Monday, November 9, 2015

Monday Made It November 2015

With the holiday season beginning I have been looking at some seasonal ideas for math stations and put together a dozen multiplication task cards for Halloween. These are available for free by clicking the picture.

I realized I forgot to share my Sub Plan binder. These are the emergency plans - you know, instead of driving to school in pajamas to prepare! I put together five days of sub plans since each day has a slightly different schedule. Since I use, I skipped ahead to a blank week, wrote out the week's plans, printed each day, and put them in plastic sheet protectors. Then I copied materials to use each day and put them in pocket dividers or in hanging files in my crate. I hope I don't have to use them, but it's good to know they are there. If I know I'm going to be out I don't use these; they are solely for emergencies. I let my partner know where they are kept and we are good to go!


Last, these are the Halloween treats I sent home with my kiddos on October 30th. Just a bit of orange tissue paper and green electrical tape to make little pumpkins with candy inside. They loved them!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Fiction Friday November 6

My first book was on my to-read list for quite awhile and I finally got around to downloading the e-book.

I liked the main character, Donovan, who accidentally ends up in a gifted classroom. He provided a lot of the humor in this story and I appreciated how he learned and grew as a person. However, I found the "gifted" kids to mostly be unrealistic. They seemed like stereotypes rather than being like students I know. I still enjoyed the book and think that many students will enjoy it also.

This picture book was on display when I stopped at the library to pick up some books that were on hold for me. The cover caught my eye, and it had been a while since I read a new picture book, so I checked it out. It turned out to be a tall tale filled with extremely exaggerated adventures and a great heroine. I loved the language and the illustrations; this book would make a great read-aloud though it is packed with text and will take a while! 

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Time Management

Are you still feeling overwhelmed by the challenges of this school year? Do you devote hours at home to school work?

Yeah, I've been there too! This fall I decided enough is enough. I've made some changes to reclaim my life. I thought I'd share a few things that have helped me; of course what works for me may be unthinkable for you:)

 Work my contract hours plus just a little bit more. By that I mean I decided I was willing to extend my 7.5 hour day to an 8 hour day. I arrive at school about 1/2 hour before I have to be there. This means I do not sit on any committees this year, since they regularly meet outside of school hours. I also do not schedule conferences with parents except during my planning time or at 8:00 AM (my contracted time begins at 8:15). I am willing to meet personally during planning time as long as it is scheduled ahead of time as well as hold a phone conference during that time. This has meant not being at school for our annual Title I night in September since it is not during work time. It will possibly keep me away from other evening things during this school year. Since I live 40 minutes from campus this enables me to come to school the next day without being exhausted!

Choose wisely how I spend my planning period. Taking out the time to drop off and pick up students from special area classes means I have about 40 minutes each day. By contract teachers do not have to attend any meetings during that time. I am choosing to attend them sparingly! That includes things like PLC meetings (which we have for an hour each week during contracted time; I have told the leader that I will only come to PLC meetings during that hour). I am working to always have a plan for my planning time so that I stay focused and productive. I want to stop doing lesson plans on my weekends!

 Check my school email during my work day: before school, during planning, or during lunch. Once my work day is done I resist the urge to check it at home. I get a huge amount of email some days, so I am working on "unsubscribing" from junk mail that comes in (I'm also doing this on my personal account. That stuff piles up and sucks time away!) That was one of the hardest things - I used to always check in at home.

I joined the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club that began in October. This is the brainchild of Angela Watson at The Cornerstone. I am absolutely loving it, and it is changing my life. Each month focuses on a new topic, and every Saturday I get a new piece of the plan with great resources and encouragement for putting it into practice. To learn more about it, click here. If you are interested, the next enrollment period begins in January. A huge part of October has been learning to develop a good checklist of things to do each day. I am finding that it helps me focus on what is important and I am usually completing my list each day. In fact, when we had our teacher workday at the end of the first quarter I went to work with my to do list and had everything done in 6.5 hours. Then I left for my one hour lunch and went home -- an hour earlier than usual. This is probably the first time that I have not put in 8 - 10 hours on a workday.

I'm applying some of the same time management things at home too. This is helping me feel like important tasks in my personal life are getting attention. And, I try not to beat myself up about the things that don't get done as quickly as I thought they would. I give myself permission to move an item to another day of the week if I need to. I am totally a work in progress, but it gives me hope!

How do you deal with the never-ending pile of work?

Monday, November 2, 2015

November Currently

Happy November!

I'm trying to learn as much as possible about self-publishing Kindle books.

We really have not had much for cool temps yet! 

At 6:30 PM I am feeling like I should go to bed 'cause it's dark :)

My goal for the next week is to write every day.

I was doing so well health-wise and fell back into lots of bad habits. Time to get back to eating well.

A friend of mine makes these great oreo truffles - a package of oreos in food processor, add 8 oz softened cream cheese, chill for a few hours, form balls and dip in chocolate. I adapted by using the pumpkin spice oreos ( 1 1/2 pkg since they are smaller).

Monday, October 26, 2015

Halloween Word Problems - Freebie!

I wanted something seasonal to go into my math stations so took some word problems I had written previously, combined them with cute clip art from Creative Clips, and made 12 problem cards for my students. These are basic problems, since we are in our first unit of multiplication and division.

Because my kiddos love to use their devices, I made a QR code with all the answers for self-checking! If they don't have their own device we have some in our classroom they can borrow. It's wonderful that adding a code gets them more interested in doing the work!

If you would like a copy of the Halloween problems, just click the  picture below.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Fiction Friday October 23

Thank goodness for Goodreads! When I decide to share what I've been reading I always have to go back to my books read list to find out! I'm always reading something, but I mix children's lit, YA, and adult lit. That means sometimes I have to go back a few weeks to find the books appropriate for this post. Anyway, here are three of my recent reads in no particular order.

Due to my love of The One And Only Ivan I had put Crenshaw on my to be read list as soon as I heard about it -- and then waited forever for it to actually be published! As with Ivan and Home of the Brave, Applegate is dealing with a very serious issue. She handles it without being preachy or getting to dark for children to appreciate the story. In this one, Jackson's family is struggling with their finances and are probably going to be living in their van -- again. His parents are musicians, but his Dad has MS and his mother lost her teaching job. When his Dad was diagnosed several years earlier, part of Jackson's coping was to have an imaginary friend - a very large cat named Crenshaw. In the midst of this new crisis, Crenshaw appears again. Jackson is 10 years old now and is very aware that Crenshaw is not real. This is a sweet story about family and friendship. I recommend it for 3rd and up, though I personally would hesitate to read it to my students. My school has a high population of homeless families and it could be uncomfortable for some. I have had students in the past who lived in a car with their family. 

I was interested in this story when I saw a blurb saying that readers who enjoyed The Fourteenth Goldfish should read this one. The theme of the two books is quite different, but Goldfish has some jellyfish information in it, so I understand the connection. Jellyfish is the story of Suzy trying to come to terms with the death the previous summer of her (former) best friend, who drowned at the beach. The fact that Franny was a very strong swimmer has made this death incomprehensible to Suzy. In her grief, she latches on to some information she learns about a particular deadly species of jellyfish, and she wants to prove that this is why Franny died. This is a middle school novel, and Suzy's struggles socially and emotionally may resonate with some of your readers. 

I saw The Honest Truth recommended on Goodreads and almost bypassed it as another "kid with cancer" story. I am glad I didn't; it was not an easy read, but I appreciated the perspective of the sick young man, Mark. You may not agree with his choice to run away to climb a mountain with his dog; I certainly didn't! However, I ended up rooting for him and for his friend Jessie who gives her perspective from back home and knowing where he went. The best character in the book is Beau, Mark's dog, who goes on the journey with him and is the true hero of the story. This is a debut novel, and I will be watching for what the author does next.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

What's the Matter?

Last week was a lot of learning fun in our science class. We are working our way through our "Properties of Matter" unit and we had lots of hands-on activities to do.

We measured the mass of a variety of objects using our pan balances.

We measured the volume of solid objects using our graduated cylinders.

We measured the temperature of ice, warm and cool water, sand, and rice using thermometers.

And the most fun of all - in STEM class on Wednesday we worked with polymers and made individual bouncy balls!



My students had fun and seemed to be retaining the new learning through the week. I was a proud teacher after STEM when I asked if anyone knew what kind of engineers we were that day and a student said  "Chemical Engineers!" If you would like the directions for the balls, click here.

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