Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year Resolutions

A Teacher's Treasure is having a linky party for new year's resolutions. Let me start by saying, I never make resolutions because I rarely keep them and I kind of think it's silly to only make goals for yourself once a year. But, I will eat my words because I do have a few goals that I'd like to try to achieve/ be better at. So here it goes:

1. I'd like to be more consistent with going to church and getting more involved in the church community.
2. I want to incorporate dance and/or yoga into my workout routine. Has anyone heard of the Bar Method? I'm thinking of trying it.
3. Since I'm completely single and not getting any younger, I need to be better at putting myself out there :)

1. I want to become a more effective math teacher by really making sure my kids have a strong understanding of math knowledge and number sense through more practical investigations. I'll be posting more about this soon (if I keep this resolution).

2. I am on the instructional leadership team at my school and have been very frustrated by our lack of progress/ decision making. We have been talking a lot about common core and it seems like all our district (and maybe admin) wants to do is fit what we already do into the common core. I believe we have to change the way we teach (not re-invent the wheel, but be open to new and better ideas) and the way we think about education and what our students should know in order to adopt the common core "correctly" and to help our students be where they need to be in a very competitive world. Soooo with that said, I want to have a more patient and positive attitude and I want to be able to discern when it is my place to speak out and when I should shut up and get on board with what my admin/teachers at my school believe is right even if I disagree. Whew, that was a long one!

3. I want to get more organized - I saw a binder someone in blogland made and I really want to copy that idea for myself. I think it included everything from daily lesson plans to year long scopes and sequences, standards, and guided reading schedules. I'd love to make one for myself to use year after year - and just make the necessary changes as they come.

Cheers to a great 2012! I think it's going to be a great year!!

Font Help!

I just bought a couple new fonts at lettering delights, which I am super excited about, but I can't figure out how to install them so they show up in Power Point or Word. Does anyone know what I am missing?? I have a mac by the way. Any help would be very appreciated!  Happy New Years everyone!

Monday, December 26, 2011

December Class Photos!

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! I am in Florida right now, which is amazing to be in such warm weather compared to chilly Chicago.

Wow the past few weeks flew by! December was busy with Christmas Around the World, Fairy Tales in reading and writing, and an assortment of Christmas activities! Here are a few pics...

Students had to find their match to make a compound word, then they wrote a sentence using their compound word. Here are all of our compound cookies!

Thanks to Christina Bainbridge and all of her cute ideas, we made a bulletin board of Christmas traditions - both our own and from around the world!

We made stockings for kids to bring in small gifts for each other. It was fun to see them so excited to give rather than receive!

 Here are a few pictures of kids working on their fairy tale projects -- these were so cute -- I'll do another post dedicated to just this next week. 

We made gingerbread houses as a tie-in to Christmas around the world and the Gingerbread Man stories. Never have I seen the effect of sugar on children the way I did that day...but it was fun!

 A couple more Christmas Around the World shots...working on our scrapbooks (from Christina Bainbridge). The brown construction paper with the maps are their suitcases where we labeled where we traveled and kept our souvenirs, passports, and scrapbooks.

Enjoy the rest of your well-deserved breaks!!!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Fairy Tale Menu Freebie

Happy Monday everyone! We began our Christmas Around the World unit today, and to go with that I am doing our fairy tale reading and writing units as well. I think they work nicely together because we can make connections from fairy tales to the countries we are visiting. Next week my students will study one fairy tale (and all its many versions) very closely while working on a group project. I created a menu of options (many of which I am modeling this week to get them ready) for the project. I just change the amount of points my students with IEPs need to total to accommodate for their needs. I thought I would share it with you! You can get it here. Please let me know if you like it/ can use it!

Our culminating activity with fairy tales is my favorite - each group acts out/ story-tells their favorite version of their fairy tale (they write scripts, but perform without scripts). Last year, the plays were so cute! I can't wait for this year's!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Reading Response Freebie!!

Has anyone ever read All Pigs Are Beautiful? I love it! This is the second year I have used this book for teaching an "extended response" (yuck). I am not a huge fan of extended response...does every state have them on their state tests? Or is it just Illinois? Don't get me wrong, I think it's super important that kids can articulate thoughts about a text and answer questions about a text in writing, but I have just never seen a way of teaching it that I like. It always seems so contrived and inauthentic to me. So I don't teach my kids "extended response," I just teach my kids how to think about a text and how to write those thoughts in response to a specific question using examples from the text.

So anyway, to get to the point, All Pigs are Beautiful is a great book for this!! First, I read the story on one day just for pure enjoyment - because the book is really cute. When I finished reading the book, I had my kids turn and talk to each other about some of the things they hears about pigs and people being alike. That's it for the first day. We didn't even really share out. The next day, before I reread the story, I told my kids to listen for ways pigs and people are alike. Then I reread the story. We then shared out about seven or eight different ways pigs and people are alike. I then gave them their response form. We have been writing expository paragraphs lately so I briefly reminded them to write a topic sentence and to give examples from the text. I didn't want to bog them down with too many things to think about though so I just let them go for it. I definitely got a range of results, but every student was able to write at least two ways pigs and people are alike. I am hoping as the year goes on (and as I model more) they will become more and more comfortable referring to back to the text, using transition words, and writing conclusion/ wrap-up sentences!