Friday, August 31, 2012

H54F: the one with all the hair

Hello all, linking up again with Lauren at From My Grey Desk. This week was pretty uneventful. Isaac came and left rain as well as gave us a day off from school!

My hair is coming close to the cut off date, which is Saturday!
Oh braids!
I have decided to master all braids I have come across. This week was the reverse braid...pretty simplistic!
Oh the dramatics!
I let my students know that I was cutting my hair and they must of translated my words into I was cutting my arm off. They do not approve of this change for sure!
 Oh  Repunzell!
The length of my hair is a tad bit ridiculous!
Oh Sunsets!
A relaxing way to end any day; a walk over the bridge at sunset.
Oh Isaac!
Isaac did provide some nice weather for walking over the bridge and pretty rainbows!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Quarter One goals

At the beginning of each quarter students create goals for themselves. The goals are specific for each quarter and not for the entire year. I emphasize that their goals must be measureable and realistic. When the quarter ends students turn back to their goals and reflect if they accomlished them or if they need to continue to work on them.
These goals come from an 8th grader:
I will try not to get in trouble and I will not be disrespectful
I will listen to the teacher and do what they want me to do
I will always do my homework
I will try to ignore what people say to me

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It pays to be late

Two weeks ago Office Depot had pencil pouches for a penny. I meant to go and grab some on Sunday, but the day became busy and wounded up going on Friday after school. Office Depot of course was out of the pencil pouches, but thankfully they had a replacement for the penny deal. The pencil pouches that they were originally offering were plastic with one zipper and the replacement is cloth with two zippers!
Typically teachers can pick up 25 of the penny deals, but they only had 23. The manager apologized for not having enough at any rate the replacements are ten times nicer than the original penny ones!
My bell work for students consist of their vocabulary words. They have twelve words for two weeks the first week they have a spelling test and the second week is their definition test.
These new zipper pouches provides a way to store and distribute bell work to students. The first zipper contains their vocab words broken up into syllables and then the second pouch has their vocab words with the definition.
I mentioned before that I was thoughtfully given the name vocab police by one of my 8th graders. The name fits because I have made it my mission to eliminate any excuses for the "I did not know" for not being prepared! Our new system for vocab bell work is going to make this mission closer to completion!
{Vocab spelling syllables}

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Oh Isaac

The great thing about hurricane days is that they are filled with things that I never have time for:
Internet surfing
Target is having a new set of shoppes in their stores starting in September. The Curiosity and Patch NYC is looking pretty fantastic
Magazine flipping
The pile of Allure magazines were piling up...why oh why do I subscribe?
Netflix watching
Breaking Bad is amazing and unbelievable. The development of characters is fascinating to watch. Now I just have to catch up on the current season when the next hurricane comes along.
So Isaac thanks for stopping by. You truly were not worth the worry, but the extra day of rest was appreciated. If any of your family members plan on visiting the sunshine state I hope they are just like your lovely self!

Monday, August 27, 2012

More glitter

Thanks to Isaac a.k.a a giant rain cloud I decided to take on this little project through YouTube via Missglamorazzi. She has a full tutorial on her channel.
Mod podge
various glass candle holders
fine glitter
Paint the inside of your glass jar with mod podge and then immediately pour in the glitter and swirl it around covering the entire inside. Tap out any extra glitter that remains. The outside of the jar will look murky, but as the mod podge dries it will clear revealing a glittery surface.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hurricane days vs. snow days

Tomorrow is my first official hurricane day as a teacher. Before this I have experienced one hurricane day in high school and one during college. So far they are not that bad, but there is always the possibility things could get a lot worse. 

I do not recall the number of snow days I had during elementary or middle school, but there were a couple. Snow days were always fun and full of excitement as your eyes were glued to the bottom of the T.V screen praying that your school's name would appear announcing school was delayed or just to stay home. No matter what the outcome was we always ended up outside playing in the white frozen powder until we were too cold to move. 

There is not much you can do outside during a hurricane unless you play in the rain or run against the wind. If you ask me snow days are ten times prettier to look at than hurricane days. A person can only watch a palm tree blowing in the wind for a minute or two before boredom sets in. Of course hurricane days are good for naps and reading books if the power goes out. During hurricane Charlie my sister and I watched a movie in my parents closet and took a nap with Ruth.  This is exactly what I plan on doing tomorrow on my unexpected day off read and rest...hopefully not in a closet!

For all those in the path of Isaac stay safe and dry! 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

ESE set backs

First off I am a planner by nature. I like to typically know the general direction of where I am going and when I can expect to arrive. That being said I plan in advance for what is happening in the classroom. I unfortunetly forget over the summer at the rate ESE students work therefore causing me to put on my planning breaks a little. Now don't get me wrong I love my students and will do anything to help them, but sometimes I wish we completed tasks at a faster rate.

 For example numbering pages in their interactive notebook. In my head this should take five minutes and some how by minute ten we are finally done. What takes a typical student to accomplish takes my students double the time! My lesson plans will look ridiculous next week because what I thought would get done this week has now been pushed back a week.

 Case in point, I  had a punctuation lesson ready to go...PowerPoint, lesson extension activity, notes, interactive supplies ready to go and all of this had to sadly be put away as we developed goals for Q1 and organized our vocabulary schedule in our planner. I guess the good news is that I am prepared for a good two weeks from all my excessive planning! 

Friday, August 24, 2012

H54F: Hodge Podge

Hello all, second full week of school complete. So far so good. I am loving our sixth graders this year as well as our eighth graders...the seventh graders ehh!
That being said we are getting into the routine of school ESE style...which just means at a slugs pace!
Today brought me notes around the classroom from various students. Always nice to find these after they leave!
 Made my own headbands. Spending $10 for one of these in a store is a tad bit ridiculous!
 After a vocabulary definition test 8th graders pulled out a book to read while they waited....and I did not even tell them too!
Starting a day at Starbucks is never a bad idea!
Well one university and a college has closed due to the potential that Isaac could bring. I am predicting that Monday will be a hurricane day...we shall see.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Research says...

It's always nice to have research that supports what happens in your classroom. I might of done a happy dance when I came across this tad-bit of research a month ago.
The article came from NCTE: "What we Know about Writing"
I have two goals for writing in my classroom:
1. Writing needs to be purposeful
"Finding ways for learners to write informally and throughout their learning experiences, writing that is not formally developed or graded, can help learners understand and value the important role writing can play in support learning."
I do not want to have my students write prompt after prompt and become writing zombies in doing so. They should value writing and make a conscience effort to monitor how their writing is progressing.
2. Writing needs to be engaging
"The "language arts" develop in concert. Drawing supports writing, writing supports reading; opportunity to use multiple expressions of lanugae increases language learning and ability."
Through the use of an interactive notebook I have been able to incorportate drawing, writing and reading into one process. Truth be told I am always a little bit weary when we bust out the Crayolas; the reason being...I am sure drawing/coloring seems to lack any learning potential, but now I can say drawing supports writing which supports reading!
End of Story

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hi, this is...

"Ms. Hall calling from (insert school name here). Is this the home of Ruthie?"

"Oh Lord"


Dial again and no surprise to me I go straight to voice mail

"Hello again this is Ms. Hall I believe our call was disconnected. I am calling in regards to Ruthie and how she is doing in school. I want to let you know that we want Ruthie to have another great year. We are here to help you and offer support.....I went on talking until I was cut off..."

I truly believe its hard to ignore/be mean to a person if they are being nice
Even with a hint of sarcasm

I try to win people over with kindness

Now my question is how do I record this phone conversation in the parent call log...
Parent contact successful??
Side note
My dogs name is Ruthie

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August Birchbox

Schools back and Birchbox filled this month with beauty goodness just for this grand occasion.

Here is the details:

Caldrea hand soap

Juicy Couture: Viva La Juicy La Fleur

DDF:brightening cleanser

Pixi Beauty: beauty blush

Schick Hydro Silk razor

Love, love, love the razor and blush!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Confetti Canvas

Truth is I did not want to bust out my camera to capture the true beauty of this.

The canvas came together in under an hour and took little supplies to create!
Scrap book paper
spray adhesive
circle cutter

I decided to go for the glittery confetti descending down the canvas. I like how the light reflects the polka-dots throughout the day. I would include a step by step, but this project is really self explanatory!
punch out circles, arange, glue!
All in all came out great and pretty simple to make! 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mam would you like to...

Buy a bag of school supplies for students who are in need this school year?, thanks

For the last month and a half this question has been asked at several stores
...truth be told I have never bought any of those bags of school supplies for needy students

Do I feel guilty
...yes & no

There have been times where I explain why I am not going to donate money for other students school supplies
...I teach and I already provide students with supplies

And there have been times when no reason is given
...if they only knew what I do for a living they would not be asking me this question.

I am sure if you are a teacher you have noticed the penny deal policies have changed in some of the office supply stores. These changes have effected how I go about supplying my own classroom and in turn have allowed me to have some interesting conversations with people, who are not in the classroom, about school supplies. 

One such conversation was with an employee at Staples. I was with a fellow teacher buying the ever so valuable notebook paper; when this gentleman asked why teachers have to supply students with paper: "don't they bring their own paper to school?" 
...what a dream students that had supplies for the entire year
Students do bring their own paper to school. Unfortunately, this paper last to September and then the asking starts:
...miss do you have any paper?
We explained to the man at staples that teachers are not going to penalize students for not having paper. There is learning to be done and if a student needs paper we are going to give them some paper. 

I used to get annoyed when students did not bring a pencil to class and now I brush it off my shoulder because I know there are bigger things to worry about!

Then came the conversation with my dad when I said students would give me a quarter for a spiral notebook. He said I should not be taking money from students in return for a notebook...and I agree with him. However, if I have waited a week and a half for students to bring in a notebook for class and they have not I will gladly sell them one. It's a quarter. I find that when students buy there own supplies for a couple of cents they have ownership of that notebook; it's not a hand out...they take pride in knowing that they bought their own notebook. 

The fact of the matter is that it would be nice if students came to school prepared for the entire day or even year, but this is not the world we live in. I believe people outside the classroom think students come to school bright eyed and bushy tailed ready for a day of learning...sometimes they do and sometimes they don't! I want my students to have a positive experience in school and if that means I provide them with a piece of paper or a pencil for the day...even if they buy it for a couple of cents...I am going to do what I have to do!

...after all I am a teacher this is part of the job description

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Dear 6th graders,

           I cannot believe I am saying this, but I like you more than my 7th and 8th graders. In all my years of teaching you have been my least favorite out of the bunch. From first glance I knew you were different from the rest. Your words are sweet followed by even kinder actions. Please, Please, Please do not let me change my mind about you!


Ms. Hall

I am watching a select few of not ruin the batch!

Friday, August 17, 2012

H54F: Hodge Podge

Happy Friday everyone! I have sucessfully made it through the first week of far so good. Getting into the swing of school takes some time. Squezzing in some time for fun and relaxation is key in order to do my best in the classroom. Here is my hodge podge of pictures from this week.

 Bridge Walks
A nice way to end a busy the view is pretty nice with the sun setting.
 Tourist Stop
Living in the sunshine state is nice, but there is very little time to enjoy what everyone else comes to this state for. A little visit to an orange store with creamy orange sickle ice cream was an absolute delight!
 Donors Choose
A class set of the book Flipped was delivered this week thanks to the kind donors to my project. We started reading this book yesterday.
 Making the best of it
Taking full advantage of having my long hair before it gets hacked off. A fish tale was a must this week.
Who knew
I had no idea that left handers had their own day! I am not exactly sure why we have a day to ourselves, but its nice.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Full circle

I have now taught long enough that students that have moved on to high school now have siblings in my classroom. Two of my 8th grade girls last year now have 6th grade brothers in my classroom. Oddly enough both of the girls were in the same class together and now their brothers are in the same class as well.  The good news is that both of  my past students gave me a good enough rating for their siblings to like me! Other teachers did not pass the rating scale. 
I have already seen some similarities in facial expressions and I am sure there are more to come. I have a feeling I am in for some interesting stories/situations since one of the brothers belongs to the girl who used lack of hairspray as a good reason not to come to school...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Find your greatness

I saw this commerial during the Olympics last week and instantly fell in love. I incorporated this clip into my yearly welcome back speech to students. I told all of them that this is our theme: finding our greatness. Some classes had to watch the clip twice because they missed the significance of the little boy being the main character in the commercial. After the clip we discussed why the boy was chosen to be in the commercial. They all pretty much came up with the same response...he was not born to be great at playing baseball and yet he is.

I feel that this is a perfect commercial to show ESE students. They are told often that they will not be great and some how within themselves they have to strive for greatness.

I am showing another Nike 'find your greatness" commercial for our weekly community writing notebook.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rules to live by

I always dread the task of coming up with classroom rules especially for middle schoolers. Raising your hand, staying in your seat and making sure name is on your paper are all fine and dandy for elementary school...but what about middle school? Last year I took the easy way out with these wall decals I found at pb teen. There are about ten that say "I will..." I filled each one in with general guide lines for what my students should be doing and whenever I was asked about my classroom rules I just referred to the "I will..." stickers.
This year I took a different approach. I came up with rules that would apply to what students do in the classroom and outside of the classroom. I told my students that these are the rules I follow day in and day out as well.
 When the students walked in there were the fives rules placed around the room. I introduced them to the five rules and then we discussed what each of the five looked like. Students gave examples of what being independent was and was not. Then they were each given five pieces of paper. They had to write their own definition to each of the five rules. When they were done they walked around and taped the rules by the pieces of paper. I will admit that some of their definitions are interesting!
no put downs
support others
stay classy
be independent
strive for excellence

This week we will narrow down how each of the five rules will be defined and then generate a contract of sorts.

Monday, August 13, 2012


I talked about my new bff yesterday...Glossy Accents! I honestly do not know where this has been all my life. Did everyone else keep this secret from me?
My sister went back to college on Friday. I decided to incorporate my new found love into something she could use to spruce up her dorm room. I asked her what her favorite fruit of the spirit was and she picked JOY...thankfully the one with the least amount of letters!
Glossy Accents
paint brush
hot glue gun
Step 1: Apply a thin layer of glue to one letter at a time. Pour glitter on the letters and tap off any extra.
 Step 2: Outline the glittery letter with glossy accent.
Step 3: Fill in the letter that you just outlined with glossy accents. If any bubbles appear pop them with a needle or drag them to the edge of the letter. The letter will look cloudy, but once the glossy accents dries it is clear, smooth and shiny. 
Step 4: Repeat step one through three with each of the letters and then let them dry over night.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Glossy Glitter

I have a love hate relationship with glitter. Love how it looks hate the mess. Thankfully, through Pinterest I stumbled upon a product that takes half of the mess away! Glossy Accents when applied to a glittery surface leaves glitter smooth, glossy and seals in the glitter from escaping. I will be showing a project tomorrow that I made with this little jem.
{I found Glossy Accents at Hobby Lobby}

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Locks of love countdown

 In exactly 21 days I will be waving goodbye to a chunk of hair
My hair cutting appointment card has helped me stay strong in knowing that on September 1st at 10:30 I will be getting rid of my hair.
For the life of me I cannot remember the exact number of times I have donated my hair...3 or 4 times. Three does not seem like enough and four sounds like too many. So have I donated my hair 3.5 times. 

I started growing my hair out to be donated when my grandma was going through cancer. She lost her hair due to kemo and radiation. She had two wigs one made of artificial hair and the other real hair. I could tell that she preferred the wig made out of real hair because...well it was made out of real hair. 
I saw how a simple detail made her happy and beautiful. When she passed I decided I would "pay it forward" and donate my hair in memory of her. 

Since then I have donated my hair each time in memory of someone who has passed away due to cancer 

My grandma
Mrs. Decker
Mr. Martin
And the 4th person prayerfully will not come for a long while

I guess this will be my fourth time

I always get questions about the process of growing my hair out. So if you are thinking about donating your hair hopefully this will help.

How long does it take to grow out your hair?
For me it takes a year and a half although this time it has been two years and two months. Everyone's hair is different therefore the timing will change. 

Do you notice when your hair grows the fastest? 
Yes, for me it is during the summer months...a good couple of inches

How often do you wash your hair? 
When my hair is close to the cut off date I extend my wash to three days...two depending on how active I am. 

Do you cut your hair while you are growing your hair out and if so how much?
Yes, regular trims maximizes how fast and healthy my hair is...I have gotten my mom to trim my hair a time or two! I typically get the bare minimum when cutting my hair.

Can you color your hair?
No, locks of love or any other hair donation organizations have regulations as to what hair they will take. Do your research to make sure your hair can be donated.

Strangest question ever asked
Does growing your hair out hurt?
At the moment this question was asked I said no because I do not feel my hair growing! Truth be told my hair does give me a headache every now and again. I tend to change how I am wearing my hair throughout the day...down, high bun, pony tail, braid. If I leave my hair in a bun or pony tale my scalp will be tender by the end of the day.

Just so you know my hair type is thick, thick, thick
And can become very heavy the longer it gets.

Friday, August 10, 2012

H54F: Two days down

Hello all, hope you had a great week! My week consisted of district trainings and preparing for Wednesday which was my first day of school.
Books galore
 I inherited my childhood collection of The Bernstein Bears books. Oh the memories
 Open house
Goal board began with parents brainstorming a goal for their student. I had siblings join in this year. One brother wrote "Don't be stupid"
Vocab police
I was  given this name by one of my 8th graders. I have covered all my bases as well as a couple extra. No excuses this year for not knowing what is due and when
 Lunch packing
I have forgotten how wonderful a turkey sandwich can taste.
Classroom rules
Students started the year by defining each of our five rules for the year. Yes, one of our rules is stay classy

Have a wonderful Friday and weekend!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Finally free

Tears of joy and amazement flooded down my face as I laughed with the unbelievable news that was on the screen. I passed the middle grade English 5-9 exam! Hours of hard work, practice tests, note taking and writing essays came through as the burden of this exam was lifted off my shoulder.
  This test score represents more than the fact that I am highly qualified to teach English, but that my disability truly has no hold on me anymore. I am not one to hate anything however I hate tests...I even hate proctoring tests.

This was the first state test that I have taken the first time and passed as well as the first test I have taken without any of my accommodations. The fact that I did not use my extended time, which is double the time of the test, is huge!

I have major processing issues when it comes to reading questions and finding out the true meaning of what the question is asking me. I tend to second guess myself and have a mini debate on what answer is truly you can tell answering one question can take awhile.

Knowing that I was taking this test without accommodations caused me to worry even more. I figured out that I needed to answer 28 questions in thirty minutes in order to finish the 80 question test on time. During my first practice test I answered only 12 questions in thirty minutes...cause for concern indeed!

I kept on plugging along studying until my brain hurt and thinking positive thoughts the whole way through. I just kept saying to myself that my disability had no control of my potential and I was going to determine my own greatness and not my label. I feel that by passing this test I have regained a part of me that my disability always held captive. I am no longer dragged down by fear of failure that loomed in the distance. I have finally been set free!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Welcome to Rm. 3116

Here is a little peak into my classroom
{Organization tips soon to come}