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!


Monday, June 3, 2013

Just keep swimming...

I'm officially on the start of my second week of summer vacation. I wish I could say that I'm having the best summer ever, but man this vacation makes me miss working. I hate sounding so negative, but it has been an awful few weeks for my city and state.

I spent most of last week cleaning the house because it was getting a little out of control. I also spent an afternoon helping call all our students to see who would or would not be coming back after our terrible tornado. We have many who lost homes or have severe damage. Then on Friday night, guess what comes through Oklahoma again?!? Another tornado! This one was headed for my house. We got very lucky that only really strong winds hit our house. We have some tree damage and a huge hole ripped in our shed. I am very thankful for our safety, but this weather needs to stop. In the last two weeks I have about been ran down by two tornadoes and had my power out two different extended periods of time. My poor parents still don't have electricity! Once again I am very blessed as so many have it worse than I do, but this stuff is just killing my mood. If the weather doesn't settle down I may have to crash on someone's couch who lives far away from here to save my sanity.

Time for some positive ramblings. I started a TPT store last week. I only have two items so far in it, but starting one was on my summer to do list. I'll try to link it on here eventually.

This week is Girl Scout Day camp. My mom and I are the leaders for my niece's unit. We are the Zany Zebras! Today we did some cute crafts and took a "Habitat Hike." I'll try to get some pics posted throughout the week. We also had a juggler who came and taught the girls to spin plates!

Hopefully this week will help me relax and weather willing to finally begin to enjoy summer. Until then my motto borrowed from Finding Nemo is " just keep swimming, just keep swimming..." Hope you are swimming into a great week!