Saturday, January 28, 2012

New Teacher Evaluation System

Next year our district is going to a new teacher evaluation system.  Modeled after Marzano, the evaluation  is about ten pages long.  Since my hubby is an administrator, I was taking a look at it the other day.    I didn't even finish reading the first indicator before I thought, I'd better get busy now.  The first indicator had to do with students being engaged and responsible for the day's topic.  They need to be able to state the objective in their own words, the teacher must repeatedly refer back to the objective throughout the lesson, and they must know up front how they will be assessed and should be prompted to self assess.  Here is something that I came up with for a lesson on integers.  Our lesson was a review which was a perfect time for students to self assess.  It was actually quite helpful, as I collected them when they walked out the door.

Name _____________________
Today’s Date _______________
_____I can find integers on a number line.
_____I am good at comparing integers.
_____I can correctly pick 2 signs next to 
each other.  (i.e. 3+(-4))
_____I correctly answer most integer 
problems like the ones in today’s activities.
_____I feel like I can solve integers in 
story problems.
Questions I still have:

I'd love to know if anyone else is using something to help kids be personally responsible for learning throughout the lesson.  I don't feel like reinventing the wheel if I don't have to!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Digital Cell Resources

It's been one of those weeks that has been so packed full of extra activities, I'm bone tired.  I do want to share the great website I found as I began working on cells with my students this week.  The Learn Genetics site through the University of Utah is unbelievable!  So many opportunities for virtual interaction, you can spend a long time just exploring.  I really like the part you can zoom in to see relative size of cell organelles, bacteria, viruses, even an atom.  It really helps put everything into perspective!

Discovery Education provides an interactive microscope where students choose samples that they try to match up.

On "Know it All" in the Hobby Shop, you will find a neat activity that explains microscopes and how they work.  All, of course, is interactive.
Then, there is always the of my faves!  They always have great stuff.

Monday, January 23, 2012

PBS Learning Media

I spent all day today in our district science cadre meeting learning all about the up and coming Next Generation Science Standards, our state's science and tech fair, chemical safety, and using the PBS Learning Media.

PBS Learning Media was by far the most interesting part for me since in the past I used United Streaming through Discovery Learning.  When the state didn't renew its contract last September, I felt like I was left with no "go to" resource for quality science clips.  Asset, through Arizona State University, has taken over where Discovery Learning left off.  They now are slowly gathering all of the resources to make a tech site that will be a great tool to teachers.  It's free to sign up and free to access.  The site not only carries video, they also are collecting inter actives, lesson plans, audio, and image.  The search makes it easy to narrow down topic, grade level, and media site.  AND it allows you to set up of classroom site so that all the links that you want your students to access will be there, without having them search and find the link.  They can access it at home and you can manage it so that you keep your links year round, but only allow them to access them at certain times.  I'm in LOVE!

Here is the link to the main asset site. From here you can click on the link that says, "PBS Learning Media"

Their main site is also a great resource tool for pre K.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cells ~Freebie

Our cell unit begins this week, and I finally put the finishing touches on the pieces I created for the unit.  It is certainly one of my favorite science units we do during the year.  Students create their own 3D cells to present to the class.  Here are some great examples I've gotten in the past...

I just made my cell unit a freebie on TpT...Cells Unit.  Hope you can use it!

Staples Sale!!

I went in to Staples this morning to pick up some glue sticks and large manilla envelopes.  I really just needed those two items.  One to replace all of the glue sticks depleted by science fair and the envelopes to tape to the back for our logbooks.  Here's what I walked out with...

8 pkg of 2 each jumbo glue sticks $1 each...regularly $3.49. (I had my daughter go through the line first, since they have a limit of 4.

1 pkg of labels FREE after easy rebate, regularly $9.99.

3 pkg of 2 each large scissors $3 each...regularly $13.49.

1 box of 100 9"x12" manilla envelopes for $5.00...regularly ?  The others around it were $29.99

2 pkg of 18 each ticoronga pencils $2


Friday, January 20, 2012

Ratios in Story Problems

One of my greatest frustrations in teaching is that students haven't developed good analytical thinking skills.  I had a student today ask if she could get the form B of our math tests to use as a study guide.  Really?  Then she went on to tell me that it helps her get ready for the math tests.  I tried to explain to her that learning how to do a specific type of problem before she takes a test doesn't help her better her skills, it only helps her to solve that specific problem.

Today's lesson was ratios.  I use Saxon, so the title was ratios with totals.  This lesson is a prime example of why kids need to work on problem solving skills.  They begin reading the problem and I know that they get lost amongst all of the values given, and don't really know what to do with them.  The scaffolding I provided today was extensive.  Then just when I think they've got it, and I turn them loose to do some independent work, they sit and look at the problem as if it were printed in Chinese.  So tomorrow, we will practice some more... works, just no thumbnail

TpT link

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

100th day with Science

The comments from my post from yesterday prompted today's entry on ideas for incorporating science into 100th day for older kids. Here are some ideas...

1. Show a video clip or have students research the most important inventions of the past 100 years, which also has a history tie.

2."100 licks" is a lab I did a while ago!  The kids love it, but it's sticky.  Split kids up into groups of 4, or however many lollipop types you have.  Which lollipop can disappear in 100 licks? Students track with pictures, drawings, or weight the difference after every 10 licks.  I show the old tootsie pop clip.

3.If you have static electricity tie in, give each of the groups a balloon and wool cloth.  Then student record how many items (small pieces of torn paper or rice crisps) the balloon will pick up after every 10 rubs on the balloon until they hit 100. Then they analyze at what point rubbing no longer makes a difference.

4. There is a great biology site that times out how many cells form and die.  You can track how long for different types of cells to reach 100, or how many form/die in 100 seconds.

5. Visit 100 greatest discoveries of all time...

6. 100 illustrated science vocabulary words (about 4 words each). To create a kid generated visual word wall.

7.  You might also check some other blogs...This is from the science website I created for my staff.  It is a list of blogs that have a focus on science broken down by different grade level and specialty.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

100th Day for Older Kids

I've been searching all around trying to find activities for my kids to do on Thursday, which is our 100th day of school.  It is such a big deal in the younger grades, and a great opportunity to make math a focus for the day.  Since I already focus on math, pretty much all day long, it'd be nice to have some fun activities for the kiddos.  Here are a couple of math activities that I'll be doing that will help to reinforce skills they should already know.  I will be using both as a game, but it could be manipulated in so many ways.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Liebster Award

Thanks to Kate at To the Square Inch for nominating me for the Liebster Award.  It's taken me a few days to play catch up with all the work I've needed to do at home, so I'm a little behind. :)

The rules are you have to thank the person who nominated you, nominate 5 blogs with less than 200 followers and post it on your blog.

New Year's Resolution Update

So in an attempt to keep up with my is my January update!  Thanks, Mor.

Personal Goal ~  Learn more about blogging.  I'd love to create my own designs and buttons and backgrounds, but I just don't know where and how to start.  I'd also love to be able to use Google docs better. (√)

I just updated my template last night, the freebies I've posted, have been on Google docs, and I've even purchased some clip art and backgrounds and posted items to TpT.  I'm also working on a 100th day for intermediate kiddos!

Professional Goal ~Stay organized.  It's not that I'm not organized, but on any given day I can't find the top of my desk.  If anyone ever questions me, I say that my job is to teach kids while they are in my classroom, not to organize everything while they watch.  Maybe what I need is more filing places for papers!! (√)

So far, so good.  I raided Target's dollar bin before going back to school and organized my shelves with cute and colorful magazine files (hides the gazillion teaching resources I have) that I labelled by subject and topic.  I also have some trays that students now put their work in.  Before, I'd just collect papers, paperclip them, and set them in a pile on my desk.  I've also been able to see my desk all week long!  This goal, unlike my personal one, will be ongoing since we are only one week into the quarter and there wasn't much work collected!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Love to Joplin

Interested in raising the spirits of teachers in Joplin, MO?  Mrs. Wills Kindergarten has organized a linky party over on her blog to help collect teaching products for all of the teacher that have lost so much there.  If you would like to help by donating one of your items from TpT or Teacher's Notebook, click on the heart for all the details.  It warms my heart to know that there will be so much support for the teachers of Joplin from all over!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Make-over... with freebies to celebrate!

My mission to redesign my blog will soon be a reality!  Please bear with me as I play around with all the goodies that are coming with my template.  Kristen, over at Secondary Solutions, suggested checking out Etsy.  I found so many super cute items from templates to digital scrapbook paper.  I can't wait to get it up!

I've also been transferring many of my units over so that I can upload them to my TpT.  I just finished a 30 page document today on central tendencies.  I wish I was a little more computer savvy.  I am currently working with Pages, and am either not competent in using it, or it isn't very user friendly when it comes to what I need.  Thankfully, I'm able to save easily into PDF.

Here are a few pages...maybe you can use it too!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Teacher's Treasure's Giveaway

Teacher's Treasure is about to hit 500 fans, and is celebrating with a give away!  If you haven't come across this teaching blog, make sure you head over and become a follower.  Mor is one of those super supportive bloggers, that I'm so glad is out there interacting all of the time with the rest of us!  Congrats to her!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Teaching integers

We are in our first week back from winter break, and it is the LONGEST week ever!  Our kids are getting ready to take junior high honors tests and all the junior highs are coming around to give their "Come to our school" spiel.  Needless to say, I like structure and routine, and this is sending the kiddos into a whirl wind.

We are in the midst of trying to nail down integers, which may not be developmentally appropriate for sixth graders, but I have to say that teaching integers with pictures has made the process a little more bearable.  Does anyone else use this method?  Sometimes it is called hot cubes, cold cubes, and sometimes it is played with chips.

Here's a powerpoint that explains it with chips:  Illustrating Integers

I use symbols with my kids since they won't always have chips or cubes available to use in homework and state testing.  I tell students to represent positive numbers with a plus sign and negative numbers with a circle.

The problem 3-5= would be illustrated like this:

     A student would start by writing down 3 "+" signs since the first number in the problem is +3.  Since the next value is -5, students write down 5 circles beginning by circling any + signs.  The pictures with both a + and a circle cancel each other out and the symbols left alone will be the answer.  Since there are 2 negative circles left alone, the answer is negative 2.

I love this!!!

There are some great internet resources to supplement an integer unit!!
Johnnie's Math Page ~interactive games
Line Jumper ~interactive activity using number lines
Math Play ~more than adding and subtracting

Monday, January 9, 2012

I finally did it...and Freebies to celebrate!

I finished my first few products for my teachers pay teachers site, and I'm soooo excited and sort of addicted.  Most of the items I uploaded are free, basic activities so that I can have more than one item online.  I'll be working this next week on spicing up some of my math unit on integers to add later.  In the mean time enjoy these freebies!!

Sorry the images are small here...still learning the ropes!

Thursday, January 5, 2012


After the school science fair at the end of January, we start one of my favorite units in science.  Teaching cells ties together the history that our kids are learning at about the same time.  It is a fabulous way for kids to make connections is a deeper more meaningful way.

So after my recent adventure to find the low-down on "cute", I found what I was looking for!  Little Miss Kindergarten had some enlightening (and a little frustrating) insight on using clip art.  So I visited LPM Doodles and literally fell in love with all the cuteness.  AND, what's even better is that she is in the classroom during the day, so she gets it!  So if you are looking for all the cuteness I found, she is here.

Then I started playing.  In fact I played most of the day with the graphics.  I am going to be using these for a bulletin board, but may also use parts as class notes for my kiddos notebooks.  I clearly have much more to do, but I still have several weeks before we begin cell theory.  Here are a couple of things that I made today...maybe you could use them too!  The first is a one pager, and the second is the beginning to a packet of pages that I will share more of when it is done!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Where oh where can I find out how everyone has made such cute blogs?

I'm pretending that I don't have to go back to school inservice on Friday.  This week has flown by!  And although I've accomplished a lot, I haven't had much time to work on fancying up my blog (one of those resolutions)  I did learn how to make a signature, but it's kinda glitzy.  I'll probably change it a bunch before I finally find what I like best.

I would like to know how all these teacher blogs have gotten oh so cute.  Do the authors buy digital scrapbook kits?  If so where?  There are so many cute lesson plans that I've come across on Pinterest and on TpT that I've bought, but apparently I missed that class on how to make all the cute print outs.  I'd like to put some things together for my upcoming unit on cells, but thought how nice it would be if I could create something that wasn't so blahhhh!  Let me know if you can help...apparently I can't search google properly either since I've been looking for tutorials on and off for the past several hours.

Then next week, I promise, I will write about something more useful!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Blog Award

Thanks to Lauren at Life in Middle School for passing along the Versatile Blogger Award to me!!  This was thoughtful to think of little ole me and my ramblings on teaching.  I am quickly finding that the world of Middle School Blogging is growing and there are great ideas out there just as there are for primary grades.  Thanks to all of my readers and blogspirations for keeping me creative in the classroom.  (Yeah, I make up's my blog, so I'm allowed!)  

The rules of this award:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you with a link back to them.  
  2. Tell 7 things about yourself  
  3. Pass this on to 15 newly discovered blogs and let them know they've received an award!  
7 Things About Me:
  1. I've taught 15 years including Kinder (1), 1st (4), 4th (4), and 6th (6) grades. I loved them all!
  2. I work in a modified year round district (that means I'm out in June and go back at the end of July...which spells H-O-T in Arizona.)
  3. I'm married to a junior high school administrator, and have two children that continue to make me a better teacher by teaching me about perseverance and patience.
  4. I love Vera Bradley.
  5. I'm a picky eater.
  6. I really want to do something different with education, but don't want to go into administration or textbook sales...Ideas??
  7. I really want to use my summer "vacation" to travel to places outside of the most magical place on Earth. ;)

This award requests to share with 15 NEW blogs...Since it seems as though most blogs I've come across are seasoned, already winning the award... I decided to send it to Blogs that are New to Me or for the New inspiration every time I visit!

 Blogs I'm Sharing This With (15 is a lot)!  

1.  6th grade Science Rocks
2.  6th grade Scott Foresman Reading Street Resources
3.  Fast Times of a Middle School Math Teacher
4.  Mrs. Calhoun's Classroom on the Web
5.  Middle School Survival Guide
6.  Diary of a Fifth Grade Teacher
7.  Middle School Maven
8.  Middle School Math Rules
9. To the Square Inch
10. Venspired

More Organizing

I'm so lucky that I still have another 3 days of break, so after dropping off my preschooler, I stopped by Target's $1 bin and there are some super cute items to help out with organizing in the classroom.  That resolution that may never be fully met since there is always organizing that I can do, but I might as well start some where!  I picked up the following items, and while I am still awaiting my Vista print order, I can work on some Pinterest ideas that I also had in mind.  Here are the items I scored today...

Now I must confess that I also bought a few items for the prize box and some super cute Valentine's Day bags for my son, oh and I wanted to try out that blue duster mitt for my white board... I swear the dollar bins just call me to take stuff!

The whiteboard will be for students leaving the classroom, something that I found on Pinterest that I loved. It will replace the sign out log that seems to get misplaced too often!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Linky Party for Middle and Upper Grades

Thanks to Kristen over at Secondary Solutions for inviting me to her Linky Party that is aimed at us mostly forgotten Middle and High School teachers.  It is cleverly set up to group both middle and high school blogs separately, and by subject area.  Yeah!!!  I've been checking in with all my faves along with some new ones I've found.  6th Grade Science Rocks and To the Square Inch, how have I missed you??  If you have time, you should definitely check it out!!

Here's how to join!!

1. Go to the Secondary Solutions website and add your button to the blog link up. 
2. Visit the other middle and high school blogs that have linked up.
3. Post about the blog party!