Friday, August 29, 2014

Five for Friday

I'm linking up with Doodlebugs for my favorite linky!

 I'm finally getting around to reading Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids! I will freely admit that I have been dabbling in WBT techniques for a while, but with the challenges I'm already facing this year, it is high time I step up my game. I found so many AMAZING freebies on TpT to help with implementing WBT.
Some of the things I'm doing with WBT are the 5 Rules and the Super Improver Wall. I'm very happy I found this freebie from Tara West on TpT. Several of the kids are pretty motivated to move up in the levels. What I really like is that they are helping me enforce the rules with their awesome behavior.
I hate this "vintage" rust cabinet, but it is a great place for my Super Improver Wall.

I thought I had set pretty clear expectations for procedures in my classroom. I did MANY demos and modeled correct procedures. I'm sailing through my math workshop and I was so happy that kids were not sticking completed papers in my face and were going to the turn in station to turn in their work. I even heard them remembering to write their names on their papers because one of the things they have to do is highlight their name before turning it in. After school I walked over and found this:
Wah? Huh? What happened? They are supposed to put their papers in the basket facing the same way (up) and sort their papers into the correct basket. Instead, this is what happened. After sorting through the papers, I was happy to report that they all had names on them! Baby steps.
The new math program we are using is pretty good so far. I get to teach each lesson twice because I'm team teaching with my sister so I teach my class and then hers. Today was just the 5th lesson and boy did we struggle! It makes me wonder if this program is just more rigorous than our old one or if it is just developmentally inappropriate.
I can't think of a 5th thing, except that I am beyond excited to have a 3 day weekend! One last chance for a BBQ with the family and an extra day to catch up on life beyond teaching.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Two for Tuesday: 8/26

Now that I have 1.5 weeks of teaching under my belt for the year, I think it's time to link up with The Teaching Tribune for Two for Tuesday.
I'm teaching place value with my 2nd graders right now and starting to use some of the parts of my Understanding Number Bundle.

It contains four sets of products that will help your kiddos develop place value in a fun and interactive way. Each set contains task cards with a recording sheet, a worksheet for practice, a cut & paste activity, and a foldable for your interactive notebooks. The sets are Monster Math Place Value, Even and Odd Owls, Skip Counting Stars, and Greater or Less Geckos and are sold individually for $4 each. This bundle is normally $12 and is like buying three sets and getting one free. However, today it is 50% off! This is perfect for 2nd grade or a 3rd grade review and can be used at any time of the year.

The other item we've been working on in class is my Back to School Memory Book and First Week Activities. This pack is so big that we're still working on it going into our 10th day of school! It is normally priced at $5 but will be $2.50 today!
It is just full of engaging activities to help you survive that first week (and beyond). It includes a memory book, language arts and math activities as well as getting to know you activities.

Have a great week!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Five for Fraturday...

I'm linking up with Doodlebugs for FFF...on a very early Saturday morning. Sigh. Read on to find out why I didn't post on Friday and why I'm up so early today. Double sigh.

I just finished the roller coaster that was my first FULL week of school (last week was 2.5 days). The anticipation of back to school was akin to the nervous jitters as you get strapped in to your favorite thrill ride. Before I knew it, we were at full speed! We had highs and lows and twists and turns. I couldn't always tell up from down and at some point I felt like throwing up and at many points I felt like screaming. When it was over, I was dizzy.

Here's a peek at my week:

Let me start by saying that I had a lovely, low key weekend with the family. We did a little yard work, watched a movie on Netflix, I made a lasagna and we just chilled and spent time together. It was exactly what I needed.
This is a weird picture, but trust me, it was delicious!

In class, we spent some time working on our First Week Memory Book. They wanted me to spell everything for them! I told them to do their best and that we would look back at these books at the end of the year and smile at our spelling mistakes! 

We also practiced doing math stations. We practiced how we rotate, clean up, turn in work, and play fairly. I didn't have a group so I could walk around and support students. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I decided to jump right in. Maybe I should have checked to see if there was even water in the pool before I took the leap.  
We're working on place value right now so I brought out some of the oldies but goodies, and added a few new things I bought recently. I love the Number Knowledge pack by Amy Lemons. It was so easy to prep and some of the activities could be differentiated. 

More and Less

From Number Knowledge by Amy Lemons. What comes next?

My daughters were challenged by my nephew to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. My brother in law died from this horrible disease in his early 40s. When I first heard of this challenge I was a little annoyed. Now I have seen the awareness it has brought to ALS and how much money it has raised. When I told people about ALS before, almost nobody had heard of it. Now, many more people are aware! Well, I really couldn't resist pouring ice cold water over my daughters' heads and I have to admit that I may have enjoyed it just a tad too much!

Finally, my sis asked me to doggie sit for her fur babies Lola and Brinkley. They are great companions for my dog Scruffy. However, one doggie (who shall remain nameless) was barking at 4:30 this morning at who-knows-what. Hence the reason I am up so early today. Jess, I hope you're reading this, but I doubt it because you are probably having more fun than you can handle.
The culprit!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back to School 2014: When Thursday

I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' for Back to School 2014 Linky Party! Today is all about WHEN! When do I get my planning in? When do I teach math? When do I have prep? When does it ever end?

It's still not to late to link up with us!
Anytime I'm asked what I need to be a better teacher, my answer is always TIME.

I feel that I have pretty good organizational skills and I love a good list! I have lists of lists! However, there is just never enough time to do all the things I want to do. Being a busy mom, wife, TpT seller, and teacher is hard! Some things just have to be put on the back burner. I try really hard to prioritize but I need the occasional (gentle) reminders from family and friends to get off the computer and spend time with them.

I try to bring as little school work home as possible. That does not mean NO school work, it just means some small things I can do while waiting at soccer practice or while watching reality TV on the couch with the hubs. That means I often go in very early and stay late. I am often to school by 7:30 and don't leave until 6:00. It is really sad when I'm the first one there and the last to leave, but I'm always happy to have my weekends for other things.

My daughters are in HS now so they are pretty busy too. I take advantage of the times they are off doing teenager stuff to work on my TpT stuff. I'm also a morning person so while they're snoozing, I'm surfing, planning, blogging, prepping, etc. I absolutely love the Blog Post, Giveaway, and Linky Party Organizer and Planner by Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd. My seller binder is FULL of her awesome forms and lists. She keeps adding to it too! You can check it out here.

At school, the students leave early on  Wednesdays so we can collaborate and plan. I try to get as much done as I can. I do have to admit to having some chatting sessions with my teaching buddies that can get in the way of getting that list done. I am often the person that my colleagues seek out when they are having technology challenges. This also keeps me busy, but I can't say no to helping with technology! I feel like I'm being pulled in a million directions at school. Sometimes I just have to lock my door for an hour and get 'er done!

Shifting gears to my school schedule:
Because I'm team teaching, I have a lot less to plan! It is SO nice to just plan for math and social studies/science and then teach those lessons twice. It may take a little longer at the copy machine for double the kids, but it makes up for the extra planning and prepping I don't have to do for writing and reading. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back to School 2014: Where Tuesday

I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' for the Back to School 2014 Linky Party! Today I'm going to tell you about where I teach.

List of topics for the week below. It's not too late to hop in!
I teach in an elementary school on the west side of Albuquerque, NM. We are a medium sized school (600 kids) in a very large district (139 schools). My school is designated as a Title I school, but just barely. The majority of the population is Hispanic. We are blessed to host a district program for highly gifted students, which means we get 3 full time gifted teachers!

My class is currently at 21 students with 11 girls and 10 boys. They are a very talkative crew and gave me no honeymoon period. They started school on August 13, so they are still new to me but I can already tell that they will keep me on my toes.

I also team teach with my sister! She teaches reading and writing, while I teach math and social studies/science. We are going to work together to teach technology. I won a grant in the spring to get a dozen iPad Minis for my class. I can't wait to get my hands on them!!! It is going to be an awesome year!

My school is O-L-D. I have never had a beautiful, new classroom. Sniff sniff. My classroom has mismatched (and decrepit) furniture but I make the best of it by having fun and bright colors on anything that will stand still. Luckily, we are going to get a completely brand new school in a couple of years and I'm lucky enough to be on the building committee. I've had several meeting with our awesome architect about what we'd like our classrooms to look like and we even got to take some field trips to see other schools to get ideas.
You can't see the burnt orange cabinets on the left...but you can trust that they're hideous!

I am a bibliophile (book lover) so my classroom library is fully stocked. I took on the challenge of finally trying to organize it this year and I'm so glad I did. Not every book is categorized but many are. I also have a hoard of books behind my desk that I use for read alouds. I try to visit my public library a couple times a month to get a selection of books on the topics we're studying to augment my collection. This is usually the most popular section of my library.
This is less than half of my library. See the books in bins along the wall (my desk is back there too)? Those are MINE!

I am obsessed with technology. I have begged and pleaded for more, more, more! I absolutely can't live without my interactive white board. In fact, the projector went out for a week last year and I felt like I had lost a limb. I'm spoiled and I know it. We have two computer labs in our school for us to use but we don't have a technology teacher, so I get to design lessons for my little darlings that are really aligned with what I'm teaching at that time. I also have 5 computers in my room that I use as stations or for fast finishers.
Interactive White Board as a math station

Using an iPad to scan QR codes on task cards.
Well, that is my 2nd home! I can't wait to be in a new building and classroom, but that day will be here before you know it! Click the button to take you back to the Blog Hoppin'.