Tuesday, December 25, 2012

iPod backgrounds


I am working on getting my 4 iPods ready for the spring semester. I have made backgrounds for them and I thought I would share.

Each of my iPods have a zipper case and earbuds. I have the cases numbered 1-4, so I want the iPods to be numbered to match.


The background is from AllisonKimball.com and it is called Party Dots.

Monday, December 17, 2012

How does a school recover?

We have all read the reports, seen the live coverage, and listened to more of the tragedy at Sandy Hook than we can really process. My sister sent me a link to a mother's blog and I wanted to share it with you. This is from the perspective of the mother and family of the mentally ill perpetrator.

The Anarchist Soccer Mom - I just can't imagine. This is a perspective we all need to keep in mind as the details continue to emerge.

As a teacher, this shocks and scares me. I am responsible for children every day. It is my job to teach them and protect them from all the small harmful things that can happen at school. We have lock down drills and I know what to do in a scary, dangerous situation. Intellectually, that is. 

I have spent some time thinking over the weekend about the teachers at Sandy Hook. A normal day became a horrific experience that will be them forever. We are already hearing heroic stories of the teachers who gathered their students close and provided reassurance in a situation where they had no information. They kept themselves together and put their students first.

They put their students first. 

That is such an innate quality of a teacher. We are dedicated to doing our best by "our kids." In my experience, we get bogged down with testing and day to day difficulties and yes, we do complain. Our job is a tough one. We have to put our feelings and personal difficulties aside while we are with our students. We must remain calm in all situations and stand strong no matter what is happening. On a normal day that includes, smiling first thing in the morning, even if you aren't a morning person; listening to your students tell you tidbits of random information; dealing with disrespect and language; remaining calm when a student throws a fit; taking boring material and presenting it in interesting ways; checking for understanding; challenging each student to do their best; and a million other things. 

The teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary took remaining calm and standing strong to another level when faced with a deadly situation. We would all do the same. I would do the same.

I keep asking myself how this school is going to recover. They obviously have strong teachers and staff members. I sincerely hope that this brings them together. That they are able to lean on each other. I also hope that they are allowed to have some healing time. It is going to be a good, long while before the kids feel secure enough to get back to learning. Sandy Hook is going to need to focus on the emotional well-being of their family before they can get back to the business of learning. I pray they are given that time.

I am also asking myself: What can I do? What will my students have to say about this? Can we do something to show the students at Sandy Hook some support? What can our staff do to show support for their staff?

Angela Maiers wrote a great article. Read it here. It is called There is No Lesson Plan for Tragedy.

I am going to let my students by my guide for discussing the tragedy. I will reassure them that we are safe and that I will protect them. I will remind them of our safety procedures and why we practice our drills. I will help them to feel secure.

I will also remember to cherish them and the amazing people at Hanby Elementary. Our family is strong. Our family looks out for each other. Someone from our neighborhood did this over the weekend. (It rained on Friday, so we took the flags down.)

Don't make this into a political conversation. Don't rely only on the statistics. 

Remember the names of the victims. 
Remember the acts of bravery. 
Remember the strength of the emergency responders. 
Remember the support of the community.


Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Rachel DaVino, 29
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Dawn Hochsprung, 47
Madeleine F. Hsu, 6
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Lauren Russeau, 30
Mary Sherlach, 56
Victoria Soto, 27
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N. Wyatt, 6

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Silence for Sandy Hook Elementary

Psalm 31:9
Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;
my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
my soul and body with grief.

Psalm 122: 7-9
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.
For the sake of my family and friends,
I will say, "Peace be within you."

Anchor Chart Saturday (a day late)

You haven't seen this in months! I have a lot of pictures I need to take. My goal is to get a picture of all my anchor charts before the Christmas break. Here are the ones currently hanging in my classroom.

Anchor Charts on PhotoPeach

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Letters to Soldiers

Well, I am back. I took a break from the blogging world to get a good grasp on the school year and it swept me away! I can't believe it is December. We have a week and a half until Christmas break! Wow. Part of the reason why I took a break, was because I received a message saying I had reached the limit for pictures on my blog. Apparently the pictures are stored in Picasa and you only get a set amount for free. I contacted my school district, but they are unwilling to increase my space. I wish I could just use space from other people in the district who are using it. (sigh) Oh well.

So I am going to try loading my pictures onto Photobucket and then embedding them here. I just can't post without pictures. I am a visual learner! I have a lot of anchor charts and other fun things I want to share. I am looking forward to joining the party again!

Back on topic...

A teacher at my school asked us to create letters to send overseas to soldiers. I wanted to make time in my class for us to do this for a few reasons. One, it is a great way to show a few soldiers some personal appreciation. Two, it shows kids that we should care about our soldiers. Three, it gave my kids some time to just be creative! That tends to get lost in all the other "stuff" of school.

I am really happy with how they turned out! My principal's sister and mother makes a ton of shape books for our campus with leftover construction paper every summer, so I decided to use those instead of the traditional looking card.

I found a poem online titled, "A Salute To Our Soldiers" by Trish Z. I think it was written by a student, but there isn't any other information given. Here is a link.

I had my students copy a line of the poem on every page and then they illustrated each page. Take a look!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Absent and Homework Freebie

I haven't posted in two weeks. Sorry! (I know I was really missed.  :)

About two weeks ago I started to feel really bad. I mean REALLY bad. I talked to the nurse at school and she said I needed to go see the doctor that day. I went in and he did a full blood work-up and sent me for a CT scan. Let's just say I was worried. It turns out that I have pre-diabetes. Ugh. Not fun.

I am on medicine and I am hopeful that I won't have to be on it long. My doctor told me that with diet and exercise I should be able to reverse it.

Do you know what this means? I will have to severely change my eating habits forever. I have always had a hard time dieting and saying no to things like pasta, bread, ice cream, and chocolate. Those things are now, not off limits, but have to be reduced like crazy. I am proud to say that I have made some major changes and I am feeling better. I just know that this time I have to stick with it.

Any advice?


On a different note, I am loving my class this year! I really think that 4th is the grade for me!

I had shared my WBT inspired homework earlier. Here it is again.

This worked really well, but I could tell the kids were getting bored. I decided that I needed to include other things in my weekly homework, so I made this:

We are using the revised homework this week. Here is my procedure:
  • I copy this onto colored paper for emphasis
  • Then I cut them apart
  • I use a 3 hole punch so my students can clip these into their STAR binders for the week
  • Students will check off the activities as they complete them throughout the week
  • Parents will sign off every night
  • I have a student who checks homework daily
  • I will collect their bookmark with all the papers stapled to it on Friday

Reasons why I love this:
  1. It limits the work I need to do every week.
  2. It keeps students accountable.
  3. It is easy for the parents to remember what their child should be doing and what is coming up that week.
  4. The homework won't take longer than 30-40 minutes, which is in keeping with my school's requirements.
  5. I only have to look at homework at the end of the week.
Hopefully I will be back on my blogging schedule now!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Writing Wednesday ~ Get Well Cards

I want my students to have authentic writing experiences, don't you? I want them to see that writing skills have a place in real life. One of my students has been out sick this week and we wanted to let him know we were thinking about him, so today we worked on Get Well cards.

When the kids walked in the morning, I had them choose a piece of construction paper. My only instructions were to write our friend a get well note. I said they needed to be finished by the end of the day because his cousin would be dropping them off this evening.

Here are a few...

inside of the same card... She wrote him a song! Love it.
I really liked this one.
inside, I guess this is abstract art?
I was so happy with what they created. So many sincere words and illustrations!

Look at this one...

He had bought some stickers at the machine, so he decided to use them.

This is hard to read: 
(top) I hope you will feel better soon.
The illustration beneath:
(left) Before Bad (stick figure laying on the bed)
(right) After (figure sitting at the table, maybe at school?)

Isn't that great?!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Save some money...

Where was this when I was in college? Especially for those core classes. The ones with huge, expensive books that I sold back as soon as possible. Ugh.

Check this out!

Spread this around to friends in college, friends with kids in college, or look into it yourself!

Click to visit their website.
Do you need The First Days of School by Harry Wong? You can get it here!

Your choices are:
Semester: $28.94
Quarter: $25.94
Summer: $24.80
or you can choose your return date.



It is free to sign-up and they have a policy for 30 day risk-free returns. You can highlight and annotate, just remember that it will be used by another student, so keep it content oriented! They award textbook scholarships with some of their profits and they partner with Operation Smile. They will be donating a portion of the profit on every book sold this year to help meet higher goals with Operation Smile.

Click to learn more.

Inspired by Pinterest ~ Look up!

After I saw this picture on Pinterest, I decided to utilize my ceiling for review of some math concepts.

Here are a few files for you!

Transformations Posters

Measurement Posters

Lines Posters

I added scrapbook paper to group concepts together. Then I spread them around the room!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Anchor Chart Saturday

The week in review...

Monday ~ No school. Labor Day.

Tuesday ~
In reading, we are working on listening to our inner conversation to monitor our comprehension. We discussed the different kind of connections we make while reading.
We all added a heart map to our writing journals.
Reviewing place value and adding the millions period.
After our assessment today, I see that we need more place value practice! I will be adding a few things to our daily routine. I know that they need a million or so repetitions before they master a concept, so.... that is what we will be doing over the next several weeks!
We did this one last week, but I wanted to share it anyway! Mrs. Hewitt is a wonderful teacher that comes in to help us with math.
Wednesday ~ no charts

We talked about narrowing our topics. We started with large subjects and got smaller. Our third step was to choose a few things to write about from the topic/subject we chose. This was my example and the students chose their own. 

We are starting our weather unit, and boy do we get in detail! On Friday we talked about warm and cold air masses, fronts, weather changes, temperature, humidity, and air pressure. We are really learning a lot about the atmosphere.

I came up with some movements to help us remember the definition of weather.
We say, "Weather (arm out in front of you with your fingers forming a W) is a condition of the atmosphere (use both arms to form a large A) in a certain place (point down the the ground my your feet with both hands) at a certain time (hold out your arm and pretend to point to your watch.)

Friday ~ no charts

I think I am doing good with my charts so far! I didn't prepare my charts for this coming week, because I haven't decided what I am going to be using yet. That is on the agenda for this weekend!

I hope you have a happy weekend!

Friday, September 7, 2012

September Currently

Don't you just love these? We are all doin' it!!

Jump on over to visit Farley for the latest linky party! 

I just have to say that I am loving my class of 4th graders. They are such a relief after last year. I really struggled last year with the group I had and the new expectations from my district. It was rough...

I have been thanking the Lord daily for my great group. I have high hopes for this year. I also love that they are more independent and we can do more. They still have problems listening and following directions, but would it be school if we didn't have that problem?

I have a few pictures to share with you. I know, shocker right?  :)

I added some great reference material to my ceiling.

These are just a few...

My name plate outside my classroom door.
Have a great weekend!!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I ♥ Technology Thursday ~ Videos for Teaching

I love using videos to launch a lesson. It grabs student interest and gives them something to remember and anchor the lesson to! Our kids thrive on technology. How can we not integrate it?

Here are some great sites:

Check out these great videos!!!

I ♥ it all! So will your students.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Writing Wednesday - Heart Maps

I was inspired by this pin:

Source: via Rebecca on Pinterest

I made a large example to get them hooked. 

I am not an artist.
We are just beginning our year, so I wanted to get my students thinking about what they can write about. So many times, I have to give them a prompt, but I do try to let them free write periodically. I wanted them to have something to pull from that was personal. 

I didn't want to give them a template. I wanted it to be unique to each student. I showed them my example and here are some of the results!

Cute, right?

I am going to be amping up my writing with WBT this week, so I will have plenty to share on next week's Writing Wednesday!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Inspired by Pinterest ~ Around the room

During the first week of school, I made a few changes in my room. Nothing outrageous, but I thought I would share.

This is the pin that inspired me to put my filing cabinets back to back.

Source: via Rebecca on Pinterest

I originally had my turn in boxes on top of these filing cabinets.
I have also moved the hand signs a little and posted an anchor chart on the right. It is a chart that we will refer to daily, so I wanted it to be up and visible all the time.

After the first day, I realized that my students are shorter than I thought they would be! So I moved the turn in boxes to the table under the charts. It is working better now!

I have to say that I am loving my anchor charts!!! I have added a writing chart and another math chart to cover the bar graph chart. The bar graph chart didn't turn out too good...

I will take pictures next week and post them. 

This is how my library corner looked at the beginning of the week.

This is how it looked on Friday. After school, I got another desktop. So it doesn't look like this anymore! I added the 3rd desktop to the end of the table and moved the laptops to another table. I love having computers in my classroom! We can do so much with them!

I just have to say that I have been blessed this year. I have a G.R.E.A.T. class. They are compliant and eager to please. It is wonderful!!! They are ready to work, for the most part. I already know who I will be spending extra time with and who will be leading the class and helping me out.

They are so excited about the classroom economy! I think it is going to be great. They applied for jobs on Wednesday, I received about 8 or 9 recommendation letters (applicants for banker and police officer had to provide a letter of recommendation), I assigned jobs on Thursday (I think everyone was happy with their assignment), and I passed out bonus money on Friday. Training will begin on Monday. I have some prep work to do. 

I need to make sure I know what I want each person to be doing. I will have to really train a few of them! They are already wanting to know when we will have our auction. I love hearing them talk to each other in terms of the economy. I have heard:

"Stop that. Do you want a fine?"
"You have to have a job. Don't you want to pay rent? If you don't, you have to sit on the floor."
"I am going to make good choices, so I can get bonus money."
"When is pay day?"

I am looking forward to next Friday when they get more bonus money and have to figure out how much money they have altogether. They will be applying math skills in an authentic way!