Sunday, July 29, 2012

Awards and What-Not

In the past few weeks I've had a number of folks be kind enough to give me an award.  And I hope that I didn't miss anybody when I said thank you- but I have dragged my feet about blogging about them.  I think, on the whole, I find it sort of embarrassing.  I suppose my therapist would peg it as a self-esteem issue.  I'm going to go with digital stage fright.  But in an effort to not look ungrateful, because I'm not, I wanted to take a moment and acknowledge these folks for thinking of me.

These wonderful women nominated me for The Versatile Blogger Award:

Wild About WordsLook Whos Teaching

 The Craft of Teaching

And these great gals gave me the Liebster Award:

Lacy's Letters

And this lovely lady gave me the One Lovely Blog Award


All of these awards want you to thank the person that nominated you : Thank you all! And all of them want you to make sure you link back to them, and I feel pretty positive that I managed that. Although the whole HTML code deal frightens me silly, so I hope I did not botch it.  And they seem to want me to write various amounts of random facts about myself, as well as pass the torch to other bloggers.  And over at The Todds, she even had this extra bit about answering questions that she posted as well.  Nobody else had that, but it kind of seemed a little fun, and goes along in the random fact vein as well.

So, no- I'm not going to go whole hog on following the rules, but I am going to attempt them to the best of my ability.

My Questions from Mrs. Todd:

1.  If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
Okay, now this is sort of silly, but I would like to go to England, to visit the places where they film those BBC mystery shows Midsomer Murders and Rosemary & Thyme.  I have a real guilty pleasure sort of obsession with those shows.  And I am sure that in these little villages, people are not being murdered by the handful- that would certainly be awful.  But I want the show boat TOUR.  


2.  What is your perfect meal?
The kind I don't have to clean up after.  My fortune says : You lazy woman. Be ashamed.

3.  What is your biggest pet peeve?
My boyfriend.  Yeah, we all know where this relationship is headed...

4.  Would you consider yourself messy or clean? Why?
I am a disorganized mess inside and out.  I don't think I'm a biohazard though.  Just cluttered.  I like what clean looks like.  And I am capable of making it clean after a few hours of work.  But it resumes it's natural blob like state within 24 hours.  I believe this is a "too much stuff" problem.  I'm just this side of being a hoarder I suppose.  But I am a work in progress, and have been starting to throw things out.  Much to the chagrin of my mother, who thinks it's horrible to get rid of anything that "could be useful someday". These are words of DEATH my kittens!  You'll soon drown in your own belongings.  And what makes this all the worse, is that I am currently LIVING with the parents.  Yes, I know, total loser- but I am TRYING to get my own home.  I am just waiting for an irritation with my credit brought about by the divorce to go away.  The big plan is to throw away half of my belongings when I move out.  We'll see though. We'll see...

Not my home or my kids or anyone I know- but this is pretty much the idea. That's me pointing at my mother, trying to pass off the blame, 'cause I'm still a 12 year old at heart.  It's not my fault! Blah.  It totally is.
5.  What is something you couldn't live without?
Nothing.  And I'm not attempting to be blah-se about it. (a word that I just googled for correct spelling and that so totally looks wrong but I'm moving forward)  It's just that, well, my life experience has really showed me how things don't last forever, and yet life goes ever forward.  The world does not stop turning over loss.  I feel in a lot of ways that I lost a piece of my son, when he was diagnosed with autism.  But life has gone on.  And the divorce was heart breaking.  But life has gone on.  I was unemployed and impoverished and felt personally humiliated by being on welfare for two years and was made a point of malicious gossip by many people I had considered friends in the small town I live in- but life has gone on.  Today, in my community, a young boy died after his long heroic fight against cancer.  Tonight, in celebration of his life, at different doorsteps across this county, and even this country, and even this world actually- based on some of the posts on his memorial page- folks have lit candles.  I can look out my back window at this late hour and see some twinkling just through the back woods.  And as much as I know his family grieves, and this community grieves, and even my heart pangs for this loss- tomorrow the sun is going to come up, and we will all have to swing our feet out of our beds and stand up and  keep going.

At one point in my life, within the past five years- I was leading a very church-centered, bible reading, verse quoting, Christian music singing, extra money in the offering plate sort of life.  I have distinct memories of what that relationship with God felt like.  I am truly and deeply aware of how it is not like that now.  But I do not believe that it is something that is gone or extinguished or extinct.  So if I had to pick something that I REALLY couldn't live without- it would be that small warm flame hidden inside.  If it did ever go dark- I feel that, indeed, I would no longer be considered living.

I am of the thinking that I am going to end on that note.  As far as nominating other bloggers for any and all of these awards- who is not deserving?  Here we are, sharing our thoughts for the purpose of growing as people and as professionals. There isn't a one of us who shouldn't be commended for the effort.  Definitely click on these ladies who gave me a nod above.  Definitely take some time and go see some of the folks on the Newbie Blog Hop linky party that's been going around- a good ninety percent of them have under 100 followers.  And folks who'd like more followers- you know what I noticed?  When I followed someone with under 50 followers, they always came over to my blog and followed me too.  And click on different links from our blog rolls.  I've been placing people on mine who have taken the time to comment on my blog, or that I have commented on their blog.  There isn't a single day that goes by that I don't find a blog post that excites me and rejuvenates my imagination for creation for the job.  We are special creatures- finding joy in a job that works so hard to drown us.  But I refuse to sink...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Summer Ponderings on Guided Math- Numeracy Environments

.Guided Math: A Framework for Mathematics Instruction

Yes.  I write long posts.  Perhaps that is a blogging no-no, but it's how I roll.  Personally, I always feel a little let down with clicking a topic I'm interested in and only finding one paragraph. Maybe that's the English major in me.  But please, please, please, feel free to stop reading at any point you get bored.  I'll never know. And therefore my fragile psyche will remain intact...

In addition to a million other things that cropped up during this last year of teaching, I realized relatively quickly that whole group math wasn't working for me. Yes, I covered the material quickly, but I was painfully aware that I was not reaching a good third of my students.  Small group work was more fulfilling, I could see kids "getting it", but I was falling behind in the curriculum pacing.  It's a conundrum.  Or a catch 22.  Or just a crapfest either way...but stamp the word FRUSTRATED on my brow and stick a fork in me eye, yeah?  

I have never had the problem of KNOWING that I needed help.  That isn't part of my personal pride problems, I never just stumble blindly forward thinking I'm doing awesome. (Because I KNOW I'm awesome, ha! I kid, I kid...) But I don't always know HOW TO ASK for help, or WHO to ask, and often I have this feeling like I SHOULDN'T ask for help as it will be taken as a horrendous sign of weakness and I shall be fed in pieces to a pack of starved wolves. So my general go-to plan is to look for a book.  Books save lives. Luckily, I came across Guided Math by Laney Sammons.  

Primary InspiredThis summer a great number of bloggers have had a book study on this book.  The best link I could find for everybody was from Brenda at Primary Inspired.  She has a very organized page for the book study, who else hosted chapter reviews, and then all of the reviews at a click.  I believe other sites held a similar study, but I was unable to find them through my Google search attempts. If you held a study, just comment and I'll add your link.  I will not go into a blow by blow of the book, since so many others did such a fantastic job of that already- but I will offer my take and moments of inspiration.

First off- it's a nine chapter easy read.  Do not shy away from this book if you have even a teensy glimmer of a thought of wanting to make your math block more small group oriented!  It's a FRAMEWORK, which means it's easily bent into what can work for you, and what you already have to work with. One of the things I found so freeing while I was reading this book, was her sample set-up for a week of math lessons, and you still have whole group, math workshop, small groups, and conferencing going on in one week but not everyday.  I think that's the hard part at first, thinking you have to get to everybody everyday and only teach one way.  Her system is completely doable.  What was also freeing, was her sample set-up for a math warm up every day with very brief, simple activities, some of which were already part of my math curriculum.  I'm just not there yet on whether I should really START my day with that, since literacy is my first block.

And speaking of literacy, her beginning principle is creating this classroom environment of numeracy.  And she is right, we spend a lot of time working on this environment of literacy, but kinda put up a sad show for numeracy.  But the more I think about this- don't we give science and social studies the shaft too then? So really and truly, in the long run, we should be showcasing all of these components.  But I guess I'll work on that issue later.

I feel pretty good about beefing up my numeracy environment, because many of the necessary components are already getting done if you've set up your room for small group instruction during your literacy block.  Especially if you're doing Daily 5, then you're already working on that classroom community, you've got a gathering space, you've got places for kids to work, and you've got your small group meeting area.  I already have lots of manipulatives available to me, since we teach Investigations, and that program is heavy on the manipulative use. I already have a pretty good collection of math related literature- but I admit to not using it much as a read-aloud, and I really need to do that purposefully this year.  Investigations also goes through the creating of charts in their lessons, and Pinterest has added oodles of possibilities to this anchor chart arena as well, so I feel confident about planning these moments in during the year without losing my mind.  And adding in writing math related picture books can work in perfectly with our already established writer's workshop routines.  I just have to make a point to teach the genre.

Every Day Counts® Calendar MathThe place where I will have to do the most work will be Calendar time, which I did not do at all last year- and also providing the students their own calendar to follow along with.  Something I had never really considered, but she is right- it adds an engagement piece to Calendar time that is not otherwise there for everyone at once.  At first I was just going to do a simple canned calendar math routine as I have done in the past.  Every Day Counts by Great Source is a program I've used before with much success.  I found it easy and adaptable, you can pick and choose your pieces, and everything comes in a tidy box.  I loved it when I had it at my old school, and even eventually transferred the pieces over to the smartboard without any problem.   

But then I saw this post by Sally on Fairy Dust Teaching about her calendar math and have become enraptured. Her kids made up the cards for each day. She even did an alphabet frieze this way.  So now I am rethinking the entire thing.  Isn't this much more actively engaging?  The children are keeping a daily timeline of their learning.  They OWN calendar time because it is they who design the calendar.  This is really speaking to me.

Calendar time does become a space thing as well, though.  I had planned out all of my walls this summer and now I don't know where I can make this work.  I wonder too, at how much time to actually spend with Calendar, and how I have had a tendency in the past to make Calendar time so jam-packed that I could spend an hour on it.  And that really isn't its purpose.  I need some calendar training I think...

Three other parts to the numeracy rich environment that I don't do and have NEVER done are math journals, problem of the day/week, and word wall vocabulary displays. There are plenty of resources available to have some good problems of the week and make it part of the rotation routine during math workshop.  I am not overly worried about that. Plus I've seen a lot of postings about making these problems about the students, and about things that are happening in the world around them at that time- so I think you can take a basic frame work of a problem in your said math curriculm and change up the names and topic and you're good to go. I just have to be sure to provide time to talk about the problem in the suggested math congress.  And I am planning to be diligent about having a word wall this year, so I don't see why I can't make a point to add in math words to it.  I suppose it would make sense to add a word wall word whenever we created a chart or graphic organizer.  

And then that leaves the math journal.  Ok, and here's the thing that is really the root of why I don't like journaling in any form- I feel bothered by blank pages at the end of the year.  I always have this feeling that they are going to take these notebooks home and their parents are going to be "Why aren't these notebooks filled?  Why did we pay money for an unused notebook? Did this teacher just give up or what?"  And I just realized in that little fantasy moment there that I always picture the parents with either a mustache or a beehive hairdo.  No idea...but anyway, does anybody else have blank-page phobia?  And how do you combat that besides just getting over it?  Too often though I have started something, realized it wasn't working, and then quit it- but the kids remember and always end up asking "Why aren't we doing that anymore?" Troubling...

I suppose that's why you should begin with baby steps- but it is way too easy to get over excited and just dive into the deep end. And reading this book has made me excited, just like reading the Daily 5. I noticed though, in my writing, several places where I needed to make a point to do something or be purposeful.  So that's why I underlined those parts.  This really speaks to me on the importance of planning.  And I have been a very fly by the seat of my pants sort of planner- even from my first year teaching.  And it has never done me any favors.  Definitely a goal that I need to work towards this year- very purposeful planning.  And baby steps.  

Maybe it'll be best to slowly allow the numeracy environment to emerge.  To gently slip into this Guided Math stream as so not to be taken away too quickly by the current and drown.  In that vein, I suppose I will start first with Calendar.  I will commit myself to having a short five minute calendar routine everyday, that merely focuses on calendar language.  I will reevaluate at the end of the first quarter to determine if I am ready to add in another component, which I think would be the math warm-up activity.  I'll know by then when the best time of day to put it will be.  Reevaluate at the end of the second quarter, and if we're all in tip-top shape, I can look at really making sure I'm showcasing those math-related picture books, and writing about math in workshop.  Reevaluate at end of third quarter and this will be when I attempt math journaling.  Because I always put off to the end the thing that scares me most.  But hey- if I notice it's going swimmingly, and I have got a groove going on, I can always reevaluate at six week markers, and that gives me two other occasions to slip in a focus on the word wall and also the charts/organizers.

I guess I'm just going to have to accept that I can't be super overnight.  I'll have to sit in the vat of nuclear waste for awhile to reach my maximum potential. *sigh* Patience has never been one of my virtues...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Another Monday Made It- Rainbow Words, Soap Box Heaven, and Flower Box Supplies

    So it's the 8th week there for Tara at 4th Grade Frolics, but only week two for me.  That's A-OK however, because today I am super proud of myself.

May I present to you, the ever delightful upcycled CD cases of dry erase crayon rainbow word heaven?

All I've got here are old CD cases (I kept the CDs to do that CD weaving deal that's been on Pinterest).  I used graph paper to make the handwriting lines, scrapbook paper for the front and back covers, contact paper, and some puffy velvety letters I got from Dollar General for 25cents each.  I carefully pulled apart the two halves of the case, and washed them with soap and warm water to get off any gunk.  Then I traced the shape of the two pieces onto graph paper and scrap book paper.  Used a sharpie on the graph paper to make the handwriting guides, and then glued the graph paper to the scrapbook paper.  This way, when you OPEN the cd case, it's the plastic case that you are writing on with the dry erase crayon.  It wipes off super easy.  I used the contact paper to attach the scrapbook/graph paper combo to each piece, and then reassembled the case.

Of course, I have misplaced my dry erase crayons.  So I couldn't take a picture of how it works.  But I think you get it.  I wanted the crayons to fit inside the case, so everything was contained all in one packet- but there is a snag in my nefarious plot.  First and foremost, CRAYOLA makes a superior product.  Let's not get uppity- I know the other stuff is cheaper, but, um, hey- it's CHEAPER all the way around.  Crayola knows how to do a crayon, kittens.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Secondly though, *sigh*, Crayola made their dry erase crayon large- which does mean it holds up well- but it doesn't fit inside my case.  So then I thought I'd melt it down and pour it in a straw and make a smaller one.  Yeah- I said it. I got a McDonald's straw because they are a little thicker, you know?  But then I couldn't get the crayon out of the straw without breaking it.  So then I thought I'd pour it into candy molds and just have different shaped crayons that were flat and fit in the case.  Before I did this though, I put my most favorite sweat pants ever in the laundry.  And when they came out I discovered that dry erase crayon isn't the most "washable". My poor sweats.  My heart really heaves for them.  But anyhow, that tossed out the plan to make shaped crayons.  So now, I'll just have to put the dry erase crayons in a can and put them out with the cases.  Unless somebody else has a better idea.
*UPDATE* I retract my statement about the dry erase crayons by the ultra fabulous most cool ever magnificent company that is CRAYOLA not being "the most "washable"".  A second time through the wash (even after I had dried them) and my sweats are restored. My heart leaps for joy, and my head hangs in shame for not trusting that good old Gold and Green guarantee.  I'm still feeling lazy though, and haven't found my crayons, so I'm still tossing the melting it down plan. *END UPDATE*

Why not markers?  Because I'm just this side of OCD and can't stand it when the marker point gets all smeared up with other colors.  But I suppose if you're not "touched" like I am, go for it!

For my second presentation, not so much a MADE IT as a COLLECTED IT, but I am proud of them.  I have put together a pretty rockin' collection of small items to use for both my fine motor spelling word work centers and as math manipulatives.

Up first is my collection of natural objects.  I was also trying to think of multiple intelligences.  So I've got twigs, shells, acorn bits, money plant leaves, beans, and rubber fishing lure worms.  Then I've got assorted pom poms and foam stickers.  I'm going to tell them not to take the sticky back off the sticker.  But since I only spent a buck on them at the dollar store, I'm not too worried about it.

And then in a general mish-mash, we've got hair combs, mini sticks, birthday cake candles, sparkly gems, jingle bells, and alphabet beads (I've got pipe cleaners for the kids to string the beads on), red counting chips, hair bands, googly eyes, buttons, beads, and those clear transparency counters.

I also picked up some nuts and bolts.  Originally to do that whole putting alphabet letters on the nuts and twisting them onto the bolts.  But then I got really lazy, so I'm not sure if I'm going to do that or not.  They still make great fine motor pieces and math counters though.  And word to the wise, not all soap dishes are created equal.  The clam shell version on the left was found at Walmart for a sweet 97cents.  And the pop open version on the right was at Target for the same price.  Originally I got a ton of the Target version because I wanted the boxes to all be clear.  But what do you hear in the words "POP - OPEN"?  Did you hear "Super Annoying Kill Me Now Mess"? Because I sure did.  And as soon as I got all giddy and tried to show my Mom the sparkly gems one, POP-OPEN in your face SUCKER! Yar.  So I went back to Wally World and raided the rest of the clam shell cases.  I'll have to figure out something to do with the Pop Open ones...

But I was able to use six of them for this cool find.  Also at Walmart, in their scrap booking section in the 97cent bins, they had these little alphabet set stampers and also the little ink circles.  I thought they were pretty nifty for a spell it stamp it station.  And they don't fit in the clam shell soap dishes.

Okay, and time for the big finish! I wanted to create a supply organizer for my students desks that housed the pens and glue and what not they need that they don't usually have in their pencil boxes.  And I also wanted to make sure they didn't put my stuff in their pencil boxes.  Last year I used those three section tubs with handles, but it always ended up such a mess with everybody mixing up the markers and what not.  And then I found the flower boxes under the back porch stairs.  Dad says he does not want them or need them.  And there were five, so I power washed them up and ended up with this :
(after a little bit of work)

So what did I do?  I put some smushed up plastic bags at the bottom for filler, and then used this pet bed stuff called Carefresh Natural Premium Pet Bedding.  Essentially, it's ground up card board pieces vacuum packed into a plastic bag that then expands two and a half times it's size when you take it out.  And it was brown, so it's like dirt, without being dirty. If that makes sense.  I bought fake flowers at the Dollar Store, and used fancy duct tape to put them on my supplies.  In this box, I've got scissors, red/black/blue ink pens, pencil sharpeners, and bottle glue.  When I get back to school I'll add flowers to my marker sets and put them inside the flower box too. But I don't have that stuff here with me at home.  I love my flower box organizer!  Here's another angle:

I think I'll add more filler when I've got all the pieces in.  I also have to add the date stamper and stamp pad for writer's workshop.  I used the same color of flower for a single supply, so they'll put them back together in clumps and make it look preeeeeetttttttyyyyyyy! I should hope...


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cooking and Newbie Shtuff

Susan at Thank God It's First Grade is having a very cool linky about cooking.  I love to cook! I just don't like the washing up part at the end, *sigh* I am lazy lazy lazy when it comes to housework. Hey, I said I was flawed, remember?

Salsa Chicken is my go-to pantry recipe.  For the most part, no matter when, I have what I need in the freezer or pantry to get this dinner on the table in an hour.  And it really only takes minutes to prepare.
So you're going to need a 13X9 pan, minute rice, corn/black bean/tomato mix (either in a handy dandy pre-mixed frozen bag which has some yummy cheese sauce going on- or individual cans, just check the pantry), chicken breast, sour cream, corn chips, salsa, and cheese.
*Heat oven to 350 degrees*
1. Either spray the bottom of your pan with non-stick spray, or put foil over it to keep clean-up easier afterwards.  Put two cups of minute rice and you veg mix in the pan first.  If you use the frozen bag, you'll have to add two cups of water.  But if you use canned veggies, don't drain the corn or diced tomatoes when you put them in (BUT DO drain the black beans- unless you like black dyed rice)

2. Place your chicken breasts on top of the rice mixture.
3. Spoon sour cream over the chicken breasts
4. Crush corn chips in a zip-loc and then sprinkle over the chicken.
5. Spoon salsa on top of the chips. (Personally, I like using medium salsa, because I appreciate that little bit of kick.  But my family is very anti-seasoning, so I can only get away with the mild when I am feeding them.  I have never tried hot, since I was raised without seasoning it's too much for me to handle, but if you're already used to it, ENJOY!)
6. Sprinkle shredded cheese over all of that.  I had to go all 1980's on this dish and shred my own cheese, but I survived, so whatevs.
7. Cover in foil and put a couple of pokes in the top to help the steam escape. Cook for one hour.
8. At one hour, take the foil off and cook for ten more minutes to get the top all crispy-licious.
Voila! Salsa Chicken is a go for dinner! I put the pictures in step order for you below.





Janis at Grade Three is the Place for Me is hosting this blog hop for newbies.  And I think I qualify.
if you would like to play along, just link-up with Janis and answer these five questions:

   1.  what state you are in    2.  your current teaching position
    3.  your teaching experience
    4.  when you started blogging
    5.  share a blogging tip / blogging resource

   1.  Virginia

    2.  Second, my favorite of all

    3.  This September will begin my eleventh year

    4.  This past May.  I became addicted to Pinterest and finding all of these great teaching blogs and I thought- Hey, maybe I would like to do that too.  It looked like fun, and so far has been.

    5.  From reading Janis' #5, I was lead to Megan at ITeach. What's your Superpower?, and read through her Blog Baby Blog page.  There are some really great tips for using blogger, and she has video tutorials.  I think it's awesome that folks are out there compiling information for those of us who'd like to try our hand at blogging and do a good job of it.

And I think it's also important to add that I should have done linkys sooner.  Besides being fun and finding out a lot more information from other sources that I might not have found otherwise- it also is why I made connections with some new people interested in MY blog, and they probably wouldn't have found me without the linky either. So it's win-win for everybody.

As far as REQUESTING blogging help: Anybody have any idea why I can't get the pictures to line up nice and neat?  So frustrating...


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Drama Queen Linky Party - Yep, I'm totally out of control now

This most awesome linky party is being hosted by Barbara over at Grade ONEderful and I loooooove it!

To clarify, I love me some classroom drama activities.  Not much of a fan of real life drama, as my ridiculous life puts Hollywood's attempts at TV movies of the week and after school specials to shame.  No lie. But I think all of that nonsense would be much more appropriate for another blog that was not about teaching.  I'd go very artsy with the title I think, "I Looked in the Mirror and No One was There, and other Reflections". Bah! Whatever.  Where's the cake?

I am actually a stage shy sort of person. I enjoy writing scripts and designing sets and picking out props, but don't give me any lines. Please. I dabble a bit with the costuming, but my sister is the real pro.  She's a costume designer in New Zealand. I can give a speech.  I can crack jokes and talk about something real. But I cannot ACT.  I don't know what it is.  But I end up petrified.  In high school I was all about STAGE CREW. I even "lettered" in it. Yeeeeaaaah, how popular was I?  

Anyway- back to the point at hand, using drama in the classroom.  I have a regular rotation of RETELLING as a station during my literacy block.  I'm actually very surprised that this is not part of the Daily 5.  And as I'm making plans for this next year, I'm trying so hard to make sure I can fit it in still.  I might have to drop and/or combine one of the other Daily 5 components to keep it. GASP! Teacher jail?  I dunno.

My first stop for retelling materials is SparkleBox.  This site it the bombdiddly! 1000's of product downloads FREE. And they have tons of stuff aside from retelling supplies.  But when it comes to drama, they've got just about every fairy tale available in workmats, stick puppets, masks, etc. that you could want.  IN COLOR. And at my school, we color print at will.  But, I know that we are not all so lucky. At my last school you had to write up 100 page thesis papers on why your color printed document would improve testing scores in a legitimate educational activity in order to print.  And for those of you in that situation, they also have black and white available.  Break out those crayolas! I paste them on cardstock and then laminate.  And because I print different stories, I paste each story on a different COLOR of cardstock so the kids can keep the pieces together.  I put these pieces and the book in a zip-loc bag and then in my retelling center. I do not introduce a story to the center until we've read it as a class and talked about it.

I also cruise the party supply aisles in stores for retelling gear.  They've got hats, badges, masks, and props galore.  I found tons of pirate gear for my Tough Boris retelling bag in the party supply aisle at Hobby Lobby this past Spring, as an example.  In Michael's discount toy aisle $1/$3 baskets, I've found finger puppets and masks.  When I find something that works for retelling but doesn't have a book that goes with it, I add a card to the bag that simply says "I do not have a book to go with these puppets/masks, can you make one up?"  And do not count out the toy aisle in Dollar stores.  I've found dinosaur hats and safari hats in the past five months.  The dinosaur hats were a big hit with the book Dinosaur Stomp.  

I also do drama in Math.  Any time we have a word problem, we identify the "characters" and the action and act it out before we solve.  It helps the kids see whether we are adding or taking away. They love doing this.  Even with word problems that feature girl characters, I don't know how many times I had boys beg me to be "Sally". When they work in small groups or pairs doing independent work, they often act out the problems without my prompting they like it that much.

Drama is easy to incorporate into science and social studies too.  Part of our weather unit is storm safety, and you can break the kids up into storm groups and they can create safety "videos" for each storm.  When you teach animal adaptations and habitats  pair students together to be an animal and a zookeeper.  In social studies, if you do Native American groups, they can act out the daily routines of the men and women and children of the tribe.  Famous Americans? It's wax museum time!  Once you get into it, you can find a dramatic opportunity ANYWHERE!

Something I'm working on this summer is to try to bring back a little of that Kindergarten role playing but Second it up a bit.  Oral language development remains a standard, but it gets put on a back burner so often because it never appears on standardized tests. But that dramatic play practice that they began with in Kindergarten and preschool was so huge in development of vocabulary and social skills.  And then we just drop it because they're old? Nah, I think they still need it.  So I'm trying to figure out how to take those dramatic play opportunities and add in some non-fiction text feature action and math components.  Say you want to have a Vet's Clinic.  Stuffed animal and doctor props needed, but then create charts of animals to label, prescription pads to write up, "medicine" to measure out with a dropper. I think it could work.  Anybody else have feelings about that?  

Thanks, Barbara for the great linky!  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Monday Made It (yeah, I know it's Tuesday)

 Tara at  4th Grade Frolics  has been having this linky party for about seven weeks now.  And I know it isn't Monday anymore, but there's apparently a "rule" about not posting twice on the same day.  So I've postponed until Tuesday.  Plus, I only learned how to do a linky yesterday.  So now I'm going CRAZY! Ahahahahaha...hmmmm. Ok. 

First off, may I share the finished product of what my dad made me?
The finished bench.  He made me three, actually, and would not let me put them on the grass for the picture because he did not want them "mucked up".  Which is fine.  I don't want them mucked up either.  This is the Kolbster modeling for you, so you can see a kid-sized person on it.  4 milk crates zip tied together, bolted a board on top, ran two boards down the center and zip tied them for anchorage.  Dollar plastic shoe boxes turn this marvelous seating into an eight storage bin piece of organizational magic.  And since I have three, this gives me 32, yes! I said THIRTY-TWO storage spaces.  My trampoline also went belly-up recently, so I used the padding that went around the springs as my seating.  And then my Mummy gave up some of her fabric for the upholstrizing.  I believe that I'll be covering the zip ties with ribbon.
I'm very excited to use it this year.  Each classroom in my school has a large light blue carpeted area that we use for meetings.  My plan is to put these babies on the three sides, leaving the middle open.  I can get twelve kids on the benches and then the remainder can sit on the carpet.  That of course creates a bit of a sticky situation, doesn't it?  WHO will be the lucky ducks that get to sit on the bench?  And when will it be my turn?! He sat there twice already!! I've NEVER gotten to sit on the bench! Waaaaaaahhhhhhhh! 

Yeah.  Maybe that sort of thing only happens in my room.

But I've solved it, see?  They'll never complain again, see? Hardy har har!  I made up this little system to pick partners randomly, and it turns out it'll be perfect for bench seating as well.  Yes, I know it LOOKS complicated- but it's actually very easy, since I already did the complicated part of figuring out the dispersal of the numbers/colors/symbols so that in all three potential match-ups you don't have the same partner.  And that took some time, kittens.  Yep- two entire episodes of Sesame Street, and I made little cut-up cards to move around and help me- and Babyzilla had plenty of ideas to aid in my creativity (since "Melmo" just wasn't as distracting as he should have been), let me tell you.

My system creates six possible groups of four, as well as determine who partners with who.  And since it all ends up random, I never get fussed at for the Hand of Fate.  I can group by number and partner by color.  I can group by color and partner by shape.  I can group by shape and partner by number.  Same card all day long and I can change it up to have three different group and partner combinations if I realize that the Hand of Fate was cruel to me the first round.  The wheel is for picking who gets to sit, or line up, or go first, or whenever I need to determine a larger group of people.  Spin the Wheel of Fate and see if it lands on Warm/Cool colors, odd/even numbers, or curvy/straight line shapes.  I feel smug smug smug.

Advantus ID Badge Holder, Horizontal, 4w x 3h, Clear, 50/PackAaaaaaannnnnnddddd they are just the right size to slip inside I.D. badge holders.  50 of which I just ordered from dear sweet Walmart.  And I just adore things that do multiple jobs, so I'm also using these for my class jobs.  I set up my room in tables that seat five.  And I have specific tasks that need to be done at each table each day- so rather than come up with 20 some odd jobs so everyone has something different and then I have to deal with who hasn't gotten to do what yet- I made up five.  They pull a badge as they enter the room from their table's job jar and clip on the badge.  That is their solemn duty all day. When we pass out the partner cards, they just put that in behind the job card facing the opposite direction, and then they can be partnered up at will for the rest of the day. End of the day, just pull the partner card out, put the job badges back in the job jar, and we're ready for tomorrow.

I can't get it to turn around.  I don't know why.  It's frustrating.  But ANYWAY.  I put the job title along the side of my Meek Moose picture.  And they are the perfect size for the badges.  I have five solid table jobs, and then three extra since I have the potential of having 23 students.

Environmental Engineer- this will be the job of whoever the first person from each table comes in the room in the morning.  They put down all the chairs for their table, and are responsible for making sure everyone deals with their trash and recycling throughout the day.

Human Resources - the second person from each table: They handle attendance.  They check off the name of all their table mates and bring me the list at the last bell.

Food Service Management - the third person in.  Gets everyone's lunch order and money and brings it to me at the last bell.

Travel Coordinator - fourth person in.  Is the "head" of their table when we line up to go anywhere.  They become responsible for monitoring hallway behavior, holding doors, leading lines, and accompanying anyone who needs to leave the room for the nurse or office, etc.

Logistics - the last little cherub.  Will pass out necessary materials when called upon.

If I end up with three extra kids, which is completely possible, I have added Meteorologist (weather report/graph), Tech Support (turning the computers on/off), and Ambassador (handling visitors and diplomatic missions to other areas of the school).

I didn't do "jobs" last year, because I thought it was a pain, and I actually think I caused myself more problems not having them.  So this will be my attempt.  I think it will go over well mostly because of the badge.  Kids looooove to wear badges and feel important.

And the last little treat I've been working on are these here mini bowling games.

I found these at Dollar General on sale for 75cents each.  I've seen the pinterest pin on the kid's bowling set turned into sight word bowling, and my son does have a set that he never used, so I am definitely taking that in to the classroom- but when I saw these I got to thinking.  For one, I was able to pick up five of these.  And then I thought what if I made up differentiated question cards to go along with the pins?  I label the bottom of the pin with a color code so the kids know which set of cards to choose from, and then they bowl, and whatever they knock over is how many questions they have to answer.  Each correct answer is a point.  I can make the cards for sight words, spelling words, math facts, and content vocabulary.  And actually, now that I think about it, the only reason to color the bottom of the [ins is only to keep a set together.  I really only need to color code the cards.  These were some quick ones I whipped up for basic ten facts.  I'd really like to print them on business cards.  I think that would be the right size for what I'd like to do.  My local print shop took down my contact information the other day and are going to call me whenever they have misprints or scraps from cutting.  It's pretty cool how people are willing to help you out when you tell them you're a teacher and using the materials for your classroom.  It helps when you can tell them what you're going to use it for specifically as well, so they can envision how they are helping.

Ok- my second linky then.  I hope I made something interesting for everybody.