Sunday, October 5, 2014

Long Hiatus....much needed!

Once upon a time there was a 5th grade teacher who decided it would be fun to blog about her school year.  Other people did it, it seemed easy to do, and would provide some reflection about school.

The first month went great!  The 5th grade teacher was having fun sharing ideas and connecting with other bloggers.  She loved writing about school and what was going on in her classroom.

But then the school year actually began, and WHAM! the newbie blogger was overwhelmed.  In addition to starting a blog, this teacher also decided to go back to school to earn a reading certification, take on the daily school broadcasts (in addition to already doing school patrol,) continue on leadership groups in school (Staff Development being one,) enroll her 3 year old in preschool thus needing to organize rides to get him from daycare to preschool during the school day, implement guided math, and instill a new reading/vocabulary/writing "curriculum" built from TPT resources, etc.

Therefor, a much needed hiatus was needed, shortly after starting previously mentioned blog.

But now, after a month, said blogger is feeling a bit better, and is going to commit to weekly posts, shooting for mid-week, Wednesdays.  Said blogger will also try to participate in some of the fun blog hops going around, but will not do them regularly, until the stress level subsides even more...

So, thanks for hanging in there and reading posts, including this one.  I'll be back Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

First Day of School! 2014

Oh man, was today a whirlwind!

First off, the bells didn't work at school today (and wont be fixed until Friday!)   Not only did that confuse me in the morning when I had parents and students walking into my classroom ubber early to put stuff away, but it really threw off recess/lunch, not to mention the end of the day!  Oh, and we have no lockers!  We ripped out old metal lockers to put in nice wood/plastic cubbies but the materials were back-ordered and then sitting on a train in the middle of nowhere.  So, they are starting to get installed, but starting with the younger grades, naturally, and so students have to line the halls with their backpacks.  I tell you, when it rains, it pours....

But, in spite of the bells, lockers, copies not coming on time, etc.  My students and I made it through!  Here's a peek at our day...

I have such a great class; I am so excited for this year!  We started out by working on a getting to know your teacher/you worksheet FREE from Mandy Lopez at a 4th Grade Journey. 

The students had fun guessing the answers--many which I had put into my intro letter which i handed out at assessments or open house :o)  (Showed me who read it AND paid attention!)

While students went to specialists I tried to wrap my head around the day, to no avail!

They came back and we moved into homeroom/math!  I spent the time introducing some of the classroom expectations and "How To"s of the classroom.  I told students I have three expectations.  Not rules, because that implies 'bad things," but what I expect them to do on a daily basis: Be Respectful, Be Responsible and Be a Role Model.  I got these FREE posters, and am in love with the simplicity of these 3 rules.

For math, I am a meanie and gave them a 3 minute (each operation) timed test on multiplication and division :o)  We expect our students to be able to recall facts quickly, our goal is 100 in 3 minutes.  I have heard some negativity towards timed tests, but I don't punish students who don't reach that goal--any improvement is what I look for.  Some students simply move from finger counting to skip counting in their head---I call that a win!

We then started working on Runde's Math About Me Pennant {get it here.}  The students LOVED figuring out how many days old I am  (11,213.)  We only started our rough draft today and are going to finish it tomorrow and work on a final copy.
From Runde's Room Blog Post.

For Language and Reading, which started 20+minutes late due to the backed up lunchroom....I gave students a reading interest survey from the Science Penguin, as I read our first Read Aloud, Shedderman.  I found this book through another blog and thought I'd give it a try this year!

A colleague then needed to leave for a family matter, so she sent me about 8 of her kids.  They joined forces in my room to "Save Fred."  A fun team work/science activity that the students loved.  Students have to save Fred, the gummy worm, after his boat, a cup, capsizes and his life jacket, a gummy life saver, is stuck under the boat.  Their only tools?  4 paperclips.

I really enjoyed the discussion we had at the end about what worked and didn't and ideas they had to make the challenge harder.  --Sorry, no action shots, it was just that kind of a day!--

After that, it was time to go.  A pretty chaotic, awesome, fun filled day!

Monday, September 1, 2014

September 1st Currently...

I am linking up with some fabulous bloggers for this month's currently...

To MN Twins baseball: it's on in the background, got to have some background noise.  Not really "watching" it because, well, they have not played very well this season!

My 3 year old solve the world's problems.  He starts statements/questions lately with, "Hey Mommy!"  so I know it is time to listen up!  He also frequently says, "I have a great idea...." as in "I have a great idea! When I am older I can drive the car to the library and get books by myself."   Yes, yes you can.

My new espresso flavored protein shake mix-in.  It gives me the flavor of a coffee drink (especially when mixed with my chocolate protein powder!) without all the calories and excess....yummy!

That I really should get working on those lesson plans!  I have most of them written down (ok, most are in my head!) but I need to get them all written down IN THE RIGHT PLACE and organize this first week!  School for me starts tomorrow!

More time.  I love having the summers off, especially to spend with my little man.  Today we went to the MN Zoo and he had a blast in the splash fountains!

I also had grand plans to reorganize my school stuff and plan ahead this summer {insert eye roll.} Yup, didn't happen.
To be able to fall asleep tonight.  Every year since i started school, either student or teacher, I do not sleep well the night before.  I power through it with lots of caffeine!

3 Trips:
Greece, Australia and Alaska.
Greece-love the culture, history, mythology, etc.!
Australia-seems like a beautiful place to visit!
Alaska-want to take a cruise and see whales!

Thanks for visiting!  Head on back to Oh' Boy 4th Grade to check out other bloggers!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back to School: Workshop Week Day 1 Reflection

I know many #teacherblogs I follow say they have already been back, for a week or more!  Here in MN, most districts start after labor day, which is the last day of the beautiful MN State Fair!  I am going 3 times this year, each night ending in a concert; Kid Rock, Linkin' Park, and Fallout Boy.

Back on subject...we started workshop week (really, 4 days M-TH) yesterday.  We began with the typical full district kick-off...

The best part?  Food trucks!
My delicious Mac and Cheese with Broccoli and Chicken! #yummy

The worst part?  Wishing I had those 4 hours to be in my classroom getting ready.  Even with all my time and energy this summer, my room and lesson planning is not where I want it to be!  We have Open House on Wednesday, so I am going to focus on getting the room ready for that first, then the lesson planning.

I really hope to post more about my room after open house, because I think I have done some good things that will help make this year successful.  We have a challenging group of kiddos coming to 5th grade (although my class seemed wonderful when I met them at assessments!) so as a team we are trying to put into place some grade-level management systems and are working together to plan and stay on track more.

Off to we have our school staff meeting in the morning and then more class work time!  I just may have to shut my door and turn the computer of so I don't get distracted! :o)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Blog Hoppin' Back to School Blog Hop 2014-Friday WHAT

Welcome to Friday's post for the Back to School 2014 Blog Hoppin' blog hop!  Today is WHAT-What curriculum and resources we use in the class room.

I love to teach reading and have a passion for getting students to love reading!  I have developed a love of math and science the past 2 years (after moving from 6th to 5th grade,) and try to use resources or tools in class to make those subjects more fun and exciting for the students.

I have created some of my own resources, but rely heavily on TpT to supplement the "curriculum" I am given.  You can check out my previous posts to see some of the resources I use (no link, just click on the timeline.  I have only been at this a week or two, so you don't have much to sift through!)

I thought I would mention some of the blogs/TpT folks I love to follow!  These folks are where I get most of my resources and ideas, so check them out:

Runde's Room Blog

Using her interactive math journal and math by the month sheets!

The Science Penguin's Blog

Using her science notebooks, weekly warm-ups, ADAPT stations, test prep lessons and science and literacy bindle.

Teaching Resources Laura Candler's Blog

This will be my 2nd year using her problem solving books, mastering math facts book/resources, math games AND I subscribe to her newsletter weekly and have watched a lot of free webinars she holds!

Teaching with a Mountain View's Blog

Have her Early Finishers and Reading Skills Task Cards.  I also purchased all of her Math Projects to put into my math stations.

Teaching in Room 6's Blog

Implementing her Paragraph of the Week and Essay of the Month this year.

Young Teacher Love Kristine Nannini's Blog

Have her March Madness Packet as well as her 5th grade ELA Assessments and Notes to sue this year!

Have some of her close reading packets.

All of these ladies (yes, I do follow a few guys' blogs too!) have wonderful resources, but I love reading their blogs and getting ideas from them there as well!  Thanks for visiting today!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Blog Hoppin' Back to School Blog Hop 2014-Thursday WHEN

Welcome back for Thursday's edition of the Blog Hop.  We're onto WHEN, as in When do you plan to do things in your day.

I met with my 5th grade team in early August to plan our schedule.  We are given our Specialist time (Art, PE, Music, Media) by admin, as well as our recess and lunch times, so we had to plan around that.  We tried to take into consideration the blocks of times we had available, or push-in/pull-out/co-teaching people, and this is what we came up with:

Morning Bell Rings, Check-in with Homeroom
     (lunch choice, snack cart, morning work)

10 minutes later we head to Specialists
     (Phy Ed, Art, Media/Computers, Music)
     *this is our prep, we get 50 minutes

When student return we are going to go back to Homeroom to have snack and work on: character building, class building, handwriting, or have a Morning Meeting.  I may work on my Daily Math worksheet then (see Math part 2 post) This time is only 20 minutes.

Math (1 hour 20 minutes)
**Students will be switching classrooms for math in 5th grade!  This concept is new to many of them!  
**I plan on doing a lot of guided math. (see my math part 1 post and check back later as I blog about how it's going!)

Recess and Lunch (45 minutes total)

Reading and Language (1 hour 40 minutes)
**Try to build stamina up for students of at least 30 minutes Independent Reading per day
**Trying to do writing EVERYDAY!  Purchased Paragraph of the Week and Essay of the Month by Teaching in Room 6 to use this year! 
**Also need some Vocab and Root Word Work.  Going to do by Vocabulary Voyage Teaching in Room 129 and Morphology by The Ladybug Files.  (click links to see the resources, I will blog about them once they are in place!)

Social Studies or Science (50 minutes)
**We have National Geographic textbooks to use for science, as well as FOSS kits.  I also have many resources from The Science Penguin (<--Love her!) I intend to use, reading passages, interactive notebooks,etc.
**For Social Studies, we use a economy curriculum called JA BizTown by Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest.  The students LOVE IT!  Otherwise, we just purchased student copies of Studies Weekly.  We purchased the Social Studies editions.  I used it last year with my class and they loved it, so my whole team got it this year.  A great non-fiction resource!

Clean-up and Planners (20 minutes)
**Always do a science question of the day, call it Quiz Whiz
**Thinking about a song to transition the students to clean-up mode, maybe Hanson's Mmmbop?!  Any thoughts?


That's our 5th grade schedule in a (big) nutshell!  See you tomorrow for the WHAT post!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Blog Hoppin' Back to School 2014-Wednesday WHY

Today's blog hop from Blog Hoppin' Back to School 2014 is Why Wednesday, as is how do you stay organized and WHY does it work....

I have a problem, I am a very disorganized person!  I try, try and try, but I haven't found something that works for me.  I can usually find whatever I am looking for, sometimes later than I want, but I do find it :o)  A mantra you'll hear in my classroom about organization is: "Do as I say, not as I do!"  I joke with students that my desk is a Black Hole, so if you want credit for something, don't set it there, get it into the right turn-in bin!  <Geez, that sounds bad...I promise I do get everything back to the students in a timely manner and do my job really well!>

If you check out my post from yesterday, I am going to try using these clear drawers behind my desk to sort out what I need the next day.  I figure if I take 10 minutes at the end of the day to get everything in order for the next day, I will spend less time throughout the day running around like a chicken with her head cut off!  Copies that have already been made will get put  in hanging files underneath my students' book bins.

The only thing I have implement this summer is my computer's desktop background.  I saw on another teacher blog a "how to" tutorial about creating a background using powerpoint and saving as a jpeg then setting as the background.  LOVE IT!  I am constantly saving things to my desktop, and this gives me a quick way to sort it until I get folders labeled with content and standards :o)

You can get this background FREE from my TpT here OR email me with your background ideas and I will try to create it for you!  I am going to make some more cutsie ones with clipart and whatnot eventually,  but I started out with function over form for my first crack at it!

However, my biggest organizational trick is these people below picture with me (far right--with the class pet Lizzy, a gecko)  I am thankful to have a GREAT TEAM to work with; people who always have my back in an "emergency."  They help me get through each day, plan for the week, and overall survive!  I love my 5th grade team!

Thanks for reading....if you have any great tips for me to stay organized, comment below! I have scoured blogs, Pinterest, and Facebook, but nothing seems feasible for me...I need practical and easy to implement!

See you tomorrow for WHEN!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Blog Hoppin' Back to School 2014, Tuesday WHERE

Welcome to the second day of the Back to School 2014 Blog Hoppin' Blog Hop! (Say that 10 times fast!)  Today all is about Where-as is Where do you teach?

I teach 5th grade at an elementary school of about 700 students south of the Twin Cities, in Minnesota. 

I have had to stop following some boards on Pinterest and sometimes will even skip reading my favorite bloggers' posts, because their classrooms are just ridiculously themed for me!  They are super cute-but when I think about the time, energy and money put into those classrooms, I cringe.

My room, if it has a "theme" would be bright colors and controlled chaos!  I will give you a quick room tour with the photos below.  School starts after labor day, so I still have 2 weeks to get everything in it's place!

This is the view from the doorway...

You'll notice my desks are in 3 long groups/rows.  Not necessarily my favorite, but it allows me to break the kids into groups easily and it is really the most efficient use of my space!  I need to add my table colors (red, blue, and green) one I get them printed, cut, and laminated!  Found some cute ones on TpT (for free of course) that say "Team color" and I love the idea of being a team!

{We have assessments on Wednesday and Thursday, so I have those piled on the desk, along with a drawing and stickers my son was working on and my pile of "To Do" or laminate and cut!)

Straight ahead from the doorway is my classroom library....A bit extensive, but our school library doesn't offer the amount of variety (genre, reading level, etc.) that my kiddos need.  I should go through a weed out some, but I like the students having options.  I have read many of these, but not all of them! I try to read a book before I recommend it to my students however.

In a wide variety of bins (dollar store, Walmart/Target and some Lakeshore!) sorted by genre and labeled with Guided Reading Level and Lexile on some...
On the huge bulletin boards the plan is to have one for each subject, for charts, information, vocab words, etc.  Stuff on these rotates throughout the year.

I have started one board/area, for the calendar, helpers, and iPad Expectations.  Above those cute baskets that are holding calendar pieces, I am going to put a sign that says "Extra Special Happenings This Month" (or something like that) and I am going to add velcro dots to the fabric.  Each month I can put up little cupcakes with all the birthdays for that month and any special holidays or days off (with the date written on with a wet-erase marker,) so my Managers can move them to the calendar the day of and make sure those students and events get recognized!  **I would like it noted that I wrote the jobs out IN CURSIVE myself...we are trying to push cursive with our students this year, even if not a standard, and I am a bit rusty.  The student's handwriting, whether cursive or not, is a bit atrocious!**

Moving past the library we have one of my reading carpets, I bought this one at at Menard's for ubber cheap and the other one (pic a few down) was donated by a former student's mom!  All the other pillows and furniture I have picked up from garage sales or has been donated by my mother (the pillows she re-covered!)  I am not in love with the BIG pillows, they are going to go this year as soon as they fall apart....I love having little pillows for the kiddos though, especially ones I can throw in the wash every holiday break :o)  The bins on top of the red bench are to house extras of student supplies, as I am moving towards community supplies this year--wish me luck!

Moving on...

This is my back counter, to the right of all this is the pencil sharpener and sink...
Our Parent Teacher Partnership made these shelves as iPad holders last year (our district is 1:1 with iPads.)  I like having my 5th graders keep their iPads in their desks though--they tend to keep their desks cleaner then!--so instead I am using these for their Friday Folders and Early Finishers Folders. Their Friday Folder is their mail folder home each week, and their Early Finisher Folder is just that, a place for them to keep both incomplete work and extra learning activities they are working on if they finish other assignments early.  I got the folders and idea for them from Task Card Corner.

The bins on top are trash bins, for scraps from interactive notebooks and projects, and then my long groups of tables each have 2 community supply bins.  The baskets on the counter are for storing some of those interactive notebooks.  (I am in LOVE with the Science Penguin and her notebooks/resources, so that's what the science ones will be filled with!)

Turning, we come to the other wall of my room...

Book bins and resources; the farthest right bookshelf has our reading basal on it (in case I use a story from it!) dictionaries, whiteboards, privacy partitions, etc.  The crates on the bottom are where I am going to store copies that are printed and just waiting in the wings...I need to label them.  Note the straw baskets and such along the cupboards are extra bins/storage containers I need to store...I have a slight problem with buying/hoarding bins and baskets!  I do need more 8 more books bins, however, and to move the biome example that is sitting there (this was the spot I picked to put it when my 3 year old is in the room "helping" me!)  Not sure what I am going to put on this wall or the bulletin boards that extend to the ceiling, definitely space for anchor charts and vocabulary words.  The light blue fadeless extends past the end of those shelves, to my desk, so I have even more room for anchor charts.  Saw the great idea to put up command hoods and use rings to store the charts, so students can flip through and find what they need!

And then we come to my desk...{insert dramatic music}

Believe it or not, this is the most organized it's ever been!  I got the idea from teacher at the Primary Chalkboard during their YouTube idea hop to layout lessons for the day on the teacher's desk.  INSTEAD, since I have no desk space to spare, trying to keep things actually on my desk to a minimum, I am going to put the next day's sheets and curriculum in the white plastic drawers, to keep myself on track--although they need new labels.   The ugly 30 drawer is going to stay for now, using it to organize my supplies or extras of things we rarely use (i.e. protractors) but NOT for students to grab from--pet peeve!  I am using the primary colored paper bins to collect work as I am ready for it, probably implementing the "highlight your name" technique.  I LOVE the magnetic curtain rod on my file cabinet, but I HATE that it only holds two of those cups from IKEA, if I add a third it falls :o/  Have the pledge to put up on those blackboard under the flag (above my family photos)...Also, can you tell I love MN sports?!

Moving on...

My Smartboard takes up half my white board (grr...) but we bought these chalkboard markers as a team to make the most of our blackboard space, without the mess!  I plan to put my learning targets up here on some cute FREE signs I found from the Caribbean Teacher on TpT.  You can also see my schedule, a work in progress right now!  The crates were a DIY I did last summer, they are still holding strong right now and I use them to store the kleenex and clorox wipes we collect from students.  Stored on top of them right now are posters I know will go up before Open House next week.

As I actually get everything put up, probably the first week of school, I will do a blog post titled something like "Ta-Dah, it's finished!"  You'll notice I use a lot of awesome TpT resources scattered throughout my room and ideas form Pinterest, Blogs, etc....if you have a question about something (where I got it, who made it, etc.) please ask and I will try to credit them!  I am not intending to leave anyone out, I just have too much to credit them all and remember where I got them! :o)

Hope you enjoyed the tour of my classroom....see you again tomorrow!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Blog Hoppin' Back to School 2014, Monday WHO

I am so excited to be doing my first link-up with Blog Hoppin' and some AMAZING teacher bloggers from around the world!

Today's link-up topic is WHO, as in Who are you?  I just started my blog a few days ago (check out my first post,) so I thought this introduction would be a bit different than that one was....:o)

The gist: I am a 5th grade teacher from MN, love to read, and love to get students excited about reading!  This year will be my third year in 5th grade, but my 7th year overall.  I taught 6th grade Reading and Language previously for 4 years, and before that did a LTS in 5th grade for 4+ months. Here are some more tidbits about me...

That's me sitting on the couch, right side with the scarf.  This other ladies sitting are some of my 5th grade team members.  We went and watched a taping of a local news/entertainment show call Twin Cities Live, so this is us afterwards with the hosts, Steve and Elizabeth.  We had a blast seeing the behind the scenes of the making of a live show!  It was a teachers only audience, so thought maybe we'd be given some swag (post-its, markers, etc.) and we did get a pretty sweet bag, but it had advertisements, a coupon for knife sharpening and some beef rub/spices in it...not what we were thinking!

I LOVE Audrey Hepburn.  She is my all time favorite actress and leading lady.  While I Love Breakfast at Tiffany's (what girl doesn't like jewelry and that little teal box?) my favorite movie of hers is actually Wait Until Dark-she plays a blind woman and men enter her house for a heist, just creepy! One of my four tattoos is actually the typical Tiffany charm (heart with key, T&Co.) because i thought it would be weird to get her face tattooed onto me!

I have been married to 6 years to this "kid."  He is amazing.  We met while working together at McDonald's over 14 years ago!  We dated throughout high school and college; he went to a community college near home while I went to the University of Minnesota by the big city (go gophers!)  He is my rock, never lets me get too serious, and supports me in all I do! (changing grades, getting my masters, going back to get my +60 credits, etc.)  We now have a beautiful 3-year old, J, who is our whole world!  He is equal parts the hubby and me; copying everything we do and turning into one amazing little man...

J is looking a bit too serous in this one, but still adorable! (I am a bit bias)

Other than teaching, planning my lessons, blogging about teaching, reading blogs about teaching, and reading (for pleasure or professional books!)  I love to work out and have participated in some amazing runs.  After having J my hubby and I decided we were content with life so I pulled out all the stops and have been working hard to get to my happy place....25 lbs lost this past year, but still working on it. :o) This summer I completed a 1/2 marathon with just over an 11 minute mile time, and vow to increase my speed a bit for the next one! (Yes, I said next one, a runner's high is a real thing!)
My friend and I before a run at the MN Zoo last summer!

In closing, I'd like to leave you with this gem.  I grew up during the Boy Band era and love all the classics from NKOTB to BSB to NSync (props if you know all of those acronyms AND like them too!)  But, my all time favorite will always be these boys....

I am thinking of using MmmBop as my wind-down the day/clean-up song....any thoughts?
I think my 5th graders will love it!

Stay tuned to more FANTASTIC Blog Hoppin' Back to School 2014 info!  CLick the link above or below to go back to Blog Hoppin' and check out all the other fantastic bloggers!