Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tuning into Learning!

I am so excited about the theme in my classroom this year: Technology!! School starts in less than a week and I've been in this week getting bulletin boards ready to go! I put the students' names on each iPad, this is my welcome board.

 iHelp - Classroom Jobs

I did not do jobs last year - but have always done them in 4th grade. By mid-year I realized that 5th graders love to have jobs and wanted them! So this year, in keeping with my technology theme, I created an iHelp board with iPods labeled for each job. I am going to take off the iPods from the door after the 1st or 2nd week and use them to assign jobs.

It's All Greek (and Latin) to me!

I teach my students a little Greek every year when I have a Greek day around Greece's independence day on March 25th (it's also a nice break from state testing) This year with the Common Core standards being worded a little differently for us, I decided to create a Greek and Latin root word wall with common prefixes and suffixes. I color coded them for content related words (blue is Math, red is English, green is Science, and purple is Social Studies) as words come up I will all them to the wall with premade labels. The kids will then add their own examples from their different classes on index cards under to the specific prefix or suffix.

  Homework/Reminders Board

Here is where I will write nightly HW along with the Monthly Precept (seriously, read Wonder by RJ Palacio!) I also put my 5th grade class picture up from when I was in 5th grade. The kids will have to guess where I am in the pic :)

Desk Arrangement

 I FINALLY HAVE DESKS!!!! This is a dream come true. Seriously! Due to our much smaller class sizes, my teammates graciously donated these single desks to me. I can't tell you how excited I am about setting the room up in different ways. I had these desk in elementary school and miss them greatly! Last year I had trapezoid tables. I wasn't a fan!

 Classroom Library - Coming Soon!

 I like to cover the bookshelves to create a little element of surprise :) I used velcro command strips (my new BFF) to attached the letters R-E-A-D to the wall.








Words with Friends 

My favorite all-time game to watch the kids play! We play to regulation rules - to an extent, but I challenge them to find the word in the dictionary if they insist that it is a real word!


(yes I should have started with the door, but it was the last picture I took heading out today! So last it is!)

And my door....thanks to Pinterest and My Journey to 5th Grade for the Welcome Poster (I changed it up, but here's the credit for my inspiration)

Can you tell I'm kinda sorta excited to start the year?!

Ok, off to enjoy the last weekend of summer with my 2 little classroom helpers! 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Middle School Survival Kits!

Last year was my first year in a middle school setting teaching 5th grade. I was scared, nervous, and terrified of being in a middle school and very sad to have left my old school. But, I realized that the kids were just as new as I was and if they picked up on my nervousness, it was not going to go well for anyone. To make light of the first couple days of school as we got acclimated to our new surroundings, I decided to make "Middle School Survival Kits" for the kids. (and quite honestly, it was a good reminder for me!)

These are the kits I made for my last year's Homeroom students:

These were the girls' bags:
 These were the boys' bags:
 Close up of what is inside with a description of each:

I changed them this year. Here are my NEW Middle School Survival Kits! I kept teacher's name blank and in black & white to be printed on colored paper. My version will have my name and my co-teachers name on the bottom apple. These can be used for any grade or even for colleagues!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Eraser Machine!

I feel like a kid in a candy store (pun intended), as soon as I opened this package from UPS.

The moment I saw this idea on Pinterest, I knew I had to make one! I was convinced 4th graders ate glue sticks and now I'm convince 5th graders eat pencils and ERASERS!!! I can't even begin to keep track of how many pencil top erasers we went through!And I hate to was kinda a free-for-all :(

This year I will have my brand new eraser machine at the ready! No more going to search for erasers or dig them out of my desk drawers! Hopefully I will get kids and parents to donate some every now and then and replenish the supply as the year goes on.

Here is the link to the Carousel Gumball Machine. Found it on amazon for $20 (it's now about $22), 2-day free shipping! I just can't pass up their deals! I am not sure how I will use this yet, it takes all coins, BUT there is one feature that I absolutely love - you can covert it to "freeplay" (instructions included) which means it won't require any coins to get an eraser. Sounds like a fun prize incentive to me!

To give credit where credit is due, after all this blog is to SHARE awesome teachery ideas - follow the link above to see where I first saw this gumball eraser machine on Pinterest. I know there are a lot of these going around, not sure if this is the original, but it is what inspired me!

The BEST part about this gumball machine - it came with an 8 oz bag of yummy gumballs! 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The More You Read...

I am a book worm, but sometimes my hectic life trumps my love of reading. Now in the summer I'm up late reading devouring books. Through any avenue I could find, I have researched books that would be suitable for read alouds and independent reading for my 5th graders. With 3 classes now, and in a middle school setting, I am going to try my hardest to dedicate time to read aloud!

I want to share my two favorite kids' books that I've read this summer. Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper was an excellent read, and hit close to home for me.

Words, thoughts, feelings, descriptions, and the right answer to a question in class have never been able to come out of Melody's mouth. Melody, an 11 year old girl, has cerebral palsy. She is the smartest kid in the school but no one knows it because she can't speak and feels like she is stuck inside her head. Then Melody has a break-through when she discovers a way to share her voice. This book is honest, touching, and very real. I would recommend it to anyone, especially teachers who work with special education students. One central theme is inclusion, as Melody and her classmates from her substantially separate class are included in the general education when the school (finally) implements inclusion when she is in 5th grade. I am so grateful I found Melody this summer and look forward to sharing her story with my kids this year. 

"Everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives for overcometh the world." - August Pullman
Wonder by R.J. Palacio has a similar theme of acceptance and I quickly loved Auggie (August) the main character who has a very rare condition that caused a severe facial deformity. He enters school - 5th grade - for the first time after being homeschooled his whole life. The book is told by many different perspectives - like Auggie's older sister who enters high school, and other kids whose lives become influenced by Auggie. I am going to introduce this book when teaching theme and our school values of inclusion, acceptance, and empathy. A quote that stuck with me, this one came from a teacher on the first day of school, "When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind" - Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. I want to somehow display this quote in my class because I want the theme in my classroom to be: Choose Kind.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Homework Passes

I make HW passes for every holiday but I NEVER thought to make ones for kids' birthdays! Once again, thank you Pinterest and the amazingly talented teachers I follow! Here are my birthday passes and HW passes for being "Fabulous 5th graders!" I used Vistaprint's deal of 250 free business cards and only paid for shipping! I figured these would last me at least 3 years and I don't have to use my color ink at home.

With close to 70 kids, I have to give the warning that lost passes cannot be replaced!
(Please forgive my pictures - I have managed to break yet another camera and am relying solely on my iPhone for pics!)

This is just the beginning....

Oh, Pinterest, what you do to me! I have been on Pinterest for over a year now and I'm so excited that it's become as big among teachers as it has! Along with this, let's call it a "pastime" not "obsession"...a couple of my good friends suggested I create a blog. I had done so a couple years ago, then BAM twins came along, and although I can't say that it'll be easy (they're 26 months old now) and life is crazy hectic, but I thought I'd give it a shot - so here it is...