Monday, July 14, 2014

Chore Monster (an awesome parent tool)

During the school year I could not speak more highly of Class Dojo (read post here). My student's LOVED it, and even better...it's FREE! About the last three weeks of school we even used it to have a competition in the room: Boys vs. Girls. It was so much fun!

So of course when I saw this advertisement (on one of the many many apps, websites, blogs, who knows!?!?) for Chore Monster...and it's also FREE...I had to check it out!
I must say...so far WE love it! I had a really cute chore chart on my kitchen wall, but it had lost it's "luster" and I must admit was having difficulties keeping up with it...no excuses seriously I only have one kid! 

The basics of chore monster are that you set up a parent account (there's an app), add your children (they will need separate log ins), choose different chores (you can even make your own, and choose pictures for your littles that aren't reading yet, you can also set different times for the chores to be completed), set up point values for the chores, then set rewards (can be extra TV time, date with mom or dad, you don't have to spend $$) that they can spend their points on! The child logs on, chooses the chore they completed, log it...then here is the awesome part...I get a notification on my phone to verify that she completed that chore before she is even given the points!!! 

This is a parenting technique I have shared during so many parent conferences...I just never came up with an app!!!! I always suggested setting up rewards at home when I was placing students on behavior checklists for the classroom, now I can just suggest an app or online source!



Right now my daughter LOVES it!!! She is working to earn a family night out at the fair. She has never been one to pick up after playing with one item, despite my desperate attempt to teach her to do so. She is more of a pull everything out, leave it out, play with something else, then whine and complain when it takes forever to clean it up at the end of the evening. She quickly realized that she would earn points every time she cleans up...I am toy clutter free at this moment! 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Organizing My Professional Reading

I am making my way through a lot of professional reading this summer (if you can't tell by other posts). Fortunately, I didn't have to buy many of the books (some of them I wanted to), some were loaned to me. So, as I mentioned before I couldn't write in the books so I had to take notes. A lot of time people use notebooks, but I prefer sticky notes...now what to do with all those sticky notes?

BINDER! Have I ever told you how much I love binders? I do, I really do! Even my students had binders!

I prefer binders to files in a filing cabinet. I keep all my lessons and examples of organizers and such in binders arranged by subject (usually have to have two binders per subject), and then each binder is broken into topic then lessons within the topic.

I don't have pictures of my binders right now (seeing that I moved...again), but I saw this post by A Teeny Tiny Teacher (click here to read), and it's pretty similar to how I use binders to organize. I love being able to see everything and not guess which drawer and which file something is in.

So here is my Professional Reading binder!

These are my standard supplies for building my binders: a binder (clearview, and I always use black to keep everything the same, as well as the dark color hides the bumps and dirt that can occur), clear sheet protectors, and paper.


I then printed the book title of the book and author on regular, white sheets of paper. After that I began transferring my sticky note notes to the printed pages.


I could fit six on a page and then placed them front/back in the sheet protectors.


I was also given a bunch of magazines to read, and quickly realized that I can take the articles I like the most out of the magazines, make notes on them, and insert them in my binder as well.



For the binder cover and side I'll use my usual chevron template. I bought it on TpT and it's totally worth it! 


Do you binder stuff????


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Summer Reading: Texts and Lessons...and My Journal

Professional development book number two complete. It was more of a resource book read then a professional development book, but may be something I could use when teaching professional development.

It is an AWESOME resource! AWESOME!

The book: Texts and Lessons for Content-Area Reading by Harvey "Smokey" Daniels and Nancy Steineke


The book says it is geared for Middle School and High School students, but I could totally see 4th and 5th grade students using these as well...even if you don't use the articles they provide the lessons for the strategies are WONDERFUL!

The first 17 or so pages are set up as a "why use this book" and "how to use this book" section. Short and sweet with plenty of real classroom examples! 


Right after you have the strategy lessons and articles. Each lesson contains: time allowed, group setting, materials needed, steps, variations, model, tips, and sometimes web ideas. Again AMAZING!!! It what is even better...they ENCOURAGE you to copy copy copy! The last portion of the book is Text Set Lessons...which use multiple strategies taught in the first section and have the students go deeper in their thinking and explaining.


As I gear up for Summer School (starting tomorrow)...yikes. I reviewed my brainstorm from the end of the school year regarding what I am going to attempt, I jotted down in my journal on one of those restless nights when you brain goes 100 mph.

Which brings me to my next topic of "journaling". Yep journaling...not even a word, but I'm using it!

My dearest friend sent me a beautiful journal to start writing my thoughts and ideas whenever they came about. People use journals for different things, but when I hear the word journal I have two immediate thoughts...1. What I teach my kids to do  2. I journal...I blog!

I mean yes, I also journal in my classroom, but more in the way of modeling...and not so personal.

Others use journaling as a healing process; a way to move forward, remember, clear the head, etc.

Whatever reason you choose to journal, I highly encourage it. Even if you blog the good 'ole fashion paper pencil/pen is almost therapeutic...even if it's just lists and doodles or a combination (like mine).




So do you journal?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Summer Reading: Unmistakable Impact

I finished my first professional development book: Unmistakable Impact by Jim Knight. I would be lying if I said it was easy reading. I struggled through it and I'm not sure why.

It wasn't that it didn't have anything to offer, because it did. Maybe I was trying to focus "too hard" on it. I'm trying to "glean" as much information as I can from anywhere about being a good instructional coach.

Before I even finished the first chapter I told my husband: "Now I remember why I don't want to get my doctorate right now!"

Again there was A TON of good information in this book...A TON, I mean look at all the notes I took.


As a reader I've always struggled with college level texts that included a lot of citing and notations...this book is FULL of them. For me it makes the reading/comprehension choppy and doesn't flow well.

I found myself skimming and reading the "cliffs notes" (to sum it up sections) at the end of each chapter.

By no means am I telling you not to read this book...it is a good book! Just make sure you have time, limited distractions, time, and a place to take notes!

Here are a few of my own "cliffs notes" :











Because this isn't my book (as mentioned before)...I think I'm going to start a three-ring notebook with sheet protectors that will contain these sticky notes, articles I enjoy, etc. I'll keep you posted and put pictures up showing this.

Hope your summer reading is going well!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer Reading List

My summer reading list continues to grow and I feel as though my progress is slow, but I'll make it (does someone want to watch my 5yr old for a week while I go on a binge reading).

Here is a glimpse of some of the things I'm reading.


But I also have a "fun" reading list that keeps taunting me!


Right now I'm reading Unmistakable Impact, I'll do a book study update when I get done!

So I'm one that has to mark my passages and make notes...it's a comprehension strategy I teach AND practice, seeing that this book in on loan to me from my new principal I solely have sticky notes.


This afternoon while I was trying to read a few pages my daughter brought me a stack of her books, complete with her own sticky notes!


Of course being the teacher mommy we went through each book and I had her tell me why she put the sticky note on that particular page (can't ever start too early)...she did awesome!


This page was because of the cowgirl boots (she wears hers every chance she gets), and of course the beautiful dresses!

So, what is on your summer reading list?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Off The Grid and A Bit Of A Change

Summer started, FINALLY and we hit the road for a little off the grid camping trip! It was great, and a nice "reset"...wish the weather was a little nicer though.

Our little cabin...enough to keep the wind and drizzle off!


Hanging out! (keeping each other warm)


The one walk we got in before the weather turned yucky!


Next item on the list...if you follow me on FB I teased you with a little picture and a status update: Wait didn't I just do this?!?!? Change is coming!


I guess I've left you hanging long enough...

I have accepted an Instructional Coach position at the middle school (right down the hill)!

Needless to say my 5th graders were thrilled, then disappointed because I'm not actually going to be in a classroom with them. But excited once again because they get to see me all the time!

In Georgia we were extremely fortunate to have all different types of Instructional Coaches in each building (Math Coach, Literacy Coach, Technology Coach, etc.), however in a smaller school district most buildings have one general Instructional Coach.

I'm excited for the change and ready for the challenge....ready to grow and learn (I have a lot of learning to do!). I've already started reading some great books, that I'll share with you over the course of the summer.

I hope that this will allow for some great blog posts and a larger view of what is happening in our little school district.

So bring on the questions and comments :)


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Keeping Them Engaged...EOY

So today is June 1st and I am writing lesson plans! This just doesn't feel right, but I've been told it will feel great in August when I'm not having to write plans. I think this is a harder adjustment, because come the end of May we are ready to be done, and let's face it...so are the kids. But come August, at least for me, I'm ready to start. All the school supplies that come out, the pretty new book bags, and everything!

I think one of the greatest challenges in teaching is those last few days, maybe even weeks of school. Especially when your state testing has been completed! Those kiddos think "we are done" (and maybe the teachers do too).

This year I turned to one of my FAVORITE websites of FREE lessons...yep FREE. If you have not already discovered ReadWorks.org then you better head over and check it out! I've been using it for about two years now, and can't get enough of it!

I usually use it for their question and answer passages ( LOVE LOVE LOVE the Science and SS ones), and for small group instruction (able to get passages on my student's levels), but I decided to try and use it for one of the novel studies.

I have read Watson's Go to Birmingham 1963 to my class before, but I wanted to keep them a little more engaged. So I decided to use the novel study from Read Works that goes along with the book. I LOVE it! The students do too! I have used all parts of it, and it was a great platform to get my creative juiced flowing as well. Just search Watson's Go to Birmingham 1963 when you go to the Read Works site.

The opening lesson was about identifying historical terms in text, and how they effect the story. I have a few pictures of the charts we made with this lesson. The second lesson had to do with how a character's past effects the present and their actions in the text.


In the lesson: Identifying historical terms in text, I gave the students different historical terms that they had to put into categories: Past, Present, Future. After discussing their choices and where they placed the terms, I then gave them the same terms and had them put them into new categories: Recent, Old, Very Old. It was very very interesting to see where they put some of the recent historical terms...and how they determined what Recent, Old, Very Old meant...according to their standards, I would have fit under the category of Very Old.

We have also been using our Google Maps App to learn about Flint, Michigan (one of the settings in the book), how long it would take to drive or even walk to Birmingham, Alabama. Then I went "old school" and bought them a few interstate road maps (you know the ones you have to fold back up when you are done), they really enjoyed looking at the different interstates and highlighting the trip the Watson's took!



So if you haven't checked it out head on over to Read Works!

Finally in a previous post I mentioned a book that I had read to my class: Rebels of the Kasbah. It is an amazing book! We were lucky enough to have the author come and visit our 5th grade classes, thanks to our awesome media specialist. He was such a great person to have come talk with the students. Check out the Red Hand Adventures website and our pictures from his visit!