Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Another track out, Another quarter

Well, I have officially been in my third quarter for about 2 1/2 weeks. It's a little more than insane to think I have completed half of this school year. Each day I am feeling more and more confident about myself, and my teaching abilities. I am fortunate to have some great friends, both old and now some great new friends that have been there for me this year. The other new 5th grade teachers and I have been working hard together to create some great lessons in all our subjects. I think that I can only end this year strong!

I recently had my second observation (that was unannounced!) and it turned out awesome! I was complimented on my strong understanding of my curriculum and classroom management. It's great to hear that I am doing well! I also did my mid year PDP review. (Professional Development Plan... aka personal/professional goals I will work on this year to better myself!) That went really well, I've done great with my team goal and I'm right on schedule with my goal- book clubs! I've really enjoyed my book clubs from the beginning of the year. It's exciting to hear my students engage in pretty deep discussions on a book they are all reading! I can't wait for the next few book clubs. The other new 5th grade teachers have found some excellent books that I'm excited to try out with my kids!

Here are some pictures from Christmas and my birthday. I wish I could post some of my wonderful students though!

Tacky Christmas Sweater Day! 
Keslie and I at the staff Christmas Luncheon

Meagan and I

My wonderful students brought in cards,
balloons and treats on our track out day
to celebrate my birthday! 
Keslie and I stayed late one night and walked
out to our cars to find that it was snowing! 

Over my track out, my school system has had 4 snow days. It's a pretty decent winter by NC standards. I'm just glad that as of right now, I don't have to make up these days.... :-D  Workdays (might) start tomorrow, so it's back to work for me! Over this next Track In, I am also going to work hard to work out! It's time this teacher loses some weight! Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Track Out

Being a year round school allows me to take some great breaks. :-) 

My break started on Tuesday October 22nd. (Monday was a work day) I got a lot accomplished that first week. I even went BACK into school that first week to get some things done in my classroom! Work nerd... party of one? 

Anyways this past week I got to go spend time with friends and family! I went trick-or-treating! I carved a pumpkin! I even got to spend a few hours in my student teaching school! I crashed the fourth grade lunch and got to see all my children from last year! Then I went and spent time with my mentor, visited the rest of the 3rd grade team, and a fifth grade teacher. I had a blast! I've missed that place and those people! 

The biggest thing about going home is that I didn't take ANY work with me. It was very odd for the first few days. But I got to actually relax and give myself some space from constantly thinking about work. This did wonders for my sanity!

Now that I'm back home, and have spent over half my pay check to pay all my bills.... (hate that part) I am ready to finalize my lesson plans, tie up some loose ends, and grade my life away again! REEEE-freshed! 

Check out this pictures from my break! I hope everyone had a safe and fun Halloween! 
My wonderful city!
It was exciting to see the familiar skyline again! 

My cousin Mason's pumpkin

My cousin Kendall's pumpkin

My pumpkin!

All three pumpkins proudly on display!

I was Beetle Juice for Halloween....
Like my makeup?? 
Jack the dog became a

Quarter 1 Review

Well folks, I did it! I made it through my first quarter as a fifth grade teacher. :-]
I still love it! Things are SLOWLY coming together. The moment I feel I have it together, something new gets added to the mix. However, that is what I can expect for the rest of my career. :-] It is the nature of teaching.

Here are the highlights from the rest of quarter 1!

Outdoor Movie Night
We had a movie night this quarter. They were able to show "The Lorax." This was incredibly coincidental because I had used the book and clips from the movie for several weeks in ELA lessons! I had fun hanging out with some of my colleagues and seeing all this kids!

Daily 3
I did finally get Daily 3 up and running. However, it never felt like it rain smoothly. I am making one more change. See the next post for more details on that!

First Observation
I had my first observation of teaching this quarter! My principal came in and observed a math lesson. (This is pre-planned out, for the record) I did VERY well! It was exciting to hear my principals feedback and positive commentary on how I run my classroom. YAY!

That's almost a dirty word now days in education... to parents, students, and teachers alike! Anyways, we have some testing we do each quarter that are like mini EOG's (end-of-grade tests given by the state). It is supposed to help monitor the progress of students. Day 1. 10 Minutes into the "testing session." I had a student get sick. As in they threw up in the room. This prompted the whole "if you're going to be sick, just run!" discussion. I told students to just get up and run. I give them permission to ignore any teacher until they are able to talk without puking. However, I am very proud of myself in the way I handled it! I didn't get all grossed out, which means my students didn't get all grossed out! They we able to finish their test with minimal time lost after the incident!

Report Cards
Technology is both a wonderful, and terrible thing. In this case, it was terrible! Our report cards are done through our online gradebooks. There were so many glitches that they ended up getting delayed 2 weeks so that everything could be finalized and printed.

First Quarter Celebration!
I had my room mom (Thank goodness for my room mom!) organize some snacks and parent volunteers. In the middle of a testing week we got to take a time out and celebrate finishing first quarter. It was fun, and I will more than likely continue to do that each quarter. I even wore a crown!.... I told my kids that I was the queen all quarter. So it was only fitting that I wore my crown!

--------- There was a FIRE DRILL towards the end of the celebration. I had to walk all my kids and parents out to our waiting area. I did all this... still wearing my crown. Oops! My room mom actually has a picture of this and I have a feeling it might end up in the year book!
My crown! 

Anyways, first quarter ended and all has been running relatively smoothly!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Adding in Word Work

Today was my first real try at having 2 mini lessons, and 2 rounds of choice..... I failed. The timing of all this is certainly going to take some getting used to, and LOTS of practice! My first mini lesson ran WAY to long But the kids were engaged! We are using the movie "The Lorax" to explore if and how characters change throughout a story, and how characters respond to challenges! It's so much fun! However, I basically lost my ENTIRE first round of choice after we finished the practice piece of the first mini lesson. I decided to do a review of Read to Self then, creating the I-Chart that goes over the expectations of Read to Self. Then, I had the kids take a quick stretch break, and then come back to the carpet to start mini lesson 2, so that I could introduce word work (WW). 

I explained the Must Do's and Can Do's of WW moving forward. Remember, this is week 5 for me, and I'm trying to restart and establish Daily 3 in my classroom. It makes things a tad more difficult! Then I showed the kids were the stuff would be located. 

Must Do's are in the yellow folders.
The Can Do's will be in the Orange folders. 

Here is my new Daily 3 Board where the I-Charts
will be posted for all 3 Daily Choices. 

Tomorrow I will try again for 2 mini lessons, 2 choice rounds. I will also be completing the Word Work I-Chart.  Fingers Crossed!!!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Daily 5 in 5th Grade

Most educators out there have at least heard of  "The Sisters" who created the Daily 5 and Cafe program. My district and school have taken on the Daily 5 as the structure for teaching English and Language arts. This has probably been one of the hardest things for me as a first year teacher.... more specifically a first year, 5th grade teacher. While I think this is a great structure, it was been hard for me to visualize putting it into practice. There just aren't as many resources for Daily in the upper elementary grades.

So after a lot of talk with my mentor, my literacy facilitator, my team members I think I think I might just have the idea! I am going to use this as a place document my first year with Daily and how I plan to implement into my classroom. Maybe I can help some other teachers (new teachers, or new to Daily teachers) get Daily rolling into their classroom.

Let me start with two sites who I have found this weekend who have had me in brainstorming OVERDRIVE!

  1. First up is Juice Boxes and Crayolas Blog and TPT store! She started her Daily 3 a couple years ago and has some great information and pictures of her set up with Daily! This is my jumping off place for Daily. Click around her site, there are about 3-4 different posts about Daily in her classroom. She also has some great stuff that is currently free on her TPT site for word work! AWESOME!!!!!!!
  2. I found this next blog through the first one. It's not specifically for Daily, but this blogger has some GREAT resources available one here site, and a lot of them can be used in Daily!

In the 5th grade, it is expected that we have 2 mini lessons, and 2 rounds of choice. So I need to back up and say that I am basically going to restart Daily in my classroom this next week, which will be week 5 for me. (Note: I am in a year round school!) I have already established Read to Self (RS). I did spent a good amount of time working on Picking Good Fit books and building reading Stamina. I am going to review these expectations and relaunch RS on Monday before the first choice round. Then I am going to launch Word Work (WW) Monday as my second mini lesson. The kids will then all choose a WW activity to practice. In fifth grade, we generally focus on Greek and Latin Roots and Affixes. So my word work is more Vocabulary Based. I am using the the activities I found at Juice Boxes and Crayolas. I will elaborate and have pictures of this next week. But I am super excited to see what happens. I think this will really help my students and put in that aspect of choice that Daily is all about! The following week I plan to launch the Work on Writing (WoW). Those will be my big 3 for daily. However I also have a fluency piece built in where certain partners will go out in the hallway and do some fluency practice 3 days a week. Then around the end of first quarter (so realistically in about 3 weeks, YIKES) I will be introducing Book Clubs which will be one of their Must Do's 2-3 times a week. 

It's a lot to think about. But, as the pieces fall into place, and as I slowly find more resources, I am getting really excited about Daily in my classroom. I will continue to share my experiences and pictures throughout the year as Daily begins to come together! 

Track In

I have survived my first track out/track in!! 

This past week was my first week back with my kids. Let me tell you, I MISSED THEM! I missed my schedule, my co-workers, and just overall my school. But I am incredibly grateful for my break. My head felt like it was constantly buzzing those first three weeks of school! I was unorganized, flustered, and I felt like I was trying something new every day, which meant a lot of inconsistency! If you have ever worked with kids, you know that being unorganized and inconsistent is just asking for chaos! Luckily, I have an awesome class, and they worked with me. However, there is a HUGE difference between how the school day felt before track out, and this week after we tracked back in. 

So let me give you a run down of my track out activities! 
1. I went home immediately. I hung out with my family,
my friends, and just relaxed from that Saturday to the following
 Wednesday. Here's the amazing thing, while I was soooo ready
 to go home, I was ready to come back to my new home as well.
I guess it's great that both can feel like home! 

2. I got my very first teacher paycheck. 
This was both AWESOME and sad at the same time.
Probably because I had to turn around and pay a months 
worth of bills. :-) But it was still nice, and felt very "adult."
See I am just so excited!! 

3. North Carolina has a Tax-Free Weekend. So I went shopping.....
 I spent WAY to much.But, now that I am tracked back in, 
it was COMPLETELY work it! I bought 2 desk sized 
3 drawer containers. Those hold, sticky notes, erasers, pens,
binder clips, paper clips, and a few other things. I also bought
2, 3 Drawer containers that can hold paper. One is on my desk
holding papers to be graded, intervention work, and important papers.
The other holds notebook paper, computer paper, and publishing paper.
The publishing paper is currently brightly colored lined notebook paper.
I think it's awesome. My kids think I'm strange. :-D
I also bought an 8 self paper thing. It was about $20 and I use it to
organize my upcoming master copies by subject! 
I also bought some pens, sheet protectors, card stock, and various other items
that I or my students will use in the classroom. 

4. I got organized. I went though numerous folders and binders.
I consolidated, grouped, and threw away a lot. 
I made a parent contact list for myself and my room mom. 
I made a "Need To Know" Sub Information sheet. 
I talked to my grade level and figured out how my ELA
(English Language Arts)
block should go. Then I planned it all out. 
I planned EVERYTHING OUT! Including some new procedures! 

5. I went to a 2 day Improving Teacher Quality workshop. 
This was actually VERY good. I learned some pretty neat things.
My favorite things dealt with technology! App's, websites, and activities GALORE!!!

6. I had my Track In Workdays the Thursday and Friday before we came back.
It was GREAT to see my team again. It was great to sit back in school.
Then, I got to set up my new classroom! WOOOOOOO! 
Check it out! 

While I miss my last classroom, I am feeling pretty good about.
Especially because I am so much more organized! 

  • That brings us to this past Monday. My day started by realizing that all the master copy machines were down. Out of service. No copies allowed. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Not the way I wanted to start my track in! So I had to make my copies on the ONE machine left. By the way... that was how it was ALL week! Talk about a little bit stressful! Then Monday was also PLT (Professional Learning Team) day for the fifth grade team. On PLT days, we as a grade level get to talk together, work together, and discuss data from 8-10 AM. The kids go to our "Town Hall" and have a presentation or lesson given by the amazing Counseling Team and School Facilitators. It's an interesting concept for sure! I also had to leave PLT for about 25 minutes to meet with a parent. Overall, it was a busy busy morning!
  • The rest of the week went well, but stayed just as busy. On Tuesday, the amazing literacy facilitator came in to help me out with some testing. She also gave me some feedback on my lesson. It's nice to know that I'm headed in the right direction! Then Tuesday afternoon I had a meeting with a parent. That also went really well! I have some pretty great parents this year! 

  • Wednesday was my meeting bookend day. I started the day with a BT (beginning teacher) meeting talking about parent communication and classroom management. Then I ended my day with my weekly mentor meeting. Both went great! I love meeting with my mentor. It's nice to have someone to share with! 
  • Thursday had NO meetings (wildly cheer at that!). We did however have an Internet Safety assembly at the end of the day. The presenter while a great presenter, never called on helpers from the back. This greatly upset the 5th graders, who happened to occupy the back. 
  • And finally Friday, I had another grade level meeting in the morning. Friday was also an early release day. It went smoothly, my kids are awesome with change and adapting to whatever needs to happen. Finally the week ended with a staff meeting (always on Early Release Days). We were provided lunch (There was even food for me to eat!!) and allowed to sit with our team. I had a blast! Learned some things, but I mostly enjoyed sitting and working with my team, and the AG person, who I think we have adapted onto our team anyways! 

I'm almost tired from writing all that! The main thing is that I am feeling organized, and I am excited to be back! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Workshops and Workdays

Before I begin, let me catch up. I've been tracked out (on a break essentially) for the past 2 and a 1/2 weeks. I went home for a bit. I've been shopping (NC has a Tax Free Weekend, it's like my favorite holiday as a teacher!) I've been planning- a lot. 

Monday and Tuesday this week I attended a BT (beginning teacher) workshop. There were some really interesting classes. I have some great ideas I would like to try out in my classroom over the next few weeks! Today and Friday I have workdays. There are a few meetings, I will be planning some more, working on setting up my classroom bit by bit. It should be interesting. This is the first time I've gone through this process. It makes me nervous to be honest. The good news however, is that I will at least have this room to myself for the next 9 weeks. 

I'll post some pictures this weekend of some of the things I've been working on and of course this next room I'm in!