Saturday, May 24, 2014

Five for Fraturday

It has been a busy time here in my world. Can't exactly say it has all been blissful, but some of it was. (Here are the highlights. It must be crazy as I forgot to publish this yesterday. Oops!)

We planted flowers as a service learning project. Our fifth graders have been doing this for more than ten years. The town purchases the dirt and plugs (seedling) and we grow them in our Life Lab, then transplant them after the threat of frost has passed. It was very chilly morning, but no frost since then.

My son and his girl friend came home for a friend's wedding. Although I knew he wasn't planning on moving back to Michigan anytime soon, I was surprised when he share this picture with me. It is the house they are buying. Guess this means he definitely won't be coming home. :( 

I had my final Formal Review on Monday. My lesson was thrown together late Sunday after my son and his girlfriend left. One of my best lessons yet! I used ideas from Genius Hour. I started with this Kid President video. Adore him! The Principal loved the lesson and so did the students. Can't wait to see their final projects.

This was my youngest at age one. Yesterday was her last day of school. She graduates next week. It marks the end of an era. I have had a child in that school system for 23 years. She begins her journey to become a nurse in the fall.

My students have been building simple machines in science. This student's machine is this student's "Dream Machine" as he desperately wants a tricycle to improve his mobility. We are having a hat day to help with the matching funds requirement.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What Works Wednesday in May

I have been using Literature Circles or Book Clubs for many years. When we reviewed our Language Arts Curriculum two years ago, we built in Literature Circles. We have more than thirty different set of classroom novels. Over the years, I have used bonus points, grants, and swaps to add another thirty sets of small group novels. I have two reading groups with readers from second to high school reading levels. Some of the time, we do read a novel as a whole class and grade level. Other times, students choose the novel they want to read.

Currently, I have four circles going in my homeroom. My co-teacher is responsible for working with one group. I meet with the other three. I developed role sheets for them. One group liked the reading response sheets I used with them during Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman. They wanted their own sheets to make their own response sheets. They use the question fans from Jen Runde. They also use a set of depth of knowledge question stems.

My other reading class has five different circles going. Three of the groups are using my role sheets. The other two groups are using my reading response sheets. They didn't want to make their own questions, so they are using my More Reading Response Sheets for Any Novel.

I like to use literature circles because it allows students to read the whole story. Our anthology only has a chapter or two of any story. It acts as a transition to reading literature in middle school, where students have less guidance. It gives me freedom to meet with small groups of students. It allows students to group themselves by reading levels or interests. When the weather starts to warm, as it has been the last week, it lets me send groups to the hall or courtyard. (When it is warm, we do better when we can spread out).

I  review the rules for the reading to self, talking about what reading should look like and sound like. We also go over the rules to the courtyard to keep students from climbing trees, playing in the pond, or bothering the "neighbors".

Do you use Literature Circles or Book Clubs?

Monday, May 5, 2014

You Are Appreciated

Last Thursday I watched President Obama award the NEA Teacher of the Year Award to Sean McComb, an 11th grade AP English teacher. I watched the live stream on C-Span with my students. During his speech, prior to awarding Sean's glass apple, President Obama spoke kindly about teachers. Here is part of the speech.

“Great teachers set us on a better path,” Obama said today. “And you do it even when we ask so much of you. Teachers don’t get an off day, even when you’re exhausted. Once you get up in front of that class, you have eager young minds depending on you. It’s that all-encompassing commitment, the love they feel for their students, that makes so many teachers go the extra mile. It’s the dedication to helping all students reach their full potential, the passion and creativity that they bring to the work, instead of going through the motions and teaching to the test.”
“I could not be prouder of Sean, all the teachers here today, and all the teacher who are out there – the millions who are working hard in classrooms across the nation. We want to thank you,” Obama said.

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As this week gets ready to roll as "Teacher Appreciation Week," know that you are appreciated. Your students and parents may not tell you often enough. Your administration may not say it or show it, but the President of the Greatest Nation, The United States of America, does and so do I and all the sellers at Teachers Pay Teachers. Teachers Pay Teachers is having a site wide sale on Tuesday and Wednesday. Fill your shopping carts with lots of goodies to finish off the year or to get started with next year. My entire store will be on sale for 20% off.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Surprise and Currently May

What a blessing! I was notified that my Donor's Choose project was fully funded today. My kids and I am so excited to be getting a kidney shaped teaching table. With our inclusion classroom, the table is going to make it so much easier to provide help to individuals and small groups of students. My wheelchair bound student will be able to maneuver around the room a little easier and be able to sit with his group at the table. It will be the perfect accompaniment for my milk crate stools I made last summer.

I have a lot to think about as our year slowly rolls towards a close. Tomorrow is our annual PTO fundraiser, our Royal Walk. It raises over ten thousand dollars. This year the money will buy upgrades to our basketball courts for recess, more iPads, and art supplies. We are so thankful to have our former PTO president organize this event for several years. She also happens to be one of our favorite substitute teachers. She is a godsend.

One favorite linky is Farley's Currently. I use Farley's classroom version with my kids. We did it as our morning "wake up" this morning. My kids' responses brought laughter, discussions of back up plans (when I grow up), and tears. It was a great discussion point on careers and how few make it to the pro sports teams to which they aspire. It also brought up discussion about whether we need to grow up and so much more.

Now for my personal/professional version of Currently:

With our walk tomorrow beginning at 8 AM, I am hoping the rain is finished. I am so glad we can wear jeans and running shoes tomorrow. I was hoping to walk a couple of miles during our portion, but the blister I earned on Tuesday with our Walking Classroom walks and silly shoes may prevent me from meeting that goal. At least I will be comfy! It should be cool, in the 40's tomorrow morning. Warmer weather returns next week. 

I have several days of organizing to get my evidence into a form I want to go with our Danielson Model evaluations. I have two more evals this month, one formal and the other informal.

My surprise, is Jordon from Life is Better Messy Anyway. I loved the title which is why I stopped at her blog many months ago. Then I got hooked on her mix of posts with food, projects, and teaching tidbits. I am looking forward to "meeting her" next week when we do a Mystery Skype. Stop by and check out her latest food post on Skinny Peanut Butter Cheesecake. Yummy!

It's late, and I am rambling on. Have a great Friday!

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