Thursday, June 27, 2013

Don't forget....

Don't forget... Google Reader shuts down on Monday! To continue following my blog or your complete blog list, you need Bloglovin' or Feedly. I'm linking up with Tori's Teacher Tips to remind you to hop on over to Bloglovin' or Feedly and set up your account! It'll import all the blogs you read over to your account. It's so super easy! Plus, you can search for new blogs to read! You know you want to get yourself some Blog Lovin' so go for it!


The gals at Collaboration Cuties are also doing a Bloglovin' giveaway for everyone that subscribes to their blog! Don't forget to add them as well and check out their awesome blog :) I'm just glad someone else feels the same way about the Erin Condren Planner as me! Take advantage of all these wonderful link ups and giveways before it's too late!

Hope to see all my followers via Bloglovin'....

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Library Buckets & Magnetic Sign

So my Made It Monday is coming a little late. I had most of the supplies and ambition to start it  yesterday but it turns out, no hot glue. How can you craft anything without hot glue? I was not running out by the time I discovered my error, so for this time, it's Made It Tuesday! 

Here's the before....

 So, I've blogged about the new library system I want to try! My students did a terrible job this year at keeping my library organized. They checked out the books but then they would throw them back any old place even though most have labels on them. Many books are even grouped by AUTHOR... but my students didn't seem to notice or remember where they found their books... so, via Pinterest I found a great solution. Another teacher created "shelf marker" sticks to help students remember where they took the book from. They stay in the bins until the books are returned. Genius, right?

So for my first made it... I created little buckets to hold my sticks. One for each of my classes. The letters represent our last names so the kids know where to find their specific sticks and numbers.

The colors are teal and lime green. I found the felt letters on clearance at Michael's for .99cents each and the buckets were also at Michael's for only $1. So for a whopping $4 dollars (I already had the buttons and flowers) I created two buckets for library sticks.

Then to go into the buckets I found these bright adorable zebra print numbers to put on top of craft sticks. These aren't done yet because I want to laminate all my numbers before gluing them onto the craft sticks. My goal is that students will then place their numbers in the buckets as they check out books.

My  second made it of the week was something I've been wanting to do for a while but didn't have everything I needed. So after visiting the craft store for hot glue... I came home with all the supplies! Here's Made It #2.... A magnetic "Leaving the Room" sign-out.

I really want to put this sign by my door. I'm thinking of hanging it from Command hooks or velcroing it to the wall. I haven't made a "hanger" with ribbon yet because I'm not sure I have a physical place to "hang it" since I already have an eyewash by my door. I haven't glued down the letters yet because I'm debating if I want them straight or a little up and down. I used cork circles (they were only a $1.79) and magnets for the student numbers. I was going to use marbles but I was already racking up my total. The letters and ribbon are from Target's dollar bin. It is so lime green and teal since that's what I'm going with as a loose "color scheme."

Here's the buckets I already have in my library.... I think my new stuff matches quite well!

I can't wait to see what everyone else created...


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Blog Makeover?

iTeach 5thiTeach 5th

Does your blog need a makeover? I know I've been working really hard on mine but it could always use a makeover! I'm a novice when it comes to designing and creating... Plus, who doesn't love a touch up? Well then you're in luck, Kimberlee at iTeach 5th is having a blog makeover giveaway! Make sure to check out her new blog/company Digital Doodle Designs. For all the official rules, make sure to visit her teaching blog at iTeach 5th.

Best of luck to all the contestants!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Classroom Library Score!

Just wanted to share my incredible finds at the library's used book sale. Used book sales are a great way to build classroom libraries on the cheap. Search social media sites to stay connected and hear about great sales or other happenings at your local library.

I've been on a mission to find nonfiction books for my 5th graders. With Common Core emphasizing nonfiction reading skills and reading in the content area, I feel like my three buckets of nonfiction are NOT nearly enough books for my classroom library. My 400+ book collection is 90% fiction and I've been slowly trying to grow my nonfiction section... but it gets EXPENSIVE! Don't get me wrong, our public library system in Cincinnati is fantastic! (Being frugal and a loyal patron, I use the public library quite often for teacher collections.) Our school library is also very current and up-to-date but there is just something to be said about having instant access for kids.

Then, today, I noticed via Facebook that a local branch was having a used book sale! BINGO! You never know what you're going to find a used book sale, but it's always worth a go, right?  I walked away with 39 new books (mostly nonfiction) for $39.60. I think that's a pretty stellar deal at a dollar a book. Most books were .50cents to $2 dollars and teachers were getting a 10% discount. No tax, no shipping, just some time digging and looking for some great books! Most of my books were $1 or $2 dollars and in nearly brand new condition. I got about 15 books on various states for our Western Hemisphere Geography Unit plus some books on Canada and Mexico. My big score were the American Indian nonfiction books. Six books for six bucks!

How did I do?

Friday, June 21, 2013

It's a Blog Lovin' Friday!

I officially signed up on Bloglovin' so don't forget to follow my blog! You can follow me by clicking the link here... Follow my blog with Bloglovin. Don't forget to import all your favorites over as well! Signing up was sooo super easy and fast! If you have trouble claiming your blog, Megan from iTeach: What's Your Superpower posted a video going over each step. If you're like me and you just wanted some reassurance, her tutorial is perfect! It made it so super duper easy, it was unbelievable!

Since it is Friday and I haven't been working on a blog post, I figured I would link up with Doodle Bugs for her Five for Friday Party!

Happy First official day of summer! To kick things off here's a recap of the week....

On Monday, my summer school students and I worked on our How to Eat Fried Worms flip books. We also discussed how we'd choose to eat our own worms. Students decorated their worm plates and did a short writing activity. Thanks to KNJ Kreations over at TPT for a great unit plan. You can check it out here. I forgot to take photos of our finished products! Whoops!

Then on Tuesday, major bummer... Iggy, my super adorable (most of the time) Italian Greyhound chewed up my new pair of shoes from Target! They were "Sperry" wannabes at such an affordable price. Now, penny pinching me has to decide if I'm going to buy a new pair or just go without my "Sperry's." Needless to say,  I was not so happy with my little fur baby! Good thing he's cute!

On Wednesday, I got a phone call that my newest project came in to my local JCPenney from my online order (free ship to store!). I am now the proud owner of a blue 18'' gumball machine for my classroom. Don't worry, I'm not sugaring them up -- if you've seen Pinterest, I'm going to turn my gumball machine into an eraser machine. I love the idea and hopefully it cut down on interruptions and "meltdowns" due to lack of erasers.

I cleaned my house in the afternoon on Thursday. It's pretty spotless now and next week my mission is... THE GARAGE. But, Thursday night was really the highlight of the week. It was errand night... it doesn't seem like fun, but sometimes just getting out of the house is worth it! We stopped to get treats for the dogs and I was able to get some erasers for my gumball machine at Walmart. Plus, on one of the many stops, I was able to finally pick up Darius Rucker's new CD! I think I listened to "Wagon Wheeler" at least three times in the car that night... it's just so catchy! I also purchased Matchbox's Twenty new CD "North" along with Little Big Town and Blake Shelton's newest CDs. I'm on a huge country music kick right now... Country music just feels like summertime.

For dinner, we went to Lime. This is a new Mexican Grill/Burrito type restaurant chain and I had a lovely frozen Sangria. If I can't go to to the beach... I'm going to bring the beach to Ohio!

That brings me today... I'm exhausted. Between cleaning all week and teaching all week. I plan on catching up on the DVR and relaxing. It appears Iggy has the same idea as me! We're wiped out!

Hope everyone had a great week!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ten Pin Linky

 Today, I was in school mode as I hit up Michael's and Target while waiting on my car service appointment. I actually purchased several accessories for my library today. I'm going to try a new library check out system since I've been unhappy with my current system for a few years now! I'll show off my new "Made Its" on Monday after I finish getting them all organized and ready to go! So, since I've been home this summer and exploring Pinterest (way more than a person should) might as well link up with Ashley from Just Reed for her Ten Pin Linky Party!

(* Pictures are linked to original blogs/pinterest if you wish to read more!)

#1 One of the biggest issues in fifth grade is what kids do when they are "done." I always have my lightning fast finishers. I usually have directions on the SMARTboard but often there is an anchor chart something displayed. This board would be perfect for those"I'm done.... now what?" moments. This board would also be a great way to swap out "tasks" depending on importance or the week.

#2  and #3 Oh the classroom library! My library books are always in a disarry. Students find a book and throw in any old bin (even though they are all labeled!)...then students can't find the book they're looking for. I have over 400 something odd books... I can't figure out where they're at let alone keep track of them. These next two pins should hopefully help me out.The first one is an organizational app that allows students to log-in and digitally check out a book. I've already scanned in 275 books and I'm just over half way done... the rest will get done in August!

The second pin is "shelf marker / book bin marker" that allows students to mark where a book came from so they can remember to put it back in the right spot! GENIUS! I'm creating sticks for both classes! I'm tired of them not putting the books back correctly. It should make my life and my "librarian" of the week much more relaxing during Workshop.

#4 The best classroom management strategy is engagement. I thought the use of QR Codes was a great way to get kids learning without knowing it! It's a simple way for them to conduct research or even check over their own work! I need to use these more next year with our iPad cart!

#5 I've used passes etc. but there is moment when I forget who is in the bathroom or who I sent to the nurse as the fire alarm is ringing. So I thought this clever idea would be a great way for ME to know where my students are. I'm a very with-it teacher but as we get into workshop and groups, I'm so focused on my groups or conferences, that I often don't realize I said "Yes" to a bathroom question. This is on my to-do list of the summer!

#6 & #7 I hate when students interrupt during workshop conferences or small group RTI. So to hopefully help me manage my small groups as well as keep my class on task, I'm hoping to use #6 and #7. During writing workshop, students often want me to answer their questions even though they have a writing partner. However, I can barely get through conferences as it is! I'm hoping to make more use of my writing center area next year. I want to have a "One stop shop" for all things writing so students can check and monitor his/her own work FIRST before they come see me.

My seventh pin will hopefully allow students to "know" if I'm available to take their questions during workshops.

#8 I'm adding my eighth post to my summer To-Do list. I already have the clips, string, and card stock ready! I just need to put it all together! I need one of these signs to manage my own workshop conferencing time and schedule. I'm also going to try to do some group conferences next year. I just feel like towards the end of a piece, I'm shorting some students so we can wrap up the pieces and get them FINISHED! I have nightmares about conferencing... no joke! I can get everything but that piece to fall into place!

#9 Oh the writing process (AGAIN!)... It's called a process for a reason, even if its the teacher who needs help through the process ;)  .... I already have a system for keeping track of the writing process using numbered clips. But I like the idea of having these magazine bins for students to go too. I'm not sure if I'd want students to put drafts in the folder or just have handouts for help in their, but I think that would really help the flow of workshop. I have 50+ students so I don't think keeping drafts would be idea. However, keeping some editing checklists, revision reminders, etc. handy would allow students to move on without permission. I'm all for helping my kiddos gain independence!

#10 The next item(s) are on my wish list! Often at stations, it takes forever to go over all the directions because I know students won't read the directions I have typed up at each station. These little pods allow you to record your directions or voice. I think these would be great for giving instructions and hopefully would have more "buy in" than typed up directions. Plus the kids could listen to them again before asking for help. It would hit another learning style if nothing else!

Can't wait to see everyone's pins for this week's party! I'm always in the mood to repin a great idea! Hope everyone has a great week!


Monday, June 17, 2013

Made it Monday: Pixar Edition

So, today's Made It Monday linky party hosted by 4th Grade Frolics has a Pixar theme. First, I wasted some time today creating my own Monsters Inc. Monster from Disney's Website. You can go here to create a monster of your very own! It'll even help you generate a name for your monster. Mine is Miss Shufflebottom!

Isn't it too cute? I love my awesome glasses and purple complexion!

On a somewhat more serious note, I've been working on a bundle of worksheets that can be used with the Pixar Short Films (Volume 1 or Volume 2). Even though they're not quite finished, I wanted to share the start with everyone! There are lots of links on Pinterest of teachers using the videos to teach everything from inference, character traits, theme, summarizing, etc. I've been using the videos during summer school to model key reading strategies and it's been hard to find actual handouts to go with the lesson plans online...therefore, I'm slowly and surely creating my own versions.
I've started creating a handout for character traits since we've been working on that this week during summer school.  Here's what I have so far.... (I'm also trying to find some better clipart but that's part of the "in progress.").

I'm hopefully going to be adding a sheet for predicting/inferencing, summarizing, learning about characters through dialogue, and theme to go with the bundle. A teacher I work with put together a theme handout and the students LOVED watching the videos to model the concept of theme. If you get a chance, grab copies, they are wonderful additions to your classroom library. If you click the pictures you can go check them out on!
Any other reading strategies I'm forgetting to include? 

This year my 5th's graders voted that "For the Birds" was by far their favorite "short." They also enjoyed the shorts of "Lifed" and "Presto." I'm hoping to incorporate more Pixar Shorts into summer school this week. I think we are going to do a "shorts" writing project in which they need to a short summary about the video using "Somebody...Wanted...But...So...Then" and then decorate a pair of summer time "shorts" for the main character. 

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Can't wait to see everyone's Made Its!


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday's Spotlight: Classroom Management

So, it's Sunday.... is the weekend really over? I've had a restful weekend but it's time to go back to work and school mode. Tonight, I'm joining up with An Apple a Day hosted by Leigh at the Applicious Teacher!

My team uses a variety of management systems to target individual and group behaviors... First, our team uses a dollar system as part of our behavior management. Students earn dollars by coming to school (just like a paycheck) and they can earn extra dollars for good behavior, great grades, or going above and beyond. We have laminated ones, tens, and twenties that students can cash in and exchange. We pay our students the following week either on Monday or Tuesday as part of our morning homeroom time. Students can cash in money at our store every other Friday or they can choose to save up their money. If students need to go to their lockers, talk, forget homework, have a no name paper, or need to rent a pencil, etc. they lose dollars. We all have a "MENU" posted in our classrooms that states the cost of various "items." This system works really well for most of our students. Students also an "buy" their way into some of our class parties or rewards with extra dollars if it is not earned. It's a big motivator especially when the store is fully stocked. We have parents donate to our classroom store 2-3 times a year to stock up on food, posters, school supplies, etc. We also have a raffle for $5 gift cards to Target, Game Stop, iTunes every other week. Students can use their money to purchase tickets at the store for the raffle. $1 for one ticket or 6 tickets for $5! This management system is idea for individual students.

With that we also have team "write-ups" that we call cautions (they used to be a bright yellow). We give four different types of write ups during the week. These write ups are labels that go into the planner so they can not be removed (it's noticeable if they try) and parents must sign. We chip in at the beginning of the year to buy all the labels and then print them out. We have a green homework caution, an orange disruption (talking, not following directions, etc) caution, a yellow behavior caution (more severe than talking or an on going problem), and a pink signature caution. All cautions are worth a value of one, except signatures which are worth 1/3 (The Logic: It's not always entirely the students fault for parent's not signing the planner or take home folder). It seems a little complex but the kids catch on very quickly. Here's the letter we send home to our parents.

Another clever trick of the trade are our, "homework receipts." These are a blessing when quickly trying to assess what homework has been turned in! They are also great records during conferences of "crazy excuses" and/or the volume of missing work. It's great documentation all written out by the student!

We collect ALL homework during our homeroom time in the morning. There is no sneaking, no mom bring it to school (not fair to working parents) and then we have chance to grade it in our minute free time. If a student does not have homework, then they fill out a No Homework Form. They fill out one per assignment. This is usually on bright yellow paper so that we know who is missing an assignment even if its collected in another classroom. It works out really well and then I list all my missing assignments on my white board and students may erase their names as they turn in the assignments. On our team, students have one week to turn in late work and then it's a zero. To save paper, we only copy these homework forms on half sheets of paper.

In addition, we have a separate whole class management plan. We have an a "500" race between each homeroom. The goal is to get 500 "laps" like in the Indy 500. Our "laps" are marbles. Every time a homeroom earns 50 "laps" they get a car cutout placed on a pictograph outside our classrooms. Once a class earns all 500 laps or 10 cars, they get a class Wii Party! This is a huge motivator for many of our students - especially since the other homerooms do not get this party. It's for VIP's in the Victory Circle ONLY!

We tally the laps at each of our team meetings on Fridays so the students always know which class is in the lead. One of the classroom jobs is to be the "Car Driver" and carry the "car" aka a tub from IKEA ($2.99 for a three pack!) from class to class.

The class earns laps for good behavior (above & beyond expectations), homework complete (100% class completion earns 2 laps!), following directions, teacher compliments, and highest test/quiz averages. Conversely, the class can lose laps for not following directions, talking, getting a bad report from a specials teacher, etc. We usually get through two rounds of competition within a typical school year (depending mostly on homework completion). This year we made it through one official victory and a partial victory. We're an extremely competitive team and it really drives some of the bubble kids to put in that extra effort to do their homework or study a little harder for a test/quiz. It's a system we don't have to "manage" since the students carry the cars and count the laps once they are given out.

Phew! It seems like a lot but since all four teachers use the same plan, it really works out. The plans benefit both the class and individual students who are making good choices!

 I can wait to see everyone's management ideas!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Something Fun Friday!

So today, for Something Fun Friday, I had a girls day at the pool. It was blast getting caught up and it always feels great to lay out in the sun. Although, my right shoulder may not feel so great in the morning. It's looking a little reddish... good thing I already preemptively purchased a large tube of aloe.

The only thing to share to wrap up the week is Target's Spring Book Fair. Whether you're a teacher or a mom, they have a good selection of books for only $1! I bought books to use during my ESL summer school as well as place in my class library next year. Most are a 2nd - 3rd grade level but they have good information and pictures. The spiral bound nonfiction books are more a 4th - 5th grade level. The third grade readers in my summer school really needed lots of help with these but LOVED the pictures and gross facts! It just reminds me that sometimes when we read we need to have fun. Everyone needs a junk food day, or book, once in a while. I have done a little school work today and I have some fun things I'll be posting for Made It Monday that can be used with the Pixar Short Films but otherwise, I'm taking the weekend off to indulge in some summer fun.

Here are the books I bought in Target's One Spot.... I think I have a problem!

These are science related nonfiction books. They are lower elementary for sure but I think kids at any age would still enjoy reading them... and they are ONE DOLLAR! So I, of course, buy six of them! Partner reading?

These were my best find! These are nonfiction books - with all the text features (including an index!) that I think my boys (and girls) will love. They feature gross creature and are set up sort of Guinness Book style with colorful pictures or a creepy question. These are upper level readers. 4th - 5th grade.

These were mostly for the summer school kids. They had leveled fictional stories for grades PreK-3rd. I choose a 3rd grade story about a horse running in a race. I figured after summer school, I could put it in a lower level book bucket or use it to practice/model fictional reading strategies with struggling students. The story is really short so it's easier to work with than a novel or longer mentor text.

What did you do for fun this week? Any good Target finds?

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