Friday, April 26, 2013

Five for Friday

This has been a crazy yet exciting week. I've been looking forward to writing this post since the beginning of the week because I knew this week would be jammed packed with excitement. So once again I'm linking up with Doodle Bug Teaching for Five for Friday.




1. This week I tried something new. After publishing a piece of writing, I had each of the students read each others pieces and then write comments telling what they liked about the story. This worked out very well. Read more and see more pictures here.



2. On Wednesday I was out for a workshop entitled Innovation Institute. This workshop is a series of four days and Wednesday was day three. The focus of this workshop is for the participants to discover their creativity while beingallowed to be very reflective about their personal and professional lives. I'm extremely happy that I took advantage of this opportunity because it was only offered to a limited amount of people in my district. Here are two products from this week.



I plan to do an entire post after the final session.

3. If you have been reading my blog, you know that I'm a member of a skeeball league. Our skeeball season started on Wednesday. Each week each team of three play against another team. Team and individual scores are tracked and after 8 weeks we have playoffs and then a championship Saturday. I just wanted to share that I played really well this week and I'm looking forward to continuing this throughout the next few weeks.

4. Thursday was a huge day for my school. To begin we had our spring concert. There was an international theme. We had students singing, dancing, and stepping. It is truly amazing at how talented our students are.

Here is a video clip of three students from my class performing a Nepali dance that they created.


video

Here is a picture of the fifth graders singing their song at the concert.


Thursday evening we had an International Festival. There was a school wide pot luck dinner in which families and staff brought food to share. There were over 300 people crowded in the gym for this event. Once most people were seated the performances began. Out step team performed again, some of the students performed their dances from the earlier concert, one of our teachers performed an Irish folk dance, and our TD students performed an African drum and dance number. It was truly an amazing night.


5. Friday was another jammed packed day. We had our third quarter awards ceremony this morning. After school I went to visit a friend who just had a baby. He was so cute! And then a friend and I headed over to see our Latin dance group perform this evening. This group of dancers is sponsored by a local Latin American group. Our students along with two other schools combined for a final performance tonight. We were a little late so I missed them dancing but I got a picture of them when they were receiving their medals.

Five of my students are in the group and they were extremely excited to know that I was there to watch them perform.




After a week like this I further realize that I am extremely fortunate to do what I do each day. I work with some amazing students. I am also very happy that my students are given the opportunities that they are given.

Well that was a glimpse into my week. I hope you had a great week as well. Don't forget to stop by Doodle Bug Teaching and share your week.





Thursday, April 25, 2013

Peace, Hope, Love, and Kindness Linky

Today was an extremely long day. I left home at 6:45 this morning and just returned home around 7:00 tonight. And yes I was at work the entire time. We had International Night this evening so I stayed to help and enjoy the program. I definitely love attending after school programs, but it just makes for a very long and exhausting day. We also had our Spring Concert, which also had an international theme, during the day today but I'm preparing a post for that later.

I was thrilled when I first heard about this linky party from Jessica from Ideas by Jivey.  With all that is going on in the world, it's nice to see what good things are happening.



A few days before Easter I posted about an amazing blessing that was provided to one of my students.  Her family is struggling due to the incarceration of her father. This means that her mother is now bringing in the only income to feed a family of 6. Luckily, my school received some donations that allowed us to feed four families Easter dinnee and thenalso provide some canned goods for spring break to make sure that the kids had food while they were out of school.

Here is the original post.
Thankful for Easter Blessing

Stop by to visit Ideas by Jivey orCollaboration Cuties to link up and share some love and happiness happening in the world.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tried It Tuesday: Commenting on Peer's Writing

It's Tuesday again which means it is time to link up with Fourth Grade Flipper for her weekly Tried It Tuesday.


Photobucket


After completing out book projects last week, I wanted to give my scholars a bit of a writing break on Thursday and Friday.  I knew that they were super excited to read each other's stories so I took advantage of their excitement.

I printed out copies of their writing and stapled it inside two pieces of construction paper.  Then I placed the booklets around the room and gave them instructions.

They were asked to walk around the room and find a story.  Read it and then provide a positive comment stating what they liked about the writing.

Here's a picture of one of my scholars working.


Here are a few pictures of some of their comments.






What I Loved About This Activity
1. My scholars really enjoyed being able to read each others writing.
2. Everyone was completely engaged in the activity. (It was amazing how quiet they were. I have an extremely talkative class this year so anytime they are quiet for longer than 10 minutes is amazing.)
3. I was able to see exactly what they focus on while reading. (Some comments were really generic.)


What Needs to Be Improved
1. Some of the comments were very generic. I should have modeled the types of comments. I will definitely do a better job a modeling next time I do an activity like this.


After we were finished, I gave them time to decorate the cover of their booklet and then I placed them on the bulletin board.

This was a very simple activity that I will definitely try again.

Now it's your turn. Stop by Fourth Grade Flipper to link up and share something that you have tried.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted

It's Sunday so that means it's time to link up with Latoya from Flying into First Grade for her weekly Let's Get Acquainted linky party.



Today we are sharing our favorite parts of our classroom. Since we spend so much time there, our classrooms say a lot about who we are.

Welcome to my classroom.


CLASSROOM LIBRARY
I am in love with my classroom. I posted about it here. It definitely doesn't look this neat at this point in the year, but it is still pretty organized.





CLASSROOM DOOR
I also love my door. It definitely sets the tone for anyone entering my classroom.



DATA WALL
Here is my data wall. We track data for each of our assessments in reading, math, science, and social studies. For more information about my data wall click here.



That's a quick glimpse into my classroom. Now it's your turn to stop by Flying into First Grade and link up.

Have a great Sunday!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Five for Friday

Happy Friday!! We have survived another week. That only means that it's time to link up with Doodle Bug Teaching for Five for Friday.


1. Test prep
It's that time of the year again. It's time to prepare for the dreades test. We still have 4 weeks of school before we start testing so there is still plenty of time, but I hate shoving test taking strategies down their throats. It takes the fun out of school. My class is a little behind the rest of my grade level so we are only ready to review reading, but the kids are already dreading that subject each day. I definitely need to make it more exciting.

2. Kidblog.org
I mentioned this amazing website last week but I had to mention it again because my scholars have become obsessed with it. It's a blog for kids. I left it pretty open for what they can blog about and they have mostly written posts about personal things but one student shocked me yesterday. I viewed her blog and she had posted a blog about what they had learned in science lab yesterday. I also have a student who had to go out of town for the week for family reasons. She was constantly blogging and commenting and I was able to share some things that she had missed with her. I'm so proud of both of these scholars.

3. Book Drive
Our school is having a book drive so students will have the opportunity to take some books home to read over the summer. The fifth graders were asked to decorate the boxes. Look at the picture below. I'm not quite sure why she was laying inside the box. I just had to take a picture.


4. Fifth Grade Olympics
To control behavior issues, we have started an incentive program where we hold competitions between the five fifth grade classes. Well behaved students are allowed to participate. Today we held our third event: egg and spoon relays. It was hilarious to watch and the kids had so much fun.


5. I got a new phone this week. My last phone, th HTC Incredible kind of just died. I had it for almost 3 years so it was time for a change. I was talked into getting the Samsung Galaxy III. I'm enjoying it so far, but it is a lot larger than my old phone so I'm still getting uses to the size of it. Well I'll have plenty of time this weekend to play with it.

Well I hope everyone has an amazing weekend. Don't forget to stop by Doodle Bug Teaching to link up.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Workshop Wednesday - Cut and Grow Revising


Today I'm linking up with Jessica from Ideas by Jivey Workshop Wednesday.  Today's topic is our favorite writing mini lesson.

Let me first say that until recently writing was always my least favorite and weakest subject to teach.  I have recently started to appreciate the subject and have become a much better writing teacher.

One of my favorite writing mini lesson deals with revising.  I teach that revision improves our writing.  The revision strategy that I use is called cut and grow.

I start by preparing my own piece.  I make sure I use some very weak sentences in my story.  I share my writing and then explain that I now that I have finished my first draft, I now need to look at my work and see how I can make it better.  I select a sentence and grab  a pair of scissors and cut the sentence out of the paper.

After doing this I am left with two pieces of paper: the part of the story before the eliminated sentence and the part of the story after the sentence. I then tape the first part of the story on a piece of large construction paper.

Then I write my new sentence on the construction paper, under the beginning of the story.  I may add more description, more details, vivid verbs, transition words, etc.  After I write my new sentence, I attach the bottom part of the paper.

Here is my picture of the example I did for this mini lesson at the beginning of the year. I think my original sentence was "I hadn't ridden it before."  See how much my sentence grew.

Using this strategy allows students to see how their writing can grow.  They are able to have a hands on experience with their writing and they always love being able to cut their paper.  This strategy makes revising fun for my scholars and provides a visual of what revision is.

Below are some cut and grow examples from later in the year.  My scholars did an amazing job at adding, substituting, and removing parts of their original draft.  They weren't this good at the beginning of the year.  I'm so proud of their growth.






Monday, April 15, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted Linky Party


I can't believe that it's already the middle of April and that there are only 38 more days of school left. Where has the school year gone? At least that means that summer is almost here and I love summer. But for now it's time to link up with Latoya from Flying into First Grade for her weekly Let's Get Acquainted Linky Party.



Here is the code:
Red- Favorite Ice Cream Flavor
Orange- Favorite Memory from College
Yellow- Favorite Sports Team
Green- Favorite Fast Food Place
Purple- Wild Card(Tell anything about yourself)

RED - FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR

When it comes to ice cream, I'm pretty plain. I like to keep it simple with vanilla. Cookie dough is my second favorite, but nine times out of ten I'm going with vanilla. (Now I really want some ice cream)

ORANGE - FAVORITE MEMORY FROM COLLEGE


When I got to college, I dreaded speaking in front of groups of people. That was until I became a BGSU tour guide. I loved the experience that this gave me. I was forced to talk in front of large crowds and I loved it. Since then I've never had trouble speaking in front of groups of all sizes. So my favorite thing about college was being a tour guide because it helped rid me of my fear of public speaking.

YELLOW - FAVORITE SPORTS TEAMS



Being a Cincinnati native, I have always been a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals in football and Cincinnati Reds for baseball. I've endured some awful teams over the years but I will always be a fan of both. Since moving to NC, I haven't been able to go to as many games as I did growing up and I really miss them, so I have to settle for watching them on tv. (I'm currently watching the Reds game.)

GREEN - FAVORITE FAST FOOD PLACE

I don't really eat a lot of fast food, but my favorites are Wendy's and Chick fil a. It's hard to choose between the two.

PURPLE - WILD CARD (Tell anything about yourself)

l was raised as an only child by my single mom. A couple of years ago I learned that my father, whom I don't know, also has a son, which means I have a younger half brother. We have talked a bit, but I've struggled with forming a relationship with him because the thought of having a brother is still weird to me. I've been struggling with the decision to contact him again, but I'm just not sure where to start.

Well that's a little more about me. Don't forget to stop by Flying into First Grade and get acquainted with other amazing bloggers.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Five for Friday

Happy Friday everyone! We made it through another week. I had a pretty good week, but I'm exhausted. After doing so little last week during spring break, it was tough getting back on schedule. But this week seemed to fly by.

Well, since it's Friday, it's time to link up withDoodle Bugs Teaching for her weekly Five for Friday linky party.



1. Free Student Book Publishing Project

We are currently working on a book publishing project. Using the company Student Treasures my school is currently working on a writing where our students have the opportunity to become published authors. The best part of the project is that it is completely free. Although I'm excited that we have this opportunity, this project can be a bit labor intensive but the final product will be worth the work. I wrote a post about it earlier this week. Clickhere for more information.

2. Kidblog
I read about Kidblog from Fourth Grade Flipper last week. I looked it up and loved it so I created an account and introduced it to my students this week. They are already obsessed. I can't wait to explore this writing opportunity with my students throughout the rest of the school year.

3. Substitutes
I hate missing school, but I was given the opportunity to attend an amazing workshop that would mean that I would be missing 4 1/2 days. I couldn't pass up this opportunity, but unfortunately that means that I would have a substitute for several days. Wednesday was the second day of the training. Even though I had one of the best subs at my school, I feel like Wednesday was a wasted day for my scholars and I had to play catch up the rest of the week.

4. Skeeball
I've mentioned before that I played in a skeeball league. Well, we were on tv yesterday. Click here to see the broadcast.

5. Wiffleball
I can't think about anything else so I'll talk about what I'm doing this weekend. My friends and I are getting together to play wiffleball tomorrow. There's no special reason, but someone mentioned it earlier this week and several of us jumped on the offer. Looking forward to playing. I haven't played since I was a kid.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. I'm looking forward to mine.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I'm on the News

As a teacher who is an admitted workaholic, I firmly believe that it is crucial to have some type of release. Somewhere that I can relax, forget about work, and spend some time doing something I enjoy. For me, this is playing skeeball. Yes, that's right skeeball. I've been playing in a skeeball league since 2007 and I've enjoyed every moment of it. Well, we made the news today. We are starting a new season in a couple of weeks and we had the opportunity do a news reporter to come to an event a few weeks ago to do a story on the Charlotte Skeeball League .

Click here to check out the story.

I highly recommend that everyone find a similar league in your city and join. It's so much fun.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tried it Tuesday - Student Treasures Book Publishing

Have you ever wanted to allow you students actually publish real books?

Well there is a company that will publish hardbound books for your students and it is absolutely FREE!!

The company is Student Treasures.

I'm linking up with Fourth Grade Flipper for Tuesday Tried It.


Photobucket


This how the Student Treasures Book Publishing project works:

1. One representative from you school contacts the company to schedule a publishing date.

2. Teachers sign up for the type of book they want.
- Grades K-3 create 1 class book: You will receive 1 free copy of the book
- Students in grades 4-5 each create their own book: Each student will receive the free original copy of their book
- Teachers may choose to order books that are portrait or landscape
- Teachers may choose to order lined pages for students to write the text or blank pages for students to type the text

3. School representative order the number of necessary packets.

4. Envelopes arrive with all necessary materials.



5. Students work on books: writing, editing, and then publishing their books by either writing or typing and printing on the provided pages. Students also illustrate their stories.




6. Prior to completing the project, send home the parent letter. This letter invites parents to purchase extra copies of the book for about $20. Parents must check whether or not they want to buy extra copies, sign it, then return it to school. In order to receive free books ALL parents must sign and return this letter. But don't worry, they provide enough copies of the letters to send home a second form if necessary.



7. About a week prior to the publishing date, all envelopes are collected by the school representative.

8. The school representative boxes up all the envelopes and ships them back to Student Treasures using the provided mailing labels.

9. About 2 weeks after the publishing date, the published books arrive at the school.

Your students are now published authors.



I first tried Student Treasures about nine years ago. At that time students in 3rd grade could each make their own individual books, so my third graders made individual books. I completely fell in love with the company because my students had an amazing experience, their books turned out great, and of course, they were free.

Since then my school has used the company 2 more times. The books pictured above are from the year I taught second grade and made a class book. We decided to do a second grade ABC book. Most of the kids had two letters to contibuted to the book. They typed the text and then did the illustrations. I received the original copy and I had a few parents purchase extra copies.

This year my school has decided to use Student Treasures again. I introduced the project to my students yesterday and they are super excited about it. The idea of becoming published writers has them super engaged in the process. They have come up with some very interesting ideas for books. I'm excited to see their final products.

I am also going to print out all of their research projects which included an essay and PowerPoints. I will create a class book of those. We also wrote essays about Martin Luther King Jr. that I am going to create another class book of. I will be able to use these for examples in future years.

I'm glad that I could share this amazing project with you. I hope you can take advantage of Student Treasures at some point. Check out the website for more information.

Stop by Fourth Grade Flipper and link up.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Five for Friday



It's Friday again and I'm linking up with Doodle Bug's Teaching for Five for Friday again. Unfortunately, Friday means that Spring Break is over and I'll have to go back to work on Monday. Luckily, there are only 9 more weeks before summer vacation.

1. Spring Break
This was the first year in a while that I stayed at home for spring break. It was nice to spend the week relaxing. It was much needed. It was just what I needed. Now I'm ready to finish the year strong.

2. Friends
Two of my friends met for dinner on Tuesday night. Although we work at the same school, we rarely get the chance to spend time together outside of work and talk about things other than school. So it was nice to be able to spend some time together to catch up on our personal lives. We ended up staying for almost 4 hours.

3. Skeeball


I mentioned in a previous post that I played in a skeeball league. We had a free skee/registration event on Wednesday night. Our next season is starting in a few weeks, so we always hold free skee events leading up to the season. I have been playing for about six years which equals 16 seasons and I love it. It's very competitive so it allows me to compete while hanging out with great friends.


Every week the SkeeEO of the league creates Rolling Times covers. This one was created after our last free skee event. Rodric and I won the random draw tournament. Click here to read the entire article.

You can find out more information about the league at Skeenation.com. There are leagues all over the country.

4. Doctor's Office
I'm currently sitting in the lobby of a sports medicine doctor's office. Thankfully, I'm not the one who is hurt. My friend, Lindsay, injured her right leg playing soccer Tuesday night. This means that she is currently unable to drive, so I have been her taxi the last two days. I drove her to get an MRI yesterday. Last night she found out that she tore her ACL so we are back to doctor's today for her to get a knee brace. Luckily, she does not need surgery right away.

5. School Work
As of yet, I have not done any school work over spring break. I plan to do some tomorrow, but I must admit that it has been nice not to think about school all week.

Well, I hope everyone has had a great week. I have enjoyed my week extremely relaxing week. Don't forget to stop by Doodle Bug and link up.

Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tried It Tuesday: Easy Data Collection

Photobucket


Today I'm linking up with Fourth Grade Flipper for her weekly Tried it Tuesday linky party with a great way to review content and collect data all at the same time.

About a month ago I came across this blog on Pinterest. In the post, Tonya at Tonya's Treats for Teachers explained how she had her students create the data tracker while they reviewed a test.

I immediately fell in love with the idea so I tried it last week. I decided to try it while my class was playing a game to review for our geometry unit.

This is how it works.
1. I made and printed strips of paper numbered 1-24. Making the strips was simple. I just created a table in Microsoft Word then cut it into strips.

2. I passed out the strips to my students and asked them to write their initials in the first space.


3. We started our review. The questions were on the smartboard and students wrote their answers on small dry erase boards. I gave them a couple of minutes to write their answers and then they held up their boards to reveal their answers. Once answers were revealed, we discussed the question and I then gave the correct answer.


4. If students got the answer wrong, they were asked to color in the corresponding rectangle.

5. When we were finished, I collected the strips and glued them to a file folder. I can now see which questions we really need to go back and review. I can also very easily see which students are struggling most with geometry.

Here is the final product.


WHAT WORKED
I loved the fact that I could easily collect the data I needed to tell that they were not completely ready for the assessment. I also loved that it required very little effort from me because there is definitely a limited amount of time to get everything done.

Students were also very honest when filling out their chart. We had a discussion about that it was important to be honest so that when I looked at the data I knew exactly who needed help, so being honest would benefit them.

WHAT I WILL CHANGE
Next time I will make sure that all students are only writing in the appropriate spaces. (One of my scholars decided to write her initials in the space when she got the question correct. I didn't see it until we were almost done.) I will also make the spaces shorter. There were 3 students absent so they all fit. Next time I use it I will change the size so that all strips will fit. It would have also been better if students had done a better job at coloring in the boxes. I think I will require all students to us a crayon or marker next time.

I plan to use this idea again. Students were able to see their data immediately which I love.

I hope this is an idea that you can try in your classroom. Stop by Fourth Grade Flipper to see what other teachers are doing in their classrooms.