Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pretty in Pink!

So,  the best sharpener on the planet now comes in PINK!  So cute!   And... part of the proceeds from each PINK sharpener go to the breast cancer fight!   Awesomeness!  

In honor of breast cancer awareness month I am hosting another PENCIL SHARPENER GIVEAWAY!  You can win this baby in pink (or any other color you would like) - plus three units of your choice from my TPT store!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Totally Worth Every Minute! PBL

So I have been a mess,  a big super messy mess.   I have been a ball of nerves,  frustrated, excited, angry, confused... you name it,  I have probably experienced it.   Our first project based unit was so much more intense than I thought it would be,  than I imagined it COULD be.   Trying to let the kids discover while knowing what the test required they know... trying to balance it all,  trying to get the kids even logged into the computers on a daily basis... it has been a lot.   BUT let me tell you,  every single second,  every single emotion and tear has been worth it.

My kids took a bus over to city hall, wearing their finest clothes (they discussed this and chose to wear their finest...their word - so stinking cute!) on Friday and presented their projects to the mayor,  the chief of police,  several police officers,  fire fighters,  city officals and members of city council.   The mayors office set up the town council meeting room for us,  and brought in so many people to watch their presentation.   They made them feel SO IMPORTANT.   As my babies watched their Power Points and videos on the big screen,  I teared up watching their faces.   They were so proud and so excited.   It was amazing. 

Afterward,  our city's police captain,  who just so happens to be the mama of one of my babies this year,  treated us to a full tour of city hall,  and the police and fire annex.   We got to see the jail and check out the cells and the crazy floor toilet in the padded cell.   We saw the wardrobe available to you when arrested (and agreed that they would all look TERRIBLE in it).   We met the police dog, Leo, and got to give him some love.   We toured the sleeping quarters,  kitchen, living room and weight rooms of the officers and firefighters.   We even took a tour through the library and checked out all the resources available to us!   My kids were so thrilled!

I am working on putting our unit into a presentable format to post.   It ws so much fun and my kids learned so much more than they ever have doing this unit in a traditional way!



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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Kind of Nervous...PBL Project One Finale - at City Hall!

Our first PBL project took about 1000x longer than we planned!   My partner teacher and I started the very first week of school.   Our project was to define what good citizenship is and compare it to the traits of a a super hero.   We had the mayor of our town come in and explain to the kids that he needed their help to create good citizens in our town.   It was super cute and the kids LOVED it.   He asked them to come and present at city hall when they were finished, which was unexpected and a super fun surprise.   Things seemed PERFECT.

But then reality hit.  My project partner is our bilingual teacher and she got word that her class was too big and being divided,  so we decided to put it off for a week so that the kids who were in the new class did not feel like that had started a project they were not finishing.   We divided the class,  which is never super smooth,  and then thought that we would finally be on the road... but then 84,000 computer issues hit.   Like "hey this thing doesn't even turn on", computer problems.   And then testing came,   and then some more testing.   And then we realized how long we really spent last year teaching the kids to make Power Points and use Edmodo, and you know... JUST LOG IN (we now have individual log in codes and passwords for every child whereas we have always had a generic school log in - HUGE transition)... so it took FOR-EVVVVVVer,  but we are finally ready (and now have a whole new understanding of what it takes to get a project started at the very beginning of the school year). 

Tomorrow,  our very excited little friends are taking their precious projects to city hall and presenting their best to the mayor,  some city council members and city staff.   I am super excited for them,  and nervous too.  I wish I could post their projects - they are phenomenal.   Two groups made Power Point presentations,  one group chose to embed images they found on line and the other group acted out different scenes of that they think a good citizen is.   One is so cute - there is a picture of one of my boys pretending to hit a girl on the head with a book.   The slide text is "Good citizens do not hit people with their books".  Amen to that.  

One group made an amazing 3d poster - with photos they found on line and took of themselves.   The other two groups made videos.   One group even wrote a beginning and ending song to their video.  So cute!   It has been a beating,  but honestly,  it was worth it.  Really, really worth it!
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Friday, September 20, 2013

Kinda feels like I am trying to ride two horses with one ass...


I love this movie and I think this was my favorite line.   And... while my situation is very different than Reese Witherspoon's in this movie,  I can relate.

I don't know what it is about this year,  but OMWord,  I cannot seem to catch my breath.   And it seems universal.   I have talked to friends in Michigan,  North Carolina, and my step sister in Minnesota and they are feeling it.   So much pressure,  so much push,  so much stress and we aren't even a month in yet!  Why?  I have the best class of my career (15 kids!  That DOES NOT HAPPEN!),  I adore them and their families,  but still I want to cry almost all the time.

For me right now,  I think I am torn between two philosophies.   I am in love with Project Based Learning.  My district is really excited about it,  gave out grants to write lessons and well... do them. I spent my whole summer immersed and obsessed with PBL.  But as excited as I am,  and as prepared as I thought I was... I am feeling like I am riding two horses with one ass (albeit a pretty large ass).  While we are moving ahead in philosophy,  our grading standards and testing are the same.  And well,  they don't really feel like they fit.   We are finally completing our first big project,  but we have already "tested" our students on the unit....last week.   So while I am working hard to help students direct their own learning,  I know what they have to know on the test (which their GRADE depends on) so I am feeding them information on the having a foot in two different philosophies and being pulled apart.  Not everyone is doing PBL at this point,  so I understand the test but it still doesn't make it feel better... at least yet.

I know that my district is expecting some growing pains,  but  I feel like I could break into hives at any time.  

So I could use some advice from those of you who have been there and done that... please!

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Five for Friday!

Linking up with the lovely ladies at Doodle Bugs Teaching for some Friday fun!

We did a LOT this week, so much I am having a hard time remembering all of it...but here is some of our randomness!

We celebrated freedom week this week in several ways,  but my favorite was acting out the Preamble to the Constitution.

I have a tiny class so I divided them into 2 groups of 7 and gave each child or pair of kids a line from the preamble and had them use the internet and the book We the Kids,  to figure out what their line meant.   They worked together to come up with gestures to go along with their phrase and acted it out for the other group!  It honestly was so sweet,  I teared up.

We also did a great webquest where the kids found answers to constitution questions using several websites.   The first day I tried using it as it was written,  but my kids had a LOT of trouble trying to type in all those websites.   I found it was easier to give them all the links in Edmodo and have them click on them there.   (I used to disguise my kids pictures,  they don't really dress like this guy -LOL).

We are using the math program Investigations this year for the first time,  so we are learning a lot of fun new math games.   The kids are loving this!  It is taking me a little time to be comfortable with so little direct instruction,  but I am definitely warming up!
We are studying the states and properties of matter now,  so we brought in Matter Man!  Love this silly easy lesson so much!

If you would like the papers that go with this unit you can find them on TPT right here.  Or just leave me a message with an email address and I will send you a copy!
I am a huge fan of WBT or Whole Brain Teaching... and my very favorite component is The Genius Ladder.   If you don't know about this I HIGHLY, HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend this site..   It is amazing.   Everything on the site is free,  it is seriously genius stuff.  I don't follow it to the letter but I love Power Pics,  Genius Ladder, gestures, and oh my,  Class - Yes has changed my LIFE!   Here is a picture of our genuis ladder one day this week.   My kids BEG to do this!  BEG to write and identify parts of speech people!  You start with a BLAH sentence,  then make it "Spicy" by adding adjectives,  extend it by adding a prepositional phrase or other details to the predicate, then use it as a starter to  GENIUS paragraph.  

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

RIP Matter Man - Thank you for your sacrifice!

Matter Man - Born to teach,  changed by heat,  willing to sacrifice himself in the name of science education!  Thank you, Matter Man!


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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Matter Man!

Matter Man has been making his way around to classes in our district this week.   My friend Sara had him visit today.  He is a busy little man - always changing his state!   He is will be in my room to visit tomorrow!   He is my favorite way to teach how matter changes with the addition of heat!

I created a little lesson plan use with him that you can get right here.   It's on sale right now!

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

We the People.... Constitution Day!

So, Constitution Day is upon us again.  We always freak out a little in the primary grades because the Constitution is a lil difficult for little guys to understand,  but this year I am pretty excited about it!   We had a great inservice this summer that did a Constitution Day activity and I am stealing the ideas right out of the session.    

We will be reading We The Kids illustrated by Catrow . 
It is literally the preamble to the constitution illustrated for kids.   It is cute and provides some really fantastic images for kids to more easily understand pretty difficult concepts.   I have two copies of the book - which is helpful when we get into the activity part of lesson.

Then we will watch the BEST Schoolhouse Rock video ever - The Constitution!  Seriously,  my team walks around singing this for WEEKS after Constitution Day.    We play it several times so the kids have a better idea of order of the words in the Preamble.

I will give students this link -  .  It is a great kids site to explain each phrase of the preamble.   I will then pass out strips of paper with a phrase from the preamble on each.  If you don't want to type it up,  you can find it here free - it ain't pretty,  but it gets the job done! Make enough copies to give one to each group of 8-10 kids.   Divide the class up into groups of 7-10 kids and give the kids who may need some extra help a partner. 

Each child or pair of students will work together to understand what their phase means and create a gesture to go with it.   They will then get with the rest of the group (in my room we really only need two groups...I only have 14 kids,  don't throw anything at me,  I know I am super lucky this year) and get into order by their phrases (this is where having two copies of the book comes in handy,  but they can also use the website or have a copy of the preamble hanging up etc.).   Students will work together to act out the whole preamble for the other groups.   Students will get a lot of practice with this document, and get a much deeper understanding of the vocabulary! 

I am excited to try this out!  I am thinking it will be a great way to start our Constitution week! 
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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Holy Lamination Batman - but I love these!

I don't know about you,  but constantly writing all my objectives on the board with the correct standard verbage is a real thorn in my side.  I understand it,  I do,   I think it is a good idea,  but I write big, especially with an expo marker,  and I could really use up the WHOLE board.   So I found these - made by Dixie at Teachin' Little Texans and knew I had to have them!  They are the TEKS because I work in Texas and we have our own standards... which is another thorn in my side,  but I digress.

I am not going to lie... they took a lot of ink, and a LOT of lamination (and cutting and magnets), I guess I could have also just printed them in black and white and printed them on different colored paper, but I love the colors and I am so happy with the end result!  They are full of chevron-y cuteness (she also sells them in other designs), and now I can just flap them up against my board and be done!  Amen!   And I can use them as long as I am teaching second grade in Texas.   She even made sure all the math TEKS were updated (which must have been a pain since so many of them have changed!).   Love them! 

What do you do to make objective writing easier?


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