Thursday, May 29, 2014

Positive Thinking Thursday {5-29-14}

It's Thursday which means it's time to share some positive thoughts!  I hope you will join me in spreading positivity today by linking up to share your own positive thought for Positive Thinking Thursday.
Today's positive thought is dedicated to my good friend, Heather, and is also for all you "nerds" out there. You know who you are! Ever since I met Heather, I have learned to embrace my inner nerd -- that passion for something that others don't always seem to understand.  What are you nerdy about?
Being a Nerd   Just Means  You're Passionate  About Something
Neon Nerd Print - Why Must You Say Nerd Like it's a Bad Thing - Rainbow Multicolor Typography Modern Print. $15.00, via Etsy.
Haha yeah so quite sipping on your haterade!

Nerd quirks
I sometimes feel like this when I'm really being nerdy:

Have a great Thursday!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Peek at My Week {5-25-14}

Happy Memorial Day weekend!  Memorial Day weekend seems to be the official kickoff to summer.  I can't wait!!  Let's take a peek at my upcoming week....
We still have three weeks of school left (but who's counting???)  The kids are pretty much "done" (if you know what I mean), so this is the time when I really have to pack the plans full of good stuff to keep 'em moving.

We are finishing up our novel study of Frindle, by Andrew Clements.  
I bought a class set of these books from Scholastic awhile back when they were $1 each.  (LOVE those deals!!)  This is a great end-of-the-year read because the characters in this book are in the 5th grade, which my students are getting ready for.  Nick is quite the character and my students can relate to him.  It's so funny to listen to their discussions about the choices he makes and some of the things he tries to pull on his teacher, Mrs. Granger.

In writing, we will be writing letters to next year's 4th graders.  We are working on opinion writing, so these letters will be my students' advice on how to prepare to be a 4th grader.  It's always so interesting to read what they think!

On Wednesday, we have our class list meeting.  This is where we sit with the teachers of our incoming students and tentatively choose a class.  The teachers talk about the strengths and areas of concern for each class, then we choose a class that we feel a connection with.  Honestly, there is so much growth and change that happens during the summer between 3rd and 4th grades that many of the concerns disappear and we start fresh in the fall.

On Thursday, we will be celebrating Wisconsin's birthday!  We have been working on a month-long research project called "Come Visit Wisconsin" and will finish up on Tuesday.  So on Thursday, we throw a birthday party of Wisconsin and sample all kinds of Wisconsin foods -- cheese curds, cranberries, Sprechter root beer, bratwurst.  The kids love it!!
That's it for this week!  I wish you a wonderful Memorial Day!  Please take a moment to remember those that gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our wonderful country.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Positive Thinking Thursday {5-22-14}

Ready for Positive Thinking Thursday?
Most of us are winding down our year, getting ready for that sacred time called 'summer.'  If your students are anything like mine, each day is a fight to the finish.  It doesn't help that the weather has finally warmed up here in Wisconsin and we are having summer-like temps.  We have about 16-ish days left and lots to still do!

So in honor of us all (students + teachers) seeing the finish line in sight, I present this week's positive thought...
Finish strong!
That's right, people.  There is still lots of time left to reach those goals!  Don't give up now!  Keep going! You've got this!!

Since it's been a few weeks since I've included a video, I'd like to bring you an end of the year message from one of my favorite motivational speakers -- Kid President!  

Don't forget -- it's never too late to get that dream!! :)
Before I go, I'm curious...should this Positive Thinking Thursday linky continue through the summer? It could be an easy post for all of us and a way to keep in touch....or maybe not.  :) What do you think?  Leave me a comment with your opinion.  Thanks!!

Wishing you a wonderful day!!

Monday, May 19, 2014

E-Portfolios -- Advice Needed

HELP blogging friends!!

 Krista Walden/Creative Clips

Next year, our district is heading toward Standards Based Grading (SBG).  I am excited for this because I feel it will really give us a chance to focus in on what the kiddos know and what they don't know.

Here's where I get a little worried....

SBG can be a lot of (paper) work.

I am looking for a way to help build student ownership for this process and have them maintain their own learning portfolios, a place where they can show evidence of their learning and proficiency of the standards.

I have several paper systems that I could use, but I would really like to try something online because we will also become a 1:1 classroom.

This is where you come in....

Do you have an online e-portfolio system that you currently use and could share your thoughts with me? I have looked at options like Evernote and LiveBinder, but I'm just not sure.  Ideally, I would like something that can handle evidence for each standard, but also have the capability for reflection and sharing of the information with parents.  Student ownership is a must!

Am I looking for too much?  Does such a system exist?
Krista Walden/Creative Clips
I would appreciate any insights you could share.  Thanks friends!!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Peek at My Week {5-18-14}

It's Sunday, which means it's time for another Peek at My Week, my weekly linky party where you can share your plans for the upcoming week.
Many of us are winding down our year to the final days.  I still have four weeks left, but I'm sure they will fly by.  

Speaking of flying....I can tell that summer is about to arrive because I have begun my annual war with the robins over where they choose to build their nests.  We had a frost warning on Friday night and when I brought my plants inside, I saw this...
The crazy thing is that I will move this nest, then they will build another one right away.  This little battle goes on for about three weeks.  If I let the nest stay, the plant dies.  If I move the nest, the robins get mad and sit on my deck rail and chirp all day long, looking for their nest.  I can't win.

My plans for this week include finishing up what was not finished last week. As it turned out, I was out sick on Monday and then again on Thursday with the flu.  Yes, the flu...twice in one week.  Ick!  I'm hoping this week is better.
I always feel guilty taking a sick's always harder to be out....
As it is the end of the year, we are doing lots of projects that are taking lots of time.  In writing, I am having my students compose their book reviews on the Chromebooks.  This is the first time I am trying drafting this way, instead of writing it out first then typing it.  Next year, we will take the Smarter Balance test, which will require students to compose on the computer.  I figure it's better to get them used to this now, rather than wait until the big test.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Positive Thinking Thursday {5-15-14}

Are you ready to get your happy thoughts on?
This is the place to link up and share your positive thinking for Positive Thinking Thursday.  Thank you to everyone who participates or visits every week.  I really do appreciate it!

This is a crazy time of year for everyone.  It's also the time when our stress levels are high and even though we are trying to do everything we can, we sometimes feel like we are not doing enough.

It's too easy to compare ourselves to others and feel inadequate.

Stop that.

You are doing the best you can.

Take each day as it comes and work to try to be a little bit smarter, happier, healthier, whatever, than you were yesterday.

This is progress.

Find yourself in the beauty of who you are, You'll be shocked at how awesome you are.

Have a wonderful Thursday!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

EdCamp - PD By Teachers, For Teachers

I've been looking forward to sharing this "tried it" for Tried it Tuesday with Holly from Fourth Grade Flipper for a long time!

Maybe you've heard of EdCamps and maybe you haven't yet.  One thing is for sure, EdCamps are an up and coming professional development experience for educators that are sweeping the world.

This past Saturday, I had the lucky opportunity to attend EdCamp Milwaukee (EdCampMKE) and my experience was unforgettable.
I think I first found out about EdCamps from Krissy Venosdale @Venspired from this blog post.  If you want to know more about them, I seriously suggest you take a few minutes to visit her site. She is amazing!

So what is an EdCamp?

  • EdCamps are usually held on Saturdays during the school year. During the summer, it's all over the place.
  • They are FREE!  (But they usually limit the number of participants so be sure to get a ticket.)
  • EdCamps are considered an "unconference" because you don't know the schedule of "classes" until that morning.
  • To set the "class" schedule, EdCamp organizers call on participants to offer to "host" a session on a topic of their interest.  There are no "sages on the stage" or lecturing allowed.  It is truly collaborative.
  • Session topics can seriously be about anything educational.  On Saturday, there were sessions that ranged from standards based grading to instituting a 1:1 program to how to organize your classroom for optimal learning.  To see our schedule topics click here.  There is surely something for everyone!
  • When the session begins, anyone interested in that topic meets in the designated room and conversations begin.  One person may serve as leader, but usually it's just everyone contributing ideas and insights.
  • If you don't like the topic or it's no longer meeting your needs, you can just leave the session and find a different one.  No one is offended or hurt.

Here are some of my pictures from my day at EdCamp:
Here I am with my friend Heather, who I brought along for the day.
Technology is everywhere!  
Getting ready to fill the board with sessions.
When someone wants to offer a session, the write it on a post-it, briefly share their idea with the crowd, then it gets put up on this grid. 
 (Thankfully, someone was sitting right there to put this all into an online document so we could read it.)
Here's Heather pitching our session on Teacherpreneurs.  It was a hit!! About 25 people attended.
We took a break to go outside at lunch.  It was a beautiful day.

Interested in attending an EdCamp?  You can check out this wiki to see when there is one near you.

If you'd like to see the Twitter feed from the day, you can check out #EdCampMKE.

Even though I gave up a Saturday to sit inside for EdCamp, I would do it again in a heartbeat.  I met so many wonderful educators, learned so much, and grew as a teacher in ways I had not expected!

What about you?  Have you tried out an EdCamp yet?  If not, don't wait!  Find one near you today.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Peek at My Week {5/10/14}

Welcome to this week's edition of A Peek at My Week, my weekly linky party where we all gather to share what we've got going on both inside and outside our classrooms this week.
Before I jump into this upcoming week, I wanted to share that I just had the most amazing Saturday.  I spent the day with 250 other teachers at #EdCampMKE, an "unconference" in the Milwaukee area.  Now, you may be asking....what is an EdCamp and why would I give up a beautiful Saturday to participate?  EdCamps are the newest wave in teacher PD and they are AMAZING!  So amazing that I happily gave up a beautiful Saturday to spend it inside.  I am going to process everything and blog about it on Tuesday so please check back...there is so much I want to share!

This week at school, we are finishing up our Mythology Museums.  The kids were super excited for this project and I learned lots of new things today at EdCamp that I want to try to sneak in to make this project even better.  I was hoping we could finish last week, but we had a MAJOR glitch with our math MAP testing that totally threw my schedule for a loop and got us off track.

In writing, we are working on opinion writing and will write book reviews.  I found this fun lesson on Read Write Think that I am going to adapt.

We are going to begin by brainstorming a list of things we would want to see in a book review to determine if we wanted to read a book.  I'm *hoping* the kids come up with AT LEAST the following criteria (or they may receive a little help from me :)
  • Title & Author of Book 
  • Summarize the book w/o giving away the ending
  • Your favorite part of the book 
  • Why was book different or interesting to read 
  • Give a recommendation (This book would be great for…)
Then we will read some book reviews that were written by kids from the Spaghetti Book Club website.
There are lots and lots of great reviews written by kids FOR kids on this website.  We will evaluate the reviews using the criteria that we chose from the beginning of the project.

After kids write and publish their book reviews that meet our agreed upon criteria, we are going to peer critique them using a rubric we create as a class. This is a really important step, I feel, because it also teaches kids to be more reflective of their own project.

I would also like to find a way to have the book reviews shared electronically.  I'm thinking of recording the kids reading/presenting their review and putting QR code stickers inside the covers of the books (if I can talk our librarian into that :) or some other forum.  Do you have any ideas?  Is there a way I can do this on Google docs to create a classroom catalog of book reviews through the years?  I'd love to hear your thoughts! :)

On Thursday, we are taking a field trip to Discovery World in Milwaukee.  I applied for and received a Kohl's Cares Field Trip grant last year so this trip is FREE for the students.  YAY!!  We will have a great time exploring this science and innovation based museum!

I hope to see you back on Tuesday to read about my adventures in PD at EdCampMKE and on Thursday for Positive Thinking Thursday.  I wish you an awesome week!  Happy Mother's Day!!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Positive Thinking Thursday {5-08-14}

It's Thursday again, which means it's time to gather up your positive energy and partake in Positive Thinking Thursday!
I don't know about you, but this week has been C.R.A.Z.Y!  That's why this week's post will be short and sweet....
You will get there when you are meant to get there.  So relax, breathe, and be patient. ~ Mandy Hale <3 More beautiful inspiration at Joy of Mom! <3  #inspirationalquotes #relax #breathe #patience #joyofmom
This week's quote really spoke to me. I sometimes get so caught up in getting where I need to be (both figuratively and literally) that I forget to enjoy the ride and just relax...things will happen when they are supposed to happen.

Deep breaths...

Ahhh...I feel better now.

How about you?  Have a positive thought to share with us this week?

Thanks for stopping by!  I wish you a good day filled with positive thoughts!!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Peek at My Week {5-04-14}

I hope you are having a great Sunday!  Thank you for stopping by for my weekly linky party, A Peek at My Week.  I would love it if you would link up to share your plans for this upcoming week.
I have lots, lots, lots going on this week, both at school and at home.

My son is scheduled to take his driving test this Thursday to get his driver's license.  This is really scary stuff for a mom!  If you have already been though this, I would love some tips on how to survive handing your child the keys to a car and letting them go out on their own.  It's a good thing Thursday is Positive Thinking Thursday...prayers would be appreciated!  :)
As you know, this week is also Teacher Appreciation Week.  I want to take a quick moment to thank YOU for all that you do not only for your students, but also for us fellow teachers.  One of the wonderful benefits of being involved with a blog is the wonderful friendships that begin online.  I KNOW I am a better teacher because of YOU!  Thank you for reading and sharing your ideas and comments -- always!  As for our students, they may not always say it, but they really do know and feel the difference you make in their lives every day.
teacher, quotes, sayings, hero, students, teaching
Last week, we began our study of mythology and my kids can't get enough of it.  They BEG me to do it every day.  (Seriously....thank you Percy Jackson!)  We are using my Mythology Museum & More product and are working on researching for our museum displays.
This week, we will also continue to read and illustrate different myths.  As I read a myth out loud, the students listen, then they have to draw an illustration to capture the message of the myth.  This is a good time to read different versions of the same myth too.  Last week, we read two different versions of Pandora's Box.  One version left hope in the box and one let it out with the other evils.  What a great discussion we had about that!

In writing this week, we are continuing to work on Opinion Writing.  My students have really struggled with adding examples to their details. They think that just because they say something, it has to be true.  (Kind of like the Internet, right???)  So I  came up with this very easy Compliments for Classmates writing activity:

  1. I gave them the name of someone else in the class.
  2. They had to write three strengths or talents of that person.
  3. They had to give two examples for each strength.
  4. Put it all together into a paragraph with an interesting grabber.

Add an illustration and you've got a cute hallway display!

Finally, have you heard about the big SALE at Teachers Pay Teachers on May 6-7 (Tuesday & Wednesday)?  My whole store will be on sale for 28% off with the code TPTXO!
TPT Sales Banner May 2014 Teacher Appreciation Sale
This would be a great time to pick up some of my most popular products!
Great for Common Core vocabulary work with prefixes and suffixes!
Teach the skill of research before assigning research and your life will be so much easier!
Timely & fun!  Your kids will love it!!
I've got my cart loaded up and waiting for Tuesday!

Just one more thing before I go....I don't know what is going on with Blogger, but it seems like a bunch of us have been changed back to "No Reply Blogger" status (myself included this week).  If you want to check to see if this has happened to you, you can read Jivey's post here.  Also, more and more, I'm seeing the "Prove You're Not a Robot" when I leave comments and I think that's something new for many of us that we thought we may have disabled.  To check and see if this is happening to your commenters, click on the down arrow next to your name in Blogger, click on Account Settings, then Security, and you can disable the 2-Step Verification (if you want).  

OK now...What does your week look like?

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Currently May

Oh, May!  How I love thee!!!  A few months ago, I never dreamed May would ever arrive, but here she is which means it's time to link up with Farley's Currently.  (Thanks, Farley!!)
Listening:  It has rained EVERY day this week so this is a pretty common sound.  I don't mind this though...I love the sound of the rain.

Loving:  All of a sudden, it seems like my students have blossomed!  We have come a long way this year and I am so proud of all of their hard work.

Thinking:  There is something on the calendar almost every day in May.  Ughhh...I'll need the summer to recover.

Wanting:  I'm itching to get those pots planted.  Garden Center, here I come!

Needing:  Weekends are for napping.  Period.

Surprise:  Have you met Mary at Fit to be Fourth?  She is a fellow dog-rescuer and shares the most amazing mentor texts ever!  (My friends at Amazon thank her every time she posts because I usually end up ordering whatever she wrote about because her posts are awesome!)  Stop by and get to know her!
Fit to Be Fourth

I hope to see you back on Sunday for my A Peek at My Week linky party.  Have a great weekend!