Friday, July 31, 2015

A Texas-Size Link Up

Posting twice in one day, eek! I know, I shouldn't, but I wanted to participate in two link up that happen today. Both are being hosted by Texas teachers, so I gotta do it, right? 

1st is the educational beliefs blog hop with Whitney from With Love from Texas. Man, that was awesome to sit and write down. And, wonderful to read other bloggers beliefs as well. Be sure to check that blog hop out. It will inspire you. 

And now for another fun link up. 

The Little Ladybug Shop and Planet Happy Smiles are hosting this fun link up party to share organization tips, ideas and freebies as well. 

Since school is about to start, lets talk management. The best advice I can give is to have a plan BEFORE school starts. I think it should focus on positive behaviors. Reward positive behaviors and the negative behaviors will happen less. And I truly believe that it doesn't have to cost you money to reward kids!

I made these for my 6th graders as rewards for positive behavior and it motivated my students to act correctly. I shouldn't have been, but I was shocked when they really wanted the rewards. 

I plan on using them in elementary this year! There are 20 different options in color or a printer friendly option. I didn't use all of them in 6th grade and I know I will not use all of them in 5th, but have lots of options. 

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Education Beliefs Into Action Blog Hop

I'm joining Whitney from With love from Texas for a blog hop about our educational beliefs. 

I just completed my 21st year of teaching and I haven't actually written these down for a long time. Plus, I am moving from middle school math to 5th grade this year. This is a perfect time for me to take a moment and remind myself what I am doing and why. 

Learning should be fun
I started my journey 21 years ago in kindergarten. It was crazy fun! Everyday was seriously fun. We did letter of the week, we cooked weekly, we dressed up, we PLAYED, PLAYED and PLAYED some more. My students learned, they learned a lot. It wasn't the same standards or pressure we put on our kindergartners now, but it was F-U-N. Our standards may be different now, but we should still make sure our students are having fun while learning. I tried super hard to do that the past four years in middle school. Some days it was hard, really hard. I never stopped trying though. I am looking forward to this year in fifth grade. I have spent much of my summer creating learning games and preparing meaningful activities that are fun and educational. 

Classrooms should be a safe place
I am not referring to school safety and the things our world these days have made us prepare for. I am talking about building a community within our classroom with the students we see daily. It may be students you have ALL day or students who rotate to you or even those students who spend 50-90 minutes a day in your classroom. No matter the amount of  time a student spends with you, they should feel safe in your classroom. They should physically feel safe, but they should also feel safe to make mistakes, try new things and be successful. Teaching middle school math taught me a lot about this the past few years. The majority of people don't like Math and don't think they are good at it. Funny thing is, I am one of those people. I do LOVE teaching it though. I have taught math exclusively for 8 years and one thing I have learned is students are afraid to make mistakes. We must plan accordingly for students to be successful EVERYDAY in our classrooms and feel safe to make mistakes and LEARN from them. Be real with kids and they will feel safe with you. 

Every child can learn
I have seen all age groups from Kinder-8th grade in some form in the past 21 years. Small group, intervention, classroom teacher, and tutoring. It's hard, some kids really struggle, but EVERY child can learn and we have to sometimes try magic tricks to get through to some of them. That's our job, our passion. Well, at least it should be. 

Teachers MUST meet the needs of  their students
I became a mother my third year of teaching. I always loved my students, but when I had my own child, it did change how I viewed my classroom students. I have always thought "treat your students like you want your own child's teacher to treat them". That hasn't always been easy either. I have had some BIG challenges in my teaching career. And I am not just  talking about my middle school students. It has been hard some times to reach kids. But, meeting each child's need to learn has been my job and doing whatever it takes to get there has to be my mission. 
Then I became the mother of a special needs child 4 years ago when we found out my son was going deaf. Talk about an eye opening experience. My child wasn't getting his accommodations. My child's needs were not being met and he wasn't getting everything he needed to be successful. What he needed was written on paper but it wasn't being followed through. Because I am in the education field, I knew what needed to be done and you can bet this "Mamma Bear" made sure it got done. I have to be my son's biggest advocate, no explanation needed of course. But, it did make me see my students' needs differently too. Was I really meeting their needs? Was I being their advocate? or did I just sign a piece of paper in an ARD or 504 meeting and move on with my day? Again, we MUST meet EACH students need, we MUST! 

Together We Are Better
This is not just a cute hashtag created recently. It is TRUTH. I haven't completed the last 21 years on my own. No way. Not even possible. I have had incredible co workers. I have received amazing professional development. I have had some super principals. I have researched lessons on my own. I have created products and found colleagues like me to help me through the hard times. I have social media friends I have never met in person, but they are my "go to" when I am struggling with something. I have a very few people I can vent to when I reach my boiling point. (you  gotta have this, but be careful who you trust) We cannot do this on our own. Not everyone's teaching experiences are great. My 18th year was my absolute worst, I actually thought about leaving education all together. Not that I could do anything else except Wal Mart greeting. But, I didn't make it through that year alone. I needed help and I had ask for it. I know I survived because of the support group I reached out to that helped me in all areas. I'm about to start at a new school with a new team. I am only a little nervous because I have done this before. What I do know is, I will build relationships and partnerships and I will not do it alone. 

I have really enjoyed writing this all down and contemplating how I can do all of this with another group of students. Teaching is the only thing I have ever done since college and the only thing I ever want to do. I want to make an impact and be impacted. 

What about you? Do you know what your educational beliefs are? Have you thought about it recently? If not, I challenge you to take a moment before school starts this year (or if it already has, do it now!) and prepare yourself to fulfill those beliefs this next school year. 

Click on over and read about the beliefs of Natalie from Collaborating in Kindergarten. 

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Who Moved My Cheese?

I decided in May to leave middle school and go back to elementary. It is a bittersweet move. 

I accepted a 5th grade position and a week before school was out, I was moved to 3rd grade. 

I have spent the summer planning to do Math and Science for 3rd grade. 

My team teaching partner moved to a sped position on Sunday. I would now be self contained. 

Two days later a 5th grade position came open. 

So, yep... 

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday Made It- July 27th

Seriously, Monday Made It's keep me productive! It also makes me add to my already long list of things to do, but I LOVE it!!! 

I took a few days off from doing anything teaching related this week. It was weird because in my mind the whole time I kept thinking of things I needed to  get done. I know its important though, and it was also worth it. 

Here's what I did get completed: 

I made a watermark for my pictures! I am excited. The older I get the more I feel technologically challenged. But, I watched a video from I Teach, What's Your Superpower and it's done! 

I also installed the app EZ watermark so I can use it on Instagram as well.  Yahoo, I feel so productive!  

Last Week I shared about  my Differentiation Cubes for Place Value. 
This week I made more. I made a set for Addition with Regrouping and Multiplication Fact Practice. I am almost done with the subtraction set, but remember those days off? yep, those are unfinished because of that. Fingers crossed those get done today or tomorrow. 

 Since making these, I added the word "solve" to #1 on all the cubes. 

Early this week, I posted about Power Towers on Instagram. 
 I actually made these a few years ago and posted about that here. 
I pretty much made the same thing,except now that I am moving to 3rd grade, I made more. 

Power towers are cups with facts on them that students can practice and then build a tower with them. I used Pringle cans to store the sups in. 30-40 fit perfectly! I just used Modge Podge to glue the paper on and for the label. It was super easy with scrap booking paper. 

The facts are written on the top. I make my students say the fact and the answer. 
So they must say, "3 times 8 equals 24", not just 24. 
For my 3rd graders I am adding a multiplication chart inside the can. 
This way they can check their answers if they are struggling. 

You can also watch a video about these from Teacher Tipster about Power Towers. 
They can be used for multiple skills. 

Be sure to check out more over at 4th Grade Frolics with Tara. I guarantee you will get inspired! 

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tried it Tuesday- Protecting Your Products

So the past few weeks have been crazy with social media. Unless you have taken a social media break, you know about the whole Periscope wave. 

I joined in. I learned that I am a better watcher than broadcaster though. It has been all consuming. I have had to force myself to take a break. 

But, I have learned quite a lot watching them. Plus, it has been fun "seeing" the faces behind so many blogs and stores. 

So, back to today's topic. 
I am linking up with one my favorite bloggers Holly, from Fourth Grade Flipper to share something I learned from watching Periscopes and then TRIED and now do with ALL my products! 

I was one of those under the false belief that saving products as a PDF protected my products and the clip art I used. 

I am happy to report that the clip art and templates I had been using were protected. They were put into my documents as jpeg's or png files so when saved as a PDF, they were locked. 
But, my content was not! 

Here's what I mean: 
Before securing my product

When you click on the template, it turns blue and you can't copy it. 

But, when you would highlight the words, you could then right mouse click and steal the content. 

I have said several times, I am a "Polly Anna" and wouldn't think people do that. But, I know they do, so we have to protect our hard work. 

This is how I do it a PC. 

I create my products in Power Point. 
I save that power point. That is where I do all my editing. 

Then, I save all slides as a png
I have learned that a png saves clearer, crisper pictures. 

Next, I begin a new power point and copy paste each slide into that power point. I save this one the same title but add png to the front of it. This way I keep the two power points distinguishable.

For my credits page, I add the original slide from the original power point. I do NOT want that slide in the form of a png because I want my hyperlinks active. 

The last thing I do is save it as a PDF. This will be the one I upload to TpT. 

Here's a recap from my Periscope I did on this subject: 

I feel like I should have known this, but thanks to Periscope, now I do. 
I have to thank Lindsey from Chalkboard Charm for her scope that taught me this process. 
Click here for another tutorial by The 3am Teacher on PCs as well. 

Before moving on, let me show you a screen shot of how I organize my products because that's a lot of documents for one product, right?
I have a folder for each product and its all about the saving and keeping it organized so I know what I need when I have to get back to that product for any reason. 

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday Made It - July 20th

It's Monday again, time to link up with Tara for Monday Made It. I'm a little later today, but I have some things to share with you. 

Printed more from my Monica McGown set to get ready for setting  my room up! 

Super excited that I found these from Primary Graffiti
And they are FREE!
There are several versions for grades K-3 and they are available in black and white
I don't plan to use these as name plates though. 
I plan to have these as a resource in a math toolkit. 

Made more math centers! 
These came from Mrs. 3rd Grade. I met her during the TpT Seller Challenge, Be sure to check her products out, they are GREAT quality! 

At CAMT (Texas Math Convention) this summer, I had someone ask me if I could create something with the same problem, but different level of questioning. If I had been smart, I would have written her name down, because I want her to check these out, 

I have created differentiation cubes. 
Each side of the cube has a different type of question using the same numbers. 
There are 10 different cubes. 

In the pictures above, the left side pictures are the same cube. They ask questions with the same numbers. The right side shows another cube with three different types of questions. 

Each cube is labeled with a letter for organization purposes. The recording sheet matches. 
I varied up what place a number is rounded to, finding greater than or less than, drawing or building the numbers, expanded notation or standard form, etc. Side number 6 is the hardest and is modeled after a "STAAR type" (Texas state testing) question. 

I love how these have turned out. I shared with a small group on FB that I am a part of and loved the feedback I received. The idea is to build rigor with the students, but include practice of a skill. Asking the same question, different ways to prepare students and add depth to their content knowledge. I am super excited for the potential these will provide. I am already planning the next set. 

I would love to hear what you think and if you think this is something you could and/or would use in your classroom. 

The place value set is available here

Here's to another week of creating! 

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