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Friday, November 30, 2012

Hands Down (OR no more hands raised)

A few days ago I receive a notice of a new required practice from my university. The mandate:

No more raising hands in class. 

It is one of the the things that will be on our observations from this point forward. I was a little upset with my last observation. I did not get marked off but I am a perfectionist. The comments irritated me. 

I was watched on who I called upon. male vs. female, race, and academic ability. I was a little upset that I was seen as biased. I called on more females than males and mostly Hispanic students. I need to diversify who I call on more I was told. 

So why does this upset me? Well lets look at the demographics of the class. 24 students. 22 are Hispanic, 1 Asian, and 1 Caucasian. There are 19 females and 5 males. Hmmmm.... I wonder why I called on mostly female Hispanic students who had a basic grasp of the English language? Could it be cuz that is pretty much the only person in the classroom? 

I will digress on this issue. So I wasn't perfect... I think I can live with it. .... or maybe not. It has been a few weeks and its still getting on my nerves. I prefer constructive criticism that is actually helpful. For example, if you had divide the class into groups before working on the timeline it wouldn't have taken an hour but the 20 minutes you planned. See... that one I like!

So what do we do about this hands down movement??

I was given a few different options to use but I would love to hear your thoughts as well. Do you have a favorite technique? Do your students still raise their hands? Here are some of the options I have received:

Shoulder Buddies
Did you know there is a toy called Shoulder Buddies??? Check this out! They are kinda cute but totally not the picture I was trying to google for. =) They come in all kinds of different colors and designs. Even holiday ones. My mind is wondering how I can use these guys!
Anyways... shoulder or elbow or knee buddies (whatever you choose to call it)... its the pair and share technique. Whenever you ask a question, you give think time and then they share with a partner. Afterwards, call on random people to share what their partner stated. This ensures they are listening and forming an answer together!

The Silent Thumb
Give think time after asking a question. If a student has an answer, they silently hold a thumb up under their chin. Then you can call on someone once at least 95% of the students have a thumb up. 

Choral Answers
Ask the question, give think time (15 seconds to one minute depending upon the question) and then say a code word (students should be given this first. Use of the same code word all year long makes this easiest) and all students respond together. If not everyone responds, ask the class to do it again!

Draw Straws
Well sticks actually. Place a students name on each stick. This works really well in conjunction with the silent thumb and then simply draw a name. NOTE: this helps intern and student teachers who may not know the names of your students and is left with the old raising the hand trick or asking for the little guy in blue... no not you the other one to answer the question. 

Wallet Answers
Okay... not actually in the letter from my university but I love this and it would be a perfect alternative!! My university actually suggests writing answers on a personal whiteboard or tablet (ha! like all of our students have their own personal tablets!) and then on the count of 3 or using the code word... show your answers. 

Sign Language
Once again.... that code word is important. Once you say it have the student show you 1, 2, or 3 fingers for choosing a multiple choice answer or using another sign to demonstrate their answer. For example, many teachers who use whole brain teaching use signs to help students memorize vocabulary. You can give a definition of the word and they can give the corresponding sign. 

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

A new artist & FREE Clip art

One of the many things that I love about working with Erika over at Honey Bunch Blog Designs is meeting so many great new people. One person I recently met and became friends with is Dina over at Peachi Designs.

Dina is such a sweetheart. When she found out I was a teacher, she asked "what do teachers need?" My response, high-quality clip art at a low price. AND GUESS WHAT?? Dina listened! She is starting a whole line of clip art and other items for teachers!

Isn't this cute?? 
These little guys are from a bigger set of cute Christmas Clip art. We call my youngest son "bear" for a variety of reasons. Each day he seems to grow more into the name. When I saw these, it instantly reminded me of him.

Guess what??
You can get these guys for free right now at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Just click on their cuteness and it will take you there!

She also sent me her hall passes. This was her first teacher-made product that she sells on Etsy. And yeppers.... it is current available in my TpT store for free! Click on it for your copy. 

Dina is also the one we use for more realistic looking avatars. Kind of like a Melonheadz but not as cartoony. You can see her avatars all over the place and she is currently working on one of me. Perhaps my Melonheadz Me and my Avatar Me should pose one day for a photo! =) 

When you get a moment, head on over and check out her brand new website!! She also sells on etsy and has a facebook page.  Drop her a note and let her know what else teachers need. =) 

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

UGH! & My new favorite app

So nothing I had planned to happen over the holiday break occurred. If you have been following me for awhile you know that my family lost everything in a bankruptcy and we moved in with my aunt and uncle. LOVE THEM!

It was going great... until I got the super cold (cold, strep, sinus, & ear infection combined) and my uncle got food poisoning. Did you know food poisoning can be contagious? Well it is! BOOO!

So anyways... we drew a line down the middle of the house. I stayed on one side and he on the other. The kids and our spouses crossed the line. They are MEAN!! They carried the germs back and forth so once I started to get over my super cold, I got food poisoning (Ecoli) instead and yep.. my uncle got my cold.

Oh... and do did everyone else in my house. I am starting to feel better. So far today I have not thrown up, no one has thrown up on me (double bonus!), and I can talk.

Which brings me to my most favoritiest (yep I am making up words now)  app!

I use this one quite a bit for tutoring. It can do soooo many things. I can type and draw on it. I can change colors, graphic, add pictures, add pages, and/or record what I am doing to play back later.

It also works GREAT when you can't talk! Have you seen these types of collages before?


This was me with my ipad and my educreations app. I would write down 1 instruction per page and just slide the page over. I even had a page that said "HEY! (page 1) You are ignoring me! (page 2) Stop watching TV and READ!" (page 3). 

HA! I bet it would have been funny if I wasn't so sick!

I am not well yet but feeling well enough to get some things done. First up... blog designs. Sorry everyone nothing got done except my final. 3 classes left and still maintaining that 4.0! Then some blog posts (including some freebies!) as I have been neglecting you and then perhaps some of those new products I have been promising. 

Oh... and I am going to a 1-day professional development course in January in Arizona. Anyone wanna come with me?? 

Hope you all had a blessed and sick-free holiday!!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's time for a sale!!

I think the word "sale" has to be one of my top 10 favorite words or at least my family would say it is. So I couldn't pass up the opportunity to thank all of you for your love and support!

Teacher's Notebook is having a sale on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday! I think most stores are set at 32.5% off as it was recommended that prices be marked at 25% off. Still trying to figure out how this all works but anyways... everything is on sale!


In case you missed the weekend sales, Teachers Pay Teachers is offering an additional 10% off on all items purchased on Monday and Tuesday next week. I have set my prices to 20% off which makes a total of 28% off! Don't forget to promo code cuz even those stores who aren't throwing a sale still get the minimum 10% off!

My finals are all turned in but I have not had a lot of time to work on new things for all of you. I will try and get somethings up this weekend but not promises. If I do get them up and ready, I will not only add them to the sale, I will give away 3 copies of each item I complete.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

I'm Tired!

My niece is in high school. She brought home a "baby alive doll" this weekend as part of a homework assignment. It cries. It giggles. It has to be held and rocked and feed and bathed. You have to change its diaper. Her room is next to ours. Guess what I heard every hour on the hour last night? A baby crying! My niece swears she will never have kids now. LOL!

Sorry I have been MIA this past week. Life has been kicking my booty lately. I thought about sharing with you all the details of what is happening around here but I don't want to sound like I am whining. Despite the challenges, I am truly happy and blessed.

As we head into the Thanksgiving season, I realize that what matters most in life are not the material things but the people you surround yourself with. My family life as a child is not a pretty story to share at bedtime but rather something that more resembles a nightmare. My one wish, my one dream my entire life has been to have a family who loves me and whom I love.

I wasn't sure it would ever be possible yet here I sit without a single penny to my name and no belongings with my husband and children and a puppy in heat in the home of my aunt and I feel truly content. It is interesting combing households and has been a learning experience. We are still settling into a routine and trying to figure out how to get everything done.

On a side note... can you believe this?? She has panties and a liner! Which is gross and ya have to change. My sons are learning so much about women! The call these her "piggy pants."

I am around but the juggling of schedules and trying to pick up the pieces and start again has dragged me away from all of you. I am hoping that in another week I will be back to me and here to share with you all the wonders of my grad school experiences.

This week I have to submit my final by Tuesday. My instructor has already seen a major piece of it and it has been approved so I have no worries as I walk into this last assignment with a 98.6%!! What an accomplishment with all that has occurred!

Can you believe my next class actually starts ON Thanksgiving Day? It's true!! But at least they are giving me a break for Christmas. Who knows... maybe I can complete some of my to-do list then. Next class is Social Studies so we will be changing things up around here as I am no longer focusing on literacy.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Vocabulary Scoot Boogie!

My current course (in case none of ya can tell) is all about literacy in the classroom. I have been focusing on this a lot and only have 2 weeks until the class is done! I have learned some amazing new things and wanted to share another one of my favorites with all of you.

I call it... 
The Vocabulary Scoot Boogie!

I added the "Boogie" part for Halloween.

According to my 5th graders... 
the Boogie Monster attacks those who
fail vocabulary tests. 

You have been warned!

My mentor calls it... 
Vocabulary Rotations

don't tell her I changed her title!

I like mine better! =P

Anyways....  It is another type of fun game-ish activity. 

You will need: Half-size anchor chart paper, a sharpie, and each group of kids will need a package of colored pencils or markers. 

I learned how to make fancy-schmancy picture collages!!
You need 1 piece of paper per vocabulary word. Then with a sharpie right the word in the middle of the page. Break up your students into groups - you will need 1 group for every vocabulary word and 1 activity for each group. 

When I helped with this activity... we had 9 vocabulary words so 9 groups and 9 activities. Each activity or rotation is 2 minutes long. Set the timer... it helps. 

~~ TIP ~~
This teacher has a timer that is magnetic so it sticks to the whiteboard!
Genius and so easy to use. 
No more losing the timer!

Each group was given 1 piece of paper and students were required to stand during this activity and only talk to those in their group regarding the topic. Since it was a short time limit, they had to work quickly to complete the task. 

Why stand? So students were not sitting at other students desk and disturbing others personal space. I would have never thought of that!

Rotations: Each activity goes along with the word in the center of the page. You can switch them out to what you are focusing on but here are the 9 rotations we used. 

Rotation 1: Write the definition
Rotation 2: Use the word in a 7-up Sentence
Rotation 3: Draw a picture
Rotation 4: Spelling Pyramid
Rotation 5: Synonyms
Rotation 6: Antonyms
Rotation 7: Part of Speech
Rotation 8: Syllabication
Rotation 9: Presentation

There are 3 things that are ALWAYS done. Students always write a definition, draw a picture, and present the word. 

Presentation: After each group has traveled around the room to the various words, the last group has to present it to the class. This is how the vocabulary words are introduced each week. The last group has to determine if what the other groups did was correct. 

If you look at the pictures above... you can see a big red x over a word. This is where the students were trying to come up with synonyms for revolutionary. They struggled. The answers were hilarious and the presenting group said that their answers were wrong but they couldn't come up with anything better. 

Soooooo.... the computer was turned on and together the students used an online thesaurus to try and correct it.  During the assignment, they had access to a physical dictionary and thesaurus but they were not very helpful. 

There is a winner. The group who traveled and answered all the questions correct AND were the quietest AND stayed on task... won a piece of candy. This was hard for me... I would change it up. 

I would assign each group a color to work in so I could see who's work was whose at a glance and not have to continually ask. I would also make sure groups were more evenly matched in academic abilities. 

What are your favorite activities for teaching vocabulary? 

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Count Down to the Election!

I have shared a lot of my favorite resources but I wanted to share a few more of my favorites as tomorrow is the big day. I am taking a poll in my classroom, we are voting to decide if we will have a new president or retain our current one. How would your students vote?

I love this site! A homeschool friend of mine sent it to me. Everything is free and the students will create a lapbook all about the election. I love this idea and could pair it with my interactive notebook pages easily!

I really like how this teacher remembered to include a voter registration card and taught her students how to register to vote! I need to remember this for the next presidential election!!

This is one of my favorite sites. In fact, I asked my students to use this site to help them find the answers to the INS pages in my Election Packet. This site has a lot of other great information as well.

Who does not love BrainPOP? I may have a BrainPOP addiction IF that is at all possible!

Fact Monster is also a favorite place for information! This one has great information on the candidates so you can compare and contrast and/or help your students make an informed decision about who they want to vote for!

And as always... Ben has some information to share with us as well.  Poor Ben he has always been an afterthought for me. For some reason, he just does not appeal to me.

What are your favorite sites for this year's election?

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

I have a surprise!

So... come closer. Get off of google reader and head on over! 


Whatcha think??

Don't ya just love the colors? 

And the glitter? 
You know you have to love the glitter right? 

I triple heart my new blog design! It is perfect for me!

Did you notice my new drop-down menu? 
It makes my blog look so much cleaner and easier to navigate!

Do you remember my first design? 
The one I created. Maybe we should leave that part a secret. 

The Second? 
Erika did such a good job but then I thought it had to much green.
Still love lime green just wanted more red.

The tweaking? 
So I got more red and some swirlies and some other tweakness. 
Poor Erika! She never had so much trouble with a client.

And finally... perfection!
My whole philosophy of "lets not make it too girly" went out the window. 

The idea was first sparked by my dear sweet friend Nikki at Melonheadz Ilustrating. She asked
for glitter on her blog which I thought was the most brilliant request ever. I love glitter.

A graduation cap for graduate school and thinking.
A book for wondering and besides I LOVE books.
A heart for teaching. 

A football for Da' Bears and a helmet for my boys. 
We are a football loving family.

A butterfly for change and growth... 
A change of career, starting over, and growing children. 

And a firework (okay its a pom-pom but pretend!)
 for hubby and I. There is a long story perhaps I will share it another time.

Grays and black. Red and White. 
Classic, Elegant, Inviting, and Fun. 
With glitter all over!

Its a little bit of everything all rolled into one. 
Kinda like me!

See... Perfection!

Thanks to my amazing friend and business partner, Erika, for all of your hard work!
Three times over (giggles!)


Saturday, November 3, 2012

November Currently

I have been slacking off on my currentlys the last few months but with my new commitment to posting and being involved in the blogging community... I put this on my to do list. And look... it's done!!

I tried to due it on the first but I was being impatient. Farley was not up at 6 am and ready to go. I am sure SHE was sleeping like I should have been but we are now all sleeping in the same room. 2 adults, 3 kids, and a puppy. It is tight but it works except when someone kicks people in the head while they are asleep.

We tried to move out to our own house but my aunt wouldn't let me. She said we need to stay financially now and she is right. Hubby was laid off on Monday to add to the mess of everything. So... now neither of us are working. Hence why I need a job or a lottery ticket. Either will do but I prefer the lottery ticket.

Funny picture from last week...

My teenager caught "packing" legos! Notice how he is also "packing" books. The boys have waaaay too many legos and they claim they need more! Books I understand but legos? Really?

So now it's your turn! Head over to Oh Boy Fourth Grade to meet Farley and hook up to the par-tay!


Friday, November 2, 2012

Teacher's Mailbox

Do you remember the days when mailboxes used to be in front of the house?

As a kid, we always ended up hanging out with our friends at the mailbox. Not because we were waiting for the mail but it is just where we ended up. They were typically found at the end of a driveway and so we naturally stopped there waiting for our friends to arrive. When you sent out a letter, you raised the little red flag on the side.

This is the inspiration for my teacher's mailbox. I wanted something that would look adorable, hide what was inside so that it could remain confidential but yet catch my attention when needed.

You can pick up a mailbox for about $15 at Home Depot. This is so on my list of craft ideas for next summer but I couldn't wait to share this idea! My rule will be once it goes in the mailbox it does not come out. This means no more losing money, transportation notes, or other stuff from home anymore.


Check out some of these cutesy ideas I found for decorating your mailbox.

I tried to find the one that first sparked this idea but could not. I found this beautiful mailbox while searching for wedding ideas years ago. It was covered in black and white photos of all of their favorite things and ideas.

I really like the monster but I think I am going to create something closer to the first one. What do you think?

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hurricane Sandy - Teachers helping Teachers

I know that a lot of us have been thinking about those who were affected by Hurricane Sandy and have been praying and hoping that everyone was safe and doing well. The fact is that now we know that everyone is safe, it is time to start cleaning up.

I was so impressed by the open hearts of fellow teachers and I am so excited that I can share this information with you. A relief fund has been set up to help schools affected by the hurricane. If you can help, they would certainly appreciate.

For my part, I have opened up my stores to those affected. It is unfortunately all that I can do at this time. I hope you can join me in this cause or at the very least, pass this information along.