Sunday, August 24, 2014

Teachers Love Technology!

Check this out from Attribution to!  I love this! 
I learned so much in AFT this past summer and am in the process of applying for 1:1 classroom set of iPads.  I am so grateful for the one I received; in a scant week and a half of school, the students are already putting it to good use.  I can only imagine what they could do with a class set!  School budgets are tight everywhere, so my students are appreciative for what they have been fortunate enough to have, however I do see a big difference in the students who had access to 1:1 iPads last year.  As all teacher do, I want to provide everything possible to create the best possible learning environment and the best possibilities for my students' growth.  Teachers love technology because it engages and benefits all students: meeting (and challenging) their individual learning needs, as well as fostering their individual strengths!  No wonder teachers love technology!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Jack S.

He wanted to make sure he didn't want to take himself too seriously. That was his joke about his nickname, Jack S.  He was, without a doubt, the kindest and most generous person I've ever met.  Oh, he was tight with a dollar!  But so generous with his heart and with his humor.  So intelligent.  Utterly genuine.  I'm pretty sure, no... I'm absolutely sure, I will never meet anyone like him again.

Mr. Girtin, I respect you so much, the way you lived and the way you treated others.  If only everyone shared your values.  What a world it would be.

If this is the very least I can do, I do it for you with much love and admiration.

Please support the Alzheimer's Association by donating to Walk to End Alzheimer's.  Hope to see you on October 4th. Jack S. will be there in spirit, asking where his washcloth went... <3

My Hero

ps. It's on his head!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

2014 Classroom Set Up

I didn't take any pictures of my classroom last year.  It was my first year of teaching 5th grade, having moved up after teaching 2nd for five years and then 1st for seven years.  A big jump, that's what everyone said.  And it was!

When I first went in (in July, of course!), I only had fifteen desks in my room.  Now, I knew I couldn't be lucky enough to have a class that small!  So, I asked and was told that I would be getting brand new desks and chairs by the time the teachers started.  The next time I came in, there were NO desks.  Still, I was assured that I would have desks by that Friday.  Friday morning, no desks.  They would be coming on Monday morning.  Monday morning, no desks, but they would be there that afternoon before Back to School Night (which started at 4 pm.).  About 11:30 am, the custodians started bringing in some old tables and (loud) metal folding chairs.  A nightmare way to make such a big change.  No place for books or pencils, no where to tape nametags. 

Long story short, I finally got desks and chairs about a month later.  Now, I love them!  At the time, it was not the best way to make a fresh start. 

This year is different.  I still started working on my room in July, but I did have desks!  Most of my ideas have been culled from Pinterest (like most teachers!), but I love it.  It's fun and bright, it just makes me happy.  I hope the students like it too!

Our Back to School Giving Tree didn't go over quite as well as I hoped.  Maybe we'll have more success at ParentU Night!

Here's my No Name area, as well as my "While You Were Out" Folders where students can find any work they've missed.  I found this *rare* black hanging chart at Target (and it even included the folders!  I laminated them to make them last a little longer.).

I bought this black bookshelf at Target a couple of years ago.  We use it as our "supply shelf."  I got the green tins in the Dollar Spot at Target and the supply bins at the Dollar Tree.  We'll use the large green ones as group trash bins.

I also found this saying at the Dollar Tree.  We have this large air duct above the whiteboard that has always bothered me, so I decided to make use of it this year with some inspirational words for my students (and me!).

my sink, microwave area with storage and birthday balloons

Revamped storage!  I've used these for years to store copies, always trying to stay ahead of things.  I just added alternating  double-sided Perfect Paisley border and a few Words Their Way labels to organize copies of the word sorts.

Each student has a drawer with their number on it for crayons, markers, glue, etc.  Extra copies are stored in the unused drawers.  I use the trays from Really Good Stuff on top for items I want to copy, notes from home or lunch money, or Science homework that needs to be turned in to my teaching partner.

My idea is to write the current objective for each subject on this.  We'll see how that goes!   I found this frame at Wal-mart and just added scrapbook paper and letter stickers from Hobby Lobby.

Here's my Math cubby with Rocket Math, calculators, dice, playing cards, dominoes, and flashcards.  Social Studies for both classes is turned in to the top paper trays.

This will eventually hold Guided Reading materials along with the dictionaries and thesauruses (and yes, I did look that up!).  We will turn in our Reading, Math, and Work Study (Words Their Way) to the baskets above).

My desk... since I never actually sit here, I often think about giving it up. 
Everyone talks me out of it though!  Maybe someday...  I plan on putting my name across it, just haven't had time.

Reading Focus Wall... a work in progress!

Math and Writing Focus Wall along with our "Something to Tweet About" board

Boys Town Skills, Words Their Way Chart, Student Mailboxes, and Computer Center (I got this lamp from Lowes, the colors match the rest of my room perfectly!

Subway Art above coat rack

Area behind my desk, a student made me the crayon "M" when I taught first grade (Thank you, Logan! <3).

Revamped Teacher Toolbox:  Again, I just removed the old scrapbook paper and added border, Dots on Black and double-sided Perfect Paisley to coordinate with the rest of the room.

That's enough for now!  More later, and hopefully I'll be able to add some credit for the things I've found and used from other teachers!

Friday, August 8, 2014

I dreamed a dream... and Pearson Math Focus Skills Topics 1-6

Okay, this is NOT about Les Miserables.  Nothing to do with it, in fact. 

A few nights ago I had a dream about my favorite comedian, Mike Birbiglia.  If you haven't seen him, check out his movie/book, Sleep Walk with Me, and his stand-up, My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, on Netflix, or just check him out on his site or on youtube. 
my own pic of his poster!
I've been to see him three times, once using one of my just two personal days and travelling all the way to Indiana!  When he came to Omaha about six months later, his brother Joe was all worried, "You know this is the same show, right?"  Of course we did, we didn't care!  We even got tickets for three other people.  This last time he was in Omaha with Thank God for the Jokes, we bought tickets for four other people.  Just trying to spread the wealth!

Anyway... my dream.  I dreamed I was at an assembly in the school gym (do any other teachers dream about school all summer???).  I turned around, and there was Mike Birbiglia!  When he saw me, he gave me a big hug.  Unfortunately, I held on just a little too long (in a purely platonic way, of course), which made it totally awkward.

That very night I was working on school stuff (of course), and Sam said, "Mike Birbiglia is on Jimmy Fallon!"  Coincidence?  I think not.

Since I was on the computer and my AFT leaders had been encouraging us to tweet reflections (my love/hate relationship with Twitter continues...), Sam said, "You should tweet your dream!"  So I did.
Later Sam got on to see my tweet and said, "Mike Birbiglia favorited your tweet!"  No way.  Now, I realize that favoriting a tweet is just a super quick way of acknowledging your fans, but... Mike Birbiglia favorited my tweet.
Actual screenshot :)
Of course this is not as exciting as when MB posted a picture on his Facebook of Sam holding a poster he had signed in Omaha while wearing the shirt he got in Indiana, but still... (Hmmm, can you tell I'm a stalker fan?)
So thank you, Mike (I can call you, Mike now, right? After all, we are twitter friends), for the great dream.
And since my heart is so happy, Pearson Math Grade 5 Focus Skills for Topics 1 through 6, here, just because!


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Why I Hate/Love Twitter and Unit 6 Reading Focus Wall

I hate Twitter.  I know, I know... it's the best way to make contacts and find resources in the PLC and edtech world.  I get that.  But, in the last month or so, someone has hacked my Twitter account twice and sent inappropriate messages in my name.  So, be warned Twitter, you're on my list (okay, now I know they're scared!).  ;)  And my sincere apologies to those who received unfortunate messages *NOT* from me.

Anyway, on to bigger and better (?) things.  I have finished my Unit 6 Titles and Questions, as well as the Selection Vocab and Amazing Words.  If you're interested, you can find them here and here, and Unit 6 Focus Wall posters here.  As always, let me know about any errors, and I will do my best to correct and repost them.

(Side note:  If you're wondering why I did Unit 6 after Unit 1... Well I picked the next book off of the shelf, assuming it was Unit 2...)

School starts for teachers in just two days.  Today I have to meet with other grade level curriculum writers to plan our Friday presentation.  Isn't funny that you can talk to rooms full of kids day in and day out, but one tiny presentation to a group of adults makes you nervous?  Crazy.

And even better... I opened up my class list this morning and saw my new friends, and a few old friends as well!  I taught first grade as recently as two years ago, and saw some familiar names and faces on my class list.  How lucky am I to get them twice????  Seriously, these are some great kids!  Looking forward to Monday's Back to School Night more than ever (hope they are too!)!