Friday, April 25, 2014

Catching Up- Whew!

I don't think I've blogged in two weeks! AAAAAGGGGHHH!!! I've had so much to say but my mind was so muddled with everything going on that I just refused to look at my computer or blog in avoidance. I guess now is the time.

Two Weeks Ago:
I had the privilege to attend Springboard's Train the Trainer institute. It's this event that made me stop blogging because I was so exhausted afterwards I could no longer think but I had so much to say!!! I absolutely value every bit of what I learned. I'm officially a Springboard trainer for my district {WOOHOO!!}. It was the most intense weekend full of Springboard stuff.

I'm really excited about the Close Reading Workshops that they are coming out with. If you're a Springboard teacher, you will love these! We had the opportunity to work on one. Mind you it was high school level, but man! They are just the right amount of intense. I had a great time with it. Springboard teachers, these should be coming to the Community soon. I don't know what soon is in Springboard time though. Keep checking!

 My unpacking style has changed. I was so excited to see what my kids did when we had to unpack our final unit of the year. They loved it and it was actually easy. I've been making it so hard on myself {and them} this whole time. We read the Assignment on the Embedded Assessment page, the students marked the text by circling the verbs {skills} and underlined the nouns {knowledge}. They then wrote each skill/knowledge pairing on a sticky note as a group. Finally, we created a bubble map depicting the unpacked Embedded Assessment. They told me how much better it was. I tend to agree :)
After getting back in the swing of things I feel refocused in my teaching with Springboard. We're about to do literature circles in the next couple of weeks, so my students have begun investigating the Holocaust. We made a graffiti wall of research regarding the Holocaust. Great conversations were happening and great questions were being asked about that time period.

I'm really seeing the maturity in my 8th graders since the beginning of the year. We have a little under six weeks left and they go on to high school. It's bittersweet.

I'm nowhere near finished with anything that I need to do and don't feel prepared for what's happening next week in my class. That will come. I know. I'm really happy with just getting all this out of my head. Now, time to do some planning!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

8th Grade Love and Shakespeare

Tomorrow will mark the third day I've been out this week. All the days are for perfectly valid reasons-jury duty, district meeting, and training. Right now though my students are preparing scenes from A Midsummer Night's Dream to perform. I'm missing out on such a fun time where they are planning what they'll be doing next week. 

I was at work today. I enjoyed watching them pour over their scripts, discuss with each other their character's motivation, and their plans for next week. I even had two hams in my 7th period class who decided to use curtains as their togas for the play. 

I like meeting with the groups and seeing what they're doing, guiding them to incorporate the comedic effects, and listening to the conversations they have about the play. I'm sad I'm missing it this week. I really can't wait to see what they come up with! I love my 8th graders!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Classroom Funding: Another Option

Today I am working on my "civic duty" of jury duty. Right now, I'm on a break- I guess you could call it. I have to report back to court at 1:30 to see if I get picked for the jury I've been assigned. I really don't want to because I have a very busy week including an all day meeting tomorrow and a conference beginning Friday through the weekend.  Oh well!

In my spare time today, I decided to do a little research on some funding opportunities. We all know about Donors Choose where donors are able to browse projects that need funding for teachers' classrooms. While looking at funding opportunities I came across one called Adopt a It's very similar to Donors Choose in that you create a classroom and project that you would like funded. Share it with the world and Boom! Funding opportunity becomes a reality.

Here's the one that I created for my classroom. My school participates in a 25 book campaign where students are expected to read 25 books during the school year. I believe the best way to get them there is to give them a classroom that is full of reading material that is on their grade level and appealing to them. I'm looking for just that for my own classroom.

Try it out! Donors Choose is a great website too. I'm going to see how Adopt a works for now. Have a great week!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Liebster! Woot! Woot!

I have the honor of receiving a Liebster award from Heather at Smack Dab in the Middle. A Liebster is an award given to bloggers who have less than 200 hundred followers to welcome them to blogging. 

I definitely qualify. This isn't my first Liebster, but after taking a few months of hiatus I lost the majority of my followers :( Fear not! I'm back and this time am determined to make this blog happen!

Heather has some questions for me to answer. Here we go!

1. What grade do you teach? What grades have you taught? How long have you been teaching? 
I teach 8th grade Language Arts. I've taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grade before. This is my 11th year teaching.  

2. What book do you read to your class each year without fail?  There are a few standard books that we read every year including The Giver by Lois Lowry.  The kids start off completely confused and not really into it but by the end they're committed and are so upset by some of the events in the book.

3. If you weren't a teacher, what would you be doing?  I think I would just be a mom. The best thing that ever happened was having my daughter, Avery. I love spending time with her and living her little Toddler Life.

4. What's one thing you're just dying to buy for your classroom?  An assistant for myself. If I could afford to pay someone (or not! HA!) to be my assistant I would jump on it. There are so many things to do and just not enough hours in the school day. 

5. What's your non-teaching guilty pleasure?  Unfortunately, for my husband, it's shopping. More specifically online shopping. It's bad. 

6. Favorite book that is not teaching related?  Phillipa Gregory novels. Oh! And Jodi Picoult!!! Certain authors just do it for me. I've already made a post about John Green but I guess he's under the teaching related category? Maybe Gillian Flynn too. Gone Girl is crazy good. Seriously this was not a good question for a Language Arts teacher. I love to read. I'm going to stop answering this question now.
7. What's one thing on your bucket list?  When I turned 30 (gulp!) I made a bucket list and did pretty much everything on it. I don't really have anything left. I do want to have another baby :)

8. Favorite restaurant?  I love eating and food. Living in Texas though Mexican restaurants are the way to go! 

9. Who would play you in a movie about your life?  Natalie Portman? I don't know. Maybe I'm still living in John Green-land

10. What's one thing you could eat everyday?  Chocolate and coffee. I know it's not healthy or anything but yeah. I'm in and good with it. Maybe some tasty pastries to boot.

11. What inspired you to begin blogging?  I started blogging a few years because I'm also a knitter. I have another blog Adventures in Knitting that I started because I wanted to share my knitting highs and lows with other knitters. I've always liked writing and it's a creative expression for me. After working on that blog for awhile I realized I needed an outlet for my life as a middle school teacher. So, here we are!

11 Random Facts about ME.

  • I'm a knitter
  • I'm a mom- but I didn't have her until I was 33
  • I have to start every day with coffee (this is how I know I'm addicted now)
  • I'm a huge procrastinator
  • I work best under pressure
  • People think I'm organized, but I'm not (really- I'm not!)
  • I can't stay up past 8:30 anymore. Toddler Life is hard y'all!
  • Online shopping- yeah I know I mentioned it already but it's true
  • I know the lyrics to Sophia the First, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and Doc McStuffins
  • I'm kind of obsessed with shoes. What's sad is that I don't wear them all. I'm really in love with my Tieks! They cost a pretty penny (Mr. Bush was not happy) but I wear them almost. every. day. I used to wear heels constantly but now that I'm at a school with two floors, it's more important that I don't break my neck walking up and down them. So I usually wear my Tieks or have them in my bag for when I need to trek all over the building.
  • I also love office supplies. I could spend all day walking up and down the office supply aisles at Target or inside a Staples.

Well that's a little bit about me! I've nominated five more blogs for a Liebster. Have fun with this!

Here are the rules:
1. Link back to my blog as the one who nominated you.
2. Nominate five blogs with fewer than two hundred followers.
3. Answer the questions posted.
4. Share eleven random facts about yourself.
5. Contact your nominees to let them know they have been nominated.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April Currently

Today is April 2nd and I'm linking up with Farley for the April Currently!

Listening: to the peaceful silence in my bedroom. I'm working on this blog post. Avery's in bed, husband's out of town, and animals are actually settled. I have peaceful silence- what!?!?

Loving: Loving all the signs of Spring. I have such a great view of the outside from my classroom window. I noticed today all the trees budding and the new green leaves beginning to pop out. Love it!! Avery and I have been going outside every day when we get home to just be outside in the mild Spring air. I'm really loving this. When Summer comes I know I'll miss the mild days and cool nights.

Thinking: I have jury duty next week. Boo! I would rather be in class with my students. After testing this week and spending the last week reviewing for the test I feel like we haven't spent much quality time together at all. I miss it. I've tried getting out of it and am still holding out for not getting on the jury or it being called off. I'm not going to hold my breath or anything though.

Wanting: With the school year winding down I'm starting to look forward to what's to come next year. I want to start planning for classes next year and what to change or continue.

Needing: I need a new Classroom Friendly Supplies Pencil Sharpener! Only to have another one. Fear not my friends- this is still an amazing pencil sharpener. They have one now for large pencils too!

Hours and Last Day: June 6 at 2PM (assuming no more days added on for the ice storms)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

New Blog Template and STAAR Week!

For those of you who teach in Texas, you know very well what this week is: STAAR. For those of you not familiar with STAAR it is our state's standardized test. Yay :-/ This week, my 8th graders begin  their two part STAAR journey beginning tomorrow with Reading and ending on Thursday with Math. The second half for them will be at the end of the month when they finish with Science and Social Studies.

These kids are under a lot of stress. They have to pass Math and Reading in order to go on to the 9th grade. I teach PreAP and GT this year. Last week we looked at some passages to get them reacquainted with the test. They have been doing pretty well and they're still concerned whether or not they're going to pass. This breaks my heart. These kids work so hard all year long and then it comes down to a couple of tests to determine whether or not they move on to the next grade. They already put so much pressure on themselves to excel. A grade of a B isn't good enough for a lot of them. Anything below an A is considered a failure.

With all that in mind, my co-teacher and I decided we would have a "STAAR Wars" themed review and create encouragement cards for our kids. I just needed something for them to calm them down, relax them, and make sure that they know they have all the skills that they need to be successful on this test. Basically, that they're amazing and they need to be confident in that- because I am! Thanks to Dorky Doodles at Teachers Pay Teachers for the Star Wars themed clip art! It was just perfect for what I was looking for to use with our cards. Here's a quick look:

Also, you may have noticed I have a new template! Thanks to Megan at A Bird in Hand Designs for the awesome new template. I love it! If you're looking for a new blog design, check out what she has. She's great to work and she makes it so easy. Thanks Megan!!

Have a great week everyone. Good luck if you're STAAR testing!