2015: A Year in Review

Happy New Year's Eve my friends!  Did you sleep in today so you can be wide awake at midnight and celebrating the start of 2016?  I always love this time of year because it gives me an opportunity to reflect and think about my life in general.  I always like a new beginning, and in education we seem to get two of them.  One in August or September when the new school year starts, and one in January with the new year!  I've spent some time thinking about 2015, which has brought some tremendous changes in my life.  I wanted to share a few moments with you.  Some are personal, some are educational, well... that's just me.

2105 was a year of Travel:
I spent most of the summer traveling with my daughter and her softball team.  They had an opportunity to play is Louisiana, Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports, Atlanta, Montgomery, and Tennessee.  As a result, we stayed in a few amazing places, met up with wonderful friends that we hadn't seen in a few years, and explored the TN mountains.

I'm sure this summer will bring even more travel.  I hope that some of it will be back in the Northeast!

2015 was a year of Science Mastery:
I spent two weeks of my summer delving a little more deeply into my science curriculum.  I worked with my teammate and read over/ completed several labs that I'm looking forward to doing with my students this spring.

Going to Tennessee and walking through several of the caves gave me great motivation to work on my Rocks and Minerals unit.  We have been working on incorporating reading across our curriculum, and creating informative articles and interactive notebook activities for my science units has really helped me become a better science teacher.  My students have enjoyed science MUCH more this year too.  We loved mining for minerals and finding tons of gems!

2015 was a year of Math PLT:
I am the PLT at my school for sixth grade math.  I've really enjoyed meeting with other teachers across our county to learn how they are teaching certain curriculum sections in their classrooms, and to share what I am finding works with my students as well.  Lately I've really been trying to use my small group time as much as possible to meet with students who are missing small individual skills. We've been playing a lot of games like this interactive fraction review game

 and using our Scoot and Compute cards.  

I like these because I can differentiate them easily.  My high kids can work on skills that are challenging in groups on their own, while my other lower groups can work on easier numbers, and I can gradually increase their computation and math language skills.

I also spent time talking to my PLT about increasing math language.  I shared these Conversation Cards with them.  They are FREE in my TpT store if you would like to use them in your classroom.

2015 was a year of Friendships:
I loved being able to meet up with many of my BBBs this year at the TpT Conference, and with my softball travels.  These people really inspire me to be a better teacher and friend.  I have had moments where their positive energy and support has really been what has gotten me through some tough situations, and I am forever grateful that I took the chance and began blogging.

Thank you to my readers whom I have not met!  I appreciate that you stop by with your Coffee Cup to sip and read!  One of my goals is to become more consistent with blogging in 2016.  I hope you will continue on this journey with me.  Happy New Year!!

Choosing Kind: A Classroom Christmas Project.

Merry Christmas friends!  I hope that everyone has had the opportunity to finish up in their classrooms, and you finally have time to sit down to enjoy a break filled with fun, family, and Netflix binging!

I wanted to share a project that my class completed before Christmas.  It filled our hearts with so much joy, I couldn't wait to blog about it.  We have been reading Wonder this semester.  Every week we have a guest reader from the community come in to read to us for about 30 minutes.  Ours happens to be the mayor of our little town.  When he first started coming, I thought Wonder was the perfect book for him to read, and the kids have really looked forward to our Thursday time.
One of the big lessons I have been trying to teach and promote this year is Choose Kind.  It doesn't matter if you teach in a big or small, rich or poor school, sixth graders deal with peer pressure. Period.  It is one of the biggest years for them to learn to navigate these slippery slopes.  The precepts in the book make great discussions about the best way to be your own person and handle yourself.  As we were continuing to talk about showing kindness to each other I thought this Choosing Kind project was perfect for my class.

I happen to teach in a fairly rural Title 1 school.  Most of my kids don't have a lot.  My heart was breaking for them, listening to them tell stories about cars breaking down, and no heat during a recent cold front.  I knew I had to do something to make sure they had at least one meal over the Christmas break that was fortifying.  I contacted a local church that does a character ed program in the morning at our school, and they donated enough mason jars for our class to make soup and hot chocolate to take home, plus a batch of hot chocolate to donate back to the church for other needy families.  I used some donation money as well as classroom money that was not designated for instructional purposes.. although I think my class was getting PLENTY of instruction in doubling classroom size recipes,  and bought the ingredients for pasta fagioli and homemade hot chocolate. We didn't want anyone at school to know about our project so we called it the Super Secret Santa Ninja Mission... because well, who doesn't want to be a Secret Santa and a Ninja!

The last week of school we stealthily went to the cafeteria every morning to create our jars.  My students loved being able to make something that would feed their families over Christmas break! They were proud that they could contribute to their families meals, and help their parents feel less stress.  It was such a wonderful way to bring our classroom community together.  Everyone helped each other measure, mix and pour.  We listened to Christmas carols, talked about books and fractions, and more importantly spent time coming together as a family.  It completely filled my heart!

When we were finished we had 27 jars of soup, and 54 jars of hot chocolate mix!  We decorated bags for each item, and then on our last Thursday we presented 21 hot chocolate jars in gift wrapped bags to the members of the church!  They were so excited to be receiving this gift, and my students were so proud to be sharing something with their community.  It was an amazing experience, and I'm so glad we were able to find a way to #choosekind and think of others during the holiday season.

Yes, we learned more about fractions and measurement conversion.  Yes we learned about making text to world connections. But, more important, we learned how we can make connections between people.  It was well worth the experience to give up my "precious test-teaching time"-- yes I said it, to create a memory for my students that will help them choose to do something for someone else when it is needed.

Thank you for letting me share! I hope you all have a wonderful, happy and healthy holiday season!

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