Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Year of Awesome - Week 4

Let the Awesome-ness continue! :)
After 3 weeks of daily calendar math I am already seeing number sense skills improving. Today we spent a chunk of our math block playing a Number Sense SCOOT Game and this may be longest amount of time that all my students were continuously engaged with a math activity. The students were reviewing some of the skills that we practice daily during our calendar time, and it gave me a great opportunity to observe them in action. AWESOME!
Tuesday. Oh, Tuesday... I don't love you. I'm sorry about that, but it IS the truth. I'm one tired teacher. I'm not sure if my students sensed I needed a pick-me-up, or if they were just each bringing their A-Game, but take a look at this clip chart:
Need I say more?! They were truly awesome today - kind to one another, polite, helpful, generous. What more could I possibly ask for?!
Today flew by. It was picture day, and of course our turn came right in the middle of our literacy block. Better than my planning time, I suppose! The most awesome today came after the school bell rang at the end of my day. I took advantage of some extra time I had after school to get some of our anchor charts posted and my bulletin board changed for next Tuesday's Open House. Take a look at a couple of them:
I am LOVING the bulletin board! :) These little cuties come from Amy Lemons.
Today's highlight was reaching 15 minutes of Read to Self! Yup, 15 whole minutes! I'm anxious for the day when I am able to begin working with students during this time, but we're not quite there yet. I tried yesterday. I attempted completing a PM Benchmark running record, but the rest of the students were just too interested in what was happening in the room when yours truly was otherwise occupied. Let's just say as we look at our stamina chart that we decided we could skip Day #13 altogether. We decided that the number 13 is sort of an unlikable number anyway. For some people... (I don't have any personal issue with it - Mr. Beattie and I actually had our very first date on a FRIDAY the 13th many moons ago!) Soooo, we ultimately decided as a group that we could leave Day #13 off of our chart and feel okay about that! ;)

Our first P.A. Day of the year, today was the perfect opportunity to grab my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season, and it was AWESOME!!
The P.A. Day wasn't so shabby, either! Who can complain about beginning the day with some team-building Minute to Win It action first thing in the morning?! Unfortunately (or maybe it is a blessing!) there are no photos of me in action to post at this point! If any are sent my way I'll be sure to share! ;)

During part of our day I was introduced to a new math resource that just arrived in our school.
Number Talks is a resource for helping students build mental math and computation strategies. I'm looking forward to taking a closer look! New resources = AWESOME!

Do you have an AWESOME story to share from your week in the classroom? Link up or leave a comment below! 

To link your blog: Grab the button below, add it to your blog post, link it back here, and then add your link at the bottom of this post!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Year of Awesome - Week 3

I can't believe that Monday marked only the SECOND Monday of this school year! I feel like I've been back at it for months already! Continuing to focus on the positives, I'm back with another week of A Year of Awesome!
This was a week full of it... from International Dot Day to the annual Terry Fox Walk. Read on to hear about this week's highlights, then link up or share some of your own.
Today was International Dot Day! Inspired by Peter Reynolds' book, "The Dot", today was a day to challenge students around the world to consider the mark they'd make on the world this year. We kicked it off with an assembly during which a group of intermediate students (my former fifth graders!) read the story and presented a call to action to the rest of the student body. Every classroom was responsible for their own special activities. My students did some writing about their plans for the year, and we did some artwork inspired by THIS blog post. Students decorated coffee filters with washable markers, painted them with water (next time we'll spray them!), then we sprinkled each with coarse salt. Once dry, we attached them together and displayed them in the windows of the main school entrance. They look awesome hanging there in welcome! :)

Tuesday was great! I think it had to be our most productive day so far. (It was only Day 11, so that's not bad!) I've begun using Lucy Calkins Units of Study for my writing lessons, and today some of my boys who had barely written two lines up to now FILLED. HIS. PAGE! Such a hush fell over the classroom after my lesson and as they started to write that I was speechless for a moment. There were a few who had trouble getting started, of course, but the majority of my class got right to work. AWESOME!

We also had a great time in math today learning about estimating. We read part of the book Great Estimations by Bruce Goldstone, and then I introduced my newest freebie: Grab & Guess - An Estimating Game.
The students played eight rounds grabbing a handful of manipulatives, estimating the number, and calculating the difference. The player with the lowest total of all eight rounds won the game! They had a ball.

You can grab a copy of this game for use in your own classroom by clicking any of the images above! It is a perfect activity for early finishers! :)

"The book order is here! The book order is here!" I'm still like a kid at Christmas when the book order arrives! There's nothing like a new book. I grabbed a whole pile of new picture books this month, including this cute one that I can't wait to use as a mentor text with my kids during writing! AWESOME!

Now on to the TRUE awesome moment of the day... As I mentioned on Tuesday, we started writing about "memorable moments" - those special little bits of our lives that we remember for whatever reason. One of the boys I had last year, who was a VERY reluctant writer, wrote about four sentences. By hand. Four beautiful, descriptive sentences that I was blown away to read today. I chose his memorable moment to read to the class as an example of using great details, and the effect was incredible. The class clapped for him, unprompted by me, and he was so pleased that those four sentences were extended by an entire page by the end of our writing block. Now THAT is truly AWESOME!!

I MUST go back to our writing block today... Our Day 3 schedule is a little mixed up because of a phys. ed. block. Today my students were working on writing when I called for their attention and asked them to finish up what they were writing and begin to tidy up to go to the gym. As I watched, only THREE students actually began packing up. THREE!! The others (including 10 boys) continued writing, or started to share with the rest of their table group what they had written. One of my boys even ended up on the verge of tears as one of the girls got a little bossy with him to clean up his things when he was frantically trying to continue writing. I was amazed by them. It was an AWESOME moment!!
Friday was a beautiful day! We gathered as a school on the back playground for our annual Terry Fox Walk to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. Last year, our little school of about 350 kids raised $1500! The totals haven't been tallied for this year's walk, but I'm sure it will be impressive, too! My little ones remarkably walked for a full hour without any whining or complaining. So awesome!
To end my week, as my students were leaving the classroom for their last-period French class, one of my girls made a fuss over giving a Heart Garden recognition. When she prefaced reading it with, "This one is a little out of the ordinary..." I knew she was up to something. ;) She presented it to ME for being "such a kind and fun teacher". I wish I'd taken a photo of it before I left for the weekend. How AWESOME!

Do you have an AWESOME story to share from your week in the classroom? Link up or leave a comment below! 

To link your blog: Grab the button below, add it to your blog post, link it back here, and then add your link at the bottom of this post!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Year of Awesome - Week 2

Happy Weekend! Week #2 is now over, and finally things are beginning to settle. Routines have been established, expectations reviewed, and units of learning begun. I'm reflecting on some of the best moments of my week, and hope that you'll link up at the end of this post with some of your own AWESOME moments.

Today was the day our Read to Self time started to feel like it would progress. We had a little dip last week, but I think all my boys (Did I mention I have 15 and only 5 girls?!) were still taking in all of the wonderful things around them and weren't quite ready to get down to work. ;) Today we hit 4 minutes of stamina building, and I'm optimistic that the number will climb quickly. AWESOME!
Today we finally worked our way through the entire calendar math package in my Interactive Calendar Math for the SMART Board package. This is something I used last year as well, and just loved it. With daily practice working with place value, patterning, calendar and representing numbers I saw such growth and mastery in my students. I have two boys in my class this year who were with me last year and even after the summer break they STILL remember the skills!! AWESOME!

After another dip in our Read to Self stamina yesterday, we hit 5 whole minutes!! Maybe it was the great new posters on the wall that we could refer to... ;)
It was so AWESOME that we did a happy dance. Really, we did! Click the image below to grab a free copy of these posters for your own classroom! AWESOME!

Today I was surprised by a visit from one of last-year's students and her parents at the end of the day. They stopped in to say hello and share some photos from a very special family event from this summer. Knowing that I was still thought of and important to this family really touched me. That's what teaching is about for me. That's AWESOME!

Sometimes it's the little things. The end of our first 5-day week has arrived and I'm still on my feet. We had a fire drill today and my little ones did beautifully! Book orders were due and enough came in to earn me a nice little bunch of Bonus Bucks for some new books for the classroom! AWESOME!

Do you have an AWESOME story to share from your week in the classroom? Grab the button below, add it to your blog post, link it back here, and then add your link below!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Managing Paperwork with iDoceo

You just may change your tune if you own the iDoceo app! :) I spent part of my Saturday marking my students' Words Their Way assessments. In my school we refer to this data fairly frequently throughout the year, so I keep these handy at the front of my filing cabinet. (You may have read my posts about our Words Their Way groupings last year.) As I was finishing them up I had a little revelation... I could use my iDoceo app to save these results in the "Resources" section! I did have to play around with this a little to set it up exactly how I wanted it, so thought I'd share so others can manage it more easily.

In my first attempt I found that all the photos of the marking sheets ended up in my photo stream/camera roll. I was hoping there was a way to have them contained within the app, and after a tiny bit of digging I found the solution:

With this changed, the images no longer appear in my iPad camera roll.

Now for adding the documents. I wanted the feature guides available so I could quickly see where the strengths and needs are for each child.
To add this page to each student's profile I simply had to tap and hold the student's name, then tap "Edit".
The box that opens up will show the files already stored for this student in this subject area. To add a new file, click the paper clip icon in the top-left corner.

Then select "Take picture", aim and shoot!

To view the files for your students, you can visit the "Resources" tab. (This will show you all of the resources you've added to iDoceo - you can filter by students vs. classes by clicking "Students".)
You can also access student files by visiting a particular student's profile:
I'm thrilled to know that I can store images of student work samples in my iDoceo app and no longer have to maintain large paper files throughout the year. This obviously doesn't take the place of portfolios in the classroom, but can make the data more accessible to the teacher, when and where it is needed!

Leave me a comment below if you've found this useful! I'd love to know about any iDoceo tips and tricks you've discovered!