Monday, January 20, 2014

A Day in the Life...

I'm a little late to this party, I know, but I ran across this linky from Amelia at Where the Wild Things Learn over the weekend, and just had to join in. I know I am ALWAYS looking for a way to maximize the time I have with my students, especially this year. This year, I have fewer instructional minutes than ever. On the plus side, I have loads of planning time. Of course, the flip side of that is that I don't feel like there are ever enough teaching hours in the day.

So without further ado, here's a peek at what my day looks like:

Morning Work - Right now, I am having half of my students work on math facts using (If you haven't tried it, you should!) and the other half doing Read to Self.

Math - We are using the Flipped Classroom model for math this year, so the kids have watched a video for homework. We begin class with a Math Meeting, when I check that they took video notes, quickly review the concept, and answer their questions. Then we split into groups depending on where everyone falls that day. (My students are SO good about telling me honestly if they totally get the concept, need a little help, or are totally lost!) Some work on practicing the skill we are learning, some work independently or with a partner on practice or  math games, and the rest work in small groups either with me or with the SPED aide (who is awesome by the way!). I teach the inclusion math class, so the aide is really there for those 5 students, but she often works with others as well.

PE/Guidance - We are on a yes-yes-no PE schedule this year, which was hard to get used to at first, but I've grown accustomed to it. Twice a month, on one of our "no" days, we have guidance. That usually leaves me with about 4 days a month that I actually have my students during this time. We usually spend that time working on MobyMax or doing some of the ever-present testing that is needed.

Writing - Our writing time is only 30 minutes, so I am always rushed! This time is mostly focused on grammar rather than actual writing (I incorporate that into Reading or SS/Science). We do Jivey's Mentor Sentences and I usually do some kind of mini-lesson or interactive notebook activity for the second half of class. 

Lunch/Recess/Enrichment - The way our schedule worked out, I realistically have about 17 minutes between lunch and enrichment (my planning time). Since there's not much that can actually be accomplished that quickly, it's either recess or our Walking Classroom time. (Check out  my previous posts if you aren't familiar with it!)

Snack/Reading Olympians - Since we eat lunch so early, a lot of my kiddos are hungry before school's out, so I let them bring snack. While they are eating, they work on their Reading Olympians graphic organizers for the week. Reading Olympians is a great teacher-made program for teaching Greek/Latin roots.

Reading/Daily 5 - I actually do a modified Daily 5, where my students do 3 rotations a day on a 6-day cycle instead of a M-F week. This way, I am able to meet with all but my highest (well above grade level) group every day to do small group work on reading comprehension skills.

SS/Science - We do this every day but Tuesdays when we have early dismissal. I try to rotate a week of each, but that doesn't always work out since some units are longer than others. I try to incorporate a good bit of writing since we don't get nearly enough in our schedule. I'm proud to say that this year, my students have not opened their SS or Science textbooks for anything other than using them as reference materials. Thanks to some wonderful TPT teacher-authors, I've been able to teach much more engaging lessons than reading from our extremely dry textbooks. (You know it's bad when they bore ME!)

So, that's what my day looks like. I hope this gives you a little peek at how my day goes, and by all means, if you have an idea for a way to improve, let me have it!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Peek at my Week - 1/19/14

Well, I meant to link up on Friday with Doodlebugs Five for Friday, but then I decided just to hang out with the family Friday night. It was a much needed break :) Anyway, here I am to link up for Jennifer at Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for a Peek at my Week.

In math, we are starting fractions this week. My teammate and I are still using a flipped model for math and love the results we're seeing in our students. (On that note, I'm still planning a Flipped Classroom series sometime in the near future, but I'm trying to work out a few technology kinks in our process first.)

I have found a couple of fantastic resources that I'm planning on using this week as we review basic fraction concepts and work on converting between mixed numbers and improper fractions. I love using task cards, whether for SCOOT games, centers, or as independent practice, and this bundle from Yvonne Crawford is perfect for all of the fraction skills we'll be covering in our unit.
My students always seem to struggle with converting between mixed numbers and fractions, so I was glad to find a simple, yet fun, game to help them practice this skill during our "Math Games" rotation. This one is from Kristin Kennedy and is only $1.99!

Last week, we started working on citing text evidence to answer discussion questions. We are continuing this week with a great resource from Erin at I'm Lovin' Lit (side note - her interactive notebooks are AMAZING and have saved me SO much time this year!). Her bonus lesson "Citing Text Evidence" is perfect for what we needed. I love the simplicity of the strategy included and that it works for any type of discussion question, whether it's about literature, informational text, or in the content areas. Best of all, it's FREE! Grab yours by clicking the picture below.

We are finally getting to the American Revolution in Social Studies. (Can I just say that I feel like we are WAY behind this year for some reason?) We're going to work on incorporating reading skills by using reading passages and coordinating activities in this bundle from Molly at Elementary Lesson Plans. I love that it incorporates reading comprehension with the Social Studies content we already have to teach! We'll be using our Close Reading strategies as we go.

I also wanted to incorporate a timeline for students to fill in as we learned about the events leading up to the Revolution. As much as I looked, I just couldn't find what I wanted, so yesterday, I was hard at work creating my own. I'm planning to make another one for events during the War as well. As usual for new products, I'm doing a Pin it to Win it contest now through Wednesday. On Wednesday I'll randomly choose a winner! Use the link below to pin, and post the URL in the comments to enter.

Hope everyone has a fantastic week and enjoys your day off tomorrow!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Peek at my Week - January 5, 2014

Well, I guess winter break is officially over tonight, so today I'm linking up for A Peek at my Week.

Monday is supposed to be SUPER cold (for the South, anyway). Right now it's 52 degrees (Does anyone know how to make the degree symbol?) and raining, which isn't fun, but certainly isn't that bad either. But check out where we're headed...

That's right, we're going to drop 48 degrees between now and midnight tonight! Which means this rain is going to turn into snow and ice. And tomorrow morning, at time for the kids to be walking to school (which all but 2 of my students do), it's supposed to be 0. Actually 0, with a wind chill between -15 and -25. As much as I need to maximize these next 7 weeks before standardized testing, I really hope they cancel, mostly because it's too cold for kids to be walking, some of mine almost a mile, to school in this weather. Most of the districts around us don't go back until Tuesday, so I think that's why there's been no rush to call it yet for our schools.

Anyway, my plans for the week are done, even though I don't know which day I'm teaching what, so here's what's up in my room this week:

Some of you may remember that I've been using for my vocabulary words this year. (Our reading series words are silly in my opinion...fastball was actually a vocabulary word, 'cause it's important for them to know different types of pitches and all.) Anyway, as much as I (and my students) love Flocab,  I've been feeling like we really need to focus on root words, prefixes, and suffixes more so that they can use them to figure out unknown words. So this week we're starting the Reading Olympians program.

If you haven't seen it, check it out on TPT! There are a bunch of options, but I'm starting with the lowest level, and I went ahead and bought the whole thing instead of unit by unit (I saved a TON that way!) The program focuses on 10 roots/prefixes/suffixes a week. I'm going to quiz my students on Edmodo so that they can work at their own pace, and retake quizzes if they need to. I'm hoping that it will be a good way to get them to master these word parts so they can decode harder words! I'll try to update with how things are going later in the week.
This isn't really about this week's plans, but I have to brag a little...We are having an AMAZING year with flipping our math class. The one group of students I was concerned about not doing well with the flipped model was my SPED students (I'm the inclusion Math teacher for my grade.), but they are actually the ones who seem to reap the most benefit from it! I am SO, SO PROUD to report that for 2nd quarter, 1 of them earned a legitimate A (no modifications to the math content, only to the reading/writing required), and 2 more earned B's!!!

This week, we are starting Algebra concepts, so we're going to be working on variables, expressions, equations, and next week, we'll hit order of operations. Nothing super exciting going on there, but I am really excited to be trying a new site to host our flipped videos (since my teammate and I make our own).

YouTube is blocked at school, and TeacherTube has been giving us lots of errors lately. There was one day that only one of my students had been able to watch the video at home, due to TeacherTube freezing up, so I had to actually give the lecture in class. It was a great reminder of how much better the use of time is when they get that part out of the way at home!

Enter Flipasaurus... It's a site dedicated to flipped classrooms, it's totally free, and there are ZERO ads! I uploaded our videos, embedded them into our site, and was able to watch them on my computer, android tablet, and iPhone, so here's hoping it works on all my kiddos' devices too!

The last thing I want to talk about is SS! We are doing the 13 colonies this week. I often find that there is way too much info in many of the resources I find. Our standards really only require students to know which states belong to which region and be able to compare the climates and economies of each. I was so excited to find this PPT from Carolyn Cloutier's TPT store. It covers just enough, but not too much, and best of all, it's FREE!

Well, I'm off to do my snow dance and say my snow prayer. Have a great week, everyone!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

January Currently

I really didn't mean to take a 6 week hiatus from blog world, but it happened. Not only did I neglect my own blog, I didn't read any of your blogs either. My Bloglovin' feed had a bazillion new posts in it when I finally checked yesterday. But thanks to a relaxing Winter Break, here I am again, fashionably late for Farley's January Currently.

Listening - to the sweet, sweet sound of silence! My little man has been stuffy and not eating well, which has resulted in rough nights for everyone. This morning, he decided to wake up at 4am, and didn't fall back asleep until 6. So here I am, at 7am awake, dressed, and writing a blog post. (Get things done while they sleep, right?)

Loving - Little Man has grown up SO much over the last month. His language has practically exploded, and we are full on in the parrot phase. He will say just about anything we do, and has so many cute responses to things we say. His daycare teacher taught him to put his hands on his head when she says "hold that thought,"  and we've obviously watched a lot of football because he throws his hands up in the air and says "down" (touchdown) whenever he sees a game on. It's so much fun watching him learn and mimic things we say and do!

Thinking - This one's pretty self explanatory, but if you need an explanation see above...6 weeks, no blogging. It's time to be back!

Wanting - Just ONE more week would be perfect! We had family in the week of Christmas, and this week is just flying by. One more week, and I'd be ready to go back. Or I'd be asking for just one more week again (which is probably more likely)!

Needing - My lesson plans need some major work, or all I'll be teaching next week is math! Although I am technically off of grad school this week, I really want to get my paper done that is due next Saturday so that I can relax a little for the first week back to work and grad school. Don't know that it will happen though. I have appointments this morning and a date with my hubby this afternoon when he gets off work.

Tradition - Little Man is almost 2, and my husband is home from deployment, so this was actually our first year all together in our own house for Christmas. This has been the year to start our own family traditions for the holidays. Sometimes you consciously decide to make something a tradition, like Low Country Boil for New Year's (because...YUM!).

Often the best traditions are the ones that just happen naturally. One that snuck up and surprised me this year was Little Man's love of gingerbread cookies. Check out what happened when we tried to put out Santa's cookies and milk...

I love the look on his face. Poor Santa got gingerbread men with no legs, and one of them is missing part of his head, too. Little man even tried tipping up Santa's mug to get a little milk, but it wasn't quite full enough. It's safe to say we'll be baking gingerbread men every Christmas for a while!

Hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas, and are rested and ready to get back to work!