Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Howl-O-Ween!

Happy Halloween everyone! I hope you all had an exciting day and have a fun filled evening. I had half a post all ready to reveal our Pumpkin Characters..but unfortunately, I left my camera at school. I'll be revealing that post tomorrow along with all of our super neat creations!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

5 for Five

Wow!! I found a new and super fun linky party!! This week and hopefully every Monday from now on..I'm linking up with Jenn and Jessica for their 5 for Five, which means that I set five goals that I wish to accomplish in the next five days. How awesome is this? It's written down and makes me accountable for them. Just what I need!! Hopefully next Monday I'll be checking off each of my goals :)

1. Work out at least 3 times this week. 
I've been wanting to get back into working out as I've been mentioning, but I always make up some kind of excuse for myself. I'll be taking some baby steps and will only set my first few weeks at 3 times a week. Hopefully this can get accomplished.

2. Eat at home at least 5 times this week.
I absolutely LOVE food,eating out and trying new places. My boyfriend and I go out to eat wayyyyy to much, which is very dangerous on the wallet. Recently, we've been trying to save money because we want to buy a place in the near future...but we need to stop eating out so often :( Good thing we both enjoy cooking!! 

3. Recycle
The balcony of our apartment is filled with cans and bottles that need to be recycled. I plan on making it this week!

4. Drink coffee from home every day this week.
I have a starbucks right across the street from my school. I usually head there a few times a week to pick up some coffee. I actually have a keurig which brews some amazing coffee but I've been wanting fancy coffees lately...I plan on drinking coffee from home every day this week!!

5. Finish ONE of my 3 portfolios due at the ending of November. 
I have 3 portfolios due at the ending of November. Every time I look at my planner I start freaking myself out. This weekend, I hope to finish at least one of them......

Wish me luck..Hopefully I'm successful with my first 5 for five :) 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Productive Day and the Breakdown of Conferences!

Wow..Since I'm all finished with my conferences and was done with school at 1:00, I had an EXTREMELY productive day! It feels so good to actually get things done..I haven't had much time do much of anything else since conferences have been my main focus. I went shopping at our school book fair, came home and cleaned the house!! My oh my did my poor little apartment need it!! Do any of you live in apartments?? I can't wait to move into a house and have more space. My poor living room (and poor and kind boyfriend who is so understandable and patient) was a COMPLETE MESS with stacks of paper here and stacks of paper there. My living room is pretty much my office with storage bins and shelves all over the place with school stuff. I had student work everywhere as I was searching for all the student evidence I needed and going through things that needed to be graded. So I got a chance to sort through the piles, and now I can actually see the floors and couch :D I also did a load of laundry and had time to take a NAp. I feel so nice and refreshed!!

Alright, so I did want to share how I go through conferences. I begin by sending home a pre conference form to parents so that I can see how they feel their child is doing as well as address any concerns they may be having. This form is extremely helpful in guiding my timeline for each of my conferences. I can be sure to address any concerns or issues parents are having and make the most of our 20 minutes together.
Next, I schedule all of my conferences then send home notifications to each parent. Each year its so helpful because I just pull out all of my conference files, print them and send them home. I have included a word document of my conference schedule so that you can change it to your needs (dates, times, and add in student names). I have also included PDF files of scheduling notes to send home to kids.
I also have notes to send home just in case parents miss a conference. There is an option for parents to either email or give you a call to reschedule.

While preparing for conferences, I use a template to guide my conferences that highlight the strengths and needs of each student in reading, writing, math, and and overall class behavior and work ethic. At the bottom of the sheet I add in any other things/reminders of things to address during conference. I have included a pdf file in my packet as well as a word document, just in case you prefer to type out your notes.

Please keep in mind that my word documents are plain and have no cute clipart. If you prefer to use the pdf file of my notes to go home, yes you will have cute clipart. I could not include it into my word documents because of the terms of use on Scrappin Doodles. :)

I've also included a cute sign to put on your door while meeting with families.
Last but not least, I created some notes to finish conferences off by having parents write a positive note to their child. I don't think that parents really take as much time as they should to really tell their child how proud they are of them and what a good job they do every day in school. These notes should be collected and once ALL of your conferences are done, hand them out to each child. Unfortunately, I thought up of this idea AFTER all my conferences were done..but I do think this will be such a sweet ending :)

All of these conference items are available in my Parent Teacher Conference Bundle at my TPT Store :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

End of P/T Conferences and a New Conference Kit!

Phewww!! I'm winding down from a week and a half long of Parent Teacher conferences. Our official day that we are done is actually this coming Friday, but tomorrow will be my last two conferences. YAY! I will be able to finish school at 1:00 and have some time to work on some much neglected work. I'm not sure if it's only me..but since I've been working on conference things I have fallen so far behind in GRADING. We've just started multiplication and division and I have a TON of worksheets to look through :( The days have been FLYING by because we finish school at 1:00 and meet with parents until 2:50. I still have two conferences left tomorrow but I can honestly say that I LOVE all of my parents and the families that my kids come from. I have the most supportive and wonderful parents a teacher could ask for :)
This year, I think my conferences have went smoother than ever. Over the past three years, I have worked on many different things to use during parent teacher conference times. I have them all on different files here and there but would like to compile them all into one document to help some of you out when it comes time to conferences. I can honestly say that I think I've finally got all of my conference things DOWN! It was so easy this year since I had all my files (some took longer than others to locate) and could just print and reuse. Probably over the weekend, I"ll be putting them all together and will be ready to share with anyone who could use it :)
SO..we'll see who is actually reading this. For those of you who are still actually following me and reading my few posts, leave me a comment, your e-mail address and I will send you my conference file for FREE. I do ask one thing though, that you look it over and give me some feedback. Please only respond if you are willing to let me honestly know what you think about this product. I'll send it to the first three people who comment me with their emails.
Thank you for sticking with me (if anyone even is ) :P

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Hmm..Blogger seems to be acting weird. I can't type any captions because they don't show up under my pictures. Whenever I post pictures, then type captions and then go back to typing using my regular text...I keep getting blank posts. I see my original text prior to the pictures, I see the pictures but NO WRITING after any of my pictures :( Can anyone help me figure this out? None of my posts have been working recently....

Monday, October 8, 2012

Math, Math, Math

How do you teach math? In the past I have always done math rotations ( I guess this may be similar to math workshop). Prior to discovering blogs and even before I ever knew about tpt I started doing what I call math rotations. Its really a simple concept that matches its title, the kids go around and rotate to different activities. Since my first year of teaching this is just what worked and made sense for me. I would begin with a whole class lesson introducing my topic. After this introduction of the topic we did a lot of practice together using whiteboards. I would simply just present students with various problems, have them write the answer on their boards and show them to me. This way I was able to see who understood, who didn't, as well as any misconceptions my students had. I would then address any misunderstandings I saw happening. From this first day of whole class practice I would take notes and form my groups. The next day I would do a quick review (about 5 minutes) then introduce the stations that students would be rotating through. Since I only had 3 groups they would usually go to the computers and review past skills ( I would provide review sheets for each quarter for them to work from), work with me at the carpet (usually reinforcing the concept with manipulatives for those who needed or providing enrichment opportunities for the advanced group) then independent work. I also included some hands on stations where they could play games or use task cards (this would be switched out with computer time). This has worked wonderfully for me and my students always loved math.

This year..I have the largest class I've ever had. I'm currently at 26 students and I just couldn't figure out how to make math rotations work with ALL those kids. I've never done four different groups/rotations and couldn't fit the time into my math block. My low group is extremely low and always took up way to much time..I couldn't get to any other groups sooo I trudged on through the first quarter trying to teach whole class lessons the ENTIRE quarter....If you can imagine 26 students, all at different levels trying to all do the same thing. It was really a disaster and I continued to let it happen each day because I just couldn't figure out how to make it all work in the little amount of time I had. I feel that many students struggled and that I wasted a ton of precious time. 

Fast forward and it's second quarter..yes SECOND QUARTER! I can't believe it's here so quickly. I reflected back on how first quarter went and told myself there is NO WAY I am continuing teaching the way I did all of first quarter. I was struggling and so were my kids. Today I spent a ton of time working out a math schedule and activities to use with math rotations. I made a cute little math rotation board that I will display for my kiddos to know exactly where they will be heading...

I'm going to do the same as I did in the past except this time I'm providing a hands on station (at all times) for all kids. They may not be working on the exact skill we're learning about but they will be reinforcing something we covered in the past. I had to take each rotation down to only 15 minutes, so I hope I'll be able to stick to those times...I cut down the workload and am breaking my lessons down. I've also heard word that we may just be getting a much needed tutor for 40 minutes each day!! Woop whoop!! This will definitely help to make my math block run low kids needs lots of guidance and reinforcements this year. 

My kids this year are really struggling with subtracting. I have a handful of kids who couldn't figure out 80-1. I'm trying to teach them part whole models so that they understand what they're doing when adding and subtracting. I created a simple sheet that you can pick up at my tpt store if you do part/whole models. :) 

How do you teach math??