Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Books Read

I am a reader. I have been since as long as I can remember. My siblings always made fun of me because I would have my nose in a book instead of being outside playing. I begged my parents to take me to libraries and still visit a library at least once a week. I love taking my daughter there. Even though she is only 1, I want her to love libraries as much as I do.

So, here are the books I read in 2014. I had a goal to read 25 and I read 26.

The Cuckoo's Calling, Robert Galbraith (really J.K. Rowling)
The Song of Quarkbeast, Jasper Fforde
The Abundance of Katherines, John Green
Death of a Maid, M.C. Beaton
A Hat Full of Sky, Terry Pratchett
I Shall Wear Midnight,  Terry Pratchett
The One, Kiera Cass
Wedding Night, Sophie Kinsella
Wintersmith, Terry Pratchett
The Bride Wore Size 12, Meg Cabot
Nation, Terry Pratchett
The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, Rob Thomas 
The Elite, Kiera Cass
The Woodcutter, Kate Danley
The Selection, Kiera Cass
Under the Dome, Stephen King
Reached, Ally Condie
Promised, Caragh M. O'Brien
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman
The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
The Saber-Tooth Curriculum, J Abner Peddiwell
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
Cultural Politics and Education, Michael W Apple
As Texas Goes, Gail Collins
The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

The books in blue are the ones I would recommend reading. Looking at my list though, I finished all of these books so...they weren't all bad. Some years I have books on my list that I read because its there and I am holding out hope that it will be good. Not this year. If it didn't grab my attention in the first 5 pages, I didn't read it. Not something I would tell anyone to always do. But all of these books grabbed my attention really quickly.

What books should I add to my to-read list of 2015? I love finding obscure books that few people have heard of. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Would you Rather? Math Edition

Math. Love it and hate it.

It can be fun. But I find I love math when there are interesting problems to solve and not boring worksheets. I know my students feel the same way. 

I found this blog last week called Would You Rather?

John Stevens posts would you rather situations that require mathematical thinking to solve. 

Today I turned this one into a station. 

I changed it up a little so the students had to do more math with it. They had to answer the following question:

Would you rather...
Have a stack of quarters from the floor to the top of your head? OR

Have a nickel for every day you've been alive?

Students had to measure themselves, convert years to days, multiply decimals, divide, use fractions...etc. They had to take things they had learned and apply it to this problem in unique ways. 

The students didn't leave the classroom proclaiming it was the best day ever! (yet) But their attitudes were better, they didn't complain, students who grudgingly do math were excited to multiply decimals to find out how much money they would have. When it was time to go, they wouldn't stop. It was fun for me to talk to them about the work they were doing and they had fun explaining their choices. 

Look at all that math going on! I am excited for more students to tackle this problem tomorrow. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Every Kid Needs A Champion

My principal showed this video at our PLC meeting this week. It will be added to the list of videos I watch on the day before school starts. It is a reminder of why I teach. I want students to realize that no matter their circumstances, they can be somebody. It's why I love working in Title One schools.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Rules, Post-its and First Week of School

I've survived one week of school. With no school today. I think the Labor Day after school starts is one of my favorite holidays. It is so needed after the first week of school. 

You've probably seen this activity on Pinterest. It isn't new and I've been doing it for at least three school years. I love getting the students opinions on how the year should go.

The students answer questions on post-it notes and then place their answer on the butcher paper I've put up. 

The after is the interesting part. I take their answers and make a world cloud out of them and then present it to the class on other day. We can make classroom rules from the patterns we see. It is also something I get out after long holidays and as needed to remind ourselves what we expect from each other throughout the year. 

What do you need from your classmates this year?

Our classroom should be _________ everyday. 
What do you need to do to succeed this year?

To make the clouds, I have used Wordle and Tagxedo. These were made with Tagxedo.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


I will be doing Guided Math in my mathematics class this year. As I learn more about how it works, I will write about it. Essentially, it allows me to work in small groups with students while other students reinforce their skills in groups.

I think an essential part of getting Guided Math to work is getting students to rely on each other for support. Gone are the days when the teacher is the final answer in the classroom. I really don't want my students to wait for me to answer their questions before they begin anything. They need to learn to work together.

This is a short animated video that tells the story of collaboration and what can be done if two people put their heads together and share their strengths with each other. I plan to share it with my students as we begin practicing procedures for small group work.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Technology Integration

Another video to watch. I watched this for an assignment of one of my grad school classes, but it is something I am really trying to do this year as a teacher. I am lucky that my new classroom is the "Tech Grant" room so I have more technology in my classroom than I ever had. I want to use  I want the students to use that technology frequently.

I think a lot of lessons teachers plan don't necessarily need technology. The objectives can still be reached and some students will still learn without using technology.

HOWEVER, technology integration allows students to become more engaged and take more ownership of their work and learning.

Here are a few key points I liked from the video:

  • Technology helps teachers meet students where they are.
  • Kids respond better when they can share their stuff. It shouldn't just go sit in a pile somewhere to be graded.
  • Students can learn at their own pace and the teacher can formatively assess better. 
  • Its not about the tool, it is about the learning, the process, and the engagement. 
I am doing a research project this year on using technology in my classsroom to increase student attitudes towards math. I can't wait to see the results. 

If you are a technology guru or know a fabulous teacher-tech blog I should follow, leave a comment!

Monday, August 25, 2014

First Day 2014-2015

I hate taking selfies. But the only other person at home was my 10 month old daughter and I really wanted to change into my pajamas. (So I wasn't waiting for my husband to come home.) (Also, I know the closet is a mess. I've accepted it.)

I survived the first day of 6th grade. After teaching 5th grade for 4 years, I was a little nervous about these grown-up 6th graders. Guess what? They still mostly look like 5th graders. So they weren't too scary. 

The first half of the day was awesome. I was all ready to say it was the best first day of school ever! But I didn't want to jinx my afternoon classes. And while it mostly went smoothly, there is a class where I will need to be on top of things at all times. Overall, I still think it might have been my best first day of school every!

Years ago on my first day of 6th grade, I was a crying mess. I had just moved to a new school, I didn't know anyone, and I cried from the time I got home until I went to bed. And then I had to go back for day 2! For most of 6th grade, I dreaded going to school. I loved learning, but I didn't feel like I belonged. 

I really hope that no student left my classroom feeling like that. I learned most of their names the first day and really tried hard to pronounce them correctly. It is important to me that no child gets overlooks, because I often was. 

Tomorrow is a new day!