Sunday, September 30, 2012

A New Week and I-Learn

This week is theme week for homecoming!  I am looking forward to having a change during my week.  I also start unit two with my students.  We start with factoring, GCF, and LCM.  I am anxious to see how they do on this unit.

The school also started a new math computer program that I am super excited about.  It is called I-Learn.  It assesses students to see where they are before they have any math gaps, and places them on the appropriate level.  From there they take what are called challenge tests.  If they get a 90% or better, they get to skip it.  It tests at the unit level, then the chapter, then the lesson.  If they get less than a 90% on the Unit, it lets them take the chapter challenge test.  There are several chapters within a unit.  If they get a 90%, they move on to the next chapter challenge test.  If they don't, they test at the lesson level.  Then when they are done testing, and it places them in the appropriate lesson to help them work through their gaps.

The kids started on the program this week and absolutely love it.  They get to go to the lab twice a week for 35 minutes a day.  I wish there was enough time to let them go every day, but there just isn't enough instructional time for that.  The school piloted this program over the summer for the summer school students, and the growth was absolutely amazing.  It motivated students to work on it at home that couldn't be bribed anything to do their homework.  I wish there was a built in year for students to get caught up on anything they missed in school so that they wouldn't be so far behind as they get sent on to each grade.

Anywho, I had to brag that I bought a second teacher toolbox from Lowe's.  I got the one with the 18 large drawers and had the Mr. spray paint it pink.  I got some pink fabric to cover the back of it.  I haven't put the labels inside it yet so I don't have any pictures.  But I am super excited about it.  The Mr. also bought me a bookshelf to go behind my desk at school so that my tool boxes can sit behind me, rather than taking a ton of space on my desk.

I swear, I feel like I am drowning in papers, between grading and filling out things for my admin.  ugh.  Speaking of papers, I have a stack of tests to grade and last weeks homework too.

I hope everyone has a great week!  I get to wear my Cowboys jersey tomorrow, sunglasses Tuesday, and so forth.  Yay for homecoming week!  My students will enjoy this week and so will I.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Paper Organization Linky Party

As I am sitting here grading my mountain stack of papers, I am wondering how in the world does each teacher deal with having so much paper?!?  I thought I would try my first linky and hope that I get some paticipation. *fingers crossed*  Hopefully I'm not going to be lonely in this...

Here is how I have started handling papers so far this year.  As some of you know, I teach math and I have four classes I see each day, totaling around 100 students.  I decided to "color-code" each of my classes.

1st Block - Purple (my homeroom gets my fav color, of course!)
2nd Block - Orange
3rd Block - Blue
4th Block - Pink

I found a way to coordinate those colors with my love for owls.  To help me, and the students, know which composition belongs to math, I used my cricut to cut out owls in those colors.  I only did the backing part so it was a solid cutout.  I had the students write their names on them and then taped them to their notebooks.

I have duct tape in those colors that I placed on the drawers where students turn in assignments, and on the crates that have files for each class which is where I return their graded work.

When I take assignments out of my drawers, I use a color binder clip that coordinates with their class.  Office Depot has a whole sections of colored paper clips, binder clips, rubber bands and magnets.  Once the assignments are graded and recorded, I or a student files them in the file folders for that class.

I would love to hear what other teachers are doing to keep track of the million pieces of paper we get so that maybe I can refine my methods and keep myself from going completely insane!

And if you need help, then post what you currently do and hopefully a follower will have some suggestions that will help you get the ball rolling!  Let's help each other out to get a grip on this paper!

Grab the button and link on up!

Have a wonderful Sunday!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

What I am Lovin' Linky

 So I was browsing around the lovely posts I have been missing out on lately and came across Megan's over at I Teach.  What's your super power?.  She has started a linky party about the little things that we just can't live without in our daily classroom lives.  So here are my few things thus far I have found I need to have to survive each and every chaotic day.

 I would not survive a week, much less a day without my planner/calendar.  This baby helps me keep track of all those lovely due dates and tasks that never seem to be completed.  My lesson plan book is under my calendar, but that book is my Bible for teaching right now...
 I don't like pens. AT ALL.  I absolutely LOVE them!  I love color, color, and more color.  It makes me happy to choose random colors or pick a color I am in the mood for and use it to write all over stuff.  You should see how color my teacher interactive notebooks are.  The students get a kick out of how many different colors I try to use.
 Dr. Pepper is my savior.  On my way to work I usually stop at Whataburger or McD's to get breakfast and a LARGE Dr. Pepper.  It will usually last me through lunch time, which is when I will pull out my UNT camelback and drink some water. 
Last but not least, my teacher notebook.  This is where I write notes from meetings, trainings or things I need to remember how to do.  My administration gave every teacher a composition book to help them keep it all in one place, and to help us keep track of our professional development hours we need for recertification.  I think it's a great idea.  So I decked mine out with an owl, of course!  I also put colorful duct tape on the spine.  I couldn't use plain purple because my homeroom class's teacher interactive notebook has a purple spine and I didn't want to get them confused.  I also made a label in pale green that says "Ms. Wood's Notebook" that I will tape on underneath Mr. Owl.  I need to tape the whole front cover because Mr. Owl is already getting beat up (look by his right wing..).

So those are a few of the things I have come to depend on, other than my grade level team, to help me get through each day.  Please go on over to Megan's page and link up with things you need each day.

I Teach. What's Your Super Power?

I am off to bed.  I refereed 4 soccer games today (in a lovely 70 degrees, in TEXAS), and that just about did me in after my chaotic week.  Tomorrow I will be sitting at my six-foot folding table grading papers and entering them into the grade book like a crazy mad-person.  I also have to prep for having a sub on Tuesday and for half a day Thursday....I have apparently been signed up for last minute training on 1st Steps Math for Tuesday and our school finally got the math computer program, iLearn and the math teachers get to spend Thursday afternoon in the computer lab playing with it.  Looks like the Unit One test will be pushed back a few days.

Enjoy your weekend!


Thursday, September 13, 2012

CHAMPS and some questions!

I know this is a bit late, but as promised, here are the photos of my CHAMPS posters that are on my walls in my class room.  If you haven't read about the purpose of these posters, please go here.

I absolutely love the way these have turned out!  It was so worth the time and effort to cut the letters out with my Cricut and have the Mr. painstakingly glue them down for me.  He did most of the grunt work while played worked on my machine.  We had to cut them in half (about the M) to laminate them.  Then we taped it back together on the back.  You can barely tell it was split in half.  I do need to make one regarding coming in to the classroom and getting started on writing assignments, doing the bell ringer, and problem of the week/estimation jar....when I find time.

I also have two new owl additions to my stash.

 Please say hello to Mr. Owl Scentsy! He is my new desk BFF.  My fellow 6th grade math teacher is a consultant and told me on August 30th that this little guy was the Scentsy of the Month.  She didn't have to tell me twice!  I also ordered six scents, five to keep at school, and a new one for at home that the Mr. liked.

My next addition?
 A lovely little owl ring who is my personal buddy.  He was given to me by one of my students.  Isn't he adorable?  I keep him in one of my desk drawers after school so that I won't forget to wear him to school.  I'm not one for a lot of jewelry, but how could I ever resist?

Now for some teachery stuff, I have been working with my kids on equivalent fractions and decimals the past three weeks.  It amazes me how many of them do not know their multiplication facts!  I know we as teachers are trying to stay away from just drilling math concepts, but we need to find a balance because these kids waste so much time using their fingers and adding by the number to find factors and divisors.  I have to keep telling myself to be patient because it's not entirely my students' faults they don't know them.

So starting next week I am doing 90 second drills and I already have a motivator for my friends who I know won't have much motivation.  They will have to write the fact families we are studying 10 times each every day during intervention until they get them down.  This has to happen now because fractions are a huge part of sixth grade and we dive deeper into factors and prime factorization in unit two.

On a side note, I do have a couple questions for you veteran teacher buddies out there:
1.  If you teach math in the upper grades, how do you teach fraction concepts to your students?
2.  For those lovely teachers that have more than one classes worth of assignments to grade, how do you manage that?  As far as the time it takes to grade and deciding what you do take for a grade?  I have around 100 students and I am required to take at least 14 grades per six weeks.  That generally two-three assignments a week.

Speaking of grading, I should probably stop procrastinating and get to it.  Grades are due Tuesday morning for progress reports and I have two stacks of assignments to grade and more coming in with tomorrow's assignments....Can't you tell I am so enthusiastic about grading?  :)


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ready for week #3

I am ready for another long and eventful week!  I finally managed to stay away from the school for the weekend and spend some time to myself!  I went to an all day crop event and managed to get a whopping 4 scrapbook pages done.  I am down to 4 pages left in my California family vacation scrapbook though.  Woot woot.

I did get some grading done today, as well as some cleaning.  I have officially decided to invest in the Cricut Expression 2.  I have the original one, which will stay up at school for classroom stuff so I don't have to haul it back and forth.  I have also gotten 6 new cartridges over the past week: Type Candy Font, Kate's ABCs, Birthday Bash, Sports Mania, Plantin Schoolbook and Winter Woodland.  I am trying to invest mostly in fonts which are more useful for my classroom.  I tend to only get themed ones when I need them for projects or scrapbooking.

I have also decided I am going to become a Creative Memories consultant for my area.  This I am super excited about!  What better excuse to get new gadgets than needing them to demonstrate to others and sell??  Plus I can get 5 of the 6 new cartridges I want by ordering them through myself!

Well it's been another long day with spending time in the hospital with the Mr.'s younger sister.  She is ok for now so I am off to get some sleep!

Have a great week my friends!


Saturday, September 1, 2012

I survived!

I have officially survived my first week of teaching my sixth graders!  My feet are killing me, my head and voice hurt, and I worked super hard.  I don't have everything done 100% that I would like to have done, but I have been accomplishing a lot.  Anyways, I wanted to share some of the things I did with my classroom that I didn't show you, so here we go!

 Our school uses two management: SWARM and CHAMPS.  S:self-discipline, w: wise choices, a: accountability, r: ready, and m: motivated.  C: conversation, H: help, A: activity, M: movement, P: participation, S: success.  So with those management themes we have different voice levels that the students can use in common areas (hallways, bathroom, gym, dismissal, recess) and within the classroom with each type of activity (independent, partner, group).  If I remember to take a picture of my CHAMPS poster I will post it so maybe it will help you understand.
 I absolutely love my cricut machine!  I used my Give a Hoot cartridge and made these lovely signs.  I laminated them and hot glued them to the wall above my trash can and paper recycle box. 
 This is the inside of my door now.  It was SUPER boring with just the ribbon around the window.  My fellow math teacher had hers labeled with MATH like mine and so the whole 6th grade team decided to do it too.  Hence the redecoration. :)  The papers are the SWARM expectations for the common areas in the school.
Here is my construction paper nicely organized and pretty. It keeps the kids from throwing paper everywhere in the midst of looking for a particular color.
Last but not least, this isn't my classroom, but I wanted to brag that I went and got myself pampered at the nail salon this morning with my mom.  I told the Mr I was going to get my toes done and he told me to go ahead and get my nails done too!  I was soooo thrilled!  (the ring is my promise ring, not engaged yet...)

Well I am going to go back to watching Step Up with my man and relaxing on my 3-day weekend.  woo hoo :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

First day jitters!

Well tomorrow is the first day of school and I think I am as prepared as I can be. I have my outline of what I need to cover with my classes and my clothes are picked out. My classroom isn't perfect but thongs can be changed and added along the way. I am already taking note of things to do for next year.

I just wanted to say good luck to all of my bloggy teacher friends out there who start school tomorrow. I am thankful for your support throughout this summer, especially the past few weeks. I promise to keep posting, but since it is my first year teaching I may not have time to post every day. I am hoping at least once a week.

I should get some rest, tomorrow is going to be a crazy busy day!