Tuesday, December 31, 2013

1 for Me - New Year's Resolution for 2014

This New Year's Eve I'm taking a moment to link up with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics for her linky party - 1 for Me!

Although I have many resolutions for 2014 (exercise, eat healthy, balance life, create more for TPT, blog more, be the best mom, wife, and teacher that I can be, etc...) there is 1 resolution that is an absolute must for me to complete.

My number 1 resolution is to develop a new, healthy, and positive mindset.

I am a very anxious and tenacious person my nature.  For the most part, I use the extra energy to drive me and push me forward.  However, occasionally my anxiety, and need to be in control, gets the best of me.

This year I want to learn how to handle stressful situations better by tackling them with a more positive mindset.

I stumbled across Angela Watson's blog: The Cornerstone.  She has an awesome book that I have purchased called Awakened.  I'm hoping this book will empower me to develop a resilient, flexible, and positive mindset so that I can change my perception to tackle every day setbacks so they feel less stressful.  I hope to learn how to let go of what I can not control and to live beyond my feelings to stay motivated even when I don't see immediate results.  In a job that's truly never done, I hope to realize a sense of accomplishment on a daily basis.

I hope by feeling more peaceful and energized, despite what is happening around me, I will be a better teacher, a better wife, and a better mom.  I hope reading this book will help to renew my mindset so that I can have a fresh approach to the challenges of teaching.

What other books have you read that helped build a positive mindset?  I'd like to find a few more that will help to inspire me to better deal with daily stress and anxiety.

Along with my search for inspirational reading I also joined Angela's Facebook group:  Encouraging Teachers.  I also plan to surround myself with positive people, work on living a healthy lifestyle (with more exercise, healthy food, and sleep), working hard, and most importantly...playing hard.

What are your New Year's Resolutions?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

XtraMath Website for Math Fact Practice

Looking for a quick and fun way for your students to practice their math facts both at home and at school?  Check out the site Xtra Math.  It's free for you and your students.  You simply create a username and password, set up your class list, print out your students log-in and password info and your off and running. 

I introduced the site to my students this week and it was a huge hit!  I didn't have to do much explaining for my students to pick up how to use the site.  A quick video plays for them when they log-in and it walks them through all the steps.

The best part is Xtra Math emails you, the teacher, weekly data for how your students are progressing with their math facts.

Check it out!  For more great tips and ideas, head over to Teaching Maddeness for Friday Flashback.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Today we take a break from all the hustle and craziness of work and life in general to celebrate with family all the blessings from this year.

This year we were blessed with our first child:  Natalie Marie!

Merry Christmas from my growing family to yours!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Five for Friday - Busy Week

Today I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for their Friday Linky!

As you know, I've been out these past few weeks on Maternity leave.  However, I decided to pop into school this morning for our holiday breakfast and to see my teacher friends and students.

I brought them some Christmas cards and candy.  I love these cards!  I found them at Target.  40 cards for $5.00.  They were cute, had sparkles, and came with fancy envelopes.  Best of all, they had a peel and stick flap so I didn't have to lick any of them to seal them.

I also made each student a chocolate lollipop with molds that I found at ACMoore.  They were shaped like snowmen and snowflakes.
 On a side note, this week I also purchased a brand new laptop.  It's another Toshiba like my old one but this one has i7 and Windows 8.  I love Toshiba!  Their computers are amazing. I purchased it at Staples because they had it marked $200 off and they gave me money towards it for trading in my husbands old Gateway laptop.  They also give reward points that I can use towards future purchases!

 As for family...Natalie was baptized this past Sunday!  We really lucked out.  She didn't cry at all.  We were able to share the day with close family!

Last but not least, the lovely gingerbread number graphics comes from Melody Bastin.  You can purchase it here on TPT.

Happy Holidays!  Hopefully all you teachers are finally enjoying a much needed break!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December Currently

Well, we've made it to December.  Snow has fallen, the crisp winter air has returned, and I am enjoying my maternity leave sipping hot cocoa, listening to music, snuggling up with sweet baby Natalie.....and.....creating a new blog post for Farley's December Currently!

So, the bulk of my day consists of taking care of (now 1 month old) Natalie.  Between many bottles, diapers, and baths comes peace and quiet.  But only when Natalie is in her Fisher-Price Rainforest Friends Cradle n Swing'.  Thank you Fisher-Price.  If it wasn't for you I'd be a sleep deprived maniac.  Natalie loves her swing.  The music is actually soothing and relaxing for both mom and baby.  This week Natalie has been taking 3-4 hour naps in her swing providing me time to catch up on some zzzz's.  Not to mention, I finally have time to clean the house, start blogging and creating again.

I am also (finally) starting to incorporate a little exercise into my daily routine.  After months of partial bed rest, and the last few weeks recovering from a surprise c-section, I have been chomping at the bits to get out of this house.  I've finally been able to use my Planet Fitness membership and have been sneaking out to walk on the treadmill.  Planet Fitness is amazing.  They have TV's hooked to each treadmill so I an catch a little TV time while I work out.  

After I get cleared by the doctor in 2 weeks I plan on snagging the new Zumba Fitness World Party workout game for the Wii.  After 9 months of being Zumba free I...Can....Not....Wait!!!!

What are you waiting for?  Link up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for her December Currently!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Life in a Longhouse Village, Main Idea, and Paper Books

One of our first social studies units focuses on the Iroquois, Native Americans of the Eastern Woodlands.  My favorite book to use with this unit is Life in a Longhouse Village by Bobbie Kalman. 

Since we were not going to have time to use this book as a whole class read aloud I set it out as a reading center.

We have been focusing on main idea and details a lot lately, as well as supporting our thinking with details from the text.  This was the basis of my reading center.

Students created little paper books (directions below) based on the assigned pages for the week (pages 8-9) on Sharing One Room in a longhouse.

They created a new title for their book on the cover and included an illustration and their name.

On the inside they wrote the main idea for the section.

For each following page they included some supporting details for the main idea.  I think they turned out pretty cute!

Need directions for making a paper book?  Check out James Darrow's directions here.

I love little paper books.  So cute, quick, and easy.  How else do you use paper books in your classroom?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Welcome Baby Natalie

Jeff and I are excited to announce the arrival of our new baby girl, Natalie.

I have a few posts written and scheduled over the following weeks.  I am also going to continue working on a few of my TPT projects such as an Interactive Notebook for Geometry and some holiday themed math centers.  However, I'm sure they will take me a little longer now.  Other than that, I apologize in advance if I am slightly absent as Miss Natalie has stolen all my attention!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Free Digital Children's Books

Today while shuffling through Pinterest pins I came across an amazing website:  We Give Books.

Square banner

You can find over 150 digital children's books (for children up to the age of 10) and teacher resources all for FREE.  This includes both fiction and nonfiction books as well as some seasonal!  Check out the collection!

Plus, the organization donates a book for every book your students read online.  To date, We Give Books readers have donated over 1 million books.

I am blown away.  I can't wait to use this wonderful online tool in the classroom!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Math Workshop

Here's a quick peek at our math workshop this year.

Our district has adopted Engage NY's Math Modules.  These modules have scripted teacher talk, fluency, review of previously learned concepts, concept development with teacher modeling, guided & independent practice, quick checks for each lesson, and assessments.

Each day, the module takes up at least an hour of our time.  To make the module more manageable, I have moved the application problem to be completed as morning work and discussed at our morning meeting and the fluency practice to be completed during our brief 10 minute break in-between specials and lunch.

After the module, students record what they have learned in their interactive math notebook.  For the first module I used the quick print version to save time.  I am now out on maternity leave. However, when I return, I plan on having students create a math notebook like this.

You can find my math notebook materials here at my TPT store.

After recording our new learning into our notebooks, I have students complete the quick check for the day.  I use this as a dipstick to assess their learning.

When the quick check is complete, students move on to math centers.  This provides me with some time to pull needs groups and work with individual students.

We use a center wheel for math centers.  Each students has been placed into a different colored group.  They look at the center wheel each day to determine which center they are responsible for.

Since taking this picture, I've had to switch the Smart Table center for a Mystery center since the Smart Table is currently out of commission.

This year we have started out with the following centers:

Computer - Students start out with practicing their math facts with the program XtraMath and then move on to reviewing important concepts with games and practice questions on Study Island.

Math Facts - Students practice their math fact fluency with a variety of materials and games.  The most popular are our hot dot pens, flashcards, electronic math fact triangles, and a board game called Math Dash.

Smart Board - I have received a variety of educational software from Donors Choose.  My favorite are these Smart Board games from Lakeshore Learning.

Mystery - Each week our mystery center changes.  I usually use this as a review of previously learned concepts.  This center usually contains a project, craft, sorting activity, partner activity, or game.  Here is an example of an ordering numbers display students created during their mystery center last year.

Game - Our game center usually focuses on a skill learned throughout the week.  Many of our games have also come from Lakeshore Learning as a donation through Donors Choose, like this one that focuses on place value.

Identifying Place Value Games

Brain Teasers - Last but not least, we have a variety of brain teaser activities that students use to develop their problem solving skills.  I usually have students work on these activities independently.

What does math workshop look like in your classroom?