Friday, August 10, 2012

Classroom Technology

Wow! This was a total whirl wind of a week. I had just gotten the hang of posting every day and then I had to go back to work. Monday I moved my stuff from my old office to my new classroom. Then I started setting up my classroom. Tuesday I helped the New Teacher Mentor from last year pack up her office so she could take it to her new school where she is going to be a writing teacher too. I finished the night off at a Girl Scout Team meeting. Wednesday was our first full day back at school and we got to spend it crunching data from last year's SOL test. I spent Thursday writing 3 instructional calendars for the first 9 weeks, one for each grade I teach. Then I had to make sure it matched the grade level teachers calendars as. UGH!!!! But today was the BEST!!! We had technology professional development. And that's what I want to talk about today: technology in the classroom.

We had 4 different sessions today: Smart Board, Moodle, CPS clickers, and digital media (ie. United Streaming).

We all found out on Wednesday that we will all be required to have Moodle websites this year. And I found out that I will be one of the Moodle Mentors, since I had 16 hours of professional development over the summer to go beyond the basics of using Moodle. So today's session was to show teachers how to add items to their pages and what some of the possible items they can add.

For the Smart Board session, each teacher shared a lesson or template that she used in her classroom. I had never used a Smart Board before, so they went a bit more in depth and showed me how to do some of it. For which I will be forever grateful. I can't wait to try some of the things I saw.

The digital media session was mostly to tell us the changes in the districts stance on movies and media in the classroom and what our options were.

The CPS clickers session is the one I was most excited about. Over the past two years I have seen teachers use them in their room and now I get to! We learned how to add quick questions based on Power Points we have all ready created. I also learned how to have the kids answer a paper test using the clickers instead of a scan-tron. I can't wait to set up my Focus question so that the students get to use the clickers every day. After 4 hours of professional development, I went down to the library and checked out my own set of clickers for the year.

So here is my question for you all: What kind of technology do you have in your classrooms and what kind of technology do you wish you had?

Until tomorrow!


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Show Me Sunday: Educational Time Fillers

I am so enjoying being in blogland. I am finding great resources and learning a lot from my fellow bloggers. Today I am linking up with 3-6 Free Resources for their Show Me Sunday linky. This week is about time fillers. Everyone needs those!

In my school division there is a big push to use Smart Pals or white boards in our classrooms every day and  for the students to be writing from bell to bell, so a lot of  my time fillers and reviews revolve around them.

1. Maps, maps, and more maps! For history class I always have a map in the Smart Pals. If we finish early, I ask the students different questions and they fill in the map with the dry erase markers. It is a great way to review too.

2. Brain Quest Questions and Answers to Challenge the Mind - These are a huge life saver. I will use these to ask a question and the kids will write their answers on the Smart Pals (the backside of the map is blank) or on white boards.

3. Parts of Speech Game - I have index cards with lots of words that we use in our writing class. I will pull one at random and the kids have to write down what part of speech it is. Some times I have one of the students pick a word from her vocabulary dictionary we create in class and the rest of the class has to write down the part of speech and which class the vocabulary word came from (history, reading, or science).

I hope that you will be able to use some of these! Don't forget to visit 3-6 Free Resources to get more time fillers and to link up yourself.

Until tomorrow.


Saturday, August 4, 2012


I woke up early this morning and am trying to be quiet so that my hubby can sleep in. I came out to the living room and finished the book I've been reading, Tick Tock by James Patterson. Then I turned the TV on and one of my favorite movies was on, Grosse Pointe Blank with John Cusack. It is a totally cheesy movie, but I grew up in Grosse Pointe and have only been back once in 20 years. Everyone needs a little slice of home once in awhile. While I was watching I decided to catch up on my blog reading and a ton of people were linking up with Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade and her August Currently. So here is mine:

My B2S

1. Organized teacher binder: I have never actually had an administrator ask to see my binder during my evaluations, but this year my evaluator is a first year administrator, so I want to be prepared. You never know what they will want to see!

2. Cable ties- I am going to use those metal cubes that used to be popular in college dorm rooms to set up my writing stations for each class, but I want some of the cubes to have shelves in them. To do this I need to get me some cable ties! (I'll post some pics after I set my room up next week)

3. I have a few Dr. Seuss items, but I'm not sure how well that will go over with middle schoolers. Any one have some suggestions?

Friday, August 3, 2012

New Room

I started off my day decorating a cake for my neighbor and ended up getting to see my new classroom!

Here is the cake:

And here is what my classroom looks like:

The room has a smart board, tv with VCR/DVD player, 2 white boards, 1 large bulletin board (it's above the buckets in the first picture), and 1 tiny bulletin board (it's behind the teacher desk in the bottom picture. I also have 5 tables that I can use for the different centers/stations I want to set up.

So good news is that I got into my room early, bad news is that I got my schedule for the year. I will be teaching all three grade levels, but my classes will not all be the same length. The two 8th grade classes will both be about 50 minutes. I will get one 7th grade class for 45 minutes and the other one for only 10 minutes. For 6th grade, one I will have for 30 minutes the other one will be only 20 minutes. UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!
Any suggestions for how to plan when the classes don't have the same amount of time with me?

Have a happy weekend!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Awards and First Day Jitters Blog Hop

I recently joined Newbie Blogger Blog Hop  over at Grade Three is the Place for Me! and one of the other new bloggers who linked up nominated me for these two awards:

Thank you Christy! You can visit her at Kindergarten is a Hoot!!!

Guidelines for the combined awards:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you

(and follow their blog)

2. Link back to the person who nominated you

3. Include the award image in your post

4. Give 7 random facts about yourself

5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award

6. When nominating, include a link to their blog

7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated

Seven random facts about me:

1. I was born in Germany.

2. I played ice hockey as a kid and now I coach several youth hockey teams.

3. I am training to run my first 1/2 marathon for my 40th birthday next year.

4. I LOVE crafts especially with my kids.

5. My favorite color is teal.

6. I enjoy reading vampire novels. My brother got me hooked as a teenager and then my students reintroduced me to the subject several years ago.

7. I adore SUSHI!!!

Wow! I had a hard time finding people who haven't been nominated so here are the 6 blogs  I am nominating for the Versatile Blogger award and the One Lovely Blog award:

1. A Window into Mrs. Wheeler's Class

2. The First Grade Reader

3. Surviving Sixth Grade.

4. Teacher's Toolkit

5. Teaching with Moxie

6. Ms. G in Grade 3

And now the First Day Jitters Blog Hop I found over at Fierce in Fourth.

For this blog hop, I have to share three things I am jittery about for the upcoming school year.

1. This year I am going back into the classroom after 2 years of having a supporting role as a Social Studies Coach.

2. I am switching subjects from social studies to English with an emphasis on writing.

3. I will be teaching three different grade levels within the gifted program at my middle school.

All three of these are making my skin crawl. On the good side I am meeting with my new team this Friday for lunch and then we go back to work next Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Linkin' Up to New Bloggers

Have have blogged for years about the crafts I create but only recently decided to start blogging about my job, being a teacher. So, today I am linking up with Grade Three is the Place for Me in the Newbie Bloggers Blog Hop. My neighbor, Andrea at Reading Toward the Stars! hooked me up with this Blog Hop.

Here are the questions she asked:

    1.  what state you are in

    2.  your current teaching position
    3.  your teaching experience
    4.  when you started blogging
    5.  share a blogging tip / blogging resource
 Here are my answers:

     1. I live in Virginia
     2. I just got moved to Challenge Resource Teacher with an emphasis on writing
     3. I have been teaching for 5 1/2 years
     4. I started this blog about 2 weeks ago 
     5. The best thing I have learned is to ask. If you like something on someone's blog, ask them about it. Bloggers are the friendly and helpful. Just ask.

Until tomorrow!



Thursday, July 26, 2012

Shopping to make items found on Pinterest

I recently got hooked on Pinterest when I was in Pennsylvania visiting a friend, who in her past life was a teacher. Since then I have found many great resources, especially since I am switching from social studies to writing and going  back into the classroom after a year and a half as a social studies coach. This week I am out of town in northern Virginia so that my children can attend an amazing ice hockey camp. So while they are at camp I went looking for some of the items needed to make some of the cool things I had pinned.

First stop was a teacher store. The closest one to me was in Burke called Teacher Mart. The wonderful sales clerk there worked with me for about an hour showing me different series of books since I teach 6th, 7th, and 8th grade writing. Here are the items I ended up getting:

 The main item I went looking for was a plan book. And I found the perfect one.

 The reason I wanted a plan book was because of this picture I pinned several weeks again.

I visited The Wise & Witty Teacher blog to see how and why she set it up this way. She is an elementary teacher who teachers several different subjects, but only one grade level. I on the other had teach one subject, but over several grade levels. I saw how she color coded by subject area and I thought I can do the same thing by grade level. Next I had to find one that would work with the centers I had created, which means I needed 18 spaces per day (6 per grade level). And I found it.Next stop was getting post-it notes. This is what my plan book now looks like on the inside.

I used the post-it page markers to color code the stations/centers at the top and then used small rectangular post-its to differentiate by grade level. I can't wait to start filling it in.

The next store to hit up was IKEA so I could get the hardware found at Create-Teach-Share's blog on her Boggle post.

 They didn't have the blue buckets, so I went with the frosted clear buckets. She plans to use this as an option for word work where the students just need to find as many words as they can. I teach middle school and want to take this one stop further. The students will need to write down the definition and part of speech for each word they find. I'm going to have this be an activity they can work on if they finish early and as an opportunity to earn extra credit. And if they can relate it back to one of their SOLs (Standards of Learning) in their other classes (social studies, science, or math), they will get more points. An example from the picture above would be EAST. In USI they have to be able to understand a compass rose. Another example would be SAP for 7th grade science. I hope the kids really get into it. I go back to work in less than 2 weeks and am looking forward to setting up this bulletin board.

Until next time.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Stations/Centers for the Year

This year, I have been moved from Social Studies back to English, specifically Writing and Grammar. Happy, happy, joy, joy! I wasn't real happy at first, but the idea has been growing on me lately. Besides working on writing and grammar, my class is a resource class for all the other subject areas within the team: Science, Math, Social Studies, and Reading. And the team I'm on teaches all three grade levels (6th, 7th, and 8th). My class has no set curriculum to follow as I am a resource class, so I had lets of fun figuring out what I wanted to do. The first thing I did was to think back to what my children got excited about in their classrooms over the last several years and that would be centers or stations. So I decided that that would be how I set up my classroom. Here are the 6 centers/stations I have come up with. All 3 grade levels will have the same centers, but geared to what they are learning.

1.    Language Review (Focus for the day) - This will be how we start class every day. I found a wonderful workbook for each of the grade levels that has worksheets set up for every day taking about 5 minutes. Here is a picture of the Grade 7 one.

2.    Journal - Students will journal for 5-10 minutes on a given prompt every day. Students will then pick one journal entry from the week before to work into a paper in the writing station. I found a Point of View Write About Flip book at the Teacher's Touch & Parents Too store in Myrtle Beach this summer that I thought would be perfect. It allows the students to create 1000s of different prompts.

3.     Grammar - This station is going to follow what the grade level writing teachers are teaching in their classes. I figure 2 days of notes or anchor charts followed by 2-3 days of practice.

4.     Vocabulary - the students will get 16 new words a week: 4 from science, 4 from social studies, and 4 from reading with a quiz every Friday. I am going to have them create their own dictionary for the 3 different subjects.

5.     Reading Comprehension - Teachers always have those one page readers with a 1/2 page of questions that they always want to include in their lessons, but don't have the time. Well now I'm going to make the time for them. I want to do this station as a when you get down with your work activity or as homework. The students would have 3 readings a week: one each for social studies, science, and reading.

6.     Writing Station - This is the station where the students will work on turning their journal prompts into 5 paragraph essays in preparation for their state writing test in 8th grade.

Not all stations will be completed every day, but they will all be completed over the course of the week. By doing stations this way, I will have time to sit down and have writing conferences with students on a weekly basis.

I will keep you all up-to-date on how these work out once school starts.


Friday, July 13, 2012

First Post!

 I decided to re-enter the blogging world after my neighbor started blogging this past Spring. First off I want to thank The 3am Teacher for the wonderful frames I used to create my title banner. I also want to thank Andrea at Reading Toward the Stars! for helping me figure out how to get the frames and how to use the computer to create the title banner.

I have followed several teacher blogs over the last two years, but never thought of creating my own. For the past two years I was the Social Studies Coach at my middle school, which means I helped out the 5 Social Studies teachers in the building, but I didn't have my own classes. This summer I found out that in August I will be going back into the classroom teaching writing with an emphasis on social studies. I will be teaching 6th graders, 7th graders, and 8th graders and thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to start blogging again.

My neighbor and I were throwing around names for this blog and stumbled upon the name Being Elementary in Middle School. We liked the title because I take strategies, like stations, that are traditionally used in elementary classrooms and use them in my middle school classrooms. I am looking forward to this venture and hope that you all enjoy the adventure as much as me!