Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Peek at my Week: Government & Dr. Seuss

This is my first time linking up with Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for a Peek at my week! I love the idea of seeing what everyone has planned for the week.

I left school Friday afternoon super stressed about what I was going to do for Reading and Language this coming week. We took our State Writing Test on Wednesday and finished our George Washington's Socks project this week. With only two weeks left until Spring Break, I really don't want to start our new novel unit yet, and my kids need a break from essay writing. After reading through a few blogs this weekend, I finally got inspired and found a perfect solution to my Reading and Language Arts dilemma.

Social Studies: We are continuing our look at the Constitution and formation of our government.
M: Preamble- After a small dose of School House Rock to help them remember the words, they are going to break into groups with a small part of the Preamble to discuss and bring back to the class.
T: Separation of Powers and Checks & Balances - Once again a School House Rock event.
W: Three Branches- In the past I have used my Government Tree to teach this concept, but my tree got a little damage from having a box fall on it. So this year we will be using a graphic organizer instead. I also love to use the "We the People" series to help teach this concept.
Th: National & State Powers: The "We the People" series has a great lesson on this too. We will use it to pull information from in order to create a Venn Diagram.
F: Federalists & Anti-federalists: We will be creating posters in support or opposition of ratifying the Constitution.

Reading: We will be continuing our Vocab Warriors this week with the Midas set. We are almost finished with the Vocab Warriors. My students are so excited because we are having a party at the end for all students who made an 80% or higher on all the tests. It's still a few weeks away as we have to finish the next unit and have at least a week for redos, but they have been working all year to get to this point.

 I saw this amazing idea at Teaching in Room 6 for using Dr. Seuss books to teach upper grade skills. You can view what she did and get the resources for Free at her site. I will be using The Lorax as my example throughout the week as the students work on their own books in small groups. I love that this lesson hits on Literal Understanding, Main Idea, Theme, and a fun end of book project of creating their own cover. My students will love this activity, and it will be a great skill review.

Writing: As I said, my students just took their State Writing Test, and I promised them they would not write another essay for a long time. With that in mind, I LOVED the free lesson at Ideas by Jivey for using a Mentor Sentence from The Lorax. This will be my first time using Mentor Sentences, but I am excited to see how it goes. I think my kiddos will love getting to create their own using the Mentor Sentence as inspiration.

With all that said, we just got a call that school is cancelled tomorrow. Sigh. I guess I'll be doing some rearranging when I know for sure how many days we will be out next week. Oh well, here is a peek at what was supposed to be my week. :)

Currently March

It's finally March which means Spring is almost here! A new month in my blogging world means it is time to link up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade for this month's Currently. I love to do these and see how I change or in my case stay the same from month to month.

Most of these are pretty self explanatory. I really love snow, but I'm over missing school and crummy roads. We have been lucky and only missed six days this year compared to many of you, but still enough is enough. I miss my flip flops!! It is also really weird to hear it snowing and then thundering at the same time. I'm not sure my mind can really process the two different noises at the same time.

 With the weather being so cold and roads icky, we have decided to lock ourselves in for the day. Luckily last weekend we went grocery shopping and got enough for at least another week or two. No reason to leave the house! I really should clean the house, but it was such a busy week and I need to just breathe and do my own thing. 

If I had the money I would hire someone to help me with all the things I don't want to do. I love to cook, but I could go the rest of my life without having to clean the kitchen, bathrooms, or do laundry. There just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day to get everything done.

On the last one you are supposed to guess the question, but I'll give you a hint. It is the number of days since I started a new journey in life...

Here's to a wonderful March for all!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Five for Friday(ish)
Well it's not Friday, but I also haven't blogged since the Summer so being a day late really isn't that bad. After a pretty crazy half of the school year, I'm back and had a great week!

After being sick all weekend long, my hubby and I finally got to celebrate Valentine's Day Monday evening. I can guarantee we will always remember our first Valentine's Day as a married couple. Below are the beautiful flowers he sent me at work.

Monday was President's Day and my students spent some time learning about the leadership traits of one of my favorite Presidents: George Washington. After attending the Summer Institute at Mount Vernon a few years ago, I am obsessed with GW! I wish I could spend all year just teaching about our first President.

For the last three weeks the students at my school have been bringing in money for our Pasta for Pennies campaign. The money all gets donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Friday was our final day and I had a student very quietly hand me a $100 dollar bill. To say I was shocked was an understatement. Most of my students come from homes that don't have much to spare at the end of each week. I was touched by the donation. Later, I found out from his mom that the $100 was that student's OWN money. He had been saving for an X-box, but after seeing a commercial on TV the night before about a child with cancer, he decided he wanted to donate it. I sat at my desk and let tears fall down my face and thanked god for the way he had just touched me.

Monday my mom surprised me by walking into my classroom with a shopping cart. I had told her a few months ago when seeing a shopping cart at the end of some random parking lot, that I really wanted one for my classroom. I don't know about you but I always seem to come in the door with my hands full of stuff and have to make several trips back and forth to my car. I never thought in a million years she would find a store to buy one. My students and I are so excited! They kept finding random reasons this week to use it. Way to go mom!

My students have spent the last few weeks preparing for our Black History Month Wax Museum. The kids each picked and read a biography of a famous or influential African American. They then competed research using the school databases in order to create a poster and paragraph about their person. On Friday, my students dressed as their person and presented their findings to the other students who visited their museum. They did such a fantastic job. I am one proud teacher!

We have our state writing test next week. Fingers crossed my students do their best. Hope you had a fantastic week too!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Liebster Award

I was totally jazzed when Mandy at Caffeine and Lesson Plans told me she nominated me for a Liebster Award! I still feel way too green to think I would EVER deserve a blogging award.  However, I feel very honored for her to think of me! For those of you, like me, that don't know about the Liebster Award here are the rules:

1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.

2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 250 followers.
3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator.
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
6. Contact your nominees by commenting on their blog or sending them an email to communicate the nomination.

Thank you Mandy for nominating me! When I started blogging last year I had no idea if people would even want to read what I had to say. I can't tell you how excited I am!

Caffeine and Lesson Plans

Mandy asked me eleven fabulous questions!

1. Heels or flats? Why?
Flats all the way! I love the look of heels, but I can not even make it an hour while teaching in them. Even a kitten heel becomes an enemy after being on my feet a few hours. I always keep a pair of flip flops, matching my classroom colors, under my desk in case my shoes become too much.

2. What is your favorite color?
Purple! My bedroom is currently painted light purple, and I have a dark purple bed spread.

3. How do you spend your Saturdays?
If my fiancé is off, I normally spend my time with him. We like to go to the bookstore, watch movies, and just chill. If he is working, I tend to spend the day sleeping in, running errands, and cleaning house.

4. What is your favorite vacation spot?
Mount Vernon! I have been there three times and still want to go back. I guess it's the nerd in me, but I love the history and beauty of the place.

5. Do you prefer summer or winter?
Winter all the way. I love snow, hot chocolate, warm blankets, and cuddling! Besides, it gets way too hot in Oklahoma during the summer. Last year we had over a month of 100 degree days. No thank you!

6. What is your favorite subject to teach?
Social Studies is by far my favorite subject. I love that in 5th grade my students still love history. Everyday is a new adventure into the past. I would rather change grades, schools, etc. than give up teaching Social Studies.

7. If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?
A full time aide for my classroom. Seriously! Someone to do all the grading, copying, and filing for me. That way I can really get back to teaching and stop spending so much time on other stuff.

8. What is your favorite TV show?
Grey's Anatomy. I honestly rarely get to sit down and watch a show regularly. However, I always try to make sure I am home for Grey's. I've been watching and waiting for this last season to appear on Netflix.

9. Are you married or dating someone? What is your spouse's name?
I am currently engaged to an awesome man named Jason. We have been engaged since the day before Thanksgiving. He told me how "thankful" he was for me. Awww. We are getting married in January!

10. What is your "can't live without it" teaching tool?
My Smartboard. I can't believe I ever survived without it. I love that it is interactive! I'm not sure a day goes by without me using it at least several times.

11. What is your favorite restaurant?
I love Mexican food, so my favorite in OKC is Cocino De Mino. I also love Alfredo's in Moore. However, I will NOT go to a Mexican restaurant that charges for cheese dip. How rude!

My Eleven Random Facts
1. My babies are my two dogs and cat. My dachshund, Bella, thinks she runs the house and even pouts when she doesn't get her way.

2. My living room is yellow. Yellow may seem a little bright, but yellow reminds me of happy. I smile every time I go in the living room.

3. I love to go camping! I take my Girl Scouts several times a year and try to take at least one personal trip a year as well.

4. I have my Girl Scout Gold Award. It is the equivalent of the Boy Scout Eagle. I'm very proud that I grew up in Girl Scouting!

5. I love to craft and sew. I always have a mile long to do list of crafts and sewing projects.

6. I am about to turn 30! Yes, I said it (or typed it.) :)

7. I can never sleep the night before school starts. I am always way too EXCITED!

8. I am super afraid of heights but love roller coasters and used to go rapelling.

9. I almost always love the book better than the movie.

10. I own all the Harry Potter movies and would love to have a magic wand. Goodbye dishes with just one wave!

11. I'm going to Paris and London next year with my Girl Scouts. I have only been to London once, which really doesn't count since I never left the airport. It is one of my biggest dreams to go to Paris ever since I took French in high school. J'aime Paris!

Now it's time to pay it forward. My nominees are:

2 Super Teachers
2 Super Teachers

Ms. Cranfill's Class

Numbers Rule My World
Numbers Rule My World

Questions for my fabulous nominees:

1. Why did you decide to work in education?
2. What teacher had the most influence on you?
3. Where is your favorite place to visit but you wouldn't want to live there?
4. Who is your hero?
5. What phrase do you say most often during your day?
6. Would you rather give up your cell phone or give up your favorite food for the rest of your life?
7. What is your favorite movie?
8. Why did you start blogging?
9. If you could travel back in time to meet one person, who would it be?
10. Who is your celebrity crush?
11. What was your favorite memory from this last school year?

Once again, thanks Mandy for nominating me!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Smorgasbord

This summer has been flying by so fast. I can't believe it is coming to an end in less than a month. One of my goals was to work on blogging this summer. Well I haven't been great about that, but have spent some time catching up on some of my other goals like sleep, reading, swimming, and working out. To catch up on my summer I am joining Fabulous in First's Linky Party: Sunday Smorgasbord.

Working Out:

As many of you know I'm getting married in January and HATE the idea of wedding dress shopping. I decided the only way I would even begin to want to shop is if I knew I was working on making myself feel more comfortable in my own skin. This summer I have started taking Zumba classes with some of my favorite girls. I've been having such a blast going to class that I actually bought the DVD's so I could do it on my own. Let me tell you, I am by far not coordinated and have no rhythm. However, I am loving Zumba and can't believe how fast time flies when you are having fun!


I have visited the library several times this summer, and the book store more times than I should admit. I get so busy during the school year, that I feel like I go months without reading a new book. I have greatly enjoyed catching up on my reading.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Janet Evanovich! After catching up on her Stephanie Plum novels, I moved on to her Wicked series. She has two books in this series so far, but I hope there will be more soon. These novels are silly and make me laugh my head off. A little bit of magic, hilarious characters, and a monkey make me not able to put the books down.

I love books that are part of a series, so I randomly picked up Bared to You when I was at Hastings one day. There are three books in this Crossfire series, though a fourth is set to come out sometime in the future. Once I started reading this book, I could not stop. I had to go back to the bookstore two days later and get the other two books. If you liked Fifty Shades of Grey then you might really enjoy this series. The books present a love story of two very complicated characters with a whole lot of border line too steamy parts. This series has me rooting for the two characters to find their happily ever after...

Summer School:

Summer School started last week. I am teaching Vocabulary. I have forty minutes every day to teach Vocabulary!  I have been using the Reading Olympians to teach Greek and Latin roots, prefixes, and suffixes.

The Reading Olympians
This is the first time I have used The Reading Olympians system, but I am really liking it so far. This is kind of my test run before I start using it this school year.
I have also pulled in some fun games like Blurt and Apples to Apples. They love these games and are quick and easy to use once they know how to play them. I have also introduced using vocabulary cartoons to learn a new word every day. We are not using the premade ones, but are making our own to go with the novel they are reading in another class.They really enjoy making these cartoons.
I have never had this much time in my day to focus on just vocabulary. If you have any cool activities you use to teach vocabulary, I would LOVE for you to share them with me!
Well, my time for some random catching up is over. Hope your week and summer are going great!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Tricks of the Trade: Homework Time

I haven't linked up with Tricks of the Trade for a few weeks, but now I'm back... I love this week's topic about Collecting and Returning Homework.

The first question many are discussing is their view on homework. Some hate and others love. In my classroom, I rarely assign something as "homework." Homework in my class is from any assignments not completed during class. I try to give students as much time as possible to complete an assignment, but if it is not finished when class is over, it becomes homework. I want my students to complete most of their work in class where I am available to help them. If I notice most of my students do not have an assignment completed at the end of class, I will NOT normally make it homework, but instead adjust my schedule to allow time the next day for the students to complete it. My only exception to my general homework rule is that I do ask my students to read thirty minutes a night!

Now on to my tricks!

Tip 1: Use GOOD baskets and label them clearly.
My collection baskets are wire, and I LOVE them. I tried the plastic ones, but had to constantly replace them. I have three classes that I teach two subjects to each, so I teach six sections. I have a basket for each section.  They are color coded by subject. Blue is S.S. and Red is Reading. Then each basket also has the homeroom teacher's name on it. I stack the baskets in order of when they have me. Once they learn the trick of "this is my last class, so we are the last basket," most of them don't even have to look for the teacher name.

Tip 2: All on time assignments go in the basket.
I do not have students hand assignments to me. I am a busy human and do not trust myself to get EVERY assignment to the correct place, so I have the students turn every assignment into the baskets. The only exception is late work, which I have the students place on my chair. Chair? I know it sounds silly. I have tried a late work folder and was never able to remember to check it. I also tell my students to not put things on my desk because my desk will eat it. The chair method may sound crazy, but if it's in my chair, I have to deal with it before I sit down. Then I can make sure it is labeled late and put in the right stack of papers.

Tip 3: Use a slip with all the students' names on it.
When I grab a stack of papers out of the basket, I attach a slip that has each student's name on it as well as a place for the assignment name and due date. I highlight off the student's names that have turned them in. It makes it easy for me to look down and see who has not turned it in because his or her name is not highlighted. I then list the assignment and any students missing it on the board which I leave up until I will not accept it anymore. The students erase their name once they have turned it in.

Tip 4: Keep written records of your grades!!!
When I grade the papers I write the grades down on the slips as I grade. I then have a list of all the grades, and don't have to go back through the stack of papers in order to put them in the grade book. I'm sure what I am about to say sounds crazy, but I have three copies of my grades. The first is the slips, second is a paper grade book, and the third is my official online grade book. I know this sounds obsessive, BUT during my first year of teaching my online grade book CRASHED. My grades were lost! I of course had not kept any copies because I was trusting technology completely. They were able to recover my grades but it took about a week, and I was a basket case trying to recreate the grades until then. NEVER going to go through that stress again!

So after I have graded the assignments and written the grades on the slips, I then record the grades in my paper grade book. At that point, I then return the assignments. Once or twice a week, I sit down and type my grades from the paper grade book into my online grade book. I'm not going to suggest for everyone to keep three copies of their grades. BUT please, please, please keep a written copy of all your grades. My obsessiveness to keeping my copies actually paid off a few weeks ago. When the tornado hit the technology building in our district, it hit our server. Once again, my and all the other teachers' grades were LOST. Luckily, I had no problem replacing my grades, but many others in my building had no copies and had to scramble!   

Hope you enjoyed reading my tips!

Five for Friday- June 7th

After a couple weeks of a constant grumpy mood I finally feel back to myself. I spent the last week hanging out at Girl Scout Day Camp, and it has done wonders for helping me find my smile. With that said, I am happily joining in for this week's Five for Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching!


 Last Friday night I missed Five for Friday because we were packed up in the car trying to get a few miles South out of the path of a really bad storm. As traumatizing as it was for the adults, my German Shepard, Missy, loved the several hour car ride!

Many of the trees in my neighborhood didn't survive the storms real well. The first picture is of the pile right outside my house of cut down trees. There are so many piles just like this all over town. The other pictures are of my shed out back. We're not sure what happened, but we think it may have been a trampoline that hit the shed.



Despite all the sad piles of trees, I am enjoying my roses (the few that weren't destroyed by the storm.) I can't wait for a few weeks for the roses to grow back!

This week I got to spend my days at Girl Scout Day Camp! I had a blast with my unit "Zany Zebras!" We learned and explored animal habitats and did tons of zebra crafts. Even though it rained a few of the days, I couldn't have asked for a better week.


The BEST part of my week was getting to spend time with two of my nieces while we are at day camp. Here they are learning how to spin plates and dressing up as clowns during a relay race. I love those silly, sweet, and awesome girls!

Hope your week was as fabulous as mine!