Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fourteen in 14

I can't believe it is almost 2015.  That means the school year is halfway over.  What?  Right now is the perfect time to reflect on 2014.  Join the linky party with Hadar, Kristin, and Traci to share the highlights of your 2014.

I love my job!
Recently I have been adding scarves to my wardrobe.  I love the chevron, stripes, and glimmer on this scarf.  So festive!  Thank you to a teacher friend for this Christmas gift.
To be honest I do not go to the movies often.  This year I remember seeing 22 Jump Street, Dumb and Dumber To and Horrible Bosses 2.  They were pretty funny!
Parenthood is my favorite television series.  I started watching it last summer and quickly became hooked.  Unfortunately this is the last season with only a few episodes left.  Here's to hoping Julia and Joel reconcile.
Mellow Mushroom!

Great pizza!
 This summer I took the plunge and finally created my teaching blog, The Positive Teacher.  I love the collaboration and feedback.  It has been a fun journey so far.  Thank you to all of my supporters!
I am fortunate to have incredible parent support.  The room parents organized a class gift for me that I will never forget.
  It's what money can't buy that leaves an impression on our heart.  In this case it is watching my students grow and realizing I impacted each of them.  
{I did not take a picture of each flower since they have student's pictures on them}
It is impossible for me to pick 1 pin from this year.  Instead I chose my favorite holiday pin.  A student made this for me and I was able to find it on Pinterest.  Now I can't wait to make it for family and friends.
Recipe HERE
I am part of #compelledtribe where we are given topics to blog about.  Recently I blogged about What Inspires Me?  Read that post HERE

Finishing my K-12 Reading Endorsement.  

In June I traveled to Chicago to spend time with 2 of my best friends.  You know how it is post graduation… tough to find the time to see all of your friends in one place.  I cherish the moments when we are able to be together.
Any opportunity I had to see my college friends:
-Chicago trip in June
-One of my sorority sisters re locating back to Ohio.  Love being an hour away instead of 12.
-White Elephant/Christmas party with my college roommates (all of us are elementary teachers)

Another favorite memory is my friend from middle school announcing her pregnancy.  I am so happy for her and her husband who will welcome their baby boy this spring.  
In 2015 I will continue work on balancing my personal and professional life.  This is a work in progress...
Inspire

What are you looking forward to doing this break?  I will be on vacation in Arizona.  Looking forward to sunshine, spending time with family, and relaxing.  Have a Merry Christmas and I will see you in 2015!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

New Year, New Goals for 2015

Today I am linking up with Mrs. D's Corner to share my goals for 2015.
Personal:  In December I have been going out to eat for dinner often.  When I return from vacation I need to start cooking again.  
Professional:  During the school year I spend plenty of time reading and sharing professional articles.  However, I want to find more time to read professional books.  Any suggestions?
Planning: I am a teacher that likes having a clear scope and sequence.  Over break I want to start planning my units and thinking about what needs to be achieved for the rest of the school year.
Organization:  As I gain more teaching experience I accumulate more resources.  Should I organize the files on my computer by unit?  Standard?  Month?
Students:  Although this can vary depending on the age of your students, I make sure my students have time each day to read independently.  It does take time to build stamina, but in the long run the independent reading is very beneficial for students.
Motto:  I always try to look at the positive.  I want to be a positive role model for my students as well as others around me.  Sometimes it seems easier to focus on everything going wrong.  Instead move forward by focusing on what's improving.  This is better for you and your students!  I want to praise my students and let them know I am proud of them.

Enjoy the rest of 2014!  

Friday, December 19, 2014

'Tis the Season for Giving

December is a time for us to give back to those we appreciate.  I love giving gifts!  A few people asked about my gifts so I figured I would put all of it in a blog post.  Better late than never, right?

School Secret Santa
For our Secret Santa we did 4 days of gift giving.  Monday-Wednesday are small gifts then Thursday during staff breakfast we revealed ourself to our Secret Santa with a larger gift ($10-$20)
Label: FREEBIE
I bought the socks at Target.
Label: FREEBIE
                                                                       Staff Gifts
A small token of my appreciation for the principal, secretaries, literacy specialist, K-2 intervention specialist, and guidance counselor.  I am so grateful for their support.
Label: FREEBIE
Before printing the label, I adjusted the size so it would fit the Reese's Pieces box.
                                                                       Book Buddies Gift
My class has a 5th grade buddy they read with every other Friday.  The students always look forward to this time.  We showed our appreciation with a personalized bookmark.  Each student wrote a note on the back for their buddy.  
                                                                     Student Gifts
I made a bookmark for each student and laminated it for durability.  No more using Post Its!  I tried to coordinate each bookmark according to the student's favorite color.

I received a gift from my class and I wish I could post a picture.  It was a flower pot that says "thanks for helping us grow" and each student decorated a flower.  Such a thoughtful gift!

I also received many notes to add to my happy file.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Author Celebration

Today was the Author Celebration in my classroom.  Parents came in to celebrate student's writing. Students read their paper and shared what they learned.  

The event was first thing in the morning because many parents stay home or work part time.  It lasted about 40 minutes.  Out of my 20 students that were present today, 18 parents came in!!  I continue to be amazed by the parent support.  I know parents work and have other obligations so it means so much to me that almost everyone fit this in their day.  Although I primarily wanted parents to celebrate their child's writing, many parents talked with other students as well.  

The Unit:  I used Ashleigh's Common Core Informational Writing Unit in addition to Lucy Calkins.  I like how Ashleigh mapped out the unit.  My class took about 5 weeks to complete the unit.  Students learned how to select a topic that interests them, research, take notes, and format their paper.  It was a process to celebrate!
Preparation: Yesterday after school each student kept their writing folder on their table so they could easily access it in the morning.
This Morning: When parents and students arrived to the classroom, they read directions on the Smart Board.   This helped parents see what to look for in their child's paper.

I loved observing the interactions in the classroom.  Having a full house was a special occasion.  I also enjoyed having the opportunity to talk with parents.  Such a wonderful classroom community.  This was a fantastic experience and I received a lot of positive feedback from parents.  I am one happy teacher right now!!  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Thriving in December

Elementary teachers everywhere know how busy December is.  With only 13 days, there is so much content to cover.  Our student's can't afford to have teachers that are only in survival mode.  I believe in maintaining the structure and routine of the classroom while including additional resources to support their excitement.  Hence the title, THRIVING in December.
December is all about kindness and giving.; both in and out of the classroom.  This year I decided to join Cupcakes n Curriculum's RAK Club.  I want my students to make a positive contribution to society so I am very passionate about being a role model for my students.
To launch this campaign, students filled out a RAK Club Application.  Then each student received a RAK Club Journal.  Inside the journal students record their act of kindness, why they did it, and reflect on how it benefitted someone else.  
In addition, my students also have been writing kind notes to each other.  Melts my heart to see how excited they are to thank someone else.  They even come in each morning asking if they can write them.  Students are also witnessing that a small act of kindness can make someone's day.
Snowman Numbers: FREEBIE
Winter Story Problem Task Cards: PURCHASE
The students are excited for the holidays and so curious how many days left of school.  I took this to my advantage and created the winter break countdown, which started December 2nd when students returned from Thanksgiving Break.
On the left is shown how many days left until winter break. Then on the right are addition and subtraction story problems (with and without regrouping).  Students have a recording sheet at their seat, which they need each morning as part of our math warm up.  I love this because we are reviewing key math concepts from this semester while still having fun.  Plus, it is one problem each day so it is very easy to maintain.
Winter Break Marshmallow Reading Challenge: FREEBIE
Teachers have varying points of view when it comes to reading logs.  I came across this Winter Break Marshmallow Reading Challenge and thought it would be so fun for my students.  Although I want them to enjoy the time with their family, I still want them to read over break.  
If you look at the sheets above, each marshmallow represents 20 minutes of reading.  There are 2 pages of marshmallows with different sayings such as "read by the fireplace".  Definitely a change up from the typical reading routine.

My next post will be on our Author Celebration.  

Saturday, December 6, 2014

What Inspires Me?

When someone asks me how I am doing, I try to respond with "I can't complain".  Although being a beginning teacher can be stressful, I am so lucky.  I have a job that I love and have the ability to challenge myself on a daily basis.  I love that you can never get bored with teaching.  The challenges we face help us grow. But how do I stay inspired through the tough days?

Every teacher should have a Happy File.  In the file I put positive e-mails from parents and cards/letters/stories that students have made me in the past.  When I am having a tough day, I go to this file and instantly smile.

 I appreciate the little things my students do.  They are so thoughtful and love to help.
Clearly this happened during Halloween. I was in the middle of a reading mini lesson and 2 girls (very responsible and respectful) interrupted me and told me to get a package that was outside our classroom door.  UM WHAT?  I explained to them that I was in the middle of a lesson and I would check it out once the lesson is over.  I open the classroom door and find all these Halloween goodies.  I got BOOed by a few of my students.  The students worked together to coordinate small gifts for me.  So sweet!
This was the day before Thanksgiving Break.  During word study I had each student get a dry erase board, marker, and eraser.  Since I dismiss students by table to get supplies, I allow students to write words on their board until everyone is ready.  As students were gathering supplies, I noticed 2 students going to each table whispering.  I couldn't tell what was going on, but a student told me to turn around so I don't find out the secret.  Hmm….  Once I was given permission to turn around a student shouted to the entire class to put their board up.  I walked around the classroom and each student wrote on their board what they loved about having me as a teacher or school in general.  I nearly teared up… it was so thoughtful!! Talk about being thankful!

Think about what fuels your passion.  Why do you love to teach?  When it comes to those tough days, your passion will keep you going.  I love witnessing student progress and knowing I contributed to that.  I also get excited when I find a new resource or strategy to help my students achieve their personal best.  I could go on and on about this, but I will leave you with a sample from this week.
I came across this iPhone resource online that focuses on comprehension skills.  My students have really been working on close reading so I was excited to use this.  Students were allowed to choose any book from their book box for this activity.  At the end of the lesson I saw students searching the recycling bin (thinking I made extra copies) because they wanted to take copies home to work on.  Student engagement is key!  My students decided this is what the iPhone 10 will look like haha.

Lastly, relationships are an essential component of teaching.  I am grateful everyday that I have support from my PLN and staff members at school.  This enables me to reflect on my teaching, try new things, and continue my journey as a lifelong learner.  Thank you to each of you!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy December!

Hard to believe it is already December.  A new month means I am linking up with Farley.  This is one of my favorite link ups.
What is your favorite part about December?  Despite how busy December is, it is my favorite time of year.  I love giving and spending time with my family and friends.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Even and Odd

The past week and a half my class has been working on even and odd.  Here is everything we have been up to.

PRE ASSESSMENT
To see where my students are at with even and odd, I did a quick write.  Each student was given a piece of paper.  I had them label one side of their paper even and the other side odd.  Students demonstrated their knowledge using words or pictures. 
To begin the unit we watched the Even and Odd video from Brain Pop Jr.  
After the video was over, I had students add any new information they learned to their pre-assessment.  I had students write in a different color so I could distinguish between the pre- assessment data and new information they added to their schema.

LEARNING EXPERIENCES
These are the read alouds I used for the unit.  Unfortunately I was not able to find the book Even Steven and Odd Todd :( Below are the title and author of each book.
My Odd Day and My Even Day by Doris Fisher
If You Were an Odd Number and If You Were an Even Number by Marcie Aboff

The top set of books were my student's favorites.  
Freebie from Amy Lemons HERE
Even though I try to limit the number of worksheets I use in the classroom, I liked that this activity also reviewed place value.  Students used the letter in the top left corner to know where to record their answer.  In the far left column they wrote the number, number word (working on that spelling!), sketch it (my students drew hundreds/tens/ones), and decide if the number is even or odd.  
Purchase this HERE
Students were given a turkey template, but could only use an odd number of materials.  Hence one odd turkey.  I have fantastic parents who donated the materials for this project.  Before students started, I had them plan out the bottom sheet with the number of materials they would use.  This really made the experience go much smoother.
One game that students played with a partner is Tic Tac Toe.  Instead of using X's or O'S, students used even or odd numbers.  To differentiate, I had students use numbers with different digits.

We also played Even and Odd Ball.  To learn more, go to Ashley Schroeder's blog.  You may find a freebie as well ;)

I made it to the first break of the school year!  Time to relax with family.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving!