Tuesday, February 3, 2015

One of THOSE Days....In a GOOD Way!

Whew! Productive days are exhausting....but OH, so satisfying! I love it when you get into a groove and your day seems to click by like clockwork.

It doesn't always go like that for me, but when it does I like to bask in the glory of a well-planned and well-executed schedule. (Can you believe it?? And on a full moon too boot!!!)

My daily schedule is looking a lot like this these days:

Here's a little bit of what we did today:

During our "soft" start, I noticed several people without chairs...sitting on the floor, standing, using pillows. I'm not sure why we were boycotting chairs today, but I wasn't going to make a big deal. Ain't nobody got time for that.

They're a stubborn bunch...only one gave in and got a chair before the end of the day.
This week we started our new science unit on the solar system and stars...we created a Circle Map and started doing some planet research with our Chromebook carts! Do you think there were some Uranus jokes?? Of course there were. (You can't prove that I laughed.) Gotta love 5th graders...

During literacy today, I was so excited to start using this AMAZING freebie from Diane at Fifth in the Middle. We are participating in Liberty Day at the capitol on March 16, so we are using her product to start learning about the Constitution!

Click on the picture to grab your copy of Diane's freebie!
The best part? The whole thing is differentiated, and includes text-dependent questions! My kids are LOVING it. It has been great in my small groups.

After lunch, we tackled writing. We are DEEP into opinion/persuasive writing, and yesterday we made a list of the attributes of effective opinion writing. Today, we analyzed 2 pieces to see if they contained the items on our list...and we even found some more ideas to add to it! Because procrastination is how I usually roll, I did come up with a graphic organizer for them to record ideas on. At the last minute. (Read:on the fly.)

What? You didn't expect that the whole day went perfectly, did you???

I would love to hear how your days are shaping up!! Anything awesome? What's making you feel super-productive??

Friday, January 9, 2015

Free Your Time Blog Hop and Giveaway!

I am so excited to be a part of my very first blog hop!!

The wonderful folks that started the Fifth Grade Freebies collaborative blog organized this awesome freebie blog hop...

to help you free up some time!! I hope you'll hop through all the awesome blogs and get some great time-saving freebies. Not to mention there is an awesome giveaway at the end!!! So make sure you hit all the stops.

We all know that right after Winter Break is the perfect time to review expectations and remind students about their responsibilities. This week, my students have been doing just that.

One of the best things about teaching 5th grade, in my opinion, is how much ownership and responsibility they take for their classroom and school. They seem to be very invested in the being the "top dogs" and being role models for younger students. So, I put their enthusiasm to use with this back-to-school-after-break activity!

First, they brainstormed their ideas about what it means to be a 5th grader. They started off by writing their own thoughts and then worked with a partner to share and grow their list. We shared as a class and created the chart above. They did a great job capturing the spirit of what being a 5th grader really means. (I especially like "We are mature." That one got a smile from me for sure!)

Once we had our extensive list of ideas, they worked with partners to narrow down to what they thought was most important. They used the discussion questions above to help them decide.

After their discussion with partners, students advocated for what they thought should be included in the classroom "Pledge." They came up with the idea of having a classroom pledge after we had been discussing an essay contest where they were writing about what the Pledge of Allegiance meant to them. My favorite quote from this part of the discussion? "I really like the idea of calling it a Pledge, because that means that people are making the choice about how they behave." YES! It was a great moment.

We recorded the top 5 ideas and slept on it...just in case they wanted to add or change anything.

This is the final product! Tomorrow, we will be using my newest freebie to record the Classroom Pledge AND create their own Personal Pledge. I can't wait!! To grab your own copy, click the picture below...


I hope that this will save you some time and give your class a great way to take ownership of their classroom as we head into the second half of the year!

As you continue on the hop, your next stop will be my friend Jessica's blog, Joy in the Journey!

Joy in the Journey

And don't forget to hop all the way through so you can enter the awesome giveaway at the end! There are three $25 TPT giftcards you can win, plus a bunch of great freebies on the way...so get hoppin'!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sunday Scoop!

I have seen this adorable linky floating around Instagram thanks to Teaching Trio, and I couldn't think of a better way to start off Winter Break week than by joining in!

Christmas Shopping: I'm serious. I haven't finished. I've barely started. I've had the flu...is that even an excuse?? I'm saying it is.

House Cleaning: See above where I told you about the flu.... The craft room is a different story. It has been more like a crap-catcher for several months. So I can't even use the flu as an excuse.

Catching Up: I have so many things I'd like to do with this blog, on Fifth Grade Freebies and with some new TPT products! I'm hoping the next few days will be ULTRA productive. I have an addition strategies product and I'm trying to get a few more freebies ready for the holidays AND some long overdue blog posts about Common Core! Fingers crossed that I can get everything done.

Family Time: My wonderful hubby is working from home this week and that means I get to have him home so I can bug him while he works. It makes me happy that we can spend some time together, even if he will be working. :-)

What's your Sunday Scoop? Head over to Teaching Trio to create your post and link up!


Sunday, November 30, 2014

TPT Cyber Monday SALE!

The Teachers Pay Teachers Cyber Monday sale starts in a few short hours! I am so excited to empty my overflowing cart...not sure my wallet will be, but oh well!

In anticipation of the big event, I wanted to join up with Ideas by Jivey for her 2+1=TPTCYBER linky!


The idea is to share the 2 most wish-listed items from my store and 1 item that is currently on MY wishlist!! (To be fair, it's probably already in my cart...but I digress.)

My most wish-listed item is my Quadrilaterals: 2D Shape Sort with Shape Cards. This item is also my best seller! In this product, you get a set of quadrilateral shape cards, several graphic organizers and ideas for how to use them in your classroom. Normally $2.00, during the sale it will only be $1.60! If you use the code TPTCYBER when checking out, it will be even less!


If you like this one, you might also like my Triangles: Shape Sort with Shape Cards! It will be on sale for only $2.00! Again, TPTCYBER takes that down even more.


My second most wish-listed item is my newest product: Multiplication Match Up! This products features 144 pages of multiplication cards. For each multiplication fact, there is the fact, the answer, a representation with equal groups and an array! It would be a great product for a matching game, flash cards or a center. Normally, it's $7.00, but during the sale it will only be $5.60. With the code TPTCYBER, it will be less that $5.50!

I can't wait to purchase at least one Mentor Sentences unit from the host of this linky, Jivey!! I loved reading the book Everyday Editing by Jeff Anderson, and Jivey's units will make it simple to implement. I'm so excited!! I might even have to spring for the BIG bundle...it IS a sale after all!

Mentor Sentences Unit: Second 10 Weeks

Well? What are you waiting for??? The sale starts in just a couple of hours...head over to Ideas by Jivey and check out more great things you need for the rest of the school year and beyond!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Five For Friday - Thankful Edition

Grateful is a word that has been a BIG part of my vocabulary lately. While having lunch with my husband the other day, I struggled to put into words everything that I am so thankful for. I even had a hard time creating a Facebook posting that could accurately describe why my heart is so full these days. I still don't think that I have the right words to say what I've been feeling lately, but I think Five For Friday by Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching is a good way to share just a few of the things I am so blessed by.


Divider 1 

This guy.
I married the man of my dreams 12 and a half years ago. We were high school sweethearts. I've never looked back. Never regretted one moment spent together. He supports me, loves me, points me in the right directions, encourages me and challenges me. This is the guy who took over making the crock pot roast the other day when I was running so late for work. The guy who told me it would be okay when I decided to leave my old school for a new opportunity. The one who sends me pictures like the one above just because he knows it will make. my. heart. pound. I love him so much and I am so grateful for everything he brings into my life. 

Divider 2 

My family.
I am lucky to live close to my parents, sister and niece. I get to see them all the time. We have holidays together and even just the occasional Sunday night dinner or watching a football game. They are hilarious, silly and so supportive! My mom, dad and even my niece sometimes volunteer at my school. My sister supports lots of charitable organizations through her work, including providing much needed school supplies to kids in need at my school. The picture above is from the MS Walk in Denver 2 years ago when my sister was one of the top 100 fundraisers!

Divider 3

My pets.
These guys make my house a home. They are all getting pretty old, but they snuggle when snuggles are needed. They make us laugh with their silly antics. They keep my feet warm on a chilly night and they love us unconditionally. I am so grateful for all three of them!

Divider 4 

Amazing opportunities.
Lately, I have been amazed with the great opportunities that are opening up. I know some great people who are involved with the Core Advocates group here in Colorado, and I was so lucky to attend the Becoming a Core Advocate convening in Chicago. And while I was there, I met even more people and we networked away! It was fantastic to be a part of such an energetic group of teachers. 

Divider 5 

My new job.
Last, but certainly not least, my new position at my new school. I am so so grateful for this big change. It was hard to leave my last position because I had been there so long, but it was SO worth it. I LOVE my class, my teammates, my principal, my parents and the list just continues! Thinking back to my mental state just one year ago, I know I made the right decision to move. I am happier, healthier and I feel confident in my teaching abilities again!

Reading over this post makes me realize that it's hard to get just the right words when trying to describe how everything in your life make you feel like the luckiest person in the world. I am so grateful to this blogging community for giving me the avenue to share my heart full of happiness with the world. :-)

Head over to Doodle Bugs Teaching and link up with what's going on in your world!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Becoming a Core Advocate

Have you ever done something and not realized until after you started that it was going to be amazing?

Today I started working towards becoming a Core Advocate. If you're not entirely sure what that means, you are not alone! Even as I was on my way here (to Chicago) to attend this convening, I wasn't 100% sure what I was getting myself into.

I was sure I was going to learn about Common Core. I was sure I would hear dynamic and passionate speakers share why they believe in Common Core. I was hoping that I would learn more about Common Core and why it is important to the students I teach.

But I still wasn't sure why it was important to attain the label of "Core Advocate."

I mean, really. Why should anyone listen to little ol' me? Why should I put myself out there to advocate for something so controversial in many ways?

Well, today I started to figure it out.

I was right. I have learned about Common Core. I have heard other teachers share why Common Core is at the heart of their teaching beliefs. And I have certainly gained a better understanding of why Common Core is so important to the students I teach.

Becoming a Core Advocate means that I can adequately defend the importance of the Common Core State Standards as a viable means to "leveling the playing field." I can discuss and defend my position about the Instructional Shifts required to give all students access to an education that will prepare them for college OR career. Or for anything they decide to do after their K-12 journey is over.

I'm no Pollyanna, folks. I know that the CCSS have their down sides. But truly? It's not the standards that have the problems. Who can argue with rigorous standards that ask students to become thinkers instead of answer-getters? The problems lie with how they are implemented. Who makes the decisions about implementation. Text book companies that stamp "Common Core Aligned" on the front cover in order to sell more books, make more money, and continue on with the "old ways" of doing business while duping well-meaning districts and educators into thinking they are meeting the new standards.

I can't get behind poor implementation decisions. I can't get behind districts that twist CCSS intentions, and push teachers into a "my-way-or-the-highway" way of thinking. I can't get behind greedy text book publishers who just see the Common Core as a giant pile of dollar signs.

But the Common Core State Standards? Advocating for a shift in our instructional thinking to improve the lives of students? I can get behind that.

Please stay tuned for more posts about my experiences with Common Core and the journey towards becoming a Core Advocate. In future posts, I will elaborate on what exactly I have learned, and how it is impacting learning in my classroom. I hope to start a (civil) dialogue about what educators are doing and thinking about Common Core around the country! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Calling All 5th Grade Teachers!

Hey fellow 5th grade teachers! I'm jumping in to 5th grade with both feet and I'm so excited to be a contributor to the Fifth Grade Freebies blog!

Fifth Grade Freebies

Even if you aren't a 5th grade teacher I think you will find tons of great freebies there that you can definitely use.

My first post on Fifth Grade Freebies is up today! I hope you will pop over and check it out AND grab yourself a back to school freebie while you are there. :-)

Make sure to follow Fifth Grade Freebies on Bloglovin' so you can get the latest, greatest freebies!

Today is also my first official day at my new school...teacher meetings in the morning and time to work in the afternoon! Wish me luck!