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.