Monday, January 30, 2012

Tag! You're It!

Hello All!
    So Kim over at Finding Joy in 6th is so sweet!  First of all, she always responds and comments on my posts, which is so exciting since it's nice to know I'm not just rambling to myself (although that is also therapeutic).  I also wish I could meet everyone in real life from BloggyLand.   More importantly, I'd love to be in the states you live in...California...Texas....(sigh).  Have any of you been to New York?  Odd question. 
   Anyway, here are the rules for this Tag/Linky/whatever-you-call-it.

1. You must post the rules.
2. Post 12 fun facts about yourself on the blog post.
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create 12 new questions for the people you tagged.
4. Tag 12 people and link them on your post.
5. Let them know you've tagged them!

    Alrighty, so on to #2:
1- I love love love PIZZA.  I can just eat and eat and eat it all up!  All day!  All meals!  It is just THAT delicious.
2- I found out this summer that I am totally lactose-intolerant.  Which can cause trouble with #1
3- I only watch TV for the few series I am hooked on.  These include New Girl, The Office, Parks and Recreation, Happy Endings, Once Upon A Time, and Modern Family.  Other than these times/recorded playbacks during the week I don't turn on the TV.  Seriously.
4- The Super Bowl is Sunday and being a proud New Yorker I should be thrilled that it's a big face-off here in the Northeast.  But I love the Detroit Lions!!!
5- My celebrity crush is Tim Tebow. (Me and everyone else in America, right?)  His generous, book-minded intentions (here) only makes me adore him more.
6- My favorite grown up books are A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and To Kill a Mockingbird
7- My favorite children's books are The Hundred Dresses, Goodnight Moon and Stone Fox.
8- I hate having water in my face.
9- My hair is super curly!
10- I dream of having a Wheaten Terrier and a Schnnoodle as pets!
11- I'm not married yet...but soon to be engaged!
12- My heritage is Italian and German!

Now, on to Kim's 12 Questions
1.  What is your favorite Starbucks beverage (in case I'm in your neighborhood and I'm bringing you a treat!)?
If you ever are in New York I'd love to meet you! :)  In case you are, you can bring me a Salted Caramel beverage, okay? :)

2.  Book, Nook, Kindle, iPad, book on CD, other?  What is your favorite way to enjoy a new book?
I will always love the physical book.  I have too many so although I should make the switch to a digital copy I just can't!  I love to wear comfy clothes and curl up in the quiet.
3.  If you weren't a teacher, what career would be your second choice?
I would be a pastry chef!  I love to bake!
4.  What is the first subject you plan for when you start your lesson plans for the upcoming day?
I start with Science.  It's easier since it's more conceptual than ELA and I always have so many "leftovers" to wrap up in it's 90 minutes so I have to think of so many more little activities!
5.  If you have traveled, what is your favorite country to visit?  If you haven't had the opportunity (or if you have!) what country would you most like to visit?
I would most like to visit...hmm...this is tough!  Probably anywhere in Europe!
6.  Have you been a principal?  Would you ever want to be?
I've never been a principal and have debated the fact.   I would more or less want to run a school the way that I see fit, but I can't imagine all of the headaches of being an administrator!
7.  What dessert would you choose in a fancy restaurant?
Cheesecake.  Always.  Even though I am lactose-intolerant, I deal. :)  Sometimes, if they have it, I go with creme brule!
8.  What's the most adventurous/daring/exciting thing you have ever done (that you can blog about!)?
Hmmmm.  I ran a 5k...twice.  That was exciting (to finish!). I also gave a speech at Convocation when I graduated from Undergrad.
9.  If you slept in "late" one morning, what time would it be?
When I sleep "late" on Saturdays it consists of me waking up at 7 and then trying to snooze back until around 9 or 10 when I finally just get up!
10.  Do you still read magazines?  What's your favorite?
I have a subscription to Newsweek.
11.  Do you prefer sunrises or sunsets?
Also a toughie!  I like both equally I think!
12.  What brings you JOY?
My family & friends.  Seeing my students learn something new and be energized in class.  Babies.  Pizza and delicious desserts.  Sweatpants.  Crafty projects.  Being productive.  A favorite outfit.  Thermal shirts.  Board games.  School supply stores in August.  My life right now!!

Alright, now I need to TAG! some people, and I will try to select ones that have not yet been tagged!

 One Reading Idea At A Time
Your Smarticles 
Oodles of Teaching Fun 
Lesson Plans and Lattes 
24/7 Teacher 

Your 12 Questions in "Favorite..." format:
1.) Place to be?
2.) Memory teaching?
3.) Animal?
4.)Time of the school day?
5.) Breakfast food?
6.) Way to de-stress?
7.) Place to Blog?
8.) State?
9.) School supply?
10.) Dessert?
11.) Color?
12.) Item in your home?


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

EEEEEK! Benchmarks

Okay, so I think I need just a small, mini rant.   Today, my students took one part of the NWEA, which is a three part test in ELA/Math that we use as a benchmark.  From what I think (based on the teachers who saw my kids test), they rushed through it, were inattentive, and scores went down.  Significantly.  Does anyone else have this problem with benchmarks?  I am so worried now about their scores!  But honestly, can someone really get less intelligent after being in class for 3 months?  eeeeek

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"A fun day brought to you by Ms. D" (Similes & Metaphors)

Who doesn't love a good simile or metaphor?  Well, that was the focus for some of our activities this week.  The first thing we did after reviewing them was add them into our center rotations.  My kids are a busy bunch, so I came up with this Simile/Metaphor Sort:

The blue cards include similes or metaphors and students sorted them into the respective categories.  They liked the busy-ness of it and it took the solid 15 minutes so it was a great exercise for the Superlative Six!

In other news...I found this AMAZING video online on YouTube (I don't know how people taught without it) about similes/metaphors in songs.  As we watched/listened as a whole group I had my kids take notes and sort the song lyrics into categories.  Click for this AMAZING You Tube Video!

 I chose this picture to post because it's the same kid that made a resolution here to be a better student/improve in hw/school...and he totally has.  A light bulb has gone off.  His work is so much better than it used to be and he was so ATTENTIVE during this.  Anything that holds their attention is GOLDEN in my book!  This lesson comes HIGHLY recommended by not only me, but by my little cuties:

As one of my cuties said at the end of class, "A fun day in ELA brought to you by Ms. D!"  Awwwwwww

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Day In My {{Black Flats with the Bow}} Shoes

I LOVED the idea for this linky that Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher has been hosting!
I loved this idea since I ALWAYS hear from EVERYONE (minus those who are teachers, love a teacher, or actually recognize what goes on it schools....that last group is very small) that teachers are lazy, "have too much time off" have all heard it.  Anyway, I'm glad we are setting the record straight! :)  So here is a day from last week:

Around 5am my alarm goes off.  I roll over, and change it to 5:30 when it goes off again and I snooze until around 6am.  The next 40ish minutes consists of getting ready, remembering the final odds and ends that I needed for my lesson (on this day it was flashlights), packing my boyfriend's lunch together and leaving it in the fridge, starting my car early because for the past week it has been all this:

and then finally pulling out of the driveway and being on my way.  I drive to school which takes about 20 minutes (as long as I leave before 7 and don't run into buses).  I get to school around 7:10am and make my way into the building and up to the third floor.  I turn my computer on, set up the projector/MIMIO


check my mail in the teacher's room, make any final copies for setup, pick up everything I left over from the day before, and try not to go too crazy.  At 7:50 the first bell rings and my kids are up to my room around 8am.  One of my super helpers sets up the TV (it's so old and on this rolling cart but it's the only way to get the morning news show) and we are in homeroom until 8:10 when the bell rings for my planning period.  There's a study hall in my room run by another teacher and it is so so noisy but it doesn't matter since I'd say 3 out of 5 days a week I have some kind of meeting...Response to Intervention (---does anyone else do RtI?) and I'm on a planning team for next year since the Middle School was labeled as a SINI---School In Need of Improvement.  So I usually don't get planning time.  Then the day is on! I teach two periods of Science back to back 9:00-9:40ish and then 9:45 to 10:30am.  The kids go off to lunch and I have some time for myself time to have all my kids who aren't doing their work come up and finish.  At 11:05 ELA begins until 12:35pm.  ELA is structured with Quick Write topic & share. Then it's either Centers in my room (2 rotations)

or we break up between two classrooms for The Test skills prep. Depending on what we have done we do Writer's Workshop, some activity relating to the book we are reading, or both.  After I started writing this I realized that it's never really the same day to day. 12:40-1:20 is our lunch.  All 3 6th grade teachers, the SPED teacher, and the Reading Teacher all have lunch at the same time.  My room is used for French so I can't do any work so we go to the SPED teacher's room.  On this day we planned out our Literature Circle/Book Club groups between our three sections: looks like a professional football draft as we divide our 66 kids into 16 groups.  Easy...right?  Again, this isn't a time for total relaxation because there's always the school psychologist coming to meet with us, or things like this, or general issues that have sprung up.

Then the bell rings for another section where I teach Science to a group of accelerated students.  It's mind bloggling what they come up with. This is from 1:30ish to 2:12pm.  Then I have study hall at the end of the day in my room until 3pm dismissal.  I don't get much done because I am helping the kids, making sure they aren't bouncing off the walls, and picking up from the messy science stuff so not much planning or grading gets done.  Then, we are required to stay until 3:30 Mondays-Thursdays by contract.  I usually end up having a handful of kids who choose to stay after for whatever reason (it's quieter here than brother has detention so I wanted to stay until that's over...I need help on...).  I never have the heart to say no but I am thinking I should start setting up specific days when students can stay because it's getting to be every day and it's exhausting.  I just need some quiet time to get things done.  I usually stay at work until around 5:30 but have to take work home.  I get home around 6pm.  6-10pm I cook dinner or go to my parent's to see them/eat.  I plan or grade papers.  I blog, go on Pinterest, shower, and wear pajamas.  I sometimes watch a half hour of TV or read a book.  By 10pm I am exhausted and after making salads for lunch and picking up I fall asleep right away....

....just in time for that 5am alarm clock... :)

So there we have it!  A day in my shoes!

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I just wanted to follow up from Wednesday's post on the weather.  In fact, it did snow.  A decent amount.  Hence THIS view from my front door as I went to leave for work:

By all standards (other local schools, the fact that it took me an hour instead of 20 minutes to get to work, the slick conditions) we should have had a delay.  A little whoops there, but it's over and done right?!?

Nevertheless,  we now have lots of fluffy white stuff!  Finally, it feels like winter in New York! :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Liebster Award & Saltdough Projects!

So happy Wednesday!  I am VERY much looking forward to the rest of this week.  A nice little snowstorm is headed our way so I am *hoping* for a snow delay.  No snow day since I don't want to use one up yet.  But a snow delay...yes please!

I just realized that many of my blog friends over here don't teach in the Northeast where we have snow, snow, and more snow.  Then you don't know about these little traditions we have....

1-Spoon under the pillow.
2-Throw an ice cube over your shoulder out a window.
3-Pajamas inside out and backwards.

Anyway, these mysterious tasks are rumored to have a snow day/delay in order if students (& teachers) do them.  In my lifetime my brother and I have done #2 and #3 often.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I also do #3 still just for kicks! :-)

On to the awards!
Mrs. Tilmon nominated me for the Liebster Award!  THANK YOU THANK YOU!  It's such an honor to know that people read my ramblings.   So I get to nominate 5 blogs (I have 4-sorry!) with less than 200 followers.  Here's my list:

Lesson Plans and Lattes

To The Square Inch

Living A Wonderful Life

Finding JOY in 6th

NOW on to ONE more thing:
As you know we are studying The Cay and wrap it up this week.  We talked about setting and a lot of the kiddos weren't too sure about where the Caribean is.  Soooo we made salt dough maps!  Then, students water-colored (with my DIY marker/watercolors) the ocean and wrote about the book (rate the story, which character would you want to meet, etc.)  I think they came out great in their own messy way (sorry for the poorly lighted picture!)

Happy Evening to All!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Currently Linky!

So, I don't have any exciting pictures to post.  I started tackling my organization because I literally cannot wait to get cleaned up---is anyone else feeling like this?  Anyway, I wanted to post Oh Boy 4th Grade's "Currently..." linky.  It's my first so that's awesome too!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

ELA & Science

So, I am sure that I am not the only teacher who feels compelled to merge ELA into every content area.  For a cute idea on having students write about "their" journey on the water cycle, check out my entry on my science blog here on "6th Grade Science ROCKS!"

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Clutter Free Classroom Challenge: Week 1

So I am participating in Clutter Free Clasroom's Organization Challenge.  I am embarrassed by how awful some of my room really is, so I admit that I didn't take pictures of everything.  I will start off by saying that I have an awful closet/room attached to my classroom which is awesome for storage but horrible for actually keeping things cleaned up.  It was a mess and chock full when I started and slowly my FABULOUS aide has been spending her free moments picking it up and sorting through, literally, BOXES of rocks!  Oh, and I inherited 4 filing cabinets full of stuff that I have been slowly picking through.

Anyway, I have a lot more stuff in my classroom that I realize I didn't take pictures of but I figure I owe it to myself to showcase the three WORST parts of the room.

#1: My Desk
and the corner behind my desk that used to have filing cabinets, I just moved this shelving unit which is covered by the blue cloth that flips down: but inside, even though I have cleaned it is STILL a mess:
UGH!  Seeing this makes me want to scream!! I HATE seeing this but I never seem to have the time to actually go ahead and fix it!

#2:  Annoying (+ugly!) storage which is poorly used:
(sorry that it's blurry!)  Anyway, I didn't even bother opening the cabinet to see what's inside.  It's just poorly used space.  It's all pretty much science materials and it's disorganized.  I tried sorting through it by labeling what was inside, but it's changed since September.  I hate he color, but since the cabinet fronts slide up and into the unit, I'm not sure how to cover it---contact paper!?  Anyway, this is annoying.

#3:  Bookcase.  I am so sad that this made the list since I teach one double period of ELA.  :(  I had to make my own bookshelves to bring in, so that set me back.  I also didn't have ANY books AT ALL in the room.  They had NO "free choice" type of books in the room, or available.  Every one of these books are ones that I have purchased at library book sales, so that part I am especially proud of.  I am proud that I have been able to create a class library.  But, what I DON'T like is how it's organized.  Or the labels...which I quickly stuck on and now they are falling apart and down and all around.  Anyway, here it is:

 Technically, the two short bookshelves do not house JUST books.  That second shelf could actually be moved (but I don't know where it would go).  The top shelf is half empty (eww) but the second basket houses students who have books they leave in the room for study hall.  The second shelf has science journals for two of the periods.  The third shelf has the last period's science journals and also reading notebooks.

Anyway, as you can see, my classroom needs some love!  I hope there's a good solution coming up from Clutter Free Classroom this week because right now my room seems so annoying!

Anyway, happy weekend to all!
*Ms. D*

Friday, January 6, 2012

Team Table Bins = Love

I just wanted to do a quick post on one of the other things I love from this week.  As I mentioned on Tuesday, I overhauled my room from partner tables in my room to groups of 5 and 4.  I love it, my kids love it, it's awesome.  I run a very crafty classroom, in the sense that we use scissors, glue, highlighters or markers pretty much every day.  I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner after 4 months of passing out and collecting these items virtually every day for 4 months, but I have a system now:

TA DA! I love this.  I was so excited how well the preliminary items worked on Wednesday that I added more today (breakdown to follow).  My kids are respectful and we went over the "uses" for each item.  The ribbon is for the number of kids at the table, red ribbon bins mean the tables of 5, while the orange mean tables of 4 (I have too little space to do all 5 team tables).  Here's what we have inside so far:

Generic Supplies:  A box of crayons, pairs of scissors, highlighters, rulers, glue, and a pack of markers.

Books:  These are some great, thin, grade level books that a previous school I was at was discarding from a past reading series.  For filler time/students who finish early, they are great.

Editing Wheels: I have three of these in here so students can self or peer edit their work.  It includes very basic items to check for such as capitalization, spelling, etc.  The thing is, my students, even though they are in 6th grade, simply ignore ALL OF THESE, ALL OF THE TIME!  I am stressing out even more because NYS JUST announced in December that they are now grading mechanics as part of the writing state exam.  Before, it was more content based.  So talk about stress.  Any other upper grade teachers have input on this?  Am I alone in a lowercase, no spell check, punctuation-less world?

Paper Stuff:  The one part is just a bunch of copy paper cut up to index card sized pieces and clipped together.  This is for exit slips, quick comprehension checks, bookmarks---whatever!  (except no notes passing!)  The second is a little invention of mine.  I have paint cards from a hardware store near my house.  I used the 3 sections for A-B-C.  I use a gem clip for quick checks---like when we watch a Brain Pop!  and they have the quick quizzes, true false questions I ask, etc.  I love this.  In the future, I'd like to make a nicer set with a different clip (paperclip with ribbon maybe) and laminate, but I didn't have time to put them in as a laminating order the day I needed them.  These will suffice until I get my awesome system from Beyond the Question.  I applied for a grant so I get one for $500 and my school was all for it!  You can see the application form here to find out more.

Happy Weekend!  I think I am coming down with a stomach bug, I felt SO SICK in ELA today!  :-(  Here's to a night of movies, fuzzy warm socks, and the couch.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Invest in Ribbon

Over holiday break it is an unfair statement to say that I didn't do any work.  I scoured the clearance racks at WalMart and Target.  While I didn't find too much, I found the super sweet green metallic bucket I posted about yesterday.  I also bought these.  Don't ask me why they were in the holiday clearance since they are from Halloween:
These spools of ribbon were only 20 cents each!    After my discounted cookie posting here you would think I should run a sale-blog. But hey, that's what we teachers are---thrifty and creative!  Anyway, I bought 6 spools for a total of $1.20.  I cut each spool into 4 sections of 12" each.  (I bought two orange spools and one of each other one).  Anyway, I thought they were so cute.  So, then today I borrowed my mom's hot glue gun (thanks, Mommy!) and we did this during our Quick Write journal time:

So I called kids up two at a time and they picked a ribbon and glued it "backwards" side up in the back of the journal so when they flip it forward it's an adorable little bookmark to hold their page.  I admit, the purpose is more that just cosmetic.  The kids are always shuffling when they come back from lunch through their notebook for a fresh page and end up skipping pages all over (tree-hugger that I am this drives me CRAZY!) So here we are---problem solved!! :)  I also admit that I have seen this idea somewhere, but when I looked it up on Pinterest, it just said it was from pinmarket and nothing else :-(  It is awesome though!

Disclaimer: my student's journal I snapped a picture of is not some crazed weapon fanatic.  Students, as a group, were making a prioritized list for items they would want to have with them if they were stranded like in The Cay.  :-)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Kickin' Off 2012!

Today was a fabulous day in ELA.  I have decided to take Clutter Free Classroom's Challenge on organizing the room.  As a first year teacher, I have a lot of stuff, and most of it is leftover from the teacher in the past and I have to admit that it has been quite a task organizing everything so that I fit inside. :)

Anyway, aside from organizational woes, today was an exciting day.  Mostly for 5 reasons.

1.) I saw my kids again.  All 22 were in my ELA today, which was great because I feel like over December my numbers dwindled each day due to illness.  I wasn't too eager to leave my break bliss but seeing them felt exciting.

2.) We're in groups now.  For more on that head over to my Science Blog since I did this will all my Science classes (one of my science sections I also teach a double block of ELA to).  I love groups.  I love big happy tables of chatter.  I'm weird.  I hate when they are super quiet and not interacting with class, each other, the room, materials.  It kind of freaks me out.  So I was so excited that I figured out a way to arrange the big lab tables in a way that works.

3.) This:
I am pretty much in love with this bin.  It's so heavy and durable looking.  It's from Target and was on sale from the holidays since technically it is a drink bucket.  But from 14.99 to like 4.99 on clearance, it became mine.  The last green one too! (my room is green and blue).  Anyway, I was so excited that I found a good use for it.  I am setting up a different area in my room entrance space.  I have all of their Journals in the bin now for when they enter.  I also have a neat project for them on this tomorrow.

4.) We started our new class book, The Cay.  And I love starting books. :)

5.) 2012 Themed Activities.  We did a journal today that was a two column chart with "20 things we will do" on one side and "12 things we won't do" on the other side to make a 2012!  It was cute.  The kids had fun coming up with what they won't do, like "Ride on the road any more because my cousin is crazy and has her license now" and "Go back to Kindergarten."  It was fun.  Our second themed activity was discussing the idiom, "There's no time like the present."  After discussing it, students wrote a paragraph about what they plan to do since there's no better time do start than now!  We then used recycled holiday wrapping paper as a background for our work.  It came out cute and a lot of the kids really got into making their backgrounds neat.  This is my favorite one, and not because it's a great example of a paragraph or because it looks pretty.  It's because he spent SO much time really thinking what he wanted to improve on.  He started off with "playing soccer" and then came to this:

...and I love my job.  The best part is that I know he really means this.  He tries so hard but his disorganized life makes it so hard. I'm glad to be back. :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Full Fledged Panic Mode

Am I the only one in full fledged panic mode?  Based on a Facebook status I posted at 3:30 that read:

"I am now opening the bag full of things I wanted to get done over the long break. I see my kiddos again in T minus 16.5 hours. Something went wrong. This can't be good."

which was quickly "liked" by my college teaching professor and a "same here!" comment by my friend Chris who teaches in NYC, I am guessing no.

I cannot believe what I didn't do over break!!!  Well sure, I did things...which included my ultimate favorites such as this little "Top 10" I will whip up:

10.) Not having to wake up by 5:45am
9.) Wearing pajamas, lounge pants, sweatshirts, my BearPaw boots and...SNEAKERS!
8.) My new iPhone
7.) Spending time with my boyfriend where we are not simply coexisting, working on individual projects for college, classrooms, the apartment...
6.) Pizza balls.  I made them for NYE and they were delicious.  Also, chocolate covered pretzels.
5.) Forgetting about schoolwork except for splurging on some holiday sale items for my kiddos and the classroom.  Pictures to follow!!
4.) My pet fish.  They had babies awhile back and now they are getting so big.  It's adorable, quite frankly.
3.) The Hunger Games series.  I'm on book 3 and totally hooked!
2.) New Year's Eve, dinner dates, coffee catch ups, all with close friends that I never get to see!
1.)Seeing my grandparents twice, my cousin from Virginia, relatives from New Jersey, my own parents and brother and the family of my boyfriend.  It was glorious!

Soooo all in all it was great.  The real issue is #5.  I did such a good job forgetting that I completely did not remember that I had vocabulary stories to grade.  Or well, say, this week to plan!!!  I can't believe it, I feel so flaky.

Then, it hits me.   I deserve a break, too.  I need a break sometimes.  It's okay.  I will figure something out.  It will work out as it always does.  There is always tomorrow.

I'm off to dinner at my parents and picking up a table from our basement which I will use in my newly designed nook.  *Reminder to also post on that!

Cheers to 2012, everyone!