Thursday, December 6, 2012

December Currently


Sorry for the delay!  Back in late October, we studied the election process.  We did a whole bunch of 'Election Task Cards'.  We were able to combine learning facts about our government with everyday writing, reading, and language arts skills.  I completely forgot to take pictures of the packet (oops!).  Some of the activities included finding the main idea of short passages, using conjunctions to combine sentences, correct the errors in sentences, compare and contrast the candidates, etc....  Of course, everything was all election/government related.  I LOVE when I can integrate subjects!  Sneaking those social studies facts into our regular literacy block!

After we spent some time on our packets, we moved on to the learning about the Electoral College.  I found this idea on Pinterest.  We had a Coke and Pepsi election!  First, we read the book Grace for President.   (Side note- as I just went to enter pictures, I discovered that I deleted them!  Uggh!  I meant to delete the Matter pictures.  I fail!  Sorry!)  Then we learned about the Electoral College.  Which states have how many, why we use it, how many votes are needed to win, etc....    Then, each student was assigned 2 states.  Their vote counted for their assigned state's electoral votes.  In other words, lucky California!  And sorry if you drew Wyoming, Alaska, etc...!  The kids then took a top secret taste test and voted for their favorite.  The figured out their 'top secret drinks' were Coke and Pepsi.  (VERY small amounts, I must add!)   After they chose their favorite, they plugged their vote into an interactive electoral college map. 

And the winner was............... PEPSI!!!  I was very surprised! 

We also did a 'blind' election earlier in our unit.  I compiled a list of facts about each candidate found in one of the Scholastic News issues.  I left the candidates name off of them, and the kids had to vote for either Candidate A or B.  They chose A.  A was..... our current president, Barack Obama!

We also learned about campaigning and propaganda.  We watched some vintage campaign videos (Vote for Ike!), and looked at past campaign posters.  After that, they had to develop their own campaign posters.  The turned out really good!  Then I put them into a 3-D bulletin board. 

I used T-pins to make the bulletin board three dimensional.  Another Pinterest idea!
And, since this was in the hallway, I wanted to make sure it wasn't damaged....

Sorry again for the lack of pictures!  I can't believe I did that.  *sigh*

Keep checking back for more posts!

Status of the Class

We are officially half way through the second quarter!  I can't believe how fast November flew by!
I have at least 4-5 different classroom 'events' that I need to blog about.  Keep checking back- my goal is to do at LEAST one by Sunday!  If only I could blog while driving- I'd have everything up-to-date all the time!

I do want to address a few issues in our classroom.
The biggest issue by far is missing work!  I have never had as many missing assignments as I currently do.  PLEASE check your child's agenda daily- I make note of missing assignments.  The only exception to that is if they are missing their Reading Log.
Currently, we have:
41 missing assignments in Math
22 missing assignments in Language Arts
63 missing assignments in Reading (most are reading logs)
4 missing assignments in Social Studies
16 missing assignments in Science

I would say roughly 20% of that is make-up work that I never received.  I just don't understand the other 80%.  Except in extremely rare cases, the kids work on all of their assignments in class.  So I know they have part of it done!  Yet they never turn in the partial assignments.  A partial assignment is better than no assignment!!!

So, I am BEGGING- please, please, please help me by checking your child's agenda for notes and making sure the work gets turned in!  Out of 135 grades (5 grades x 27 kiddos), only 5 are F's with no missing assignments.  And they are all in the 67-69 range which means they are so close!  That is pretty typical compared to previous years for me.  The problem I am currently having is the fact that I have a number of students who are failing due to missing work.  Which is why I am asking for your help!

Another thing regarding progress reports/grades- Per the Rowan-Salisbury School System's policy, grades are weighted.  55% is classwork, 10% is homework, and 35% are assessments/projects.  This means that a bad test can pretty much kill their grade.  Right now, I have only given 1 test in reading, 1 in math, and 2 in science.  I hate that 35% of their grade is based on ONE test.  As a solution, I am going to work in more quizzes.   I'm hoping this will take the pressure off of the cumulative unit tests, and it will also be a more accurate reflection of their ability.

Coming up:
Math- fractions, fractions, and more fractions!
Science- the transfer of heat

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Matter Matters!

Hi all!  Sorry that I (we!) have been MIA.  I assigned the role of guest blogger to a student, and it is taking much longer than I anticipated to get things together.  I haven't wanted to step on any little toes, so I've taken a step back.  However, we've had a lot going on in the last two weeks, so I decided to post! (My guest blogger should be writing to cover the first two weeks of October.)  This is going to cause things to be presented out of sequence, so I apologize for any future confusion :)

Anyway.... A status of the classroom, if you will.  Testing is 100% complete!  WAHOO!!!  This means I have been moving into a more hands-on environment within our classroom.  This is BY FAR my preferred method of teaching!  (I just wish there were enough hours in the day for me to plan/create lessons so the entire day way hands on, but I am only one person.  Bummer.)  While testing, the kids had to work on things independently (and quietly) so I could complete the assessments.  But testing is over for now!

Recently, we have been working on the States of Matter!  I introduced the concept with an inquiry lesson.  Is shaving cream a liquid, solid, or gas?  I gave each pair of students a sheet to organize the scientific method/process. I shamelessly stole borrowed it from somewhere.  I can't remember where and I cut off the bottom.  I will update later to give the owner credit.

After I walked them through the beginning of the scientific method, I let each pair of students develop their own plan for testing the shaving cream.  Here are some of the pictures:
Some kids put their shaving cream in a cup, some poked it with their finger, some held the plate upside down, some put it in direct sunlight, some put it in a Ziploc bag, some put it in the refrigerator, etc... You get the idea.  After their experiment, they had to go back and write their conclusion!

Also, we created a Matter Foldable with Cheerios.  I completely forgot to take pictures while they were doing it, but here are a few finished products:
The Cheerios represent the particles.  They had to explain the properties of each state, and give a few examples as well!  

We also created Matter Books, but they are not done yet.  More on them later!

Coming up in the classroom:
-Election/Government (I have a GREAT lesson planned for the Electoral College!  I am SUPER excited!)
-Human Body Systems
-Multiplication of Decimals

Our Halloween party will be on Wednesday afternoon (beginning around 2:15 or so).  Our first field trip will be Thursday.  We are going to the Waterworks Visual Arts Center in Salisbury.  We have an author coming to visit on Friday.  No school on November 5 and 6!

Oh- Class Dojo has been acting very buggy.  I have been emailing them hoping to come up with a solution.  (Their solution is to use Google Chrome.  I can't download it on any of our school equipment.  So, I am kind of at a standstill.)  I will be going back to the punch card for at least next week.  I apologize for all of the flip-flopping around!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Class Dojo & an apology

Sorry for the absence!  We are in the middle of our beginning of the year benchmarking window.  I have been spending every spare second in the classroom benchmarking the kiddos!  These tests take between 45-120 minutes PER CHILD!!!  Needless to say, I have been super busy!  In turn, I have to take all work home to plan and grade, and.... well..... the blog has been put on the back burner.  I'm hoping to be all caught up next week.  I'm also sorry for the turn around delay in Thursday folders. 

Anyway, Class Dojo is up and running!  This is my first time using it, so please be patient while the kinks get worked out.  Here is an Idaho teacher's video that show the program:

Right now, I am requiring the kids to get at least 50% positive per week.  My students are required to get a parent signature when they get below 50%.  Also, Parents, please send me your email addresses!  This way I can email the report directly to you.  It is easier to see in color.

Coming up:
Wordly Wise 2 Test on Thursday
Science Test next week

P.S.- Great news!  They fixed my laptop today!!   YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Starting to get it together....

This year has started off pretty rough.  It may not look that way to everyone (at least I think that I am faking it!), but it has.  I use technology A LOT.  A LOT, A LOT, A LOT, A LOT.  My laptop is still out of commission.  My iPad had to be sent back to Apple because the problem is internal.  This means I cannot use my projector and ActivBoard.  EEK!!!!  This is how I teach!  I am going crazy without it!  The good news is that they finally have my desktops and printers up and working.  Baby steps I guess!  Now I have a new problem- I am supposed to begin assessing the class in reading fluency and comprehension.  Well, guess what!  The program we use is computer based.  *Bangs head against the wall*  Sigh.  I do have the desktops, but they would be very awkward to use.  I will stop rambling about my technology woes now.

In other news, I am starting to check a few things off my to-do list.  Remember one of the pictures I posted of our first day?  Well, I have finally had time to drag a ladder in the classroom and hang them up!  First, they turned out super cute.  The kids were quite creative.

Now, this is what they look like up on the wall!  I put them off center because I planned on hanging something else to the right of them, but it was too tall.  So now it is bugging me that it is off center, but I am so not taking them all down and starting over!  I am terrified of heights, and doing this once was bad enough!  I had plans to make them all turned a different direction (because I have symmetry issues and I knew I could never hang them all straight and evenly spaced), but my need to get off the ladder ASAP ruined that idea! 

I'm pretty sure I mentioned before that I am a blog stalker.  The idea is not mine!  I found a 5th grade blog via Pinterest, and I stole found the idea there!  


Monday, September 3, 2012

September Currently

I had to take a break from school stuff and do something fun!  Here is my September Currently!  Please note that my text boxes are MUCH better aligned.   It is a minor improvement, but it IS an improvement ;)

Coming up... Week 2!

I hope everyone has had a restful long weekend!  We did a ton of things last week that allowed me to gather data and other information.  I am still reviewing it all, and I hope to share it with you all soon!  In the mean time, I wanted to let you all know what is coming up this week. 

Enhancements start this week.   Mondays will be Music, so we will see Mrs. Shue for the first time next week.  Tuesdays will be Art.  We have a new art teacher this year.  I deleted my email that had her name (oops), so I will share that later. (Sorry!!)  Wednesdays will be P.E. with Mrs. Earnhardt, so make sure to wear tennis shoes!

Our school benchmarking will happen this week.  This determines who needs to be placed into RtI, and also who needs some enrichment. 

Finally, we have a few tests coming up this week.  Thursday will be the Science test over chapter B1.  It was only two lessons about cycles.  They need to know the Nitrogen Cycle, Carbon Dioxide-Oxygen Cycle, and the Water Cycle.    Friday will be our Wordly Wise Lesson 1 test, as well as our Math test.  The math test will include place value and exponents.

Until next time,

Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day

Happy first day of school!  I woke up early, got to school early, and then it all went down hill.  Rapidly.  I needed two sheets of paper laminated.... The laminator was broken!  Then, my laptop wouldn't work.  Neither would my iPad.  Somewhere in the fray, I lost my back-to-school rules and procedures checklist due to the technical difficulties!  Once I discovered that, I ran to the desktop computer and found a generic one.  (We may have to revisit rules and procedures again tomorrow, because I am sure I left something out!)  Then, I plugged my laptop in (I only needed a pages document), and the projector projected everything blue!  I was frustrated and decided that I would just use my phone to project the Class Dojo introduction video.  My adapter was missing.  I had to borrow another teacher's.  Needless to say, it was a rocky start!!!

Once the technology component of our day was done (poorly because you can't see much off of my phone), we moved into some basic things.  First, I had the kids decorate their names.  These will be displayed on the back wall once they are all finished.  They turned out GREAT and I can't wait to hang them and get a picture of them all!  In the mean time....

Then, we decided to define some expectations.  Here is our paraphrased chart of everyone's job:

Finally, we set the ground rules for behavior, expectation, and what our classroom needs to look like/sound like.  I will compile the answers to the questions and post about it later.  But here are a few pictures:

 What you don't see is all the learning style surveys I made the kids fill out.  We are going to be big on data this year, and we are laying the foundation.  (I'm sure they found it terribly boring, but it helps me assess our needs.) 

Overall, I think it was a pretty good first day.  It went buy super fast and I am E-X-H-A-U-S-T-E-D!  I can't wait for tomorrow when we get into routines!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Snacks and Water (Oops!)

I COMPLETELY forgot to type something about snacks and water bottles in my information packet.  I AM SO SORRY!!!!  Since our lunch is at 10:55, students may bring a healthy snack to eat in the afternoon.  Also, students are permitted to bring bottles of WATER to school.
Again, I am sorry for the oversight!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Our classroom

Setting up my classroom typically consists of tweaking things from the previous year.  I spend maybe two half-days on it.  Not this year!!! This summer all of the classrooms in the main building were tiled.  (We did have carpet.)  We had to pack up our entire classroom for this project.  It ran a little way over schedule, so we were not able to get into our classrooms until mid-August.  I am normally DONE with my classroom by that time!!  Panic set in!  I called in a few former students to help me.  When I walked in, this is what I had.

Things Piled in random places. (And writing still on my white board!)

More things in random places.  Hello heavy (and full) filing cabinet!

I have no words for this!  Some of this stuff didn't even belong in my room!

I wish I had taken a close picture of all the boxes piled in the back.  The mountain is in the backpack nook behind all the furniture.   Honestly, I was terrified of it!

After several hours of hard work by me and my helpers, it began taking shape.  Here are a few pictures of the end of Day 1:

I did spend a few more days working before I was satisfied.  I have only taught science and social studies for the last few years, so I had to do some changing to turn my classroom back into a traditional one.  I THOUGHT I was done with my classroom, but I had a few ideas over the weekend.  So I will be changing a couple of things.  But here is the (almost) finished project:

The computer area still needed a little work.  Mrs. Ungerer and I fixed it up after this picture was taken.

I put these polka dots around the backpack nook.  I found them at Dollar Tree and three packages did the trick!  They are hiding peeled off paint!

Alright.  Enough of the general classroom pictures.  Here are a few specific things in our classroom that we will be using this year.

This is our book check out system for our classroom library.  I somehow got a bit crooked and my OCD is going nuts over it.  Anyway, the kids will write the title of the book they are borrowing on their card.  I am trying this for the first time this year.  I have 'lost' an average of 50 books a year in the past, so I am trying to prevent that!  
This is our Boggle board.  I will be changing the letters out every other week or so.  It is a great literacy activity for students to do when they finish their work early.  Notice that my squares are MUCH straighter on this bulletin board than the book check out one?  Well, I was stapling instead of gluing.  Plus, I had an INGENIOUS epiphany while trying to figure out how to keep the squares straight without help from anyone.
I tacked a yard stick to the bulletin board! This kept them straight and evenly spaced!  I have no idea why it took me 6 years to figure this out!
I measured from the top of the bulletin board, pushed in a tack, measured the other side, pushed in another tack, and hung up the yard stick.  SOOOO easy!!!
Poker chips with numbers on them....  I thought about having y'all guess what these are for.  However, I don't think I have enough people reading the blog yet to actually get the answer in a timely manner ;)  They are bathroom chips!  Every day each student will receive two bathroom chips.  They can use the bathroom at any time that I am not teaching the entire class.  This ensures me that kids aren't spending too much time in the bathroom (and missing instructional time as a result).  I have used this method before, and I finally got smart realized that if I put clear fingernail polish over the numbers, they won't wear off mid year!

Check back soon to see our classroom in action.  And all that blank space on the back wall?  We will be working on filling it up on Monday!  Oh, and sorry for the semi-blurry iPhone pictures.  I was too impatient to wait for it to focus....
See you soon!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Welcome Back/Important Information

Welcome back to school!  I am so excited about this school year!

Please check back soon for some updates about our classroom, policies, and procedures.  In the mean time, here is some information you will need.

Required Supply List

  • Backpack
  • Paper
  • Composition/Spiral Notebooks (at least 2 to start the year off)
  • Pencils
  • Folders
  • Pencil Pouch
  • Baby Wipes
  • Kleenex

Classroom Needs/Wish List:

  • Cardstock- any color
  • Printer Paper
  • Colored Printer Paper
  • Gallon sized Ziploc Bags
  • Colored Pencils for student use
  • Dry erase markers for student use (preferably the thin ones)
  • Sidewalk Chalk
  • Index Cards

Saturday, August 11, 2012


I just wanted to say that if you are looking for tips to work on skills at home, blogs are GREAT resources.  I have spent most of my summer 'blog stalking'.  Many things on Pinterest are pinned from blogs.  I am so excited to try out some of the ideas I stole found this summer!

 Also.... A fourth grade teacher (and blogger) created these "Currently" posters.  I figure that I would fill them out so that you can get to know me a little better.

Here goes!   Currently...

So apparently I need to work on centering my text boxes better.  Lesson learned!
Anyway, I can't wait to meet you!