Saturday, January 18, 2014

The One with the Fraction Tournament

Sometimes our plans for the week don't turn out like we planned.  We have to move to Plan B.  That is what happened to me this week with my sixth graders.

They had a quiz on Thursday wrapping up our study on adding & subtracting fractions.  The plan was for them to work on Accelerated Math on Friday and be ready for something new on Monday.  If you aren't familiar with Accelerated math it is all done on the computer and is a self paced program.  We use it as an intervention tool at my school.

But then I received a message saying that we needed to avoid using chromebooks in our classrooms until after lunch.  It was interferring with some testing that was going on in the mornings.  Of course I have one sixth grade class before lunch so I needed a Plan B for that one class.

I wanted a way for them to get just a little more practice with fractions but I wanted it to be fun and enjoyable. 

I printed off a single elimination bracket for 22 teams since I had 22 students.

I used my popsicle sticks to randomly place students on the bracket.

I didn't tell them we were doing this.  After they finished their bell work Friday I simply projected the bracket onto the board using my Elmo.  

Oh how the excitement grew immediately!

I pulled up a worksheet on my laptop from to use for the questions.

Two students at a time would go to the board and race to finish a problem correctly.  The students who were not racing at the time were expected to be working the problem on paper at their desk.

The kids loved it!  And I was amazed!

Students who I didn't think were getting the concept of adding and subtracting fractions were advancing on the bracket.  It's amazing what a little competition can do.  

Normally we would not have had time to make it all the way to a winner but thanks to the testing going on I had this class a little longer than usual which allowed us to finish our competition.

I made the winner a sash out of construction paper.  Hers says Miss Fractions.  She made a big deal of prancing around and waving.  It was too cute. 

Then he wanted one.  So his says Mr. Fractions Runner Up.

They pretty much wore them all day.  

It was fun Friday review!

Monday, January 13, 2014

The One with the Sub Binder

What does it feel like to be in the classroom teaching?  I've almost forgotten.

Between bad weather, appointments, and field trips I was in the classroom a total of two days last week.  This week isn't much better.  Today I had the opportunity to serve on an interviewing committee.  I have to be out again on Thursday.

We all know it is easier to just be at school than it is to miss and have to write sub plans.  Why are sub plans such a pain?  

Our district has some fantastic subs.  But even with the very best of substitutes, there is truly no replacement for us being in the classroom.

We know our students - their needs, their struggles, their strengths.  They need us.  And I don't know about you but I need them.  I miss my students.  It's been almost a week since I was able to be in the classroom with them helping them be successful in Math.  I am excited to get back in there with them tomorrow.  We are going to master adding and subtracting fraction over the next two days.  

I believe we need to do everything we can to help our sub be successful in our classrooms when we have to be out.

Don't get me wrong.  I've been guilty of leaving those skeletal lesson plans and praying the sub comes out alive at the end of the day.

I've done it more than once.

But I try to leave everything my sub might need to not just get through the day, but to have a good day.

Last year I purchased a Sub Binder on TPT.  I LOVE it!  Of course it helps that it has an owl & chevron theme - two of my favorite things.  

I plan to make my own next year - only because I'm going to have a new theme (already planning that).

If you don't have a sub binder I recommend that you create one.  It can makes things so much easier for both you and your sub.

Here is the information that I keep in my binder.

1.  Thank you letter.  I want my sub to know that I appreciate them filling in for me.  
2. Table of Contents - Don't make them search for the seating chart or roster.
3. Contact Info - Who can see for help?  
4. Daily Schedule
5. Rosters for each class
6. Seating Charts
7. Class Expectations 
8. Lesson Plans
9. Materials - Supplies for both the sub and for the students.  I have a toolbox on my desk that makes it easy for my sub to find a pen.  
10. Procedures - Everything from attendance & lunch count to using the restroom & lining up.
11. Student Info - Who can be trusted to run an errand?  Who has allergies? Who needs modifications?
12. Forms - Attendance slips, behavior slips, and anything else a sub might need.
13. Maps 
14. Dismissal
15. Notes - A place for the sub to leave me a note
16. Emergency Situations
17. Emergency Sub Plans - for those days you wake up too sick to write sub plans

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The One with the Interview

The school district I work for is looking to hire a new 4th grade math & science teacher to start immediately.  Today my principal asked me to serve on the interviewing committee as one of the math experts.

I have never been on that side of the table before.  I'm a little excited and a little nervous all at the same time.  I think it will be a good experience for me to have.

I am supposed to come prepared with my own questions to ask the different candidates.  

I know what I think makes a good teacher, but I'm not sure how to work that into interview questions.

So I'm curious.  If you had the opportunity to serve on an interviewing committee what is the one questions you would want to ask the candidates?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The One Where I Return

Only a few more hours left of Christmas break.

I return to school tomorrow.

There are years where I miss my students and can't wait to get back.

I have to say this isn't one of them.

I know that sounds horrible.

I enjoy my job, but I have been LOVING the break.

Sleeping in every day.  Staying in my PJs all day if I want.  Time with family & friends.

It's been a blast.

But I must return to reality tomorrow.

Made harder by the fact that it is going to be 5 degrees tomorrow morning, extremely windy, and I have car duty.


I made new seating charts before I left.  The desks are labeled so students will know where to sit.

The board is labeled with the date and the agenda.

Papers are copied and ready to go.

I know that 5AM alarm isn't going to be fun.

But I suspect a good day is ahead.

Even though I'd rather sleep in and stay in my PJs all day.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The One in January

Can I start with an old cliche?

Can you believe we started a new year today?  


The school year is half over.

It's insane.

I still have lots of work today before returning to work Monday.  I'm hoping the motivation to do this will hit me soon.  Or at least before Sunday. 

But in the mean time, let's have a little fun with a Currently.