Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Update to Teacher Field Trip, etc.

I went to a workshop and wrote about it in this blog entry. It involved taking pictures and then doing something with those pictures. (That's the very short version.) I finally got back what I did, so I'm posting those pictures here, along with the original picture for one of my projects. (The other picture was provided by them.) In other news, I moved all my edublog entries to here. I was going to start yet another teacher blog at WordPress (where I had a person blog at one point) and put it all there, but I decided to stay here instead. Photobucket Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Monday, July 16, 2012


This is the last anchor chart (for now, at least) that has a google doc version. As I said before, obviously you can change the doc around to suit you. I will be using the docs for my fourth graders in their notebooks. Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App click here


The google doc for the Summarizing anchor chart is now posted. Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App google doc for summarizing

I recently went to my first teacher workshop at Jonathan's. There I discovered something that would be absolutely brilliant for me, and perhaps you as well. My problem: I have many posters (since I'm beginning my 14th year of teaching), but generally what goes up for the first day of school stays there until it's time to take them down for the AIMS testing week. Sometimes I even actually think about putting one up, but then decide that it only covers one day's math lesson and is too much work for that, etc. At the workshop the other participant and I took a math poster and a handy poem for remembering types of triangles, and did our thing. My book pages aren't attached yet, but the pictures are below. Here's the thing -- I think this is awesome! I can see using my posters that are languishing in darkness and turning them into books that are accessible the entire year. Are you finished early? Great -- go read a poster book. Additionally, many people can process what they read better if it's in their hands and they can touch it, than if it's stapled to a bulletin board. If I get more done, I will post them here! In the meantime... Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Docs for Anchor Charts

I love the anchor charts but I want my students to be able to use the information no matter which direction they're facing in the room!  To that end, I'm beginning to turn the anchor charts into Google Docs.  That way anyone can access them and print them out or modify them for their own use.  One reason I'm not posting them to Teachers Pay Teachers is the anchor charts (and thus docs) are a combination of original ideas and the ideas of some or many other people.  How can I charge you for something that started out as your idea to begin with??????

2012-06-23133431, Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App
google docs version

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

google docs version

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Anchor Charts

There are tons of anchor charts on Pinterest, and I always see them in classrooms.  I never really get to make them when I'm thinking about them, though.  So one of this summer's projects (after spending a lot of time on Pinterest and getting ideas from live and on-line workshops as well) was to make some anchor charts.

I freely admit to taking these ideas from other places and people, although I have added some of my own bits as well.  For example, the tattling one began with this.  I just added the bottom part.  The Red/Green I got from Whole Brain Teaching, and will be added to as time passes.

Hello, again!

The Twitter Purpleacious background comes from here.  I haven't figured out a way to get it to do what I actually want, but I do like it like this as well!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Post With No Name

Apparently I had stuff in another blog that would rightfully belong here, so I just finished moving it all over. That might be a bit of a shock, if you were here recently. The last day of school for students was last Wednesday (May 23). This was the first year that I didn't take photos at the end of the school year. We actually went on a real field trip, which is only my second in five years of teaching here. I didn't take pictures then, either, although the other teacher took photos of her class (both the last day of school and on the field trip). It was her last day with students at our school, so that would be part of it. I guess it's just been a rough year. On top of that, I had to retain a child, for only my second time in 13 years. It's not just that the child wasn't successful in fourth grade -- the child didn't come to fourth grade ready for THIRD grade. He is that behind. His progress was minimal. Yet I couldn't get the person in charge of such things to test him for learning disabilities, because she was "too busy." His sister was tested, though, and qualified for services. I have on his paperwork that he MUST be tested as soon as school resumes! It's sooooooooooo wrong to just deny him the extra help he needs because no one feels like taking the time out to test him. And what are the chances that he'd be acting out a lot less if he were feeling a lot less overwhelmed at school? Seriously, people! So many frustrating things happened this year, and technically it's not over. Last night I participated in a webinar, and it was awesome. My idea of good teacher workshops is that you immediately want to try what you learned in your classroom. Since school is out though, I'll have to wait until the beginning of August. On the other hand, today was one day of a two-day workshop, and day one was truly horrible. I do the "write 750 words a day" thing, and I managed to write 600 of them about how awful the workshop was. For now, though, I'll point you to the good one. Anyone who has ever heard my "Class, class!" will find at least that familiar tidbit here. There is so much more than that one thing. This is also where I got the SuperSpeed Math and SuperSpeed 1000 from. PLEASE take the time to check it out if you're a teacher. It is a great resource!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

And In This Corner...

So, we’ll start with MG. When we have PE, he does the usual smack-talk/taunting stuff that you can expect from a boy-child goalie — but when the other team scores, and cheers, he cries and stomps off. He also lies like a rug. Then we have JM, who does what he wants and has no remorse. Ever. Consequences don’t bother him because at least he got to do whatever it was that entered into his mind to do. His mantra is pretty much “OK, whatever.” We have BM, who swears at kids, has been known to inappropriately touch another boy (same kid, same spot, twice), and will kick or hit or punch or throw to the ground whoever he feels like it, whenever that urge strikes. Finally (from my own room, at least), we have JC, who doesn’t lie because he has a hard enough time talking or answering questions, but has been known to call kids names (he likes to tell kids they’re stupid or idiots, apparently). So: Almost immediately after school on Thursday, EC comes back to the classroom. “Did you miss me already?” Of course he did, but that wasn’t the reason for his return. JM punched MG in the stomach a few times and ran. MG was now in the nurse’s office, and JM was gone home. The counselor who handles such things told me she’d be gone the next day, so here’s the information, and just handle it. Right. Let us note that we have had anti-bullying stuff until it’s coming out our ears. Kind of like in Syracuse when we spent a huge chunk of fifth grade in D.A.R.E., and it turned out that half the class drank alcohol during that time. So the next day, JM says that MG did “this” (and demonstrated) and called JM a girl during lunch recess. That Code of Honor culture that they mentioned in The Outliers? It is VERY strong here. However, there is a huge local (city-wide) bullying problem being played out in the media because in a number of schools (charter and high school, mostly, I think) kids are reporting bullying and absolutely nothing is done. Many parents don’t have the option to pull their kids from school, nor should they have to. So I get to school and run into the principal and vice principal, and tell them what happened. They are livid, because they were on the premises at the time and weren’t notified. (Not mad at me.) So JM gets in-school suspension and the work we’re doing so he can keep up. I remind him of the legal seriousness of what he’s done (nothing else matters to him). MG’s mother has, according to JM, pressed charges. So then I ask MG what happened. He claims that he stopped playing soccer and then went over to the fence and started doing jumping jacks. Seriously???? And he was breathing hard, but never said a word to JM. I point out to him that (A), he told me that his aunt’s electricity was turned off each Tuesday and that’s why he couldn’t do his reading homework and (B), since he spent a great deal of time avoiding activity and was a goalie because it didn’t involve much work, I had a very hard time believing that he suddenly decided to do jumping jacks for the first time all year. I told him that I’m not trying to “blame the victim,” but I was very much interested in his not spending his whole life being beat up (this has come up before, a few times). We also discussed turning around and walking away when you need to cry. There’s nothing wrong with crying, but if a bully can make you cry, then you’ll be a target. So here I’m thinking that life will be down to a dull roar soon, as JM is back in the room today. Yeah. Except that yesterday afternoon the assistant principal comes to me. BM was picking on a second grader while waiting for the bus. Picking on as in walloping him with his backpack or something. OK, I will escort him to the bus. He had like seven minutes of recess, so he promptly went outside and slammed JM to the ground. (JM is kind of small — Julia could probably slam him to the ground.) Really? You really need to do this?? I sent them straight to the office when I heard. Let him explain it to the principal. Then the counselor wants to see JC. This boy M (a real sweet guy who also gets bullied a lot) is saying that JC is making fun of him, etc. OK, I’ll deal with this, but I have to go into my room to take care of the rest of my class at the moment. They are still in the hall. After school, I get a call from M’s mother. She is upset because JC basically got a slap on the wrist or less — for telling M that he (JC) was going to sic his dog on M to kill him! Waaaaaaaaaaaiiiiit! I hadn’t heard this part!! The mom said that maybe she should talk to M again. I said no — I know M. He’s a good kid and an honest kid, and I like him. (Mom was happy to hear that, but it’s true.) If he tells you something happened, it happened. This was simply the first I’d heard of it. So she wanted more done than a warning, which is what I think she said he got. I said of course, and we’re open until 4 — she should just come down and talk to whomever. She was at work though, so she couldn’t, but she was definitely going to follow through. I asked her to keep me informed. Since it’s Tuesday (and a very long one, at that!!!), we had grade level meeting after school. I told M’s teacher what happened with the phone call. A few weeks ago, they upped the anti-bullying thing by coming up with these forms that kids could fill out, and expect immediate results. So M filed the report about the threat like two weeks ago!! But nothing every happened. He filed more since then — nothing. Finally, today was the name-calling thing, and so his teacher told him to go directly to the counselor and make her listen. But there weren’t really any solutions we could come up with during grade level meeting. The problems don’t happen in my classroom. They happen on the playground. The playground monitors don’t really monitor (we’ve had that problem here since I got here). I feel like we’re playing Survivor. Only 4 more weeks!! On the plus side, yesterday I started this extra math unit (since we’re done with testing and not doing AIMS prep any more). We’re learning about checks. Yesterday they started with $100 to put in their check registers. They had to write a check to a classmate for ten dollars, deduct it, and give it to the classmate, who had to add it in on theirs. Then they had to write a second check in any amount to any student, and put it in. Today I handed the kids who were lined up on time to come in a check, but each check had a different amount on it. I pointed out that the teachers all do the same job, but we don’t all make the same amount of money. I knew they didn’t know that. For one math assignment they did yesterday, I paid them $5 math kit money for each correct answer. Then they learned to fill in a deposit slip with the cash, plus a check if they were on time to get one. Then they had to put the deposit in their check register. After that, they paper-clipped it together and put it in the basket that said Bank of Calderone on it. They also learned how to endorse the check I gave them. They are loving this, a lot more than the graphing unit lessons, although graphing isn’t bad either.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


OMG, the AIMS (tests) are finally over! Two tests per day times four days, and each test ends up running around an hour and a half, by the time everyone is done. Yesterday they were starting to look like they were ready for Exploding Brain Syndrome, so I got out paper lunch sacks and taught them to make puppets and how to write a script. They finished making the puppets this morning, and will finish the scripts this afternoon (in theory). Then tomorrow they can practice some more and present their puppet shows. We don’t have SFA (reading), so we will have the time to do that. For the entire testing period, plus before, I’m walking around in circles. That’s a lot of circles. Tuesday night I went to be shortly after I got home and slept until 5:30. Zzzzzzz. Today after the last test, we did “circle time” and debriefed. We went around the circle for each question: How were the tests the same as what you expected? How were they different? What did you do this school year that helped you do well? What did you do this school year that kept you from doing your best on the AIMS? What will you do or do differently next year? Debriefing is good. It doesn’t make sense to me to just move on after the test is over. There needs to be at least some small amount of processing. Some were surprised at how boring, long, and hard it was. They expected a little boring, a little long, and a little hard, but not like what they got. I have told them that I don’t worry about those who recognize that the test is hard, especially since every single question is written so that half the students answering it get it wrong. I worry about those who think the tests are easy, because they more than likely failed. You have to really concentrate on these questions (even I have had problems with some of the practice test questions), so if they can just zip through it, it’s a bad sign. Usually my “zippers” are those who can’t read at grade level anyway and have no clue what they’re reading. But, now it’s over, except for the part where a chunk of my evaluation is based on their AIMS scores and progress. Progress = FFB needs to move up to Approaches, A needs to move up to Meets, and M needs to move up to Exceeds. Um, yeah. Me, I’m happy if a kid who Meets still does the next year. Every year you have to get more answers right to get Meets, so getting the same level 2 years in a row IS making progress.

Friday, March 16, 2012

teacher field trip

So yesterday I went with Suzanne to an OMA workshop. What an awesome experience!! It was more like a retreat, in that it was that relaxing and rejuvenating. For one part, we had to go out and take a bunch of pictures. Usually, when I take a picture, I look at the Big Picture. The presenter was more into (for herself) doing close-ups of things, like the blossom of the flower. I tried to keep that in mind when I was out there. Then we had to do projects with one of our photos. They kept what we did (for now), so I'll wait until it comes back to explain it better. But it had to do with using different symbols and designs to represent shadings, and only looking at/using part of the photo. My favorite photos from the numerous ones I took are below. I was fascinated with the spider web that had a little funnel (and thrilled that I didn't see an actual spider). I decided that I have to have internet (but definitely not TV). I was way behind in posting grades and doing both reading prep and documentation because it all happens on the web site below, and there's not enough time at lunch or after school to do it at school. (I carpool, so I can't just stay until 5 to make sure everything's done.) I also have to access math on-line. We don't have workbooks any more. Any paperwork we need, we have to get from the web site, especially to download what needs to go up on the Promethean Board. Being able to do it from home again will be a big help! Plus, I'm going to have the highest reading group for the last quarter, which will be a tremendous change! I (finally!!!) had a conference with one boy's mother. He is very bright in math, but it doesn't show because the tests (and the AIMS) are story problems, and he is very low in reading. One reason is that he doesn't read! He won't do his reading homework. So I got to find out (a benefit of conferences) that what he says doesn't match what's happening at home. I was worried that his mother was going to be this hostile, horrible person who was going to blame me for everything since WWII. Nope. She was a perfectly nice woman who has her hands full with four sons from high school to age 2, but who is very much interested in her son's progress and does try to get him to read. SFA web site math text web site spider web: Photobucket my favorite, because it's so absolutely typical: Photobucket anyone who's been around small children will recognize this as a birthday cake: Photobucket The rest of the pics are here

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


So Monday we go to library (we go every other week), and when we get back I see a tail go by on the counter behind a box. I’m thinking it’s a large lizard. I’m wrong. It’s a mouse. I knew there were mice in the next room after the bathroom, and they had been in this room before. So they set out two traps overnight, and two were caught. Of course, there’s no such thing as two mice. So yesterday, the mice were taunting us. Really. One teenage mouse would say to his friends “Watch this!” He’d run out, stick his tongue out at us, run back, and high-five the other mice. We ended up in a Portable. We packed our math, writing notebooks, and backpacks, and spent the rest of the morning and afternoon elsewhere. There had been a small amount of seeds left from the science kit that I couldn’t find, but they sure did. Today we clean. There’s no food in the room, but there are tons of papers, and apparently they like nesting. I never have time to do a good job of it, but the principal said to have the kids help. Well, of course! Duh. BTW, I don’t have internet at home any more. My students loans are $300 a month now. That takes care of any remaining frivolity. I can still try to post from work this early in the morning, though. Signing off from Mouse Central…

Saturday, March 3, 2012

This Week

I try not to post just a festival of gloom and doom, but sometimes that means that it's hard to find something to post. For example, this week saw the suicide of a crossing guard, which we had to tell the children about (just his death, although all the neighborhood kids know because he lived in their trailer park), a couple of students (SFA, not homeroom) getting CPS or police involvement and being put in foster care, having to be on the look-out for a relative (in one of those cases) who might show up to contact the students, etc. I did start tutoring again. My student loans are not pretty, and I totally downgraded my phone to the lowest cell phone; it doesn't even take pictures. But in the end, it does what I need it to do, which is make and receive calls and texts. Anyway, the lady at the tutoring company will see if she can get me more kids. I have one boy in Kindergarten. I had his sister in my last tutoring bunch, and know his older brother. He cracks me up. He wasn't there Thursday, but they had me do another kid as an emergency, which was fine. He's in K or 1, and doesn't speak English. Some letters he recognized by name and some by sound. After doing various things, I finally got out this book. We looked at the pictures to see what they were made of (my favorite is a sofa in a hotel lobby that's made of gloves). This got him excited and talking! As he recognized things, we could go over their names in Spanish and English. In the meantime, in my reading class, I've started bringing in things. For example, one vocabulary word was skillet. I told them what it was, showed a picture, but finally brought in a cast-iron fry pan, which is what was used in the story. Then it made more sense. I brought in sea shells for the next story. It also involved chopping cocoa from a tree, and a vocabulary word was bitter. You can't really explain bitter, and they really couldn't fathom the difference between cocoa and chocolaty goodness, so I brought in powdered baking cocoa. I gave them each a 1/4 teaspoon of it. They looked so disappointed at the measly amount until they tasted it! Now they get both cocoa and bitter!