Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday Meet Up - June 30

Wow! Teaching Tribune is ROCKING it with the linky's this year. Monday's are all about meeting up with some new faces and checking in on the old ones you haven't seen since last summer.

Here are three things that I am thankful for right now.

No more back pain! I've just had my tenth 'adjustment' and I no longer have that broken rib feeling and my lower back isn't so tight. Love it!

Summer. These lazy hazy days are such a great way to recharge before the chaos that is school begins again (in 28 days mind you).

 A creative mind. I am one week away from a total kitchen remodel and my brain just won't quit with ideas. I'm knee deep in paint samples and thinking about creating floating shelves and maybe a chalkboard menu board for the dining room.

What are you thankful for this week?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tried and True - Saving Fred

Teaching Tribune is at it again with some really fun linky's!. Thursdays are about connecting with other bloggers to highlight those really great lessons that always work in your room.

It made me think of a lesson I have been doing for about three years now. Saving Fred is always a big hit with the kids. I did a whole write up on it from last year. So I'm going to do what I {heart} Recess is doing and combining this linky with the Throwback Thursday linky.

Check out what Fred is all about at here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Worksheet Wednesday -Summer Verbs in Action!

Sitting on the couch watching really bad SyFy movies (Blast Vegas) and scrolling through Bloglovin, I come across a fun little Linky Party happening over at Teaching Tribune.

The theme was Summer so I put together a sheet that will eventually make it into a larger pack on Verbs. This one is using Irregular Verbs and includes some sentence writing at the end. Just for y'all I made it completely FREE! Click on the picture below to download it from my TpT store.

Hope you enjoy it.

Summer Verbs

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tried it Tuesday - Comprehension & Technology

For my Tried it Tuesday, I'm jumping the gun and delving into a teaching manual.

Kristin Ziemke was recently a keynote speaker at a staff development I attended. She's a first grade teacher in Chicago and teamed up with another favorite author, Stephanie Harvey, to create the Connecting Comprehension and Technology teacher manual.

From the Heinemann website:
“Technology does not make teaching better, only teachers do that. However, technology can challenge us to reflect on and enrich our instruction in a variety of meaningful ways. We collaborated on this book to support teachers in active literacy environments to envision and reimagine how technology can enhance children’s learning.”—Stephanie Harvey, Anne Goudvis, Katie Muhtaris, and Kristin Ziemke

She made such a great presentation about using technology in her classroom. Now granted her school has a set of tablets that they share so at times she can have a whole class set to do these things with. I can see how it would work with a few tablets or a small group set. These first graders in an inner city school were blasting away my fourth graders in their insights and comprehension skills. It was amazing.

Just watching her students comment LIVE as she is reading a text on things they notice thrilled me to the core. I think technology has a place in the classroom and the way that Kristin was showing us struck the right cord with me! Her students had Twitter accounts where they corresponded with NASA or oceanographers on boats off of Hawaii. One of her students became a impromptu weather forecaster when he was stranded during Hurricane Sandy. He took videos of damage and posted it online with his running commentary. It was awesome.

I quickly bought the book and am reading it to see how I can start it off with my new class in August. One of the quotes really sticks out:

"It's essential to ground your technology use in authentic and essential skills that students need."

The book is broken up into four lessons for each strand. The first two are for primary elementary and the latter are intermediate. Then the first lesson in each level is a basic skill while the second delves into a higher thinking skill. Each is a complete scripted teacher dialogue with student interactions.

The strategies offered raise the comprehension standards throughout the book. They include monitoring comprehension, activating and connecting to text, asking questions, inferring and visualizing, determining importance, and summarizing and synthesizing.

What I like is they have tons of technological ideas but they don't expect you to do EVERY single one of them. They want you to use your professional intelligence (imagine) to decide which your students actually need and become proficient in their use. That's sometimes my problem. I want to do it all. Maybe this will get me to slow down and really delve into one idea so that students can use them without having to think.

I'll keep you posted on how the reading is going. Happy Tuesday!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Made it Monday - Goodbye Kitchen

Another moment to share a Monday Made it!

It's coming! It's coming! The day of the kitchen remodel is only TWO WEEKS away! I've been busy boxing up stuff and moving it all to the other side of the house. I never knew I had so much stuff! But in honor of 14 years in the old kitchen I wanted to throw one last goodbye.

I immediately thought of my BBB Jivey as the one person who hasn't had the treat of my mad cooking skills. Her and her fiancé came over last Tuesday to help send off the old kitchen in style. I poured through my Bon Appetit magazine for food ideas and found tons!

I started off the night with a little adult beverage called a Peach Cosmo. It was so summery and delicious, we had to make more!

Then it was on to the charcuterie and cheese board. There were slices of proscuitto and sweet salami. Along with some brie, blue cheese, and a special 1000 day old gouda I found. Although I misspoke and called it 1000 year old cheese. Which sounds nasty, but Jessica saved my faux pas by saying it must have been made in 1941 then. Hmm. Future Math Coach?
Oh, there is also these fun goat cheese, garlic, and chive stuffed tomatoes. Wasn't long before it was all gone!
Next course was a summer peach and burrata caprese salad. It was drizzled with olive oil and tarragon. Burrata is this super creamy cheese that is firm mozzarella on the outside wrapped around this creamy curd center. I had to go to three different stores to find such a thing. Didn't care about that after one taste!
For dinner I seared some scallops with some toasted hazelnuts and cherry tomatoes. There are some crushed red and golden beets served in a lemon vinaigrette and a dollop of Greek yogurt. There's fresh dill on top of it all. Yes, yes. Clean plates all around.

I whipped up a little chocolate covered cheesecake bite as a final flourish. The night ended with smiles all around and talk of the New Kitchen send off!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Five For Friday - June 20

Lazy summer days full of laying by the pool and watching past seasons of True Blood. Life is good. Here's a few things I managed to get off the couch for. 


Monday started off with some bad news. I finally broke down and went to the chiropractor because my back had been hurting for a month. After X-rays, it turns out I have not one, but TWO herniated disks. I got my first 'adjustment.' It was such a creepy sound hearing him crack my back and my neck. Doc had to keep telling me to relax before he snapped something. So Freaky! But my back does feel better.
Tuesday I spent shopping for a burrata and other essentials for a dinner party for tomorrow. Then I worked for two hours prepping and baking things including a really delicious jicama salsa and skirt steak tacos. Yum!
Wednesday was busy. I had set up my first Summer Lunch Bunch earlier. Then went ahead and double booked myself for a dinner party on the same day. Oof. I ran in town to hang out with my good pal Christina and her beautiful babies. Sadly, Krisy couldn't join us this time. After lunch I ran home to start whipping up dinner for our last dinner party in the 'old' kitchen. Here's Jessica and Mike waiting for some food! (Check out my post on Tuesday to see what all I cooked up!)

 Thursday was a day to definitely relax. But more sad news came along. Turns out I had a virus on my brand new laptop and had to spend two hours on the phone with Dell Support. Hopefully it's all taken care of now! I placated my sadness with some serious pool time. It was perfect just hanging out reading Divergent and listening to tunes. Back at home I was able to whip through the rest of my school project. I finished my chair pockets!

Friday was the day I decided to take down the doghouse. It's been almost two years since our fur babies have left us. The doghouse was just taking up tons of space on our smaller than small patio. It was time. Yeah, it wasn't an easy start. I start pulling off boards and unleash a wave of very angry wasps. Whee! I ran over to Home Depot to pick up three cans of wasp spray. It kills on contact. I took care of that problem and took out my frustrations with a hammer to dismantle the doghouse. It was a bittersweet moment when it was all done.
Hope everyone is having a wonderful week! Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tried it Tuesday - Singapore Math

I'm joining in on Holly's Tried it Tuesday linky party.

Have you heard of this new math model? Our school had a staff development on Singapore Math last year, but it was after school until late, so I couldn't stay. Those who did take it said it was really great. So when I saw it offered in our summer workshop sessions through the county I jumped at it. Granted it was only an  hour and a half instead of the full 8 hour session, but I managed to get some good stuff out of it!

The instructor focused mainly on problem solving using this method. There were seven steps to follow.

Give the students an exemplar such as:

Itty and Bitty were doing their daily jumping jacks. Itty did 8 of them. Bitty did 4 times as many as Itty. How many jumping jacks did they do all together?

The students work through the following steps on paper or in their math journals.

You can see my attempt at solving this problem from the class today.

There were some great points that I noticed today. Students write the #1 next to the story problem to prove that they've read the entire problem first.

For #3 when they are trying to find the most important things, help them see that people's names or other extraneous information isn't necessary to solve the problem.

#4 when deciding on what 'unit' to pick as a representation in your drawing, you can only use information gathered from the actual story problem. Keep in mind that 'unit' DOES NOT always equal one. In subtraction problems 'unit' could stand for the whole amount.

#5 you can see me drawing bars out to solve and then 'adjusting them' on the right hand side to put them together into more of a bar model approach.

If students give you a three addend equation, like in #6, discuss with them which of the steps do they want to do first. Then explain how to use parenthesis to show the reader what to do first.

Students are then graded using a rubric where they get one point for each accurately followed step. They receive a 5 for following all directions correctly. They would receive only a 1 if they just list the answer as 40. So they can still get points even if they do not arrive at a correct answer. The effort is still rewarded.

I like this idea and can't wait to try it with my new students!

Disclaimer: I understand my knowledge of this is very rudimentary, so if y'all have used this and have tips, tricks, and/or suggestions I'd love to hear them. Comment, comment, comment.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Made it Monday - Student Chair Pockets

I've just completed my 23 year of teaching and I have YET to find the solution for the dreaded Desk Mess! I'm constantly trying to find that perfect balance for organization and efficiency. I've tried individual notebooks, folders, and binders to store all of their paper materials per subject.

Nothing I've tried seems to keep that awful heaped up mess that students believe is okay. I'm so OCD that staring at papers, pens, chip bags, hair bows, Lego Men, and workbooks hanging helter skelter out of that small desk space. I cringe at some of those monstrosities and have been known to sit in front of it with a trash can beside me cleaning it out.

That was an earlier habit of mine, that I have since gotten over. Now students with super clean desks come in the next day to find a surprise from the Desk Fairy. It's either money to use for classroom privileges or a trip to the Treasure Chest. This approach has gotten more enthusiasm for keeping their areas neat, but not 100% across the board.

One of my fellow coworkers has a system I am very eager to try. Her mom pitched in and created these great chair pockets where students keep all of the paper materials in organized folders. It removes the paper mess out of the desk all together so I can keep all the textbooks and workbooks inside instead and they won't have to be getting up to get materials. I took some measurements and am using this summer time to create 27 of these life saving devices.

When I was in NYC toodling around with my Mother in Law she wanted to stop by Mood Fabrics to look through their selections. I took the opportunity to scan their materials for my own chair pockets. After looking at several ideas where the material cost anywhere from $7 to $25 a yard, I was a little frustrated. I needed something like 9 yards and wasn't willing to spend $100 on this project.

I broke down and ripped the page out of the Guy Handbook about asking directions. I found a salesclerk and asked her opinion for my project. She knew exactly what to do and pointed me towards a heavier weight muslin. It's cheaper and will hold up to years of wear and tear. The good thing was I spent $36 on the whole 9 yards.

Back at home, I did a mock up template using some leftover scrapbook paper so I could make sure the pockets were all uniform. It measures 36" long by 16" wide. I needed one portion of it to be marked off at 8" from the top and another at 12" from the bottom. This leaves a 16" section in the middle.

Marking out and cutting the fabric didn't take very long, whew. 

Then comes the fun part, or funny depending on how you view my sewing skills. Using my middle school Home Ec knowledge I sat in front of my sewing machine and chose a zigzag stitch to make the edges stronger. I started sewing the top and bottom edge to create a hem, I guess. 

I turned over the 7" side and then flipped it over to turn up the 12" side. So now I have one flap on the back and one on the front. I sewed the edges straight down the sides to finish it off. I was happy with  my first one and trotted off to school and checked to see if it fit. It was a little large, but it works. Yay!


Friday, June 06, 2014

Five for Friday - June 6

Whoosh! It feels so good to be able to just sit down and BLOG again!

School got the better of me and the end of the year was such a bullet to the finish. I can now officially announce that I had some really great test results. I was kinda worried with this group, but they came in with flying colors. So proud of them!

But now Summer is HERE! I have sent my little ones off into the big wide Fifth Grade world and already started printing out materials for next year. I've got Saving Fred already set to go, and the Personal Graphs waiting for students to fill in with their personal preferences regarding school subjects.

With a little time before the new year flies in my face, I thought I'd link up with Doodlebugs again for some good old fashioned Five For Friday!
On Monday I laid out my plans for the next couple of weeks. This would keep me focused and off the couch. I started packing up my kitchen for the remodel starting in July. That was all finished by noon. I got started on making some chair pockets (another post on that later), but then I broke the sewing needle.
New day, more plans. I set about organizing a new internet connection. It was taking Clear up to 35 minutes to download a 2 minute video of dancing cats. I was tired of waiting! I put it out on FB that I was looking for something new. The resounding votes were for Comcast Xfinity. I called them up and set up an appointment for tomorrow to come out and install it. Yay!

Today was the day to sit around waiting on Maintenance People. Comcast was set for 1-3 and then I had the Wildlife folks coming out to check traps in the attic for critters. They said mysteriously sometime after noon. Turns out after noon means 3:30. Comcast came out at 2:15 and drilled a hole in the wall and installed the new modem I bought. Clickety click, they were done. OooOOoOoOh, it was so faster!

I stopped by school yesterday to check out my new chair pocket and make sure they fit. It was perfect, if a little large. So I went back home and cut out all of my templates and folded them. Turned on the sewing machine and the it just hummed at me. Now I am not the best sewer in the world, but even I know a humming needle that doesn't move is not good. I turned that thing off.

Today is all about Orange is the New Black. I know I should be thinking about those brave soldiers that made DDay so successful, but I've been waiting for months for this new season to start! I'm already two episodes in and I feel the couch calling my name. Not good. Maybe I'll go sit by the pool.

Have a great weekend, everyone!