Saturday, August 31, 2013

One Done... Many to Go...

Week one is over!!! It was a full five days and I am exhausted! Overall, it seems like it is a good group of kids.

We didn't get a bunch of real teaching done this week... We took the first of 3 fall MAP tests. I am ready to have this first round of testing over with. (We still have the math and science test to take.) Everyone says the tests give a ton of information so I am curious to see if all this testing is worth it. I have to say, that with the common core and the raising of the bar for students it will be interesting as we test them more leaving us less time to teach. It is a bit of an oxymoron. Let's raise the bar, test the kids like crazy to see if they are reaching the bar, and do it all with less instructional time.

I used that post-it note activity that is all over Pinterest this week with my math kids. We are doing one or two a day so I am actually not finished with it, but I really like it so far. This week we also created the first pages of their interactive notebooks. For the math books we did "A Math About Me Page" and for science books students created an illustrated table of contents. There were a few really creative ones. I will have to try and get pictures of them this week.

We also got computation scores on all the math kids, which we will be able to use to create our math club. We can have 35 kids on the math club. We use the math program "Reflex" to help the kids with low computation scores improve their fluency. They work their way through the program and once they are fluent in their math facts they "graduate" from the program. It is pretty cool and really helps their confidence in the classroom.

Enjoy the long weekend!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

My Classroom... mostly in pics

My classroom is ready... or as ready as it is getting! :-)

These are my bulletin boards. I am so happy with the iPods. I got a cricket a few weeks ago and I love the new letters!

I know that's a lot. By the computers (I don't know if you can see it well) I took stools and painted them to match the room better and got rid of the chairs that were there. I am hoping to turn it into a math center once I know about my grants.

Twas the Night Before...

Well, today is it! Tomorrow is the first day of school. I am more nervous than ever before. I think there is some truth in the phrase as "ignorance is bliss" in the first few years of teaching. As a new teacher you haven't done this, or really seen others do it, so you don't know what isn't finished or missing. Going into year 4 I have a better understanding (than year 1) about what is needed. YIKES!!!

Friday was one of the most frustrating days I have ever had as a teacher. There weren't even any kids, but I think it would make my top 10 list. Basically, it was frustrating because with the state there are so many new requirements and yet NO ONE knows what to do or what is expected. Take stressed out frantic teachers and add to it overwhelming change, confusion, and uncertainty, that was our day Friday. This has made for a very intense weekend... with still lots of tears and stress.

My teaching partner had to remind me (a few times) that at the end of the day my job is to teach. All the other crap will fall into place and doesn't really matter. What matters is that my kids feel important and learn something. He asked why I became a teacher, I told him because I love it. His response was then to do just do what I love.

One of my good friends could tell at the gym I was stressed. She knows school is about to start and sent me a text that said "How do you eat a whole pumpkin? One bit at a time."
So here we go... Dealing with Monday and Monday only!!!

On a happier note, Thursday was Open House. There were a few logistically issues, but on our end, in 6th grade, it went really well. We had a lot of our students and parents show up. As a team we tried to have our Student Information Cards filled out electronically using Google Docs. There were few technically errors here too, but over all very successful. Out of 96 families, 54 filled out the form and we got some amazing information about our kids.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

GoodBye Summer!!!

Tomorrow is the first official day for teachers. We don't have kids till Monday, but my summer is ending. :-( I am ready to get things going... the anticipation is killing me, however, I am not ready to say goodbye to my summer. I hate that it is going to get cold, cloudy, and dark!

My classroom is almost all set up, I just have a few more things to do and get in place. Open House is THIS Thursday and even though my room is mostly ready I feel like there is so much that still has to happen. I am still working on things like parent letters. (It takes a bit longer to do this stuff when you are a team of 4 ;-)) Once my room is all up and ready I will take some pictures and post them.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


WOW!!! My blog has been nominated for the Liebster Award. I am very excited about this. Thanks to Liz at Floating Through Fifth for nominating me. Hop over to her blog and check it out. It is super cute!

The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. So, what is a Liebster? The meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. Blogging is about building a community and it's a great way to connect with other bloggers and help spread the word about newer bloggers/blogs.

To accept this nomination I must do the following:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated me
2. Nominate 5 - 11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
3. Answer the questions posted by my nominator
4. Share 11 random facts about myself
5. Create 11 questions for my nominees
6. Contact my nominees to let them know I nominated them

Questions from Nominator...

1. What are you most excited about this school year?
I am pretty excited to be teaching math again. I taught social studies last year instead of math. I enjoyed it a lot, but I am very glad to be returning to math. I am excited about adding P.A.L.S. to our intervention time. It is new to me, but I am very excited to see how it works out.
2. If you had an unlimited budget, what would you do to your classroom? For instance, would you buy a SMARTboard, or get rid of desks, and use tables, decorate, etc?
I filled out some grants this spring to get Chrome Books for my classroom. (I won't here about them till the end of the month... fingers are crossed!) So much of our curriculum is online and having the technology to support it would be AMAZING!!! I would also buy books for my classroom and some lab/classroom supplies. My kids always seem to enjoy pulling books off of my shelf to read.
3. If you could spend your summer anywhere, where would it be?
I would be somewhere there is a beach. I love the Island of St. John, but anywhere that has a beautiful ocean would be fine with me. I would also love some mountains near by. ☺
4. What is your favorite thing about blogging?
I am an introvert by nature and not out spoken at school at all. I love that with blogging I have to opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas about teaching with others without really having to stand up in front of anyone and talk. (I am fine in front of kids. It is just adults that make me nervous)
5. What is your #1 teacher must-have (please include a link to the product if you can!)?
This is a tough question... I'm going to have to think about that.
6. Who would you LOVE to have come speak to your class, and why?
If I could have anyone dead or alive I think I would choose Eleanor Roosevelt. She is such a strong woman and has so many positive influences. Just reading about what she did and things she said makes me feel hopeful and stronger. I think my sixth graders would really benefit from hearing someone like that.
7. What is your favorite topic to teach? (Topic, not subject!)
In math my favorite is either algebra or maybe geometry. Algebra is probably my favorite overall, but I love some of the activities that we do with geometry.
In science my favorite topic is probably cells or observation vs. inference. I like cells more, but again love the activities we do for observation vs. inference.
8. Where are your go-to stores for teacher outfits?
I love the Loft (and they love teachers ☺). It is typically my favorite, but they have slacked off a bit lately and their clothes have been a bit disappointing. Target and TJ Maxx can be hit or miss, and recently I have bought a lot from Cabi. Cabi is like Mary Kay, but for clothes. I get it from my sister when it goes on clearance. It definitely doesn’t fit into a teachers salary at full price.
9. What would you say is the most difficult part of our job?
I think the hardest part is that it never ends… you are pulled in twenty directions all day and evening. Unfortunately, so many of those directions don’t include teaching.
10. Any advice for first-time teachers?
BREATH!!! it does get easier.
11. Tell a funny school story! (You know we all have them- kids say the darnedest things...)
Funny stuff happens all the time in sixth grade. I can't think of the funniest thing that has ever happened... I did have a boy my first year standing at my door trying to get a girls attention in the middle of class. I went in the hall and he preceded to tell me that he wanted to know if she still liked him, and HAD to talk to her right then. I told him it would have to wait till after class. He begged me to give her a message and ask her for him. It was cute and funny, but I had to turn him down and make him work it out later. I lived sixth grade love triangles myself once. I have no desire to live them again.
Kids are always putting their foot in their mouths in sixth grade and funny comments occur daily. I am sure there are tons of other moments and even better moments, but I can't think of any of them right now.

11 Random Facts About Me...

1. I am an introvert.
2. I am a gym rat. I love to swim, run, lift, spin, go to hot yoga etc. If it involves the gym there is a good chance I do and enjoy it.
3. I love to be outside, whenever and doing whatever. I am not a huge fan of cold weather, but I love to walk in the snow.
4.I love to listen to music. I will listen to just about anything so long as it isn't yelling at me.
5. I am a Cincinnati Bearcats Fan!!!
6. I love flowers.
7. My favorite color is purple, but green is inching it's way in. Green and blue is my favorite color combo (if you couldn't tell).
8. I love to color. Yes, I mean like a kid in a coloring book.
9. I can play the piano.
10. I love Disney Movies!!!
11. I use to tell my mom I wanted to have 100 kids. In a strange way I do have that many just in my classroom, but I will settle for 2 or 3 of my own.

My 5 Nominees...
1. Kathryn from The Good Enough Wife
2. Ellie from Middle School Math Moments(and more)
3. Mrs. Mathis from Mrs. Mathis' Homeroom
4. Tia from Tia the Teacher
5. Shari from Keeping it Fresh in 6th Grade

11 Questions For My Nominees...
1. What is your favorite hobby?
2. Who is your hero and why?
3. What is your favorite color?
4. What is your favorite thing to cook or eat?
5. If you could change thing in YOUR world what would it be?
6. What is the best thing about your job?
7. If you had a super power what would it be and why?
8. What was your favorite book as a child?
9. Name 2 of your greatest strengths and your greatest weakness.
10. If you could own a house in any part of the world (in addition to where you already live) where would that house be and why?
11. What is your favorite TV show?

Well that was a long post... I'm done for the night :-)

Friday, August 2, 2013

trying something new....

So being a newbie and all to this blogging thing I am attempting to link up with Beth over at Thinking about Teaching. She is hosting a linky party all about back to school teacher bags.

I have a boring teacher bag right now. It is cream and brown, and has my initials. It was one of those canvas totes, but I don't know where it came from. (It was a gift) The bag as a few small pockets inside, but sometimes still feels like a black hole. It does have a zipper on the top though, which I love! I have just about worn a hole in the bottom and will need to replace it in the near future. I want its replacement to be bright and fun. My current bag lacks personality.

My bag travels to and from school everyday with me. I carry all kinds of pens to grade. I found a super colorful pack of pen/markers on Amazon. There are always a few books to help plan for the next day or days, and lots of grading. My iPad and mini flash drive travel in my bag everyday as well.

What about your teacher bag? Any good suggestions for a replacement?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

It's August...

It's August... which means it's time to kick the back to school planning into full gear!!! I made a trip to the teacher store yesterday to get supplies for some back to school projects. I am suddenly very overwhelmed with everything that needs to get finished before the first day back. I have to say, it gets easier with each passing year, but there is still so much to do. I am trying a few new things in my classroom this year, including P.A.L.S, and that is making me feel more nervous about the start of school. I have an AMAZING teaching partner who is implementing some of the same strategies this year. This helps some with the uncertainty, because I know we will work through it together. We are even planning to mix our classes on occasions. He has been teaching longer than I have, and sometimes I feel inadequate in comparison, but I know working with him makes me a better teacher too.

I love all the back to school set up, but really dread the first day! (I might have mentioned that before, and I am still looking for a good way to start the year.)