Monday, August 26, 2013

Oh my goodness...

I don't want to jinx it, but from what I saw today...

I have a GREAT class!!! 

I am so excited! I am sitting 19 students right now, which is a good number.

I over planned for our first day. It always happens that way. Better to be prepared, though. We started the day by sorting school supplies and I gave them the doodle sheet for math. These will go on the front of our math notebooks. You can download them for free HERE! They aren't my creation.

Then we went of the WBT Class; Yes and the 5 rules. I really love the rules and the hand motions. The process grabs their attentions and creates anchors in their minds for the rules.

The highlight of our day was working on our Peek Face Portraits. They are so unique. I love that we put more thought into our goals this year. They had to choose a behavior, academic, and personal goal. Take a look!

Do you see that she wants to learn different languages? Isn't that awesome!

I love how a few of the boys decided to use a pattern for their background. :)

We got our math notebooks mostly set up, but since we had two specials, PE and Music, we didn't get it all finished. That is ok. We will have time tomorrow. I think.

I am sad to say that I chickened out on starting the Daily 4 today. Ugh. I will be braver tomorrow!

I lose confidence in myself over the summer when it comes to commanding the classroom. Does anyone else feel that way? It usually takes me a few days to get back in the swing of things.

I will see you later in the week!

I am planning on getting my kids set up on Edmodo and MyKidsBank for us to play on tomorrow. They will start XtraMath tomorrow as well. We will use the iPads for a QR code activity on Wednesday.

Here's to starting strong!

I hope you enjoyed your first day back at school this year.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Back to School

Well, it is the night before school starts and all through the...

Just kidding.

I went up to school yesterday and finished up all the little details. My checklist is complete!

Lesson plans are turned in, lesson frames are written and ready for display, flip charts are prepared, and I am ready to go!

This is what I have put on student desks:

They will decorate a name tag for their first day. The notecards are from Meet the Teacher night. The kids that came chose a desk to sit at the first day of school. 

This is the red paper on each desk.

You can see my first Daily 4 anchor chart is prepared. I changed the border on my desk. I like this one much more! The boxes above the backpack hooks will catch some of the students extra supplies.

The office put together packets for each child to take home the first day of school. I added a few papers, glued a checklist on the front, and stapled the papers that need to be returned to the outside. I wanted to show the parents exactly what they need to do. No confusion. No headache. Hopefully.

I am excited to start this school year!!!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Meet the Teacher Night!

We had Meet the Teacher/Drop off school supplies this evening. 

It was a great success. I had more than half my class come see me! That is a big improvement over last year.

I am really excited about this school year. From what I can tell, I have a great group.


I didn't do a lot to prepare for tonight, but I will share what I did.

Step 1: Sign in sheet
We have to turn this in every year. The yellow paper is for students to order school shirts.
I printed the popcorn labels from Jodi @ Fun in First.
They were perfect. I already had the left over popcorn from last year, so I used that!

Step 2: Student Info Forms
We all want to gather information about our students at the beginning of the year. I am trying to reduce the amount of paper I have to keep track of (lose) during the year, so I decided to create a Google form. 

It worked so well! Now I have all the information in a spreadsheet that I didn't have to format!!!

Step 3: Choose a seat
I let students choose their seat for the first day of school. The first day is when we get to know each other. I make a seating chart that afternoon and students find their more permanent seat the second day of school. I learn something about the kids from where they decided to sit when it is up to them. It is funny to hear the conversations they have with their parents or siblings as they are choosing a seat.  :)

This was also a quick visual for me to see who wasn't here.

Step 4: Set school supplies on your desk
I will be going through the supplies that were brought tomorrow. That way I will have at least half the supplies ready to go for the first day of school. I just want to do an inventory of the supplies brought so I can send home notes about what is still needed.

Nothing fancy.

I did have classical music playing on my computer and a power point presentation running. I just filled in Kristen's Open House ppt. You can get it HERE!

Fun, fun. The year is beginning.
I think it is going to be a good one.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Good Life

***This post isn't meant as a rant or a complaint. I just want to be heard. I don't always have the right words when I talk, so I wanted to write it down and share.***

I love summer. It's not the vacations, hot temps, or the movie blockbusters that entice me. Summer is the time for me to let the stress of the year fade away. I can gain some perspective on my profession and fall in love with it again.

Truthfully, every year around April, I don't love my job. I am tired. I am stressed. Mentally, emotionally, and physically I am spent. It is a difficult time because that is when I have to be the strongest for my students. Teachers, you know this. Our school system is so driven by numbers that we have to fight to find the love. I hate that.

The school year starts in June for me. I spend my summer on my computer searching for and creating lessons that will engage my students. So much time is spent thinking how I am going to structure the day, create an inviting space, and encourage my students to push themselves to be successful. I am thinking about those things when I go to the store. Any store. I buy things for my room way too much. 

Teaching is my obsession.
I love and hate it.

It pulls me away from my friends and family because I pour so much of myself into my students that I don't have a lot left over. I know my husband feels the pinch from time to time.

The love far outweighs the hate.
I am dedicated to what I do. It makes me happy. 

I work hard to teach my students much more than just curriculum. I teach and model responsibility, the value of hard work, honesty, compassion, forgiveness, and love. 

If I could make everyone believe one thing about my job it would be this:
Curriculum content is only half of what goes on in my classroom.

My kids are learning how to treat other people with respect, work in groups, which is a life skill they will need in the workplace, and just about everything that has to do with being a productive citizen. Most of this doesn't occur in overt manners.

I know that I don't speak for all teachers. Not all teachers are this invested. I understand that.

But I am.

I don't crave temper tantrums or open defiance, but I know how to look past it to try to learn what is really going on. It is not easy, but I don't expect it to be. Kids are complex human beings and anyone who disagrees with that can come sub for me for a week. Then you will know.

Lately, I have been struggling professionally. I am a professional, but I don't always feel like I am treated like one.

The upper administration has a way of withholding information that makes me feel juvenile. I want to be trusted. If you don't trust me, please come talk to me or sit in my classroom for a week. 

It is difficult to do my best without having all the necessary information. And withholding that information until a week before school starts or less, does not enable me to be my best.

Bottom line: I expect my kids to do their best, so I give them my best. 
I am a teacher. It is what I do.

Please trust me to plan lessons that encourage higher levels of thinking and foster independence. Those are goals of mine. I know I am not always successful. I am human. I make mistakes, but I am always looking for ways to improve. 

Mandating lesson plans is not a good practice in my book. Each lesson in each classroom is going to be a little different, therefore each teacher needs to be in charge of planning for their instruction. We don't need cookie cutter lessons.

We do need to plan with our fellow teachers. 
We do need an intensive curriculum and varied resources.
We do need autonomy.

I am not saying that I won't follow the rules. I am a staunch rule follower, even when I don't like those rules, but I do want to give voice to my opinion.

I need autonomy.
Please treat me like the professional I am.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Teacher Week '13 - Organization for Instruction


How do you organize yourself for teaching? I am a planner. Bet you couldn't have guessed that! :)

Here is a screen shot of my first week of plans:

I love that I can color code, attach documents, add links to sites, and quickly add the standards.
(I still need to plan the reading. It is always the hardest for me.)

I also use magazine holders to hold my copies for the week.

You can see all the organization baskets and things on my book shelf behind my desk. I also acquired the tan bookshelf today. I am so glad because I needed one to hold the rest of our textbooks.

The anchor chart areas are also a major organizational tool for my instruction. The kids are able to reference our learning for days after!

Go blog hopping to see all the great posts about organization!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Teacher Week '13 -- Classroom Tour

So... I need to take nicer pictures. I will work on that tomorrow.

I have a few other spaces I want to get pics of tomorrow. Go link up and show off your classroom!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Teacher Week '13 ~ Meet the Teacher

I am very excited to participate in Teacher Week '13!! Click to button above to learn about the other bloggers participating!

1. Hello! My name is Becca Morris. My husband, Kevin, and I have been married for 5 1/2 years. 

2. We have three fur babies.

3. This will be my 6th year to teach. Wow. Time has gone by fast. I have taught 2 years of Pre-K, 2 years of 2nd grade, and this will be my second year in 4th. 

4. I am a born and raised Texan! I went to college at Texas Tech University and have only taught in Texas.

5. I love all things crafty and technological. I am beyond excited to launch a 1:1 iPad initiative in my classroom this year. It is going to be an adventure!

6. I also enjoy blogging. It is such a great way to connect with other teachers all over the world! I love that we share things with each other. I am really big on the whole sharing thing. I don't sell anything I make because I think we need to support each other. We spend so much of our own money buying things for our classroom, don't we?

If you find something on my blog that you like, just leave me a comment and I will be happy to share a copy with you!

7. Reading is my passion. I am a big fan of YA and romance novels. I read as an escape, so I want happy endings! Seeing so many of my favorite books being turned into movies is great, even if they aren't nearly as good as the books. I mean what happened to all the drama at the end of the Hunger Games? Peeta is supposed to be almost dying! I wanted to see Jennifer Lawrence losing her mind, beating against the door of the aircraft that picks them up from the cornucopia as the doctors are working to save Peeta. Oh well.

8. My iPad is an extension of my hand. As is my iPhone. It is an addiction.

9. I am known as the technology person at my school. I love it! I am always wanting to try new things with my students. 

10. My husband and I are working with a new doctor to hopefully start our family this year. We are praying that it is God's plan to give us a baby soon. The Lord has been teaching me patience the past few years.

Stay tuned this week for all the great ideas that will be shared by many bloggers! Below you will find the topics for each day.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Monday Made It :)

This is my last free Monday. 

Next Monday is staff development and then the next is the first day of school.

Summer is gone.

I am going to miss these posts! I have loved sharing and learning from so many great teachers this summer!

This past week I put together my door decoration. Yay! It makes me happy.

The quotes are from the Technology Rocks. Seriously blog. She shares these for free y'all! They are my favorite. Here is a closer look at the quote art. I plugged the quotes into iPad images.

I love it!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Math Notebook - Bar Graphs

Well, the beginning of the year is creeping closer every day, so I have been productive. I have the first 2 units ready to go in my "teacher" notebook. I want to share the unit on bar graphs with you today.

I am not sure why we start with bar graphs, but we do.

Yesterday I shared my math journal set up. If you missed it, you can see it HERE.

So I have packed quite a few activities onto a few pages of our notebook.

Day 1: We will discuss and highlight the labels for page 1. Then we will talk about the steps in reading and answering a bar graph question. This will be on the first day of school, so I am keeping it short.

Day 2: Our class will pop in the other 4th grade classes to gather some data on favorite desserts. Then we will graph our results on page 2. We will do the first one as a class, I will help them set up their second graph and they will fill in the information with their group.

We will also work on page 3 of our journal. They need to hear the higher order thinking questions as soon as possible. I have also included a QR code to a video describing double bar graphs. This will be for review later on when we have our iPads.

Day 3: We will complete the graphs and questions on page 4 along with a QR code activity. (below)

Day 4: We will work on pages 5 and 6 in our notebooks. The blank graph on page 6 will be an assessment. Either we will gather data in our class for them to use, they can use leftover data from the favorite dessert activity, or they can make it up.

Day 5: This will be more of a worksheet practice day. Ugh. I hate that, but it is a necessary evil.

Nothing too fancy, but I think it will anchor our learning. We will use our textbook and a few other resources in class. There are some great games online that I will have them play when we go to the computer lab.

So, there you go!

Click HERE to download all the notebook resources!

Click HERE to go to the post where you can download the QR activities.

My next unit is place value. I will post about that next week!

Let me know what you think about my bar graph unit!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Math Notebook - Set up

I am starting to shift my focus from decorating to lesson planning. 

Lesson planning is not as fun... Oh well.

I have decided to step up my math notebooks this year, so I have been planning. I really want to tackle our math notebooks (the planning process) unit by unit. This gives me a broader perspective. Now that I have a year under my belt, I know where they need to be in the spring. This knowledge is really influencing my planning. Last year I "knew" what they needed to know because I knew the TEKS, but I didn't have a working knowledge of the types of questions and level of understanding my students would need.

So when I sat down and began planning out our notebooks, I wanted to keep a few things in mind.
  1. How do I want the kids to decorate their covers to personalize it?
  2. How detailed do I want the Table of Contents to be?
  3. Will I follow the customary notebooking rules?
  4. Where will I give the students feedback on their notebooks?
  5. How will I "grade" these?
  6. How should they be organized?
I do want my kids to personalize their notebook covers. This is a great beginning of the year activity. I found these awesome content area coloring pages that will be perfect for their covers! Go check them out.

I will also be adding duct tape to the spines for extra reinforcement and to color code. This makes it easier for students to grab the correct notebook out of their desks.

Now on to the inside...

I am not artistically inclined, so I made the "My Numbers" page on the computer.

My kids last year loved reading my comments. They would get their notebook from me and read the comments on the way back to their seat. 

I will try to remember to find my math chart from last year. It is covered in math information. I had my kids practice adding the information to this sheet. We will be focusing more on it in the fall this year, than we did last year.

HERE is your copy of the pages if you want them!

So, nothing too special, but I do think they are going to be very organized!

I will be posting my first unit, Bar Graphs, tomorrow!
With freebies, of course!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

iBook is PUBLISHED!!!


This was a labor of love, you guys. I am so happy to share it with anyone and everyone. You do need an iPad to view the book, that is the only downside with publishing through iBooks Author.

I posted a few videos of my book HERE if you are interested.

You can go to the iBookstore on your iPad and download it now!

:) I am so happy about this. I am working on one for Life Science next. I will let you know when that one is available.

What do you think?