Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day of School and jibjab

The first day of school is behind me.....PHEW!  I love coming in and meeting my new kids, and I always know it is going to be a GREAT year.  I do not like going over the rules and procedures.  Why can't they just know what I expect?  It sure would make it so much easier.  :) 

The day was a great one, but I am exhausted.  My little boy started kindergarten today, so I was thinking about him all day; my feet were killing me (since I had to wear real shoes again); and my throat is sore since my portable sound system won't be shipped until the end of this month (I  miss you little microphone...If you have never used a portable microphone system in your room, I strongly encourage it.  They are the best thing ever)!

We hit the ground with understanding the high expectations I have.  We are an aligned department, so by the time they get to me, I get to fine tune them.  Hit them hard and tough at the beginning!  I have incorporated some new things this year, so I am hopeful that it will make me a better teacher.

Tomorrow, my kids are going to be put in their houses (thank you Ron Clark for the wonderful idea).  I have set up my groups based on the "Star" theme.  My houses are Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Nashville, Times Square, New York, and Broadway.  They will get to earn points as a house and we will have contests. 

I paid the yearly fee and joined  This is the best!  I created a video using myself, Candy, and one other math teacher.  I showed it to my kids today to show them that we will have fun, but we will also work hard.  They were laughing and wanted to watch it again!  I am thinking about creating a video for each class each week.  The kids who have turned in their work will be eligible to be in the video.  I think they will really like this.  Here is the link to our little video: 
The fee is only $12 for the year.  Be careful.  They are not all appropriate for kids.

I hope everyone has a great beginning to the school year.  Look into jibjab.  The kids will love it, and you will enjoy watching them laugh!

Happy jib jabbing!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Attention Grabbers

Most teachers have some way of getting the attention of the class.
I have seen lights that go off and on.
Hands in the air.
A bell that rings.
I have even heard the teacher battling with the raised voice of BE QUIET!

A few years ago, I took the little section from the cha cha slide.
"Freeze....Everybody clap your hands"
As soon as the kids hear it, they do the clap pattern like in the song.  They took to it so well, I even have that little part on a cd of little things I will sometimes play in the class (I have other snippets from various kids show about please and thank you, being proud of doing something good, etc.  Of course, we practice "pulling back" after we do the clap part.  That takes a little practice, but it works!

I think I am going to add an extra one this year.  I have been looking around trying to find something that I think my kids would like.  I found this one, and I even adapted it to make it work for math.
me:  Bada ba bap ba
kids:  I'm loving math
In case you couldn't tell, that is one of the slogans for the golden arches (well not the math part...that is all me)!

Again, you have to make sure you go over what needs to happen once they hear the attention grabber.  I think it will be good to have a few different ones to use.

Happy grabbing!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Classroom Timers

With our state testing now being timed, I have really started implementing more timed activities in the room.  I am blessed to have a SMARTboard and projector, so I always have something going on the board.  I found these really neat online timers.

Some of them are fun when "time is up".  Some will get annoying, but the kids will know they have run out of time!  I think I will vary them up.

You can still use it even if you don't have a projector.  They are online timers, so all you need is the internet!

Happy timing!

Parent Comunication

I recently heard of a new resource for parent communication.  It is an app you download to your iphone (Droid version is coming soon, I think) or you can access it from your computer.  The app is called Remind101.  It allows a teacher to send a text message or email to a parent that has signed up for the notification without giving out the teacher's personal information.  The app Remind101 is a free app in the iTunes store.  But even if you don't have an iPhone, you can still access this resource from the web.  I recently went to the website from my computer - Remind101 - and set up my account.  It allows you to have multiple classes within the site in case you wanted to send out different reminders to different classes.  The site generates a pdf file you can give your students or parents with directions to sign up for the reminders.  The student/parent sends a text message to a number generated by Remind101 with a uniquely coded message.  This attaches the student/parent to your class.  If they don't want a text message but an email, the student/parent can send an email to a uniquely coded email address that will link them to your class as well.

This will be great to remind students and parents about homework and tests.  The communication is only one way though - from teacher to parent or student.  If a parent needs direct communication with the teacher, they would have to contact the teacher themselves.  Likewise, if a teacher needed to contact a parent about an individual child they would NOT want to communicate this way.  Every person signed up for your class will get the email or text.

Currently, the application is free and is in beta right now.  The website states they intend to keep it free for teachers.  There is a Remind101 FAQ at the bottom of the webpage you can read through before signing up your class.

Parent communication is always an area I can improve upon.  I'm looking forward to utilizing this resource and making communication so much more efficient.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

STAAR Teks Checklist

I needed something to use to help me keep up with the teks when I teach them.  After I give a mini assessment on a tek, I always know which ones are weak and which ones are good, but I of course must have documentation.  Each year, we are always being piled on with extra things to document.  Don't get me wrong, teachers must know their students and the strengths and weaknesses that come with the class, but why must we make EVERY teacher go through the same procedures.  Some teachers need to go through extra steps in order to truly know their kids.  Many of us know our kids frontwards, backwards, and every other direction, but if we ask one person to do this documentation, we must ask them all.  I completely disagree with this philosophy, but I do as I am asked (I do give my opinion when I am asked too).

Back to the topic.....sorry.... 

I use a CPS (handheld clicker system) in my classroom.  Each day I give the kids a multiple choice question in which they click in their response.  I also give a 5 question mini assessment over particular concepts, as well (not each day).  The feedback is instant, and the kids love it!  I needed something I could quickly write down my mastery percentage for the tek.  When it comes time for me to fill out all the forms, I am always going back through the program and backlogging.

 Not this year!  I have created these forms (available in my tpt store), and I will keep them in a notebook right beside my laptop.  When the results pop up, I will write it down.   I think I will have 4 tabs.  I will document for each class individually and all my students as a whole.  Now, I won't need to go back digging for all my documentation. 

I have also created a set for 6th and 7th grade, as well.  I think I will share this with the other math teachers.  If it works for them, they can use it.  I by no means am trying to give them more work.  Some already have a system in place, and if something is working, don't try to create more work!
For each grade level, I have the breakdown of the number of readiness and supporting questions tested per reporting category.
For each grade level, I breakdown each tek as to readiness or supporting.

For each tek, I have a place to put the date(s) taught/retaught, and a place to put the mastery date, %, and source.
To get your own set, go to my tpt store.

I wish you all a great beginning to a wonderful year!

Inspirational Posters

I found these great posters/sayings on Pinterest.  I have printed them on colored cardstock to hang in my room.

Before You Speak:
I created this in different ways.  This is the one I am going to hang in my room.
Idea from pinterest: 
I am also thinking about making smaller ones and laminating them.  I will tape them on the corner of each desk.  This poster is great in all aspects of our lives.  Think how great it would be if people would actually THINK before they speak!

Idea from pinterest: 
I am going to hang this up in my classroom.  I think I am also going to make a copy for each of the other math teachers.  I will give them this and a 7 up when we meet next week before school starts.  I think it is always great to give little pieces of encouragement!

I really liked this visual reminder of what voice level the students should be using.
Idea pinned from: 

 I am going to print out the poster with all 6 listed, but I am also going to print out each level on a separate poster, as well.  Depending on the activity, I will post which voice level they should be using.  I can just remind them what number they should be using.  The colors are a great visual!


This one holds so much meaning!  The only way anyone can ever truly listen to someone is to be quiet and try.  I made this a few different ways too.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Centers and Classroom Management

I have so many ideas on using centers this year in my 6th grade Math classroom (more on that later).  I found a great idea on managing centers while surfing through Pinterest and the blog world.  I cannot find the original post of this idea, so I am by no means taking credit.  If this was your idea, by all means, take credit for it.  I just think it's a great idea.  You use stacking cups in the colors of red, yellow, and green - like the stop light. I found these at Hobby Lobby for about $3 for a pack of 24.  Even middle school students need redirection during activities.  I thought this was a great visual and it keeps the teacher from yelling at students to get their attention.  The notice is calm and it's swift.

The cups are stacked on top of each other and the teacher changes the stacks as students need redirection.
When students get to the red cup, they are not allowed to participate in the activity anymore.  They will be redirected to working independently on the current assignment or book work that correlates to the activity.

I like this also because it holds the group accountable to each other.  Of course, any individual student that is off task and not working with the group would have to be dealt with individually.  The group shouldn't be punished for one student's offenses.  This system would strictly be for the entire group.

So many times as I've circled group stations and warned certain groups they were getting too loud, only a few students would hear me or pay attention.  I would then have to speak to every student in the group to make sure they understood me.  This way there is no question as to my expectations and the consequences should they not cooperate.  I hope this makes group work/center time even better this year!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Vistaprint order...

I am addicted to all things Pinterest and reading my teacher blogs.  I've seen lots of teachers posting things they had ordered and it looked interesting.  So I went to Vistaprint to see just what I might could use.  I loved it!

First, I made lunch detention cards.  I don't allow students to not do their homework and take an easy zero.  I choose to give up my lunch and have them eat their lunch in my room while completing the assignment.  This will be their pass and documentation as well.  I plan to file them in a little index card holder.  I've even thought about having them write on the back what they will do in the future to prevent having lunch detention.  This might be a good tool to bring to parent conferences to show just what their student has been (or not been) doing.  And, they were FREE!!!

Then I made some business cards to hand out to parents at our open house.  I was thinking it may be easy to slip these in their wallet or purse to keep up with.  The only thing listed is school information.  I put my class website, my school email and then our school address and phone number.  My hope is that they will put them on their refrigerators and look at my class website every week.  (I did pay for these - about $10 for 250 cards.)

I made a computer password card for my students.  Our students get a network password but then I also have several websites we use in class.  I'm thinking I'll put them on a binder ring by class and pass out as needed.  Of course, they will stay locked up in my cabinet when not in use.

I was able to get free labels made.  I had the "property of..." label made as well as "please return...".  I'm thinking these will be useful in correspondence with office staff and colleagues.

With all of this, I got a free pen!  No one can claim my pen now.

And then I ordered a stamp that says "turned in late" -  in red ink!  That way I'll know and parents will know when they look through their child's paper.

Because I was new to Vistaprint, I got all of this for $25 and free shipping.

I saw where other teachers ordered punch cards through Vistaprint.  You could use those for either homework completion or good behavior.  I'm still thinking on that one.  I have over 70 kids so punching cards would take up a lot of time I'm thinking.  I also saw where teachers created a type of exit slip card and students write on them at the end of class.  But I'm thinking we could do the same with regular index cards.  I'm not sure students could write on the business card size.  Elementary teachers even made a student information card and to keep in their room.  Our school already does the information card and they're kept in the office so I didn't make one of those.  There are so many ideas and possibilities!

So excited to start a new year!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

New Hall Pass

I love pinterest!  I was looking for something new to do for a hall pass.  I put one together today.

I started with a piece of wood (left over from the crate seats I made for my son's room.
I used modpodge and put two pieces of scrapbook paper on the wood.
I used some stencils and glow in the dark paint for the words.
I attached some ribbon.  We are the cubs with orange, black, and white as our school colors.
Last night, I was making little pom poms for my sister's baby sprinkle coming up, so I made a few for this, as well.
I spray painted some clothes pins (I have extras that I will keep in my drawer).
When the kids need to leave, they will pin the pass to their shirt.  If they break or get lost, then they are cheap to replace.

I created little signs for each pass:  office, restroom and conference (going to another class, etc).
On the back of the clip, I wrote the destination.
I love creating things, and I am excited to put this in my classroom.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Facebook in the classroom

I am not sure if I am completely ready to fully incorporate Facebook into my classroom, but I am going to use it to an extent this year.  I have created a Facebook page for my classroom.

I have set it up completely separate from my personal account because I do not want to blur the lines.  The page I created is set up so no one can post on it other than myself.  Here is what I want to use the facebook page for:

This page is to be used by my math students to post and share problems in the facebook community. We will chart the progression of each problem and see how social media can impact education.
Every two weeks, each class period will post a problem that they as a class have created. The students can then "share" the problem with their own friends. The object is to be the class to have the most: likes, comments with answers, and who can reach the most states/countries. The results will be charted in the classroom, and the students will be able to see how their problem is being seen and answered.

I think that by using Facebook, the kids will be eager to "share" the problem they have created.  We will make it into a contest between the different class periods.  I am planning on having them post a new problem every two weeks.  Of course, the other problems will still be out there, and they can continue to monitor the progress.

There is so much the kids can do with the data.  I think I will set up a graph, and have a student from each class period update the results of the graph each week for each question.  The abundance of central tendency questions that can be created based on the data is overwhelming.  Geography questions can also be created.  Hello cross curricular planning!!!!

During class, I will have the students brainstorm a question. It will be up to them as to what type of question it needs to be (multiple choice, open ended, etc).  One student from each class will post the problem.  Within each problem, we must also include:

  • My 8th grade math class is conducting an experiment to see how many people this question will reach, how many states/countries will reply, how many people will get the question correct.
  • We are posting this question in hopes of getting many: likes, shares, and comments.
  • The question we post has been created by my math class.
  • Please comment and place your answer and include the state/country you are from.
  • Class period, Question # - Question

I think this will be interesting, and I hope it works out like I think it will.  We will jump right into this the first week of school, so be looking for the first three questions (I have three math classes) beginning August 28!