colored water so they came out pink and purple.  Made up a recipe for watermelon lemonade, and have been enjoying my gallon jug IMMENSELY, I must say.  I have worn my pajamas for over 24 hours on two different occasions until I could not stand my own smell.  And I have woken up on three different mornings unsure of what day of the week it was.  Summer time, and the living is eaaaaasy...

And then there's this blogging dealio.  Mixed feelings.  Granted, nothing really to blog about at this point, and I made that new goal for "quality" posts.  This one might be on the razor's edge, mind you.  I think, overall, it will be quality for me, because it is my base plan for the next few weeks- but you might just be bored to death.  

So, without further adieu, my Summer 2012 Great "School Related" To-Do List Challenge:

1)Finish reading Arthur Hyde's Book Comprehending Math
2) RE-READ Daily 5 and CAFE
3) Post four separate entries on my thoughts on Guided Math by Laney Sammons, the Hyde book, and the sister's books.  Ok, maybe three.  I think I can easily put the sister's books into one post.
4) Post on my proposed room decoration.  I am actually going to go with a theme. New territory for me.  I've even investigated the psychology of color for the scheme. There will be spray painting, there will be ribbons, there will be use of glue guns and zip ties.  Wood will be cut.  Sheet metal will be purchased. There might even be some DIY screen printing going down. I am excited about this one!
5)  Post on my Guided Math plan, including how I'll manage centers aligned with state standards + differentiation, calendar math, a math notebook, math read alouds/anchor charts, and an interview system for determining groups. (and be making centers)
6) My plan for incorporating word work centers this year that help me out with my spelling, language arts, sight words, and fine motor skills/handwriting needs. (and be making centers)
7) My thoughts on writing notebooks, reading notebooks, inquiry lap books, and a homework folder.  Most likely done in three to four posts.
8) PYP-ing up my curriculum, interweaving Window of Inquiry into literacy and math. (If I can do this, I'll gain an extra 40 to 50 minutes in my day.) Also researching the best read-alouds for the PYP attitudes and attributes.
9) My investigation, study, and decision making on classroom management strategies I'll try to implement this year to make me a better teacher.  It is my weak point.  It needs to be fixed.
10) I have an on-line ESOL class I have to finish that's required by my district.

Sounds like a full plate, yeah?  And this is keeping in mind the three kids (one with autism, one gifted, and one baby), and the basement that has to be cleaned up, and how my daughter wants us to make a craft and do a pinterest recipe every day, and I'm planning on sewing some clothes for myself, and getting a hair cut, and maybe dieting. (probably not really dieting, but I might give a half-ass attempt.  I just love frosting too much)  Oh yeah- and I forgot- I promised my students I'd write them this summer.
so ADD
11) letters to students with SASE enclosed in case they'd like to write back.

Bets on whether or not I end the summer with my brain intact?
Philosophy for the season: Make Every Day Count!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Reflection on the Blogging Way of Life

Pretty pumped that I made my goal and posted each night until the last day of school.  There were days when I didn't feel like it.  And there were days when I probably shouldn't have.  

Some of these posts, I'm actually proud of.  And not because anybody read it or because anyone commented on it- but because when I read over them for myself, I can look at them and say, "yeah, I can hear my voice in that one".

I was an English Major as an undergraduate.  I had an Professor that once said to me "There she is, the next greatest author in America, and to think she wants to be a librarian!"  Maybe he really didn't mean the author thing- but he was definitely displeased with the notion of me becoming lost in the stacks keeping the books from collecting dust but not wanting them to be moved so as to keep them in order. (Even though it drives us crazy- the sign of a loved library is one that is out of order.)  This compliment alone is responsible for my inner decision to not be a librarian, which up to that point I was actually pretty committed to.  I, ah, had already looked up the library of congress numbers for all of my personal books and made shelf labels for them and put them in order in my dorm room.  Yeaaaah.  I told you I was FLAWED. Quirky makes me cute, darn it.  At least, that's the litmus test for Mr. Right, correct?  He'll look at my self made labels and say "Hey- you ARE ADORABLE.  Let me give you some of my millions of dollars I made growing organic strawberries." Yar.

And no, I didn't (haven't YET) become the next greatest author in America- but sometimes writing this blog makes me feel a little closer to it.

But some of these posts- seriously- I mean, why did I bother?  Crap is crap folks.  When the idea is not there, it's not there.  And it's not that I have a lack of ideas of what to write about- check out the recorder usage on my iPhone app and you'll see, I've talked myself silly with things that I could blog about.  But just churning something out everyday, without taking the time necessary to maybe revise, edit, fancy up with photos or reflections- isn't QUALITY.  I should have spent the time organizing the question cards in a Trival Pursuit game in numerical order.  Dudes, there is a little number in the lower right hand corner of each card!  Clearly they are MEANT to be in order.  And Mr. Right says, "That is so perfect.  Let me buy you a Lexus."

You know what churning out this writing  makes me think of?  Making the kids write everyday even when they don't want to.  How often do we make kids do things even though we really shouldn't?  Is that a terrible thing for a teacher to say? Am I supposed to champion the idea of making sure the kids do it everyday without fail?  And yeah, I know- hidden gems in the sand and seed ideas and write yourself out of the block and what not- but don't we always tell kids we want QUALITY?  When we MAKE them do something everyday, even when they aren't prepared, ready, healthy, willing- aren't we sort of passing on the message that it's about QUANTITY and not QUALITY?  Am I going to teacher jail?  I sort of feel a little paranoid now.

There's this particular book in the Writer's Workshop plan that wants them producing a story a day.   Granted, they are five page stories.  But for a second grader- a five page story that follows a logical sequence, tells something enlightening, annnnnnd makes sense can be a tall order.  And we want them to do that every day?  I'm not saying don't exercise the writer's part of your brain everyday (in some fashion, which clearly I need to investigate what that would actually mean), but does that mean write a specific stand alone piece every day?  So in a month's time, they'd have twenty stories.  I know, as a severely FLAWED human being with limited patience and probably a decent touch of adult ADD, I AM NOT going to read 20 stories by 20 students.  This is at least 1000 pages folks.  Nine months of school.  Give us a month for holidays and snow and what not- STILL 8000 PAGES.  DO THE MATH!!!  How many trees is that?  How many quality pieces come out of those 8000 pages?  How many of them did I actually read?  Or care about?  Or comment on?

Sorry, but the whole conferring piece of writer's workshop, and the sharing of the story and reworking it into something they are proud of is where the real learning takes place.  Do I need to sleep with one eye open tonight?  Does anybody have an opinion on this one?

On that note- I am taking a few days off. I'll be back- I like this too much- but new goal for my posts: Quality.  Disclaimer: It might just be quality in MY OPINION.  Something I can actually look back on and say "yep, that was helpful."

Love and lashes, kittens.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The End is Nigh

End of the year.  Tomorrow is it.  Over by 12:30, and half days are always a blur.  It's a mixed bag of emotions.  I am ready for the break of course, but I really got to love my kids this year- and it's always nerve wracking beginning with a new group, even though it always turns into a big love fest in the end anyway.  So I sit here tonight thinking about ends and beginnings and how both of them can just be sort of sucky but glorious at the same time.  *big sigh*

A quick shout out to some info I ran across on Chickadee Jubilee, she has a wonderful post about this program called Tagxedo , where you can input words and it will collage them for you inside a shape.  She made gifts for her kids with descriptive words her students came up with.  Completely inspired to copy, I gave my kids a class list today- had them write their favorite colors by their name, and then a positive adjective next to each other name on the list.  Collected all of the lists, brought them home, picked out a shape (I liked the shooting star), found a color theme that matched their favorites and loaded in the adjectives. Presto change-o! Annnnd Print.  End of year keepsake ready.  If I have time I'll laminate them, otherwise I'll just put them in the report card folder.  Next year though (super teacher year)  maybe I'll have bought some frames ahead of time so I can give it to them framed. Bit pressed for time here at the last minute though.

Made some good dents in the mess today.  Sorted out quite a bit that belonged in recycling.  Got the back table cleared up.  If I can get in early tomorrow and attack my desk- I think I will be pretty golden there for my half day Monday plan.

featuring kids' thumbprints - the kids could sign their name inside the print. Nice every year picture.Today we had a going away assembly for our assistant principal.  Each grade level was meant to bring something to present, so borrowing from Pinterest, Fablous Karen and I decided to go with the thumbprint tree idea.  I found an image of a leafless tree on the internet and then put it up on the promethean board and outlined the tree shape onto brown construction paper.  Then I cut it out and pasted it onto an Elmer's foam board.  Each class chose a different color to make their finger prints in.  We had each kid in second grade put their thumbprint either as leaves on the tree, clouds in the sky or grass on the ground.  Then we wrote the child's name next to their print, and put on a punny quote "Thanks for helping us through all of our seasons, Remember your roots!"  I added in a bit of detail with some markers like extra grass strands and flowers- just to use up some of the white space.  I should have taken a picture of it, but the thought escaped me at the time.  It's a cute keepsake though, and I decided I'd do a quick one with just my kids tomorrow.  I think it would make for a sweet tradition every year to have a class tree of leave thumbprints.

Discovered a die cutting machine in the teacher workroom.  It's amazing how oblivious I've been this year.  I was afraid to make color prints until April.  just learned how to use the poster maker probably around the same time.  I was shy about laminating until May.  Which is also when I finally used the book binding machine. And today I finally poked around the big huge gigantic machine with computer interface and discovered that it did all of the cutting for you and you didn't have to pump down on a handle!  It has moose templates! Score!  And it had a leafless tree!  So I cut one of those this afternoon for my thumbprint plan tomorrow.  I must promise myself to take better advantage of the resources I am offered next year.  I tell you, I am working in a wonderland and not even dipping my toes in the chocolate.  It's just sinful.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Freshly Mowed Grass, thou art the devil.

A short post, as Claritin has failed me and an allergy migraine is mounting.

More packing done today.  But it's still a mess.  I'm pretty worried about not having it packed up by Monday.  And I'm sort of almost out of boxes, and I sort of don't get paid until Friday- so I sort of can't buy plastic bins.  Panic panic panic.

Still have one cursive packet left- GULP- and they took so long to poke through it today.  Worry worry worry. We started the water experiment today with the expandable toys- they very much enjoyed weighing the items and especially measuring out the water (so much so that I'm feeling like putting an abbreviated version of Water Blitz Day back on tomorrow).  We put the pieces in small plastic containers and put them on the shelves to watch them grow.  We will reweigh them tomorrow.  Over half of them didn't know you had to fill the cup to the top for it to be counted as "one".  They just figured any amount in the cup was enough.  Thoughts of all year measurement continue to stir...

Had my PGP review.  I think it went very well.  I feel like I made a lot of forward progress as a teacher this year, and enough mistakes to have thoughts on how to improve next year.  I did receive the constructive criticism that I need to continue to work on the management piece in my classroom- and I completely agree.  It's not my strong suit, and causes a lot of head aches and stress for me professionally.  So I think, even though I have a million projects for this summer- I definitely want to give some priority to studying different management ideas. Hard though- since that isn't exactly the most fun part of teaching to work on, you know?  I'd much rather be making centers and crafting and eating cake.

But, I also got to share my ideas for next year briefly at the meeting, and it was great to have that sound board moment.  Maybe I talk too much.  I suppose it's good that I'm blogging, so I can empty out my brain here.  And then, you know, I talk myself silly into the recorder app on my phone every morning. ;)

Gads- and I forgot to put the kids fingerprints on the tree that has to be done my 9:25 tomorrow morning.  I will be armed with a hair dryer then in the AM.  Sheesh.  At least I got my student placement cards done.  Even though I admit to not turning them in like I was supposed to.  At least they're DONE.  I mentioned I'm a disorganized mess in general, right?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Oy! Me brain is sizzling...

Gads- you know what I didn't do?  I didn't photocopy the town money.  kick kick kick.  Yar.  Ok- two solid days of handing out money then.  That should be ok, right?  I am, after all, just experimenting here.

I did complete the Guided Reading Inventory mission though.  So I just have to put those two inventories into the computer and I am GOLDEN.  I also have my PGP all tidied up, and will send out the e-mail in the morning that I am ready to rock that taco stand.  Giddy up!  I cleaned up the mess a bit by moving all of my "Stay Here" boxes to the back of the room on top of our former work tables.  I moved all of their desks this afternoon too, in a fit.  And now, I know I hate it.  Note to future Super Teacher me (not that I'd need the note, 'cause I'll be all super, yo) DO NOT MOVE DESKS WHEN YOU'RE MAD.  So, tomorrow morning I'll go in and move them again before the kids get there. Erg.  I also have to fill out class placement cards for next year in a frenzy- I FORGOT to bring them home.  Dork dork dork.

And, I fear that I will have to do some "legitimate" teaching tomorrow, as I had them spend pretty much all day creating a time capsule book so I could pack.  I'm feeling ashamed of myself, to be quite honest.  So, the plan for tomorrow is to do some cursive.  As in, all of it.  And I have a water experiment to do that I think might end up replacing Water Blitz Day.  I know, dorkiness cop out, but I really am out of steam.  For my water project though- I found these body part dealies at the Dollar store, and when you place them in water, they blow up four times their regular size or something.    So my plan is- first weigh the dry toy in the balance scale.  Then measure out a specific amount of water into a container.  Then add toy- wait till near end of day- take out expanded toy and weigh- chart difference.  Measure left over water to see how much it sucked up.  Sound mathy?  I think so!

Aaaaaannnnnnd- because I do still need to pack- here is what Heaven sent me via my father.  Someone was throwing out a craft book of hat patterns.  Like, over a hundred animal/creature/things make-out-of-paper hat patterns.  Seriously?  How! Why! Wha??? This is end of the year GOLD I tell you!  So, to try to keep it on the "legitimate" side...yes, I will have them measure the circumference of their noggins in order to cut the right band length of paper for their hats. Maybe we can even graph the different size heads - How Big is Your Brain? (oooooo- save this for next year, Halloween I think, Zombie sort of theme action, interactive bulletin board in the hallway, guest brains, slurp slurp. Yep, suuuuuper teacher!)  And then I will let them choose whatever animal/thing they want and spend oooodles of time making the silly thing.  I will be the best teacher EVER in their eyes.  They WILL have done some math in the process, and I will be able to PACK.  Ultimate mediocre genius stuff here.  Still though- who in their right mind wanted to toss that book out?  My gain, my gain, be happy. And there was a spring craft book too- which I will make sure I make every single stinking thing in it next year for funsies.  They even had an awesome "blowing wind" puppet, where you use a dish soap bottle and a tissue to doe this wind blowing simulation.  EXCITING for weather unit.

As promised, some econ photos of market day products:

Animals from Daniela's Animal Shelter

Nail Polish "bottles" from Abby's Nail Salon

Trampoline Folks from Lily's Bungee Jumping
Skates from Azarrio's Super Skate Land

Monday, June 11, 2012

Crafting Reflections

Kind of hard to believe I'm in the last week.  Time goes so fast- it's unbelievable.  When I grew up in Alaska, the seasons didn't change much- nine months of snow made time "freeze", if you don't mind the pun.  I thought I'd be twelve for the rest of my life.  But then I moved down south and we have four seasons now and life has zipped by me.  And the day pretty much zipped by as well.  Which was ok by me, considering the air conditioning wasn't exactly working.  I came to have a deep appreciation of my deodorant.

Kids had their celebration today, two hours of autograph signing, while I got to "work" in my room.  Of course, I did next to zero.  I did get to meet with Best Ever Kristine and find out what sorts of goodies she was leaving for me in my new room.  I am nearly frothing at the mouth for the great big closet and wooden writing center.  Hip hip hooray!

Of course, it was time for recess at the point the celebration was over- and then lunch, so there goes another hour.  Half point of the day, give kids their last number sense assessment.  This is the last piece I need for my PGP plan.  Got the whole thing written up, folks- just need to have the data. So there, I did DO something.

And then it was time for Market Day crafting.  The kids had two hours to make their "wares".  I put out EVERYTHING I had. Except glitter and paint.  I admit to just not wanting to DEAL with glitter and paint. But you know, it was sort of hard.  I had almost gotten to the point where I felt like giving them the ribbons was WRONG.  Why do we do that?  Or is it just me?  We buy it, for the use of crafts, but then the idea that they might actually use it all up frightens us.  Or me.  Maybe it is just me.  The woman with the inner hoarder.  Anyhow- I was able to take my claws off the items and go work on packing.  Which was it's own nightmare for me.  I will take pictures of their stuff and post them tomorrow- but I will tell you, I had at least three boys make basically nothing.  (And they are just going to have to live with not making any money on market day.  I said two hours only and I am sticking to it.  My determination is fueled by Fabulous Karen today, who was the epitome of standing her ground.  It was inspiring.)  And, kittens, I had kids who - dare I say it- made nothing worth buying.  And lots of it.  But, and here's the good part, I had at least two who wowed me.  I am so stinking proud of Azarrio, he made the most adorable roller skates.  His store was a skating rink, and he cut shoe shapes out of construction paper, and found some ribbon with little bobbles hanging off and cut it so exactly FOUR trimmed the bottom of each shoe.  They are AWESOME.  I will make myself be sure to buy one of his skates so I can keep it as an excellent example for next year.  And Abby- the dear thing- she had a nail salon, made fancy nail polish "bottles" out of air dry clay and decorated the outside with shaped felt.  I am also going to be sure to get one of those.  There were other cuties, but those were the two stand outs today.  Perhaps on closer inspection tomorrow I will be impressed some more.

I talked over this crafting experience with my mother today.  Mom always had my sister and I making crafts when we were younger.  We cut, pasted, created, sewed, baked, the whole shebang.  But I find now, as every year goes by, that I find less and less people my age who had similar experiences, and my students definitely DON'T.  I really want to try to address this next year.  Do I have them time?  Is it worth the investment?  Should I set better priorities?  But it seems a shame to leave them out there unable to CREATE.  Isn't it a tragedy to be eight and not have a steady glue hand?  To not know to cut at the EDGE of the paper (for Pete's sake) instead of right in the middle?  In this conversation with Mom though, we got around to the discussion of do these kids have the NECESSARY MATERIALS there at home to craft with?  And I'm pretty sure that's a no.  So we brainstormed a bit.  Aside from just teaching some crafting techniques next year (yep, sUUUUUper teacher year) each month slowly buy up different crafting materials from the Dollar Store, so at the end of the year, for their summer gift, I can give each of them an art tub to take home for the summer.

What would go in that gift?  I'd need a basket or container of some sort.  One with a lid would be best.  Crayons.  Fat markers and skinny markers. scissors and big sticks of glue.  pack of construction paper.  a ruler. tape.  brass brads.  pom poms. dazzles.  ribbon.  clay.  colored chalk. fancy paper. fancy shape scissors(probably going to have to stalk Michael's for that) pipe cleaners. Pony beads.  And I suppose, slowly print out random craft directions and put them together into a book to go in the box.  Summery sorts of crafts, for both boys and girls.  If I only use the list I have right here, that's 20 bucks a kid... of course, spread that over nine least 2 bucks per kid per month, and let's round up to $3 to be safe.  If I have a class of twenty kids, that's sixty bucks a month.  Maybe that's just crazy.  Maybe I need to have a car wash or something to raise the money. Yarp.

But looking directly at this econ unit- since it will be stretched over the entire year next year, I'm going to handle market day differently.  I will do it once each quarter.  Seems like a good celebration idea to me.  But the first three quarters, I will spend teaching them SPECIFIC crafts and techniques, and they can chose from these techniques and crafts to make to sell for market day.  I can make the items go along with the units we've studied that quarter.  So, say it was the quarter we studied weather, well then they could make weather instruments, or cloud pictures, or tornado tubes, or snow globes and the like.  It won't be until the final market day that they really create their own store product.  Hopefully by then they'll have a good skill set to make some really interesting items.

So, tomorrow I must photocopy our Geovanni Town currency and begin to pass it out as I catch excellent behavior.  I hope I can do a good job at this.  I have a tendency to forget such things.

During the crafting, I was able to inventory all of my math manipulatives, and box them up.  And box up all of the teacher supplies that stay with the room.  I have three magnificent towers of boxes now at the front of the room. And yeah, I didn't get the book inventory finished, and I had cursed myself with the fingernail thing.  If it satisfies anybody, I did break a couple of them today.  And I attempted to start the inventory,a nd got two levels done, but then other things took over.  So, I will have to make sure it gets done tomorrow.  The procrastinator's creed.

I did manage to create an even bigger mess than when I started.  It reminded me of when I was twelve.  When I would "clean" my room, I would take out absolutely everything from everywhere and make a great big huge gigantic pile in the middle of my bed.  And then pick at it piece by piece slowly putting it away.  The overall idea was that I would force myself to organize everything so I could go to sleep.  But, of course, I gave up mid way through the pile and would shove it in my closet or under the bed.  There's got to be a class, or intervention, or just a pill to help me with this.  Perhaps a general brain transplant.  If I'm lucky tomorrow, I'll make another big dent in it.  I'll start packing up what is MINE.  Which of course, now that I think of it- I meant to ask my Dad for boxes, and he has gone to bed.  I do manage to handicap myself regularly.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Great To Do Challenge week 6

Really? Week 6?  Wow.

Anyway- I'm pressed for time and gotta get a move on.

last week:
1) PGP plan.  Because yo, it's like, due. Um, well, I started it, and then I found out it wasn't due until TOMORROW, so I sort of didn't finish it.  Yeah.  I have a problem with procrastination.
2) Catch-all drawers YES I DID. and nearly broke my arm off returning it all to school.  I've got to be better at staying organized next year so I'm not bringing that sort of thing home.
3) Guided reading inventory Halvsies.  I got them all sorted and neatly in their boxes, and now I just have to write down titles and amounts.  It'll be a kid job tomorrow.
4) Math manipulative inventory Halvsies.  Everything sorted and ready to be inventoried on a checklist.  Kid job tomorrow.
5) Sift through e-mail Three-quarters-ies?  I would have finished, but this computer went all jiggy when I started to print.  I have HOWEVER managed to delete everything unnecessary so all I have left to do is print out the important stuff before the final purge.  Another thing I need to keep up with better next year.
6) Run math groups YES I DID by golly!  And I really enjoyed them too.  I'm going to be reading that book I got Guided Math and following along with some bloggers doing a book study starting tomorrow too.
7) Finish up econ unit to prepare for market day in the last week YES I DID.  In fact, I will be photocopying our newly adopted currency in the morning and the kiddos will be spending tomorrow crafting their little entrepreneur hearts out.
8) Complete AMC Anywhere post test (where am I going to find time for that?) YES I DID. Whew!
9) Pack into boxes the items that I will be giving to the "new teacher" that takes over that classroom, so that I can concentrate on the things I'll be moving down to my new room week after next. NO I SO DIDN'T.  But I got the boxes out and put the strapping tape on the bottom at least.
10) Take pictures of both class spaces so I can use them for summer planning Ummm, NO. Of Course I didn't.  But I did spend a random five minutes looking up apps on my iPhone to see if they had a measuring app with the camera.  They do, and it's four bucks, and I'm feeling cheap.  We'll see if I cave.

You know what though?  I finished my report cards, and got everything into the grade book.  So I'm super set with that.  And I had a fantastic literacy planning day and watched Fabulous Karen plan our entire year for us, and actually sort of helped with the language arts bit. Even though that job was super easy and a monkey could have done it.  Let's all just listen to me bang my cymbals and ride a tricycle why don't we?

I have a straight 40% for the list, + 2.5 for my almosts, so that brings me up to 65% and I think I deserve some credit for the report card and grade book gig.  Can we throw me a bone with a 75%?  80% if you want to feel bad about my lugging heavy bags injury.  It's a ghastly bruise I tell you!

So really this week I HAVE TO:
1) PGP plan.  Seriously
2) Inventory Guided Reading.  May all my nails fall off if I don't get the kids to finish it for me tomorrow.
3) Inventory Math manipulatives.  Add my personal curse to my toenails for the same time frame.
4) Pack up the "stay in this classroom even though I'm moving stuff"  I must finish that by Wednesday.
5) PACK MY ROOM - due by Friday kiddos.
6) ECON Market Day- also due on Friday
7) Water Blitz Day- due by Thursday
8) Finish cursive packet with the kids - due by Friday
9) Get that e-mail clean up finished - due by Friday
10) Pictures of new classroom for planning.

Gosh, I hope I can do all that.  I've got to, by George! (Granted, I do have a work day on Monday- but it would be lovely to only have to use half of it and then shop for the other half.  We shall see)

Oh- and my appreciation shtuff.  Hey- I have to give it to Karen this week.  She is awesome with the scheduling.  Really- our entire year blocked out in color with dates, and we even know how many teaching days in any given week.  She is the Queen of Awesome.

And I also have big love for so many of the teachers in my building.  SO many of them made a point to come ask me how my meeting went about my oldest son- and they really didn't have to.  And on top of that, I really felt like they were being sincere and genuine with their interest and support.  It's a real wonderful moment to be able to feel confident that you really do teach with wonderful people.  I hope everyone else out there is as lucky as I am to have found this wonderful placement. This school is just so perfect for me.  It's really making me grow into the teacher I've always wanted to be. I hope to stay here forever- as long as it doesn't start to suck.  ha!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Were Saturdays Ever Exciting?

I spent mine working on report cards and gradebooks.  Sounds like tons of fun, yeah?  At least I finished them, and now feel like I have a load off.  But this also means that I really need a better plan for handling grading and report carding next year.  And to be honest- this is a serious organization issue- and that is just not my thing.  I am equipped with a super lazy gene, which means that I can start strong, and then it fizzles quickly.  So I worry that I can come up with an idea, but will be unable to carry it through.  And usually, I come up with something overly complicated, and that's why it fizzles.  So what's the easiest way to handle grading?  Ideas anyone?

The grading system at my school is pretty subjective.  Satisfactory, S+, S-, consistant, needs support.  Not exactly definitive.  Perhaps the only way to be fair is to create rubrics...I smell another summer project coming on.  How many is that now? 104?

And speaking of summer projects, I was thinking about a math notebook idea.  I have an hour and ten minute commute to work, and I spend this time nefariously plotting.  With the generous assistance of the Record Memo app on my iphone, I can ramble on for half an hour, and listen to what I rambled on about for another half hour on the playback, and then pull into work properly caffeinated ten minutes later.  But anyway- back on track- chug a chug chug.

Math notebook.  I combined a couple of different ideas.  One, I was stalking around this calendar math website and saw some great ideas for calendar math pages for the kids to use during calendar math time.  And then I also came across this solution to calendar math space on pinterest.  So this picture made me think about lapbooks, and how maybe the kids could have a lapbook version of what I have on the trifold board.  At a literacy planning meeting we recently had, my grade level talked through reorganizing a guided reading notebook for the kids, and talked about creating a section where they kept pictures of the anchor charts we created in class and then wrote personal examples of how they interpreted that information.  So that made me think that in my math notebook, I could add dividers for the different core areas (Number Sense, Computation and Estimation, Measurement and Geometry, and Patterns Functions and Algebra) and the kids could keep pictures of math anchor charts in those sections along with a written interpretation as well. 

I was also thinking about how they could keep their basic math tools in this notebook, in a pencil pouch, and the rules and game boards to our Investigations series.  So, we use a three ring binder.  I'm imagining a one inch version, since they are currently being offered at the Dollar Store.  So you open it up and see the pencil pouch.  And inside it has a dry erase marker, a felt eraser, addition fact cards, and game pieces. Then the calendar math lapbook (we'll change it every month). And then basic tools in page protectors, like the hundreds chart, and number lines, and what nots.  Then the four divided sections, with page protectors with the anchor charts and games filed in the right sections.  And then they could even use the page protectors to store other foldables they create during the year.  The calendar math lapbooks I'll store during the year, and then we'll bind them together at the end of the year for the kids to take home.  And I figure since I only spent a dollar on the binder, then the kids can take home their math notebook too. Maybe it would be a decent reference for that third grade sol?

Summer project, 105.


Got My Mathy Mc-Math Math on Today- and also Made a Mess

It's sort of a catch-22.  I need to pack.  I need my kids occupied in quiet activities while I do this.  But my kids are not worksheet kids.  Giving them a worksheet is like giving them permission to create fire and roast hot dogs and smores whilst singing drunken sailor songs at the top of their lungs.  So, instead of finding busy work as other folks have been able to do, I've gone the super hands-on math activity route.  And I do like these activites.  And the kids like them too.  And they are OCCUPIED.  But it still requires me to teach, and manage, and interact, and I'm really not getting much packing done.  Three of my boys did help me get all of the straggling math manipulatives put away though- so I am A-Ok for super quick check-list inventory on Monday.

One of our math activities available today was the sunglasses measurement basket.  I got a bunch of funky shades at the Dollar Store and placed them in baskets with rulers, and little booklets I made up for the kids to describe the pair of sunglasses they selected and then measure them at five different points in inches and centimeters.  They measured the length of the glasses from eye to eye, the height of the glasses top to bottom, the length of the ear piece, and then the height and width of the lens. I also put a couple in our balance scale baskets so they could weigh them as well.   The kids also ADORED trying them on. They also are very interested in whether or not I'm going to LET THEM HAVE A PAIR.  And I'm sort of leaning toward yes.  Seems an easy gift, and they were only a buck.  I think for next year, I need to write some sort of picture book about sunglasses so I can have one in the retelling center, and they can act with the sunglasses on. 

I had trained them up on using the balance scale yesterday.  Granted, a good seventy percent of them apparently forgot EVERYTHING we went over yesterday, but I should have expected that.  Anyhow- I had added a few different toys today, as it was looking pretty thin on the Luau artifacts.  And I made up booklets for them this morning.  The first pages went over what we learned yesterday about grams and ounces and 28 paperclips being an ounce, and that being the same as ten big clips and how to find the mass of any toy.  Then there were pages for them to write down the name of the toy they selected and then record how many grams and ounces it ended up being.  I set up four different balance stations and they worked in pairs.  Pairs not working at the balances measured sunglasses.  It worked out pretty evenly split, and I really didn't have anybody goofing off.  They all worked at their stations and the most trouble I had was my Bossy McBoss Bosses fussing at each other relentlessly over whose turn it was to drop in the next clip.  Why is it that the Mama Bears always pick each other as partners?  You'd think they'd have figured out by now to prey upon the weak and controllable....oh well.

So, with them so nicely occupied at these two stations, I decided to do a little introductory liquid measurement.  We created two different flavors of Koolaid drinks, and used teaspoons to measure out the flavor of our choice into a popsicle mold.  I had gotten these bottle rocket molds at the Dollar Store.  They had different colored toppers to put on, and I decided to just use a sharpie to number the toppers, and then when I called the kids back to make their popsicle, they picked which color topper they wanted and I recorded the number next to their name on a class list.  So come next week when we have our Water Blitz day, I can just refer to the sheet and know exactly whose popsicle is whose.  I'm pretty proud of myself for that little bit of organization.  My little Tulio helped me carry them down to the freezer, only a few splashes upon our shoes, and we had to do some rearranging to make them fit.  Email came through later in the day that the freezer and fridge storage was out of control and everything was going to be chucked this evening.  Luckily, the principal had mercy on me since mine was educationally related and my popsicles were spared. Whew!  I'd have some explaining to do if the kids didn't get their popsicles.

I did notice though, in this activity- that they really didn't have any idea how to use a measuring spoon.  I don't think they are doing much baking at home.  So it has me thinking about what I can do about this in the future.  I mean, how possible is it to do cooking activites in the classroom?  Would we ever be allowed to use the school cafeteria kitchen? Or should I just send home recipies occassionally and suggest parents try them with their children?  I don't know.  I think I must have had a very different sort of childhood with all of the cooking and crafting my mom had my sister and I do way back when.

In the end- we mathed our little hearts out today.  Also had a pretty decent discussion about barter vs. money, and then created a town currency.  So next week they can spend an entire day creating products to sell, and behave themselves to the bone trying to earn GeovanniTown Dollars.  That should get me at least one good day of packing I think.  Because I left a whopper of a mess, BOY HOWDY!  The custodian is hating me right now.  I can feel it.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Store "Grand Opening" and Math Magic

Great times today.  We had two of our second grade classrooms come and visit us to see our stores we'd created for our town.  These other two rooms hadn't started their shops yet, so we got to show ours to help them generate ideas.  When the kids came in, I introduced our town's District Reps and Mayor- all who gave queen waves, kingly salutes, or double Nixon peace signs.  I loved at the end when the classes were leaving, my District Three Rep, Amaya, called out- "Thank you so much for visiting our town, we hoped you enjoyed the tour!"  I had not told her to say any such thing, so it was a real thrill to see how much they took on the role.  Our Mayor shook a few hands as well.   With the shops completed, and our tour a success, we hung them on the back bulletin board grouped by business type.  They are already looking forward to taking them home.  I'm going to go ahead and have them create products and have a market day- but I'll do an abbreviated version.  I have to- I'm pretty much out of time.

Another day of successful small group math pulls.  I met with four kids at a time today to go over the correct use of a balance scale.  We talked about units of measure- grams and ounces, and how a gram is about a paper clip, and that 28 paperclips make up an ounce.  I have two sizes of paperclips, so we took 28 small ones and then investigated how many big paperclips that equaled.  Turned out to be about ten.  one group did come up with nine, and another group 11, but six other groups got ten exactly, so we just went for the average.  We linked the large paperclips together into a chain to make an "ounce weight".  Then we selected an item from our summer goodies basket and investigated how many grams it equaled, and then used that knowledge to estimate how many ounces that would be.  The kids were really good at it, and since I really only had time to let them measure one item- they are looking forward to having the balances available as a center tomorrow to weight the other items.

I picked up my items at the Dollar Store, in the beachy luau section.  We're weighing plastic lei beads, fake flower leis, a hula dancer dashboard girl, different tropical plastic clappers, sunglasses, flamingos, and the like.  I also have other small items that they can use if they want to continue to practice weighing things.

We also spent time measuring flip flops.  I ended up not hiding them around the room, but instead putting them into basket, telling them to select a flip flop, trace it on paper, and then measure the flop at four different points (toe to heel, widest part of foot, narrowest part of foot, and then the height of the flop from the floor- some of those foam ones are pretttttty thick).  They recorded their measurements on the paper and then they could color the flip flop drawing before selecting another flop.  I hadn't thought about it ahead of time, but the first young lady that finished stapled hers into a book- and then the rest of them did that too. So next year, I'm going to have that PLANNED.  I did not have a single student try to get out of the activity.  Even the boys sat there calmly selecting flops and tracing them and doing the measurements.  Surprising- but appreciated.

I picked up a bunch of weird sunglasses at the Dollar Store tonight, so I'll have them do sunglasses measurements as well as the balance scale project.  That's two things to keep them busy while I pull groups to go over liquid volume and do the first half of our popsicle experiment.  and then I just have to teach them the thermometer, and have a Water Blitz day.  I don't think the Measuring Me book is going to happen, but don't count me out yet!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Occasionally, a meeting can be productive.

I did not teach today.  I rushed through some sub plans, made a poor attempt at tidying my moving mess, and spent the day with my team and the third grade teachers discussing our writing and reading programs and planning for next year. Fabulous Karen has rocked out our long range plans- so we've got our general overview for the whole year, and we've got a good nine specific weeks of language arts lessons down in the calendar.  We planned through what we'd like a guided reading notebook for the kids to look like, spent some quality time chatting about things that weren't even teacher related, had a good laugh or two, ate lunch AWAY from school (Yeeeeeeehaw!) and got all of our literacy folders squared away and ready to move up with the kiddos to third grade. Learned a little about a new handwriting program we'll be starting next fall that has a lot of fine motor skill games incorporated into it.  Excited about that, since I had been thinking I'd like to add that into my room. All in all- PLEASED as punch.  And also, I got a team assignment duty for next year, I am going to be in charge of the PYP planners. I'm excited but nervous about that, and therefore glad I'm having training in August so I'll actually know what I'm doing.

I also attended my son's graduation from fifth grade.  I was concerned that he would not do well at the ceremony (lots of sensory issues with the Autism), but he did fabulous.  We did not stay for the whole thing- he got his certificate of completion, had his picture taken with the teachers and assistants he's had for these last three years, and then we went to have dinner.  He left with a smile on his face.  I could not ask for anything more.  It is amazing how fast they grow. I can remember when I could hold him up on my shoulder while he slept, and now he's almost as tall as I am (which isn't short, by the way). Bittersweet.

I spent the remainder of my evening sorting out those catch-all drawers from the classroom.  Did I mention that I sort of cheated and dumped all of the contents into two boxes and brought them home the other day?  So tonight I sat on the floor and sorted and bagged, and wrestled Babyzilla away from the bags of alphabet magnets.   At the moment I put them back into the boxes, all in ziploc baggies, in specific sections of school supplies, crafts, science, math, and language arts.  It's really too bad social studies doesn't naturally come with manipulatives.  I should do something about that... Happily, it turned out that I actually have some very nice things that were hidden away in those catch all drawers- and now that my mind is on this organized track, I can actually think of how I could have USED THEM instead of having them stuffed in a drawer.  But, next year, next year, next year is super teacher year!  I think I need to put that to music.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


An unforseen evening event drained me of my time.  I did do good work today and took pictures, but they will have to wait for tomorrow when I am not suffering from a need of sleep.

As an update though, picnic went well.  Subplans ready for tomorrow, hope they will go over well.  Nixed the cake pops, no time.  Yar.  Finished organizing my literacy folders, yay!  Brought all my catch-all drawer junk home, and will sort tomorrow at my leisure upon my couch.  Got all of my guided reading sets tidied and in order, ready to inventory.  My little Gabriel, who is new from Mexico and just learning English wanted to help me.  He was super pleased with himself that he understood to look up what reading level they were, put them in alphabetical order, and organize them neatly in little bins.  It was nice to spend some one on one time with him just talking and seeing how much he understood already.  Plus, I think he had great satisfaction to be able to help with a job with nobody over his shoulder translating for him.  He's a real gem that kid- absolutely amazing boy.

I have a group of boys ready to do a puppet play for Sly Fox and Red Hen- they made the backdrops and puppets themselves today, and will present it to small groups tomorrow.  It'll take two days to get to everybody, so I will have my chance to take photos on Thursday.

Finished up my AMC testing, and my impromptu measurement preassessment. Learned so much about what they understood about rulers.  Was able to pull small groups based on that data this afternoon and make six inch pony bead ruler with them.  Did you know that four pony beads equal one inch?  Yep, each one is exactly 1/4 of an inch.  We strung them on pipe cleaners and twisted the ends into lops to hold the beads in place.  Had a nice discussion about rulers before we made our own and looked for important differences between the two sides. 

They've got the idea of inches vs. centimeters now.  And I cleared up the confusion over where to start when you measure.  So many of them felt you had to start at 1.  I was able to show them how when you did that, the amount of spaces didn't match the number.  It is helpful that we have a great ruler that shows the two ways, spaces with worms and also the traditional numbers and marks. They wanted to wear the rulers as bracelets- even the boys.  So at least now I know how to please second graders cheaply.  Pipe cleaners and pony beads.  But you know, I think stringing the beads onto the pipe cleaners and twisting the ends was a really great fine motor activity too.  I'd like to look into making that more of a regular experience next year.  I wonder how it would impact handwriting?

Tomorrow is my all day inservice working on literacy planning.  I'm looking forward to bumming it and having some good adult conversation time. 

At the end of the day today a third grade teacher popped into my room to ask me if I would like to move up to third grade and work with them next year.  I was really flattered actually that they thought I'd make a nice addition to their team.  And I like them very much, a great group of ladies, so I know it would be fun.  But oh, how I do hate standardized testing.  Even though my school handles it in such a nice way- I really got burned with my experience with it when I taught fourth and fifth for six years, so I admit to finding the idea absolutely frightening.  Plus I just got my feet wet with this kind of teaching with the second grade curriculum.  And how I do love my second grade team right now, and I've made so many plans for next year.  It's got me all stirred up inside though- thinking thinking thinking.  I'd like to stay where I am- but its that smart?  I don't know.  Should I open myself to new experiences?  I like the comfort of knowing this grade level though.  *sigh*  Plenty to dream about tonight.


Monday, June 4, 2012

What can I say, it was a reaaaaal Monday

Well, at least I got about half of my AMC testing done.  And snuck in a more appropriate pre-test of their ruler skills.  Went over the happenings from Friday and found that the sub hadn't really done what I'd asked.  Which sort of makes me feel like "why do I have to write these plans then?" But oh well.  And I keep discovering more and more things on my schedule that are affecting my overall plan for doing this measurement unit.  I am beginning to dispair.

Luckily for me my ESOL co-teacher Anna came in and did an activity using the book Actual Size  by Steve Jenkins.  She had cards made up with facts about the different animals with the actual measurements on them, and the children went outside to create a line the actual length of the animal using sidewalk chalk.  They really enjoyed it.  I was inside giving tests though, so missed out on pictures.  But, if you'd like to see how it played out in another classroom, check out Karen at Flamingo Fabulous.  She took some great pictures of her kids doing the activity.

I am happy though that as I tested for this AMC post test, that I took a moment for the kids to measure 4 lines for me.  I gave them two rulers, one of which was broken off at either end to prevent a clean starting point.  I drew four lines on a paper and made sure I wrote down the measurements before we began.  I'd ask them to measure two of the lines with the regular ruler, once in inches and the other time in centimeters, and then measure the other two with the broken ruler in inches and then in centimeters.  Found out a lot more about what they knew than the standardized quiz I gave them.  Found out A LOT of them start by lining up the ruler on the number 1.  So far, NONE of them know that when using  broken ruler to count the spaces- all but one of them just read the number that hit the end of the line.  The one that did not- counted how many numbers and not the spaces.  But at least I know she's thinking.  Maybe only a handful knew the difference between inches in centimeters to the point of recognizing the two sides of the ruler.  Based on my standardized data- I would have had a lot of these kids in a group where I expected that they KNEW how to use a ruler- and clearly they don't.  I know I don't have time to do a real pre-test for mass and volume, so I'll create groups based on ruler knowledge and just try to use them for the other two as well.  Looking at scheduling though, I don't think I'm going to be able to do as much center rotation work for the unit as I wanted to- which is a bummer- so I'm just going to pick out the crafts I liked the most, have to do some whole group get it started stuff, and pull as I can.

I did happen to remember a measurment center I used years ago that I had forgotten about- and I think I might be able to work it into my plan.  I always called it Playdoh Snakes.  I know, not fancy at all.  To do this activity, they needed a ruler with both inches and centimeters, playdoh, measuring spoons, and a timer.  Starting with the smallest measureing spoon, measure out that much playdoh.  Set the timer to 15 seconds (or whatever you prefer) and roll the dough into a snake for that amount of time.  Then measure and record both inches and centimeters for the snake.  Then use next size measuring spoon and repeat.  When they do it with a partner or group, they can take turns, and "compete" against each other to see who can make the longest snake in the set amount of time.  It's good practice, and they really check each other's measurements to prevent "cheating". And you know what?  I could even put a balance scale over there and have them decide how many paper clips their snake weighs.  Then it sort of does all of the measurement requirements doesn't it?  Genuis! On a mediocre level anyway.

On a happy note, I came into glorious possession of about 40 big books this evening that were being discarded.  ARE YOU NUTS, people? These things are like, $30 a pop, and you don't want to USE them?  Besides thinking them a novelty and therefore reading them just to be "Seen" reading a big book- my kids find them easier to share with a buddy.  And all the things you can do with them! Hunt for sight words, look for spelling patterns, locate parts of speech, compound words, mood words, text features, and punctuation.  Also, because the pictures are so large, kids are more confident trying to copy that particular style of illustration, plus they make it easier for me to make patterns for retelling center.  And then, once you put it in the retelling center- they really like holding the big book up when they are the narrator.  Anybody else have good ideas for big books?  I remember teaching 5th grade and the kids loved them even at that age- because, like I said- novelty.  Most folks love their kindergarten memories, so being able to hold on to a piece of that with a big book brings back that feeling of enjoyment.  And yes, this Jan Brett book was being discarded, as well as Tomie DePaola and Eric Carle, and plenty of other good ones- nutty.  Hey, their loss, right?  And since these beauties are coming home to me today- why not use my handy microphone gadget with them?  I can't carry forty big books in one go.  Might as well record a few and take them in as I get them done.  Then kids can even use them at the listening center.  Another genius moment.

Tomorrow, picnic.  Loss of a whole class period.  I shouldn't be upset by this.  I should be happy that the weather is going to be fabulous and we'll have a nice break.  Next day, all day planning.  Have to write subplans.  Feels like a loss of a teaching day- but I should be happy that I'm going to be wearing jeans and palling around with the best girls to work with ever.  I suppose cake pop baking is in order.  How does chocolate covered red velvet cake sound? Mmmmmm, sounds goooood.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Board Game and The Great To-Do List Challenge Week 5

In a week where it feels like I basically did NOTHING, I did work on that math board game today. I ended up using one of the small Elmer's tri-fold boards, white label dots for the numbers, cut regular index cards in half for the game cards, and I found some itty bitty super hero pieces to be my player tokens.  When the board is closed, I'm putting the instructions on the front flaps, written on index cards and pasted down.  I'll probably put contact paper over it to keep them protected.  And since I'll do that, I'll use some scrap book paper to cover up the backside of the board as well.  I also got one of those basic pencil pouches to keep all of the cards and pieces in, and I'm going to attach that to the back of the board.

I decided to make the game mostly about rounding, but added in a money element too.  Yellow dots are the tens numbers, to make them visually easier to find when they are rounding.  And the orange dots are the fives, to give them some bearings when it is time to round.  I might put a small laminated hundreds chart in the pouch as well for them to reference if it's easier for them to see it in that way.  If they land on a green or blue dot they draw a corresponding card.  They either find a small amount of money, or a twister card.  If they find money, they can spend the money on carnival goodies whenever they land on a pink dot. (My daughter started to draw different goodies on cards and put prices on them, thus far she's made cotton candy, hot dogs, fries, and soda.)  If they get a twister card, depending on where they are, they either move forward or back to round their number.  If they move back they lose all of their money and purchases, but if they move forward they find an additional 10 cents.  Winner makes it to the Ferris Wheel first.  We'll try it out this week to see how it goes.  I do like the tri-fold board though- and I was thinking I could try to make those other two center games into board versions as well for four players.  Attaching the pencil pouch to the back with the game pieces inside will make it easy to keep track of, and I could place them nicely in a basket for easy check-out.  And since I really want to do small group guided math next year- coming up with center ideas like this will be a good summer project.

Things I'm thankful for this week- my Dad definitely gets a prize.  He's provided me with tons of boxes I can take to school this week to help me get packed up, and some super duper teacher treasure cast offs.  I am also thankful for a second vehicle to borrow in the ninety degree heat we've had with working air conditioning.  It's worse on gas mileage, but it was worth it to not die of heat stroke.  Mild temps this week though, so back to being more economical with my fuel consumption.

Last week's challenge- BOMBED IT
1) On my day off- I will bring into creation a plan for our measurement unit that is PYP-ee, and also in the style of small group guided math.
2) Revamp lesson plans, and take a stab at this new possible Daily 5/ CAFE-ish schedule I doodled about this afternoon YEP
3) Update my emergency sub binder to reflect some of our new procedures. Yeppers
4)Clean off desk in such a way that will LAST Well, I cleaned it.  Will it last though? Umm, since there wasn't really a plan with it, probably not.
5)Catch-All Drawers in the back must be organized No. I suck.
6) Investigate a plan for repurposing some Basal readers Yes
7) Inventory my guided reading sets No. Suck suck suck.
8) Write up my PGP plan due next Monday NO. Guess I'll be up til midnight.
9) Sift through and organize my school e-mail No. Super suck.
10) Inventory math manipulatives Totally did not.

50%.  I've got to get back in gear so I finish strong.  Two weeks left.  I did do the pre-assessments for the measuring unit, and I learned a valuable lesson about standardized questions on pre-tests: just like on real tests, they tell you crap.  So lesson learned.  Next year I cannot try to save time with a multiple choice test as a pre-assessment, I'm going to have to have them actually get in front of me and measure, weigh, pour, and take the temperature of something for me to group them appropriately.  So I'm moving ahead with the measurement unit anyway this week, but I'll just be pulling random kids into groups rather than looking at knowledge base. I will error on the side of caution though, and make the kids that are traditionally my weakest this year into a group for the guided tutorials.  They can work with other kids though at centers to get a variety of exposure. 

So this week I MUST
1) PGP plan.  Because yo, it's like, due.
2)Catch-all drawers
3)guided reading inventory
4) math manipulative inventory
5) sift through e-mail
6) run math groups
7) finish up econ unit to prepare for market day in the last week
8) Complete AMC Anywhere post test (where am I going to find time for that?)
9) pack into boxes the items that I will be giving to the "new teacher" that takes over that classroom, so that I can concentrate on the things I'll be moving down to my new room week after next.
10) take pictures of both class spaces so I can use them for summer planning

That should do me for this week.  Come on, 100%! No whammies!