Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Tuesday Tech Tidbit

This weekend I was working on some lesson plans for the first couple of weeks of school.  In doing so, I reviewed what I had done last year and the year prior.  The good thing about going back over what you've done before is that it helps you remember some of your favorite things.  One that I'm excited to share with you is MangaHigh.  I love MangaHigh because the kids love it and this makes it a worthwhile resources, one that I know my students will use.

You can use MangaHigh two ways.  The first way, Prodigi, is almost like a minilesson.  Prodigi lessons are sorted by curriculum standard.  Choose the curriculum standard and then you have the option of going through a short lesson "teach me" or jumping in to answering questions.  There are 10 questions for each "lesson" that get progressively more difficult.

The second way to use MangaHigh is games....and these are fun games!  My favorite is Ice Ice Maybe.  It's an estimation game that uses all four operations.  Not only does it require players to estimate, but it requires them to do it quickly (the purpose of an estimate!).

And, if you didn't think that was awesome enough, you can challenge your kids to meet certain goals on MangaHigh.  And if that wasn't awesome enough either, schools can challenge one another.  These Fai-To's (the challenges) last for 5 days and a school wins a round by earning the most medals each day.  Last year there was a U.S. vs U.K. Fai-To (sadly, the U.K. won, but I'm hoping we get the chance to redeem ourselves this year!) which the kids really had a lot of fun with!

The best part is that MangaHigh is FREE!  You read that correctly...it's FREE!  And, the folks at MangaHigh will help you get your classes set up...you just need to send them an Excel spreadsheet.  (It's very easy to do yourself...but they'll help, too!)

What are you waiting for?  Go play!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Back to School Sale at TpT!

Check it out and prepare your wishlist!

I won't bore you with anything else....go to TpT and start shopping (that's more fun anyway!).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Getting ready...

Today I worked on my bulletin board, knowing that getting that out of the way would give me a sense of accomplishment and help me feel like I was getting somewhere.  I ordered the fabric online and when I took it out and unfolded, I realized that my work was not going to go as easily as I had imagined.  To simply stretch the length of the fabric and staple it up would mean that the chevron stripes would be going vertically and that wasn't what I wanted.  So, I had to cut the fabric into three sections and match the pattern.  Easy for a math teacher, right?  NOT!  Fabric has a little give to it, and any little stretch one way affected how the pattern matched somewhere else.  

Then I used silver deco mesh to create a border.  I wanted grey burlap but couldn't find that, so I settled for the silver mesh.  It was a little lighter than I wanted, but looked good considering I had spent hours trying to find the grey burlap.  

I printed the letters and had my kids cut them out.  They look better than stock letters and give the board a more personalized look.  I think it's important for kids to know that we don't have to be great at everything and the important thing is for them to work hard at whatever they do.  So I used a Kevin Durant quote, "Hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard."

What are you doing for your bulletin board this year?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday Made It - eJail

I can't take credit for this idea...it came from Pinterest.  I did, however, tweak the original.  The original pin used a clear paint can that you can get a The Container Store.  When I went to the store and looked at the paint cans, I decided I didn't want to deal with trying to get the lid off (they give you a little washer to pry it off, but I just knew that the little washer had the potential of getting lost...and then what?).  So, I looked at all the other fun stuff that could be used instead of the paint can.  There were about 4 different ones that I thought would work, but in the end, I went with this "handy box" because it was inexpensive, I could easily open it, the handle folds flat so it's stackable, and the handle makes it easily portable.

My original intent was to use electrical tape for the stripes but the only electrical tape my husband could find in the garage was old.  So my son suggested that I use his hockey tape.  I was a little skeptical at first, thinking that it would be too wide, but it actually worked perfectly.  And now I get to say that I found something useful for hockey tape!

The letters were cut from self-adhesive vinyl that I cut with my Cricut.  We debated on the title.  Because kids bring more than phones to school, I didn't want to exclude the possibility of having to take up an mp3 player or other type of device (the box isn't big enough for a tablet, but I thought something that big was a little too much).  Ultimately, the family decided that e-Jail worked best.

I can't wait to see the kids' reactions!  What are you making for your classroom?

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Little Inspiration from Forest....Forest Gump

Today my family and I ventured to Galveston, TX to have lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  Everyone in the family LOVES shrimp (ok, my daughter tolerates shrimp), we love the movie, and my husband had the day off, so we hit the road.  This really isn't meant to be a review of the restaurant, so I'll keep this part of my ramblings brief.  While they had outside seating available, we chose to sit inside (the thermometer in the car had read 100 on the way down!)  We sat right at a window, though, so we had a lovely view of the Gulf of Mexico.  The food was delish!  As you would expect, there was shrimp prepared just about every imaginable way.  Our waitress, Mihaela, was a delightful young lady from Moldova (geography quiz...Where is Moldova?) who was full of personality.  She came and played movie trivia with us, and, I must say, we were amazing!

Okay...I'll get to the point!  The restaurant sits on the second story and the 1st story is occupied by a gift shop and the bar area.  We found lots of treasures in the gift shop.  My hubby scored a t-shirt that says, "Stupid is as stupid does!"  My daughter found one that says, "Run, Forest, Run"...(she runs cross-country and track).  And my son's t-shirt..."My mama says I'm special!"  Maybe the best find, though, was a license plate...

My husband thought this would be a great bathroom pass.  I agreed.  I didn't buy the license plate, though.  They had stickers (about 3 in by 6 in), which were cheaper and left open more possibilities.  I bought those...for me and my friends.  I did consider buying the license plate and hanging it from a chain so that it would become somewhat of a placard as the kids walked down the hall.  But then I thought, it might become a badge of honor and the kids might ask to use the restroom even when they don't need to just so they could wear it.  (Yes, my darling kids sometimes find excuses to get out of math class.  The nerve!)  Now, who would've thought that my trip to Galveston would have netted me new bathroom passes!

What new goodies have you found for your classroom this year?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

You know you're a teacher when...

You know you're a teacher when your willing to spend time, money, and energy laminating and cutting to get ready for back to school.

Well that's me!  I have literally spent hours laminating and cutting games and task cards over the last two days.  At one point, I was sitting next to the laminator, feeding sheets in and cutting while waiting for the sheet to go through.  The picture doesn't do the stack justice.  And, I'm still not done.

What is it about laminating?  Maybe it's that I typically see 150 students each day and by the end of the day the cards never look as good after being handled by all those hands.  Is it just my kids?  Mine can't keep from folding them in half, or better yet, trying to turn them into origami.  Some think they would look better with holes poked in them, while others think they should take it upon themselves to decorate them with whatever art supplies they have at their disposal.  Seriously, does anyone else have this problem?

So I laminate.  Because it looks pretty.  Because it'll ensure that I can use the resource more than once.  Because I'm a teacher, and that's what teachers do!

Monday, August 5, 2013

And so it begins...

I spent 6+ hours working in my classroom today....and there's still a lot to do.  Our building got new carpeting over the summer so absolutely almost everything had to be boxed (it felt like everything!).  I was able to get everything out of the boxes and some of it put away.  To some of you, this may not seem like the feat that it really is.  You see, you could really call my classroom Staples, OfficeMax, OfficeDepot, or whatever office supply store you so choose.  As I was unpacking I was thinking that my class is really the Noah's Ark of classrooms, but then I realized, that's not true...I have more than two of everything!

In my unpacking, I came across these gems that I made last year.  (The one with the glare says "guys".)  These are my hall passes that I made from wooden door hangers I found at Hobby Lobby.  A little paint, scrapbook paper, and Mod Podge...easy!

I'm so glad they survived a) last year's 6th graders, and b) being packed in a box all summer.  On the back (the picture didn't turn out, darn!), I had a cute little tag that said, "Hurry back, you are missing something important!"  They made me smile because they were so fun to make and I loved the way they turned out.  It's the little things, right?

As the clock struck 3:00 (time had flown and I hadn't even stopped for lunch!), I realized that I needed to be going, but then was struck with the panic that was my messy room.  And, it was about that time that I realized I hadn't seen my SmartBoard pens and eraser.  I checked, for the 100th time, and yes, all the boxes were empty.  I scanned the room looking for where they could be to no avail.  Alas, I sit here now, the OCD in me in full swing, wondering where on Earth that Ziploc bag is.  I don't know about you, but something like this bugs me to the point that I almost can't do anything else until the issue is resolved.  I guess you know what this means...I'll be at the school tomorrow morning searching!  (I have to be there tomorrow afternoon to do some planning anyway!)

Until next time,

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Who doesn't love a makeover?

If you didn't notice, I've done a blog makeover!  Who doesn't love a makeover?  Have you ever looked forward to something and it didn't turn out quite how you expected (think of all those Pinterest ideas that didn't look quite like the original pin!)?  Well this is definitely NOT one of those times!  The new look exceeded what I envisioned and I couldn't be happier!

I'm also working on making over my classroom.  Not necessarily my classroom decor (although I am making a few changes), but the "culture" of my classroom.  If you've been here lately, you know that I've participated in the "Minds on Mathematics" book study.  The book, and the discussions the other great teachers and I have had, have really made me think about how I've approached teaching in my classroom and why there is need for a makeover.

First, the classroom and lessons, need to be more student centered.  I feel like I do a pretty good job of this at the beginning of the year and then somewhere around November/December I get tired and slip into bad old habits.  The work of the classroom, i.e. the learning, needs to belong to the students, and the only way for that to happen is for the students to do the "work".  A teenager doesn't learn to drive a car by watching videos or someone else do it; they have to do it themselves.

With this in mind, I sat down the other day to pencil out some plans for the first week of school.  On the first day, we see all of our students, but we have some classes for a bit longer than others.  We don't really do "much" on the 1st day except some introductions.  On the second day, I usually go over my expectations and some procedural "stuff".  I have a letter that goes home to the parents welcoming them to my classroom and giving them information about how to contact me.

As I thought about this second day, I had an epiphany.  Why was I going over the letter with the students?  It was the students who needed the information so wouldn't it be better if they read the letter themselves?  So with the math workshop format in mind, the welcome letter, will become the work time for the second day of the school  During this work time, students will read through the letter with their groups and highlight "important" information.  Our "closing" will be going over any questions that the students have.  By doing this, I'm promoting collaboration (an important 21st century skill!), the students learning about our workshop format from the beginning, and I'm sending the students the message that they are responsible their learning.  

I'm really excited about so many things!  Stay tuned for my next classroom makeover blog-i-sode!