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!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Busy Bee

I'm sorry for being a little MIA for the past few days, but I have hardly had time to sleep, much less get on my computer.  Friday I had PDAS training, then Friday-Sunday (when it wasn't lightening and raining) I was reffing a soccer tournament, and today was the day all the teachers started!  I have been trying to spend any time I could working on my room because tomorrow is meet the teacher night.  And I still have a long list of to-do's to get it ready. 

I am actually kind of bummed I don't have a "Monday Made It" due to my busy schedule.  I just wanted to drop in and let you know I am loving my coworkers and my team and I couldn't ask for a better group of people to be with as a first year, or any year for that matter, teacher.  I my room should be pretty much done tomorrow so I will definitely take pictures and post them soon.

I hope everyone is enjoying reuniting with their work families!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

100 Follower Giveaway

I know, I know..I already posted, but I didn't want to take away the thunder of this.  I am participating in a giveaway with Teaching with Moxie.  She has reached 100 followers!  I am giving away my Owl-Themed Sub Binder which has not been posted to my TPT store yet.  Go on over to her blog, follower her, and put in your entries for the giveaway.  There are lots of great goodies from my sub binder to a blog make over and gift certificates to TPT!


 So go check it out and good luck!

Room Sneak Peak!

Alright, so the past three days have been almost complete chaos for me!

Monday I was able to get in to my room, put the fabric and ribbon borders on my two bulletin boards and start getting an idea of how I might set up my room.  I didn't start sorting through anything because the previous teacher hadn't moved out yet, so she came in that afternoon to do so.  Plus I couldn't move furniture by myself without scratching the newly waxed floors and I was told NOT to do that....

Yesterday my mom and I go in there at 9am and left a little before 6.  We pulled everything out of the cabinets and drawers and started sorting through it all and condensing it.  We grouped things that were the same but had been found in multiple places (ie. masking tape...I have 19 rolls of it....who needs nineteen rolls of masking tape??).  I also got an idea of what math manipulatives I have.

Today I had my first day of new teacher training.  There are around 25 new teachers to this 3A district, and 7 of them are for my school, including me.  I got a $50 gift certificate to a local teacher store and our mentors took us shopping after lunch.  Since I already stocked up on school supplies, I was able to get my basic white calendar and LOTS of math posters.  I also got manilla envelopes that will go in the back of the students math notebooks to hold loose items like fraction strips. 

I do have before and current pictures of my room.  **BEWARE**  The room is nowhere close to being done.  I will explain what my ideas are once you get into the current pictures.

My room as I found it:
View from the door to the right as you walk in.

Left side of the room from the door view.

From the back corner: one chalk board and bulletin board.  Can you tell we bleed orange?

From the corner of the room.  See my lovely Promethean board?  I also have a small white board on the left wall that you can't see.  It's double sided with a grid on one side.

Most of the stuff on the book cart and counter belong to the previous math teacher...

 Now for the CURRENT pictures:  Please excuse the messes you will see as it is still a work in progress..

Desk set up: groups of 4.  I didn't like the row seating because it took up too much space.

My bookshelf, computer and desk area.  The teacher table is behind my desk by the door (which holds AC/heater equipment).

I added ribbon to the border of my window. :)

If you scroll back up and look at the before pics of my desk, you will notice that one side is cream and the other is blue.  Since I have already spent a small fortune on fabric I used butcher paper to cover the mismatched colors.  Ironically I still have to cover the OTHER side.  That's my first project when I get in my room tomorrow.

This is probably the most organized and neat area thus far.  The left "locker crate" hosts my class set of white boards.  The green one has construction paper, which I will actually use file folders to sort by color.  Thankfully my mom organized what was in my room so I will only have to add the new stuff when the students come in.  But that crate will sit normally once that is done. The other two crates host notebook and graphing paper.  That lovely machine to the right grades tests and prints for me.  I don't have to share with the other teachers!! :)

These are the foam panels I covered in fabric.  I covered four sections.  Once I know what I want on my walls I will hang these up to make them my word wall.  Since I only have two bulletin boards I created my own.  I haven't added my letters on them yet.

Bulletin board #1.  This is on the wall by my door and Promethean board, so it will host my calendar that still needs to be laminated.

Bulletin board #2: This is the one by the heater door and behind the teacher table.  I am thinking it will host posters but I'm not 100% sure.  The chalk board beside it will host classroom management posters that all the teachers make.  I start making mine tomorrow during training.  I think there are 5 posters total by the end of the year. 
Please let me know what you think so far!  I have a loooooong to do list still, but I will happily accept any input from you veteran teachers!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Back to School Jitters

Here is a quick post.  I discovered A Turn to Learn and she is having a linky party about the back to school jitters!  After spending all day in my room with my mom I am feeling more confident in how my room will look and now just need to get the lesson planning ball rolling!  Here is my link and go on over and share your jitters!

Go link up!

A Turn To Learn


Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Made It!

As promise, here is a picture of my teacher toolbox!

I bought it at Lowes of course, but it was a metallic blue color.  And as pretty as I thought the blue was it just didn't match my color theme I had figured out in my head!  So I the Mr. spray painted it for me (such a wonderful person!) and I found scrapbook paper that I really liked.  I made my labels in Publisher, making boxes with the dimensions of my drawers and printed that on vellum paper.  I taped the vellum down on the scrapbook paper and taped it in my drawers.  I love how it turned out!  Now I just need to find a safe place for it in my new classroom...

Here are my calendar headers!  Since this picture I have cut out the shadows of most of these and placed them behind the months.  The shadow is white cardstock.  Then I will mount it on a brown rounded-square and laminate them.  I chose to do the square behind them so that I wouldn't have to cut out around all the curves once they were laminated, and I am hoping it will make them more durable!

Here are my word wall letters!  Notice the white shadow?  That's what will happen with my calendar headers.  After this post I will be watching the rest of the Cowboys v. Raiders game and cut all my stuff out!

Today I got my bulletin boards decorated with fabric and ribbon, but they are still blank...I still have no idea what to put on them.  ugh.  But here are the two bulletin boards I've done. 

My wonderful mommy is going with me tomorrow to help me sort through all of the math manipulatives and resources left behind by the previous teacher.  The teacher was up there today moving the rest of her stuff now that her new room is available.  She is super sweet and I will definitely be going down the hall alot to her, my teacher lead/mentor, and my fellow 6th grade math teacher.  I am SOOO excited about all the support they are giving me and how positive everyone is!  Tomorrow *fingers crossed* I will post before/after pictures of what my room is like.  I did remember to take before pictures this morning so after I get some more stuff done I will post the after pics.

Link up with 4th Grade Frolics for her Monday Made It!!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Giveaway and something absolutely adorable!

I am checking so many things off of my to-do list!  I've almost finished my calendar headers, got my shopping done, and I am currently was working on printing some of my things.  But I had to take a short break and post about a couple of  things.

Firstly, Teaching With Moxie is working on getting 100 followers so there can be an awesome giveaway!  She is about 10 followers shy of that goal.  I am hoping to contribute to her giveaway with on of my own creations full of owls. :)  So if you aren't already following her awesome blog, click on the button and start now!

Teaching with Moxie

Secondly, and lastly, I just HAD to share my latest creation that I am IN LOVE with!  I whipped this up in about 10-15 minutes and I think it is so adorable. 

It is definitely going on my teacher binder!  Woot!  Just had to share my short, wonderful news.