Sunday, July 31, 2011

Matt Damon Loves Teachers


So I'm on the bus leaving DC when I see a post on Google Reader.  Matt Damon and a bunch of others were in DC championing for teachers and schools.  My friend even asked if I wanted to head over to the White House to see it.  Not knowing about the march, I asked, "Is it still white?" and we moved onto the next DC site seeing activity. I Heart Teaching Elementary posted the link to Matt Damon's speech.  Reading his speech gave me warm fuzzies and reminds me that I am making a difference.  Make sure to read it...

Matt Damon's Speech To Teachers

Monday, July 25, 2011

Finally here...

So I wake up this morning like a 5 year old on Christmas Day.  It has been quite some time since I woke up before the dog begged to go out.  I took Bailey out and got ready for the day.  I loaded the car (it rained last night) with everything from the apt. that had to be moved to the new class.  Then I sat.  I was waiting for my friend with a larger the school wouldn't even be opened yet.  So I finished Daily 5 and watched some news.  Finally it was time to go see my new room.
I pull out of the parking lot and I don't even make it a block before I realize....I have a flat tire.  I pulled into the coffee place near me and proceeded to jump up in down and about kick the that was gonna fix it!  Luckily, a very nice guy set down his coffee and offered his help.  I was so greatful!!  However, that still meant it had to be can't really lug around a bunch of boxes back and forth on a mini-tire. So after shelling out way too much and waiting 1 hour 1/2, I had new balanced and rotated tires and I was ready to move in.
The building is gorgeous!  There are exposed pipes in the ceiling - red for hot water, blue for cold.  The ceiling of the media center has giant tinker toys and a huge skylight w/ remote control shade.  The floors have overlapping boxes of blue, yellow, and orange.  The classrooms all have a wall that is brightly painted one of the key colors and the cabinets are all purple or green.  I had new materials - textbooks (not sure how I feel about these!), 6 tables, a horseshoe table, TONS of math manipulatives, pocket charts, sentence strips, and things were still piling in!

Of course in public education there is a lot of paperwork so I began by signing in for the day and taking inventory of ALL the new materials - even trashcans!  Then the cars got unloaded and we headed back to the old school for 2 more trips. I need a beverage, Advil, and sleep! A "THANKS" goes out to the helpful trio who helped me move today!!  Now I'm just stuck with tons of overwhelming boxes.  Hopefully, tomorrow I'll learn to purge!

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Tomorrow is moving day.  It will be sad to leave the only school I have taught at.  I have many great memories with my students and if I think about all students have touched my heart then I'll start tearing up.  I know the memories will always be with me and the students are only right around the corner and hopefully they will keep in touch.  I will miss my colleagues and teammates who I have worked so closely with.  They have helped form me into the teacher I am today. Luckily, most are not too far away!  I now look forward.  Forward to a new building, new curriculum, new projects, new students, new policies, and a new team.  Some of these things terrify me, make me nervous, and I loose sleep over them.  But....if the team is willing to have their pictures taken with masks that they created then you know we're off to a good start :-)

...Chrissy, I'll teach you how to make a mask so I can add your picture!!

Arts Integration and Math

Friday was my second day of summer PD.  We met again with 2 ladies from the Southeast Center for Arts Integration.  The best part about it was that we got to meet in our grade level teams and discuss practical applications of what we were doing.  How would we bring it into our 3rd grade class?  Remember...we have not worked together before so it was also a great chance to get to know each other a little better as well.  Using a game we had learned the day before...we planned a way to incorporate creative movement with number sense - comparing and ordering numbers.
Comparing Numbers using Creative Movement

TLW compare and order numbers through 9,999.
TLW represent numbers visually.
TLW explore various levels in space.

1. Teach arts concepts.  One of the keys to arts integration is teaching specific art concepts and principles. 
Students will be given numbers as a class to represent as a specific shape.  What would 2 look like? Have students Think, Pair, Share.  They must also explain WHYWhat would 333 look like? Think, Pair, Share.  How is it different from 2? Why?
Students will be given numbers as a class to represent at different levels in space. Introduce high level, medium level, low level....and all the levels in between. Where would 5 be? Think, Pair, Share. Why? Where would 9,000 be? Think, Pair, Share. How is it different from 5? Why?

2. Apply arts concepts to math concept review.  Numbers are different in shape and level, but also in value.  Some numbers are bigger and some numbers are smaller. 
Give students a number written on an index card.  These can be in a certain range (ex. 600-700).  Students will move around the room while the music is playing.  Follow the expectations of the control game.  When the music stops, they must pair up with a partner and create a comparison of the 2 numbers using shape or level.  (To begin with I wouldn't give them a choice...students must use shape or must use level).  Then tap a few pairs to hold their comparison and allow the other students to relax.  Have the few chosen pairs explain their comparison.  Make sure to discuss that some numbers are closer together and some are further apart and the comparison should show this.  All students relax and begin again.  This time students must pair with a new student.

Variations: When given the index card, students must write the number out in different notations before beginning (expanded, word, using base 10 blocks).  While students are moving to the music, they can move like their number (big steps vs small steps, etc).  When pairs are sharing their comparison, 1 student hides their index card and the class must guess the number based on the comparison created.

3. Exit Slip - Have students respond to the exercise in their notebooks or on a slip to turn in.  What did you learn?  What did you find challenging? How would you compare numbers ____ and ____?

Friday, July 22, 2011

I Will Survive! Linky Party

Karla over at Life in Special Education is having a linky party to share some of the crazy things that happen to teachers while offering advice to new teachers.  Make sure to head over to her site and link up.

My first year teaching was 5th grade math and science.  In NC, 5th grade science teachers are the lucky ones who get to teach the first round of Human Growth and Development.  I was at a brand new school and there was no plan for what to do - who was to teach it? me or the PE teacher? bring in a speaker? take a field trip?  I was a first year teacher and had not been trained to do this (UNC failed me on this in the School of Ed).  I knew if left up to me I would slip up and use some unallowed slang language for body I would stutter and turn BRIGHT red.   Luckily we brought in a speaker from the health department.  She's a great lady.  The science teacher (aka ME) got to supervise.  We split up the boys and the girls and had two days of lessons.  The lessons were complete with students repeating names of body parts, watching videos, 3D models, and LOTS of uncomfortable glances back at me.

After the lessons, I had a young boy come up to me and said "Have you seen that episode of Seinfield about shrinkage?" Immediately I begin to tense up...OMG!  All I could muster was "Ummm.." "Well isn't that what we learned about when the testicles shrink up closer to the body?" "Umm...yes you're right.  Good connection. Have a seat." Whew...crisis adverted!

Leave it up to the same young man to go to the bathroom in the middle of state standardized tests at the end of year and come back with a tick "down there."  Luckily his mom was in the building proctoring and got to handle this.  He was always full of laughs!  When he graduated from the school this year (school is grades 4-8) he asked if I remembered when he got to dress up and act like me. Of course I did...
Here he is pretending to be his amazing teacher. :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

So much more than your standard professional development...

Today was day 1 of summer PD with the Southeast Center for Arts Integration.  It was so much more than sitting and listening to professionals in the area talk on integration.  I met my colleagues, shared ideas on collaboration, danced, played "Freeze" and "Control."  I practiced keeping a steady beat.  I played a bucket drum with sticks made from newspaper.  I made music.  I hope that I can take many of these ideas into my classroom.  Maybe I will, maybe I won't.  But what I do know is that I am beginning to get my mind on art and ready for the new school year.

These activities would be a great addition to any curriculum and would easily fit into Morning Meeting...
Noodle Train
Resources: Noodles cut into halves or piece per participant
Goal: In teams of 8-10 (for adults....I would suggest 5-7 for students), you must stand in a line with your noodle on your belly button and the person in front of you's back.  You may not put your hands on your noodle.  As a team, you must walk 10 steps (for adults...modify for younger students).  If a noodle falls, you get to start all over :)

Name Game - incorporates bodily-kinesthetic, visual, and linguistic MI's
1. Student says his/her name and a movement. Other students in circle watch and listen.
2. Other students repeat the name (possibly with "Hi ___") and repeat the student's movement.

Variation: Instead of students saying their name, what they say might have a curricular tie: verbs, compound words, words that start with "st-", rhyming words, character traits, etc.

Control/Freeze Game
Rules: If you make a sound with your voice (either accidentally or on purpose), you sit down. If you touch someone else or any furniture or wall, you sit down.  If you move when the music stops, you sit down.
When the music plays, move.  When the music stops, you freeze.
*It is important to model what "freezing" looks like.  You must have a point of focus and stare at it the whole time.
Students can move in many different ways and as the choose :) They can walk slowly, faster, sideways, backwards, beside someone.  Students can saunter, hurry, mosey, swagger, lope (didn't know this word till today!), limp, strut, drag, slitter, pound, push, slink, wiggle, bounce, etc.
When studying word choice, you can have students demonstrate shades of meaning (tip toe to stomp, jog to sprint). Students can move as their favorite animal and then freeze.  Then have one student interview a frozen animal. (You could focus it on only animals from a certain biome.)  If you're studying the swamp, have students move and freeze like their walking through swampy mud, surrounded by mosquitoes, etc.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Good Spellers Poster

Throughout the year teachers instruct on countless spelling patterns and rules.  This a great poster that can be posted at your word work station or put in your students' word work folder.  It has the top 5 reminders for Good Spellers.  Don't wait till you have taught all the rules.  Go ahead and give your students some exposure!  I might also keep a poster above my desk because I have never been a great speller and I feel that I need reminding of the rules from time to time as well :)

Reminders for Good Spellers