Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hundredth Day Hunger Challenge

One of the teachers at my school is helping organize a canned food drive in conjunction with the hundredth day of school.  After the winter holidays, there is a dramatic decline in the food donations to food banks.  This is way to help the situation and also integrate math.  I've seen lots of ways to keep track of the number of the canned goods each grade or class donates but I like the visual idea of each students coloring a can/box for each can/box they donate.  He is trying to expand the project so I wanted to pass the idea to all the wonderful teachers in blogland.  He's a great guy so don't hesitate to contact him for more information on the project.  It would be great to see the difference the project can make across schools, counties, and states.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful for You

Today I had the students write about something they are thankful for and why.  During share time, I normally randomly choose 5 students and then let 2 other students volunteer.  Unfortunately, one boy did not get to share his writing so of course he HAD to show me right then.  (This is what's wrong with our transitions!).  I was kind of short with him and then I read what he wrote.  He was thankful for ....me! (I'll post his work when I get a chance.) I tend to get the cards on my birthday and Christmas and Teacher's Appreciation day.  I get the cards when I've given them a guilt trip about their poor choices.  But it was just a nice to be included among the stories of parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, etc.  It got me thinking.  How often do I tell my students that I'm thankful for them?  Now warning...I'm not a poet or a writer, but I wrote a poem to share with my students tomorrow telling them that I am thankful for them as well.  Even through all the hard moments they really do give me a lot.  They are the reason I teach!

Thankful for You

In case I don’t tell you enough
I am thankful for you.

I am thankful that you make me laugh
and thankful that you care
I am thankful that you try your best
and thankful that you’re fair.

I am thankful when you drive me crazy.
I am thankful when you share your woes.
I am thankful when you share your stories.
I am thankful when you don’t step on my toes.

I am thankful for your watchful eyes,
listening ears,
still hands,
and open minds.

I am thankful for your deep thoughts,
crazy comments,
silly dances,
and loving hugs.

You are my kids, my school family,
and I am thankful for you.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Xtra Math

When I taught 5th grade I wanted to know why my students weren't fluent with their multiplication facts, when I taught 4th grade I wanted to know my students weren't fluent with their multiplication facts, and now that I teach 3rd grade...I see why.  Where is the time??  Not only do I have to ensure fluency of the newly exposed multiplication facts but I have to go back and teach them their addition facts.  The students can't figure out 8 x 2 because most of them don't even know 8 + 8.  A couple weeks back I read a post on Kleinspiration about this free online resource - Xtra Math.  I decided to give it a try.  I set up my class. Logged onto Xtra math on my classroom computers.  Showed my students the already created how-to video and then they got rolling.  They LOVE it!!  First they take a placement test, then they practice, practice, practice and repeat.  When the program determines they have mastered the facts, they move onto more challenging facts or the next operation - addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  Students are all moving forward at their own pace...differentiation!! All my students don't get to it everyday.  Sometimes it is just 1 or 2 students during the morning or as an anchor activity in math.  But, they are starting to sign up at home which is doubling this practice time - just 3-5 minutes per session. When a students finishes in the class they are to go and tap the next student on the list....I have to pull students from getting on when I'm teaching.  "But my name is on the computer" they argue.  I guess that is one thing I don't mind arguing over...
..more time practicing math :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Veteran's Day

When I was in college I fell in love with a boy who I had known for quite a few years.  Unfortunately, we didn't end up together in the end (long, unnecessary story at this point) but my feelings never went away. He was in the army and was deployed twice.  He passed away June 23, 2008. 
Since that time I have found it very difficult to do lessons and activities with my students on Memorial Day and Veteran's Day. So I've just moved past those days like they were just another day off school, but they are so much more. Last year my wonderful co-teacher taught the lessons but I was still able to be in the room.  This year I'm going for it. My lessons are written and copies are made for tomorrow's Veteran's Day lessons.  The students I teach (8 years old) only know a country at war.  It is important that they understand how brave these soldiers, how proud we should be of them, and how we should always remember and never forget them. 
I pulled all my lesson and activities for tomorrow from somewhere online and now I'm pulling together some great Veteran's Day activities from some of my favorite blogs that I follow to share with you. Make sure to check out their resources and great blogs!

Veteran's Day Choice Board from ashleigh's education journey
Veteran Acrostic Poem from Cooperative Learning 365

 Veteran's Day Bubble Map from Ginger Snaps

Co-Teaching in the Inclusion Classroom

Last year I began working on my master's degree in Special Education.  I'm doing it through Western Governor's University.  I was skeptical of an all online university but I researched it, looked at the program, etc and it's legit.  Things have been going great.  There are 6 month semesters which is great for teachers who need to work on classes over the summer or winter break.  As well, the classes are competency based meaning you don't have to take it for a certain length of time, just prove your competency of the objectives through either objective or performance based assessments.  So that's my plug for WGU...now for the reason for my post.
In my most recent course, I developed a unit on co-teaching.  For the past 3 years, I have worked closely with a special education teacher in my classroom and we had things down to an art.  I really saw the benefits of inclusion for special education students.  Now, we did not have things perfect as there is always room to grow but we had some things right.  So for my last course I did research on developing a professional development unit for co-teaching pairs.  It focuses on what co-teaching is and how to implement it in the classroom.  If you're interested in implementing a co-teaching approach in your classroom, this is definitely something you should check out.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mr. Pinocchio Is Back At It

Mr. Pinocchio is back at his ways - not that the lying ever stopped.  Since my last post honoring my gifted (yep...truly labeled AIG) student, the lying hasn't really stopped but I've been trying to give him the benefit of the doubt.  His mother doesn't want him to get a bad reputation and doesn't want him blamed for things that he truly didn't do (others are always putting the unwarranted blame on him of course).  So of course he didn't tell another student to Suck his p#^!$ so that stuff comes out.   Of course he wasn't following a girl around the room.  Of course he wasn't saying inappropriate things about his crush. Of course he wasn't talking in line or during silent lunch.  Of course he wasn't playing around in the bathroom.  Of course! Of course! Of course!
I'm a teacher....not a saint...and I couldn't take anymore.  So today during indoor recess when he was accused of using the Scrabble Slam letters (which I use to think was a great game) to spell words such as butt, poop, and b!&@%...I really did want to give him the benefit of the doubt.  There was another boy involved who also doesn't make good choices (already suspended twice this year) and they were blaming it on each other.  The other one MADE them do it.  One sweet boy ...who never does anything wrong...got involved and I felt bad for him.  I called all 4 boys (Mr. Pinocchio, Mr. Bad Choices, Mr. Good Choice, and the Tattle Tale) all into the hallway to call an administrator and discuss their poor choices and lack of taking responsibility for their actions.  But then a boy on my carpet said one of the saddest things..."So you probably just want us to sit quietly on the carpet and wait?"  OMG....this had happened so often they knew what I expected...that was not okay.  I let the 15 students not involved go next door to a co-teacher who was teaching the same mini-lesson and I marched my 4 special boys to the office.  I've held it together pretty well recently - not letting my students' poor choices get to me...but I had had it.  I let a few tears slip once in the office but I dropped them off and my wonderful admin got to the bottom of it.  Mr. Poor Choice owned up to his choices and was quickly sent back to class because telling the truth is often more important than the actual choices. Mr. Good Choice wrote a letter about staying out of bad situations.  The Tattle Tale came back quite proud of himself.  AND YES...IMAGINE IT...Mr. Pinocchio lied. Luckily  the masterful principal was able to find the truth though.

When will kids learn that telling the truth will often get them out of trouble faster and with less consequences than lying??!