Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Highs & Lows

I found a cute new linky from

Teacher to the Core

that asks for the highs & lows of the month.

high low

A great way to reflect back on everything that's happened and take the good along with the bad.

I feel like January was a low month in general...I only blogged 15 times as opposed to my usual 20-25. I didn't have a lot to say this month.


~ Had a fight with a snowbank. Snowbank was feisty. Car lost. Now at car dr. to get fixed.
~ Now driving a too big for me SUV (which will hopefully be switched out by the weekend)-and since I'm short, I can't reach the pedals properly (I'm sitting super close to the steering wheel), and have to lift my foot off  the gas to brake.
~Sinus infection-still tired and sniffly
~Hot Water pipe froze-no hot water...fixed with electric heaters and landlord help (who told me to deduct the extra electricity costs from my rent)
~1/2 my kids went down in their MAP scores

Now for the good parts of January!

HIgh (2)

~1/2 my kids went up in their MAP scores (and my two LD friends went up a lot!)
~ I've made some new friends...and got a lot of support from my accident (3 people offered to take me wherever I needed to go within 15 minutes of my getting to school.)
~ I went out to dinner with my awesome co-worker (she is now considered a friend! (she was one of the 3 that offered to take me places-and the one that drove me to the rental car place) and we just spent an hour and a half talking after school...I asked her opinion on a new desk arrangement and it led to other things :)
~ Report Card Committee is going very well (in my opinion), and am loving the draft that we came up with!

That was fun! Hopefully next month there will be more highs than lows (although that's when I get to pay all the bills from the snowbank maybe not :( ) Go check this one out!

Today's Outfit

Shirt: JCPenny
Tank: Target
Pants: Kohls
Shoes: Target

It was super warm here this morning- 52! However, it dropped serverly during the day...when I got out of work it was 28. :( I had a sweater ready to put on, but it didn't go on until I was getting ready to leave work. We'll see what tomorrow brings!

Happy almost TGIF!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Asking Questions

This week we are working on Asking Questions while we read...something that is a little easier for the kids to think about!

I have some, Why didn't we have a delay yesterday?
Why didn't the plow clean the roads correctly?
Why did the snowbank want to fight?
and Why is it going to take longer to fix my car with less damage?

That's right...I'm on a streak. I go ten years without having any accidents and I have 2 within 6 months.

I slid into a snowbank yesterday while I was making a turn onto the street where the school is yesterday, and had to be towed out. My front bumper came almost completely off and is currently awaiting repair (they told me I wouldn't get it back until Valentine's Day!!!). However, there is loads less damage than the last time (and it's about 1/2 the price), so I'm not entirely sure why it's going to take just as long.

Right now I have a huge Dodge Journey...I can seriously fit my entire class in there (if we squished a little). I'm on the list to trade out for a car...I just don't feel comfortable driving it.

I did get a ride to school in the police car...and managed to time it so I was walking in with the kids (I also waved to about 10 co-workers and 2 buses that passed me while I was waiting for the tow and on the phone with the insurance company) That part was fun! :)

So leading into the kids...asking questions is a lot easier for them. We did talk about how to think more deeply and ask Why? type questions instead of What does that word mean? type questions.

Of course, I had to create an anchor chart...

and a graphic organizer to go with it (the one they provided was not as thorough as I like them to be)...
Pick up your copy here

Thanks to Rowdy in Room 300 and Tonya's Treats for Teachers for the fonts and Creative Clips for the border!

They seem to be doing a great job so far...we'll see what happens when we take the test!

Yesterday's Outfit

Sweater: Kohls
Pants: JCPenny
Shoes: DSW

Today's Outfit
Sweater: JCPenny
Tank: Target
Pants: Kohls
Shoes: Endless

It was wicked warm here today (for January)...but super foggy! If the kids moved too far away from us on the playground, we couldn't see them anymore! It's not supposed be as warm tomorrow, so the rain might turn into snow. We'll see if I have to clean that huge monster in the driveway...

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday, January 28, 2013

Maps and Monsters

Hi Bloggy Buds!

Remember when I talked about our Explorer how we used some ideas from Stephanie in Teaching in Room 6?

Well, the kids finally finished their old-timey map and sea monster book.

First up, we talked about how explorers got around and why they might of left. We also talked about what they thought about the earth back then.
Then, I gave them my expectations for creating their own old timey map.
I had them work on a rough draft on grid paper, then after I made suggestions on fixing their map, they moved onto their final draft.

Once they finished their final draft, we moved onto describing their sea monsters. I told them that I wanted to know where the sea monster lived, how they attacked the ship and what they looked like.

They did such a great job!! They were so cute and so creative. Most of them followed the rubrics I made, and did really good job...(you always have those few that run to their own beat...)

These are a few of my favorites

Well, it started snowing at school, so our principal went around and told us to go home ASAP (we're supposed to stay until 3:30). I was excited to go home early-ish and to get home to my snow boots! (which I left at home because it wasn't supposed to start snowing until after school had ended)...I'll make sure I have them tomorrow.

Friday's Outfit:

Sweater: Kohls
Tanks: Target
Pants: JCPenny
Boots: Endless

Today's Outfit
Sweater & Pants: JCPenny
Shoes: DSW

Since the snow up here is supposed to turn to freezing rain, maybe we'll have a delay tomorrow? Please?

Smiles and Sunshine,

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thursdays & WIW

I'm linking up with

Falling into First
for her schedule linky.

Today's was a little wonky, because we had MAP testing, so I'll put what we usually do in parenthesis. :)

7:45-8:15 PLC Meeting

8:20-8:45 Students Arriving- Most students are in the building by 8:45 (since they're supposed to be at school by 8:30...) They do morning work at this time, catch up on unfinished work or read.

8:45-9 Morning Meeting (unless there is band or chorus...which is between 2-3 days a week....grrrr)

8:50-9:50 MAP Testing-today

(9-9:45 Social Studies/Science-usually! It switches off. At the start of each quarter, we switch to science and have 20 lessons. The rest of the time we do Social Studies)

9:45-10:50 Math
      9:45-10 Snack/Calendar. I use the SMART Board for my calendar, and have the kids interact with me while they have snack.
      10-10:50 Lesson Introduction then move into Guided Math groups. There are 3 'stations'. Me, Independent work, and a practice center.

10:50-11:40 Specials - Today: Gym!

11:40-12:15 Guidance Counselor lessons (usually-a catch up time, or spelling practice. I have two friends that leave at this time for extra support, so I don't want to introduce anything new so they miss out)

12:15-1 Lunch/Recess

1-1:30 Whole Group Literacy Lesson
       We cover everything in here! Phonics, Grammar, Writing, Fluency Practice, Strategies Introduction, etc. I usually get about 4 things in a day-covering all the highlights. Some days are more focused on one thing than others.

1:30-2:45 Small Groups/Centers
      Students break into either center work or go to their guided reading groups (I have 6 kids leave at 1:30 to three different teachers....and 2 more leave at 2!)
     I pull my groups...working with some friends that struggle with their independent work before they leave, and then working with my two groups.

2:45-2:55 Clean up and Dissmissal

And everyone's gone by 3!

Then after school today I had a Report Card Commitee Meeting until 5...but that's not every week. :)

Today's outfit

Sweater: Kohls
Tank: Target
Pants: Gap Outlet
Boots: Endless

I'm also linking up with Mix and Match Fashion's What I Wore to Work linky.

Tomorrow's Friday! I can't wait for the weekend!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Catch Up

Hi Peeps!

I finally went to the doctor today and discovered that my plague was a sinus infection...tricky little buggers! I was feeling better...until I went back to work (maybe I'm allergic to kids? ;). The only reason I went? I was wearing one of my super warm sweaters today, and was cold.

My assistant (a para) very kindly lent me an extra (very warm) sweater...and I was still a little chilled.

I normally run a little cold anyway (which means lots of blankets on the bed!! :), but not this cold.

So yesterday and today I basically wore the exact same thing (because it was warm and comfortable), except for a change of colors...I tend to buy in multiples when I find something.

Sweaters: JCPenny
Pants: Kohls
Purple Shoes: Target
Black  Shoes: Amazon

We are finishing up our Explorers unit, and have started playing this game that I came up with. They were so excited when I introduced it today! It was fun to see that much enthusiasm from them (of course, I've been teasing them as the map was in progress...they kept wanting to know what I was doing and I wouldn't tell them!)

I did not get my teacher homework done from the last post (bad teacher), but I have been finding that I haven't been able to concentrate on anything for very long (due to the sick germs in my body). However, I've slowly been working through it at school, and the pile is almost done...although current work has started piling up again!

However, since grades close this Friday, and we just started a new theme, I'm designating most of that work until next quarter, and it can wait until I'm all caught up for grades (and guess what I'll be doing this cards, yay!!)

It's been super cold up here, so stay warm (wherever you are!)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Friday, January 18, 2013

Teacher's Homework

I've caught the winter cold again...(or as I like to call it, the plague). I'm stuffing myself with meds to hopefully cure myself so I don't have to go to the doctor...we'll see if it works.

Fortunately, Wednesday was a snow day! I was able to bone up on my med intake (I usually can't take any during the day, since 95% of meds make me sleepy), and thought I had caught it all-only to be fooled by the germs. Sneaky germs, they were just hiding so I would relax on the germ-killers.

So no outfit for Wednesday-even though I braved the cold, storm and snow (not really it was almost clear when I went out ;) to run some errands so I didn't have to do it after school.


Sweater: Target
Pants: Kohls
Shoes: Target

Sweater: JCPenny
Pants: Kohls
Shoes: Endless/Amazon

Not feeling well = comfy and cozy work clothes.

Funny story...I told my kids that I would be taking home some of their work to (hopefully) grade this weekend. I also showed them the stack I had accumulated.

One friend (who never turns in homework) thought it was hilarious that teachers had homework on the weekend and kids didn't (he even smiled and laughed-which is huge for this friend).

I told him that when he went to middle school and high school, he would have plenty of homework on the weekend...which he would be graded on.

I, on the other hand, didn't necessarily need to do the grading this weekend- and if it didn't get done (this weekend), I wouldn't be in trouble like he would be if he didn't do his homework. He didn't think I was funny....(the rest of the kids did! :)

My Stack
Teacher's Homework--It's amazing how much work 15 kids can produce

Instruments of torture :)
Have a wonderful long weekend! (I'll hopefully be germ-free by Monday...bring on the germ-killers!)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ahoy! We Be Sailing On

Hi Bloggy Buds!

I've  been working on something for my kids recently (they've been all a quiver with anticipation) and it's almost ready for them.

Since we are studying explorers, I wanted to do a game with them that I did when I was learning about explorers (and pretty impactful since I remember it 20ish years later!)- although I played this in 5th grade.
What we are going to do is create teams or 'crews'. Crews are going to have to sail from Japan to Australia, exploring along the way, and staying out of harm's way! Easy, you say? Well.....

Australia's kind of on the other side of the world (Yes, it's not to scale...but the continents are mostly in the right place :)

I took two 'graphing' chart papers and taped them together- which will help the kids with their 'sailing' (and me with my drawing!).

I just need to finish coloring-- and I may tap some of my nicer and neater colorers to help me finish the ocean-I did all the continents and ocean outlines today...It took a long time! I'm going to back it with construction paper and then run it through the laminator.
Close ups:

Did I mention that the kids will be dodging whirlpools, sea monsters, ice bergs, storms and other manner of things?

There are also travel cards, which they kids will be pulling for each turn.
And of course, it wouldn't be an adventure or explorer expedition without a ship's log.

They will have to write a ship's log for each day- and the captain and first mate will change each day.

The kids have seen me working on the map for awhile, and now that it's almost done, they are getting really excited. I can't wait to start this project with them!

Today's Outfit

Sweater & Tank: Target
Pants: Gap Outlet
Shoes: Payless

We're supposed to get some snow tonight...right around the morning commute time. Here's hoping for a delay!!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday, January 14, 2013

Online Research

We started our online research for our explorers today. HOLY COW! It was tough!

Our district has a subscription to EBSCOhost (something I became very familiar with in grad school :). Even better, (which I didn't know about), is that they have a KIDS search engine for articles. How cool is that!

The kids we able to access their section and type in the name of their explorer. They then clicked on the biographies link to filter out the results, so they only had to look at the information they needed.

Things were going along, all the kids being able to find at least one good article on their person when I noticed...most of these articles were too high for their readability level.

At the top of each article, they had the lexile, which was helpful...however, they were all lexiled in the 1000's! Now, I do have quite a few readers who have no problem reading at that level, but about half my class is not at that level (think 750 and lower), so I can see problems forming when the kids were trying to figure out the reading at a level that is too high :(.

We have another session with the computers on Thursday, so we will see how the next session goes. We may need another one!

Today's Outfit

Sweater: Maurices
Shirt: The Limited
Pants: JCPenny
Shoes: DSW

It was super warm today (for the middle of January up here!), although it started out rainy and foggy, and turned into a beautiful, gorgeous spring day. If only it could stay this way! :)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Friday, January 11, 2013


We have started learning about division this week in 4th grade. Before I share what we have been working on this week, let me direct you to:

which is a GREAT resource for math (and other things!!), and where most of my activities came from.

First off, we started talking about what division was. We made a web of the different strategies we could use to solve division problems, and put them in our notebooks.
Our Web/Map that we created

Notebook Entry
After we talked about the strategies we could use, I gave each student a division fact, and they had to create a map showing the 4 ways they could solve the problem.
I showed them an example...although I didn't do the whole array or groupings
 They did this on a half sheet of paper, and added into their notebooks, opposite the map so they had an example (and gave me a chance to see who understands it!)

We then talked about the different vocab words that will pop up while working on division-dividend, divisor, quotient. We used a foldable from Fun in 4B's Division Lapbook to add to our notebooks (sorry, no picture...I forgot to take one today!)

Fact Families were up next, and we discussed how the fact family can help you figure our the answer to a division problem.
This is where the fun starts! (and my original idea of the whole thing ;). I gave the kids a triangle flashcard (you know the ones I'm talking about!). I had them pick one side to write the fact family for, and then draw a picture and hide the numbers in their picture.

For the other side of the flashcard, they just created a picture with the numbers hidden in them. They then had to share it with a friend, to see if they could find the numbers, and say all the facts that went with that family.
Two of my creative!

They LOVED this. They got so creative with trying to hide the numbers, and really did a nice job. It also reinforced the fact family practice and what they stand for.

Yesterday's Outfit(s)

Purple Sweater: Kohls
White Sweater: NY & Co
Tank: Target
Pants: JCPenny
Shoes: TJ Maxx

Again, it was warmer in school than I thought it would be, so I layered my sweaters...glad I did, because the purple one was on and off all day.

Those shoes are ones I got while waiting to meet my co-worker/friend for dinner. She had said she was going to be late, so I hopped over to TJ Maxx to see what I could find...only to find these cute shoes! (and I wound up being late...she turned out to be on time and I had to check out!)
So pretty and gold and sparkly...with a low heel! :D

Today's Outfit

Top Half: JCPenny
Pants: Gap Outlet
Shoes: Endless

I had a 504 meeting right after school today-so I was a little dressier with the accessories than I normally am. Fortunately, it went quickly and well (under 20 minutes!), and I know that for the future, this kid will get everything he needs to succeed (I like to set them up in my year, because not everyone gives all the accommodations that I do, and I always want them in place before they go to the middle school.)

Have a wonderful (warm!) weekend!!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Center Accountability

I was reflecting on my teaching practices over break (how do you like them big professional words! ;), on how my Math Block is running.

Overall, I'm pleased with how it is running. Most days, we start with calendar/snack (10-15 minutes), and then move into our small groups/centers. I started tweaking it a little-doing some more whole group lessons, especially when I am introducing a concept.

But I was reflecting more on the hands-on center the kids are doing. I've noticed that some students always turn in their center work, some students sometimes turn in their center work and some students never turn in their center work. But what to do?

Thinking on it, I decided that I wanted to create a center folder. I also decided that I would introduce a new center almost every day-but would keep it out all week once I've introduced it. That way, if students finish one center early, they can go back to a previous center that they didn't get to finish.

Out of the 5 centers, my students are required to complete 3. If they do all five, they get extra credit.

I also wanted a way to track their progress on meeting the CC standards.

This is how I set them up:
Names done in pretty lettering-although they don't have multi-colored names like mine :)

The inside of the folder
CC Standards Checklist-get it here

Center Checklist

For the center checklist, I put a spot for the five centers (Centers 1-3, Extra 1, 2). When the kids finish a center they check it off (whichever number they are on) and then put the date on the other side.

They have enough boxes for 15 weeks of school-I didn't want to be restapling checklists into their folders every other week!

I introduced them today, and the kids seemed really excited about them. This gives them a place to put their loose papers, and then I can grade all of them at once-instead of piecemeal which has been happening a lot lately.

Yesterday's Outfit

Vest: The Limited
Shirt: Old Navy
Pants: Kohls
Shoes: Amazon

Today's Outfit(s)
Sweater (on right): JCPenny
Top, Pants & Jeans: JCPenny
Tank: Target
Teal Shoes (left): DSW
Nude Shoes (right): Payless

I'm going out to dinner tonight with the teacher next door to me (who's basically like me except older :), so I decided to go casual -- which I don't do often enough now that I can't wear jeans to work. This would also be a good look for a date (if I ever had one of those!).

Smiles and Sunshine,