Friday, December 28, 2012

The One On Christmas Break

I hope everyone is enjoying their Christmas break.  I'm guessing mine can only get better.

We had a blizzard on Christmas night.  Here in Arkansas, that means 6-12 inches of snow. HA!


I was without power for two days.  Not fun!

I have a few goals for the break.

The week before Christmas, I inherited around 200 books.  YIPPEE!!  I need to get them entered into my classroom library and covered with contact paper - Basically get them student ready.

I want to work on lesson plans and get at least a month all planned out.

There is a stack of applications that need to be filled out and sent off to principals.   Speaking of that - thank you all so much for the advice and words of encouragement.  



I find myself missing my students.  Do you?  They make me laugh on a daily basis.  7th graders are hilarious!  It's been very quiet here home alone with no electricity.

I also miss my coworkers.  They are truly my friends.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The One With Change

When I interviewed for my current job six years ago my principal told me HG was the kind of school people come to and stay.  

I really believed that was going to be true for me.  I absolutely LOVE my school, my principal, and my co-workers.  

Turns out  - that isn't going to be me. My husband has accepted a new job with a different company.  This new job requires us to move.

Though I am very excited about this move, I do not look forward to leaving my current school.  It has become home and the people have become family over the past six years.

I definitely do not look forward to the interviewing process.  I do at least feel more prepared now than I did when I did this six years ago.  Now I have classroom experience to refer to.

I'm walking into interviews with three great letters of recommendation - one from my principal, one from a coworker, and one from a parent.

I feel fairly prepared, but I'm wondering if any one out there has some advice.  Maybe you interviewed for a new position recently?  Or maybe you have been on the interviewing committee at your school?


Though I have taught all four content areas in the past six years, I have only taught 7th and 8th grade.  I LOVE my 7th graders.  

I've been dreaming of what grade/subject God might lead me to teach at a new school.  Though it would definitely be a totally different world, I think I would like to teach 4th grade. Part of me would love to have the same kids all day.  My mind runs wild with ideas and possibilities.  



Sunday, December 2, 2012

The One In December

Another month is here.  It's December!



That means it is time to link up with Farley for another round of Currently.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The One With Mitosis

I dare say cell division - mitosis and meiosis - might be my least favorite thing to teach in 7th grade Science.  It is such a hard concept for my students to grasp.  I have tried a variety of teaching strategies over the past few years, but it is just a hard concept.  
Plain and simple.

This week when it was time for a mitosis lab, I found myself scouring the Internet yet again, hoping to find something wonderful that would help make it a little easier for my students.

It is especially challenging to teach cell division without the use of microscopes.  The majority of labs that can be found have students look at slides under a microscope.  Unfortunately I do not have the means to do this type of activity with my students.

After a little hunting I found something that quiet honestly felt a little last minute and a lot like settling for something that would get me by.

(Please tell me you have used those "get me by" lessons at least once or twice!)

This is the activity I "settled" for.

I printed this worksheet that the students filled out using their book while we discussed the four phases.  Thankfully our Science books have a great flow chart that does an excellent job summarizing the events of each phase.
After we filled out that sheet together I gave my students the sheet below along with a bright colored piece of copy paper - because you know colored copy paper makes any assignment a bit more enjoyable especially when you allow students to choose their color.




Students wrote Mitosis in the center of their colored paper (landscape) and then glued the cells around the word to create a flow chart.

I forgot to take pictures of the ones my students actually made, but here is the example (answer key) from the link above.


My students enjoyed the colored paper along with cutting and gluing.  Sometimes I forget 7th graders love this as much as 1st graders.

This last minute lesson turned out to be the best thing I've ever done with mitosis.  It shows the cell between stages.  It was such a great visual for my students.

It seemed to really clear things up for several students.

I had them cut all cells out and "play" with them like a puzzle.  They were required to get my okay before gluing anything down.  When they were ready for me to check it we would discuss any mistakes they may have made.  

Light bulb after light bulb went off in my class today.

Love it!!

Thank you to the creator of this little lesson.  It is definitely going in my file for future use.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The One In The Bathroom



It never fails.  If one ask, they will all ask.  It doesn't even matter if you tell the first one no, they will all ask.

You know what I'm talking about.

Synchronized bathroom trips. 

It really doesn't bother me to let students go to the bathroom during class as long as they are doing so at an appropriate time and not in the middle of a discussion.

Unfortunately there is always at least one student, often more than one student, who wants to take advantage of it.  They need to go EVERY SINGLE DAY.  It drives me crazy.

My other pet peeve is when it seems like the entire class needs to go to the bathroom.

So often I hear the excuse that there is not enough time between classes.  My response to this is always "I managed to go downstairs to the bathroom and be back on time.  You can make it."  

I just hate saying no because what if it is truly an emergency?

One of my co-workers has a policy where students are allowed two bathroom passes a semester.  This works great for her.  How in the world she keeps up with it I don't know.  I can't seem to get organized enough to keep track.

What is the answer?  I wish I knew.  

Are you just hardcore and say not all during class?

Do you have a policy that works for you?  If so, please share.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The One With the Award

In the past week I have been nominated by two different bloggers for the Liebster Award.  Talk about humbling.

Thank you Sara and  Michele!  I am truly honored. 

The rules of the award are:
* Post 11 Random Things About Yourself.

     1. I had bunion surgery two years ago.
     2. I get a manicure once a month in order to avoid biting my nails....the nail polish helps. 
     3. I do not drink Coffee and I HATE the smell of Starbucks.
     4. Photography is a hobby I wish could be a second profession for me.
     5. I worked at Sonic for 6+ years before teaching. 
     6. Ten years ago I flipped my car into a tree.  Had I not been wearing a watch, I would have walked away without a scratch.  Unfortunately my watched ripped my arm apart and I ended up needing SEVERAL stitches.
     7. I love to Zumba! Great workout.  Hilarious too!
     8. I once had a nose ring and a belly button ring.
     9. Sometimes I think I want a tattoo.  But I'm a big baby.
     10. I am absolutely TERRIFIED of snakes - As in don't even show me a picture or let one come up on TV.  I will freak out and immediately start crying!
     11. I hate the dentist.  I'd rather go the gynecologist every day of my life than to ever have to go to the dentist.

* Answer the questions the nominator(s) asked you.



Sara asked...

1. Favorite Thanksgiving Food?
My Mommom's Chicken and Dumplings 


2. Best gift you ever received? 

 Tough.  I'm thankful whenever someone thinks of me.  I've received a lot of great gifts in my lifetime.  Probably those gifts from my students that are truly from the heart - things they give to me that belonged to them because they want to show how much they care and can't afford to go to the store to buy something.


3. Favorite scent?

  Cinnamon 

4. If you had to change jobs tomorrow, what would you decide to do? 
 
Photography.

5. What's your porn star name? (Middle name + street you grew up on) 
 Ann Meadow Lake

6. If you had to give up your cell phone or the internet, which one would you choose? 
 Internet

7. Go to the mall or online shop? 
 Go to the Mall

8. Favorite song to sing karoke?
  I would never have the guts to sing karoke, but if I did I think I'd sing I Will Survive.

9. Why do you like blogging?
 It's a great way to share memories and ideas.  I enjoy going back and looking at past posts.  It's funny and I often find things I have completely forgotten about.

10. Are you scared of anything? 
 SNAKES!!!!

11. One blog you visit everyday? 


Michele asked...

1. Favorite Thanksgiving food? 
My Mommom's Chicken & Dumplings


2. Best gift you ever received? 


I started my personal blog as a way to record the memories and events of every day life.  I decided to start a teaching blog because at the time I didn't feel like there were any middle school blogs out there.  I wanted a community for teachers to share ideas with one another.




3. What is your favorite thing to do with your family?

  Anything.  I love spending time with my family.  Honestly my favorite thing to do with the husband is to drive around looking at houses and just exploring & dreaming.



4. Coke or Pepsi?

For as long as I can remember it has been Pepsi.  I switched to Coke Zero last year.



5. Who is your favorite music group?

 Depends on my mood....right now I'm obsessed with Train.  My husband and I saw them for the 2nd time in concert back in September.  I'm ready to see them again.  It was a great show.  So much fun!



6. What would you purchase if you had unlimited budget?
  My personal makeup and hair stylist.  I dream about this every morning when I get ready for work. :)




7. What is your favorite book to share with your students?

 The Lottery



8. What household chore do you like the least?

  All of them!  Ha!  Probably dishes.



9. What professional book or conference changed something about how you teach?

 The Book Whisperer - Loved this!  It made me feel like the way I always dreamed about teaching was a real possibility that could be successful.  



10. What is your favorite color?

 Pink.



11. If you could eat lunch with a famous person, who would it be?

 Karen Kingsbury



* Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.

1. What is the best vacation you have ever had?
2. What is the one teacher supply item you can't teach without?
3. Board Games or Video Games?
4. What time do you start your day?
5. What is your favorite Christmas movie?
6. What is your favorite comfort food?
7. How many different grade/contents have you taught?
8. Artificial or Real Christmas Tree?
9. Favorite Harry Potter character?
10. What is your favorite children's book?
11. Favorite candy?



Sunday, November 11, 2012

The One With ABCs

When I was student teaching (which feels like a lifetime ago) one of the many ideas that I fell in love with was an ABC accordion book made from index cards.

One of the biggest reasons I love this project is because of its potential to be used for so many different things.  If I can take something and use it in more than one content area, I'm a fan.

One of my English classes is working on their first accordion book this week.  They are creating an autobiography.  I supplied them with 27  index cards for the project.  One for the title card and then one for each letter of the alphabet.

I think pictures will make more sense than if I try to describe it.  I apologize for the poor quality of photos.  I took them very quickly with my phone.

This is the example I put together to show my students.

 My A & B


 Several of my letters.  You place the index cards right up against each other and place a piece of tape on the back.  I tried to show this in the picture below.  After you have taped all the cards together, you fold them accordion style so that the title page is on top.  When you let go the rest of the cards "fall" down creating a neat effect.  Students love it!
\

This can be used for so many different things.  Have students create an accordion book about a war or a specific era in history.

It could be about a type of animal for Science.

Vocabulary words in math.

A biography about someone they've studied.

The possibilities are endless.

If you would like to purchase the handout I created for students that goes along with this project go on over to my TPT store and check it out.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The One With No Voice

I was sick with stomach flu Thursday and Friday.  I had a sore throat all weekend and the result was a loss of my voice.  I mean 100% loss of voice.

I woke up this morning not being about to talk at all.
The best I could manage was a very quiet whisper.

I don't know that I have ever been so thankful for technology.

As a means of communicating with my students today, I opened up Microsoft Word on my computer and turned the projector on.  

My students absolutely loved this.  

One of my favorite moments from the day was when a kid told the rest of the class to be quiet and listen.  Haha!  She quickly said "I mean read"

Their favorite moments from the day would probably be when I would type their names to call on them.  They thought this was too funny.

Honestly, they were probably on their best behavior today.  They were so sweet.  A few of them would whisper back to me.  Cracked me up!!

I'm curious.  Have you ever lost your voice?  How did you conduct class?  Or did you stay home?

I'm praying my voice returns tomorrow.  Though I may not let my students know if it does just to keep that good behavior. :)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The One in November

Can you believe it is November already?  Oh my goodness, this year is flying.  Thanksgiving break is just a few weeks off.  CRAZY!!

A new month means a new Currently with Farley.  I find myself looking forward to these each month.

Happy November!


Sunday, October 28, 2012

The One In The Bag

If you are like me, you dread grading those long book reports that students dread writing.  

Surely there are better ways to assess a student's comprehension and understanding of a novel.  

I have come across several alternatives to the old school book report, but one of my favorites is the Bag Report.

My students just finished reading Jerry Spinelli's Loser.  The main character in this story is a little boy affectionately known as Zinkoff.  

I gave each of my students a plain brown lunch bag.


We called them their Zinkoff Bags.  I gave the students the option of decorating the outside of their  bags.  Some did.  Some didn't.  You could easily make that part of the assignment though.

Students were required to place six items in the bag that represented Zinkoff.  At least two of these items had to be    3-D objects.  The other four could be printed pictures, student art work, or anything else they could find.

Students also had to present their bags and items to the class explaining why they chose those items.

I also required them to turn a written explanation of each item.

I created an incredibly simple rubric.  I gave two points for each of the six required items.  Three points for each of the  3-D items and two points for each written explanation. 

Grand total of 25 points.

There were some items that every single student had in their bag and that was okay.

But there were also some very creative and unique items.  It is really neat to see how different students interpreted different parts of the book.

As a teacher, I could really see how much of the book they comprehended and understood.

It was such a fun way to wrap up a book.  Definitely better than listening to countless summaries of the book.    Quicker too. 

What are some creative ways you have your students do "book reports"? 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The One In October

I love Farley's Currently Posts.  Somehow I missed October's.  That just can't be.  So here I am playing along 11 days late.  I hope you'll forgive me.

If you haven't linked up already it's not to late. :)


The One With The Reading Chain

I posted this picture in this tour post.  



The poster in the top right corner with the pink edges is our genre poster.  Each color circle represents a different genre.  For example, dark blue is realistic fiction and yellow is historical fiction.  If you look closely you can see corresponding circles on the spine of the books.

This makes it easy for students to not only find their favorite genres, but it also helps them step out of their comfort zone if they are looking to try a new genre.

As students finish book they pick up a link in those corresponding colors to fill out.  The links are simply strips of construction paper.  I cut them so that they are 8.5" long.

 Students pick up a strip of paper corresponding to the genre of the book they just finished and write their name and the name of the book on the strip.  They then file the strip in a drawer for me.

After several strips have been completed, I create a chain to hang from the ceiling.  The idea is that by the end of the year my ceiling will be covered by a visual representation that my students read.  You can also clearly see 7th grade's favorite genre.  Right now it appears to be Science Fiction.


The chain should be much longer than this already.  I'm behind in putting the links together.  Students love knowing that they are links in the chain.  It builds community in my classroom as work together to build the chain.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The One With The Harry Potter Party

Occasionally I can be very stubborn.  There are a few things in life I refuse to do just to go against the grain.  Reading and watching anything Harry Potter related was one of those things until this school year.

I never really had a reason to not read the books or watch the movies.  I simply didn't want to.  This year I have G in my class. G is a big HP fan and immediately started trying to convince me that I needed to read the books.  I figured since I was challenging my students to step out of their comfort zone when it comes to genres, I probably should too.

I gave in and checked out the first book.  I read it.  I liked it.  I liked it a lot.

I've since read the second one and am planning to read number three soon.  When I received an email from scholastic saying J.K.Rowling was doing a webcast for students my interest was peeked.

It turns out it is this Thursday during my Pre AP English class, which G happens to be in.  Perfect.  I got in touch with our technology person and it looks like we should be able to do this.

The party planning began.  Any excuse for fun snacks.  I went to Pinterest of course and found several cute ideas.

I will be serving these Nimbus 2000s



Along with Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans (thanks to my brother).






We will also have the much needed wands.





Cauldron cakes & petit fours are a must simply because they are so yummy.  I'll post a picture of these soon.



To drink we will be having a special potion that changes colors when poured.  The color will determine your house since the Sorting Hat only works in Hogwarts.


My kids and I are super pumped about this.  I love a good party.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The One That Failed

I don't know about you, but I think posts with pictures are so much better than posts without.  That is my excuse for not posting in awhile.  I get so busy during the day that I simply forget to take pictures.  Does that happen to anyone else?

A lack of pictures keeps me from posting what is happening in my classroom.  Toady I decided to just post anyway.

I did a lab Monday that did not quite go as planned.  Please tell me that has happened to you.  The frustrating part is that it is a lab that I've done for several years and have done successfully for several years.

The question we were testing was "Which brand of dishwasher soap makes the biggest bubbles?" as we practiced collecting data to make bar graphs.

You can find this lab here. I think I've done this lab every year for the past six years.  It has worked beautifully every year.  Students love blowing huge bubbles.  They forget they are learning.

This year it was an absolute flop.  We couldn't get any decent bubbles going.  It was awful.  The students still had fun "playing" and we talked about what should have been.  We were still able to answer some of the questions and talk about the bar graph.  It just wasn't quite as fun.

I was so frustrated.  I have no idea what went wrong this year.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The One In September

I promise I'm still here.  I had no idea the first two weeks of school were going to be so crazy busy.  Between planning, football games, skate nights, and dances, I've barely had time to sleep, let alone blog.

I have three or four blog post saved that need to be finished.  My goal is to get those up this week.  In the mean time, it's a new month.  You know what that means!  Currently with Farley.  Yay!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The One With The Tour

Well.  I have three days of this school year under my belt.  They've been chaotic, but good days.  I think I've got a great group of students again this year.  I'm really excited about getting to share my love of books with them this year.

I procrastinated a bit and didn't get my room finished until Saturday night.  I made sure to take pictures so that I could share with you.

You are hit with owls before you ever walk in the door.

  I made the wreath by hot gluing pompoms onto a Styrofoam wreath.
 The chalkboard owl was bought from www.zulily.com.
The welcome mat is from Lowe's.   

Sorry the pictures are dark.  The lights in our hallway were off as it was late Saturday night.

 This is the view when you walk in the door

 I absolutely love this canvas.  I found it at Kirklands for $20. It was perfect to fill this blank space that I still had left.

 Front of my room - my white board with my own two class rules and my stool painted by my incredibly talented cousin.  My rules are a pinterest find.  I even ended up using the same colors.


 I hate bulletin boards with a passion.  I guess that's a true sign that I'm not an elementary teacher. :)  I prefer to do things that I can use all year.  I am not one to change it out throughout the year.  This year I chose to use it as a place to display our agenda.  The boarder was another pinterest find.


 This is my area.  You can see my teacher toolbox there on the mini fridge.  The pink owl above it is a cork board that I found in the dollar bins at Target.  The blue owl is a picture frame.  Love it!!


 My reading corner.  I gave it an uplift with the purple paint this year.  I love this bit of color.  It really pops in my room.

 The back wall holds my bookshelves.  Each book has a color circle on the spine that lets students know the genre of the book.  The poster outlined in pink is a key for the genres.


 My sweet grandma sewed these little "curtains" to hide computer cables.  I love them!!  


 My reading tree.  You can see some close up pictures of it here


This might be my favorite pinterest find.  It was originally designed to display artist.  I'm using it to display different authors.  It's the one "bulletin board" that I'm excited to change out every month.  The pictures below Mr. Kinney's pictures are his "friends".  I chose to use authors that inspired him as his friends.  The middle is a few facts I found about him.  Some of his books are displayed on the right.  My students absolutely love this aspect of my room.  They are already guessing and requesting future authors.



My photo gallery.  These frames contain different pictures of owls and sayings.  I made the fabric bunting at the top.  There are more curtains.

Notice the saying above the door?  Here is a better picture.


Those letters are fabric that I ironed onto the wall.  Yet another pinterest find that I absolutely love.  You simply iron heatbond onto the back of your fabric and then iron it to the wall.  The possibilities are endless.  My friend and coteacher did a flamingo and a palm tree to iron on her wall.  It's really awesome.


So there you have it.  Thank you for touring my room.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

The One With the Parent Homework

We all have forms and letters that we always send home on the first day of school.  I honestly feel sorry for parents.  That first night of school must be pretty overwhelming for them.  I try to limit the amount of papers I send home on the first day of school.  I do this for a couple of reasons.  One is to help parents out, but the other is to keep it simple for myself.  I'm less likely to forget to have something ready to go that first day if I keep it to a minimum.

The most helpful paper I get from parents all year long is something I send home on the first day of school.  It is a simple form that ask for their name and contact information at the top.  I ask parents to email me if they prefer to be contacted by email.  This cuts down on the time I have to spend typing all their emails into my address book as well as the number of mistakes I might make trying to decipher handwriting.

On the bottom of the form is one open ended question.

"Is there anything I need to know about your child in order to make this a successful year?"

I learn so much from this little question.  By not asking several specific questions, I believe I learn more about the students.  The parents are not confined to certain perimeters.  They can share with me whatever it is they believe I need to know.  I get answers ranging from medical history to family issues.  Sometimes it is as simple as letting me know the child has always been a great student.

I've added this form to my TPT store.  Click here to download it for free.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The One With the Babbling

School starts a week from tomorrow.  If they saw how long my to do list still is, they'd postpone it and give me a couple more days.  It seems like every time I cross something off the list, I think of two more things that need to be added to the list.

Weekends are truly weekends again.  I'm in workshops all day everyday.  I have forgotten how much 6:00AM and I don't get a long.  I'm much happier with 9:00AM.

My goal is to finish my room Monday and Tuesday so that I can finalize lesson plans Wednesday and Thursday.  I don't have any workshops Friday so I plan to enjoy a three day weekend before school starts.

At least the important things have been done.

Hair Highlighted - Check
Manicure - Check
Pedicure - Check

Now I just need to decide on my "First Day" outfit.  Sometimes I think this is harder as a teacher than it ever was as a student. HA!


Friday, August 3, 2012

The One In August

Linking up with Farley again this month for another Currently... I love reading what everyone has to say each month.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

The One With Preparation

I have 100 followers.  I never could have dreamed there would be that many people who cared about what I do in my classroom.  I'm humbled and honored beyond words.  I started this blog as a way to reflect for myself.  I thought it would be a great place to record what was going on in my classroom where I could go back and look to see what worked or didn't work.  I'm glad some of you have found something you like and can enjoy with your students.

Tomorrow is my first back to school workshop.  Though I knew it would, I can't believe how quickly this summer has gone by.  I feel like it has been a good one.  I've relaxed and had plenty of down time, but at the same time I've accomplished quite a bit for my classroom.

The past couple of days I have been preparing lab activities for Science.  It's pretty easy since we are doing the same set up as we did last year with students switching classes between my co-teacher and myself.  It seemed to work really well.  We doubled our test scores.  You can read more about what we did here.

Preparing is as simple as going back and deciding which lab activities I want to keep and which ones I want to toss.  I'm trying some new activities this year that I'm really excited about.  When it comes to searching for lab activities, there are two sites that are my go-to sites.  I don't know what I would do without them.  I'm sure you've known about them for years, but maybe you are new to the world of teaching science and you are lost the way I was several years ago.

The first site is www.science-class.net. and the second one is sciencespot.net.  They both have tons of lab activities and are organized by subject.  If you haven't already I encourage you to check them out.  You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The One With the Husband's Idea

Back on my Currently in July post I mentioned that I was working on a little project that my sweet husband designed.  Several of you were very curious as to what great idea my husband had given me.

I'm finally ready to share it with you.  I got it put up in my classroom yesterday.  

We purchased a new patio set at the end of June.  A round table that came packaged with a perfectly round piece of cardboard.  The husband immediately thought I could make something out of it so it remained in our living room for a few days while I pondered the possibilities.  

I finally decided I wanted it to be a tree.  One of those perfectly round whimsical trees.  The husband immediately googled pictures and we started playing around with ideas.  This picture was my favorite.


That's when my husband got the great idea to print book covers and cut them out in circles to put on the tree.  Genius!!  Love that man.

So the project began. Here is my reading tree.


A close up of the book titles. 


The trunk is made of cardboard as well.  I cut it from the box that our table came in and then covered it with brown duct tape.  

I absolutely love it, but it doesn't quite fill the space like I had hoped.  So here's what I'm thinking.  Blue clouds around it with quotes from books.  Whatcha think?