Thursday, January 31, 2013

Super Bowl Sale

   Khrys, from Keeping it Kool in Kinderland is holding a Super Bowl Linky party for TpT and Teacher's Notebook sales.  I'm linking up with her and everyone else who's joining in.

   Everything in my TeachersPayTeachers store will be 20% off; at Teacher's Notebook, everything will be 25% off.

   Come take a look at what I've got for sale!

This is a fun wintertime project for identifying differences between words that kids sometimes misuse and often misspell!

One of my top selling items, this is a fun way for kids to identify character traits in their reading.

This was really helpful when my students were learning about how to find main ideas - we created generalizations and then overgeneralizations with this foldable graphic organizer.

I try to align everything with Common Core.  Come take a look at what's in my store!  And while you're there, follow me.  For that matter, follow me here!  Like all teachers (and bloggers) I love knowing that other people read and value what I do.  And I love hearing what you think about what we do!

Happy Friday!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Liebster, part 2

   So it's been a fairly wacky time these last couple of weeks, and here I've gotten this great award, and couldn't respond to it the way I'd wanted to.  So I'm going to give it a try tonight.  Here are the last couple of questions I still need am delighted to answer.

If you could, which moment of your life would you wear on a locket around your neck?
Which famous person would you bring back from the dead to have a chat with?
Are these questions too hard, and do you want to stab me with a dull knife right about now ? :-)

   The locket question is SOOOO hard!  There are a couple of hard ones - you know, those kind that take your breath away.   That look from the man you love.  The first time you hold your just minutes-old child.  The rhythmic sound of the ocean on a warm day.  The satisfaction of working really hard at something physically, and being totally spent at the end of the day.  Okay, so the first two win out over the others.  But I do remember skiing in New Mexico one time, and my husband laughing at me and saying, "Can you say something besides 'this is SO TOTALLY cool!'"  I had this silly grin on my face for most of the day.  Don't know if it's locket worthy, but it was a precious moment.

   Famous person I'd want to talk with.  Maybe Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian who was so opposed to the Nazi movement and gave his life for it.  Or maybe Harriet Tubman, who also believed in a cause so passionately that she put herself at risk.  Or maybe Marian Anderson, who struggled to break the color barrier with her gorgeous singing.  Or maybe Chuck Yeager.  I'd love to talk to him about what flying that intensely must have felt like.  

   Apparently I'm having trouble making up my mind tonight :)  But I know I'd like to talk to people who feel passionately about their beliefs, whatever they are.

Okay.  Now, here are my 11 questions for some unsuspecting new bloggers:

1.  What the must-see place to visit on your life's list?
2.  Outer space or deep sea exploration?
3.  What article of clothing can't you live without?
4.  Who was the most instrumental teacher in your life?
5.  What was the most embarrassing moment of your high school years?
6.  What saying do you carry around with you?
7.  What's been your most frustrating teaching moment?
8.  Why did you become a teacher?
9.  What was your favorite childhood book or series?
10. Favorite song?
11.  What snack food can I find in your desk at school?

And here are the blogs that I'm picking on selecting!   Have fun!

Kate's Classroom Cafe        Not Just for Elementary

I'll pick more later, but for now it's time for bed.  School will be here before I know it.  Yes, I have Professional Development tomorrow.  :(    :)  (Can you tell I'm having fun with the strikethrough tonight?)

G'night all!



   I was grading a Social Studies test when I came across this sentence in response to a question about Ponce de Leon.  Among other things, this student told me that de Leon was "looking for the water fountain of uthe."

   I laughed out loud.  That certainly would makes sense to an eleven year old!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

So cool!

Darlene, at Meatballs in the Middle - what a great name for a blog - nominated me for a Liebster Blog Award. Which is super cool, not just because "she likes me, she really, really likes me" (do you have to be old to get that paraphrase or has it been around for so long that everyone knows it?) It means a lot because there's something about someone else affirming you for writing about what you love. I don't always do it well, but people out there in blogland are reading what I write. What we ALL write. How cool is that?

   And the rules are:
1. Post 11 random things about yourself
2. Answer the questions the nominator set for you
3. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
4. Choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them to your post.
5. No tag backs, but please leave a comment on this post if you were nominated so I can learn more about you and see who you nominate.

 So, first eleven random things about myself....
1. I was born in a town outside Paris, France.
2. When I registered to vote, the woman who wrote down my birthplace wrote it down as Paris, Frantz. 
3. I haven't thought about that in years!
4. I once thought about becoming a Broadway star. I love to sing, would never pass a dance audition, and can only act really well in front of my class. But that didn't stop my dream. And notice that I didn't say I wanted to act. No, I was going right to Broadway.
5. I didn't become a teacher until 12 years ago.
6. I am a "divebomb into the pool" kind of person when it comes to teaching. I'm not afraid to try, I learn and refine as I go. I'm not that way at all when I swim.
7. There's something about running in the early morning that puts my head in the right place. A treadmill makes me crazy. It's something about being out in the fresh air. Forget that it's dark or cold, or dark and cold.
8. I run more in my head than I do in real life. Although I've been running 3-4 times a week since the beginning of last summer.
9. I have the best spaghetti sauce recipe.
10. I always start the year wondering how I'll feel about my new class, and end up the year falling in love with them. Why do I always wonder if I will?
11. If you had told me when I was in high school or college that I would become a teacher, I would have vehemently denied it. And probably argued with you for days about how I wasn't going to go into such a female-dominated field. The world was my oyster and I was going to conquer it. I love teaching. Really, really am intrigued by it.

Now for the questions Meatballs in the Middle gave me!

Which color reflects your personality? Oh my.  Depends on the day.  I like turquoise, periwinkle, fuscia, and sometimes, just a nice brown.  Go figure.  Guess I have multiple personalities?

What is your favorite movie about education? That oldie but goodie, Stand and Deliver, and Akeelah and the Bee.

What book are you currently reading? Pirates by Celia Rees to stay ahead of my kiddos, and A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.  Which is good, but hard because I have to really concentrate.

Which song reflects your classroom? Have to think about that one....too many come to mind

Do you have a favorite picture book? Which one? If You Give a Mouse a Cookie reflects the way I get myself into projects!

If your students could only remember one thing about your class, what would you want them to remember? That I pushed them hard, and that they fell in love with reading on the way.  That they learned that you can be cool AND smart.

Which people would you bring with you if you had to be stranded on a deserted island? Well, I'd love to have my husband and kids with me.

You're on the deserted island with all of your favorite people, but you can only have 3 nonessential objects.

What are they? Nutella, fruit, and some cheeseandcrackers.  That's one item.

If you could, which moment of your life would you wear on a locket around your neck?
Which famous person would you bring back from the dead to have a chat with?
Are these questions too hard, and do you want to stab me with a dull knife right about now ? :-)

.....many days later.  At that point, I stopped, saved this post, and went to bed.  And woke up the next day with a family emergency, lots to do at school, and all of a sudden, blogging moved to the back burner.  So I'm going to post this now, and I promise I will take some time in the next few days to finish it.
    Taking my son (my baby!) back to college tomorrow, but hopefully things will calm down as the week goes on.  Or not.  You know how that is!  :)

Have a good rest of the weekend~

Monday, January 14, 2013

How did I get here? Books for Boys Linky Party!

     So I was going to write about a project I've been working on that I'm really excited about.  I love anything that has kids reading and writing across the curriculum and I hate most things that have to do with "practicing" for state tests.  So I've been working away on a project for my students that has them researching different countries, but in the process they get to use math to figure out the weather (measures of central tendency, proportion, scale, etc) they compare notes with kids who are researching countries on other continents, they get to use googleEarth and they write, and they read, and they learn geography.  Lots of good stuff.  But it's not finished yet :(

   Here's one of the graphic organizers I created that they'll be using:

  Want a copy?  Come on over to my TpT store and you can download it for free.  I'll post more once I get this whole thing together.  I want to push this group of kids, and I want them to have fun along the way.  Now there's a concept....

  But I digress.....  So instead of working on this project, I was checking out some blogs and came across this post which is near and dear to my heart.  Getting boys to read can be a challenge, and in sixth grade, I use this line a lot:  "It's okay to be cool AND smart."  And the boys smile, but they know I'm going to keep trying until I find a book that's the right fit for them!  Courtney at Swimming Into Second was talking about what books her second grade boys like to read.  And that got me thinking about my boys, especially my more reluctant readers.

So, here are some books I've found that have really grabbed my 11-year olds.

The most popular series this year has been the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz.  I can't keep these books on my shelves. Alex Rider is your basic James Bond type without the women and the alcohol.  He has more adventures in one book than most of us have in a lifetime.  And he has the really cool spy stuff.  Boys love him!

I wasn't so sure about this series at first, because it has some scary elements.  But when one of my most reluctant readers wrote in his journal...."I used to hate reading, but now that I'm reading Skeleton Creek, I might have to change my mind."  Well, let's just say that went a long way towards convincing me.  This series combines reading with short video clips - you go to the website printed on a particular page, type in the ID and password and watch the video which moves the story along.

Each book in this series is written by a different author; it's about two orphaned children who discover that they are members of one of the most powerful families in the world.  On their beloved aunt's death, they learn they can take one million dollars and walk, or start to solve clues to discover where the family's huge sum of money is.  With a babysitter in tow, they galavant all around the globe, and their adventures are fun for all kids to read.  This is a good series for boys for whom the Alex Rider series is a little too hard.

This is a new book, and I've had only a couple of boys read it so far, since I finished it, but then I've only had it on my shelves for a short time.  The boy who just finished it today is not nearly as strong a reader as those who've read it before him; he started reading it before Christmas.  But every couple of days, he would walk into homeroom to show me how much he'd read the previous night.  Or he'd tell me some exciting part that he'd really enjoyed.  The look of enjoyment on his face thrilled the heart of this Reading teacher!

  And finally, here's a series that I think I've enjoyed as much as my boys have.  This is the story of Will, a young orphan boy who wants more than anything to become a knight, but instead is selected to be a ranger, part of a secret group of men who protect the king and his kingdom.  Reads like something out of the Middle Ages, it has enough adventure and battles to keep most boys satisfied.

Are you getting the idea that I could talk and talk about this?  Time to put this blog to rest!  What books are your boys reading?  Share, please!


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Testing sometimes has an upside

So this week, we had a fire drill, two days of math and reading testing, and tomorrow we have a lockdown drill.  That's a lot for one week, and if I'm honest, I wasn't too keen on the full day of reading testing.  In Pennsylvania, we're using CDT's, which are taken online.  I know our kids play video games for more hours than I want to know about, but there's something about testing online that makes it....I don't know, harder in some way.  Is there a difference in the way they have to read since they're looking straight ahead instead of down?

   Anyway, I was leading the kids to the media center where they have 30 computers, but I wasn't doing cartwheels on the way, you know?  But a couple of things happened that were really cool.   The CDT's give the students general information in five different categories: comprehension, vocabulary, figurative language, persuasive techniques, and text organization.  No scores, just an "area that needs improvement" or "area which can be strengthened" - I'm paraphrasing here because I can't remember the exact words.  But the kids know.  Lowest results are in red, then green, highest are in blue.

   As the kids finished, we looked at their results together.  And a couple of boys, you know the ones - sixth grade boys that you know are smart, but are so busy trying to be cool that they forget how to work - that kind?  Well, I had conversations with a couple of them back in October or November.  You know, about how it was really, really okay to be cool AND smart?  You should have seen the look on their faces when they saw their results.  Yup, the effort they'd been putting in on their work had paid off on this test, and the pride on their faces was priceless.

   Boy, did that feel good!

Here's hoping you had a good week back!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Will trade! Freebie for feedback!

     So, I've had this idea in my head for a long time, but hadn't had a chance to get working on it.  And then yesterday, I sat down after a run and worked for a couple of hours to make it look the way I wanted it to.  I have a tendency to "dive into the deep end of the pool" sometimes with my students.  I come up with these great ideas (in my mind, anyway) and then as the students and I work through them, I find out where the glitches are.
      This year, my goal has been to create more clear instructions, because that seems to be where I fall down.  So I took one idea I've had a lot of fun with, and tried to make it clearer for my students.  Here's the first page.

     The full Character Book Talks is available here in my TeachersPayTeachers store.  Follow me on TpT and leave a comment, or follow me here and leave a comment.  Either way, the first three comments get the Book Talk free!

I love hearing ways I can strengthen my work and you get a product I hope you'll enjoy!  Make sure you leave your email address so that I can send it to you!

Have a great week back at school!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Spelling, oh spelling, where have you gone?

"He was berried were shepherds still walk there sheep.  He were a grass cape like a shepherd of his centery would were."

"He wore a grass like skirt witch was comon for the begening of the centery."

"They can keep there heard of sheep in the moutians."

I am truly stumped this year.  I just don't know how to get my students to care more about how they spell.  Am I worrying too much?  Will spell check take care of all of this anyway?  I just want my students to appear as smart as they are.  And good writing is so important to me.  And to them!

How do you handle this with your students?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My first Currently

Happy New Year!  Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade has a fun way to celebrate each month and I decided to join in since it's a new year.  So, here goes!

Listening:  I actually work better when it's quiet.  I get too scattered if I'm listening to music, and I'm too visual to watch TV and work at the same time.  I know, I know.  I feel like I'm the last person on the planet who functions this way.

Loving: It was wonderful to have all three kids home together for a week.  With young adult children, two of whom have careers with more unusual hours (an actress and a fashion photographer) I realize that these times together are precious.  They won't always be able to come home for Christmas.  What a treat to spend time with them!

Thinking:  So I had these good intentions of creating lots of stuff for my TpT store.  And instead, I read lots of blogs and found tons of great ideas that I altered so they'd work with my kiddos.  So thanks to all my teacher friends for sharing their great ideas!  Now, I've got a boatload to copy and play with for my bright-eyed students tomorrow.

Wanting:  The hardest part of teaching for me is getting out of bed at 5:00.  I try to run in the mornings - and I'm way more successful in my head than I am in real life.  But I try!

Needing:  I want to change the world, one kid at a time.  I want them all to read and write well and to want  it for themselves as much as I want it for them.  And I just need to breathe....

OLW:  Good grief!  What am I complaining about?  Life is good, very good.  And I am grateful!

How about you?  What's on your mind this first day of the new year?

Blessings to you in this new year!