Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tried it Tuesday- Fun Facts

Not the normal Tuesday Tried it for me, but I have to share this! Plus, today is my Monday because I was at a training yesterday, and it definietly feels like a Monday. Here's a good chuckle for you!

The Science teachers across the hall from me "tried" this with her students. Since we teach the same kids, I didn't do it. I did peek in and watch as they read them. Seriously, HILARIOUS!!! 

This was on her white board for their warm up:

1. You can't wash your eyes with soap.
2. You can't count your hair.
3. You can't breathe through your nose with your tongue out.
4. You just tried number 3.
6. When you did number 3, you realized it's possible, only you look like a dog.
7. You're smiling right now, because you were fooled.
8. You skipped number 5.
9. You just checked to see if there is a number 5
10. Smile, STAAR testing is over!!

How can you not smile after that? I admit, I had my tongue out and I was laughing at the end. A much needed break the day after the state test!

Maybe you could try it with your students!

Monday, April 29, 2013

May Goals- Linky Party

I am linking with Jess over at I Heart Recess to set some goals for May!

Personal: I tend to focus on my kids and work and he gets the last of my energy. I am really trying to be better at balancing those things in my life.

Health: I started losing weight a while back. It is slow, but steady. I started waking up early, 5am-early, few weeks ago, it hasn't been horrible. I just need to keep it up! I have a goal and want to reach it before the end of June!

Blogging: Blogging has helped me stay motivated this year. I love having things to share and I love seeing what other teachers are doing. I don't want to stop that.

School: In the last month or so, I know it will be easy to get too relaxed. The test is over, kids are done and I have to keep them engaged! Plus, we are in planning stages for next year already. I want to keep those steps organized so we can start strong in August.

Fun: We watch a lot of Disney here... we do get to watch sports too, but I am am determined to see the new Mark Wahlberg movie this month!

How about you? What are your goals for May? Link up and share!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Motivating Students- Revisited

We have less than 30 days of school left.

We just finished our state tests. Students are done, in all honesty, so our the teachers.

But, we have to keep them engaged for the remaining time. So, I am linking up with Joanne at
Head over Heels to help keep these kiddos motivated.

I am trying a few new things. First, let me say, I know these aren't great, bulletin boards, but our school is completely out of colored ink and isn't ordering anymore. And, I am just hanging on by a thread here people!!!

1. Bucket Fillers:
I am hoping to fill these buckets with stickers for respect being given to each other and the teacher in our class periods. Today was the first day, one class got a sticker. Uh, this is going to be a tough one.

2. Being Prepared Points
Students who come to class prepared for the week, will get a "Prepared Polly" ticket. They will get to add 2 points to an assignment of their choice.

3. Being Timely Points
Students who come to class on time for the week, will get a "Timely Ted" ticket. They will get to add 2 points to an assignment of their choice.

4. Bonus Points
They love bonus points, so I added a bonus points coupon to go with my other class rewards they can choose from each week.

I have posted about my reward system here.

I have updated my rewards to add these new ones. Click here to get them for FREE!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Welcome Aboard the STAAR Cruise

It is finally FRIDAY!!!! What a long week.  We had school last Saturday, yes... that's what this post is about... And testing this week and it has dragged on and on. But it is finally Friday!!!!

This will be a long post, but there's a GREAT freebie at the end, so please hang in there!

I can brag because I didn't create it, I used it and it is awesome. So scroll down and enjoy the pictures and the freebie will be at the end!

The Saturday before our state test, we held STAAR Camp. (In Texas, our test is called the STAAR).

We invited all our students. We had Math and Reading for 6th and 7th and Social Studies and Science for 8th. (We had held Math for 8th and 7th for Writing previously. Their tests were a few weeks ago)

You can imagine how hard it is to convince middle schoolers to come to school on Saturday. You know, they are really busy out side of school? I thought I was busy with kids and sports. (Can you hear the sarcasm?)

We had a really good turn out actually. We had over 100 sixth graders. Almost half of my students came, I was very impressed with that.

The students attended two sessions, one for math and the other for reading. We fed them snacks in between sessions. We also gave prizes out at the end. Teachers gave classroom incentives for the students to attend as well. My students got to choose their reward.

When we planned we knew it had to be fun and busy or we would be crazy!!! We have a Math Specialist from our Region Center, she had this idea and we went with it.
The entire theme was based on a cruise ship. Each port had an activity based on the needs of our students. We chose them based on their benchmark data and last years state tests.

My team even dressed the part.

We gave them folders for their boarding pass and everything they needed was included. They rotated (on their own pace) through the ports. They had to get a signature for each port, that way we knew they had actually completed it. The student or students that had the most, won a small prize at the end. We had ten stations, the most anyone finished was six. We over planned on purpose. It was hard to gauge how many students would come and we didn't want too big of groups.
We set guidelines from the beginning and had these posted all over the gym. It worked, because we didn't have any issues!

These were the ports and some of the activities we had students doing. I know its a lot of pictures but this was soooo much fun!!! I didn't want to leave anything out! I actually wish I had more pictures. I worked in the "hula factor" so I couldn't get pictures of everything.



I highly suggest recruiting volunteers. This was a high school student, she was so helpful!

I couldn't believe our turn out. This was snack time! This was on a SATURDAY!!!! Food always brings them in! 

At the end we gave prizes. There were small prizes and big ones. We did have one big one, a free kindle! It went to sixth grader, yea! Not one of mine though, but I was happy it was a sixth grader. (We are very competitive here)

Since this is from our Math Specialist, she can not sell her work. Which means, a FREEBIE!!! But, it is VERY long. So, instead of putting it in my TpT store, I am going to add it to my Scribd account.
It's also set for our needs, but it can definitely give you an idea of how to use this type of activity.

I hope you can adapt it somehow.
Thank for sticking with my post this far and here's your reward!

And of course, linking up with TBA for Friday Freebies!!!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tried it Tuesday- Brain Dump

Mixed feelings about today. It is state testing for Math here. It's over, what's done is done!

and... its TUESDAY!!! Time for Tried it Tuesday!!!!

This is a brain dump:

I have shared about this before, here and several other times as well. This is school wide here. Each grade level has their own version. The idea is that they learn all this stuff throughout the year and then they "dump their brain" before they take the test. Then they have something to refer back while taking their test.

Last week, a teacher in my department had a great idea to get shirts to wear the day before testing reminding kids to write their brain dump before they start their test. We are not allowed to tell them that the day of the test.

This is the shirt:

The kids LOVED it. They were even asking where we got them, they wanted one too!!! 

As I was actively monitoring today and collecting their graph paper after the test, I noticed that many students drew the brain dump. Some didn't draw it all, but they were parts. I was very pleased and happy they wrote something!

One day down, one more to go!

Friday, April 19, 2013

5 for Friday

This has been such a depressing week. So much sadness in our world. I am a runner (sort of) and I feel connected even though I have only done a few half marathons. I live in Texas, only 102 miles from West.
Thankful for something light hearted.

Time to link up with Doodle Bugs for FIVE for Friday!

From home:
My little man scored his first in the park home run last weekend! He also scored a goal in soccer. He was on fire!

My husband made two cakes last weekend as well. He is so talented, I have to brag!
This was cake number 1:

This was cake number 2:

From school:

We are THREE days away from our state test and I want to vomit. Too graphic? I am trying so hard to not get an ulcer. I work at a school that is in Stage 5 with the state. What does that mean? We have to do well!!! Last year, we met expectations in Math, but we have to do it again. These are the things that make me wonder why I left elementary!  But, we have prepared, and now its up to the students to do their part. This week, we continued reviewing. This is included homework and activities in class.


I reached 100+ followers this week on my blog. It was pretty exciting. I am having a sale that ends today if you'd like to check it out! (I don't have much, but I have as much free stuff as paid right now)

FIVE: QR Codes
This was my first experience using these in class. I LOVE THEM!!! The kids were motivated to complete their conversions so they could check their work. I will definitely be using these again!
I also learned how to make QR codes here. They seem easy enough and I am planning on making some this weekend.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tried it Tuesday- Time Timer

Tuesday again, time for Tried it Tuesday! Join Holly over at Fourth Grade Flipper for this fun linky.

My very first blog post was about this most important tool in my classroom. After using it for the whole school, I know this is a MUST have for me when it comes to teaching. I love this thing, I mean really LOVE! I knew I would use it and I knew my students would grow to love it.

And oh how they do! I seriously could not teach without. My students even teach my subs how to use it because they don't want to miss a day without it.

 Yes, it actually called a "Time Timer". Not very original, but who cares, right?
I have 6 classes a day. They are each 50 minutes and the pace is fast!  Last year I would spend too much time on warm up and run out of time for the lesson. I am not sure I even had a clock in my room last year, it was just chaos.

Now, I never hear "How much more time until the bell" or "When does the bell ring?". My students are so trained by this timer. When the tardy bell rings, I set it for 50 minutes. Then we get to work.

Funny thing is, most of the time I hear, "Wow, we only have 10 more minutes" or "Wow, class went by fast".
Rarely do we feel the class periods drag on.

This year, I do have a clock, but rarely look at it. My Time Timer is my life line.

I bought mine through our local teacher store. It is also available through Lakeshore.

One word of warning though: Be sure to keep extra batteries on hand. We get so out of sync if the battery dies and I am out. Like I said, life line people!!!

When I first posted about it, I thought I would use it differently, but I use it specifically for pacing my class periods.  If we are working in groups and need timers, I don't use this. I use the free online timers.
Check those out at http://www.online-stopwatch.com/. My students love these as well. These are also very visual.

Till next week...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

MS-Sunday Funday- Studying for Assessments

It's back! MS Sunday Funday with Julie over at I Speak Math.
Our state test is 6 school days away. Last week we were in full review mode. We continue this week.

The boring stuff... our kids have homework every night. We just can not fit everything in during 50 minute classes. The kids are not thrilled about it, but we are doing a homework challenge which is helping some. We will see though, Friday was a bad weather make up day for us, they had homework Thursday night. I am hoping they did it Thursday night and put it in their backpack for tomorrow. I wrote about the motivation reward here.

Based on our previous testing data, we have focus standards. Those are the ones we are going over in class. I have tried so hard to keep it interesting, upbeat and not worksheet based. I kind of feel it has been hard because some of my classes are acting up. It makes me think, why do I try so hard? But, I know I do hands on things for me too. I can't stand lecturing and worksheets. Its not good teaching, I know that.

Last week, we did the following two activities. I posted about these here. Both of these activities you can get here.

I have a few more this week, I will be sharing later in the week.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saturday Link Parties

Check out the super link party over at All Things Upper Elementary. Bloggers are sharing both free and paid products. Definitely worth the time!

Joanne, Over at Head Over Heels for Teaching is having a link party for student motivation. She has a GREAT idea using QR codes. You gotta check that out!

Teaching elementary for 17 years, I didn't have problems with students wanting to do well. Young kids want to please their teachers.
Middle school is a whole nother animal!
Sixth graders have no internal motivation.

At the beginning of the year I implemented reward coupons. I was good about doing this the first semester. Not so much after Christmas.
Click for this post and you can get them FREE there.
I started this up again last week. When they return their homework, they get a ticket and a signature on the slip below. I started drawing names on Friday and they were really into it. An old trick, revisited.

Last week, we implemented a homework challenge. Students had to have nine days straight of homework. They all groaned. They are working towards a free electronic day. They are earning minutes, its not an all or nothing reward. One day, all of my classes were above 90% for participation.

We are also having a Saturday Camp next week for one last push before the state test. Motivating kids to come voluntarily on a Saturday, you can imagine the hoops we have to jump through. We do drawings for prizes at the end and feed them, which always helps.

In my class, they get to choose their reward. I shared this with them Friday and they were pretty excited.

Note: TTM stands for Think Through Math. Its a computer program our students have to complete each week. We have a 90 minute a week goal for our students.

Since the last six weeks is always the hardest since the "test" is over, I am excited to try some new rewards to keep my kids form totally shutting down.

Hope you join the link party and share your ideas as well!