Sunday, June 30, 2013

Currently July

Wow, tomorrow's the 1st of July and on Thursday my blog will turn 2 years old! I was going to do a giveaway but I think I'll wait until August and do a Blogiversary/Back to School Giveaway for my followers!
I've been on Summer Vacation for all of two weeks and tomorrow starts the first day of summer school. I usually don't teach summer school but I wanted something to do with my time this summer (last summer I was taking a grad class and planning a wedding...those things cost me money) and make some pretty easy money in the process. Summer School is for 5 weeks, M-Th, 8-12pm, $25 an hour. I have 10 students, 4 of which are mine from last year, a full time aide and a special ed teacher that helps also. So it's basically the easiest money you can make teaching:)
Back in June I talked about my health, well the cough has returned and I know they keep diagnosing me with bronchitis but who the heck has reoccurring bronchitis?! So I'm going to call my PCP this week and see if I can get a referral to an ENT Specialist. The vertigo hasn't subsided and I'm tired of coughing all night long!
My husband and I had the pleasure of witnessing the marriage of two good friends of ours yesterday. The groom was in our wedding and asked Javaid to serve as groomsman in his, he was so cute in his white tux:) We recently took a financial class by Dave Ramsey called Financial Peace together and learned so much. I'll have to blog about that class, it was truly life changing! So I got to get dressed up and I actually danced the night away... and I don't dance, so that's saying a lot! My dress came from David's Bridal, they had it in Ivory, Berry and Black but the Pale Pink is all they had in my size...well they did have the Ivory but rumor is you're not suppose to wear white to someone else's wedding;)
Well enough procrastinating... I have a couple of more things to finish up for summer school tomorrow. Happy July!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

STEM Conference 2013

Last year I attended a two day conference at our regional Math Science Innovation Center for grades K-3. Afterwards I blogged about the keynote speakers, the writers of Picture Perfect Science Books. If you haven't read that post, hop on over and do that now, Picture Perfect Science. I learned a lot from that conference and was able to used what I learned to create Children's Engineering Design Briefs for my Social Studies content and got some great ideas on picture books for Science content. I had the opportunity to attend another conference this year geared toward 3-5 and loved every minute of it.

The author's from Picture Perfect Science came back and showcased some additional lessons. We even received a free book of our choice. Last year I purchased Teaching Science through Trade books (my favorite of all 4) and More Picture Perfect Science. My colleague, the one who's actually taught Science to my students the last two years, purchased Picture Perfect Science. Since I had access to the previous three books I chose the new book...Even More Picture Perfect Science. Since my colleague is moving back to second grade I've decided to take on the science instruction of my own students. So I'm looking forward to integrating my curriculum even further using lessons from all four of these books.

I hit math really hard this year... it was my professional goal. I read the book Number Talks and implemented monthly number sense quick checks (blogged about all that here) and my students number sense increased 100%! But they still struggled with Fractions so I was excited to hear about this book, Beyond Pizza and Pies: Supporting Fraction Sense. Guess this will be my summer read. I was looking for a professional book and I think I've found one. I'll keep you posted.  

Last but not least I learned about a company that creates a cross-curricular way to teach Children's Engineering (to those of you who don't know, I teach in a Children's Engineering and Design Technology School, I'm required to do engineering activities). It's called Engineering is Elementary and each kit ($50) comes with a multicultural storybook and teachers guide. I actually won the Balances and Forces kit at the workshop! I think I'm going to donate that to the 5th grade team, I could use it for sure, but it really ties in to their Science Standards. I looked at the 20 units and decided to purchase one for each strand (Physical, Life, Earth and Space)/one for each quarter. I settled on Ecosystems, Water, Simple Machines and then Solids and Liquids as a fun 4th quarter review. Below is the lesson plan structure:

Preparatory Lessons (20-30 min): The preparatory lesson is designed to prompt students to think about engineering, technology, and the engineering design process. If teachers have done little with engineering and technology in their classrooms, we suggest that they start an EiE unit with this short introductory activity.

Lesson 1, Engineering Story (60-90 min): The first lesson sets the context for the unit through an illustrated storybook. A series of questions to promote student reflection before, during, and after the story encourage students to reflect upon the story and its engineering components and reinforce literacy skills.

Lesson 2, A Broader View of an Engineering Field (30-40 min): The second lesson focuses on helping students develop a broader perspective on the unit's engineering field of focus. Through hands-on activities, students learn more about the types of work done by engineers in these fields, and the kinds of technology they produce.

Lesson 3, Scientific Data to Inform Engineering Design (40-50 min):The third lesson is designed to help students understand the linkages between science, mathematics, and engineering. In this lesson, children collect and analyze scientific data that they can refer to in Lesson 4 to inform their designs.

Lesson 4, Engineering Design Challenge (1-3 sessions of 40 min):The unit culminates with an engineering design challenge. Following the steps of the engineering design process, students design, create, and improve solutions to an engineering problem. Design challenges are used as the final project because they allow students with varying academic abilities to succeed; they are easily scaled to meet the needs of all students.

So I have fallen in love with these units and the fact that they explore all types of engineering (environmental, civil, biomedical, ocean, agricultural) and that each story is set in a different country. I'll probably do the majority of the lessons during my language arts block, as there is more flexibility there and a larger block of time. I may do the design challenges during our actual 45 minute Science block.

Any thoughts? Comments are always welcome!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Summer Wish List

We have only 2-half days left of school... that equates to 7 hours and 20 minutes... but who's counting! I don't know about you but I'm already thinking ahead to next year. Every summer, like thousands of other teachers, I purchase new things for my classroom. But I'm married now, and I have to think of my household first and I can no longer spend money all willy-nilly! Fortunately my husband is very supportive and could probably care less but I don't feel comfortable doing it. In comes summer school... 5 weeks, Monday-Thursday 8am-12pm...$25 an hour! So I'm working summer school to fund my obsessive habit of having every and any thing I want for my classroom! So what will I be working for...(click the pictures for links to the websites)

1. Grade Level T-shirts for my team. I'm using these as back to school gifts.
2. I did interactive notes in Social Studies this year and I love the process. Fortunately there is a website just for Virginia Standards that sells interactive notes for all subjects. I know I'm purchasing Math, Science and Social Studies, the jury's still out about Reading.
3. Have you heard of Gallopade International? Well I love this website, really I love any website that sells products aligned to the Virginia Curriculum. I have most of their resources for 3rd grade but they have these new Digital Readings that I really like. It's 20 readers and they are about the Famous Americans we teach. Side note... 3rd Graders in Virginia take a standardized test on all the social studies content from K-3, so these will be perfect for introductions and review.
4. Next year I'll be teaching 3rd grade Science for the first time. Previously I taught Social Studies to two classes while my partner taught Science to both classes. Well my partner is going back to 2nd grade (we both came to 3rd from 2nd) and I thought it would be the perfect time to take responsibility for all my subjects. I order most of my books from Amazon. I have a running wish list with tons of Science books, Character Building, Biographies. Pop on over and take a look, you might find something you can use in your classroom.
5. My favorite teacher store ever is Lakeshore Learning. I've visited the one in Columbus OH, Matthews NC, Atlanta GA and of course Alexandria VA! Every August I take a trip to Lakeshore with a friend, each year I think it's been a different friend. But this now there's like 6 teachers who want to go with me so we're going to make a day out of it. Go shopping, eat lunch and just have a good time before school starts. I've got several items on my wish list and if you teach in a Common Core State (I don't) they have some new resources for you. I have a couple of CC items on my list because our math standards are very similar.
6. Are you familiar with Reading A to Z? Well the have an electronic version call Raz-Kids. I had this program at my previous school but when I transferred 2 years ago I found my new school did the Accelerated Reader program. Well now that the AR program has gone online my school won't be able to purchase any additional quizzes and they will no longer have tech support. So I'm not entirely sure what will have to AR but I have a back up if they decide to get rid of it. I love Raz-Kids because the books are aligned to the students DRA level. I assign a level and students read the books, take quizzes and can even get a worksheet from me about the book. After students have passed the quizzes at their level, it automatically goes to the next level or when I do mid-year DRAs I can change the levels myself.
7. This year I purchased Mountain Math and I loved the spiral review. I'm strongly considering Mountain Language next year. I have the math bulletin board but I'm thinking of purchasing the language flip book center.
So what's on your wish list, what are you looking to purchase for your classroom in the Fall?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

End of the Year Awards

Do you give out End of the Year Classroom Awards and need some ideas? Hop over to Corkboard Connections.

I officially have 7 days of school left. My students take their Math Standardized Assessment Thursday and Friday so we have to hold on a little bit longer before we can start to party!

Sunday, June 2, 2013


I can't believe it's June! The school year is almost over and we're almost halfway through 2013! I've been waking up at 6am all school year. So on the weekends, I can't sleep in... I'm up at 5:45am every weekend like I got somewhere to go! So it's currently 6:44am and I'm blogging.
I don't know about you, but this has been the worst year for my health! It all started a week before my wedding, the last week in November. On my wedding day I had a fever and had been coughing all night. 3 weeks later I would find out I had a severe case of bronchitis. March happens and my allergies go CRAZY! So for two months I think I'm suffering from allergy symptoms only I find out that it's developed into an Upper Respiratory Infection. They put me on Steroids and a Z-Pack and send me on my way. I started feeling a lot better but the cough lingered on... I went back to the doctor yesterday and they tell me that for every 10 Z-Packs they give out...3 people come back because they didn't get better. Guess I was part of the 30% that was resistant to the Z-Pack because I now have bronchitis again! So they put me on a much stronger antibiotics... one that give people after they've been exposed to Anthrax! So I hope to feel better before the last day of school so I can start my vacation a healthy woman!
At the end of every year I tweak the documents I keep in my Data Binder. So I'll start that process soon and then move all of my Data Binder documents over to The Teaching Oasis since will be retiring in August! I also have a couple of more documents to create for my teacher organization binder, then it'll be perfect and I can post pictures.
I haven't completely decided where I will vacation this summer. I do want to spend some time with my mom in NC and visit some family in OH and maybe a trip to PA to see my new nephew. The guess the sky is the limit... as long as I'm healthy!