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.

{One)

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.

 

{two}
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.  

{three}
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.

{four}
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.


{five}
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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