Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday....We Meet Again!

Well the second Monday back after Spring Break wasn't any easier!  My internal clock just doesn't seem to get the fact that I need to go to bed at a decent hour.  At night, I can't get tired (I blame the Hunger Games books!) and I stay up till 12 or 1 and then am in a coma  can't get up in the morning.  I love my class this year, but I can't wait for summer break to get here!  Sleeping in until 8 (I have the twins, remember?!?!?!) and playing with my girls.

Have you ever had a day where you were prepped and ready to go, but when you arrived at school NOTHING went as planned?????  That was pretty much my day today.  My kids were great and I had all my plans ready to go, but when it came to executing the plan, it wasn't happening!  I like to call it The Monday Fog.  It comes in and wipes away all good intentions that I had for the day and replaced them with chaos.

One plus to Mondays, is Taco Night and it was extra yummy tonight!  My bloggy bff, Amber from Adventures of Third Grade Teacher, was feeling better and able to join in on the fiesta.  We talk all the time, but when she doesn't make it to Taco Night, I miss our weekly face to face!

Another good thing is there is only 1 Monday per week, and this one is almost over!!!!!!  Anyone else have a case of the Monday Fog????????


Friday, April 20, 2012

Test Prep, a Carnival and a Freebie

Like many of you, I am in the midst of prepping my kiddos for taking the BIG test.  Here in NC we take an EOG beginning in 3rd grade (lucky me!) so it makes this time even more stressful for me and my kids.  In the past I would increase the amount of passages they did.  This blew up in my face This was unsuccessful!

This year I have been using the Lucy Calkins Reading Workshop plan and lucky me, there is a section on Test Prep section!  This plan makes test prep fun and my kids actually enjoy doing it!  No more drill and kill!!!!!  My class is broken into 3 ability levels and given passages based on their reading level.  I had always given all kids the same passage in years past, and wondered why they got burnt out.  As I read the test prep plan, it became clear why this happened.  Students who struggle to read, don't need to be forced to read too hard text the weeks prior to a test, it only causes frustration and then they shut down.  Instead I am giving them passages from a level below which allows them to have success and it builds their confidence!  Within each level, there are 4-6 students who each partner up.  Each day they read and roadmap a passage and answer questions, without the answers choices.  This simple step of taking away the answer choices make my kids think for themselves!

Our schedule for Reading Test Prep looks something like this:
Monday: Teacher read aloud and modeling of roadmapping a passage and questions.
Tuesday and Wednesday: Partners read and roadmap a passage and answer questions together.  They then gather with others reading their same passage at the end of workshop to compare their thinking and answers.
Thursday: Students read the passage and roadmap alone, but get with their partner to answer questions.  They gather with others reading their same passage at the end of workshop to compare their thinking and answers.
Friday: Students read 2 passages and answer questions alone, and gather with others reading their same passage to compare their thinking and answers.

With this week being the first week, I gave my students all questions without answer choices.  Next week, I am going to add questions on Friday and increase each week until they are working out all questions with answer choices.  I focused on fiction passages this week, next week we tackle nonfiction!

So the Carnival theme was born as my team talked about how to reward the kiddos for performing well on practice tests.  Each week we give them 2 reading passages and 16 math questions, some with calculator and some without.  For each question the kiddos get right, they get a ticket to play a game at the Carnival we have on Friday afternoons.  If they win their game they get a stamp which they then use to buy prizes at the prize table.  The kids had the best time!  They all came back talking about it and  they all did awesome on their practice tests.  Even my EC kids scored the highest they ever had!  As if that wasn't enough incentive, the kids who scored the highest in each subject in each class got a chance to play the Wii Carnival game!!! 

Can Knock Down

Lucky Duck Pond

Bean Bag Toss

Basketball Shoot

Prize Table

Ping Pong Ball Toss (inspired by Bozo the Clown Show!)

Ring Toss

Freebie Fridays

So my freebie has to do with the Carnival Theme!  Please enjoy the posters I made for each game.  You can pick them up at my TpT or TN store

Hope everyone has a great weekend!!!!!!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Techie Tools Professional Development

I am privileged to be part of a group of technology leaders in my district called Pinnacle.  One of the requirements was to begin this blog.  I had never blogged prior to this year, and I honestly didn't see a reason to blog.  Boy was I wrong!!!!  I have learned so much from all of ya'll and I know that this is because of reading what you are doing in your own classrooms.  I would have missed out on so many new ideas that my kids have loved if I hadn't joined the blogging world.

Another requirement for Pinnacle is to lead professional development at my school.  This freaked me out!!!  I can talk all day in front of kids, but adults are another thing.  This has been the year of trainings at my school, so I decided to offer several different sessions on how to incorporate technology into the classroom.  Teachers were allowed to chose which sessions they wanted to attend and opt out of those they were already familiar with.  Overall the sessions went well and I didn't get tongue tied too often!

The first session I did was Blogger and Kidblog.  I LOVE my blog and all the wonderful bloggers I have met through the blog world and I wanted to share that with teachers at my school.  Have you ever used Kidblog?  I love it!  In the past, I have always started it with good intentions, and then let it fall to the side.  This year I have used it more consistently and in a variety of content areas.  If your interested in setting up your own Kidblog, here is the handout I used.

I also did sessions on Photostory and Audacity.  My kids love using these programs with digital storytelling.  Having iPods to use in my classroom, we use Audacity to create podcasts to share what we have learned about various topics.  Love doing this instead of a test!

My favorite session was the last one on using Voki.  What I love about Voki is the fact that it can be used with any age and it is EASY!  I showed my kiddos how to make their avatar once and they were off making their own.  Several kids even asked for the website so they could make them at home!

We were studying Presidents in our Government unit so I loved using Abe!

Last week we finished up our non-fiction reading workshop unit and my kiddos each created a Voki showcasing what they learned about.  It was a great way to celebrate the end of the unit.  Pick up my handout here 

If you haven't used these tools, check them out!  They are a great way to spice up lessons especially at this time of the year!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Blast From the Past, Freebie, A Sale and a Giveaway (that you don't have to enter to win!!)

So I have been on Spring break and it has been great!  My aunt lives at the beach so we get to go for free!!  Bonus!!!!!  I didn't even touch a computer the whole time I was there.  Instead I caught up on my Kindle reading the Hunger Games.  It is awesomely addictive!

The girls first time playing in the sand!!  Raegan had a ball and ate about a pound of sand!  Kenley wasn't feeling too good so she wasn't feeling the sand.

Check out the awesome sunrise on Easter Sunday service on the beach!  Doesn't get much better!

The hubs playing the ocean, and yes it was FREEZING!  My girl had no fear and wanted to go deeper!!!
Kenley loved sitting on the golf cart and playing with her bucket that was just her size.

Playin' in the sand

As many of you know, I LOVE history, and with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic, I have been busy with lessons surrounding this great event.  Yesterday was the actual anniversary and I had hoped to get this posted then, but one of my girls is suffering a double ear infection, and well, plans changed!  But I am happy to say that my Titanic Lapbook is finally ready!!!!!  (I know I've been saying I was going to have it for a while now!)

I am super excited and proud of this piece!  I already used it with my kiddos and they loved it.  You can pick it up in my TpT or Teacher's Notebook Store  As promised, the giveaway is pretty simple.  The first 4 followers to comment will receive the Titanic Lapbook for free!!!!!!  I told you there wasn't an entry :)  Make sure you leave your email address.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic, I am having a sale at both my stores.  Enjoy 20% off all items through April 21! Make sure you stop buy and pick up some new items.

Finally, I have the freebie I promised!  Please enjoy the Titanic Interactive Timeline from my lapbook.

Pick it up at my TpT or my Teacher's Notebook store.  Thanks for being awesome followers and continuing to read my blog!  


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Giveaway Winners

Yay tomorrow is hump day and its all down here from there!!!  My spring break is in sight and I can't wait to get my toes in the sand!!!!

As promised here are the winners from my 100 follower giveaway.  As many of you know I was finishing up my National Boards last week and sending my blue box on its merry way by this Saturday.  In honor of finishing it up ON TIME, I decided to choose 4 winners!  Each winner can select any 2 items they would like from my TpT or TN store.


Tamera at My Heart Belongs in First
Jennifer at Keys4Education
Jen at Lessons Learned
Erika (I don't know you blog, sorry!)

I will email each of these ladies to let them know they are the winners.

In celebration of completing my National Board, did I mention ON TIME!, (this is huge for me, as I'm a procrastinator) I went to the National Whitewater Center with some teachers for a Teacher field trip.

Here we are getting ready to zipline.  I didn't realize how scared of heights I have become as I'm getting old!!!  I was totally freaking out waiting my turn.  It was amazing and I worried for nothing.  

Did you know that Amber, from Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher and I are professional rock climbers?  Oh yea, it's because we're not!  But you can see the 'real' rockwall behind us!

Here we are getting ready to climb the ropes course, while our other friends were climbing other courses, Amber and I were suiting up to climb the baby course, easier course, don't judge!

Hope everyone has a great day tomorrow!



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