Thursday, June 25, 2015

Getting Ready...Already!

Here in Arizona we are back to school already in July.  I hate it, but I love, love, love our 2 week end of quarter breaks, so I live with July.  This year teachers return July 14th.  So needless to say, as soon as the year is over, we here in Arizona already begin working on Back to School.  Yesterday our Target even was moving out the patio furniture and hanging back packs.  Both my kids nearly had a meltdown in the store.  They absolutely did not want to even go near it...they are 8 and 14.  There is a little drama there I think.  Anyway, now that I am beginning my 4th year in my new job, I've figured out what works and what doesn't.  What's worth doing year after year and what's not.  What is "junior high" and what is more "elementary."  It truly has taken this long.  So today I want to share some of the new things I will be trying to organize our back to school.  Students told me at the end of the year (I always loop with my 7th graders) that they would like more help with organization and making assignments available for download online.  The organization part I've got covered.  Making downloads available in a secure manner, I need some help with.  If you have something you use, I'd love to hear how it has worked for you!

Current Events!
I feel like current events are so very important to incorporate in science.  With the addition of ELA standards to science, I've finally put together something students will do weekly to prompt discussion and debate each Monday morning.  Each week student must bring in a current event that they have annotated and responded to.  You can download it here, if you are interested in looking at it and creating your own or up in the Freebie section.  I'm currently working on the instructions for proper ways to cite evidence and respond to the text.

Science Fair
Another huge project to tackle is science fair.  Since our students do most of their work at home, they told me that they need more guidance for each step and more intermediate due dates to help them keep on track.  So I delivered.  Using some of the past handouts along with information given out at the high school, I put together this guiding packet of information.

Lesson Plans
We are required to turn in lesson plans each week in a given format to the front office, but the format for me and a sub coming in just isn't working.  I need more space to make notes following the lesson and to easily find the resources needed as I'm setting up for labs or for technology based lessons.  The lesson plan format that I used as an elementary teacher just doesn't work in junior high.  I have two preps, not 10-12 and the depth and resources required for the class in much more involved than before.  This year, I plan on using a new format if only just for me.  I find it so helpful when I'm looping back to a lesson to see notes of what worked, what doesn't, and what extensions or resources might be needed.

Not too shabby for the first 3 weeks of break!  Come back later this week to see the extra credit and quarterly projects I'm planning for 1st quarter this year.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Love and Resources: Giving and Getting More Back in Return

It never ceases to amaze me that when I give to someone else, it always seems to come back to me two fold.  I want to provide this same opportunity for you.

My 14 year old daughter learned over spring break that one of her good friends was diagnosed with leukemia.  Not an easy one to treat either, but an aggressive version usually found in adults.  That's a lot for a junior higher to take in and process, not only for my daughter's friend but for everyone around her.  In an effort to feel like she is making a difference, she signed up for the Relay for Life with her school's team.  She originally said that she'd like to raise $100, thinking that it was a lofty goal.  Soon after our family came through in a big way, so now she thinks she can do even more!  If you'd like to help her out, I will send you some resources as a BIG THANK YOU for your support. I've tried to provide several options, including some of my more expensive and most popular products.

When you donate to Relay for Life your name will be added to the list on donors, just email me or leave your email in the comment section for this post letting me know your name and email where you would like the files to be sent.  I will respond to your donation within 24 hours.  All files are in pdf format, with some of the bigger files compressed in a zip file.  You will receive a tax deductible receipt for your donation and more than that back in return for your donation.

Below is a link to her fundraising site.  This opportunity is only good through May 1, 2015.

If you donate $10, I will send you either the science inquiry bundle or the classroom management bundle.  Or if you'd rather, pick $15 worth of resources from my store.

Science Inquiry: Fun with Flight Unit, 100 Licks Lab, Science Fair Logbook, Science Fair Board Headers ($18 value)

Classroom Management:  Chevron Buntings and Letters,  Classroom Labels,  Lab Station Labels and Management, I Mustache for Groups!, A Step in the Right Direction Classroom Punch Cards, and Tie Dyed Brights Calendar ($18 value)

If you'd like to donate $25 or more, in addition to the above resource choice, I will also send you my geometry bundle worth more than $30.

Geometry Bundle: All About Angles (Bundle), Basics on the Coordinate Plane, Transformations on the Coordinate Plane ($32 value)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Each day this week, freebies will be posted to the fans on my Facebook page!  Monday's giveaway is an editable board game.  Hope you stop by and check them all out!

Also, TpT and TN are both holding their big quarterly sales and I will be passing along any food freebies that are traditionally offered to teachers this week.  Make sure you've got your badge!!

Lastly, a HUGE shout out to Creative Clips for making the adorable clip art for this week's freebies.  If you haven't stopped by Krista's store, here's her link...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Marzano Scales

I cannot tell you how many different versions I have made of scales.  I don't feel like they "work" for my classes.  Today the students reaffirmed what I've been thinking all along...what's the point? The gifted kids get this "game."  They know that they are to move up the scale as they learn more about a topic and so often times will tell me, "I'm a 3," when we are finished because they know that is where they are supposed to be.

This past quarter, in conjunction with the required scales, I gave the students a checklist for each objective.  The checklist outlined how I would expect learning to occur as students acquired more knowledge and better understanding of an objective.  The kids said that they preferred those to the graph your understanding scales that we have been using school wide this school year.  Here are some downloads of the creations that I made, thought I liked, then went back to the drawing board.  My favorite general one, though, is the puzzle piece.  I keep this up in the classroom in addition to specific scales for each objective.

Puzzle piece general scale
Learning Log with scale
Checklist with the school wide scale

I'm once again in search of something different, something that meets the expectation but has meaning.  I've looked everywhere, but what I've found is for early elementary.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Algebra Tiles Downloads

My first week of break has been ultra productive as I've finished all sorts of small tasks around the house and my huge bundle pack for algebra tiles.  For the next 24 hours it is discounted an additional 25% off in addition to the already reduced bundle price!  If you want to download a free copy of the tiles or to see how these work, visit my last post.  Next up are tape/bar diagrams.  Hope to have those ready some time tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ahhhh...Spring Break!

Looking forward to the only time when Arizona weather is in the 80's and to working on some new stuff for some of you that made requests.  Don't worry just yet if I haven't been in touch, it does take me some time to make you what exactly you are looking for!  Here is a portion of a H-U-G-E download on using algebra tiles.  I've worked with my own kid on using these this past quarter, and I'm amazed at how much you can actually do with them.  There isn't any instructions here, but I found a super cool interactive site that shows you how to do just about anything with polynomials and algebra tiles right down to how to use them to teach integers.  And having taught adding and subtracting with integers, I can tell you that it will help out the students that seem to struggle with them otherwise!  Anyway, take 'em if you can use 'em, and check out this site for what to do with them! Math Bits

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Looking for something FREE??

As the school year winds down to a close, I find myself once again "Caught in the Middle." What started out as a catch phrase for a teacher of middle grades has morphed into a several different meanings these past couple of years.  I was, "caught" between choosing science over math, "caught" since I'm the only science teacher with both 7th & 8th grades, and now "caught" as I begin to contemplate moving into curriculum full time.  I hope that my being "caught" this time may benefit you.

I'm looking to produce more activities, units, and assessments with a broader base. I want to know what you, specifically, could use in your classroom.  Email me your requests and if I pick your's, you will have the resources to try out in your classroom or on your grade level team for FREE.  In return, all I ask is that you provide me with feedback so that I can add these to my store.  

If you are interested, email me at and give me a general idea of what you are looking for and when you would need the work complete.  I will be putting together a survey for the specifics that I will send out if your work is chosen. 

I hope to hear from some of you soon!