Sunday, December 9, 2012

Declaration of Independence

I love Social Studies, but I find it harder to teach than science. I want it to be as interesting as science and I want my students to come to conclusions and make judgements on their own. But if they lack background knowledge, it is hard to get them to do that.

So I am always on the look out to make social studies more interesting. In Texas, 5th grade is US History. I found this video. It is Too Late to Apologize, but re-written about the Declaration of Independence.

My students loved this video. I wish whoever did this would make new videos. It isn't just the lyrics to the song that are great, but the music video that goes along with it.

There is another video that includes the lyrics on the screen. I usually watch that one.

And now they actually remember the three rights in the Declaration! Hopefully it sticks.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Survival Mode

Our AP passed this out at a mentor meeting this year, saying that our first year teachers were probably going through the survival mode and then would moved further down.

I don't think it is just the first-year teachers going through this. I know that I am in the survival mode. The many plates I am balancing just get more added to them.

I do remember my first year teaching though. November was the worst and I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. My goal this time around it to not sink that low. (Third time's a charm, right)

Please tell me, it isn't just my school.

I also haven't given up on the idea of this blog. I am still trying to make it work.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Can I stop to breathe?

Just for a second?

The first eight days of school have flown by. (I say 8 because, yes, I had to work on Labor Day.)

I have hardly been able to catch my breath. This is how I felt all last year and I am determined to get some sort of organization in place.

Just not this week.

I have been informed that I will have a education student intern in my classroom every Tuesday and Thursday. (Someone to assist me? Yes, please!)

I am also a mentor to a teacher down the hall.

I am trying to keep my own head above water.

But... I love my classes. They are pretty much the best group of students I have ever had. My homeroom class is just so easy to teach. I can give them a task, explain it once, and they are good. I just walk around and facilitate. We are working on the other two.

Quotes from my classroom this week:

"This is pretty much my favorite class!"

"Do we have to leave?"

"I love school! I am having so much fun!"

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pockets in Science Notebooks

Sometimes when we work on things in science, they don't get completely done. Pockets in science notebooks are an easy way to store things for that purpose. Or to store a cardstock ruler, or some vocabulary cards. Or a candy bar. Whatever.

This one requires no extra product. Take two sheets of paper. Fold one over diagonally, glue the side and bottom to the second page. And eureka! there's a pocket.

 For this one, you could use an envelope or a sheet of paper folded over. Just glue it to an inside cover or a sheet of paper. 

This envelope is cut up the side and has the flap cut off. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Science Tools in the Science Notebook

I have said it before. I love Science Notebooks. I have used every year I have taught science (that would be, count it, 2 whole years) and I am excited to use them again this year.

I want to do a lot more with the science notebook this year and have a lot more information in it. Sometimes it is like pulling teeth with 5th graders to get them to care about the science notebooks as much as I do, but it is worth it in the end.

This is an activity I am doing this week. One awesome part of G-camp was getting to talk to Jr. High and High School Science teachers. I asked them what they think us elementary teachers need to hit on better. 

They mentioned science tools. Students don't really know how to use them or what they are. So I am going to try to be better at it this year.

So I have collected all the science tools that the Great State of Texas says my 5th graders need to know by the end of the year. The students will work in a groups and I will give them a few of the tools at a time. As they go through each tool, they will name it, draw a picture, and write a brief description of what it does.

Because they are working in groups, someone is bound to know at least what each tool does. But if by chance nobody knows, their instructions are to draw a picture and leave everything else blank.

Throughout the year as we use each tool in class, we will go back to these pages and fill in the blanks. 

These are my example pages. I learned this format in a workshop I went to this summer. It is an easy way to give the students a limited space for each tool. Because you know some students will go crazy on the pages. They still might.

Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day of School

I survived my first day of school for the year! My legs almost didn't survive unfortunately. I wore my comfortable pair of shoes but I guess I am not that used to walking around that much. I took the summer off from any work out.

I look kind of ridiculous, but at 6:30 this morning, I was pretty excited to be going to meet the kiddos. 

My husband also teaches. Today was his first day with kids at a new school and new grade level. (He made the jump from 3rd grade to High school.) He thought I was joking when I said I was going to take his picture.

And this was my desk by the end of the day. I just can't get organized very much. I need to find some kind of system that works for me. Or just get rid of all the "excess" paper.

Good luck to everyone on the first days back to school!

What Teachers Make

I watch this every year several times before and after school starts. I still get a bit nervous walking into a classroom with dozens of eyes staring at me. It is a bit nerve-wracking knowing that I can change what a child thinks about learning. I can help them see how fun and life changing it is, or I can turn them off of it forever.

So, knowing that I can influence so many children every year just by teaching, is scary. But I love doing it and wouldn't want any other job in the world.

Most people have probably seen this, but if you haven't watch it. It will get you pumped to walk into your classroom.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

My Finished Classroom

I am sure that there are some more things that I could do in here, but it is what it is. It is already cleaner and more organized than it will be all year long. The students will just have to get used to it.

Front of the classroom. I love my ginormous Smartboard. It is gorgeous. I hung up my tissue poms again this year and almost killed myself climbing on all the desks to do it. 

This it he poem everyone has probably seen on Pinterest. I think it is adorable. My favorite parts are "You are scientists" and "you are explorers".

This is the whiteboard space with the banner I made. I love it and kind of want them all over my room.

Close up on CHAMPs. Another teacher introduced them to me this year and I love the visual students will have so they know exactly what is expected of them.

All my bulletin boards. It took me forever to decide what I wanted to do here. And it isn't completely done.

This is my favorite part. I got the quote from a Calvin and Hobbes strip where Calvin said "It's a big world, Hobbes Ole' Buddy, let's go exploring." My sister made the world for me, which I was extremely grateful for.

My classroom jobs pocket. I have enough classroom jobs for everyone in my class to have. 

And my personal wall with all my information including my 5th grade report card. Which the students like to see. 

I am very ready for school tomorrow! More excited and less nervous than I was my first two years.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Meet the Teacher

We had Meet the Teacher this week, along with almost every elementary school in the state of Texas.

It was the best Meet the Teacher I've been to (out of 3 total)

Last year, I think I had 8 parents from my homeroom show up, this year it was 16! Out of 20. And all of them seems so willing to volunteer and help out.

It is one of my goals this year to call parents more and ask them for help more. And it seems like all of my student's parents would be less scary to call. Or maybe I am just more confident. Or maybe it is a little bit of both.

Either way, I am ready for school.

I am going to take pictures of my classroom today and I'll post pictures of it tomorrow.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

My Unorganized Mess

This is where the real test of blogging comes in. Can I blog while I am working at the same time?

It appears that during inservice, I cannot.

But this is what I am working with everyday after 8 hours of sitting.

The room is coming together slowly. But it is coming together. I have 5 days until Meet the Teacher Night. It either gets done, or everything gets shoved into a closet.

It doesn't help that every night I browse Pinterest and come up with new things to add to my to do list. Plus, my mom and sisters are coming to help me next week and I need to have something for them to do!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I need help!

I am asking for you help!

Because I only have two years of teaching under belt, both years at the same campus and under the same principal, I don't have much to compare anything to.

I would like to know how you 4th or 5th grade teachers handle reporting conduct to the parents. Specifically, do you send home a weekly conduct chart or a daily conduct chart. Or do you do something completely different. If you work at a school with very low parental involvement, I would love to hear from you!

If you send a daily conduct chart home, how does that work?  What are the daily steps involved. I am trying to collect ideas and I want to hear some ideas on what might potentially work and want might not work.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer is Over and Posters

I have had a professional/staff development everyday this week. Three were voluntary, and then Thursday and Friday were the first days back for my campus. And we still have two weeks before school starts. This is a lot of inservice.

I was excited to see all our teachers and meet the new teachers on our campus. I love being around groups of teachers. We are just so funny.

We wrote songs, we team built, we dug in some data and mostly enjoyed each other's company. I am hopeful/excited for the new year. I think it is going to be awesome.

I found this blog Venspired Learning. She has so much great stuff on her website but what I love most are the free posters she has created.

This is on of my mottos for the year in my classroom.

It is hard to get students to understand that anything worth having only comes through hard work. They want immediate responses, instant results, and sometimes give up too easily. It is a hard lesson to learn, but when they do work hard, I love seeing them realize how good it feels. It is one of my favorite parts of teaching.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Nightmares Begin...

Ever since I was in school, I have always had back-to-school nightmares. I would show up to school without any supplies, forgetting my name, with no friends... anything horrible.

This "tradition" has not stopped now that I am a teacher. And I had my first nightmare this week.

I show up to school the first day with all my desks still in a corner, no copies made and my principal informing me that I will now be self-contained.

I have also had the dream where all of my more spirited students are back for their second time in my classroom.

Or the one where I have horrible classroom management, my classroom is at the temple ruins from Lost, and all the administration is in my "classroom" to observe.

To prevent any of these from actually happening (especially the no copies on the first day of school) I have started actually looking at what I want to do the First Day of School. It is such an important day and so much pressure is put on it, that I tend procrastinate my planning for it. I can have the first month of school planned out, but not that first day.

I work better under pressure anyways.

I'm not the only one who has nightmares, right? I think I have always just been so excited for the first day of school, my brain channels that excitement into crazy stories.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bulletin Boards

 I think I am getting better at this bulletin board stuff.  I spent a part of my Saturday making these because I was so excited about them. I only live 5 minutes from my school, so it is easy for me to run up and do something.

This is the board outside of my classroom. I cut out all those letters by hand. It says "Let's Shine This Year." (Because I was working on a Saturday, the hallway lights were not on. So the only light is from the sun.) I went a baby shower recently and my friend mentioned she felt bad wasting all the tissue paper from the bags. Well, I told her I would take it all and use it for my classroom somehow. Which is what I did for the sun here. 

I saw this tutorial on Pinterest for a Ruffle Border and loved it. At first, I was really unsure of how it was going to look, but as a finished product I love it.

The only supplies you need are butcher paper, scissors and staples. And the more staple you use, I think the better. Now I need to find something extra special to put inside this border.

I am putting off the really hard stuff on my to-do list, the stuff that requires a lot of thinking. My brain is not just ready for summer to be over quite yet.

Friday, August 3, 2012

My New Classroom

This is my new classroom. I volunteered to move rooms so that everyone could be near their partner teachers in our 5th grade hallway.

But also because I wanted that awesome new smartboard and a window not blocked by a bush. (Amazing what I get excited about)

So I have three weeks to make this classroom my own. We are playing musical classrooms at our school and everyone has to wait for the last person to move out of the room. So I really can't start moving in until next week.

Which is buying me time because I have no idea what to do. This is a chance to start fresh!

I am going to buy new sheets, which I use to cover the bulletin boards. It is cheaper than fabric and comes in so many colors. But that's all I've got. I am going to spend some time today doing something, but I don't know yet.

Does anyone see this room and think, "If I had that room I would..." Tell me what you would do, please? I am pitiful when it comes to this stuff.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Top of My List

School starts this month! I have realized the my to-do list will probably not get finished by the time school starts, so I am prioritizing this morning.

First up, new clothes.

My husband and I have decided to use our extra money from summer school to buy new clothes. So I have been scouring Pinterest for my new wardrobe. I am not a shopper. I go straight to the clearance rack and pick something that mostly fits.

But I have recently decided that I have a real career now and I should get to buy clothes that are awesome.

Based on what I have been pinning, I love cardigans, belts and ruffles.

I know that Ann Taylor and J.Crew give teacher discounts, although I haven't tried them out yet. Does anyone know of other stores with great deals?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Almost Over

I have returned from G-camp. I was tested physically, mentally and emotionally. But I made some wonderful teacher friend in that two weeks. They became my family and without them, I would not have survived it.

Not only were they great friends, but fantastic teachers. The best part about being around other teachers is all the great ideas. I literally have pages of resources and ideas to look up and try out.

I was one of the newer teachers and it was refreshing to be around teachers who have 5, 10, 15+ years of experience and still love teaching. They are trying to improve for their students.

That's why we all started teaching, right? We want to impact the lives of children somehow. I am ready to get back to work, keep a positive attitude and work smart.

I am also better prepared to teach my students geology. In Texas, 5th graders cover sedimentary rock, fossil fuels and ecosystems. I collected samples of all types of rock, including some sedimentary rock with fossils in them! I am excited to share with my kiddos.

Me at White Sand Dunes in New Mexico

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Revolve and Rotate

I have created some interactive notebook pages which you can use to complete this activity with your students.

Here is another idea from my science notebook. Inside our notebooks we put models of the earth revolving around the sun and rotating on its axis. Just like reflection and refraction, students can easily mix up rotate and revolve.

The students glued an earth to the edge of a strip of paper. They used a brad to connect the strip of paper, the sun, and the notebook page. Then we wrote the definition for revolve, orbit and the length of 1 revolution beside the model. 

 This next year, I would like to add the moon to this model.

For the bottom part, the students needed to see a visual of the day/night cycle. We turned the earth on its axis and glue it down. Then drew the line where day/night meet. 

This page is meant to model rotation. Each student received a view of the earth from the top. We attached a brad through the north pole and marked which way the earth spins. We added the definitions of rotate, axis and axial tilt. There is also a line showing where day/night meet.

I had this all set up before class so the students could see what we were aiming for. But I also did another as we went through it together.

This corresponds with Science TEKS 5.8C and it is partly a review from early grades.

Next year a I need to add a page that shows how the sun moves across the sky during the day. If anyone has a page in a science notebook they think could work, let me know.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Things to Do in My Classroom

I have slowly but surely been trying the ideas on Pinterest that I have found.I am hoping that I can be more organized and in turn teach the students to be more organized. Isn't it amazing how students adapt to the room? I have noticed that the teachers who are really organized can get students to be more organized themselves. But the same student can go into another teacher's room and be completely different.

They are impressionable

I need a poster like this for my room. It comes from Middle School Math Rules Our school sets aside 10 minutes for dismissal procedures at the end of the day, and the way the buses work it can sometime be 20 minutes. To me, that is 15 minutes a day wasted, about 1 hour a week, 4 hours a month...  you get the picture. Training students in a procedure like this would mean more teaching time.

I love the Science Notebooking blog. There are so many great ideas there. I love the idea of putting colored duct tape on the notebooks at the beginning of the year. This past year I used garage sale stickers on the bindings to separate each classes' notebook. This year, I will have 6 different sets of notebooks. Science and Social Studies notebooks for each class.

This is also from the Science Notebooking Blog. I love the idea of putting up wall posters for each unit studied. The walls in our hallways can be pretty bare and kids walk by them everyday. Sometimes they wait in line outside. Wouldn't it be great to have them looking at something while they are our there?

And this is just adorable.(Cannot find where it originally came from.) Our district tries to support students thinking about college and career choices early on. This past year we had a field trip to a college campus and spent some time exploring other universities around Texas.

I would like to take pictures at the beginning and end of the year and see how they changed. My goal is to see more science based careers, especially from the girls.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Science Picture Books

At Half Price Books last week I ventured into the children's non-fiction section. Oh my! There were lots of good books there. (Did you know they give a teacher's discount.)

I have seen lots of posts with picture books lately. These are some good books I have found.

Energy Island: How One Community Harnessed the Wind and Changed Their World by Allan Drummond

This is a true story about a town in Denmark that reduced their carbon emissions and become almost energy independent. This is a perfect story to read when we get to identifying alternative energy resources in 5th grade.

The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks by Joanna Cole

Can you go wrong with Magic School Bus. In 5th grade, students have already learned the water cycle, so the basics of this but we add to it. This book goes a little deeper than water just circulating through clouds and the ocean while reviewing those concepts.

This is Your Life Cycle by Heather Lynn Miller

 This is a fun way to introduce metamorphosis. It might even be fun to act out this "game show."

I have read pictures books to my students as a class before. But I don't have a lot of experience with it. Does anyone have a great way they use picture books in the classroom?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

To Make Before School Starts

...Or Stuff I Saw on Pinterest and Really Want.

I have seen these buttons several place, but most recently on Life is Better Messy Anyways. It is a fun way to have students brag/celebrate how hard they worked. And since I am sure few students in my classes talk about school to their parents, it would be a good way to start a conversation at home. 

I am not sure where these exact flip charts came from, but the idea circulated around my campus this past year. I never got around to making them, but I would love to cut down on the Miss, Miss, Miss when someone needs help. 

This is hilarious to me. I would love to have a large bathroom pass that says this. I'll need to figure it out!

I've seen this everywhere to, and unfortunately I can't find where this exact one belongs. (If it is yours let me know and I'll link it.) I think it started about as a tackle box from Lowe's and now it is a wonderful organization toll. Which I need desperately. The inside of my desk is almost as bad as the outside. (But not as bad.)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Campaign Buttons

I have the wonderful opportunity to be part of the Teaching American History grant. Throughout the school year, we (me and about 40 other teachers) read history books and attend lectures by professors from around the United States. At the end of the school year, we take a history trip. This summer we went to California. Two of our stops were the Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan Presidential Libraries.

There I had an idea for my class this year. I am excited that I get to teach American history in a presidential election year. (Even if I myself am not excited about either candidate.)

Each library had a collection of campaign buttons, bumper stickers and signs. I think it would be fun to have my students pick a candidate and create a campaign button to show their support.

I am going to have to think about how much I want to bring the election into a 5th grade classroom. (It can't be too much since I do have a strict schedule I have to stick to.) But I would like to end it with all the 5th graders "voting" on election day. I remember doing that in 5th grade for the Clinton/Dole election.

Once I have an actual lesson plan, I'll share it here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

G-Camp Update

I have only been at g-camp for 5 days, but it feels so much longer. Each day is jammed with geology sites and activities which starts at 6:30am. Things most people might take one full day to do, we are doing several per day.

Currently, we are touring Colorado. The mountains are beautiful. There is nothing like them in East Texas. And now, I kind of know more about them. Before it was just a mountain. But now it can be a mountain surrounded by rock glaciers, with a few dikes or hogbacks and alluvial fans at the bottom.

Learning this stuff myself does remind me of how some things must seem to students in our classes. I came into this knowing very little about geology. And it has taken me 5 days to catch on to some things. Sometimes I feel like the professors are speaking gibberish.

But I am working hard, doing my homework, and reading the night before.

These are some things I have seen so far.

These are the Great Sand Dunes of Colorado. To me, they kind of seem like they shouldn't be there. And this picture does not do it justice. The highest dune is around 731 feet. People seem like tiny dots compared to them.

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado. The Empire State Building would only come up to about half of the cliff. This was the first real canyon I have seen. It was absolutely gorgeous.

Lake San Cristobal in Colorado. This lake is in a caldera. Which is a landform. Who knew there were so many different types of landforms. A caldera is a crater that occurs after the magma comes out a volcano. The magma leaves a void and then the crust collapses in and a caldera is left. This specific caldera is actually miles in length and width.

The Continental Divide. Something I learned about forever ago and now I have finally seen. 

There are still 12 days left in this and I don't think the "good" stuff has started yet. Although, I consider this good stuff.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Magic Trash

Sometimes my classroom can be a total mess at the end of the day. Especially if the scissors come out. Sometimes I just feel so embarrassed when the janitors come in so I try to make it looks as clean as possible.

I saw this idea somewhere last year, tried it and it worked so well.

At the end of the day when we are doing dismissal procedures, I secretly pick a piece of trash on the floor. Then I tell my class that whoever picks up the magic piece of trash gets a prize. (I use a piece of gum.)

Those who want to participate, usually most of the class, quickly get up and pick up every piece of trash in the room.

This works perfectly because if I wanted to reward someone who usually doesn't get rewards, no one has to know which piece of trash I really picked.

If I were a better teacher, I might be able to get students to pick up trash just because it is there. But that is an improvement I'll focus on further in my teaching career.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Science Homework

I am on a quest this year to create some science homework.

Yes, I believe in homework. Even in a school where parent involvement is low.

I believe in order for students to be successful, they need to devote some time outside of what is mandatory and PRACTICE. Practice reading, researching, multiplication, thinking...etc. (Most) students will not want to do that on their own. But maybe a few more will do it on their own if it is assigned. I know that not every student will return homework everyday. But I try.

However, usually my homework was math problems. I am not teaching math this year, but I still want kids to practice what they are learning.

So... I want to create science homework. I could give them practice multiple choice questions to prepare them for the 5th grade science STAAR. (One of the state mandated tests they will take this year in Texas.) Or I could make it more exciting. Something they might actually want to do. And something that won't get me in too much trouble with their parents.

Like, using water, create a mixture with another substance. What did you use and describe how you would separate it.

And maybe, just maybe, they ask a parent for help. Maybe the parent becomes a little more interested in the education of their child.

Because another thing I believe in, when parents become involved, it changes things. And parents don't need a college education or even a high school education to be involved.

I finished my first page of homework. An Energy Scavenger Hunt. Science TEKS 5.6A says a students needs to explore the uses of energy. (Mechanical, Light, Thermal, Electrical, and Sound) Last year we did a foldable where they looked for examples of each energy in the classroom. This year, I want my 5th graders to try it at home as well.

You can find the Scavenger Hunt on my Teachers Pay Teachers page. It is a free download. If you like it, leave a comment.
  5th - Social Studies - History, Science, Math -
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...