Thursday, January 15, 2015

Testing, Student Growth, and Introducing Division?!

I apologize again for going missing, but I've been spending some quality time bonding with my baby hamster, Bucky, which I mentioned in my last post. Also, I've been slowly coming out of my creator's block, so I'll be back to making resources for my classroom this weekend (fingers crossed). However, I did want to spend a little time updating you all on the progress my students have made.

This week, my students are taking their winter NWEA Map test to measure how much they've learned and grown from the fall when they took their first round of tests to see where they were at when they first came into first grade. 18 students tested, but there wasn't a way to measure how much 3 of the students grew because they transferred in and had not taken their fall MAP test with us. Out of 15 students who tested in the fall and winter, 100% of them grew. 10 met their winter targets and of the 10 that did, 4 even met their end-of-the-year spring targets! Out of the 5 who didn't meet their targets, 3 students were within a 1-3 point range of meeting their target. So overall, my students did well :)

This week is also the second round of BAS testing for reading growth, and out of the 17 that I tested, 100% have grown 1-2 reading levels! I am so proud of my kids. I even had one student who not only grew 2 reading levels, jumping from a D to and F, but he also scored a 200 on his MAP RIT score! According to the 2011 normative data, scoring a 200 meant he scored between the middle to end of the year score for a third grader! He's a little math genius and I'm so happy to see him growing in reading too. I even have 2 students independently reading at a level L! 

So, to sum it up, my kids are growing and it's a blessing to see. All the hard work is paying off and it's truly been rewarding to watch. They've grown so much that I've had to expand what I'm teaching them to include multiplication and division. They know their 0, 1, 2, 5, and 10s in multiplication by using skip counting strategies and with division, they started yesterday and the majority of the students caught on super quick! Now I have to think about what I want to challenge my students on next because they are just too smart for me to keep up with!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Currently alive and also very late with this

I know, I know. I've been gone for a month! November was kind of crazy for me. My fairly new Macbook Pro's hard drive crashed on me in the middle of November and with it, my muse for creating anything new. I've been struggling to make anything and only created a few pages of a no prep packet, so I ended up taking a break after trying and trying and have been relying on resources I bought. Anyways, I figured I'd do an update and although I'm a week late, I thought I'd link up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade and do my December currently's. Better late then ever!

Listening to: I love James Morrison so much. His voice is like honey to me, but as always, I get into these moods when I listen to music and will get hooked on one thing and listen to it until I'm sick of it. Before this, I was listening to Maroon 5 and Daft Punk's newest CD and now, I'm listening to my James Morrison mix on Pandora. It's pretty amazing.

Loving: My biggest news lately is that I just bought a baby teddy black hamster, also known as a short-haired Syrian hamster. I bought Bucky on Saturday from Petsmart and he is just the sweetest thing to have happened to me. Preparing for him and taking care of him have been my greatest joy and I'm always thinking about him now. I'm a proud mummy of one darn cute hamster!

Thinking: Man, oh man, have I been burning cash like a billionaire... except I'm not one :( my credit card debt keeps growing and with that my anxiety, so it's pretty much all I think about now. That and Bucky, who keeps me sane through all of this. 

Wanting: I so desperately wish I had my muse back. I've only made a few pages out of my "Tis the Season for No Prep" packet I started a month ago, and I just can't seem to find the inspiration anywhere. With my hard drive crashing, I just feel like doing nothing. I didn't lose everything when it crashed, thank god, but I definitely lost my inspiration. Please, please come back soon. I miss you.

Needing: This one's an obvious one. I need to blog more and talk about what's been going on in my classroom. Things have been great, but I just haven't gotten around to blogging about any of it. I'll try to remedy that this winter.

Giving: So, I think I did this one kind of wrong, but I've been trying to give my family more of my time. I don't live far from my mom and grandparents, but I don't go home for a few reasons I don't really wish to talk about. Either way, with the holidays around the corner, I'm trying to be better about going home and spending time with them. No matter what our differences are, I should still give some effort. 

And now, since I think I did this part wrong, I'll also be giving a sample of my no prep packet as a freebie very soon, so stay tuned! Until then..


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Currently November

Wow, where in the world did October go?? I swear I must have blinked and it was November already... anyhow, I love November. I love the name of the month, I love the weather and I love the food that so often comes with this month! So on the topic of November, I spotted the "Currently" posts and though I've never linked up with another blog before or done one of these, there's always a first time for something! So, I linked up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade and here goes my currently's :)

I am currently:

Listening ... to Kelly Rowland and her album "Talk a Good Game." I hadn't listened to her too much before, even though I knew she was talented (just didn't get around to it), but one of her songs came up on one of my Pandora stations and I loved it, so I created a separate station for her and have been listening to it regularly for the past few weeks.

Loving ... the extra time I've gotten to hang out with my sister. She's been staying over at my place and it's been really nice reliving our time together, eating junk food, and watching Elementary episodes.

Thinking ... every first week of the month, we have our bulletin boards due. This month's theme is Thanksgiving, and I've already created the foundation for my board but I have yet to make it interactive, which is one requirement on the rubric (yes, we get graded on our boards) that I have yet to meet. I might just do a "flip up and ___" type of thing. We'll see.

Wanting ... I've been pretty glum lately and one of the reasons is that I've completely fallen off my workout routine. I had a great thing going the end of last year into summer, but when I started getting my half sleeve and other tattoos done, I had to take a break from working out and since then, never really got back into it like I had before. Now a handful of months later, I weigh more and feel less healthy and it's all been pretty upsetting to me. I'm wanting and wishing and trying to get back into it, but as you probably know, getting started is one of the hardest things to do. BUT, I refuse to give up. I'm going to the gym today and hoping it'll help jumpstart things.

Needing ... Grades are due this Friday, and I've been pretty good about them, except my listening/speaking and science grades, so I have to hustle and get those in. Also, the amount of papers I have to file is no joke. I spent 20 minutes filing papers this morning. It's just one of those things I actively avoid until I can't avoid it any longer because the papers are overflowing from their bins. So I need to really get on those two things, because who wants to do it all on a Friday afternoon? Not I, for sure.

Reading ... I confess to not having read much lately, so since I've been getting back into watching Elementary, I figured it'd be the perfect time for me pick up where I left off on the adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I'll start with a story today on commute home.

:) Happy November, everyone!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Let's look at Verb Tenses!

This week in writing/grammar, we are moving into studying verb tenses. In order to introduce the topic, I made a packet that includes posters and hands-on practice for my students. Isn't the little nerd on the cover just precious? I just purchased Melonheadz nerd kidlette's pack of clipart, and I'm so in love with them. Any who, click on the previews below to find the resource in my store. 

In this packet, you'll find:
- Verb tense posters
- Past vs present cut and paste
- Present vs future cut and paste
- Past vs future cut and paste
- Labeling sentences (2 versions; 1 with irregular verbs)
- Verb tense sort (2 versions; 1 with irregular verbs)
- Writing sentences (2 versions; 1 with irregular verbs)

Hope this resource comes in handy for you!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Relinquishing Control in the Classroom

I was recently having a conversation with one of my grade level partners and we were discussing how we can make our students more independent and transform our classrooms so that it is basically run by the students. One way to do this is by giving students more responsibilities. I started off the school year with a handful of jobs, including paper passers, sanitizer distributors and a paper collector. As the year goes on, I introduce more jobs and allow for students to take ownership of different aspects of the day. For example, this is what my morning looks like:

After students enter the classroom, they take a seat at their desk. I start the timer for breakfast and morning work (because the times vary depending on when we get in), and as students take out their homework folders, I dismiss students by table to put their belongings away in the cubbies. A student is in charge of turning off the timer on my ipad when the alarm goes off, another student gets up and gives out table points during breakfast cleanup, and a third student manages breakfast cleanup, calling each table to throw their breakfast out. The only time I intervene is when I dismiss the tables to put their things away, and starting from next week, that task will be given to a student. 

The first 20 minutes of school is student-run, and I love it. I love seeing my students working together to help roll the day out because, as I stated before, I stress to my students that we are a team, and "Teamwork makes the dream work." So, in order to move my classroom into a student-run class throughout the day and not just in the mornings, I am giving out more responsibilities to my students starting this upcoming week. I'm going to start by handing over the job of dismissing students to their cubbies as well as calling students for transitions. In my class, we use nonverbal hand signals for all transitions and the students know them by heart now so a student could definitely take up this task. We put up 1 finger to indicate girls and 2 for boys, and then we use the following steps:

(Quick note: For transitioning from the rug to their desks, the second step, "B", changes to mean "face your destination," since there are no chairs on the rug.) 

Before you start releasing control in your classroom, it's important to have your routines and procedures set in place. If your students are still struggling with following expectations, I would work on that first before passing on the majority of the responsibilities to the students. My mornings weren't always student-run. I had to do it slowly, stepping back and allowing students to take over with my facilitation and and a handful of reminders. After practice and explicit instruction, I was able to step back and let them run the morning. Of course, we're not fully there yet, but it's my goal for my students to become more self sufficient and to help operate the day together. My hope is that by January-February, we'll have the majority of the day lead by students without me having to give constant reminders. Here's to dreaming a big dream!

How do you relinquish control in your classroom? What jobs do you have your students completing? Do you find them to be useful or more work managing?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Let's talk about Halloween + freebies!

It's Halloween week! Or rather, it's been Halloween week and I've just been a little bit too busy to blog. But fear not, I have some juicy things to talk about today! 

One of my favorite parts about our ELA block is the read alouds, and since I'm in charge of the read aloud plans for my grade level team, I chose a variety of Halloween-themed books for this week. Also as a rule with read alouds, I try to incorporate some sort of follow-up writing activity or craft. This week, I saved the crafts for our Halloween party and stuck with writing pieces. These are the books we are reading this week!

We read this story twice. The first day, we responded by completing a beginning, middle, and end graphic organizer to summarize the story and the second day, we talked about what the central message of the story was.

My students loved this book! They especially loved the "mysterious dark figure" who delivered a note to Farmer Brown :) After reading this book, we wrote our own invitations to our Halloween party to give to our families. You can grab a copy HERE.

For the two books listed above, they tell the same story of Halloween monsters getting ready for kiddy trick-or-treaters and in the end, the children get too scared because they realize the monsters aren't wearing costumes at all! So the monsters then enjoy their own party by themselves and have a great time. For the follow-up activity, we compared the two stories together and talked about how they were similar and different and then, students picked their favorite version and explained to a partner why it was their favorite.

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Still on the topic of Halloween, quite frankly I was feeling a little lazy this year when it came to drawing my Halloween treat labels so I created some on Powerpoint using Creative Clips adorable Halloween cliparts and uploaded them in my store for your particular use. Click on the picture below to get them!

Back to the topic of read alouds, what are your favorite Halloween read alouds and activities you do with them? I know there are a ton of great ones out there and I can't wait to switch them up next year!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

New layout reveal and word problem centers!

TA-DA! This is the big surprise I was talking about in my previous post. The blog has finally gotten a makeover, thanks to the amazing Blogs Fit for Queens. I worked with Sharon closely and I have to say, I'm sure I wasn't the easiest customer to work with because I asked for so many changes here and there, but Sharon was attentive and patient with me and tweaked things as much as I requested. I would absolutely recommend purchasing a custom layout from her. She is wonderful and does equally wonderful work, as seen by this page as well as the many examples on her website. Just click on the button at the bottom of my page to check her out! Thank you again to Sharon for such beautiful work :) I am beyond happy with my new blog and can't stop staring at it. Hopefully it's as pleasing to the eyes as it is for me.

Now, moving onto all things teaching. In the month of October, my class, which we call Team 109 because we're a team, has been working on a variety of word problems, with a focus on subtraction word problems and missing addend word problems this upcoming week. Since I don't have many word problem centers, I created a quick 12-question word problem center with a fall theme. Included in the resource is a recording sheet so that you can keep your students accountable for their work. You can grab a copy at my store by clicking the photo below.

How do your students do with word problems? Do you like teaching word problems? Any struggles, tips, insights?