Five for Friday: August 30th

It's Friday! Woot Woot!  The start of my last weekend before school starts.   Thank goodness it is going to be a long weekend, I have a ton of things to do!  I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs, and giving you 5 Random Things from my week!
1)  My classroom!  YAY I was actually able to get into my classroom this week.  I was thinking I wouldn't be able to get in and get things set up because there has been a lot of work done on our building this summer.  No one has been allowed in.  But fortunately, we got notice from our principal that we could come in this week, so I've been spending a bunch of time there.  There is a lot of work to be done!

2)  I've been working more and more on creating a Math Workshop environment for my math classes.  I've been blogging all summer about a great book that I read, and listening/participating in Twitter chats.  One of the things I made for some workshop time are Operation Sorting cards.  

My smarties will have to sort the cards according to the operation that the word represents, and then add the words to a foldable in their math notebooks.  I was hoping to laminate them this week at school, but unfortunately the laminator is broken, so I will have to wait on that.

3)  I had a chance to meet with my fabulous teammate this week, and we wrote a letter home to our students.  It reminded them about what they needed to bring to school the first day.

 There was a school orientation on Thursday where students can come in and find their homerooms and practice lockers.  We are not required to be there, but my teammate and I decided to work in our classrooms during that time, and that way we could meet some of our students before school starts Wednesday.  It was so great to see them come in with the letters we mailed.  I know they felt more confident after meeting us!

4)  I opened my SLANT box this week from Darnee.  She is fabulous!  I love everything!  You can read about all of the great stuff she sent me and find a link to her blog by going {HERE}

5)  We are visiting the State Fair today.  I always have mixed feelings about the Fair.  I love to people watch, so it is a great place to see all kinds of things, but it is also a signal that summer is ending.  And hey.. who can pass up fresh milk from the Rainbow Milk Bar for $0.25 a cup!  There are so many neat things to see and do!

Stop by and visit Doodle Bugs and see what everyone else has been doing this week!

SLANT Box Reveal!

I was so excited to come home from vacation and see that the Fed Ex Man had paid me a visit and dropped off my SLANT box from Darnee!  She is so fabulous, and I have loved talking to her over the last month.  She is a second grade teacher and blogger from Texas Y'all!  Her blog is called Tales from Two Second Grade Classrooms.  Darnee really got me.. which is so cool.  Look at this great stuff she sent me!
I was LOVE LOVE LOVING all of the orange!  Darnee was crafty too... I really appreciate people who are crafty, because I am so NOT a crafty person, and MODGE PODGE?  forget it... it's in my hair, on my face.. but not Darnee!  She made me this cute box and journal!

What I really love is this little gadget:

It is a stand for your cell phone.  I had just recently been thinking about using music more in my classroom, and I bought this little gadget from Kohls with some Bonus Bucks:
It's just a little speaker system that can connect to your phone, well with the sweet gadget Darnee sent me, I have a holder for my phone and don't have to just lay it on my desk.  HOLLA! and thank you Darnee!
Last, and the most sweet, I ask Darnee to include something that was about Texas or her favorite.. and she sent me these:
Texas Bluebonnets!  Sorry the picture is a little blurry.  I love these flowers, and I remember seeing them when my sister used to live in Texas and we visited.  Coincidentally, my sis lived in the same place as Darnee... another cool connection.  My key chain for school just broke, so now I have a perfect reminder to add to my school keys of a new bloggy friend that I made!

If you haven't signed up for a SLANT box exchange, it is easy peasy.. just check it out {HERE}, and make a few new friends along the way.
Thank you again DARNEE!!


Don't you love a Book Bargain!

On Friday I drove to the post office to mail my SLANT box to my new Bloggy friend, Mechele, from Barrows Hodgepodge.  She is a teacher in Alabama.  I was amazed at what a small town she lives in, but we bonded over SEC football, so all is well.   I know there will be more coming about SLANT boxes soon.
My POINT of today's post is about my great finds at the Goodwill which is NEXT to the Post Office.  So with Iced Dunkin in hand, I stopped in.  I was really on the lookout for a few things:  Jenga, Guess Who, labels, and Books.  I struck out on most of the categories, but before I move on, I must put a plug in for looking for labels at the Goodwill or thrift store.  I have found so many great bargains with labels!  I can usually pick up a package with maybe 5 sheets missing for $1.00.  How can I not pass this up!  Unfortunately, I didn't find any labels in this go 'round, but I did get great book bargains.
Check this out!

I got all 9 of these books for $5.00!  The paperbacks were only 50 cents each, and the hardcover was $1.00.  Don't you just love a bargain.  It makes my heart just pitter patter!  I am especially excited about a book I picked up about the Blitz in London during WW II. It must have been a reader from a book series, but it is a great account of that time period, and it is told by an 11 year old girl.  Perfect for my smarties!  I found a neat book about Pirates too.. and even a combined biography of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak written for kids.  LOVE.  Arthme-tickle intrigued me.  I love any picture books that are math related, so I know I will find a way to use this book!

Last, I had to share a picture of my pooch.  We missed our Berner terribly while we were away, and he was super happy to see us!

Have you found any great bargains lately on books or other things related to school?  Let me know what goodies have made your heart pitter patter!


Five for Friday: Vacation is Ending

Today is our last day of vacation.  We have a long drive ahead of us early tomorrow morning.  None of us is looking forward to our time spent at Gator Nation coming to end, but school calls, and I have a classroom to prep!

1)   We have loved our time here at UF.  There is such an amazing sense of school pride and spirit.  Our favorite part of this past week was Fan Day.  I already posted about getting to meet all of our favorite football players from Gator Nation {HERE} but I love this picture, so I'm posting it again.
2) Just because I've been on vacation doesn't mean I haven't been working on school projects.  

During the Back to School TpT sale, I bought these awesome templates from my BBB, Erin, who blogs at I'm Lovin Lit, and I have been busy recreating my foldables for my Math Notebook.  I am hoping to post more about this when school starts.
Here is an example of one that I made using her template.
3)  A second thing I've been working on are Weekly Review Questions for my smarties in math.  I am going to start the first two with 5th grade benchmarks, and then spiral review questions from sixth grade as I move forward.  I am hoping that this will help my kids remember concepts taught in early in the year on the state assessment.
When I am finished, the WRQ will have 4 computation questions and 6 word problem/explanation style questions.  It will look something similar to this:
4) This week we went on a hunt for Cronuts.  Have you heard of them?  Basically they are donuts that are made with croissant dough.  The ones we found we filled with Bavarian cream.  I had a chocolate one, and my daughter chose strawberry. Yummy!

5) Lastly, I signed up for an account with Remind 101.  This is a great way for me to communicate with my parents.  You have the ability to text message parents or students information about anything going on in your classroom.  What I love about it is that my parents or students do not see my cell phone number, and I don't see theirs.  It is a great way to communicate because everyone is always on their phones!  You can find out more about Remind 101 by going {HERE}

Enjoy your weekend my friends!  Let me know how your week went, and don't forget to visit Doodle Bugs and see what everyone else posted in their link!


Taking a Risk: Attempting Math Workshop in a Middle School

Over the summer I've had a great time linking up with fellow bloggers and writing and tweeting about a PD book that I read call Minds on Mathematics.  This book by Wendy Ward-Hoffer helps to give background and a minds set to using a math workshop format in middle level grades.  After reading this book, and participating in twitter chats about the topic, I've decided to take the plunge and try using more of a math workshop format in my classroom.. <insert that deer in the headlights look here>

My fear is that I only have 42 minutes a day to teach math, and the curriculum that I have to cover is TOUGH, DEMANDING, and full of RIGOR.  I mean really people, teaching eleven year olds who still go home and play outside or with their legos about measures of center, variation and the variability of the shape of the data.. come on!  But, the powers that be said I must, so I must.

Our school district uses a digital math program called DIGITS from Pearson.  Luckily, a lot is included in this program.  For example, homework can be done online.  Students are provided with a ton of help, examples and can work through problems step by step until they achieve mastery.  They can also redo homework as many times as they want to get a perfect score.  I have the ability to log into the program in the morning during a planning period and see who did not complete HW or who did poorly.  These are students I would then have the ability to have conference time with during our math workshop time.
DIGITS also provides a launch segment with every lesson.  Last year, I was so overwelmed with learning a new program as well as new CCSS that I often skipped the launches.  This year, I can use the launch at times as a hook to access background knowledge and get my students talking about math.

Next comes the mini-lesson.  I've got that one covered too.  This is when we will use our interactive notebook to take notes, create foldables, or example problems.

Part 3 is Work Time.  THIS my friends is the kicker for me.  I watched this great video about how a teacher uses this worktime and the math workshop model.

6th Grade Mathematics - Workshop Model Best Practices from Scholars' Academy on Vimeo.

I'm curious however, about the work that students are doing during Work Time.  I want to create authentic tasks for my students to do, not turn to worksheets.  Time also is a factor.  I don't want students sitting idol when tasks are completed, nor do I want to make up tasks to fill busy time.

I did create these Conversation Cards, which I think will really help foster "Math Speak" during Work Time and Reflection.  You can pick them up {HERE} for FREE if you would like to use them.

Anyone have any thoughts on how they fit in their work time?  I can't really create stations because the number of benchmarks covered is too large to spend too much time on one area.  Literally I could teach a benchmark a day and be lucky to complete them all... not that they are mastering one benchmark a day.. <hee hee>  I'd love to hear where people are going with math workshop time.

A bloggy friend of mine, Jivey at Ideas by Jivey has a linky every Wednesday about all things related to Reading, Writing or Math workshop.  Stop by and visit her blog to read what others are doing with workshops too!


Family Fun and Get Your SALE on! BTS13

This weekend I have been so busy!  My family has had the best time hanging out in Gainesville.  Yesterday we went to the Fan Day on campus.  It started with an open practice in Ben Griffith Stadium.  This place is huge!  We have a few traditions when we visit Gator Nation.  Most of them involve the places we must go and eat, but another is the Gator Jump.  My kids do this every time we visit.. so funny.

In the afternoon we went to the O'Connell Center for Fan Day.  All of the football players were there; soccer, volleyball, and cheer as well.  They give out free posters, sign them and take pictures with fans. My kids LOVE this, and I get a Gator poster for my classroom wall.  WOOT!

Besides visiting The Swamp, I have also been busy putting my ELA checklist together.  I am loving this product because I can help my students learn to be accountable for their learning.  This product is similar to my CCSS Math Standards that have already been put into my store.  I have also bundled both of them together, and am giving a GREAT discount with the Back to School Sale that is going on.  If you teach sixth grade, this is a fabulous product for you!  Click on the pics below to view these on TpT.

Something else I've been working on is a game for my Smarties when we are practicing Algebraic Expressions.  It's easy to play, and similar to WAR.  I always like to end my week by playing a few review games in math.  It keeps my smarties thinking, and is fun way for me to interact with my class.  Many people think games are just "fun," but I use mine as formative assessment too.  I watch and take notes while groups are playing, and then I know who I have to pull for a little reteaching.  It saves me paper because I don't have to give a quiz.

Because I've been reading Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess this summer, I've had Pirates on my brain... I mean who doesn't love a good pirate!  The cards for this game are pirate themed.. just fun.
If you teach 6th grade (or even need a review in 7th),  teach Special Ed students, or RTI, this is a great group game to check out {HERE}. Did I mention it was ON SALE?  28% off if you use the BTS13 code at checkout on TpT.  Go grab a few bargains for math and ELA.

Do you use games as formative assessments?  Let me know!

BTS Sale coming! What I'm wishing for!

Today I'm linking up with some blogging buddies to talk about this big Back to School Sale that is buzzing around TpT.

TpT has really been a marvelous way to get so many awesome resources for my classroom.  I love that I don't have to spend a gazillion dollars on a teacher book when I was only interested in ONE idea in the book.  That used to drive me bonkers!  Now, with TpT I can find that one small unit or lesson plan that I was looking for and was too busy to make on my own.

I wanted to share two items from my TpT store that are on a lot of people's wish lists.  I am hoping with the added 28% off, they will take advantage, and make a few purchases.
The first is my Sixth Grade Common Core Checklist for MATH.

This includes a zipped file which contains the CCSS standards for math which can be printed on labels; a checklist of I can statements that you can either place in your own plan book, or have students put in their notebooks to help them remain accountable for standards and learning, and a set of CCSS posters that can be used for classroom display.  I really like the checklist for this product.  With so many changes that have come out regarding teacher evaluation, the checklist is a really quick way to help students maintain that accountability for their learning.
You can go {HERE} to check them out.  I am also finishing up a 6th grade ELA packet which will be up in time for the SALE on SUNDAY!

The second item that is on a lot of wish lists, is my Least Common Multiple/Greatest Common Factor Lessons with Foldable.
This packet contains 5 Lessons for teaching: Prime Numbers, Prime Factorization, Least Common Multiple, Greatest Common Factor and Simplifying Fractions using the Prime Ladder Method.  It also contains a mentor text suggestion for background information on prime numbers, and a foldable for notebooks.  You can go {HERE} to check out this item.

Finally, I wanted to share an item that is on MY wish list.  I'm going to be picking up Erin's Interactive Notebook for Literature.  

She is a blogger buddy at I'm Lovin Lit, and she is awesome.  I love that she teaches middle school just like I do because she always has great ideas that she shares.  You can check out her TpT store {HERE}.  

And don't forget to stop by TpT on Sunday and Monday to take advantage of this great sale!

Check out what is going on!


It's Monday What are you Reading? 8/12/13

We have been blessed lately with beautiful weather.  That means LOTS of pool time.  Pool time = LOTS of Reading!  YAY
It's Monday, and I'm linking up with Jen and Kellee to share what I've been reading this week.

This is a Professional Development book by Dave Burgess.  AMAZING!  I'm sure that many of you have read it, and if you have not, please go find it.  It is such a great reminder of what educators SHOULD be doing in their classrooms instead of making themselves crazy over state assessments.  I am going to share this book with my principal.  I'm hoping that others will be interested in reading it during the school year.  I've read it twice, and may go back a third time because I'm always thinking about different hooks.  There are great chats on TWITTER about this book.  Try #tlap to get started.

Here is the AMAZON summary of Legend by Marie Lu.  (The picture is also from them.. click to travel there)

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.
This book came from a recommendation of a blogging buddy.  It was amazing.  I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading the second book: Prodigy.  I'm going to share the title with my school librarian, and make sure that several copies appear on our library shelves.
The third book I read this week was:

A hilarious Southern debut with the kind of characters you meet once in a lifetime

Rising sixth grader Miss Moses LoBeau lives in the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, where everyone's business is fair game and no secret is sacred. She washed ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago, and she's been making waves ever since. Although Mo hopes someday to find her "upstream mother," she's found a home with the Colonel--a café owner with a forgotten past of his own--and Miss Lana, the fabulous café hostess. She will protect those she loves with every bit of her strong will and tough attitude. So when a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known.

This was a great quick read.  Sheila Turnage does a great job of making you like these characters right away.  I mean how can you not love DALE EARNHARDT JOHNSON...   very clever.  I think I will keep this book on hand as a mentor text.  Turnage uses a lot of different types of figurative language, and when I can find examples from chapter books, it makes my smarties feel like grown ups, and not babies.. always important in middle school!

What have you been reading this week?  Leave me a comment or two below and let me know what has kept you up late reading instead of sleeping!  Be sure to visit Jen or Kellee and see what others have to share too!


August 10th: Picture Book 10 for 10

Today I am linking up with a few lovely ladies, Mandy at Enjoy and Embrace Learning, and Cathy at Reflect and Refine Leaning Building a Learning Community that I have discovered through Twitter.  Once a year when teachers are going back to school, they host a Top 10 Favorite Picture Books jog.  I love browsing through what people use in their classroom, and I had to add my favorites to the list.
Here I mine in no particular order:  (All book shots are from AMAZON.. click the book for an Amazon link)  I use these with my 6th graders.

Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox has to be one of my all time favorite books.   I use this book at the beginning of the year with memoir writing, to teach small ideas, and to show how people with all different outlooks on life can make a caring, giving community.

The Multiplying Menace:  The Revenge of Rumpelstiltskin by Pam Calvert is perfect when you are teaching multiplying fractions.  I used this book with a math lesson this year.

Salt in His Shoes:  Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream by Delores Jordan was used in our Biography Unit.  It is a quick, easy read for my 6th graders, but it helped us determine character traits which was the focus of our writing unit.

Castle by David Macaulay is beautiful!  My smarties pour over his illustrations in this book, and manage to learn a little social studies in the process!

Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey is a new book I looked at this summer.  I am going to incorporate it into our Civil Rights Study.  It gives a neat over view of a time for African Americans before the CRM, and provides insight into how black americans traveled in the South.

Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg tells the story of Annie Taylor, the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.  I use this book when I introduce my literature circles for the year.  We complete an Author Study of several Van Allsburg books.

Twilight Comes Twice by Ralph Fletcher brings beautiful pictures to this free verse poem.  I use this book to teach metaphors and personification.  It is also great for teaching echo conclusions.

Mississippi Morning by Ruth Vander Zee tells the story of a boy and his father.  Their relationship changes when the boy realizes his dad is part of the Ku Klux Klan.  I usually pair this book with a book of poems called:
Keeping The Night Watch by Hope Anita Smith
I achieved a "Book Utopia" moment with these lessons.  You can read about it {HERE}if  you would like.

The Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base is a MUST HAVE if you teach sixth graders of have an eleven year old.  My teammate bought all of her nieces and nephews this book when they turned 11, and when mine get that old, I'll be repeating this tradition.  In fact, it is a purchase I am making for my son this year.  This book is great if you are starting a mystery unit.  THe illustrations are amazing!

Sir Cumference and the Viking's Map by Cindy Neuschwander is another new book that I have recently discovered.  I used to use all of Neuschwander's books when teaching about circles in math, but with the  Common Core change, teaching about area and circumference is not part of my curriculum, but the Coordinate Grid still is!

I also discovered that these ladies do a nonfiction Top 10 in February, so be on the look out!
What picture books are your favorites?  I'd love to add to my collection.  Be sure to let me know!
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