Monday, April 30, 2012

What a way to end the school year!!

To start...I got my Pinterest Exchange today!  I was super excited, and thanks to Heather at A New Teacher's Journey for making something perfect to go with my angel collection. I LOVE IT!!

This was so much fun!  If you think you might be interested for the next go around, follow the Teacher Blogger Exchange.

Then I started to reflect on my time as a blog author.   I started my little blog way back at the beginning of the school year.  It was a way for me to share what I do and find others that also teach the intermediate kiddos.  I know that I've said it before, but coming from primary makes me way too cutesy for my placement.  I don't think I'll ever go back to the little ones, but I've learned to never say never.  (When I taught 1st grade, 4th graders scared me, and I said I'd never...and yet here I am!)  I've enjoyed this year tremendously.  I've had an outlet for the cutesy and the creative side of me that wants to shake some of the grouches around me and scream, "They still like smelly stickers!"

Now here we are at the beginning of May.  I've learned how to update my blog background, follow others, link up, comment on other blogs without feeling goofy, buy clip art and make my lessons even MORE cutesy, participated in my first ever virtual professional development and pinterest exchange, and have shops on TpT and TN.  WOW!!

But...what is even more exciting than this, and more exciting than 22 days left of school, is that I am almost at my 100th post, AND I have almost 100 admitted stalkers following my ramblings.

To add to my list of things I've learned from blogging, and in honor of the big 100, I am hosting my first EVER linky party and give away!!!

The linky party topic...Teacher Appreciation.  

Blog about something that you received during the first two weeks of May, and link it up here beginning on the 7th.  It could be a nice note, flower, door decoration, or gift.

If you link up you will be automatically entered to win the give away. (I'm still working on this part.)  I want it to be something for you, not your classroom to kind of keep with the theme of teacher appreciation. Hopefully I will have the gift basket put together by the end of the week when I post the party so that you have a little more incentive to participate!

Thanks to all of you for an amazing year of inspiration and support.  I can't wait to see what next year will bring!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Alien Hearts Are Complete!!

My posts this week have centered around this super cool science activity that students completed today.  These pics were snapped as they were finishing everything off.  I can say, without a doubt, that student understanding of how the heart functions is so much better now that they have done this project.  I could really tell that one area that they really struggled with was the idea that the pulmonary artery carries oxygen deprived blood and that the pulmonary vein carries the oxygen rich blood.  It seemed that they kept coming back to that idea over and over again, trying to wrap their brains around it. (FYI, arteries go away from the heart didn't seem to satisfy their understanding.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


So it was just brought to my attention that I had inadvertently turned off the comment section on my post.  I'd been having some spam problems and I thought that I'd taken care of it by selecting "only blog members" can comment.  That seems to mean something very different to Blogger than it does to me!  So I've now turned the comment section back on, and if anyone knows of a way to prevent robots from posting topic related links to my content section, I'm all ears.  I love our conversations, I just don't want anyone coming by without something meaningful to add !!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Alien Hearts ~Extension Project

The alien hearts are starting to take form, and for the most part I am thoroughly impressed with the time and effort that students have put in to this activity. Yesterday students spent a good deal of time discussing the differences between the two different systems. I watched them gain an even deeper understanding of the heart and how it works. Here are some of the many sketches. Tomorrow we build!! (See the previous post for directions to this awesome higher level Bloom's activity!)


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Culminating Circulatory System

I just finished cooking 3 double batches of play dough for tomorrow's science activity.  It is the first time trying out this one, but it is so unique, I can't wait!

This lesson written by Jeff Dodds can be found here. It centers around helping an alien race develop an artificial heart.  Among other things, the aliens have only one lung and three chambers in their hearts. I've decided that students will go through a three step process for this lab. First they will be required to go over their heart diagram with their group, identifying all of the parts that are shared with the alien race.  Then, students will need to sketch, in storyboard fashion, what they think the heart and lungs may look like.  They must keep in mind all of the facts that they know about both systems so that the new heart works like a human heart, but has different parts.  The last part of the lab is to build a cross section model of the heart.

It is the first activity that I've found for the human body that helps students take what they know and apply it in a new, different, and creative way.  Since the body systems always seem very cut and dry to me, this should be interesting.  Hopefully tomorrow I will have pictures!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Newbery Awards Powerpoint

Last week I mentioned doing a little spring cleaning and found an Energy test.  I also found a cute powerpoint for introducing the Newbery Awards.  Click on the picture if you want a copy.  I don't use it any more, but it definitely has a fun sorting activity at the end.

Some days I miss 4th grade...

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Monday, April 16, 2012

Interactive Notebooks in Science

I've used interactive science notebooks for a few years now and really love how they turn out.  It is like a portfolio for what we've done in science for the entire year, it teaches middle grade kiddos organizational skills, it makes grading a breeze, and it's an incredible reference for students.

When I first started working with these notebooks, I found this site.  A science teacher that also does notebooks, uploaded everything that her students put in them for an entire year.  Some of the items I was able to use, like the Table of Contents below, and some of the items would be great if I taught 5th or 7th grade here.  Literally, everything we do in science goes into these.

Table of Contents helps students find pages that we go back to.

Students take notes and make sketches in them.

They glue in foldables...

for vocabulary and key ideas...

They also practice writing, both informative and science fiction.

And of course all of our labs are recorded in here too.

This year the students will fill an entire 70 page spiral (that's a total of 140 total pages since we use both sides.)  They are starting to be as thick as a small binder and students are amazed at all of the stuff we have done this year.

Pinterest Exchange!

I participated in Teacher Blogger Exchange's Pinterest exchange and it's been so much fun!  My partner was Tanja from Journey of a Substitute Teacher.


Since my pinterest item arrived at Tanja's today (I went to grab her button and she posted about it too...too funny), I thought I'd share it because I'm so proud of myself...

This is a memo board similar to one that I found on Pinterest.  Although I bought the frame, I bought and cut the metal all by myself!!  It was much less scary than I originally thought it would be and found some rustic old door pulls for magnets.

Metal comes in a giant sheet, so with the left overs, I plan on making some fabric covered magnet boards for my kids' teachers during teacher appreciation week.  I'll make sure I post those too when the time comes.

I can't wait to see what others have made!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tax Day Sale!

Stop by TpT and receive 15% off at my shop and others in celebration of finally finishing those taxes through Monday 4/16!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Teacher's Notebook Upgraded

In honor of the new giveaway promotions over at TN, I'm giving away 3 of one of my most popular items, S'more Work with Fractions.

Come by to check it out!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

State Tests

I see as I blog hop that I'm not the only one that doesn't really care for these, but they are right around the corner, so I feel like I should do at least some work on critical thinking before the math portion.  I've been on a hunt today to find some test prep that's not so test-like.  I need something that helps my students analyze, read carefully, and answer the question that is being asked.  My kids, through all the assessments I've given and analyzed all year, don't struggle with the actual calculation side of math, it's the analytical side that makes them choke!  I know that our textbook isn't designed for developing long term analytical thinkers, but I also think that kids now live in a time where they want everything to be done right now.  They don't want to mull it over.  They want to do the work and be done with it.  At least mine do, but I'm guessing that I'm not alone.  So...interaction, games, contests, quick paced activities are what I need more than anything to keep their attention while still training them to think, play devils advocate, and look at solving a problem in a new unconventional way.  I'm always on the look out for some new resource.  Here's what I found today.

Math: Can Take you Places
Middle School Math HD ~App (Oh how I wish I had iPads in my room!)
Math Playground
Jefferson Lab ~2 for 1 Science and math
The math forum ~This is the 6th grade page, but they have other grades too.
UEN  ~ more than just math.
Tennessee Dept. of Ed Resources


Yesterday I was going through my old thumb drive with materials I've created over the past few years.  I was cleaning my educational house, so to speak.  I found that after beginning my stores, I'm much better now at making my work look beautiful!  Here's a quiz/test on ENERGY that is incredibly functional, but not pretty at all. Take it if you need it.  I'll probably be working on incorporating it into a unit with a few random other pieces that I "found" on my drive.  I find that now I get energized when I get to recreate old pieces, and I think my students enjoy the layout of my newer stuff much better.

Click to grab.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Thankful and Blessed

I cannot begin to count all of the things in life I am thankful for.  I'm not sure how I deserve to be this blessed, but I never forget to remember, especially this weekend, for my life.  My children are healthy, I have a roof over my head, I love what I do everyday, and I have an unbelievably supportive and loving family.  For all of these things, and more, I am grateful.

Each year I have the opportunity to show support for those that may be facing some struggles.  I am happy to do so and believe that it is my responsibility.  "To whom much is given, much is expected."  Our school is getting ready for the 2nd annual Relay for Life event.  Last year as one of our own began his battle with leukemia, the school and community came out in masses to support the family.  The school also committed to participate in the Relay for Life event.  I raised money and showed up in the middle of the night to walk with hundreds of others who also realize that "Cancer never sleeps." Here I am in my PJs remembering my grandparents.

This year I have in my room a cancer survivor, while in the other class is the student that began his fight last year.  My student has come through the ordeal with confidence and maturity far beyond his years.  He currently speaks to groups around the valley about Relay for Life. If you'd like to hear his story, you can see it here.

So, for my part this year, I am going to donate all the profits from my new "Fun Classroom Labels" product on my Teacher's Notebook site to Relay for Life.  It is a 37 page download of all kinds of classroom labels for $3. It's the least I can do to help raise money for those fighting and to give thanks for my family's health.  And just as I always do, my loyal readers, here's a sample for you!

Monday, April 2, 2012


I wish I had time to post today, but if you take a look at my "listening" you'll understand, that I already feel guilty for slipping away to post this.  But...I think I've only done one other currently post, so I felt compelled.

Have you linked up with Farley?

Hop on by and see what everyone else is up to and join the linky party!