Friday, December 28, 2012

The Bob Phenomenon or What About Bob?

I have been noticing a trend in 5th grade for years now. I wonder, does anyone else see this happening in their room year after year? Do you see your kids having an unhealthy obsession with...Bob?

Not that Bob! But, while we are on the subject, isn't this a great movie!? Roses are red, violets are blue, I'm a schizophrenic and so am I. HA!

"What Bob?" you ask with eyebrows scrunched. Yes, my bloggy friends, Bob. Each year it starts with one little whippersnapper who thinks, naively that, in fact, they are the first inventor of "Bob." 

Once it was an empty desk that spurred the "Bob Phenomenon" or hereafter referred to as "the BP".  A student was on my role at the beginning of the year. The desk was all ready for him, nametag and all, and then the kid never showed. I hoarded the desk thinking that I would need it later. I also never removed the tag. The kids started chastising anyone who used the desk, saying that the visitor, principal, parent, or whoever was using the desk, was sitting on Bob. They left a space for him in line even! Bob were they disappointed when that kid finally showed up in February and claimed Bob's desk which had been labeled "Colton" for months!

Another year Bob showed up in stick figure cartoons. That kid also said that he was the first to make those kind of cartoons too. That's a whole other 5th grade phenomenon!

Yet another year Bob was the cool nickname for your friends. We had variations like Billy Bob and Joe Bob and Bobby Joe and Kaylee Bob and Silly Bob. Too many to count. 

This year Bob has showed up again. The BP is in it's infancy. Too early to tell what Bobness I am in store for. I will look on, quietly logging stories to embarrass this class with when they are high school seniors. 

Do you notice the BP with your class. Is this just a 5th grade thing? 

I would love to hear from you about your own BP/weird kid behavior. 

And I leave you with an awesome quote from What About Bob?

You think he's gone? He's not gone. That's the whole point! He's never gone! -Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss)

Toodles from your Teacher Friend, 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bad News:(

Okay Bloggy Friends, I need your help.

I got a text today that one of my students has a brain tumor! I won't go into detail out of respect for the family's privacy, but I am asking for you to send up as many prayers that you can muster. She has surgery tomorrow morning.

Raise her up!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

December Currently

Here is my December Currently...this time at the beginning of the month, instead of barely making it at all. Hey, maybe I am getting the hang of this bloggy thing! I am linking up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade. Check it out:)

A couple of notes and elaborations:
  • I love the look of this Currently. Farley, how do you do this?! They are all adorable, but this one really got me in the holiday spirit.
  • I am not a sports fan, as you can probably tell. The hubs and all of our friends are in this really intense Fantasy Football league. After one year of lackluster enthusiasm  understanding, and participation, I was not invited to play again. Oh well! I have more time to blog:)
  • Is anyone else the biggest procrastinator when it comes to shopping. I aspire to be one of those people who is completely done in July.
  • I am super excited to learn more about Marzano and our new observation tool. Our district just adopted iObservation. It is an observation tool based on Robert Marzano's research. I {heart} data, so I am stoked. It is a good thing that I trust those kiddos though. I know that last year, I would have been stressed to the max to be out for three days right before Christmas. 
  • The tree was supposed to go up today. That is a goal for this week. 
  • I can't believe my little snowflake is about to turn 2! Oh Emm Gee! She is officially a litttle girl. Baby no more. I am happy and sad. 
  • I can't wait for some RAK fun with my class. Any suggestions for things to do around school?

That turned out to be more than a couple of notes. Thanks for stopping by:)

Your Teacher Friend,

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Liebster Award Awesomeness

Whoa! Really, whoa! This little ol' blog got it's first award. Tina at Flamingos and Butterflies nominated us. If you haven't seen her blog, hop on over. She is a hoot! How can you not love a book-hoarding, book-sniffing, semicolon-loving, self-proclaimed nerd!?

Here is what Tina said about the Liebster Award:
The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. It is to show new bloggers that they are appreciated and to help spread the word about new blogs.
The Rules:
  • You must post 11 random things about yourself.
  • Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
  • Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
  • Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers and link them in your post.)
  • No tag back, but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so I can learn more about you!

11 Random Things About Me:
1. I registered as a minister to perform the wedding of one of my best friends, Katie. 
2. I am from a super small town. Wetumka, Oklahoma's graduating class of 2000 had like, 28 kids. My husband and I make up 1/14 of the class!
3. I was teased mercilessly in school because my ears stuck out. I love my ears as an adult. 
4. I can sing all of the words to Snoop Dogg's "Lodi Dodi." Yes, it is a bit inappropriate, but I learned it during middle school and it stuck.
5. I listen to "This American Life" religiously. I have a tiny crush on Ira Glass.
6. I am totally addicted to pop. Or soda, or coke, or soft drinks, or whatever you call it where you live. I don't drink coffee. Mountain Dew is the drink I need to function in the classroom. I try to quit at least 3 times a year. I never have a hard time falling asleep, despite the caffeine. 
7. I say y'all a lot. On a scale of 1-10, my husband says my Okie accent is an 8. Now, read the rest of this post in your head in your best Okie accent. 
8. My favorite movie director is Wes Anderson. Some of his movies include: "The Royal Tenenbaums," "Steve Zissou and the Life Aquatic," "Moonrise Kingdom," and "The Fantastic Mr. Fox." Jeremiah and I have gone to a costume party dressed as characters from his movies.  
9. I have a disappearing birthmark on my big toe. 
10. My husband is a chef. We have a friend named Matt who we met when he started working in Jeremiah's kitchen. Matt couldn't remember my name so he began calling me "Bossette" since he called Jeremiah "Boss." 5 years later, he rarely calls me Brandi. 
11. When I cry and laugh at the same time, Jeremiah and I call it a "kamurf." 

Questions from Tina at Flamingos and Butterflies

  1. What grade do you teach, and how long have you been teaching? I teach the fifth grade. Last year I moved to fourth to have the chance to loop with my class. I love how easy it was to start this year with the same group of kids. This is my eighth year teaching. 
  2. Where are you currently teaching? I teach in the best school in Norman, Oklahoma. No really, I can't imagine teaching anywhere else. The amazing teachers at my school and my awesome principal are the bee's knees. The kids are pretty sweet too:)
  3. If you were not a teacher, what would be your dream job?I would be a novelist. Period. I love to read and it would be the ultimate dream for me to make a living from writing books. 
  4. What is your favorite adult book? The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and any Harry Potter book and...this question is killing me. I will stop there. 
  5. What is your favorite kid book? I love to read "A Panda Cake" to Dahlia, my perfect and adorable almost 2 year old daughter. My favorite kid novels are all by Roald Dahl. 
  6. If you could meet any author, who would it be and why?Alive: J.K. Rowling, Dead: Roald Dahl 
  7. Why did you start blogging? I love to write. I love to teach. Why not combine them and begin blogging! 
  8. How did you come up with the name for your blog? When I talk about any of my friends at school or teachers I look up to, I call them my teacher friends. It seemed natural to call the blog that, since one of the best things about blogging is all of the new bloggy teacher friends I have made:)
  9. If you could have any super power, what would it be and why? Teleportation. I would just blink my eyes and take myself wherever I wanted to go. Taking others with me would be a bonus. The ultimate reason? 10 more minutes of sleep in the morning. 
  10. Are you an early bird or night owl? Night owl. I get my best sleep between 8 and 10 am. 
  11. As you sit here blog hopping and answering questions from a random stranger, (just kidding) what are you thinking in the back of your mind you should really be doing right now? Organizing for my last minute crazy December yard sale. I really want to get rid of lots of the clutter in my house and it is going to be 70 degrees this Saturday. It is meant to be, right?
Questions for the Blogs I am Nominating:
1. What do you usually eat for lunch during the school week?
2. What is your favorite animated movie?
3. What song can you always count on to get stuck in your head when you hear it?
4. Cake or pie?
5. If you had to wear the same outfit to school everyday until forever, what would you wear?
6. What blog post have you written that you are the most proud of?
7. Do you believe in aliens? Why or why not?
8. What teacher supply could you not function without?
9. What is your favorite lesson/subject to teach?
10. Do you have a teacher pet peeve?
11. How would your best friend describe your personality?

Blogs I'm nominating...

1. Crayon Confessions
2. 2 Brainy Apples
3. Diapers Dollars and Diplomas
4. Dare to be Different-Teach
5. Krazy Town
6. Tastes Like Paste
7. My Journey to Fifth
8. Teaching and Tapas: Second Grade in Spain
9. 24-7 Teacher
10. Random Thoughts
11. The Ramblings of a Fifth Grade Teacher

Hop on over to these awesome blogs:)

Lovin' the Liebster,

Sunday, November 25, 2012

How Do You Linky? Linky

Warning: Newbie Blogger Attempting a Linky Ahead!

Here is something I have been really trying to do as a blogger: Linky Parties. Nichole over The Craft of Teaching suggested linking up, and I am taking her advice to heart, but....does anyone else need a plan book to keep up with their blogging?! Just saying. 

How do y'all do it!? I can't keep them all straight. In an effort to get everyone to tell me what parties they participate in, I am hosting my first ever, How Do You Linky? Linky. Hopefully I have done the inlinkz set-up correctly;)

Your link must be related to a linky(ies) that you recommend or participate in. It could be a link you have done in the past, or a post about all of the linky parties you join. Maybe you have ideas about how to manage your time and keep up with all of the linky parties you join or other regular posts/series you write. 

Hoping that I get some good ideas and a reference to come back to later. 

Technology Linky

I am linking up with Sarah at Diapers Dollars and Diplomas today! She asked how we use technology in our classrooms and I thought I would share a couple of my easiest technology ideas to get you started if you are new to using technology in your classroom.

Use it as a Reward:
Anytime our class has an ATB (All Time Best) in our multiplication fact tests or reading fluency tests, we have a short ATB Celebration. One of the most popular is the 5 minute dance party. Last time I played "Jump Around" by Kriss Kross. They love it.

We have class sets of clickers. They are great for quick assessments, polls, or, my favorite, having students click in answers to multiple choice assignments. Why? No grading for me!

Engage them in Troubleshooting:
Here is the best technology advice I have ever gotten: Engage your students in the trouble-shooting process. The number one roadblock I have run into when diving into using technology in my instruction has been the actual technology. It will always fail you when you have no time to fuss with it. Am I Right? At our last technology training, Pat Morgan, Techy Supreme and grandmother of one of my students, suggested that we allow kids to talk with us while we trouble-shoot our technology. We can explain what we are doing. This has helped me so much when my kids think that pushing "Function/f8" is always the solution. I have gained patience and they have learned so much about how all of the devices work together.

How do you use technology? Link up with Sarah to share:)

Your Teacher Friend,

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Currently Link Up and Hair Musings

I am trying to practice this linking up thing, so I am diving in to Farley's Currently Link up over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade.  Here it is. 
The breakdown-
Listening- I LOVE podcasts, especially Radiolab and This American Life. I learn tons from these excellent programs and am ALWAYS talking about what I heard. 

Loving- let's come back to this one.

Thinking- I am way behind on my holiday shopping and making. And.... Dahlia's birthday is on December 23rd to boot. I will accomplish something today though. Swear;)

Wanting- I mean, who wouldn't love to avoid driving? I hate to drive, and I can usually whine enough that Jeremiah takes the wheel. Alas, he is already in those Wetumka, Oklahoma woods,  hunting away. Maybe my want should be that he will kill a deer soon!

Needing- I creative and fun way to thank Ms. J for all of her wonderful-ness. And all of the grading. Especially the grading. Any ideas? Comment and let me know what you do to thank interns and volunteers. 

Music- Listening to Ben Kweller. He is one of my standby artists. I got to see him in 2008. See the picture below? I loved those bangs. I got a new hair cut today, which brings me back to "Loving" and my fab hairdresser, Shelia. 

Me, my bangs, and Ben Kweller in 2008

Early 2010- I grew it out after Dahlia was born and donated it to Locks of Love

The mom hair begins! 2012
Today's cut

Rewind to 2005!! Look at that mop!
I hope this hair-related currently got you I want to know, what is your best and worst hair moment?

Your teacher friend,

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Questions Post-it Poster Research and Reference Idea Freebie

In our room, we have a lot of good questions. Something that my intern/long-term sub implemented during my maternity leave was a questions poster.

I think it is the best idea! I love how easy it is for us to jot down questions during guided reading groups or anytime throughout the day. We just scribble it down quickly on a post-it and move on. 

The best part of this poster is that it allows students to go back later and research the question that we had. 

Until now, this has been just fine, but I have been thinking of the best way for them to report their findings back to the class. I came up with this freebie:
It is a research reporting form that encourages them to cite their source, quote the cite, then restate it in their own words. With Oklahoma's new Common Core standard adoption, we are really working on using evidence in our writing. I really think the citing aspect will deepen our understanding of evidence and citing sources.

We went to the computer lab on Friday to practice researching. Each student got a form with a question that we (me and Ms. J) had written in. I am so glad I had decided to have the questions pre-written. We barely had enough time to finish researching after the instructions and answering questions at the beginning. We also stopped several times throughout the lesson to point out things that individual students noticed that might help others. The lesson would have run way over if they had been allowed time to think of their own question. Maybe next time.

Here are some things to consider if you decide to implement this in your classroom:

  • The actual lesson on how to use the form was so much more helpful that I had originally thought it would be. Maybe my favorite lesson all year. The kids learned so much about how to re-phrase the question into search friendly language and about persevering with their research. They all thought originally that they would get the answer after one try. It took some students over 5 different search engines or online reference sites before they got an answer. We even had some people admit that the internet wasn't the best place to look for the information. *Insert gasp here!
  • Try to not allow them to use search engines like Google or Bing. I know, I know. I Google everything. Keep in mind that, most likely, so do your kids. They probably feel pretty comfortable using Goggle. We used the reference links from our school media center page. They had a few options and were forced to use online encyclopedias and other reference sites that required them to narrow the words they searched for. For example, on Google I would type the full question, "Which mosquitoes bite people?" On the Encyclopedia Brittanica site, they would have to understand the key words in the question and type, " Mosquito, type, bite." This spurred some good conversation in our lesson.
  • Since some questions are easier to research, allow early finishers to help their classmates. I had one question stump 4 kids before they found the answer.
  • Have a discussion at the end about what they learned about researching. 
  • Create a book of their findings. Just bind together the completed forms for kids to peruse when they have time. 
  • Bring your media specialist along for the ride. Our librarian, Mrs. Carter, helped us so much. She is also who my class will be interacting with if they go to the media center to research, so it will be great that she is on board and knows about our format. 
  • Discuss the importance of citing exact words from the source. We talked about plagiarism in the context of intellectual property and they understood the concept. I asked the class to show me their understanding on our 1-4 scale, and I saw all 3s and 4s. 
  • Think about asking your class what they learned. I got a wide variety of responses, from "I learned that researching is hard" to "I learned that you have to read the article to find the answer." It was really neat to hear! When I asked them to raise their hand if they learned anything at all, every hand went up. I think I can call that engagement in the lesson! 
Here are a couple of examples from my class:

I will end with a handy tip for making your forms into a book. Use zip ties! I just put the forms in sheet protectors, or you can laminate them, and then zip tied them loosely. I used a pen as a spacer between the pages and the zip tie. I finished by closely trimming the tie. The best part? I think I bought 100 zip ties for like a buck fifty. If you use 3 ties per booklet, that is less than a nickle per book and you can make the book as thick as you want. Added ties are fun:)

Your teacher friend,

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Yay! 1000 pageviews

I can't even breathe right now. It may not seem like a biggie, but I just hit 1000 pageviews. If you read this, follow me and help me reach my next goal- 10 followers.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Where do I get my graphics?!

GASP! I have no graphics to speak of.

After looking around I have fallen in love. Like I need a new addiction! Check this site out...I am already shopping!

Dreamlike Magic Designs

Math Benchmark Tracking

***This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By purchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links , I will receive a small commission on your purchase.***

Stopping by from Pinterest? This is my most popular pin. I would like to invite you to look around at my other posts and at the blogs I follow. You can also check out my followers. Most of them are also education bloggers and have Ah-Ma-Zing ideas and ADORBS projects on their blogs. Do it! You won't regret it:)

Hello Teacher Friends,
I have been obsessed with tracking data with my students. This is just one of many posts about our charts and graphs. Today my class took the student report generated by Achievement Series and converted it to a scatterplot. Achievement Series is the web-based computer program our district uses to administer benchmark tests. The data was from each student's math benchmark test for the beginning of the year.

I don't have my Marzano information handy, but I am pretty sure that students charting their own data can really improve student achievement. I should look up the actual percent that he sites. Here is a link to his book, The Art and Science of Teaching (affiliate). This was the first Marzano book I ever liked. It is easy to understand and a great basic explanation of the concepts in his framework.

Here is what our charts look like:
Look at 5.1! Converting measurements is always a standard we do extra work on.

I was surprised at our data for using a formula for perimeter and area. I know we did lots of work on this last year. (FYI: I looped with most of this class from 4th to 5th this year)

Yay! We rocked integers, polygons, and division!
I listed the 19 standards on the test. The sections are divided into percentages. 0-59% is red, but we used pink post-it's since I didn't have red. 60-79% is yellow. 80-100% is green. We cut regular small post-its into three smaller strips so we would be able to fit all post-its in each section. If I were going to do this again, I would use Super Sticky Post It Notes (affiliate). The regular Post It Notes seemed to fall off of the chart paper A LOT. 

Things we talked about as we prepared to plot our data:
  • knowing what we did good at and not so good at will help Mrs. Caldwell plan lessons and know what to teach us
  • knowing what we did good at and not so good will help us know when we learned something after we plot our mid-year test.
  • We are not plotting to make anyone feel bad. We are only plotting to help us know how we did
  • Sometimes people got a better score because they are better at guessing and eliminating answers. We can also practice this
  • Some of the questions on the test were about math we haven't learned yet
  • We will take the exact same test in the middle of the year and at the end as we did at the beginning
  • If you got a 30% on the assessment at the beginning of the year, it means you already knew 30% of the math we are supposed to learn in 5th grade..BEFORE we even had most of our lessons
How we got the graph done without making me pull my hair out:
Each kid was in charge of using their own report. Each report was structured from highest to lowest percentage on each standard. They looked at each standard and used the percentage of questions correct for that standard to decide what color post-it to use. They then placed the post-it on the correct color for that standard. They did this for all 19 standards.

Something I really wanted to be able to do was use this data to drive instruction. I wanted to be able to use it  to design whole group, small group, and individual lessons. What I didn't want was for the students to be able to look at the post-its and know whose data they were looking at. These charts will remain posted in the classroom.

What I ended up doing was asking all the kids to assign themselves a random four digit number. They wrote that number on each post-it they used. They also wrote their names and their 4-digit number on a post-it that I placed in a manila folder to use as a reference. If you look closely, you can see their numbers on the scatterplots. This way, I can pull individual kids if I need to!

I haven't had much time to analyze this data. I think that since we had such success tracking the data as a class, we should analyze it together too! What do you think?

What do you do to track data and drive instruction?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fluency Tracking Chart

Our school is working on implementing RTI for the first time this year. I am really bought-in to the idea, but boy, can it be a challenge to overhaul the way things have been done in previous years! We are tackling reading fluency as a screener this year. I feel like it has been a great way to get started tracking student progress in oral reading. I have attempted to do this before, but it has never really stuck.

The kiddos have been graphing their multiplication timed test scores and their WCPM (Words correct per minute) on individual graphs, so it seemed logical to add up the scores and graph our class WCPM.

Here is an example of a student's progress chart for reading fluency

Another student chart. Look at that jump!

Here is our class chart. We only have one of the fluency assessments added up for the whole class. Our  first number is wayyyyyy at the bottom in red. 

I have recently been to a workshop on L to J, by Lee Jenkins. He makes a lot of really good points about a class being a team and everyone graphing data in multiple ways. He says to use L to J charts, scatterplots, class run charts, student run charts, and item analysis graphs, to name a few.

I knew I wanted to get started charting, so this fluency chart was my interpretation of a class run chart. I am pretty sure Dr. Jenkins would view this as a very loose interpretation, but I had to take action quickly, before  I lost my momentum!

How do you track student learning?

Information on L to J:
If you are interested in reading his book, go here: Permission to Forget
This is his website: 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Craft of Teaching is having an "Amazing 100 Follower Giveaway"

I am officially getting serious about this blog. As I have been doing research about how to do this right, I have learned that following blogs and linking up is a really great way to gain followers. Followers=support and man, do I need some support in the big ol' world of blogging.

I have come across tons of excellent and talented bloggers in the last couple of days. In an attempt to link up, I am blogging about a pretty cool giveaway over at "The Craft of Teaching." Nichole has reached 100 followers. Way to go! I hope to be there someday too.

Head on over to her super blog and win all kinds of cool swag. You could get items from all kinds of TeachersPayTeachers stores, a gift card, or free posters from your classroom. The best thing is that you can browse through all of the blogs of her fellow bloggers and follow them too. Do it!

Here is the complete list of goodies:
  • $25 Giftcard of Your Choice
  • Kelly's Fall Behavior Management Pack
  • Any Item from Caitlyn's TPT Store
  • Any Item from Holly's TPT Store
  • Any TWO Items from Sara's TPT Store
  • Denise's Election I Have Who Has
  • Debbie's Bubble Gum Themed Word Family Pack
  • Tina's Picture Writing Prompts Packet
  • Any item from Tara's TPT Store
  • Any item from Megan's TPT store
  • Mercedes' Purple Polka Dot Frames and Christmas Owls
  • Angie's Superhero Reading Promotion Signs and Bookmarks
  • One Photo Print from Terra Trekking Photography

I have my eye on that photo print!

Happy browsing!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Common Core Writing with Treasures Reading Series

Do any of you ever devote your time to mentoring a student teacher? I guess the fancy way to refer to them is "intern", but 'round these parts they don't get paid, and for some reason I have the connotation of a paycheck attached to that word, so student teacher it is!

Our lovely Ms. J started her two weeks of solo teaching today. WAH! I am kicked-out of the room!

I always see the time I am away from my kiddos as a chance to catch up on some curriculum design, and as you know from my previous post, I have had plenty of opportunities to re-think the way I do things this year. At my school we have talked about Interactive Writing, Achieve 3000, RTI implementation, Oklahoma's new Common Core Standard Adoption, and have revamped how we use our professional time by adding PLCs (Professional Learning Communities). My problem has been not being able to get much done in the classroom since I have been allowing Ms. J to take the lead in most instruction in preparation of being fully in-charge.

We had another thing added to our plates at our PLC meetings on Friday. Although my plate is already as full as my Chinet on Thanksgiving, I was happy about the prospect of actually being able to tackle this one. The Director of Literacy in our district came to talk with us. Much of what we ended up discussing had to do with writing, rubrics, and how our fifth graders will be expected to perform on the State Writing test this year.
This plate is empty compared to mine! No really, my Thanksgiving plate is shamefully fuller. 

In the past, prompts have been given that the students would have to write to. What is your favorite movie?-type prompts have been common in the past. Not that I ever looked! No, no, no. I would never do that!

Now, the kiddos will be reading two or possibly three texts and then responding to them. They could be asked to write in any of the three modes: persuasive, informative, or narrative. They will also be asked to use evidence from the texts to support their writing.

The problem we run into is time. Isn't it always!?

Our district uses the reading series, Treasures, by McGraw Hill/Macmillan. Does anyone else out there use this series? Well, we use it with "fidelity" which means we are already booked-up and need a creative way to incorporate the reading/writing across texts that the kids need to be able to do, into the reading series we use.

My plan is to write prompts that ask the students to write across the two or three weekly selections that we already read each week. Some weeks there is a question included in the "Think and Compare" at the end of main selection, but often the prompt is weak and/or not included at all.

Here is my logic for using our reading series passages:
1. This way they will be using a text that is already familiar to them, which I think would be beneficial, since ideally we will be practicing and using Interactive Writing as we begin our work.
2. I won't need to pull additional articles and stories.
3. The kids already have the textbook in their desks.
4. It will deepen their understanding of the stories we already read and make our discussions richer.
5. We won't have to cram one or two more texts into an already jam-packed week.
6. We can use the students' work as a basis for reviewing the testing rubric.

The thing I really like about the "new" way is that is really asks the kids to think about what they are reading and back it up with evidence. They will be asked to support their reasons with evidence for the rest of their lives! I don't remotely feel as if I am "teaching to the test" on this, since I know the skill they are being tested on will be so valuable to them.

I ramble. I'm sorry. It always seems more simple in my mind. Maybe I need to practice organizing my writing with my kids!

So, as I get the prompts all typed up, I will post a link to them on TeachersPayTeachers.

What do you do to incorporate writing practice that meets Common Core Standards?

*Hug, Handshake, Highfive,

Friday, October 5, 2012

Battleship Update, and a contest

It has begun. My obsession with Teachers Pay Teachers. I have posted two Battleship games for sale and, as if my obsession with Battleship wasn't already unhealthy, it has grown into a monster. Anywho, go on TpT below, and get a complete and FREE version of my Mulitplication 6s-9s Battleship. Yes, I said FREE. Ditch those flash card blues. Your students will thank you.

Here goes for the contest. 
*Confession: I am not really sure how this will work. I have never ever done a contest.

Post a comment that includes your name, your blog (if ya have one), and your idea for a Battleship Game. I have a ginormous list for new games going and it keeps growing, so naturally, I need to add more ideas. Ha!

The winner will receive, via email, a FREE pdf version of your choice of the following Battleship Games:
Analogies (great practice before that pesky CogAT test)
Figurative Language
Any Unit of 4th Grade Treasures Vocabulary.

Bonus entries:
follow this blog
follow me on TpT, one additional entry
Post a linky to this blog on facebook or twitter, receive an additional entry per site.
Just tell me in your comment that you shared us out and how many entries you should get.

I will probably put all of the names in a hat and let my darling baby girl draw the winner. Not the techy-est solution, but hey, it works.

Interactive Writing/RTI/Achieve 3000/New Common Core Writing Test=mental overload

Teacher Friends,
Have you ever had one of those weeks as a professional that makes your brain seem like a mushy ball of that cornstarch stuff that you have seen the Ooey Gooey Lady holding on Pinterest?

I had one of those this week. Don't get me wrong, I love professional development;) Sometimes it takes me a little while to process and digest all of that instructional goodness. I want to do it all! Don't we all? The thing that my learning-packed week taught me was...wait for it...the kids must feel like this everyday!

I reflected on my students who need more time to process, more wait time, more practice time, and more room on their "shelf", and was totally in their shoes. If I don't get all of the InteractiveAcheiveRTI3000 philosophies cemented in my mind, complete with ideas for anchor charts and student created graphs of fluency data created by fall break, it will be okay. In fact, it will be worth the stress if it means I took my kiddos' perspectives into consideration, right?

Sidenote: I would not trade my spot on the learning side of the table with the spot of the presenter who got to talk with or faculty after 3 other major presentations! Just saying. I spoke in front of our faculty Wednesday about RTI for reading fluency, and it was tough.  Isn't it funny how speaking in front of 25 little people everyday is easier than talking for 15 minutes to grown-ups?

Do you ever struggle to put all the pieces together? How do you make it work? Is their an anchor chart you created on Pinterest I can view? lol

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Here Goes Nothing 2.0 ;-)

Okay, so here goes nothing part 2! I am humbly taking credit for being the teacher that my lovely friend, confidant, sounding board, shoulder, and amazing colleague Brandi mentioned in the "Here goes Nothing" Post. Unlike my girl Brandi, I am a blogging virgin and have been so caught up in facebook and fielding farmville requests that I haven't had time to see what a treasure trove awaits for me and my classroom out here in Blogger land!! I look forward to seeing and hearing all of the fantastic ideas that come from Brandi...She is a gem folks...I wish that every student in the world could have an educator in their life that cares for and goes the distance for each kiddo in her classroom the way that Brandi does.

   I am going to begin a journey this coming year into the amazing and challenging realm of Special Education.  I am very excited to be landing back in Oklahoma after being in Texas for the last 7 years....hmmm bringing to mind something about an itch...guess those old Okie winds were calling me back North.  Let me tell you a little about myself, and as my chickadee Brandi will tell you I always start a story with....To make a long story short...

So, to make a long story short I had a love for teaching when I was young and did not realize it. I would find myself raiding my stepmother's school boxes as a child looking for the coveted grade book and lesson planner and then forcing my siblings and several stuffed animals through numerous lessons over the years. My own education was a crazy ride through Oklahoma and New Mexico as my parents divorced when I was young. I saw two very different sides of history and a large diversity in cultures growing up, which I feel shaped my love of exploring new cultures and societies on our little planet. I know it is a cliche' and sounds very interviewish (my own word tyvm) but I truly want to foster a love of learning throughout the entire lives of my students.  

Well, faithful bloggers and readers as I am new to all of this, I will close for now.  I will try to always leave you with a quote, because all of us are lifetime learners! 

Oh and p.s. My grammar is sooooo lacking on the computer.  So I am adding a disclaimer that I will not be held accountable for my grammar mistakes when blogging. I know that my punctuation and syntax are soooo not on point when I am casually typing. Please do not let that cloud your judgement of me as an educator!!!!

Quote~ "A true friend is someone who says nice things behind your back"  

Love ya Brandi, thank you for always being a True Friend!!

Friday, June 29, 2012


I have been a little obsessed with a game format this school year and, as you can see,I got a little carried away. Katie and I started making "Battleship" games for any and every reading concept we could muster. The picture below shows a stack of games, but this is by no means all of them. We also created vocabulary games for every weekly unit of 4th and 5th grade Treasures. 
We have been storing them inside pizza boxes (more about this later). The idea is that you have anywhere from 3 to 6 teams or individuals playing and a teacher (or student leader, if the kids understand the rules well enough and are old enough to manage themselves) in charge of the grid and keys. We include a page of A-E/ 1-5 grids for whole group use, a smaller page of grids to be used in a small group, and have a page of grids on our Interwrite board that we use. The hard copies of the grids are handy when we are doing anything in small groups, or when a teacher who is borrowing these on the fly uses them. It saves us from having to email the Interwrite document. We laminated the sheets to allow kids to use markers on them.

Each team is assigned a grid and the teacher/leader secretly selects four spaces to be the "battleship" they are aiming for. Each group is attempting to sink their own battleship. The first to sink it wins. **Note: I put all of my coordinates in a line, line in actual Battleship. I think it works better this way because the kids can figure out which coordinates to guess.

The academic aspect is that each group is given the same group of cards. The picture below shows a synonyms and antonyms game. The sets of cards have word pairs on some cards like: big/small. Other cards in the deck have either the word synonyms or antonyms on them. The groups are all started simultaneously sorting and matching the cards into pairs. So, big/small is matched with antonyms. 

Here are some pictures of groups of kids matching their cards and checking in the glossary of our Treasures reading book for a definition during a vocabulary version.

My favorite part of all of this is to walk around while the kids are matching cards together and hear them saying things about the words or skill we are focusing on. I never suggested for that student to use her glossary, but you better believe that the class saw her and caught on. It is also interesting to see the kids who finish sorting go to other groups to help classmates get cards organized. They just want everyone to have the right answers so we can all move on to the second part of the game.

After all cards are matched, I take my keys, shuffle them, and start calling out one part of the pair or the other. Sometimes, on a really hard skill, I will tell them I am calling out the word, instead of the corresponding card. It depends on my mood and whether the kids ask me to throw them a bone. For the most part, they know I will usually not make it that easy. 

Groups with their cards in the air first get first guess. I try to say, "red, yellow, blue, orange....", so they know what the order was. Sometimes kids who come in late will help me spot. 

They must have the correct answer. A correct answer equals a guess at their coordinates. 

If we have time, I ask the winning group to disperse into the other groups to help man the cards. 

This game can be used for all kinds of curriculum, is good for lots of different learning styles, and can be used in a variety of student grouping formats. I could go all Bubba Gump and start saying, "Tactile learner battleship, social studies battleship, upper and lower case letter-matching battleship, partner activity battleship...", but I won't. You can though! Leave a comment with your idea. I use this in an intermediate classroom, but I am sure that it could be modified to meet Early Childhood needs. 

Pizza Box Storage: I have a surplus of pizza boxes from making some different games in the past. I like how easy they store, how easy it is to see the label with the contents, and that my boxes are plain white. Jeremiah ordered them from one of their vendors at the restaurant, so mine have no writing. You can probably pull the ole' teacher-who-needs-free-stuff-begging-technique at most pizza places and score some boxes. Don't want a box that says "Pizza Shuttle" in your classroom? Fold that sucker inside out and your problem is solved. 

One more favorite thing, and I will stop gushing. We wrote the top ten things about 4th Grade on the last day of school and Battleship was the ONLY academic thing on any of the lists. Granted, sometimes in was a write-in for number 11, but I will take that in a heartbeat. My kiddos begged to play this game all the time, and I just may have given in:)

Battleship sunk!

p.s. Katie learned the original version of this activity "Cause and Effect Battleship" at a training, but we never learned the original source. Isn't that always the way it goes with 'borrowing" ideas and then not crediting them? SOOOOO, here is my effort to say to that original battleship teacher, THANKS!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Here Goes Nothing

Brandi, here, straight out of Oklahoma.I have been reading teacher blogs for years. I love to "borrow" ideas and see what other people are inspired to do in their classrooms. I always think, "I can do that!" After talking with my good friend Hollie, we decided that putting all of our ideas out into the world would be a fun way to stay connected and use each other's ideas and creativity in our classrooms, even though we have never actually gotten to teach together since we were in college! Hollie is so smart and creative and I can't wait to get started "borrowing" her ideas! She is one of those people who make you look words up in the dictionary and will throw in a gem like "self efficacy" that you haven't used since EIPT 3003! Her grammar will definitely be better than mine as we move into this little experiment, so forgive my errors, reader. Our grand plan is to post ideas or things we would like to do in the classroom as they come to us. We hope to keep the pictures and the printable copies of the lessons available. Then, ones friend will post a lesson, connection, or idea that would work in their classroom. I teach intermediate grades and until recently, so did Hollie. She has realized a passion for early childhood that we all saw in her at the beginning. She also has amazing ideas for special education. Buckle up, folks! Okie teachers are on the Internet. You are going to love my teacher friend. She is a hoot and I bet you are too:)