Saturday, September 28, 2013

Saturday Ramblings - 5 for Friday

1 Well, I just spent over an hour doing something I've been wanting to do for a while - so if you notice the little Good Day button on the side and you want to say something nice about it - lol

2 We had Apple Day on Thursday. I was thinking it was basically like last year - and here's that post - but there were a few changes, of course! Last year, we did all the taste testing in our own rooms. This year we got a empty classroom and did all the indoor things there. Boy, was it loud. Last year I had some parent volunteers come. This year, only one parent from another class came. And this year, the kids liked the red delicious apples best, and overwhelming liked the apple juice better than the cider. Now that's more like it. 

3 I am almost done with my first 8 week ESL endorsement class, and I'm not sure what to think. Our assignments consist of reading a book and posting about each chapter and commenting on other people's posts; making a "poster" of an ESL method that is outdated; and doing a reflection paper on a video about SIOP. Thankfully my district will pay me back for my tuition. Because it kinda ticks me off - my professor has not commented on one discussion board and has only been involved in my end of the class by giving me grades on 6 of the 10 postings I did on the book chapters. But whatever!

4 Because our ESL Interventionist is {finally} going to be able to start coming into my room {after a month of testing - trust me I Am So Thankful she does all that!}, I need to rearrange my reading groups. The difficult part is she sees all my low readers - even the one who isn't ESL. OK, that's not difficult. The difficult part is she also sees anyone who is ESL designated - so that's some high kids and some on grade kids. But they also have to come to me for guided reading - so the scheduling is a bit interesting, one might say. 

5 Today Hub Bub and I are headed to a nearby wetlands refuge - well, I'm not sure what it's called. OK, it's Cheyenne Bottoms - so if you live in Kansas, that might make sense, but otherwise, probably not :)
We went there in the spring, but because most of our area of Kansas is under a severe drought, there wasn't much water. We still got to see some amazing birds. But we're hoping it will be even more interesting, because there might be some migrating birds, and there's actually been some rain in our area lately. Plus, my hub-bub is super excited to get to eat at this Mexican food place in the nearby town - lol. 

Hey, I just realized, I've got 5 random things - so I'm going to link up and call it good.  

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mash Up

A long time ago, my daughter and I used to watch Glee and sometimes they'd have Mash Ups - they'd combine a couple different songs to make one song. Anyway, that's what I feel this post is.

First of all, I saw a Fall Book Linky Party {I first saw it at The Teacher's Cauldron.}. The Teacher's Treasure Chest is hosting.

I got this book as a freebie from our Scholastic book order we just got back last Friday.

It is a fun book with all kinds of information about different aspects of autumn. So I don't have a craft we did with this - but I was thinking, next year! - I think I'll have the kids make a word web of autumn words/ideas {we'd probably do this part together} and then they can write a descriptive paragraph about autumn. Descriptive paragraphs are something we have to do at the first of the year and this would definitely help them get started. 

The kids really like this book - they like sharing their ideas as we read, and it has some great photographs.

In Math, we're working on basic math facts - addition and subtraction to 20. Our district gives us 2 weeks to do addition strategies and 2 weeks to do subtraction strategies. I just don't understand why the kids don't understand these timelines {ha!}. I can tell they don't understand these timelines because they don't understand and use the strategies I'm teaching. Because really, folks, it takes more than 2 weeks to teach a couple different strategies - AND practice them! But whatever....

Anyway, a couple strategies that I've used that have been successful...

She calls these number bracelets. We only made these for 10 - but some struggling mathematicians were able to use these to help them not count on their fingers {smiley face}. You can move the beads around to make whatever number sentence - for example - 5 beads on one side and 5 on the other. Some of my real smarty pants were able to use the 10 beads to count other things - like 6+7 - they were able to count up with that.

 Another idea is one that I had pinned:
Saddle up for Second Grade Number line idea, made from a Baggie
 {Well, the link goes to Saddle up for Second Grade, but I can't find her specific post on this. Boo Hoo}
 The idea is the kids can start the zipper deal at whatever number and scoot it backwards {for subtraction} however many. Some of my kids enjoyed using this. 

So what's some of your best ways to teach math facts?

And finally, I'm taking a class as I'm working toward my ESL endorsement. I'm not sure how beneficial most of it is - it seems like it's just reading chapters about theories and commenting online. But! one thing it got me to thinking about is my talk - how quickly I talk, how often I use idioms or other sort of nonsensical phrases. Especially when I used the phrase "Show and Tell," asking someone to show me and tell me about their work - and they thought I was going to show them something! And that's only from a student that is brave enough to ask me. So, one goal for me is to think about what I'm saying, and in my efforts to do fun, make sure it makes sense!

It's Thursday, and that's recess day for me, and the weather has shot back up - it's supposed to be 90 today. Maybe if I'm lucky it will be windy, too!
Have a great day!      

Oh, well, I'm embarrassed - I see that the linky party is closed. But since I've already written and now published - I'm just going to go ahead and share!

Monday, September 16, 2013


Anybody else have a Monday kind of day today? I sure did!

My schedule was still was up in the air when I left last Friday afternoon. Yes, this is after 4 weeks of school. Because we have a mandatory 90 minute reading block, and I have an ESL interventionist coming in, she and I were trying to make our two schedules come together. We worked on that during the first part of my plan time. Yeah! It worked out. And I'm happy with it. {Really, that's all that matters, isn't it?}

I realized as soon as I walked in this morning, that I hadn't finished working on my centers - so had to do that - I Am So Forgetful sometimes! 

And I need to go with my hub-bub to the Big City tomorrow to talk to a doctor about knee replacement surgery for him - so I had to plan for a sub. OK, got that marked off my to do list also. 

So anyway, the thing I really wanted to get to today, well, that just didn't happen. I did DRA testing last week, and our interventionist has done AIMS testing on all my kids. I had decided I wanted to share that with parents before conferences. Sarah at First Grade Snippets has a pretty cool Guided Reading Snapshot that she uses to let parents know about their child's reading. I used that last year, but this year, I wanted to include the math assessment information I had. 

I made a pretty simple form that basically said, "Your child is successful at ...." and "We will be working on ..." Did not get that printed at work. After I spent an extra hour there {trying to tame my closet a bit} I decided I'd just print it home tonight and then I could fill them out on the road tomorrow. Well, think again. my printer is out of ink! Yikes! 

Anyway, I was just kind of wondering - what do you do with the assessment information you gather? Do you share it with parents? How? Before conferences? Or at conferences? 

I guess I'm feeling like I want this to be a "We're all in this together" kind of situation, and I want parents to be in the loop about their child. Would sure love to hear your thoughts, though. 

Hoping Tuesday goes a little smoother. 

*** Update - I just saw that Sarah from First Grade Snippets also has a Math Snapshot - see it here

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A little change

Have you ever read anything - like on a blog - and said to yourself, "Yeah, that's something I need to be thinking about?" 

 Forever In First

Well, Tammy at Forever in First has had several posts about transitions, but this one really hit it. She speaks about all of us wanting more time in the day, and that we need to make every minute count. And then she talked about transitions. {crickets} Yup, I probably need to tighten up my transitions, and other lag times during my day, but I just don't want to think about it. 

And then this year, I got some extra time, just because of something I didn't do. You see, in the past, I've had my attendance on my Smartboard. It was really fun. I'd put their special number on an object and they would move that object to show they were at school. I had snowmen for January, and pumpkins for October, and when we were studying dinosaurs,you got it - they had little dinosaurs with their number on them. So this was all good - and the kids liked the cute little objects. But I would notice that it was kind of slow going. And as they were waiting to come into the room to move their object, the back of the line would start getting silly and maybe loud.

But this year, because of the way my life was going {big smile} I just didn't get that done before school started. I thought to myself I'd just do it later and introduce it then. But I realized, I got everyone in the room WAY quicker. And after everyone got in their seats, I just quickly scanned the room for absences and asked if anyone brought a lunch from home. 

I remember when I was reading Teaching with Intention, Debbie Miller said, "Once I developed my belief statements, the next step was to align them with my classroom practices." I'm not 100% there, but one of my beliefs is that I want readers in my classroom. Now I have this extra 10 minutes at the beginning of the day {before we go to reading interventions}. And I remembered something I read in The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller - well, I can't find it exactly, but she said that instead of finding something for kids to do - like workbook pages, or practice pages, etc., she just had them read. What?!? What an idea!

 So I've made this 10 {extra!!} minutes of the day a reading time. I'm a little more relaxed during this time and let the kids share things from their book with their buddies sitting close to them - as they transition into the school day.

I've been wanting to share this idea for a while, and since I woke up at wee morning time today, and already got all my cutting done on the cutting board {what a teacher nerd}, I just had to share. Have you changed anything this year? Has it made a big difference?

Friday, September 6, 2013

9/6 Five for Friday

I'm thinking as I go here - I hope I can count to 5!
1 - I love my class! And so did my sub yesterday, the science teacher, the school counselor, and even people at church have heard! 
 I have enjoyed my 3 weeks with them. I've got a smile on my face. It's a good year and I'm just going to be happy about it.
2 -Finally getting used to my totally different than before schedule! Math's in the morning - our afternoon is Long! Lunch is early, etc., etc., etc.
3 -
My hub bub and I went to Denver last weekend - watched the Rockies lose and Todd Helton NOT hit his 2500 {he did it the next day}; went to a wonderful little biscuit place sorta downtown that was delish! I had a strawberry shortcake one - yum; went to the this hole in the wall Mexican food place - double yum - probably the best meal there; first trip to Container Store - bought some fun stuff; and went to the Aquarium, which I was thinking I wasn't too excited about until we started seeing all sorts of cool things like a sea turtle, manta rays and sharks and so on! 
Is this not the coolest - it's a manta ray's underside, he's going up the glass tunnel that separates us.
{hee hee - I bought a bumper sticker like this - but it said Dear Math Book... for my daughter when she was having a wee bit of problem with her math class.} Going without a workbook for the first time ever in Math - and it hasn't been too bad. I've made up problems and shown the on the Smartboard - and I'm able to add all my munchkins names - so it's like a treat. Today I had one that one boy had 9 aliens at his house - so I asked him if his mom knew about that. He said she didn't :)
5 - Work Weekend - 
Our reading series {Houghton Mifflin's Journeys} does units of 5 lessons, so I like to plan those five weeks of lessons and get them out of the way. Then I just have to tweak them the week before. So that's what I'm going to be doing this weekend - holed up in the basement, chained to the computer. But I'll be glad to get them done!
Ok, so link up if you want - if you have something to share.