Friday, September 28, 2012

H54F: the one with the letter

Hello all
This week was pretty nice. First off the first glimpse of cooler air came through on Tuesday and by cooler in mean 75 degrees in the morning. Of course yesterday afternoon the humidity was outrageous, but at least cool air is in the future.
Surprise note
after grading vocabulary tests I noticed something on the back of one. A 7th grader wrote a sweet little note.
Mail call
I collect vintage Alice in Wonderland books and love anything that involves Alice. So when this advertisement from Disney came I took it as a sign that I should be visiting the happiest place on earth very soon.
One down
The first IEP of the school year was yesterday. My district took on a new IEP program which means I have to learn how to use the lovely new program.
 Hello there
 I had a surprise visitor in the shower yesterday morning. I successfully managed not falling in the shower while capturing this little creature...a miracle for sure!
New Display
I like displaying student work outside of my classroom. I typically just tape the work up, but came up with this brilliant idea...clothes line student work display.
Well I hope you all had a fantastic week and a restful weekend!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"But I have an...

IEP so you have to help me more than the other students," one 7th grader proclaimed on Monday.
(His IEP re-eval was last week so I guess it was fresh on his mind)
Nevertheless, this was the wrong thing to say in a room full of students who all have IEPs and even a teacher who once had one herself.
Unfortunately, the second this tid bit of information slipped out of his mouth I became the sarcastic version of myself and informed him that he does in fact have an IEP and then I went and named every single student in the class that had an IEP
Molly has an IEP
Jack has an IEP
Ashley has an IEP
David has an IEP
Ruth has an IEP
Ricky has an IEP
Tiffany has an IEP
John has an IEP
Sara has an IEP
Jacob has an IEP
Ian has an IEP
Meg has an IEP

And alllllll the IEPs say different things and I have to help you alllll in different ways.

I think this moment in the classroom can go down as the least graceful conversation I have ever had.

Truth be told it can be difficult to manage a classroom full of students that all have IEPs. Don't get me wrong, I love them to death and would bend over backwards for them. However, its times like these when I have five students who need me to accommodate them, each in a very unique manner that can become a little overwhelming.

On a side note my first IEP of the school year is tomorrow with a student I am very fascinated with.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Music in the classroom

Last year I began incorporating music in the classroom and have loved this new addition ever since. There are multiple reasons why I use music in my room.
To fill the silence
To boost productivity
To motivate
To calm/Soothe
To help thinking
To entertain myself
I unfortunetly, forgot my Ipod at home today and deeply missed the melodies floating in the air.
I typically lean toward playing soundtracks in my classroom, but never shy away from some good ole' Motzart or Chopin. Here are the soundtracks I play often.
Dolphin Tale
Finding Nemo
Harry Potter(s)
The Help
The Holiday
The King's Speech
Life is Beautiful
October Sky
Pride and Prejudice
Shakespeare in Love

Are there any soundtracks you love to play in your classroom?
Every now and then I play music with words and watch as student dance along in their seats while they work. Last week I played Stevie Wonder for my 7th graders and one class loved it while the other class was pleading to go back to classical...Here are some songwriters that I play:
Jack Johnson
Stevie Wonder
Mat Kearney

Friday, September 21, 2012

What does it mean to be...

I took a totally new approach to creating and implementing classroom rules this year. To see how it began go read: rules to live by.
The next step we took to finalizing what these rules meant to our class was to create a paragraph per rule. I allowed each class to pick a rule they wanted to define. So class by class the rules were written as a class. To do this I handed out post-it notes and each student wrote one sentence as to what that rule meant to them. Then we created our paragraph by piecing together one student's sentence at a time. Here is what they came up with:

  Independent means that we do not need anyone for anything. We can accomplish tasks on our own. Being independent is completing tests, classwork and quizzes by ourselves. When we are independent we work in a group of one without being interrupted. An independent student can ask questions if necessary. When we are independent we study hard, earn great grades and help each other.
Supporting others means helping students who are stuck. We support everyone even those we do not like. When supporting others we come to them in their time of need. As a class we will guide students in becoming better at writing, reading and spelling. We promise to support others while we are in class. 
To follow this rule we have to watch how we talk to one another. We believe in order not to put down others we must not make students feel bad about themselves. As a class we have to work as a team to build one another up and not down. To create a positive classroom we have to choose our words and friends carefully. If a student is putting you down we must not do the same to them. We understand that putting others down hurts others feelings and discourages them from being great!

  Staying classy is being ourselves and not following others. A classy person is content with who they are. By being classy we help and care for others around us. We will look good in what we do. Looking good is more than outside appearance we have to focus on who we are on the inside as well.  We must treat others with respect and kindness.  Staying classy is using manners when talking to others.

   Striving for excellence is being a great person. We will always do our best as well as help others. When we strive for excellence we show bravery even when things become too difficult. We always try our best because we are striving for excellence. If we give up on ourselves we will go no where!

Overall, I enjoyed the process in having students define the rules. Each of the five rules are framed by themselves and hang on a wall as a reminder to what is expected of them.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Library Decor

My schools media center is going through a make over. Part of this remodeling was improving the posters that hung through out the library. Each department was responsible for recreating two of these posters.

Since I am part of the Language Arts department we brainstormed what our posters would be. Our first one was modeled after an I-phone; where each app is L.A related. For our second one we tore out pages in a novel and arranged them across the old poster. Then we were stuck...for a while we were just going to leave the pages alone, but it looked like something was missing. Thankfully, pinterest is full of ideas and after searching we combined two pins into one.
Mod podge
spray paint
sponge brush
letter stickers
Mod Podge the book pages together. To eliminate the letter stickers on the pages we used mod podge. Cut out the letters and then arrange them how you like. Peel and stick them on the book pages. Make sure the edges are stuck tightly to the pages so spray paint will not seep through. Spray paint the poster and then peel off the letters. Supposedly, you are supposed to let the spray paint dry, but I lack patience for that. I waited about three minutes before peeling off the letters. The letters came off easily and did not stick at all!
{it looks better in person}

Monday, September 17, 2012

The best notebooks around

When it comes to picking the right notebook for creating interactive notebooks I prefer the bigger the better. This way when I have notes directly off the printer the page fits exactly on the page. If I just want to have my students put an entire page in their notebook then we just staple it, but if there are multiple pieces then they glue it in.
If I had it my way I would have every student use:
 A spiral Five Star notebook
While we are on the topic of notebooks. I keep a master copy for each grade level on the side of my tech station. Each grade level has a different design to tell them apart.
Having a master copy of each grade levels interactive notebook allows me the opportunity to test out lessons as well as placement of notes. While at the same time I can demonstrate what each page looks to the students.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Interactive supplies

I try to minimize any unnecessary movement in the classroom. Using interactive notebooks requires that students have various supplies. I used to have students create an assemply line when they needed to gather supplies. This year I became a little bit wiser when it comes to student's supplies.
 I have a plastic crate on the counter filled with individual student supply box. My biggest class is 14, but without fail someone is always 13 boxes works perfectly! I typically have students grab a supply box during vocab bellwork and then at the end of class assign two students to pick them up and put them back in the crate.
Inside each box is: crayons, colored pencils, scissors, a colored pen, eraser, glue stick and pencil sharpener. I find that having these supplies at each student's desk reduce unnecessary movement during lessons.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Interactive notebook organization

Part of having interactive notebooks is having a home for them.
For me the best way to keep them organized is through these three drawer containers I purchased at Wal-Mart.
(I saw that target marked down their turquoise colored ones this week)
Each class period is divided into their own drawer.
My school is on block schedule. Even days is housed on the left and then odd days are in the container on the right.
My classes are small since I am ESE. My biggest class is 14 and my smallest is 11. The containers are sturdy enough to hold the wieght of the notebooks. I could probably fit about five more in each bin.
The drawers can pull out completly which comes in handy! During bellwork I assign the first student who is complete to pass out the notebooks to each student.
These bad boys have wheels. When parent teacher conference night comes around I wheel them into the hallway and as parents come to me I can pull out their student's notebook to give them an idea of what their child is doing in the classroom.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Why interactive notebooks

About half way through last year I decided to jump full force into interactive notebooks with little knowledge on what I was getting myself into. I am the type of person who likes routines and tends to lean on the overly organized side of life. So to have this sudden change is not me at all, but I have reasons to back up why I switched to interactive notebooks. 
Previously, I had students keep their notes in their binder under my tab...L.A. This system worked well until around October and then came the excuses...which I hate!
Miss I lost my notes
I can't find that piece of paper
Do you have an extra vocab list
I left that at home
I think I threw that away
I thought we didn't need that anymore
When did we do that
Can I have another one of that
I don't think I was here that day
I was supposed to keep that
I blew my nose with my notes
(sadly this has happened)
Fast Forward
I guess you can say I snapped because I was approaching a poetry unit where students were going to have pieces of paper coming out of their ears: notes, poetry dissection and writing their own poems. Too many papers to be lost! Thankfully, I had scooped up a bunch of spiral notebooks when they were a penny to hand out to students who could not bring their own.
I am loving, loving, loving interactive notebooks. They are my saving grace to monitoring each classes progress as well as individual students. I no longer hear the endless excuses from students losing their notes. Through the use of interactive notebooks students are held accountable during each lesson making sure each task is complete. Students can also look back on what they have done throughout the year to see how far they have come!
 My OCD has found its happy place in the form of a spiral notebook.
Stick around to find out other helpful hints on interactive notebook goodness.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Beez in the trap

Prior to taking a spelling test this morning one of my 8th graders asked if I had any Bees in the trap...I of course had no clue what she was talking about
{but had a feeling I did not want to know}
I quickly shifted the conversation to another topic. Later on in the day after searching what this new "Bees in the trap" is I find out that it is another classy song from Nicki Minaj. After reading the lyrics to this song it's safe to say I will stick to listening to Ms. Minaj's least this way I understand every other word instead of the entire line.
{Side note}
For those teaching middle school you may find this humorous.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

10 on 10 minus one

Guess who remembered to bring her camera home?
Me..who apparently cannot count to ten.
So here is my 9 on 10 a day late.
Go check out the other fantastic pictures on a bit of sunshine
1. 8th grade goal
2. interactive notebook's home
3. map tapestry
4. pencils, highlighters and pens oh my
5. read
6. vocab anyone?
7. ribbons in the sky
8. etc.
9. story maps

Monday, September 10, 2012

So Close and yet all locked up...

Well thanks to Lyndsay I was reminded of 10 on 10
Unfortunately, she was not at school to remind me to bring my camera home. So yes, friends my camera is locked away in my filing cabinet
Not to leave you empty handed I will give you 10 tid-its from today
(some of them are a stretch...bare with me)
1. Blister
I walked the bridge twice this weekend. On Saturday, I had a baby blister on my right heal and then I had to make matters worse and up grade to a full blown blister by Sunday. In fact I blame the blister for my lack of motivation to not walk back into school to grab my camera. Since coming home I have iced it and taken Tylenol. I think it is safe to say I hate annoying pain.
2. Stamps
Not one to think using stamps in middle school would be ideal, but again thanks to Educated...not so domesticated; I have hatched a plan for these little beauties. More to come on this...
3. Centers
Again, thought centers and middle school did not match, but I was proven wrong today. I tend to look into other teachers classroom to see what they are doing as I am walking down the hallway. This one reading teacher occasionally does centers in her room. From what I can see through the window in the door. Yes, I realize this makes me sound like a crazy teacher stalker. Anyways, she teaches one group while other students are doing their own activity. So I did the same today. Pulled a group of five over and added punctuation to various sentences; while the other group came up with their own sentences using different punctuation marks.
4. New paraprofessional
We have a paraprofessional. Yay, help in the classroom. Life is good again!!
5. 7th graders bringing their A game
For the last month the 7th graders have been acting like their typical 6th grade selves. Thankfully, they are pulling it around. In fact today they rocked at the punctuation centers. It was beautiful, one of those moments where I wish I had a higher up walk in and witness the amazingness!
6. Harry Potter soundtrack
There is something about fall in Florida that makes me pull the wonderful Harry Potter soundtrack! I love watching students perk up as they say "hey this is this Harry Potter"
7. One kid out makes all the difference
One of my difficult clients was out of class today...I wish I could say I missed this little darling.
8. Mastering routines
After practicing classroom routines they are finally coming around and figuring out how I like things run.
9. Strawberries
Red and delishes. So terrific.
10. Season 8 of The Office
I thing I am narrowing down my favorite characters to: Creed or Kevin...perhaps Kelly and Dwight too.

Although I am teaching this odd little mark I am never sure how to use it correctly

{I promise I will not forget my camera tomorrow}

Friday, September 7, 2012

H54F: The one with the before and after

Hello friends, Friday is here again! Yay!
This week had its ups and downs for sure. Thankfully, more ups than downs.
Chop, Chop, Chop
I am a good 8 pounds lighter since chopping my hair off. I love the cut, but to be completely honest my hairdresser could of given me a mow hawk and I would of been over the moon with it! The greatest thing about getting a hair cut is that my hairdresser and I talked about Honey Boo Boo Child the whole time!
Well hello there
My mom and I walked another beautiful FL bridge. We decided to have some fun and say hello to everyone we passed. Unfortunately, people are really in their element when they walk a bridge so saying hello back was asking too much of them.
 Two Downers
By the end of today I needed a little pick me up; which came in the form of frozen yogurt. Lets just say at the beginning of my day one of my lovely 8th graders could not attend a parent conference because he was throwing a fit in his mom's car (I thought temper tantrums stopped when they were no longer toddlers). Then at the end of the day a lovely 7th grader said I was pissing him translation I was pushing him to do his best.
 Stress relief at its finest
Bridge walking has truly been a blessing since school began. The view, breeze and exercise is simply wonderful.
Pretty little things
De stressing through Target has its perks. Stumbled upon this little jem covered in gold polka dots. Its safe to say it found its way home with me.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


So I decided to try something new. 
Blogging for the entire month of August
{well I missed the first day}

It was an adventure for sure! I cannot imagine blogging for the entire year! I can say that I wrote things that I would never put out their on the Internet. So for all those that left sweet comments thank you and for the new followers welcome! I will not be blogging every day...perhaps every three days! Now I am off to soak up some sun!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

So much depends upon...

Mr. William Carlos Williams provided 7th graders with their first opportunity to write a poem.

The poem came in the form of a mimic poem. This type of poem allows students to create a poem with minimal thought. The basic is that they duplicate the original poem matching the same amount of syllables in each line and keeping one line of the original poem in the re-written one.
I began this lesson with asking students what poetry is
Then I showed them Mr. William's poem:

so much depends     
a red wheel              
glazed with rain        
beside the white       
I then asked them if this was a poem
some said yes some said no
they of course had to explain their thinking!
We then dissected the poem going word by word examining the very existence of this so called poem.
They were then given the task of creating their own So much depends upon poem. 
They turned out pretty good...just as good as the original 
Here are a few samples:
The Big Black Steam ship
So much depends upon
A big black steamship
Sailing in the ocean
without a white blanket