Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Positive Thinking Thursday {10-30-14}

Happy Positive Thinking Thursday!

What do you think of my new button?  :)

It is no secret on my 4th grade team that I am not a "math person."  I get it, but it takes a little more brain power than other things I teach.  I like to think that this puts me in touch with my students who struggle with or dislike math. I can understand what they don't understand because I've been there. (There's some positivity!)

So in honor of all of this, I am going the funny route this week with my positive thinking and poking a little fun at math.  Some of you may relate to these funnies as much as I did (I hope!).
The so-called geniuses who invented Everyday Mathematics must be pot-heads! Their wack-a-doodle math makes me and my child cry.
There are 3 kinds of people in this world - those who are good at math and those who aren't. #homeschool @TheHomeScholar
funny math quote
Seriously, I DO enjoy teaching math, but these were too good to pass up.  Watch out grammar...I'm coming for you next!

Wishing you an amazing day full of lots of laughter!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Positive Thinking Thursday {10-23-14}

Happy Thursday!  Thanks for stopping by for Positive Thinking Thursday!

Life sure is crazy these days!  Lesson plans, report cards, parent-teacher conferences, assessments....the list goes on and on.  Some days I wonder if I will make it through to see the other end of November.

If we stop to think about all that is going on, it can be overwhelming. Focusing on what is going well -- and things that we can control --  will help us get through it!

I'll admit it...I am a natural-born worrier.  I think it comes with the territory of being a firstborn child. But I'm trying hard to overcome that and to only focus on now, letting everything else work itself out on its own.

It's not easy, but I'm working on it.

This week's positive thought is dedicated to all the worriers {like me} out there:

Something I should remind myself of often
So don't let that list of things that you have to do or things you can't control paralyze you, stopping you from doing those things that are within your control.  Worrying about them won't get you anywhere. 

Instead, use that rocking chair to read a book or watch a sunset.  

You'll feel much better in the end.

And those things you worried about?  They are going to work themselves out in their own way, in their own time -- without you.

Wishing you a wonderful day without any worries!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Vocabulary Victims -- A Vocabulary Review Game

I'm excited to link up with my friend, Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching, for her Saturday linky party, Spark Student Motivation.
Are you looking for a fun, easy way to help your students practice their vocabulary words?  Vocabulary Victims is the answer! (I know the name 'Vocabulary Victims' sounds like a bad thing....I was going for alliteration here! :)  It is not as painful as it sounds.)

Here's how it works...

1.  Choose a student to become the 'victim.'  In my class, I draw a number stick so it is completely random.  This way, everyone has an equal chance of participating, not just the kids who raise their hands.

2.  The student comes to the front of the room and sits in a chair with their back to the board.

3.  Write a vocabulary word on the board.  

 4.  Students in the audience (the rest of the class) raise their hands to offer definitions or clues to the meaning of the word.  They cannot say the word (obviously, but they do need this reminder), but they can give a definition, an example, a synonym, an antonym, etc.

5.  The 'victim' calls on two students to offer clues. (I like for two students to offer clues, but you could do more or less depending on your students or the quality of clues being offered.)

6.  After the two clues, the 'victim' tries to guess the word that was written on the board.  A quick turn around by the 'victim' confirms their guess as right or wrong.

7.  Repeat as needed.

I use this game to review for science and social studies tests, math vocabulary, Flocabulary words. etc.  It is also a fun way to review synonyms and antonyms because you can require the students who are giving the clues to only offer these as hints.

My students LOVE this game and it is so simple to play!  No prep, no stress!

For a little teacher motivation today, I am headed to the Midwest Blogger Meet Up in Palatine, IL.  I'm looking forward to meeting many of the awesome teacher bloggers from the midwest area!
Have a great day!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Positive Thinking Thursday {10-16-14}

It's Thursday which means we've almost made it to the weekend!  :)  Welcome to another week of Positive Thinking Thursday.  I hope you find some inspiration here and leave a little yourself!
This week, I am featuring another positive thought that can apply to both you and your students:
The first step to getting anywhere is deciding you're not wiling to stay where you are
We have spent a lot of time in my classroom talking about goal setting.  Many of my kiddos think that just by simply stating a goal, it will magically happen.

I wish!

Nope, goals require action.  But first, we must decide that there is something within us that we want to change.

Is there something in your life that needs some action?

Food for thought!

Have a wonderful day!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

No More Weekly Reading Logs

Judging from conversations going on in blogland and the Twitterverse, it seems like the topic of weekly reading logs is hot, hot, hot.  Some people love them, many people hate them, others want to get rid of them but either can't or don't know what else to use in order to hold students accountable for their reading.

I felt this way...for a long time.

So I kept sending home a weekly reading log and my students kept filling them out and returned them every Monday.  When I checked them over, these are a few of the things I noticed:

A student who read 50 pages in 20 minutes
A student who read the same (picture) book all week
A student who read a different (chapter) book every night

Oh my!

Can you relate?

There HAD to be a better way to monitor independent reading that kept students accountable and provided me important timely data.

There is!

It's called Status of the Class and it has saved my sanity this year.

Here's how it works...

Every morning after attendance, I call off students' names and they tell me the title of the book they read last night and what page they are on.  I keep a record on a chart like this:

I simply jot the title (or part of the title) and list the page number. I even developed a code to make things easier:

  •  If it is the same book, I draw an arrow.  
  • The "Q" means a student has finished a book and is ready to take an AR quiz.
  • A box around a box (like at the very bottom of the picture) means that a student did not read enough pages the night before and we had a short conversation. 
  • "No book" means the student forgot to bring a book home and didn't read
  • "A" stands for book abandoned
  • "Abs" means the student was absent that day
At first, Status of the Class took us about 10 minutes to get through.  Now, we're down to about four minutes because students yell out "Same book, page ___" when I call their name.  Super fast!!

How has Status of the Class helped ME as a teacher?
  • I  realize the students who abandon books on a regular basis.
  • I can recognize my students' book genre preferences and can guide them toward other genres.
  • I can see who is really reading at night.  The students came up with the expectation that between 20 minutes of nightly reading and 30 minutes of daily DEAR time in class, they should be able to read 20-30 pages.  They now hold each other accountable for that too!
  • I can make sure that students who have a habit of "forgetting" to bring home a book, don't.
  • I can recognize my wild readers and give them immediate feedback.
Giving up the weekly reading log is one of the best teaching moves I've made this year!  If you are a member of the "I Really Dislike Reading Logs But Don't Know What Else to Try Club," I encourage you to give Status of the Class a try!

Thanks to Holly at Fourth Grade Flipper for hosting this weekly Tried It Tuesday linky party!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Positive Thinking Thursday {10-9-14}

Happy Thursday and welcome to Positive Thinking Thursday, my weekly linky party where you can share a positive thought with the rest of us.  I am glad you are here.  :)

This week's positive thought is all about baby steps....
i need to keep this in mind
The important thing is to just BEGIN.  

What are you waiting for?

Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sunday Scoop {10-5-14}

Happy beautiful Sunday from southeastern Wisconsin!  After a rainy, overcast day yesterday, the sun has broken through and I think I might actually hear a bird chirping.

If you are looking for A Peek at My Week, last week was the last week for that linky party.  :(  Times change and so must my blog.  I appreciate everyone who participated over the past year.  I met some amazing teachers and bloggers!  If you are looking for another weekly Peek linky party, check out Mrs. Wills Kindergarten.

With that being said, I am excited to try some new things.  Today, I am going to link up with Teaching Trio for Sunday Scoop.  Such a great linky!
Have To's:
1.  Every educator in the state of Wisconsin has to write a SLO goal (Student Learning Objective goal) and submit it to the state.  We will work on these at early release on Thursday.
2.  Tuesday is our first Peer Helpers meeting.  This is a new group at school for student leaders.  It is exciting to watch this group take shape and develop a purpose.
3.  Meal planning...My family may starve this week if I don't do this soon.  Just sayin'.....

Hope To's:
1.  AWESOME books!
2.  What is better than baking in October?  Can we say apples and cinnamon?  YUM!

Happy To:
1.  My step dad is turning 89 on Friday!  My step sister is flying in from Florida for a family dinner.  It will be great to see her and to celebrate with the family.

Have a great week!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Making Our Goals Public

I love Fridays, and not just for the obvious reasons.

In our classroom, we spend some time every Friday afternoon thinking about our week and setting a goal for the next week.  This year, I'm trying something new with those goals which is bringing about awesome results.  I'm linking up today with Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching for her Spark Student Motivation linky party.

We all know that when we set a goal for ourselves, our chances for success become greater if we share our goal with others.  It holds us accountable.

I used to have my students write their goal for the week on a Post-it and stick it on their desk.  However, some students "forget" to do this, the Post-its fall off the desk and get recycled by the janitor, or a student's goal Post-it magically disappears throughout the week.

So this year, we are making our weekly goals a bit more public.  On the closet door at the front of our room, my students post their goals for all to see.
Throughout the week, we will read over the goals and get an update from each student on how things are going.  This is a great way to see who is working on their goal and who is not.  (We are trying to learn that goals just don't happen because we say we want them to happen.)  This also helps me see who is setting realistic, SMART goals and who is not.

Ever since we've made this change, I have noticed a lot more students are reaching their goals each week.  This is very motivating for the students, and for me!

How do you help your students reach their goals in your classroom?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

Thank you, Joanne, for hosting this weekly linky party!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Positive Thinking Thursday {10-2-14}

It has been a beautiful few weeks here in southeast Wisconsin.  The weather has been so nice that you would swear that it was still summer.  I will take each beautiful day I can get because I'm sure winter
will be here before I know it.

The zinnias in my garden are loving the warm days and cool nights.  Aren't they lovely?
When I saw this on Pinterest, I knew it would be the perfect positive thought for this time of year:
So where are you planning on soaring to soon?

Have an amazing day!