Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday Made It

Craftiness ahead!

I have some more paintings.
I did this one with my sister~it was interesting to see our differences!

One of my very favorites!
The next one I did was a redo-I didn't love the way it came out when I originally did it, so I went to an Open Studio time to see if I could do better-and I did!
New Version
 Right now, most of my paintings are lying on the floor-they're being furniture placeholders!

I'm getting a dining table and a chair, so I have the paintings laid out when I want them (with almost the correct dimensions!) so I can get used to the new traffic flow-hopefully to save me on some leg bruises!

This way, I'll be used to avoiding the furniture by the time it finally arrives! 

I've also been working on my Planbook for next year! It worked fairly well for me this year, so I'm just tweaking it a bit for next year (plus updating fonts and colors :)

So far, I have all my monthly calendars done-complete with PD days, vacations and days off!

I'm waiting for a certain someone's set 3 borders to go on sale before I finish the plan pages (Kelly B. I'm looking at you! :), but since I have almost two months of summer left, I'm not too concerned about it!

I've also been continuing my stash busting with another baby blanket-this one for a boy!
I'm about halfway there!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Wild Readers~Chapter 1

Ready for some Wild Reading?

Brought to you by:
My thoughts on Chapter 1!
And my Literacy Block:
 *EEKK- Elbow Elbow Knee Knee-Fancy way of saying partner reading :)
I'm definitely a wild reader (or a voracious one, as I prefer).

I'm thinking about how I can have my students be wild readers with a basal (that I really should follow, even though it's awful...), as well as meeting all their needs.

Right now, I only have 16 (I know!), but that will almost certainly change before school starts, and I'll be getting any new ones, as I have the lowest numbers. That will help with meeting their needs (although I'll be all by my lonesome next year, as I have no LC kids-bummer!)

It will be interesting to see how the class is, as of right now their reading levels span from O to V! I hope I can encourage some wild reading for each of them!

Are you a wild reader?

Smiles and Sunshine,

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Historical Society Workshop

Oh. My. Word.

I just spent two days at one of the most interesting and informative workshops I have ever been to.

My teamies and I went to a workshop at our local historical society about the American Revolution in our area.

We learned SO much!

Not only was it about the resources they have and what primary sources can be used for in our classrooms, they also had sessions about things that most of us don't think about-like how was the experience for the Loyalists? the Slaves? What the cause really was of the American Revolution (slavery had a big part to do with it-it wasn't necessarily about taxation without representation-more about local control-something that still pops up today!)

We also went to the local tavern (that's now a museum!) and learned about the family and what life was like. 

It was such a cool experience! (Plus, my commute was only 5 minutes (that NEVER happens for workshops), it was only $40, plus I get PD credit, as well as credit to move on the pay scale (of course, it will be less than half an hour of pay scale credit-but not every district does this, and eventually, if I get up to 15 hours, I can slide over :)

Check out all the information we learned about!

Some information is classified and has been redacted :)

I HIGHLY recommend that you check out your local historical society. They probably have things for teachers (ours has some Wonder Boxes (hands on) in addition to lesson plans), as well as workshops for you!

They're also a good resource if you are doing your own genealogy, as well as having some (probably) fascinating information about where you live!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer Professional Reading

Happy Friday! (Although days aren't super important when it's summer and you're not working yet! :)

I received a very fun package today...professional books! (Thank you Amazon Prime!!-I ordered these late Tuesday night!)
Pathways to Common Core was a freebie I got at the Lucy Calkins workshop in January, but I haven't read it yet.

I found the Making Thinking Visible book through this pin:
If first and second graders can do this-what could upper grades do?   Secondgradealicious: How About a Tug of War? Making Thinking Visible
Which led me to this site

Which had the book! I really curious to see how this would work-I've skimmed a bit and it looks like an interesting read-heavier at times, but useful!

And, of course, I had to pick up Donalyn Miller's new book-I enjoyed The Book Whisperer and can't wait to see was she has to say! (Best part-I got it used! And fulfilled by Amazon!)

In addition to my new reads, there are some old reads that I will be going back to this summer.
As you can see-there is a clear emphasis on small group work and writing (with a little math thrown in!).

I really want to map out my writing curriculum this summer- so I have some idea what is going on (I usually fly by the seat of my pants :), as well as giving the students a clear, logical writing instruction that builds upon itself.

You'll also notice a focus on Guided Reading. Most of my students are reading near or at a 4th grade level-so the strategies I learned to teach Guided Reading in the younger grades doesn't necessarily apply. I want to get a better handle on it, so I really feel like I am teaching the students rather than just going over a book with them.

Of course, I'll also be spending some time with this:
Since we're starting with it in the fall!

Now, there will be plenty of fun reading in there-I read voraciously, as well as fairly quickly, so I should have plenty of time to read everything! :)

What reads are on your list?

Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Math Program Winner

This year, my district piloted 3 different math programs. As part of the math committee, I got to look at all the programs last summer, as well as pick which one I wanted to pilot and be part of the final decision.

We had three programs to choose from-Go Math!, Math in Focus and Envision.
I had picked Go Math! to pilot.

At first, I was ehh about it. Then, I disliked it. I felt it moved to fast and tried to teach to many things in one lesson.

However, as time moved on (and we got out of multiplication and division and into fractions and decimals!), I realized that I could live with the program if it got chosen.

But, after talking with my teamie, and taking a close look at her program, I really wanted Envision.

A few weeks ago, the math committee met to make the final decision.

We had teacher surveys, kids surveys, parent surveys, as well as MAP data.

After 2 hours of talking (mind you-this was after school-unpaid on our own time) we had narrowed it down to two-Envision and Math in Focus. There was a clear administrator winner, but the teachers were pretty evenly split..

We left it in the hands of the administration, because we had concerns about the amount of professional development we were going to receive (as well as the cost of the program).

Well, the decision came down.

Our new math program is Math in Focus.

Now, I will say that I was not exactly happy with this decision-it often goes above and beyond the CC (and I really think that we need to focus on the CC to teach it well before going above and beyond), and that teaching only one way might be too limiting for some students.

On our last day, we had some professional development on the program (to make for a PD day we lost due to snow).

Oh. My. Word!

I will admit to being wrong. I'm still not entirely on the whole boat, but my dinghy is getting closer to the mother ship. (Before, it was a loooooooooooong way away! ;)

The reason my mind was changed and I think that this program has some merit-our presenter was a teacher.

An actual teacher-someone who is still in the classroom-and who is using this program!

That made a HUGE difference on the quality of workshop, he was able to let us know how the transition went for them, when they had to back up to lower grades (he's a 5th grade teacher), and what parts of the lesson they really need to focus on (and what parts that aren't as 'important'!)

He even did a few activities with us using the manipulatives, and gave us suggestions on on how the lesson runs.

I mean-look at my notes! (I will say that it is rare for me to take a lot of notes-I usually remember-auditory learner!)

(He even had some suggestions for 'non-math' lessons!)

Plus, we got the first book to look at over the summer (although we'll be getting brand new 2015 editions before school starts-hopefully), so we can have a jumpstart on the school year!

Now, I still have some reservations-but I can see this working.

For those of you that have used/are using-any suggestions? warnings?

I'm hoping to do a guided math/math workshop structure and would appreciate any help!

I'm also hoping that it will be a little easier this year than last-since all students have been exposed to the CC math standards, and hopefully there will not be as big as gap as last year (hopefully!)

Thanks for reading such a long, wordy post!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday, June 23, 2014

Marvelous Math Mania

Happy Monday!

I'm thoroughly enjoying my first Monday of summer vacation-it was so nice not to have to wake up to an alarm today!!

In the last few days of school, I wanted my kids to have fun with Math (without requiring me to grade anything :) I was done too!). Here are some of the things we did!

We did Jivey's Make One Whole game (free!). The kids loved it! This was also perfect because we had just finished up our decimals unit-so it was a nice way to spend the last few days of school!

You can easily differentiate this game by changing up the dice you give them. 

Of course, I brought out the megaladon of dice just to make it a little more interesting for them! (and I told them if they rolled a 10, it counted as 10 hundredths not 10 tenths (as many of them wanted to do!)

We also created some pattern block pictures-and they had to be symmetrical! (I did this on the day the most of my girls had 'the talk', so I only had my boys and a couple girls left-they loved it!)

We were also finished up our measuring angles unit (I was double dipping some math for the last math of school-they still needed to be exposed to it!).

We had a little trouble with measuring with protractors, so I wanted the students to gain more familiarity with them.

I had them do protractor drawings! They could use any part of the protractor, but needed to have 5 right, 5 acute and 5 obtuse angles somewhere in their drawing.  This was another favorite!
Yes, this friend drew a minion-how creative was that!
I think this is one of my favorites-he got so creative and when it was finished it looked beautiful!

There you have it! Some fun, easy, educational things to do the last few days of school! (Plus, any of this activities could be used as a center/game station!)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Friday, June 20, 2014

American Revolution Fun

Happy Summer!

We've finally finished our school year-and I'm looking forward to the break!

Although we didn't finish until yesterday, grades closed last week and report cards needed to be done by first thing Monday morning.

So, I needed something for them to do that was fun, but still educational and aligned with what we had been doing.

We just finished our American Revolution Unit (without my SMART Board-the projector broke about halfway through! A bummer because I think it adds some oopmh to the unit!) using the fill-in-the-blank foldables I made last year.

So I pulled out the American Revolution Mini Pack I had purchased last year, and had the students do the choice board! (I also had them take the vocab quiz as part of their assessment before I closed grades).

The kids LOVED the choice board! They were so excited about it, they kept asking me to work on it during non-Social Studies time.

And....the timing was perfect! I gave them three days to work on it (I originally had them choose three activities to do, but as some finished early, I had them pick another one.).

They came out super nice! The kids put a lot of work and effort into it.

I also pulled some book resources to read to the kids.

I did the Choose Your Own Adventure for Colonial Times, Boston Massacre, and American Revolution. This is also a SMART Board activity that mimics the books for the causes of the American Revolution.  The kids LOVED this (and this is when the SMART Board decided to die :( right in the middle of it!)-and they had some great discussion about their choices!
 I also did the Split History of the American Revolution, which gives the kids the British perspective.

They had a lot of fun with this unit- they were bummed when I said we were done!

Smiles and Sunshine,

American Revolution Linky