Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday Letters!

Happy Monday!  Can you believe it's already Monday again!?  Well my weekend was amazing.  My hubby and I visited Austin, TX for the first time to see some friends who recently moved there.  Be sure you're following me on Instagram to see some pictures!  I definitely had a rough start this morning.

Dear Students,  I am so proud of you for your great report on Friday from the sub.  We will have to have a celebration, considering the previous sub walked out of the classroom.  {A story for another day}.

Dear Lesson Plans, I know you sit completely untouched.  And that there's so much to do.  Please help me just get through this week.  T-Minus 6 school days until Thanksgiving Break!  Can I get an AMEN!?

Dear Austin, I had to roll off the plane to get home.  Thank you for your mountains of delicious food and drinks.  I will be back soon!

Dear 3rd, 4th, or 5th grader sitting near me on the plane, Just so you know, I'm glad your Mom was making you complete your homework on the plane.  You can complain all you want - but I am grateful for parents like yours who try to do homework with their kids.  It takes a village, y'all.

Enjoy the rest of your week!  Gobble, gobble!

Inspired by Elle & Co., Monday Letters is a weekly installment where I write four letters each week.  Two letters are to my classroom or are school related.  The other two are for anything else in my world during that week. 
Be sure to stop by my blog post I shared yesterday!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

5 Things I Said Before I Became a Teacher That Are Complete Bull

(5) Then - My students will all love each other and I will leave every day knowing they love me. 
Now - Will the kids leave every day knowing I love them?  Yes.  But will they always love me?  I'm afraid not.  And I'm okay with that.

(4) Then - I don't need to give grades.  Rubrics are the best.
Now - Ain't nobody got time for that.  Rubrics are great for big projects and assessments.  But for the every day math worksheet?  Sometimes a 5 out of 5 or a checkmark {or the recycling bin} is all I can manage.

(3) Then - I will spend at least an hour on each subject and I will set a timer so I don't run over.
Now - Oy.  Scheduling is the bane of my existence.  I barely have time for 50 minutes per subject.  And who has time to set a timer?!  And what if I remember to set one and the timer goes off and I'm not finished?  AH!  An hour-ish and miniiiii lessons will have to do.

(2) Then - I will differentiate every lesson I teach to make sure I reach every student.
Now - I will make sure my lesson is heard/seen/experienced by as many students as possible.  I will make it as engaging as possible, and when I see fit, I will differentiate.  Right there.  On the spot.  But not always before the lesson or on the weekends.  Because there are only 24 hours in a day people.

(1) Then - I will return all tests, papers, and work within three days of completion and with thorough feedback.
Now - HA!  Haahahhaha! HA!

Have any more to add?  Leave them below in the comments!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What Does the Turkey Say?

It's been about a year since the iconic What Does the Fox Say?  song came out.  Although we were living in Spain during this time, we still heard the song everywhere we went.  Ohh silly Spaniards.

So, feeling inspired, I decided to create a silly activity {you can also read about it >>here<<} that would be perfect for this time of year.  I need super engaging activities to keep my 4th graders focused.  Not just anything will do.

SO, enter James.  James is a nice turkey struggling to make his way home for Thanksgiving Break.  He accidentally crash lands in the Carnivora's front yard during a horrible blizzard.  The Carnivoras offer to take James in until the storm clears up, but as the weather worsens and nobody can leave their homes, it looks like James may be tonight's dinner!  What should everyone do?  This fun mini unit includes newspaper articles for your class to read and respond to, a ~WORKING E-MAIL~ address for them to send their opinions to, a turkey craftivity, and MORE!

 Grab this silly, fun, and engaging activity in my TpT Store for just $2.50!!  
And for the next three days it will be 20% off!  
Go!  Now!  Why wait?!

Cheers!  TGI{almost}F!

Monday, November 10, 2014

It's Monday!

Happy Monday to all!

It's time for some Monday Letters! I hope you've had a great start to the week!

Dear and Catherine from The Brown Bag Teacher, Thank you for the brilliant idea of ordering personalized pencils!  I went ahead and ordered a set for my class.  I cannot wait to give them their personalized pencils, personalized bookmarks, and a book from Scholastic as their Christmas gifts!  Thank you for making Christmas cheap and easy!!  SCORE!

Dear Mr. Writer, where did this writing enthusiasm come from?  I was shocked when we met for a writing conference and I saw all of this beautifulness!  I can't even get mad about the drawings since they were so "important" to the story.  {It MUST be my amazing Writing Units at work - wink!}

Dear hubby, I love you to the moon and back and I'm ecstatic to be going to Austin, TX with you this weekend, but are you sure you need the Texan Style Mustache you've been rocking since Saturday?

Dear sub plans, I cannot wait to go out of town Thursday night, but do you really need to take this long to write?  {I'm drowwwwning in Sub Plans!}

Inspired by Elle & Co., Monday Letters is a weekly installment where I write four letters each week.  Two letters are to my classroom or are school related.  The other two are for anything else in my world during that week.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Simple Strategy for Introducing Division & Free Powerpoint!

Happy weekend, friends!

Last week was a four day week (thank you Election Day!) and I soaked up every minute of that day off.  Now we're in that beautiful downhill stretch to Christmas Break.  Too early?

My class this year is uber procedural and has a hard time discussing ANNNNYTHING.

Me:  What's your favorite book we've read?
Student:  Frindle.
Me:  Oh that's a good one! How come?
Student:  ............ It was good.
Me:  Any other reasons?
Student:  ... I liked it.
Me:  Okay.  Anyone else?
Class:  Chirp, chirp....

So I've really been working on dragging out some of our conversations.  This is especially important in math.  If we can discuss math, then I know they've got it (or don't).  I was super nervous as we began our unit on division this week.  I knew we'd need something basic but purposeful.  So I whipped up some amazing super duper squares.  On colored paper.  So, nothing earth shattering or crazy.  But WHOA.  I paired it with this SIMPLE powerpoint, and ta-da!  We're on our way to understanding division - the first step!

I just created an array on powerpoint {because I tried in Word and why would anyone ever create anything in Word anymore?  Oh my word {HA!} and then printed and had my kiddos cut.  {I don't know about y'all, but cutting takes foreeever.  I always put a timer up and give them like 2 minutes.  If they don't finish, then we discuss how to multi task and I move on while they wrap up}.

So then I popped up this PPT {grab it fo' FREE aqui} and we discussed what we already knew about division, what words represented division, and if we knew any division facts off the top of our head.  {My kiddos didn't}.  So then we moved on to some division problems, discussing what a division problem LOOKS like, and then began dividing.  We started with 24 little squares and dividing 24 by 4.  I was amazed at all the different ways my kiddos divided 24 into 4 equal groups!

Look at all the strategies just for 24 divided by 4!

Some  counted out 4 at a time, others created four groups, and others used arrays!  This led into some great sharing and CONVERSING about the different strategies.  How do we know what the answer is?  What is the correct way to solve this?  Is there a "correct" way?  We continued to use 24 and divide by basic numbers {no remainders for us quite yet}.  This simple strategy paired with genuine conversation and questioning, really helped my kiddos start to grasp this thing we call division.  I plan on doing the same thing tomorrow but with a new number.

I know this is beyond simple, but I knew I needed my kiddos to really have a part in the making of 24 {cutting out the array} and then dividing it up on their own.  I am so glad I did because I saw SO many lightbulbs come on.  Now I need to work on carrying this over into those bigger numbers.  Any suggestions?

Have a great rest of the weekend!  Cheers!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Why I Heart Election Day This Year

Y'all... I've always had to work on Election Day.  I've never had school off - BUT, I DO this year.  A Tuesday off school is more than needed right now.  Like - it could not have come at a better time.  EVER.

This mid-Fall slump is hitting hard.  I'm in survival mode and am living day to day off pizza, to-go coffee, and school lunches.  Thank goodness for school lunches.

That's as large as coffees come.

I mean, who has time for this?
Or for blisters?
My lessons are mediocre and uneventful.  Which isn't a bad thing.  Every teacher knows each lesson can't be magical and earth shattering.  They just need to get the job done.  But engagement level is low.  And I needed (LET ME REPEAT - NEEDED) today.  This glorious day.  To pin new ideas to Pinterest, drink coffee in my jammies, and snuggle a little extra longer with my hubby before he scuttled off to work.

And after my day of classroom soul searching, I am ready to come back and share some great stuff with y'all.  Be sure to stop back by later this week for some updates on what's going on in our classroom!