Thursday, October 30, 2014

Student Self Evaluations-Getting Ready for Conferences

Time is flying by and many of you are getting ready for Parent-Teacher Conferences. As a teacher, I had a love/hate relationship with conferences. I loved being able to share with the parents what was going on in their child's life. I loved the insight I gained from the parents when we met together.

I hated the long nights, teaching all day, meeting all night, and then teaching the next day again...It made for a very long week leading up to Thanksgiving. To make things easier I created a Student Self Assessment.(Free in my TPT store.)

I created this form to help students evaluate themselves and to give me a starting point for conferences. We all know some conferences are easier than others to hold. Having students share what they need to work on in their own words was a great way for me to get started. It is amazing, because most of the time the students knew the exact thing they needed to work on, and parents were more perceptive to anything "negative" because it was their child's idea.

 What do you do to get ready for conferences? What does your conference schedule look like?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Teaching Children about September 11th.

For many of us, September 11th is a day that causes us all to stop and remember. We trade stories about where we were when we heard the news and morn the losses that happened that day. Many of our students weren't alive for 9/11, either that or they were too young to remember. That makes this topic something important to discuss with our students. Below is my post from last year sharing what I did to teach my students about 9/11.

To start this conversation I ask my kiddos to tell me what they know about 9/11. We listen and talk. As the conversation turns into more questions than facts I play a video from BrainPOP.
The video is normally the featured video on Sept. 11th, so even if you don't have a BrainPop subscription you can still show the video for free.

Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey
After the video the kids and I read the story Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey. The students and I talk about the book, and how normal people became heroes that day. Fair warning to read it first before you read it to your kids...I get choked up every year.

September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right
Then we read September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right. This book was written by a first grade class. It shares how the students knew everything would be okay. Many of you know that I am in a private school, so I am able to share with the kids that we can trust in God when bad things like this happen. I remind them that it isn't a surprise to God, and that even though we don't know why He allows bad things to happen we can trust that He will help us through it. It's a good lesson for me to remember too.

How do you explain 9/11 to your students? What are your favorite activities to do with your kiddos to help them deal with such a heavy topic?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

September Currently

It's September already...where has the time gone? I hope those of you that have started back to school are enjoying your new classes. It is so weird for me to not be in the classroom this year. I'm thankful to be home with my daughter, and don't regret my decision at all, but it is weird to not be teaching each day. Here's a few new pictures...sorry, but I'm a proud mom.
2 weeks old

8 weeks old (yesterday)

I'm linking up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for September's Currently.

Since my schedule is crazy now with a newborn I have started watching shows via Netflix. I'm currently rewatching Bones.

I'm loving being a mom and my daughter is such a good baby. I really can't complain, but I am tired, and so is my poor husband. I at least can take a quick nap during the day, my poor man has to get up and head to work. He is exhausted right now, so I think we are going to let him sleep in this weekend. I know once Abigail sleeps for longer chunks at night I'll have more energy to get back to blogging and my TPT projects.

I love to travel, we have a Disney Cruise booked for December (it was booked before we found out we were pregnant) so we will be taking a four almost five month old on a cruise. Any tips for flying/traveling with a baby would be helpful! Ireland and Italy are two places that I want to go...they are on the bucket list.

What are you Currently up to?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Speical Delivery-Baby girl has arrived!

Happy Wednesday friends! Time has flown by, and I now have a two week old baby girl! Abigail and I are doing very well. She is such a good baby, we are very blessed to have her.

She arrived on July 9th, 2014 at 2:03 pm weighing 6 pounds 1 ounce and measuring 19 3/4 inches long.

 That means that Laura had the closest guess to her actual birth date and she is able to pick out any item from my TPT store. Laura, be on the lookout for an e-mail from me! Thanks to those of you that played!

Once baby girl and I get into a routine my posts will be more teaching related. Thanks for celebrating with me for now.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Let's Play a Little Game...

I'm 37 week pregnant today...and I am sorry for you, my blog readers, but I have baby on the brain right now. Instead of fighting it, I thought you could embrace it with me by playing a little game.

My due date is July 29th. The doctors have said that they will not let me have baby girl late, due to the health stuff they have been watching us for, but they haven't set an induction date yet. So the question is...

When will Abigail arrive?

How to play: In the comments section of this post, leave the date you think Abigail will arrive. The person with the closest date or correct date will win any item (excluding bundles) from my TPT store. If more than one person picks the correct date they will all win an item from my store. You can only pick one date...

Happy guessing! Right now your guess is as good as mine!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July-Giveaway Winner Announced

Happy 4th of July everyone! It is a rainy day here in PA due to Hurricane Arthur churning off the coast, but I'm so thankful for what this day represents and to have my husband home today.

I am happy to announce the winners of the Simulation Giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Congratulations Ursula and Elizabeth! Please check your e-mail for an e-mail from me so you can pick your prizes!

Just a reminder, if anyone has an simulation suggestions for what I should make next I'd appreciate them. If I use your idea (and you are the first to suggest it) you will receive a free copy when it is finished!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tried it Tuesday/Wednesday-Zoo Design

While I was on my unintentional blogging break, I was not allowed to work the second to last week of school, and I was put on "light duty" at school for the last week. That means that I was allowed to go in for a few hours each day, but that was it. While my body and baby needed me to be on light duty...that meant that I needed to to make sup plans for at least half a day (some days all day) for the last two weeks of school.

It isn't the easiest thing to come up with plans that will keep the kids engaged and focused. While I was picking out things for my kiddos to do I stumbled across a wonderful project that Matt from Digital: Divide and Conquer had shared with me earlier in the year, Zoo Design: Area and Perimeter.
I had already taught my students how to find area and perimeter of polygons earlier this year, so I was able to copy the pages in the packet, as well as the directions for the sub, and leave it in a folder for them to do one morning. I came in after the students had been working on this for a little while. The students were still busy working, and enjoying the activity.
Since it was the last week of school, I wasn't planning on grading this activity so I let the students work with a partner if they wanted to. It was great to see them enjoying and reviewing their skills so close to the end of the school year. I wish I had taken pictures of the project, but totally forgot! If you are looking for a fun, engaging, and differentiated project for your kiddos to do to practice area and perimeter this is just what you need!
What activities/projects do you use to end the year? Looking for some more great things that people have tried? Check out Holly's blog for Tried it Tuesday!

Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Currently July

I can't believe it is July! My word, does time fly! I'm linking up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for Currently!

They are all self explanatory...but I will say that I miss being able to fall asleep in a reasonable fashion. I'm entering my 9th month of pregnancy when everyone says get extra sleep before the baby comes, and I can't seem to get comfortable enough to fall asleep. I will's just annoying.

 Just a reminder to enter the giveaway...just a few more days left!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday Made-It Nursery Edition

Happy Monday everyone! I'm excited to link up for Monday Made It this week. It's been so long since I've "made" something to share for this linky.
Technically, I didn't exactly make what I am going to share today, but I did help to build (Actually, I just held things for my husband) and I did organize/ that counts....right?

Many of you know I am very pregnant. My little girl is due at the end of July, although we had a big scare about a month ago and thought we may be having her two months early. Thankfully God is in control, and she is still "cooking." She will be 36 weeks tomorrow, so we are just about full term, and if I am honest, it is fine by me if she comes anytime.After our scare, we went into full setting up the nursery mode. We had everything, just needed to finish washing, building, and organizing everything. With the help of my parents, we were able to finish it in a weekend. So here's our little girl's room...ready for her whenever she decides to make her appearance!
Don't mind my yoga ball...

All that is missing is a view of the large bookshelf that is full of picture books husband thinks I may have a book addiction problem. Don't tell him, but I think he may be right.

What have you made recently?

Don't forget to enter the giveaway I'm running this week!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Social Studies Simulations Giveaway

When I was a student in high school, one of my favorite teachers was a history teacher, because he was the first teacher that made history come alive for me. When I decided to become a teacher, I knew that I didn't want my students to have to wait until they were in high school to have social studies come alive.

This past year, I discovered that most of my class (all but one if I am honest) hated social studies through a graphing activity I use in the beginning of the year. I decided I needed to do a little more to liven my curriculum up even more than I have in the past.

Early in the year the students had their first experience with an Underground Railroad simulation that I found on TPT the year before. It was a perfect way to make things come to life in a short time period.

Throughout the year I made three new simulations for my students to enjoy:
Pilgrim Dice Simulation
Oregon Trail Dice Simulation
Gold Rush Dice Simulation
Each of these simulations comes with a list of suggested books, a writing prompt, and the actual simulation. The simulation takes about 15 min, (it may take longer if you have a larger class.) I normally use the rest of the class period having the students work on their writing prompt and debriefing from the activity. I use these simulations as a wrap-up for our unit...however some teachers prefer to use them to kick off a unit. It is totally teacher's choice!
It can get a little crazy with all your students walking around the room at the same time, since they move from station to station at their own pace, so it is really important to lay down some ground rules before you start. I have found that the simulations do leave a lasting impression on the kiddos. They remember their results of the simulation more than other things we do in class.

Since I've had such a great experience using simulations, I want to give you all a chance to use them as well! I'll pick two winners on Friday, they will be able to choose any two of the three simulations for themselves.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One more thing...
Now that I am taking time off to start a family, I'd love to make more simulations. What topics would you love to have a simulation for? If I use the topic you suggested you will receive a free copy of that simulation when it is completed as a thank you!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Reading Skills-Teaching Cause and Effect

Happy Friday everyone! It is nice to be putting two posts up in the same week. I hope you are all enjoying your summer vacation so far!

I know many of you are like me, you are always trying to find a fun new way to have your kids practice a skill. This year, I had a group of really bright kiddos, so I found I didn't need to spend a long time on teaching the skill, but rather found it more useful to do quick reviews throughout the year. My normal quick reviews are to make a SMART Board activity or play a quick game, but I found I was using the same ideas and decided to switch things up a bit.

When I decided to review cause and effect, I took situations from Sign of the Beaver, the book we had been reading together as a class. I typed up the causes on one colored paper, and the effects on another color.

The students had to match up the causes with the effects. As they worked on them, I walked around the room to "check" their work and guide them if they matched up something incorrectly or were stumped on something.
The kids enjoyed the activity, and it only took 10-15 min. It was an easy and fun way to review a concept.

What are your favorite ways to review a skill with your students?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Word Splash: A Pre-Assessment Activity

It is amazing how quickly time passes by...I can't believe it has been months since my last post. Life has totally gotten away from me, so blogging had to be put on hold for a little while. Now that summer is here and I am awaiting baby girl's birth, I have a little more time to work on the blog posts that I started but didn't finish!

I don't know about you, but I have always had the hardest time pre-assessing my students in science and social studies. I didn't want to give them a test...and unfortunately I don't have enough time in a day to have a conversation with each of my students about a topic, so I tried to think of a better way. Because of this, I want to share an activity I love to do with my fourth graders, and with adults when I am leading a workshop. It is a strategy I picked up from a dear friend of mine, and I have used it for years now, Word Splash!

Word Splashes are a fun and easy way to take a quick assessment of a large group of people. The beauty is, that it can be used for any subject matter. With my students I type up a list of words that I feel are most important to our unit of study. For example my kiddos and I were beginning our study on New England. I gave my students words like; Plymouth, Pilgrims, 1620, Textile Mill, Puritans, etc. Once my kiddos have the words, they work in groups to organize them. They can organize them in whatever way they see that the words fit together. I do allow the students to have up to three words in a category called, "I have no idea" This allows me to see what topics or words they really don't know anything about.

Once the kids have their words organized we travel together as a class from table to table to listen to each group explain how they organized the words.

As we travel, I just listen. I don't give any suggestions or opinions on their categories or placements. They will learn the correct meaning of words as we work through our unit...this just lets me see any misconceptions they already have before we start the unit. It is always amazing to me how the kids do pick up on things. I will often have students say, "Oh, that is what that word means." When we are working through our unit, and it is because they remember the word from this activity.

When I work with adults, I will modify it a little. I do not give them the words on paper, instead I put the words up on a Power Point and have them jot each word on a small post-it. Since it is at a workshop setting I normally have them arrange their Word Splash on a piece of chart paper to hang around the room for the day, just so they can look back at it throughout the day. Adults will often get up and rearrange their word splash as they learn something new...which is a neat way for me as a presenter to see who is really getting what I am sharing.

Have you ever used Word Splashes before? What strategies/activities do you use to pre-assess your kiddos in science/social studies?

Friday, March 21, 2014

I'm not dead...I promise!

I can't believe it has been so long since my last post. The last few weeks have completely flown by!
Here's a quick recap for you:
I finished my grad. course for the semester (Praise God!)
I took a trip to NC to attend my brother-in-laws wedding. (Driving for 10 hours while 20 weeks pregnant was not my favorite part...)
I discovered that Glen and I are having a baby girl!
As for teaching stuff, I have lots of fun things to share with you. Things like this:
Science Fair activities:

Social Studies Simulations:

100th Day of School
Be on the lookout for posts on each of these activities in the next week or so!

What have you been up to? 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

March Currently

I cannot believe that it is already March! My poor blog...February slipped by so quickly I missed posting as often as I wanted to!

I'm linking up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for Currently!

Listening: My husband is on a Top Gear UK kick right now. I do find it highly amusing, so it is a nice show to have on in the background while I grade.

Loving: I'll be 19 weeks pregnant on Tuesday. This past week was the first week that I really felt the baby move. It is an amazing feeling...can't wait to find out if the baby is a boy or a girl!

Thinking: My poor blog has been so neglected. My school has had a lot of activities that I am involved in that have kept me busy after school.

Wanting: Even though we have had a million snow days this year I could really use one tomorrow...

Needing: I really need to get all our tax stuff together so I can send it off to our accountant. I also need to work on my final project for my grad class. If I have tomorrow off I'll have plenty of time to get it done!

?????: Can you guess the question to my answer? The first person to guess will receive a product of their choice from my store.

Happy March!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Multiple Intelligences Centers-Electricity

Happy Weekend everyone! It is sunny here in PA and the temperature is supposed to go up to 50 degrees! Just the thought of that makes me smile!

I'm currently in the middle of an excellent graduate course. It is called, Teaching the Diverse Learner. It is one of those courses that helps to stretch and challenge you as an educator. I love these kinds of classes because I really believe that we, as teachers, should always be learning.

This past week we have been studying Multiple Intelligences. Evaluating which intelligences we naturally teach to and which intelligences we tend to neglect. It was eye-opening to see which intelligences I don't normally create activities for.

Our assignment this week was to create eight stations/centers that we could have in our classroom during a particular unit of study. One of my favorite units of study is our electricity so I created my centers around that unit.

I wanted to share them with you, just in case you are like me and you don't naturally think of ideas that fit into each intelligence. You can download for free here.

Using activities that meet each of the learning intelligences will really spark some motivation in my kiddos. For other ways to Spark Motivation, head over to Joanne's blog and check out her linky party.