Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tales of an Unlikely Comicon Attendee

Or What Did I Do on My Summer Vacation, Part 2

Well, I never imagined that I would be attending Comic Con.  Not in a MILLION years!  But for the last two summers, that's exactly where I've been!

Confession:  My husband is... a comic book geek.  Yes, I admit it.  I have a basement full of superhero pictures, statues, action figures, and - of course - comic books.  These items often trickle upstairs, much to my dismay.  We see *almost* every superhero movie (luckily his son agrees to see some of them with him), and he owns all of the ones that have been released (deliberately not mentioning all of the animated ones he owns!).  He has been to the last two or three Kansas City Comic Cons, but that's a busy time at school for me. ;)

But I digress.  When I found out about the Denver Comic Con, I was less than enthused.  But then I found out three things.  First, the Comic Con itself is a way to raise money for a program called Comic Book Classroom.  There were panels about using pop culture, such as comic books, as a way to engage reluctant readers and writers.  Very cool.  They also gave out some super (yeah, I said it!) lesson plans for a nominal donation.  Twenty bucks well spent, good cause + lesson plans = happy teacher.

Next, Max Brooks was a panelist.  You know, author of World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide, son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft...  He wasn't at all what I expected, funny and self-deprecating, by far the best panel I attended!  I would go see him again in a heartbeat.

And finally, there was a Walking Dead panel with Merle (Michael Rooker) and two featured "walkers."  Chad Coleman, hammer-wielding Tyreese, unfortunately canceled.  And Chandler Riggs (of the "Get in the house, Carl!" fame) was also a no-show at the panel.  Rumor had it that he chose to go to a local amusement park instead (but then, I don't want to spread any rumors!) (still love you, Carl!).  Still, it's my favorite show so I didn't mind the long lines to get in, and it was still pretty entertaining.  Next year, Daryl, next year...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

How many times have you been asked to write about that?   And how many different variations of that theme have you had your students do?  It's kind of the "back to school" rite of passage, right?

Well, here's mine.  I took an Apple Foundations Training for which I received an iPad to use in my classroom.  It was interesting, fun, and we now have a great "class pet!"  I can't wait to see everything they create with this tool.  I wish ours was one of the chosen few for a 1:1 classroom, but I am very grateful and appreciative for the one iPad and will make very good use of it.  I know my students will as well.  I only hope that those who were in a 1:1 classroom last year will not be too disappointed (although in my heart, I know they will be) (*mentally insert worried emoticon here!*).

We also made our own iTunes U course with materials we created in class.  If you go over to my class blog,, you can see a few of the things I made on my Meet the Teacher and Bixby pages.

In the meantime, I wanted something to teach/remind students how to treat our new class pet and loved Mrs. Dixon's chalkboard IPad Guidelines, however if you're like me and have limited wall space, you can use this consolidated list of guidelines I made.  Thank you, Mrs. Dixon, for the great idea and wording!

Of course, that's not the only thing I did this summer, but more about that another time!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Reading Focus Wall

For the past few years I have been fortunate enough to be involved in writing our district's new Reading curriculum.  We are starting Reading Street in the new school year, so with a little help from Karen Cox's wonderful Polka Dot Labels, I made some focus wall posters.  Please feel free to use part or all of them if you like!  Hopefully, I will be adding more as I finish them. 

Click here for 5th Grade Reading Street focus wall headers and Words Their Way headers.

Here are the 5th Grade Reading Street Unit 1 Title/Author/Question posters. 

And here for Unit 1 Amazing Words and Selection Vocabulary.

And finally, here for the rest of the skills/strategies/etc. posters for Unit 1.

I have the headers mounted on green paper and laminated, but the rest of the posters I put in plastic sleeves to save time, as well as for ease of storage.  Please let me know if you find any errors, and I will correct and repost them as soon as possible.  Thanks!  ;)

How is your focus wall displayed?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New School Year, New Classroom!

School starts in just two weeks!  I can't believe how fast the summer has gone... and yet I have already been to school and have most of my classroom set up.  Of course it looks a lot different than those Super Kid classroom pics I've posted in the past!  Didn't think those would "fly" in 5th grade!  I loved it, but time to move on.  My classroom had to grow up!

So I started with Dots on Black from Creative Teaching Press.  It's very versatile for a 5th grade classroom with bright green cabinets!  Tones down all that green, but has lots of colors for me to pull out in other ways.  I have all of the borders, labels, desk plates, computer paper, everything!  I love their new chalkboard Inspire U posters.  Would LOVE to have those!  I haven't ordered them yet, but they are definitely on my wish list.  CTP has a lot of new stuff, I can see a lot of teachers wanting their new mustache line (I know students would get a kick out of that!). They are also having a HUGE giveaway, giving ten $200 classroom makeovers for Back-to-School.  And who doesn't love a makeover?

I must say, our room is looking pretty good!  I still need to tweak a few things, so I'll post pictures as soon as I make it over there again. Even though it was hard to give up the superhero theme (I did go to Comicon in June, after all!), I do love the new look.  Hope the kids love it as much as I do!