Monday, April 9, 2012

On another note...

Well, my artsy-fartsy side of me comes out from time to time and this time I was inspired by my dad's approaching birthday! I have done just about everything for gifts for him--pictures, sentimental, gift cards, red sox name it, I've exhausted it! So I wanted to do something different this year (let's just hope it is good different). Here's what I came up with:

First I decided that since my dad likes to BBQ, I would give him so homemade rubs!
Then, I put them in some canning jars with fun fabric on top!

Of course, I needed some finishing touches!!!

The graphics on the labels are from Jazzy Designs found on Etsy. I typed up the recipes I used and attached them to the other side of the jar. Ooooo how pretty! I love my warm colors :)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Using Picture Books

As I mentioned in earlier posts, my teammate and I are moving to self-contained classrooms next year (except for science and social studies) so I will be teaching reading for the first time in two years and for the first time without a basil reader (which is exciting and scary all at once!).

So after some conversations with my principal (who would love to go back to teaching if his wallet could afford it!) and after some inspirations from my fellow bloggers (particularly  Runde's Room with her use of "Dear Mrs. Larue") I want to use picture books as much as possible! First, who doesn't love a good picture book? I know I teach the "big kids," but even as an adult I enjoy a good picture book and I know the same will be true for my fifth graders. Second, I feel it will be a good way to introduce a new topic. For instance, if I wanted to work on making inferences, I would read a really good picture book that allows for a bunch of inferences through out.

Here's my issue: I have been teaching math and science in isolation for so long now, that I need HELP!! What are some good books that you have used to introduce particular skills, topics, themes, etc.? Or does anyone know of a good teacher's resource book that gives some suggestions??? I am not above stealing anyone's ideas! I promise that if I become enlightened on my own, I will share my ideas, too!

I hope everyone is having a good Easter (if you celebrate)!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Summer Reading

First, I cannot believe that I am ALREADY talking about this, but our librarian has been hinting around that she would like our summer reading lists! Geez Louise!

So my teammate and I were talking about the three books that she historically has had students read over the summer. Next year will be my first year teaching fifth grade reading (we are moving to self-contained classrooms), soooo I don't really know what to offer. First, I was thinking that one of the books, Cricket in Time Square, is a fourth grade read--but that's okay for the below grade level readers. Then, once I got thinking about below grade level reading and the fact that they should technically be end of year fourth grade reading levels (hey, I said technically), I started to feel overwhelmed and we both agreed to think about it tomorrow.

So I need your input. We want to get the kids to actually read, so we are thinking something more popular (no more dry lists from 1983). Don't get me wrong, classics are great--but I know fifth grade  minds pretty well by now and I know that the beach over a classic novel wins every time!

What books do you put on your summer reading list?
How many students actually do the reading/project??

I'm all ears!!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Math Vocab

I have come to realize that despite my constant use of math vocabulary, math word wall, etc. my students are still shaky on their math vocabulary :( So to address this, I have decided to make math vocabulary memory as a math station or an activity to do when they have finished their independent work. They go to the vocab bin, pick a baggie of vocab words, place the cards face down and try to find a matching word with definition. I also include an answer key in case they are not familiar enough with the words to know if they have the right match.

I pasted the cards onto construction paper, cut them out, and then laminated them. The kids who are fast finishers have been a big help with all of my lamination projects lately! For a copy of the cards I use, click on the link: Vocab Cards- Place Value Chapter.

Upper Elementary Linky Party

 I am just learning about linky parties, but of course I am thrilled that there is an upper elementary one for teachers to share great ideas!

Visit the Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies to link up!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thinking about math

So I know I cannot be the only one who starts thinking about next year half way through the current school year. I'm always trying to come up with new ideas to improve lessons, organization, and management and trying them out with a clean slate of students is always exciting. Some ideas, however, are wort starting ASAP! For instance, I am trying to find a way to better my math block. I have noticed that my students need some work on their math vocal. I'm trying to create a memory game with the words and their definitions (I will tqry to remember to post pictures when I finish making the cards). My problem is finding a way and the time to include these into my daily routine. I teach fifth grade and I always want to do more center like activities (or stations) but I find the management of them difficult. Plus I wish their were more of me so that I could be sure that students are doing them correctly. Any ideas and suggestions would be appreciated!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Well I was right....

When I got to school today the Internet and the server we use to enter grades were down. I wasn't too worried, because I still had to finish averaging some grades. Well, eventually the everything was back up and running and everyone else seemed to make some real progress....everyone except me. I was planning on working late to finish my averages and what not. Everyone had gone home and I was finally ready to upload my grades....and wouldn't you know it the server was back down again ****pffft****

Oh well, that's what I get for not workin on grades this past weekend! Procrastination at it's best! And there is always tomorrow.....

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Report Cards

It's that time of year again where my only existence will be to average grades, begin filling out report cards, and deciding on meaningful comments. When I first started teaching (okay, who am I kidding...even now), report cards were a major source of anxiety. My motto: expect the unexpected.

At the district I work at now, we have to enter our grades online. Don't get me wrong--I LOVE using technology, but I sometimes I  feel that using technology just for the sake of using technology doesn't always work. Our system is very finicky so it takes a lot of extra time and frustration to enter grades. I also don't like that it doesn't allow me to reflect on the whole report card as I am entering grades. Before I write comments or enter a grade, I want to make sure one last time that report card reflects how well the student is doing across the board. We team teach, so I only enter the math and science grades. The other fifth grade teacher enters the reading, writing, and social studies grades. Being able to look at the report card as one big picture is something that I miss!

The good news is that next year we will be self-contained (well, that's the plan anyway). I think a lot of these kinks I experience in management, grading, etc. will be worked out better when I keep my homeroom all day. I LOVE my teaching partner, so I definitely will miss the team approach (especially when conferences roll around!).

What are some tricks that you use to make report card time more manageable?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

With the BIG test approaching...

One thing I struggle with is the constant battle of trying to do things the "state's" way and doing them the way that I know children learn best. In a perfect world, I know that these two ways can be combined to make an ideal learning environment, but unfortunately I live in the world that has 180 teaching days that are 6 hours long. Time is always a big factor, so I always feel pressure to move forward. It is my hope that with the adaption of the core standards, things will be better as far as lesson planning and student mastery of each concept. Until then, I push on trying to find and use lessons that fun, meaningful and valuable.

Does anyone else feel this same push and pull?

Friday, March 2, 2012

New in Town

This past February vacation I found myself browsing online for inspirational ideas for my classroom (which isn't unusual). I somehow stumbled across some really wonderful blogs that were made by teachers (like Ladybug's Teacher Files) that were filled with fantastic ideas. I soon found myself jotting all these ideas down to try in my own classroom. I can only hope that someday I, too, will be able to offer some of my own ideas for other teachers to enjoy. Until then, I will continue to be a dedicated scavenger!