Monday, December 12, 2011

The One With The Countdown!

Six Days! Then it's Christmas Break. I'm ready. I've been counting down since the Monday we returned from Thanksgiving Break.

I enjoy my job and I have a great group of kids this year, but I'm ready for a break. Time to recuperate and re-energize. I need some time to work up some amazing lesson plans.

When do you get out for Christmas Break? Are you ready?

I just need to survive reviewing and giving semester test and then it is time to sleep in and scrapbook all day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The One With the Giveaway

I love a good giveway. Don't you? I'm assuming you answered yes, which is good because there is a great one going on over at A Teacher's Treasure.

She is giving away a $20 giftcard to amazon. How great is that? I'm already dreaming of the great books I would purchase if I were lucky enough to win.

So get out of here. Go check it out and enter to win.

The One With FACEing Math

Last year I was able to attend the National Math Conference in New Orleans. The ladies I went with and I had a blast. It was a fun weekend.

Besides having lots of fun, I came back with lots of ideas for my classroom. One of the things I found that has been a big hit with my students is FACEing Math.

Each worksheet comes with around 25 problems and a blank face template. The students work the question choose the correct answer. Each question has two possible choices. The right choice obviously and then the second choice is one they would get if they made a common mistake. The correct answer then tells them what to draw on the face. For example, if you get A draw three freckles. If you get B draw five freckles.

There are a ton of faces to choose from. There are also animals which are lots of fun. They have one book that is blank so you can make your own questions. That means you could use them for any subject.

My students love these. Even in 7th grade, they still love it when I hang their work on the wall.

It was definitely worth whatever I spent. I can't remember, but I know it was reasonable. I strongly recommend you check out their site and see for your self.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The One With Edmodo

Have you ever heard of dmodo? It's basically facebook for the classroom. My students love it. I love that I have complete control over everything that goes on.

You create an account as a teacher and then set up different groups. I have one group for my Math classes and one group for my Science classes. Some teachers create their groups based on class periods. Students must have your group code to create an account and join your group. This lets you approve everyone who joins your group. Once they've joined, they no longer need the code, which you can change at any time.

A few of my favorite Edmodo features:

Calendar: I can post our day to day activity on the calendar. Both students and parents have access this. It really cuts down on all of those questions about what is going on. They just check the calendar.

Library: I can load files to the library which allows students to access them at any time. There is no more "I lost that". They just print it off from the library.

Assignments: Students can complete and turn in assignments online. They love this.

This year we have primarily used Edmodo to incorporate literacy into the math classroom. I've given my students a new online game to play for the past three weeks. They written paragraphs giving their opinion on the game, made Venn diagrams comparing two games, and much more.

Though I really like edmodo, I feel like I haven't been using it to its full potential. Do any of you use edmodo? How do you use it? I'd appreciate any and all ideas.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The One With the Award

I am absolutely touched beyond words that I received a blog award.

Confession: It's my very first.

I started this blog to reflect on the school year and keep a running of list of things that worked and that I liked as well as things that I should never try again. I never dreamed I would write anything that others would care to read about.

Jena from Caught in the Middle awarded me the Sunshine Award.

Thank you Jena.

Here are the rules for accepting this award:
1. Thank the person who gave this award and write a post about it.
2. Answer the following questions below.
3. And pass the award to 10~12 fabulous bloggers, link their blogs and let them know you awarded them.

The Questions:

1. Favorite Color: Pink
2. Favorite Animal: Owl
3. Favorite Number: 3
4. Favorite Drink:Sweet Tea
5. Facebook or Twitter: Facebook
6. Your Passion: My family
7. Giving or Getting Presents: Both
8. Favorite Day: Sunday

If you are reading this, I would love to offer you this award. Leave a comment letting me know you are accepting the award. I want to make sure and visit your blog.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The One With Pinterest

I thought I'd share a few ideas I found on pinterest for the classroom.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Kim @ Joy in 6th Grade

I got your request for the blockus worksheet, but I don't have your email. Tried with no luck to leave a comment on your blog. Will you please leave a comment with your email address or email it to me. Thanks!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The One With Homecoming Day One

It is Homecoming week. I think I love the festivities as much now as I did when I was in high school.

For the past few years it has been my job to help choose the dress up days. I handed it over this year. I am not disappointed in the days chosen.

Monday was my favorite day of the year. Get up and Go Day. I get to wear my pajamas to school! Yay!!!

Of course, I don't really get up and go. I have to apply some make up and brush my hair. :)

Tuesday - Duct Tape Day

Wednesday - Cowboy and Indians Day

Thursday - Baby or Nerd Day

Friday - Red & Black Day

What are you wearing to work?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The One With The Wardrobe

The husband and I went shopping last weekend because I felt like I need to extend my wardrobe. It ended up being a disastrous shopping trip, but I did walk away with a new dress from New York and Company. I decided to wear it to school on Monday. Comments were coming my way all day. I hardly ever wear dresses to school. I love dresses and skirts but find it hard to find any that are professional. I wanted to take my picture to remember this rare occasion. That turned into taking picture every day so I could share with you.

Not that you care. I just thought it would be fun. So, here are my outfits from last week.

Monday I wore my new dress. Like I said it is from New York and Company. I got it on sale for $30. My earrings are from Forever 21 and the shoes are from Payless.

We had a field trip on Tuesday, so I was shooting for comfort. My khakis are from Gap Outlet and the shirt is from Old Navy. My shoes are Bobs, Skecher's version of Toms.

Today's outfit comes from Banana Outlet and Gap Outlet. I did quite a bit of school clothes shopping on vacation this year. The t-shirt and cardigan are from Banana. My pants are from Gap and are sooo comfortable. Payless is again the source for shoes. I just can't bring myself to pay a lot for shoes, so I shop at Payless a lot.

I went to bootcamp Wednesday night and was very sore Thursday morning. Therefore, this look was about convenience and comfort. And school spirit of course. My jacket is from Old Navy. I had a friend embroider the cardinal and my name on it. My gray pants are from the Tommy Hilfiger Outlet. Shoes are Toms.

We get to wear jeans on Friday with a school shirt. That pretty much sums it up.

This week is Homecoming week so I will be "dressing up" each day. I plan to share those daily. If I can figure out how to do it, I'm post a linky each day. I would love for you to link up and share your outfits either daily or at the end of the week. I know you won't be dressing up, but that's okay. I'm always curious what other teachers wear.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The One With The Book Recommendations

I found this idea on pinterest. Whipped up my own poster tonight. Hoping the kids go for it. I think I will let my artistic students make the next poster when this one is all full.

The One With Writing and Numbers

I'm still here. Life has been crazy busy. I can't seem to put together a post about what has been going on in my classroom.

In uploading some new things to my TPT store, I realized that I never blogged about an activity that I did in math at the beginning of the year. I must say that I really enjoyed this assignment. I came up with the idea while doing a top ten list on my personal blog.

Students write a short essay about themselves using numbers. I put in requirements such as having three numbers that were not whole numbers. They had to include a number greater than one hundred and a number less than one.

It really required them to be creative. I wrote an example about myself to give them. It is things like converting your height to centimeters instead of feet or inches. It gets them a larger number and gives them practice converting.

All numbers must be written as words which can be challenging for some of them.

I loved reading about my students and getting to know them. It was also an easy way to incorporate literacy into my math class.

This assignment is now for sale in my TPT store. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The One With the Homework Menu

Thursday...7th grade away football game that night and students are asking me for math homework, saying it's fun.

How did I do it? I gave them the power to choose their homework. I almost feel like I tricked my students into liking math when my real goal was differentiation.

I used to hate that word. Did they really expect me to make 28 different lesson plans for my 28 very different students? Yes. To some extent, they did.

Awhile back I heard about this great way to differentiate with homework. I've been meaning to try it and finally pulled it out of my bag of tricks last week.

The idea is that you give the students several homework problems, assigning a point value to each problem. For example you give them 40 problems. 1-10 are the easiest so they are worth 2 points each. 11 - 20 are worth 3 points each. 21 - 30 are 4 points and 31-40 being the hardest are worth 5 points each.

I then tell my students how many points they have to collect. The first time I did this students had to collect 35 points and I gave bonus up to 45 if they went over. I won't do the bonus every time, but I was also trying to help their grades a little.

The other thing I told my students was that I was counting how many points they earned not how many points they miss. So if they did 40 points worth of problems and one of those was a 5 pointer that they missed, they could still make a 100 % because they had 35 points.

I really hope all this makes sense. I struggle to explain what we are doing. Don't hesitate to ask if you are unsure what I'm talking about. :)

I'm thrilled to tell you that I had more students turn in homework than ever before. The majority of them did well over the 35 point minimum.

They absolutely loved it and begged to have more homework the very next day.

And all I was doing was differentiating. The idea is that your advance students can be challenged by the harder problems and not have to work as many. Your weaker students will do the easy ones, but that means they have to do more problems getting the practice they need.

I may never do homework any other way. Try it and let me know how it works for you.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The One With the T-Shirts

Have you ever given one of those assignments and thought, "This will suffice."? That is exactly where I found myself a few weeks ago. We were studying plants and comparing the different parts of a plant to the human reproductive system. Oh the joys of teaching 7th grade Science. One of the things I'm supposed to do is help my students dissect a flower.

Confession: In my 5 years of teaching science, I've only done this once before this year. Oops! Plants just aren't my thing. I know that's no reason to completely skip a framework, but hey I figured one skipped framework wasn't THAT big of a deal.

This year though, I was determined. I was going to teach those kids plants like they were my favorite thing, like I live for plants! I had to come up with two different lab activities to do with my students. Day one consisted of going to the computer lab to virtually dissect a plant. Can I just say virtual dissections ROCK! We did that on this website. It worked out great! I created an easy how to worksheet with a few questions for my students to work through. The site says this particular lab was designed for 9-10 year olds, but it worked great with my 7th graders. You can find my handout on this lab in my TPT store.

So that lab went great, but I had no idea what I was going to do for Day 2. I was scouring the Internet for ideas at the last minute.

*Sidenote - please tell me I'm not the only procrastinating teacher!

In the back of my mind was this idea I had come across on another blog. I loved the idea of using t-shirts. Then it hit me!!

My students designed a plant tee! This has definitely become one of my favorite assignments. It's in the bank for future use. They had to draw a flower and label 11 different parts that I listed for them. Their shirt had to be completely colored.

When they saw the name of the lab on the board as they walked in, they all thought they were getting real t-shirts. Disappointment filled my classroom when they realized it was a paper shirt. They were all claiming they would have worn them to school if they had been real. HA! I admit I was a little disappointment too....until I saw the end result. I just don't think they would have been this beautiful if we had used real shirts.

While they were working I took their pictures. We cut out their t-shirts (a template I found online), attached their heads and they are now adorning our hallway walls.

I wasn't real sure how much to zoom on the pictures so some t-shirts have BIG heads and some have really little heads. The kids just think this is hilarious. It added to our love of the assignment.

Every teacher that has walked by my room has oohed and awed over the shirts. I wanted to share a few of my favorites with you. It was hard to pick. I'd love to show you all ninety-something shirts, but I'll spare you. :)

I apolagize for the poor picture quality.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The One With Blokus

I attended a workshop today on enhancing my current lesson plans in math with the new common core standards. At one point during this workshop we played the board game Blokus and talked about ways to use this in our classroom.

I had never played this game until today, but let me tell you I'm in love with this game. I want it for my own personal use as well as my classroom.

It is a strategy game. One that will make you think. It requires a bit of problem-solving skills.

This game is designed for four players. Each player has 21 game pieces. Each person's first game piece has to be placed in his or her corner. You then take turns playing a new piece each turn. Your pieces cannot touch sides, vertices only. Right there is some Math vocabulary. The goal is to be the first person to use all your pieces...if you can do that. GOOD LUCK!

When you get to the point where no one can play, you tally up your score. Each unit square is worth -1. The person with the highest score wins. There are also a couple of ways to earn some bonus point.

We received a handout for the students to work on after they've had a chance to play the game. This handout covers several concepts: integers, percents, ordering numbers, and several more.

A couple of questions that are on the handout...

* For your color game piece only, what percent of game pieces were you not able to play? How did you figure the percent?

* What is the ratio of all unused game pieces to all used game pieces for your group? Put that in a sentence.

* Compare your score with the scores of your team mates. Place these numbers on the number line below:

*What is the distance between the lowest and highest scores? Justify your answer.

The game can also be used for symmetry, transformations, rotation, etc...

 I can't take credit for because I received at a workshop. I believe she got it from a magazine. You can download this activity for free in my TPT store.

Have you ever played this game? Have you used it in your classroom? How have you used it?

Friday, September 23, 2011

The One With The Hug

I teach 7th grade Math. To say that my class isn't the most coveted place to be would be a huge understatement. I always hated math as a student so I try to make it as fun and enjoyable as math can be.

With that being said I had a rough meeting with a parent earlier this week. I was told that my teaching style is all wrong for her child.

Though I'm not naive enough to believe that every student and parent will love me, I am a pretty well liked teacher. Students enjoy my class and that is part of the reason I love teaching. It's never easy to hear when a student or parent doesn't feel that way.

After my rough day I had several people praying for me. God definitely answered those prayers. Thursday I had a moment that every teacher dreams of having.

I have a student who really struggles with math. He has to participate in remediation every year because of benchmark scores. He typically has a bad attitude because math just doesn't come easy to him. He never seems to be on task and I feel like I'm constantly asking him to get busy.

Thursday it was like he was a totally different kid. The students were doing some practice on adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing integers. WITHOUT CALCULATORS! They thought I was the meanest teacher EVER! Long division with only pencil and paper! How dare I?!?

This student worked so hard and was on task the entire 55 minutes. He asked for help occasionally, but never once whined or made statements like "I can't do this." He doesn't know his multiplication facts so instead of multiplying 35 by 6, he was adding 35 six times. He wasn't taking any shortcuts. He did every problem the longest way possible and still managed to have a great attitude.

It was one of those moments when as a teacher I wanted to cry because I was so proud. A few minutes before the end of class I told him to go to the office and pick out a candy bar. I was treating him because of his hard work.

When the bell rang, he gave me a big hug and thanked me for helping him and the candy bar. WOW!! That is why I teach! It made the rotten days previous to this one all melted away.

I love for moments like that! I emailed his dad to brag on him. That's the kind of emails I enjoy sending.

Thanks to all those who prayed for me.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The One With TPT

I did it. I finally opened a store at TPT. It seems a little weird to think that someone might pay for something that I made. But you all have been so kind in showing interested to the things I have shared here on the blog.

So far the only things in the store are the Ordering Integers and M&M Observations that I posted about previously. Hopefully as the school year goes on my store will grow.

We shall see. If you would like to visit the store click here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The One With the Reading War

Have you seen one of those bulletin boards with a map of the United States that says "Reading Will Take You Places"? Maybe you have even had one in your room. I have one in my room for the first time this year.

Our school is all about encouraging literacy. At first thought I would just put the bulletin board up in my room and be done with it. The idea grew from there. Students tend to be motivated by competition. I decided to declare war on the 8th grade.

We are having a competition to see which grade can read a book from all fifty states first. It is going really well. Our students are constantly coming to me and letting me know where their book took place.

It's great!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The One With The Ordered Integers

This is only my second year to teach math, a subject that I would dare say is my weakest area. I learned a lot last year and am still learning this year.

So when I come up with something all on my own for math, I'm pretty proud of myself.

This idea hit me last night as I was planning at the last minute before I went to bed. Anyone else do that?

We started comparing and ordering integers Friday. The students did a quick six problem assignment at the end of class. That assignment showed me they were struggling with ordering negative numbers.

I knew I needed to hit that again today before we could start ordering decimals, fractions, and mixed numbers. I wanted something hands-on. I hate the typical paper and pencil stuff. Sure it has its place, but if I can make it hands-on and a little more entertaining, that's what I prefer.

I made a cut & paste worksheet last night. It has six sets of integers. Students had to cut them out and glue them on a second sheet of paper in order from least to greatest. Easy enough.

They seem to really grasp the idea today. We worked on a number line before this cutting & pasting. I think that really helped.

I really thought this would be a twenty minute activity that we could do as a review before moving on. Nope! I had no idea 7th graders would struggle so much with cutting and pasting. I guess struggle is the right word. They were just slow! It ended up taking all class period in three out of my four math classes. But hey, if the got the concept I'm okay with it.

I'm thinking I might start a store on, but until then it's free for whoever would like a copy. Just leave me a comment if you are interested and I email you.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The One With The Five Minute Game

Several years ago I heard about this game at a workshop. I've kept it tucked away in the back of my brain and have used it a few times. My math classes played it yesterday so I thought I would share it with you.

Though I'm not 100% sure, I think the game is called Round Table. That is what I remember, but like I said, I learned about it several years ago. I have desk this year instead of tables, so we called it Straight Line. Original right? The kids thought it was funny.

This game can be played with any subject matter. I've played it in history before as well. Each row or table is a team. The only materials you need are a piece of paper, pencil for each student, and a stopwatch or clock with a second hand. The paper starts with the person at the front of the row. You present the teams with a question that has several answers. For example, yesterday they had to list multiples of 6. The first person writes down an answer and then passes it to the person behind him. They do this until it gets to the last person in the row. This is where I thought having rows was more fun than tables. The last person then runs it back to the first person.

Don't worry I had them put all their stuff at the front of the room so that aisles were clear.

The rules:
*No talking.
*No heping each other.
*You must write an answer before you can pass to the next person.
*You cannot change some one's answer.

The team with the most correct answers at the end of the set time (I usually give them one minute) is the winner.

Like I said, this game can be played with any subject. Here are a few more ideas off the top of my head.

Math: Multiples, Factors, Two #s that have a sum or difference of ?

Science: Elements from the periodic table, Bones, Muscles, Organs

English: Adverbs, Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives, Prepositions

History: States, Capitals, Presidents

The ideas really are endless. It's great for the first or last few minutes of class. I would love to hear other questions that can be used in this game.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The One With M&M's.

Observations are very important in Science. We make them all time. One of the things I do at the beginning of each year is to help my students become aware of the observations they make throughout every day.

A favorite lab activity that I like to start each year with is M&M Observations. Students work in pairs for this activity. Depending on your class size, you could have students do this individually as well.

Each pair is given a petri dish and is asked to choose two different colored M&M's. This is part of the reason I like to allow students to work in pairs for this particular activity. They can each choose a color.

At this point, we state the question for today's activity. What will happen when we place two different colored M&M in water? Students write down their predictions as I walk around and fill their petri dishes with water.

Students are then instructed to inspect their M&M's to make sure there is a M on each one...or at least something, doesn't have to be the complete the M. If there is nothing there, I replace their M&M.

They then place the two M&M's M side up in opposite sides of the petri dish. All that is left at this point is to wait and watch. I ask students to draw with colored pencils what they are observing. We then talk about what happened and how different colors act differently. One of our favorite observations is that the M comes off and most often floats in the water. That is a big discussion. What in the world is that M made of? I let them make their guesses, but I never tell them. I have only had one student guess correctly in all the times I've done this activity. Their homework for the evening is to research what the M is made of.

I'll go ahead and tell's wax.

It's a fun little activity. If you would like a copy of my lab sheet for this activity, email me and I will be happy to email you a copy.

The One With Teacher Talk

I'm linking up again today with Blog Hoppin' for Teacher Week. Today we are sharing advice for the new teachers out there. I'm not a new teacher, but even I have read some great new advice today. I think others have shared the advice that I have, but I'll go ahead and throw it out there anyway.

Organization...It's key! And in my opinion, it is a hard one. Check out this post about how I keep up with conversations/contact I have with my parents throughout the year.

One of the things I have found that help me keep up with student papers is to keep folders. I have two folders for every class. One folder is marked To Be Graded and the other folder is marked Graded. It helps me keep papers separate and makes returning papers much easier.

Make Friends... Make friends with your coworkers. Adult interaction is needed throughout the day. Everyone knows liking your coworkers makes any job better. Besides, you never know when you might need a favor.

Communication...Don't work in secrecy. Let people know what you are doing. This especially applies to parents. I have found that sending out weekly emails is a great way to do this. It doesn't take me five minutes to sit down on Monday and let parents know what we have going that week. Sure I have to stay ahead with lesson plans, but we should be doing that anyway.

Family First...There will be days when your to do list is a mile long. Sometimes you have to put it to the side and just enjoy life. Don't neglect your family so that you can grade papers. Those papers can wait. It's okay if you don't make it through your to do list. Some days you don't. Most days I don't. It will still be there tomorrow.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The One Where You Meet the Teacher

This week I am participating in Teacher Week over at Blog Hoppin'. I'm excited to meet some other blogging teachers.

Tell us a little something about you...
My name is Mrs. Weaver, but only my students call me that. To everyone else I'm Elaina. I'm married to my best friend. The husband is absolute the best!! We will be celebrating 8 years in January.

We have two furbabies. They are the loves of our lives. For right now they are the only children we have.

Teaching is what God has called me to do. I've wanted to teach ever since I can remember. I loved playing school as a little girl. My stuffed animals made for excellent students.

All my life I thought I wanted to teach 4th grade because I loved that particular grade so much. I had my favorite teacher that year. I also thought I wanted to teach English or History. God had other things in mind. I teach 7th grade Math and Science. I LOVE it! I wouldn't want to be teaching anything else.

How long have you been teaching...

This year is my 6th year teaching. I taught at a small private school right out of college. I taught a combination class of 7th and 8th grade with a total of 7 students. It was an easy first gig, but not what I went to college to do. The other years have all been spent at my current school. I could not have asked for a better school, a better principal, or better coworkers. I love my job!

You might not know... Math is not my first love. Nor is it my second, third, or fourth love. I'm not a math person at all. I was very hesitant about teaching math. It is definitely not my strongest area. Despite that I enjoy teaching math. It's a challenge and I like that.

What are you looking most forward to this year? Last year was a very long and hard year for many reasons. I started my 2nd week of school today. I am loving this year. I have a great group. This year I am team teaching Science with a sweet lady. You can read more about that in this post.

What do you need to improve? I want to work on time management this year. I want to stay on top of my game and not be doing things last minute. I'm only a week into school and already feel behind. I've got some work to do if I'm going to get organized and on top of things.

What teaching supplies can you NOT live without? There are several things that I could not live without. I love my colorful pens. They are great for grading or writing notes. I'm loving my new iPad2. I think it's going to be a great resource this year. I love my mimio. It is down right now and I'm dying to use it. Great coworkers are a must too!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The One With Assigned Seats

School started yesterday. I'm two days in and absolutely loving it. This year's group is great! I'm really excited about the school year.

Late Sunday night, I realized that I didn't have a easy way to assign seats Monday. I like to set the tone by giving them an assigned seat right off the bat. Since I don't really know them yet, I do a random selection.

I fell back on an old trick I picked up from another teacher a couple of years ago. I'm told it is one of Harry Wong's great idea. I stopped by Wal-Mart on my way to school Monday morning and bought two decks of cards. At $1 each, this only cost me $2 and a few minutes of time.

When I got to school I opened one deck and taped one card to each deck in my classroom. I opened the other deck and removed the cards that matched those taped to my desk. As students walked in, I handed them one of the cards. They found their match and that was their seat. For example if a student received the ace of diamonds, he or she sat in the desk that had the other ace of diamonds taped to it.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

The One With The Parent Contact Folder

Tomorrow is the big day! School officially starts tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM. I have to say that I'm really looking forward to this year.

I wanted to share with you a little organization tip that I learned from my mentor teacher my first year of teaching. It has to do with parents. I don't know about you, but I am constantly in contact with my students' parents. It happens in many different ways, anything from email to a quick conversation at the grocery store. There is no way the parents or I could remember all the conversations we've had throughout the year.

To help me remember the conversations, I keep a parent contact binder.

Each student has his or her own page in the binder. They are organized alphabetically by last name.

Whenever I have any contact with a parent, I make a quick note of it in the binder on that student's page. If it is an email, I print the email and place it in the binder behind the student's page.

This notebook has saved me a time or two.

There are many other ways to do this exact same thing, but I have found this works well for me.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The One With Team Teaching

Something new is taking place in 7th grade Science this year. It is something that has me giddy with excitement. I will be team teaching with a very sweet coteacher.

The idea was first introduced by our principal and has been revamped several times over the summer. The idea came from my coteacher being new to Science. She is very nervous about it. The original plan was that we would divide the frameworks, each teaching half, and trade students at semester. I was thrilled with this idea. My coteacher, Mrs. C, was as well. She really didn't want to teach life science since it includes reproduction 7th grade.

Over the past few weeks, I've been at a workshop with other science teachers. There were two ladies there who started team teaching last year. They did thinks a little bit different. Their method raised their test scores a little more than 20% and helped with their literacy scores.

That's it. I was sold! I talked to my principal and Mrs. C and we are following in their footsteps this year.

We will be focusing on vocabulary. Let's face it, if a students doesn't know what asexual reproduction is, how can we expect them to answer a test question about it? She will have "her students" (those scheduled in her class) on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. She will have my students on Tuesday and Thursday.

Here is what it will look like... Her students walk into her room Monday morning. There are a list of vocabulary words and definitions on the board. They copy them into their notebook as their bell work. They then talk about those words and do literacy activities to help enforce the definitions.

On Tuesday her students come to my room. They take an open book quiz on those vocab words. The idea isn't to have them memorize 6-8 words the night before, but to get them to see the words over and over. After the quiz, we will do a lab activity that again reinforces those words. Mrs. C. is doing the same thing she did Monday, but with my kids who did this lab on Monday.

They copy down vocab words and quiz in both rooms.

Same idea happens on Wednesday and Thursday, but with a new set of words.

On Friday they take a test on the words and have AR time.

That's the plan in a nutshell. I'm pretty excited about it.

There is a word wall that goes with it as well, but I'll save that for another post.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The One With the iPad2

For the past three years I have been participating in a grant workshop. Our co-op received a grant to study data in middle school science classes. This will be my third and final year. Through this grant program, I have received some really nice things for my classroom.

However, this year has topped the other two years combined. We learned last week that we will all be receiving an iPad2. To say that I'm a bit excited would be a huge understatement.

Now I have the technology I just need to learn some great ways to use it in the classroom. I've been told about the splashtop app which apparently allows me to use my computer via my iPad. I'm loving this. I do not like to be confined to my computer to show things on the projector or with my mimio.

What educational app can you not live without? Any suggestions? Do you have one? How do you use it?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The One With Power Teaching

Have you heard of power teaching aka whole brain teaching? I'm a fan and quickly becoming a bigger fan.

It makes for a high energy classroom as well as a highly engaged classroom. I'm in favor of both of these things.

I used bits and pieces of it a few years ago. The students and I both really loved it. I was a bit surprised at how well it went over with my 7th and 8th grade classes.

This year, I plan to use power teaching as my main source of teaching and classroom management.

Never heard of power teaching? Check out this video from youtube of a 6th grade math teacher using it to teach the order of operations.

You can search you tube and watch videos of it being used in Kindergarten all the way to college classes.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The One Where The Teacher Reads

The middle school where I work is a struggling to raise literacy scores. All teachers are being told to bring literacy into the classroom, regardless of what they teach.

As a math teacher, I'm encouraged to bring literacy into my lessons, but my focus is still on math. We don't want our math scores to drop. However, as a science teacher, I'm looking for every way possible to bring literacy into the classroom. I want to teach science through literacy.

One of the things I'm looking forward to as a reader is that my science classes will spend 20 minutes every Friday reading their AR books. I will of course be modeling this and reading with them. I love to read so I'm excited about this.

I created a whiteboard to hang in my room that will display what I'm currently reading as well as what I just finished reading and what I plan to read next. My hope is to get my students interested in reading and encourage them to pick up a book.

I bought the whiteboard at Wal-Mart. It is 14 X 14. My name is done scrapboook letters. They are made of felt and have an adhesive backing. However, I couldn't get the adhesive to stick to the white board so I ended up hot gluing them on. The black letters are also scrapbook letters. I bought them at Wal-Mart. They are more of a foam material. I didn't have any problem with them sticking to the whiteboard.

I have a little nook with a window in my classroom. I plan to create a little reading area there with a fun rug, chairs, and poms hanging from the ceiling. My reading board will go there. I also plan to create a place for students to write suggestions/summaries of books they believe I should read.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The One With the Background Knowledge

I decided to start a blog to share ideas and reflect on what's going on in Room 228. Let's start with a little background. The 2011/2012 school year will be my sixth year teaching. I spent my first year teaching in a small Christian school. I taught a combination class of 7th and 8th grade. I taught all subjects to seven students. My other four years have all been at my current school. I taught 7th and 8th grade Science for two years, 7th grade Science and History for one year, and now teach 7th grade Science and Math.

Math is not my strongest subject. In fact it is my weakest. It isn't something I ever planned on teaching. But now I've got a year under my belt and am looking forward to doing it again this year.

I love the school I work at. God knew exactly what He was doing when he placed me there. It seems to be a perfect match for me. I see about 90 students a day, though I see half of them twice a day. It's funny that that is a small school to me. I graduated in a class of 38 back in 2001. We were a large class. But where I live now, 90 students per grade level is small.

I believe in hands on teaching that involves today's technology.

That about sums it up. I hope you find something you can use throughout this journey of sharing and reflecting.