Thursday, September 6, 2012

Keeping up!

My hats go off to all of you in bloggie land that keep up with everything and have time to blog!   I have neglected my poor little baby blog, but I am trying! :)  I have a great group of students this year.  It was crazy to think we were issuing our mid grading period progress reports when most of you all were just starting school.  I do have some exciting things that I have done and/or planned.  I also love some of the exciting activities that I've found!  (Gotta love Pinterest!)  More to come soon!


Homework has long been an issue I've struggled with in my room.  If the concept is new, I never graded the homework for accuracy.  What began to happen is some students started slacking off and not doing or completing it.  Though I have used discipline to handle this, I kept thinking there has to be a better way.  I'm not sure that I've found it or not, but this is what I'm doing:

When the assignment is not being graded, each student will be awarded up to 10 completion points.  After 10 "non-graded" assignments, a participation grade based on those points will be awarded.  I've never given participation grades before.  My logic here is that homework is only 10% of the overall grade.  If I award up to 4 participation grades out of 10 total homework grades then only up to 4 points of the overall grade came from these.  These grades will also show a pattern with work ethic, and those that always try and work hard will be rewarded, if even only slightly.  

I keep 4 clipboards hanging behind my desk in my room.  Each period has one for homework and homework only.  I love this, but really want to make those ugly clipboards a bit more pleasing to the eye! I use stamps (love me some Vistaprint!)for this:  a blue "homework complete" and a red "Incomplete ___/10" 

How do you all deal with homework that was meant for practice?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hanging in there!

Whew!  I have been catching up tonight on the blogs I follow after a storm left us without a working modem and printer at home over the weekend.  I'm not sure if I'm jealous of the longer summer that many have or if I'm thankful for being over the first few days of chaos at school!  :)  In my classes, personalities are starting to show and I'm getting a clearer picture of the academic levels of the students.  I am truly blessed with a great group of students.  I have so much I want to share - from more ways I organize my room to learning strategies I've been using, but as for now I'm trying to keep my head above water between work, home, and fall sports (baseball is the thing with the fellas at my house).  I will be back to blog again really soon! :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Setting Up IMNs

The year has started....already!  The last two days have left me exhausted physically, but mentally energized in the potential of the year!  Today, day 2 of school, we tackled setting up our Interactive Math Notebooks (IMNs).  Who knew numbering could be tricky?! :)  Also, while it wasn't much of an issue, I do think on future supply lists I will specify I am requesting a 100 sheet / 200 page composition book.  A few students had books that only have 80 pages.  Anyway....homework for the first day of school was to complete the "All about me" title page.  Some were very creative. 

In class today, I began with having them number the pages.  I had them find the middle of the composition book (where the threads are visible) and label those pages 100 and 101.  This was their checkpoint to make sure they were on track with their numbering.

After numbering, we glued in the table of contents.  Last year, I did a table of contents for each unit.  This year, I did a full table of contents at the beginning.  I plan to use a highlighter in the same color of each unit's tab (printed with the Dinah Zike's cd) to designate that unit in the table of contents.  (I hope that makes sense).

We also glued down the notebook rules.  I found this on Pinterest, but when I went back to give credit, the link was broken. :(  On the facing page, we glued the "How to Study Math" guide.  I love this.  A fellow teacher gives this to her students every year and shared with me.  Isn't that great?!

Finally, I typed out the vocabulary for the entire year.  This was glued and taped into the notebooks.  I left space on the glossary pages to indicate which IMN page each word would be found on.  I plan to use the Frayer model to define the words within the book.  I got the vocabulary from my state's units.  Given this is our first year with common core, I stuck with their list completely.  I figure that next year I'll be adding other words I think are important to the year.  I printed the students' copy on colored paper.  The bottom paper was glued down and the one on top was taped using clear packing tape.

If you are considering interactive notebooks, keep the following in mind:

1.  If they will need to cut their papers (as mine do to save time), students will need easy access to scissors.
2.  If you allow the use of rubber cement, GO OVER HOW TO USE THE EVERYDAY for TWO WEEKS!!  If I said, "just a dot, not a lot" once, I said it a million times last year.  I just didn't take the time I should have to get up procedures.
3.  Have the pages in your notebook done COMPLETELY before having starting with the students.  Every page doesn't need to be done, but the one(s) for the lesson should be.
4.  Start a Donor's Choose campaign to get an Elmo! :)  I really think having one would make showing the students sooooo much easier!
5.  Be patient!  (I keep reminding myself!)
6.  Be prepared!!
7.  Remember that what you may consider a "not-so-great" IMN is often better than traditional notes. 

Last year, I attempted these for the first time with my students.  I found they were VERY time consuming!  Again, I attribute part of that to me failing to spend enough time with them on expectations at the beginning of the year.  Still, at the end of year, they were able to find their notes from the beginning of the year.  That proved the notebooks had merit and gave me the motivation to try them again this year.  They are an excellent tool.  I hope we can share ideas as we go!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Classroom themes...

I've never been one to have much of a theme in my classroom.  I've done a color scheme, but not so much of a theme.  This year, though, I am going with a...nautical theme.  That's probably not much of a surprise with my blog's title.  :)  While there are touches of my theme throughout the room.  It is basically a blue, yellow, and red color scheme.  

I already had several shelves that my dad and I built a few years ago and painted red.  {I was doing a red/black color scheme...GO DAWGS!}  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these shelves almost as much as the man that made them! The best part of them being red?  No one can try to claim them!  

My hubby made me a couple more shelves this year.  There is very little storage in our rooms, so the shelves made were out of necessity. 
Here's a pic of my Mr. Wonderful hard at work in the heat of a southeastern July!

Here's the finished product! This one houses each student's portfolio for the year.  All unit tests go in here in addition to other work samples. There will be a whole other post on the portfolios soon.  I hope to get some input with them! :)  The other shelf contains the manipulatives that the students will need easy access to.  I organized all these for the upcoming year in the shoe boxes.  I hope to use them often for general class instruction as well as remediation and/or enrichment. The yellow trays?  Krylon spray paint over existing black ones.  I love how the color pops!

The other long red shelf will house crates for every unit.   I will post more about this system later.

These are caddies that are on all of my "desk tables." I shared more specifics on this post - Desk Caddies.

Posters...can't take credit for most of these either.  I'm beginning to think I am not really creative, but I can FIND really creative stuff!!  I found some great ideas from Sherrie at Middle School Math Rules!  I snagged the standards for mathematical practice posters from Teachers Pay Teachers - click here for that!

This poster is outside my door.  I want everyone that enters to know how I feel about my classroom.  I have to give credit to Krissy for this fabulous creation!  Please check out all of her fabulous work at Venspired Learning  I certainly hope it is the sentiment of teachers everywhere.   (And sorry about the flash.) 

My bulletin boards - there is only one board in my room, so "made" another on a plain wall. The one I "made" will have my anchor charts and word walls.  I cannot believe that I didn't use anchor charts until the end of last school year!  What?!?  Using the post-it chart paper, I will change these out easily as we go.

My curtains - nautical signal flags.  Can you believe that I made these? :)  Sewed them with my mom's machine.  My hubby helped with the grommets.  They do spell something, too! 

Hangings - never did this before this year either!  I'm honestly not sure how much I'll like them as the year goes on.  I'm just thinking of the dust they are sure to collect.  Still, they do add so much to the room. (After working on my "Foldables" section, I realized the section was much too large. I'm going to keep a running table of contents for our interactive notebooks there.)  The rate yourself section was a Pinterest find!  That original post comes from Alison at Eberopolis.  Be sure to check that out too!  I'm not sure how well you can see, but I also love my corner folder shelf my dad built for me.  It is super handy and works well in the small space.

My desk -I picked up this oh so cute lamp at Hobby Lobby. My hubby tells me it looks like a food warmer.  We agree to disagree! ;)  I got the organizer at Staples and I LOVE it!  It consolidates soooo much!  The candy dish - a surprising find at TJ Maxx - and a steal at $6!  (I really should have straightened those papers before taking the picture!)

These shelves house my resources.  The long one (barely visible) under the window has 6 crates on the top shelf - one for each unit.  The bottom houses more manipulatives.  The tall shelf is full of books and such.  I added the curtain this year.  On the wall under my "pencils only" sign will be a calculator pocket chart.  It finally came in Friday afternoon...just in time for Monday's open house.  My podium...yes, my dad built that too!

Hope you enjoyed!  Please leave links to your rooms too!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Anchor Chart "Bulletin Board"

At the end of last school year, I began creating anchor charts with my students.  I can't believe I never did so earlier!  The problem was I really didn't have a great place to display them afterwards without taking up my already limited whiteboard space.  This was my solution!  Given I am already doing a nautical theme (more on that later), this was a perfect addition.  I will be able to include at least 3 of these charts (with sticky back) at any given time - possibly even 4.  I'm not one to change boards all the time, so this allows for change with little effort!  Win - win!  The word "charts" is actually done in rope from the fabric section in Walmart.  I hot-glued it in place.    This is not a real "bulletin board."  I hot-glued paper to the wall as well as the trim to tie it all together and provide for a little more color.  Do you guys create anchor charts?  If so, where or how do you display them?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Desk Caddies...

This is perhaps one of my most favorite things.  My dad and I (okay more like he) made these for me a last summer.  I attended a workshop on interactive notebooks.  The facilitator had these and I knew I must have them too!  They are awesome.  Everything is right there!  (And some very clever student from last year says hi! ;) ) 

A lazy susan is attached to the bottom.  I was able to purchase these off of ebay for a reasonable price.  I didn't have them covered with felt last year, and they would mar the desks so I hot-glued the felt to take care of that problem.  

The caddy is the size of my personal-sized white board.  I also keep  file folders that act as privacy screens for quizzes/test, etc.

On top, he placed another board with holes through that for the rubber cement to be held in.  

The containers are drink can coozies.  There are pros and cons to these.  The pros:  quiet, colorful, easy to assemble and replace.  Cons:  students LOVE to write on them.  One even got cut last year.  I guess the scissors were too tempting.  I did a rainbow last year with each "table" getting a different color.  This year, I went with all navy/yellow combination.   The cost of the coozies can be reasonable provided you get them on sale.  I got them 2/$1.  I think last year I may have even got them 3/$1 from Michael's.  I cut the two side ones (the yellow ones) down to hold glue sticks and a pencil sharpener.  

I am always asked if students take the supplies.  The answer?  Not really.  Sometimes the erasers go missing, but the other supplies are usually left alone.

How do students get supplies easily in your room?