Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day

 Happy Memorial Day! I'm sitting here catching up on Law and Order SVU eating my Strawberries & Homemade Vanilla Blue Bell Ice Cream. As of today there is only 14 days of school left. My third graders have taken 3 of their 4 state standardized tests. Overall I'm pretty pleased with how they did. I took some pictures of my classroom for my Teacher Evaluation Binder and decided to share some updated photos of my classroom.
I created some Social Studies Vocabulary Word Wall Cards for display this year,
since I'll be teaching Science and Social Studies next year I guess I need to finish
the set I started to create for Science.
Of course I saw a "Rock the Test" idea on Pinterest and had to make it my own.
I found this worksheet on Teachers Pay Teachers for free and students used stencils
I created on my Cricut (Paper Doll Cartridge) to make their own Rock Stars.
This is what my Mountain Math Board looks like now that we've been doing it
all year. I love the program and will be implementing it again next year.
This will probably be my last year having a CAFE/FACES Strategy Board.
I honesty don't use it much and that wall space can be used to display my
anchor charts.
My 3rd Graders are Bucket Fillers and I got this idea off Pinterest. Student give
celebrity shout outs to those who have filled their bucket.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Children's Engineering

I work at a "Children's Engineering and Design Technology" school. Basically students are given design briefs with a challenge and they build a solution. I was very overwhelmed when I first got to the school and couldn't fully understand how to implement these lessons into my plans. Well I knew how... I just didn't seem to have the time to do it. All new teachers to the school were able to attend the state wide CE&DT Conference. I sat through a session on using children's literature to create design briefs. They shared one to go with the True Story of the 3 Little Pigs and students to create a house out of various materials (marshmallows, pretzel sticks, peanut butter, twizzlers) that could withstand the gusts of a fan for 5 sections. I thought that was cool... but I was never able to create any briefs to match any books I read.

I attended a workshop last summer at the Math and Science Innovation Center in Richmond, Virginia. I was able to sit through a session where a 3rd grade teacher had created design briefs based on the Social Studies and Science Curriculum we're required to teach. Basically I had been overthinking this whole process and the light bulb finally went off.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Self Directed Learning

As usual... I was on Pinterest when I came across this blog post on Self Directed Learning. You may want to hop over there and read it now... I LOVE the idea of students creating their own schedule for learning activities. One of our goals in our district is for students to become self directed learners. After reading the blog post I had an idea for next year... STAR Fridays (Students Taking Academic Responsibility).

Students would fill out their STAR Schedule on Thursday and they would follow the schedule on Fridays.


I would implement it slightly different from the blog post I read. I would limit math work to the math block and reading work to the reading block and so on. Content is for Science and/or Social Studies. VIP is an acronym for their VIP Folder which holds all unfinished work. I set aside a 30 minute block just for this, if a student has no unfinished work then they would use this time for studying or possibly making study materials (flash cards).

I also want to create some type of tracking sheet and goal sheet for math, reading and writing. I want students to spend these days working toward their goals. With this being said, this is what I envision...

Math- students can sign up for a mini-lesson (remediation) with me on a specific skill (I would offer 3 different lessons, 20 minutes each), students can play a math game on the computer or one that's available in the classroom, or any task that will help accomplish their goal.

Content- this time is for science and/or social studies. I have created Design Briefs (mini projects) for just about every content topic. Students would use this time to work on these projects. (Example: when learning about map skills students have to create a classroom map)

Reading- again students can sign up for a mini-lesson with me based on the goals they have (summarizing, inferring), there's also reading games they can play, one *required* activity will be 20 minutes of read to self during that block, if fluency is a goal students could also do repeated time readings and so on.

Writing- students will be writing independently or collaboratively during this block, I also envision students signing up for writing conferences and publishing writings on the computer.

So to sum this all up...
My students will have a 1/2 inch STAR Binder that will house their...
  • quarterly requirements in Reading (4 response letters, 1 reading project, 1 comprehension interview) and Writing (2 writing processes and 2 poems)
  • tracking and goal sheets in math, reading and writing
Every Friday would be STAR Friday and students would be self directed for the day and sign up for lessons/ conferences with me as they need.

What do you think of all this? Do you think could work? Would you try it in your room? Pros...Cons... I would LOVE some feedback on this approach!!!

Saturday, May 4, 2013



Wow... it's May! I currently have 29 days of school left. Where I live students start school after the Labor Day holiday, though I wish we started in mid-August and ended at Memorial Day. A girl can dream can't she...

I've been on Pinterest pinning ideas for a Teacher Organization Binder. There are some great templates out there. Unfortunately most of them are for sale on TpT. I've already started making some templates and will be more than willing to share them when they are finished. They may or may not be conducive to your school year though.

I turned 31 on April 26th and my wonderful husband purchased me a massage, manicure and pedicure. I was able to carve out some time for the massage... I just need to find some for time for the mani and pedi!

I ordered these precious School Themed Cookies from ACookieJar on Etsy. I've ordered Owl Cookies before and believe me they taste as good as they look! I also made some cute cards with my Cricut and I look forward to "appreciating" my colleagues next week. I also made Mother's Day cards and bought candles for my teammates who are mothers.

At this point in the year, my 3rd graders are gearing up for state testing. We start testing May 13. I'm already jotting things down... ideas and changes I want to make for next school year. It'll be my 3rd year in 3rd grade and my 3rd year at this school, so it'll be that much easier next year. However, a teammate and I use to switch classes for content areas... I taught social studies to both classes and she taught science. I'm embarking on teaching all the subject areas next year... so that may present a challenge:)

What changes are you considering making next year in your classroom?