Saturday, July 19, 2014

Weekend Words: "There Are Many Ways of Being Smart."


I have no Weekend Words that can top this letter from a principal to her students. You can read the full article about this letter HERE.



Friday, July 18, 2014

ThE MOst DisJoiNteD bLoG pOSt EvEr! (and some affixes!)



This really is probably going to be the most disjointed blog post ever! There were a few different education and non-education topics swirling around in my head, and I'm just going to lump them all into one post.

I haven't blogged in a bit for no good reason than it is summer, and I'm being a bit lazy.  
Every morning, this is the plan:
                                        
But, then I get distracted.  One of my biggest distractions this summer has been this little app:
Yes, that devilish little Kindle app on my iPhone!  It has been so nice to have time to read fluff.  I am still in the middle of two different professional books, but I just lost interest for a bit.  I might need to delete this app for a couple of weeks so I can get something done! Like blogging and working on my TpT stuff.

Figuring out this whole Tpt thing was is one of my goals this summer.  I have some things I want to get done, but the time-suck that is my Kindle app has been getting the best of me.  It was so fun seeing all the pics of bloggers who attended the Tpt gathering (convention?) in Vegas last week.  It looked like so much fun.  I've been reading lots of blog posts on it, and I have yet to hear of anyone that didn't have a great time, meet some amazing bloggers, and learn lots of helpful tips.
In fact, I posted this pic on my Instagram account during the festivities.  More on Instagram later!  My goal is that by next year my Tpt store will be up and running and I will attend the next gathering  

One thing I am getting done is summer school.  I have the best group of kids this year!  I truly love them to pieces.  They are so sweet, just really nice children who are willing to learn.  No attitudes!  They really make heading to work on nice, sunny, beach days not so bad. And, there are only 7 of them which has let me get so much done.

  My summer friends will be entering 4th grade in September but have reading levels 1-2 years below that.  One thing I learned right away is that they are unfamiliar with the most basic of affixes.  I know they were taught them in 3rd grade, but the recall is not there at all.  So, when deciding what to do with them for word study this summer, affixes it is!  I wanted to get the most bang for my buck.  They certainly need help with spelling patterns, but as soon-to-be-4th-graders I feel mastering some basic affixes will help them more with decoding the grade level words they will encounter.

For visuals with my lessons, I've been using this beach themed packet of 31 different prefixes and suffixes by Rachael Parlett that I found on Teachers Pay Teachers.  It is awesome. And, free! She actually has this same pack available in different themes (pirates, jungle, Hollywood, and more) along with other for sale resources that compliment them.  We've been doing one a day.

 I write the affix down, and then I give the kids a basic word that has that affix.  I then let them try to figure out what it means.  Once they do, we write the definition on the chart we've glued in our notebook.  We then work together to brainstorm a list of words.  After that, they select a word and use it in a sentence that shows they know the meaning of the word.  Finally, they sketch a quick picture showing their sentence.  This form is another freebie I also found on Teachers Pay Teachers created by Gaily Girl.  It's a pack of various materials, including this chart/organizer.  I will say that I did tweak it a bit, but it is essentially the same.  I just changed the font, made one line dotted, and changed the center box to put in the particular affixes we are using.  The form is editable, so it was easy to do.
 I only have my friends for five short weeks this summer, so we are spending two weeks on prefixes, two on suffixes (there they are below, ready to go!) and on our last week we will be combining the two.  The best part of it all is that I can really see this clicking for the kids.  They are using the new words they learned in our conversation and have stopped me during our read aloud more than once to point out that I said a word that had a prefix we learned.  Score!!!

After summer school today, I went to my school to grab some materials from our supply room.  If you are not a teacher and wonder what schools look like during the summer, here it is!
I really feel for our custodians in the summer.  Our school is not air conditioned, and it is hot as blazes in that building.  They are busy clearing out the classrooms, stripping and freshly waxing floors, cleaning the rooms, making repairs, and actually working to retile some classrooms this year.  It is hot and sweaty work! They have to empty every room, do all that work, and then put it all back again.   But, it all very much appreciated when we come back to shiny, clean classrooms in September!

                                             
So, frozen peas.  Yup, that's me driving home from school last week with a bag of frozen peas on my knee.  At dismissal last Thursday, I tripped on some uneven sidewalk and did a full-on face plant (really more of a knee injury) in front of all the summer school staff, students, and parents.  It was so bad, I literally couldn't get up for a minute.  I was going to post a picture of my knee today, but it is so ugly I didn't want to subject you to it!  It is blue, green, purple, black, red, yellow, and every other color you can imagine.  I honestly can't believe how bad the bruise is.  It is still really sore, but I'm just glad I didn't break anything.  And to prove how sweet my kids are this summer, I can't begin to tell you how upset they got when I fell.  I was so busy reassuring them that I was fine that it wasn't until after they were all gone that I realized how bad it was.  

To keep on with this disjointed post. . .  I might be mildly obsessed with getting some Jamberry nails.  I'm seeing them all over the web.  When I first heard of them, I thought I could just pick them up in the store.  But, I think it is some kind of home party sales thing.  I do see though that I can order some on their website.  They aren't cheap, but I think it would be a fun treat. Have to look in to this some more!  Do any of you do Jamberry nails?  How do you like them?  Where do you get them?


My other mild obsession this summer has been banana frozen yogurt.  I tell you this for no reason other than I feel more people need to know about banana frozen yogurt.  (You know I'm an elementary school teacher because I can't even type the word banana without thinking of Minions and laughing!)  I posted this picture of some on Instagram a few days ago.  It was a bit disappointing due to the lack of toppings. Notice there aren't really any?  I wanted some fresh fruit, and there was none!  When is the last time you went to a fro yo shop that had no fresh fruit?!!  

Speaking of Instagram, I have just started using my blog Instagram.  I find I am much more of an Instagram person than a Facebook person.  I use FB in my personal life for friends and family, but I find it really difficult to switch back and forth between my blog FB page and my personal FB page.  As a result, I sort of don't pay any attention to my blog FB page which isn't good.  Some of you have been so nice to follow me on it which means you are probably on it more than I am!  However, I find it much easier to blend my personal and blog Instagram in one.  I think I'm more of a visual person and just find Instagram more appealing.  I need to add an Instagram link to my buttons up top, but you can find me HERE. I've only posted a few pics, but I think IG is one social media I will keep up with.

So, that's my disjointed post. Which seems about right for summer blogging! :-)


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Weekend Words: Happy Belated 4th America!


The week has just gotten away from me!  It's been my first full week of summer vacation, a holiday, and I've been prepping for summer school.  I'll be back next week with some new posts.  Until then, I hope that you all celebrated a wonderful 4th of July if you are here in the states.

We had terrible rain storms on the 4th due to Hurricane Arthur.  The lightning was amazing.  You could just watch it streak through the sky as it lit up the night.   However, today has been beautiful.  We just got back from watching our local fireworks display on the lakefront.  Always fun except for the 10,000 mosquito bites! I am one itchy lady!  Tomorrow promises to be another sunny day and a day filled with postponed 4th of July celebrations.  I am going to try to not eat my weight in bbq chicken, corn on the cob, smores, and watermelon!

 
This picture is from the Ann Taylor Instagram page.  I just couldn't resist it!  I remember getting those ice pops off the ice cream truck as a kid.  A perfectly cool treat for the 4th of July! Their clothes are pretty darn nice, too! :-)  Happy Belated 4th, America!



Sunday, June 29, 2014

Weekend Words


And, that's my plan on this first weekend of what will hopefully be a great summer vacation!


Friday, June 27, 2014

Putting the Pieces Together: A Novel Activity



In cleaning up my computer, I came across these pictures of an activity I did three years ago with my friends.  I didn't remember posting about it, and in searching the blog I couldn't find it.  So, better late than never!

This activity was done towards the later part of the school year.  We had spend time learning all the story elements and vocabulary that goes along with it. We had learned how to effectively write summaries and peer edit.  We had plenty of practice working in cooperative groups where collaboration and good conversation are a must.  It was time to put it all together.

After we had read the novel Frindle by Andrew Clements, I broke my friends into strategic groups of five.  They were going to work together to identify the important details of each story element and summarize their section.  We were putting the puzzle pieces (of all we had learned) together!

Each color represents a different group.  Each puzzle piece, from top to bottom, represents a different story element: characters, plot, problem, solution, setting.  Using a graphic organizer, my friends worked with their group to outline what from the book (working on important information and detail vs. unimportant) must be included in each section.

Once the graphic organizers were completed and agreed on by the group, each member took one element and turned it into a written summary on their puzzle piece.  Some were longer than others and required us to staple a couple of pages together, but it all worked out. It was a nice mix of cooperative work combined with an element of personal responsibility for the finished product. If they had room, they also created small illustrations that went along with their writing. These are some samples below.





When all were done, we glued them on to a column of construction paper in order. To finish, they added some extra illustrations.  Each group then presented their summary of the book. When we were done, I hung them on the lockers outside my room.  If you are a regular reader, you know of my never ending quest for vertical display ideas for those darn lockers!


I can't remember where I got the puzzle pieces, but honestly they are something you could draw free-hand on white paper and just make some copies.  If you wanted to get fancy, you could make it so the puzzle pieces fit together in a rectangle and actually put the pieces together for a display that doesn't have to be vertical.  I did minimize two puzzle pieces on the copier for the top of each chart, one had the book title and author while the other listed the kids' names.

All in all, this was a good activity that allowed the kids to pull together all we had been learning in reading and writing.  You can also make this as simple or involved as you want depending on the ages group your are working with. Another plus is that it works with any book!



Monday, June 23, 2014

Missed It!


First time since I've started it that I missed Weekend Words. Sorry about that!  That picture pretty much sums up the craziness of my life this past week. 

With school ending this week, it has been a mad dash to not just pack up my classroom, but to totally organize it from the inside out. My goal is to hit the ground running in September with very little room prep. I have no plans to go in before our first official workshop days!

Add to that, lots of crazy but fun home stuff going on at the same time, and I have just run out of days! I feel like I have been running non-stop at school all day only to come home and do the same until I crash into bed at night! I could have totally used that eighth day for blogging!

But, I do have some posts coming this week! In the process of cleaning up an old computer I found pics of a bulletin board reading project I don't think I've shared. I also attended a workshop by Douglas Fisher I want to tell you about. (No links as I'm blogging from my phone right now!) and there are a few other posts in the works!

This morning. I am off to school for our last Monday!! Woo Hoo!!!! Just four more days!! Summer vacation is so close!!!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Weekend Words: Did I Say That?

Things I've said this week as a teacher 
that normal people say:

Tie your shoes.

Put the cap back on the marker when you are done.

Please wait your turn.

Did you finish your work?

Don't forget to wash your hands.


Things I've said this week as a teacher 
that normal people don't say:

No, licking your hands is not the same as washing your hands.

Take that pencil out of your nose right now.

Please don't be upset. I promise he was just kidding with you 
and isn't really going to Mars for his summer vacation.

We have tissues for that!!!!!

Just because the owl already digested what was in the pellet 
does NOT mean it is clean enough for you to eat.

Stop sniffing his socks!

Yogurt is a great snack, 
just not after it has been sitting in your desk for two days.

And, I actually found myself saying this one. . . 

Just 9 more days, 9 more days, 9 more days. . . 



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

June Currently

It's the June Currently!
With special thanks to Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade!


Listening:  Not sure where I would be without all the podcasts I listen to!  Do you download podcasts from iTunes?    I listen to them in the car, while cleaning the house, during walks, etc. Some are short, just a few minutes, while others can be an hour or so long. Some education related podcasts I listen to are:
Voices of Literacy 
Choice Literacy Podcast 
K-12 Greatest Hits: The Best Ideas in Education 
The Whole Child Podcast: Changing the Conversation About Education
National Writing Project

Those are just a few!  You can find them on iTunes by searching for the title.  There are also a bunch of podcasts not education related that I like. Some of those would be:

Radio Lab
Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me
For Crying Out Loud
10th Avenue Podcast
The Jillian Michaels Podcast
Money Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips
Dave Ramsey

  No matter your interests, there's something out there that will catch your interest!

Loving:  I have been a decluttering fool both at home and at school.  I looked around and realized that there was so much stuff taking up space that I just don't need.  At home, I've been a regular at the Goodwill drop off!  In school, I think the custodian is beginning to dislike me.  I have recently filled my trash cans to overflowing several times over on a daily basis!  Basically, if I haven't used it in the past two years, out it goes!

Thinking:  Summer school.  Why, oh why, did I say I would do it?  Actually, I know why. It is just 2 1/2 hours a day, Monday through Thursday for four weeks.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy and good money!  Plus, I will still have a month off before school starts in September.  Plenty of beach time!

Wanting: A new couch!  Yet another reason why I said yes to summer school!  Did you ever just look around your home and realize that your taste and style have totally changed since you bought your furniture?  That's kind of where I am.  The decluttering and new couch will be a good start to a new look!

Needing: Time! I am in the process of totally rearranging my classroom for next year.  If I get it all reorganized and set up by the end of the school year, the cleaning crew will put it back the same way after summer cleaning which means less work for me in getting ready for the start of the school in September. The past week has been filled with moving furniture, reassessing my class library and purging books, reorganizing closets, moving computers, and more.  I still have a lot to do, but I will be done by June 26th!  That's my last day!  I just need to use my time wisely if I am going to get it done.  I'm sort of excited about the reorganizing because I have been able to create a small teacher corner for all my books and supplies that I can easily access during the school year.  I will post about my "teacher corner" in September when it is all set up.

Summer Bucket List:  So much!  I want to finally finish all the blog items I haven't gotten to just yet; about me page, cleaning up the labels, organizing the freebies, and more.  I also have a huge summer reading list to get to.  Living so close to NY, I am planning to explore some different parts of town in more depth; SoHo, Chinatown, Little Italy, East Village, etc.

I find when I go to NY I tend to stick to the Midtown-Times Square-Upper East & West Side-Central Park areas. This summer, I feel the need to branch out!  Also on my bucket list is more beach time and the continuation of my decluttering spree!

????  
Are you a podcast listener?  
What do you listen to?


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Weekend Words: Smart is not something you are.




"Smart is not something you are, smart is something you get." So true!  This was a quote from Stephanie Harvey that I heard at her workshop in May.  I think this resonates with me as a teacher so much because I have worked many years with enrichment students and now several years with struggling students.  And, I have seen this quote reflected in their thinking and achievement in very different ways.

My struggling students tend to think "smart kids" are just that way.  They see smart as an inherent trait "smart kids" just have.  They don't see being smart as something that requires some action to achieve.

The so-called "smart kids" often take being smart for granted because they are often naturally inquisitive.  They want to know more so they don't see the work, the actions of reading, writing, listening, investigating, etc. as work.  They see it as a means to an end tin satisfying their curiosity.

I guess then, our goal is to build that inquisitive nature in our students.  To guide them in living a curious life!