Saturday, December 28, 2013

Winter break reads

   It is so nice to have a little time off of school to have a chance to do something for myself.  I have a lot of books sitting on my shelf that I'm trying to read during the break.  My top read is called Radical by David Platt, which is about what it really means to be a devoted to the gospel. I haven't read but a couple of chapters so far but it seems to have a very powerful message.

The other book I'm currently reading is The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom.  It is a fiction novel about a guy known as Father Time who tries to teach others the true meaning of time. 

There are other new books I have sitting on my shelf but I doubt I will have time to get to them.  My Winter break ends January 2nd.  Next week I plan on pending a couple of days getting the last few weeks of the second quarter planned out.  If I do find more time to read here is what is currently on my shelf: 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Remembering my vision


    Have you ever had a week where you question why you are doing what you are doing? That was me this week. I often caught myself wondering why I was putting in so much hard work for the output it seemed like I was getting.  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love teaching and there really is nothing else I would rather do, but lately I am becoming quite frustrated with the education world. That is why I decided it would be a good idea to remember why I decided to become a teacher and what my goals are as a teacher.
     I've wanted to teach since I was a little girl teaching to my teddy bears.  I've always enjoyed learning and finding fun ways to teach things to other people.  The idea of getting other people to be passionate about a subject was very intriguing to me.  So I went to college and got my undergraduate degree in elementary education. During my first job teaching I fell in love with helping students with disabilities.  That is when I decided to get my masters in special education.  I wanted more knowledge to better help all levels of learners that came into my classroom.
    Now as a second year teacher I spend so much time thinking about how I can each individual student.  I believe that every student has a story behind who they are, that is worth learning about.  There are those students who will test you and make you sometimes feel as though you wish they weren't a part of your class.  Usually when you take the time to get to know them you realize it isn't because they are just a bad kid, it is that they have been living through bad situations.  Maybe those kids won't be the kids that make all A's, but they could be the kids that I teach a life lesson to, which in their world could mean more than great grades.  Then there are those kids who think they know everything and have to have their say in class.  It is easy to want to constantly ignore them and shrug them off because they already know what they need to know.  However, getting to know them better you often see that they are dying for attention because they don't get it anywhere else. There are many other types of students, but my point is that I want to find a way to help every student succeed.  Success doesn't have to be measured by grades either.  I like to measure success on an individual basis.  If my students grow throughout the year in some positive way then I feel that it is been as successful year.
     It is so easy to get frustrated as a teacher because not every child is behaving in the perfect way or making the best grades.  However, when you look behind what you see at school you can understand why they act the way that they do.  If I have any goal at all it is to make every child see that they can be successful no matter what life circumstances stand in their way. Sometimes students just need someone to believe in them.  
   So yes, the excessive amount of paperwork is tedious, sometimes co-workers aren't the most respectful, and situations come up that don't seem fair; but those things aren't part of why I became a teacher.  I am a teacher because I want to be the person my students know believes in them.  I'm a teacher because I want to give children a passion for learning.  I'm a teacher because I love seeing a real smile on my students faces.  Those things are worth every bad day that I've had and will have.  There is no doubt that teaching is hard, but remembering my vision makes it much easier.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Teaching Egypt in Pictures

It is always fun starting a new unit. I especially love to teach Egypt because there are so many fun activities to do with it. There are also plenty of resources to use when teaching Egypt.   I hooked my students into the unit by passing around books about Egypt and having them write down what looked interesting to them.  We then looked at a map that compared the location of Egypt to Mesopotamia.  It was good for them to see how close the two civilizations were to each other.   To look into the geography of Egypt we spent some time thinking about the benefits of the Nile river. We made our own river in our interactive social studies notebooks.  After studying geography we took a closer look at the daily life of ancient Egyptians.  Here is the book we put together:

The next day we looked into what Egyptians wore.  We made our own necklaces with famous symbols as charms.  We talked about Egyptian art and the meaning of the symbols they used.

Yesterday we learned about schools in Egypt and their writing system.  One activity I did was a class venn diagram to compare ancient Egyptian schools to our school.  This was very easy for them to do but a good visual.  Next year I think I will have my students make a model or picture of what an ancient school would have looked like. 

They really enjoyed writing in hieroglyphics.  Everyone learned how hard it was to decipher messages since the hieroglyphics represented individual syllables.  If I have more time next year I would love for them to make scrolls to put their hieroglyphic message on.
For Halloween we talked about mummification and the Egyptian believe in afterlife.  They were all into this and wanted to know everything about how mummies were made.

I'm only half way through this unit so far.  I'm excited to talk about pyramids and the social class system next.  What activities do you use to teach ancient Egypt?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Calling all Middle School Pinterest lovers!

I'm super thrilled that Pinterest is now adding special boards for education.  They are calling it Teachers on Pinterest and are putting together public boards for educators to collaborate with.  Right now they have a board for all the elementary grades and are about to add middle school boards.  I was contacted to help start a middle school english and social studies board since those are the subjects I teach.  I need other Pinners to pin on these boards before they will make them public.  So if you pin middle grades language arts or social studies pins, please follow me on Pinterest and leave a comment so I can add you to be able to pin on these boards.
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Saturday, October 19, 2013

New Units

   I'm so thankful for a fresh new start next week.  Last week I finished up Mesopotamia and my elements of fiction unit.  I'm going to reteach a few concepts on Monday and Tuesday from those two units before moving on.  My standard class didn't do as well on the fiction test as I would have liked so  I'm going to spend some time working in small groups with what they missed on their tests.  I'm also going to summarize what we have learned so far about the ancient world before moving write into Egypt.  I have a great book that has a page with graphics for each important time in history.  I'm going to use that to create a timeline of the world so far.  Wednesday it will be time for Ancient Egypt and Poetry!

For anyone else who teaches ancient civilizations, you are welcome to use the LiveBinder I put together.  It has a tab with links to all kind of Ancient Egypt sites.
Social Studies

How will I begin teaching ancient Egypt?

I have a book of Ancient World Reader's Theatre Plays which I will start off with to grab their attention.  I then plan on showing the connection between Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt.  Before we start learning important vocabulary I'm going to pass around Egypt books and have students write down what they find interesting in the books and would want to learn more about.

How will I begin teaching poetry?

Before I even start teaching poetry I will start Monday and Tuesday by reading some fun poems to the class.  We will begin learning types of figurative language on Wednesday.  I plan on using a lot of music to begin with to draw the students into learning about poetry.  I found a couple of parody's I'm going to show and then have them create their own parody.

In other news...I'm hoping to get back to a normal routine next week myself.  I haven't been doing much exercising or anything for myself really in the past month with all I've had going on.  This weekend I haven't been feeling that great so I'm truly hoping that Monday morning will bring a fresh start and a renewed spirit.  I found this awesome song called "Breathing Air Again" that is about taking a breath of fresh air and trusting God to be with you through every step of the day.

Have a blessed week!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Five for Friday

I haven't posted much lately so I thought I'd at least link up today for Five for Friday to share a bit of my week.


On Monday I played the song from Flocabulary that goes with the Mesopotamia unit. I've done a lot of songs with my lessons lately but my students really enjoyed this one.  This song is great to review everything about Mesopotamia, it includes almost all of the key vocabulary.


We read a short version of the Epic of Gilgamesh this week. I then had my students create comics to illustrate an adventure Gilgamesh was in.  I was impressed at their creativity making the comics.  It was a great lesson in sequence of events. 


Last Saturday I went to the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival near the mountains with my parents.  It was a beautiful day for it & I was able to find a couple gifts for people at work.  We also saw some pets they had at the petting zoo.  It was interesting seeing a camel, since that isn't what you would normally expect at a petting zoo.


My students have ePals now from France and Mexico.  They were able to email their pals this week for the first time and were so excited.  They are already learning so many things about other cultures.  Their ePals from France sent their height in their letters and my students were asking me if they were short because they were "only 1 meter" tall.  We had some great discussions about other cultures and it was great seeing them so excited to learn about people.


Today my cheerleaders were able to participate in the homecoming parade for our local high school.  The parade started at the middle school and made it's way to the high school.  Once at the high school there was a float contest, performance by the band and then cheerleader performances.  All the local cheerleading squads were able to perform for the high school students which was a lot of fun.  It also was a nice day for me to get to have a day off from teaching.  

I couldn't be more thankful that it is Friday.  These past few weeks have been so tiring and I'm ready for a fresh start.  I start new units new units next week which I'm excited about.  I also plan on trying to exercise more next week so I can gain some energy. Next week is also our last football game of the season.  I will be very thankful to have a few weeks off of cheerleading before basketball starts up.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Professional Development: Mesopotamia

   I absolutely love to learn new things, that is one of the main reasons I became a teacher.  I miss being in college and opening up brand new textbooks (yes, that is the nerd in me). One of my teacher evaluation standards that I chose to work on this year was knowing the content that I teach.   I feel like I can easily come up with fun ideas for teaching but I don't remember ever learning some of the things in our curriculum.  Therefore, one of my goals is to do some intense studying before I start teaching something.  I've decided to reflect on what I have learned by posting some interesting facts on my blog.
   This week I will start teaching Mesopotamia so I have been doing a lot of reading a research about ancient Egypt.  Resources I've used to learn more about this ancient egypt civilization include Discover Kids Magazine, Mr. Donn's Ancient Mesopotamia lesson plan guide, the Bible, Discovery Streaming and

Where is Mesopotamia?

Mesopotamia was where we consider to be modern day Iraq.

It is also known as the "Fertile Crescent" because of the two rivers that run through it.  The Tigris and Euphrates rivers provided rich nutrients to the soil which allowed for better farming conditions. 

2 weeks later...
Yes, I am just now posting this post after writing the start of it two weeks ago.  I'm now finished with my Mesopotamia unit and it went very well.  The past few weeks have been quite stressful with my grandma passing away and a lot going on at work.  As this unit comes to an end I am looking forward to a fresh start with Egypt next week! 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Catching Up & ePals

     I have been missing in action the past two weeks.  I never would have thought that coaching cheerleading would be so time consuming.  What makes it the most time consuming is how tired I am by the end of practice or a game and then still have lessons to plan or papers to grade.  So I am going to try very hard to get out of the rut I feel like I am in and locate some more energy.   Other than not feeling like I have any free time, the past two weeks have went really well.  I haven't even began teaching what I find to be the fun stuff yet.

     For  the past couple of weeks in language arts we have been reviewing the parts of speech and writing.  One class wrote superhero stories while the other wrote about barbeque and Pepsi for a writing contest our city holds.  We also have been preparing for having ePals by working on word processing skills.  We currently have one class we are emailing from New Zealand.  We are willing to email exchange any class if you would like to participate with us.  Our school has a safe email system that is filtered for us to email other students with.  My goal with emailing other students is for students to practice writing skills, learn about the daily lives of others and share what they are learning in school.        Please contact me as soon as possible if you would like to be ePals with my classes.  I have a total of 53 students.

     We have done a lot of singing to help reinforce grammar rules.  Last week we sung the preposition song which they really enjoyed.  We even made signs with prepositions on them and acted out the words.  On the quiz I gave, almost all of students got the prepositions questions correct! I wish there was a song and dance for everything I teach.

In social studies we are finishing up learning about early humans.  We studied early humans and how life changed in early Paleolithic and Neolithic time periods.  They will be assessed on the material next week and then we finally get to start learning about civilizations.  I really enjoy teaching Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent.  Flocabulary has a really cute song to go with it.

In other news my students have been very well behaved this year which makes for a very happy teacher.  What I think is helping my students stay behaved is using what I learned from reading Teach Like a Pirate.  I try to never have my students listen to me lecture for too long, and always plan some kind of activity for them to do.  I also use Whole Brain Teaching which keeps them engaged.   One of my classes earned their first reward time this week.  They really enjoyed playing games and what was great was that they were learning while playing games and didn't even realize it! 

    As for what is going on with me outside of school, I just turned 25! Last week was filled with sweet presents and love from my students.   One group came up to be in the hall and burst out in song, while another class sang to me to start our class period.  I've never had a group of students care that much to make sure I had a good birthday.  Even when I entered the gym for cheer practice the squad sang to me.  It was very sweet.  I also had a nice birthday dinner at home.  My family grilled out and I got to see my niece and nephew.  This was one of the best birthdays I had in a long time!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Five for....Sunday

   I'm a bit late for Five for Friday but I'm still linking up anyway.  I learned a lot about my students last week and have a lot of differentiation I'm going to have to start planning.  On to my top 5 events of the week.


This week I started to teach plot and sequence of events.   I had my students write stories about superheroes, which they loved. My advanced class was able to use the iPads to turn their stories into cartoon films.   Toontastic is a free app which sets up a story by using the plot diagram for each scene.   Here is one of the films a pair of students created.


In social studies we finished the 5 Themes of Geography and I gave an assessment.  I was very happy that both classes scored very well.  We are now starting archeology and then will go into early humans. To get my students hooked into the unit I started with an "Iceman Murder Mystery" in which I turned my classroom into a lab where students had to try to solve the mystery of how & why Iceman was killed.  They turned their social studies notebooks into lab manuals and recorded information from the artifacts I gave them.  

During our homeroom time our school is doing a bully free program.  One of the activities we were supposed to do involved creating a note to the teacher box where students can leave reports of bullying or just positive notes to the teacher.  Some of my students left the sweetest notes which really brightened my day.

I think building a classroom community is so important so I wrote my team a brief letter and posted it on class Instagram.

More than anything I want my students to feel safe and comfortable in my classroom.  I know that they can't learn when they are worried about other things, so I am glad we are doing this bully-free program.

Yesterday, my mom and I had a mother-daughter date to a heritage festival and to a local butterfly farm.  The festival had gospel music and lots of vendors set up with crafts and other goods.  We didn't end up finding too much but I always love going to festivals and getting craft ideas.  At the butterfly farm we learned a lot about Monarch butterflies and then were about to go inside a butterfly house and feed them.  It was a really neat experience and would be a great school field trip for anyone teaching life cycles.

A couple of weeks ago we had a stray kitten come up that we started to feed.  She has stayed around and is just so sweet and playful, that I'm just going to have to keep her.  I decided to name her Lucy after my favorite T.V. show, I Love Lucy.  

It's never too late to link up and share your week, or to look at what other teachers are up. Click the button below to join in on the fun!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

What I've been up to lately

    Last week being only a four day week still seemed to move so slow.  However, I felt like my students learned a lot and I'm really enjoying my classes.  One thing that is working very well this year is not having binders.  I can not stand binders,  sixth graders just can not keep them organized and they usually just throw papers in a random place.  I know many teachers say that we should be teaching them to stay organized but last year it was way too much of a battle.  So this year I did away with binders and my students have a reading notebook and a social studies notebook.  We keep them in the classroom and I don't even have to worry about them not being prepared. If I have a handout then I shrink it down a little so that it can fit onto the composition notebook and they glue it in.  This has been working SO well and my students love being able to cut and glue more often.

Here are a couple of pages from their social studies notebook.  We have been working on the 5 themes of geography.

These are the power pics I created to help students remember the 5 themes.  Power pictures are pictures that display a gesture we created in class to remember a vocabulary word.  I review power pictures at the beginning of class.

    I also started vocabulary with them this week.  Since I teach two completely different leveled classes I had to differentiate their homework.  They keep their vocabulary in a notebook so that they can look back at past weeks without losing anything.  We work on greek and latin roots in sixth grade so their homework comes from learning the meaning of different stems.  I also want my students to grow their own personal vocabulary so I have them look for words they don't know in their reading and record them in their vocabulary notebooks. 

   Other happenings this week included multiple meetings and our first football game.  I'm so proud of my cheerleaders for all of their hard work.  They did a great job at our first game and they will only get better!  Not only are they wonderful cheerleaders but they have big hearts as well.  Here is us during our prayer circle before the game.

Friday I stayed until almost 7:30 to get my room cleaned up.  You would think with only being in school for two weeks that my room shouldn't be a mess yet. I had papers everywhere and my supply order came in this week so I had to find places to put everything.  I left at the end of the day Friday feeling like a new person.  There is nothing better than being able to see to clean teacher desks.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day Lesson Planning

    If you would have talked to me a couple of weeks ago I would have said that a long weekend right after the first week of school seemed too soon and I would have rather waited to have one later in the month.  However, after completed the first week of school and being completely exhausted and already behind on lesson plans, I am very thankful to have the day off to catch up.  Today I am linking up with Mrs. Laffin's Laughings to share a peek at my week.

There is no school for Labor Day so my plan is to catch up on some work I need to get done.  I also need to create a new cd for our cheerleaders half time dance this Wednesday.  I'm trying to learn how to add a voice over to the sound track but it is much more difficult than you would think.

I teach two different levels of classes, one regular class with many students reading far below grade (which I will refer to as Class 1) and one advanced class with some students who can already read at a tenth grade level (which I will refer to as Class 2). Therefore, my lesson plans vary for each class.  

 In both classes I will begin teaching Summarizing.  Class 2 will respond to the mini lesson using the book they are reading and writing me their first reading response letter.  I will begin reading the book Wonder as a read aloud to Class 1 and will have them write me a summary about what I read.  I also will be introducing vocabulary to both classes.  Before I give them their weekly words I will introduce what the words prefix and suffix mean.

 Last week I introduced the five themes of geography and started a lesson on location.  Everyone created a map of either the classroom or their house.  They are going to play a game with these maps to review location and then we will begin learning about latitude and longitude.  I have an inflatable world globe that I will be using to have students catch and tell the coordinates in latitude and longitude that their thumb lands on. 

After school Wednesday is our first football game.  I am very excited to see how my cheerleaders do.  They have worked really hard so I hope that we will as ready as I want them to be.  

   We will be having library orientation for both classes today so I will be doing a short review about summarizing before the orientation and finishing what we didn't on Tuesday.

 We will continue to study latitude and longitude.  I have a game called Message in bottle that students will play to practice using map skills.

  Thursday I will begin reviewing comprehension strategies, I will be using different poems to discuss these strategies.  Students will then begin to write a poem about themselves.

  We will start the next theme of geography which is place. Students will cut and glue different aspects of a place inside of their interactive notebooks.

 I will continue reviewing comprehension strategies with other poems.  Students will also be finishing their poem about themselves.

  I will start teaching the theme of region and students will make a foldable to go in their interactive notebooks.

This is just a tentative plan for the week.  My goal today is to write out everything and figure out how to create lesson plans on PowerTeacher which is our counties new system for attendance, grades, lessons and everything else.

SLANT Exchange

I participated in the first month of SLANT Exchange which is where you get to meet two teachers and send a box to one with items for the months theme.

 The first theme was "My Favorite Things" and my partner, Lynda sent me an awesome box of goodies.  I coach cheerleading so many of the items related to that.  She even included a really cute card with spirit stickers on it!  I also teach Language Arts and she included the book 100 cupboards which was a great pick because I've already had a student request that I add that book to my classroom library.

Lynda wrote a sweet note inside of the card.  It was a lot of fun getting to know my partners.  Thank you again Lynda for the great box of goodies!

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