Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year Resolutions

How do you know that you have been on vacation for too long? Your bloglovin' list has 764 unread posts! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, and I hope you have some fun plans for this evening. Hubby and I are having a quite night at home with some homemade seafood chowder. We are looking forward to the peace and quiet after having been with family for over a week. We had a fabulous time, but let's be honest, there's no place like home!

I'm excited to link up with A Peach for the Teach today to share my New Years Resolutions.
 What are your goals for next year? What are you looking forward to most this coming year?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tried it Tuesday-Math Workshop

Happy Tuesday everyone! I am home sitting in my yoga pants enjoying a snow day here in PA! This snow day has been such a blessing because I just finished my grad paper for the class I have been taking! This class has been my least favorite so far, so I am VERY thankful to have it behind me!
I'm excited to link up with Holly for Tried it Tuesday! It has been way too long since I have had the chance to link up and share what I have tried...just another bonus to an extra day off!

Those of you that have read my blog for a while know that I have started implementing a Math Workshop in my classroom this year. I have labored over the idea of a math workshop for years, but didn't know how I could fit all I needed to cover into our assigned 50 min schedule. This year I finally bit the bullet and went for it. Because of our tight schedule I am not able to do some of the activities other math workshops are able to do like Calendar math or a problem of the day, as much as I wanted to give those aspects a try I just couldn't make them instead I've come up with my own modified version of Math Workshop and I am extremely pleased with the results.
My students and I start each day with a mini-lesson. This is where I introduce the skill, we make our foldables for the unit/day, and we practice one or two problems together. This normally takes about 10-15 min. I have found when I am introducing a brand new topic (like geometry) this lesson is normally about 20 min long because of the time it takes to make the foldables...I just shorten my other times to adjust accordingly.

After our introduction my students rotate between teacher time, seat work, and hands on time. I always start with my low kids first. We continue to work on the lesson/skill for the day together. We work together on whiteboard on the floor in the front of the room. The other students know they can only bother me if they are dying or bleeding (this took a lot of training in the first few weeks of school, and a lot of reminding last week after having so many days off for Thanksgiving break.)

The students at the at your seat center will normally work on task cards at a side table. My favorite task cards to use have QR codes on them. This allows the students to check themselves. I still collect their work to check that it is complete, but it saves me a lot of time grading.

The hands on center can be anything! Sometimes I have the students create shapes, work on magic squares, Math Tic-Tac-Toe boards, or play math games that go with our skills.
I am so glad I tried a Math Workshop this year. My students are improving, and it is allowing me to support my low kids, while I stretch my high kiddos! It's a win-win for me and my students.

What have you tried recently?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Birthday Blessings and a Field Trip!

Happy Saturday everyone! I hope you have all had a lovely week! Thank you all for the birthday well-wishes. I had a great day. When I arrived at school on Monday morning I discovered this on my door.

My homeroom moms had come back after school the day of our Thanksgiving break to decorate the door for my birthday! How sweet is that? Each post-it was a note from a student or a parent telling me what they enjoy about school. It was such a blessing. One little boy wrote that "I hated to read, but now because of you I love reading." Talk about bringing tears to my eyes! I don't know about you, but some days I feel like I don't make a difference, so this was really a blessing. This motivated me this week!

My students and I also went on our first field trip on Wednesday. We took a two and a half hour bus ride out to our state capital, Harrisburg.

The students and I (along with 10 parents) went on a tour of the capitol building. We were able to go into the House, Senate, and Judicial rooms. Then, because our senator was there we were allowed a special trip onto the Senate Floor to meet with him. The kiddos had a blast!

After our tour, we spent the afternoon at the Pennsylvania State Museum. The museum had a great scavenger hunt for the kids to complete. They were able to fill in some facts they already knew, but also learned some new things along the way. It was a great trip that really made history come to life!

What field trips do you take your kids on? How do you spark student motivation? Be sure to check out Joanne's blog for more motivating ideas!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Currently, One Candle-Hanukkah/World War II Mentor Text, and a Sale!

Happy December 1st! I can't believe how fast the year is going! I hope those of you that had a few days off for Thanksgiving enjoyed it as much as I did. Since it is December 1st, I am linking up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade for Currently.
Most of my Currently is self-explanatory but a few things  could use a little explanation.
Thinking: My birthday is tomorrow...hard to believe another year has passed. I can't help myself but my birthday tends to be the time of year that I evaluate myself...I find it is a good time of year to make new goals for myself.

My favorite tradition is something my husband introduced me to during our first Christmas together. His family makes giant homemade cinnamon buns on Christmas Eve to be enjoyed for breakfast on Christmas morning. Before we eat we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and pray for our upcoming year. It's a nice tradition that I am looking forward to passing on. This year will be the first year that Glen's mom won't be making the Cinnamon buns...Glen and I will be taking over the tradition, it is sure to be a bittersweet time for us.

I also want to link up with Collaboration Cuties for their Mentor Text linky.
A book I like to use this time of year is One Candle. This book focuses on a family celebrating Hanukkah together.
One Candle
Even though I teach at a Christian school, with 0 Jewish children I still like to read this book. My students and I read Number the Stars together so this is a great book to have them make text-to-text connections. I also like to use this book to teach questioning. Because there are some heavy topics this book helps us generate a lot of great questions.
I also love this book because it helps my students learn about the awful parts of World War II in a kid appropriate way. I think it is so important to slowly introduce our students to some of the events of WWII and this book is a great way to do that. I also like that it teaches my students about another holiday that others celebrate.

What are your favorite mentor text to use to teach WWII? What books do you use to teach Text-to-Text Connections?

I also wanted to share the TPT sale starting tomorrow! (Banner from Krista Wallden)
I don't know about you, but I have a bunch of items in my wishlist. My entire store will be 20% off so when you enter the Promo code from TPT you will receive 28% off. Happy Shopping!