Thursday, March 22, 2012

Teaching Economics (and my 5th grade version of centers)

We started teaching economics this week. I must say this is usually one of my least favorite things to teach. Primarily, it's because it can be very hard for the students! There are so many unfamiliar terms for them to learn, and I find they often get them confused. On the other hand, it's a very important topic to teach, and it's also a great lesson in cause and effect.

In an effort to make this a more enjoyable unit, I started looking for some "fun" activities for starting off our economics unit. Here's what I chose to do.

I teach a reading/social studies combined class, and I start the day off with 20-30 minutes of silent independent reading where students read books of their choosing. I check in with students about what they are reading in an individual conference each day during this time. After that, I have been doing "rotations" for the remaining hour and a half of class.

I put the word "rotations" in quotation marks because I have never liked doing centers with my fifth graders. It just seems too babyish. And truthfully, I hated making centers with all those dang file folders and little pieces. I'm just not that kind of a gal. So I've avoided that like the plague.

However, I've found that if I just call them "rotations" and do away with all the file folders of little pieces that get lost or are too cutesy, it really is a good system.

Here's what today looked like:

Rotation #1 - Teacher Table. While we are starting economics, we are still working on some map skills. So at the table with me, students worked with two different types of atlases to review the locations of major events from our social studies standards. I sat with the students, but they led the conversation and worked together. I was primarily there to guide them if needed. (This is from a pedagogy known as Instructional Conversation.)

Rotation #2 - Computers. Students played Money Metropolis. This is an amazing game! Click here to read one of my student's reviews of the game. Here's the basic premise: you want to save money for some goal (there are 3, one costing $200, another $300, and one $400), so you have to get jobs to make the money. You can deliver newspapers, fill gas tanks, bag groceries, mow lawns, etc. You could also choose to spend your money as well. There are some great decisions students are forced to make along the way while playing this game. The kids LOVED playing, and they are begging to do it again. I even played this past weekend and enjoyed myself!

What the game looks like when you visit the website

kiddos playing - both girls on the left are filling up tanks at gas stations, and the girl on the left is deciding which job she wants to do next
My favorite websites chart

Rotation #3 - Spelling. Students used their Greek & Latin spelling words to play hangman on dry erase boards in partners. They had a blast, and as a bonus, I didn't have a piece of paper to grade! (Don't ask me why I didn't take a picture of this rotation... I honestly have no idea!)

Rotation #4 - BrainPop. Usually, students will watch BrainPop videos on the Promethean board (as pictured here). Sometimes, when my old Dell laptop is not working (often), they watch the videos on my iPods (I have three in my room). Here, students watched the Budgets video twice. They made a bubble map while watching the first time. After it was over, they discussed what they wrote and added any new ideas to their own maps. The second time they watched it, they were listening for certain vocabulary words from the standards to define. Once they came across the word, one of the students in the group would pause the video, they would discuss what they thought they should write for the definition, agree upon a common wording, write it down, and then continue. Many times, the students will back up the video to listen again. I love how they are taking charge of their own learning this way and move at their own pace! Once they finish, they take the review quiz. If they still have time, they are encouraged to pull up the "Read More" sections.
*You may wonder if having this play while the other students are doing something else is distracting for the other groups. It hasn't been a problem in either of the two classes I teach. The students are all pretty engaged, and they all know they'll get to the video eventually.

this group of boys is using my Promethean pen to take the quiz... There's some magical power in the pen, I believe...

Rotation #5 - iPods & iPads. In addition to the 3 iPod Touches, I have 2 iPads. Here, students played Financial Football, a free app! It's also available as an online game here. The kids love this. It has WICKED hard financial questions, but I don't care about that because the kids are exposed to a lot of great vocabulary. Kids can choose the teams and the plays they want the teams to make. If the kids get the question right, the play is executed well. If they get it wrong, the play is executed poorly. They love it! There is also a Financial Soccer game on that website as well.

The opening screen for the game

About to execute a play

The teams that were chosen to play

These kids are focused!

So far, I have been really impressed with what the students remembered after one day of doing these rotations. They are having a great time and learning a lot. What more can I ask?! If you have to teach economics, I would most definitely recommend having your students play Money Metropolis and Financial Football. The BrainPop videos are a great educational tool as well!

For any of you out there who also teach economics, what do you find informative and engaging for your students?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Stuff I Actually Made from Pinterest: Classroom Edition #3

This is the IDEAS issue of Stuff I Actually Made From Pinterest: Classroom Edition. Here are some great ideas I got from Pinterest. I am obsessed! I know that Pinterest has some new controversial rules, but can I shamefully admit that I don't know them yet? I suppose I better look into that...

At any rate, here are some ideas I loved from pinning. To follow my classroom boards on Pinterest, click the Pinterest logo on the right sidebar!

Mine is nowhere near as BEAUTIFUL as the original post I pinned (here) but I love the fabric bins. My closet is so much cleaner! If you love classroom organization, you have to follow her blog. She is a genius!

The same website from the above photo inspired me to buy more bins and put them on my open shelves - SO MUCH NEATER than before! I will never go back to baskets again!

I know I found this on Pinterest, but once you have like 55 billion things pinned, it's overwhelming trying to find them! That's why I'm in the process of breaking down my "classroom" board into 4 different ones... but I have all the students' names in this picture frame from the dollar store. Once I meet with them for any project, I just cross their names out with a Vis-A-Vis marker. Brilliant! And not my original idea, lol...

Another idea I'm pretty sure I found on Pinterest... but could have been that I found a blog on Pinterest that eventually led me here? I don't know. Anyway, another brilliant idea that is not my own. Somehow it's Pinterest-inspired... On these charts, students track the number of books they have read!

I feel like my common disclaimer is "Mine is not as pretty as the one belonging to the original poster." *sigh... But anyway, here is the one I found on Pinterest. I tried having one cup for each color, but this ended up working better for me! I am a big fan of finding good ideas and customizing them to fit my needs :)

I loved this idea. I hate how yucky the insides of these clear drawers look when they have papers in them. I love my clear drawers, but I felt like they were a little cluttery-looking on the inside. Saw this pinned and knew I had to do it! (On top is the chart where students highlight their names when they turn in work and highlight their names on their work, but I can't find that pin either...)

What Your Backpacks Tell You

So, I mentioned earlier that I'm reading Dream Class (view the earlier post here). I'm loving what I'm reading so far. This is a great classroom management book, but it ain't for the faint of heart. It's for folks who are serious about classroom management.

One idea from author Michael Linsin that I found particularly... intriguing... is that you can gauge a teacher's handle of classroom management by looking at his or her backpack storage. Basically, if a classroom has a messy backpack area, that teacher is struggling with classroom management. I found that idea to be a rather provocative one! I know my class's backpacks look a little crazy at the end of the day. I wondered to myself, What is this guy thinking? The nerve!

The more I read and thought, though, the more I understood what he was trying to say. If I let a messy, disheveled backpack area slide, what else am I willing to overlook? If I don't ask the basic courtesy of putting things away neatly, what other basic courtesies am I not expecting?

We all know that keeping a neat classroom is better for students. I know that if my classroom is cluttered or unorganized, it will keep students from learning. I hate to say the word demand, but I feel that if I do demand neatness, it will set a tone for high expectations.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I get it. In that post I referenced earlier, March Madness, I wrote about how I've started new rules and consequences to try to reign in the spring fever my students are feeling. Part of this new regime is maintaining a neat backpack area.

Here is a picture of my students' backpacks right before we packed up today:

So one of the lunch boxes fell over... but other than that, I'm pretty proud of their neatness! I must admit that I have started lining the students up in the morning in the hallway just outside my classroom door, reviewing the procedures for putting away backpacks neatly before they are allowed in the room. Once they come in the room, I have a welcome message on the Promethean board, again reminding them to hang their backpacks up neatly. But still! It's just so tidy and pretty!

Having this corner of the room look so well-organized has spilled into the rest of the room. The students TRULY are tidier in the rest of the classroom! So again, I may be crazy for focusing on this seemingly minor classroom detail, but it's making the rest of the room and the day even better. Hey, if it works, I'll take it!

Monday, March 19, 2012

March Madness

Oh, my, my, my. This is the time of year I lovingly refer to as "March Madness," and I'm not talking about basketball. I also call it "Elementary School Senioritis."

Here's a nice little definition of senioritis. Remove the words "high school or college careers" and replace it with "elementary school careers," and you have March Madness (minus the truancy, of course).

Maybe you know what I'm talking about. This madness has many causes: the weather turns beautiful outside, we get closer and closer to Spring Break, the big dreaded TEST is coming up, and in just a few weeks, they are officially going to be middle schoolers. Lord help us all.

Now, it's not all bad. I love my students dearly, and we have a great time in the classroom. However, every March, it seems I need to review class rules, consequences, and procedures. Do you ever have to have a do-over like that?

Well, we treated today like it was the first day of school. I have been reading a book called Dream Class by Michael Linsin (get the book here from Amazon - it's available on Kindle, too). It's a great book and he runs a great classroom management blog (check it out here). I decided to make myself some new rule and consequence posters. We just seem to NEED that in our classroom right now.

Here's a picture.

Well, today was interesting! I think my kids actually enjoyed going over everything again. I got an email from a parent, saying her daughter came home and said, "Well, we have some new rules today, but I don't think it's going to be a bad thing!" Whew ;) The class ran more smoothly today, and everyone left at the end of the day pretty pleased with how the day went.

Honestly, I was very strict - students received whatever consequences they earned, but because I gave them in a very zen-like state ("I'm sorry you chose to break the rule, and this is the consequence you have earned"), no one is mad at me! I have a few kids disappointed in themselves. One of them even came up at the end of the day, gave me a hug, apologized, and told me how he'd be better tomorrow. Love it!

Do you suffer from March Madness? Tell me about it!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Flipped Classroom

Have you heard of the Flipped Classroom? I have seen this infographic on Pinterest, but honestly didn't think much of it.

So my fellow Nerdy Teacher Kelly sent me a text this morning telling me to check it out. She's doing a PAGE (Professional Association of Georgia Educators) Academy and has been studying it. Since we say that we share one big nerdy brain, I decided to check it out.

And here are my thoughts.

Please Note: My knowledge on this topic is very slim. Now that I've said that...

It seems to me that this is geared towards the upper grades. But I'm thinking about how it could work in my fifth grade classroom.

We already use Edmodo (I love it, by the way), which is a social-networking site for students, free for K-12 educators and students. It's private, safe, and only teachers, administrators, students, and parents can access the site. I post assignments on it all the time, conduct surveys, link to interesting videos and articles, etc. Students complete assignments, share articles that they have found, and even upload extra credit projects for their classmates to see.

I'm thinking I could use Edmodo to post videos and PowerPoints for students to view. They could take notes at home, then come in ready the next day to work on activities based on that topic.

I know I have some students who don't have Internet access, so they could view these things during their lunch time.

I made a screencast video on how to create a Tagxedo for our social studies class. The students thought it was so cool that I was narrating the video and moving the mouse along to create this neat graphic online. I am thinking I could create screencasts of me narrating and expounding upon my PowerPoints for students.

What's great about this (I think) is that students could take notes at home when they watch the videos (I'd keep them under 7 minutes each), but the note-taking would be more tailored to each individual's needs. A student could pause the video, back it up to repeat parts, and even watch the entire video over again if necessary. No more feeling like they can't keep up with me when I give them notes, and on the flip side, no more finishing notes quickly and having to wait on everyone else.

I think this is a great idea to explore, especially the last month of school as a trial run. What do you think?

*Update: I've been reading comments about the flipped classroom online. I just want people to know that I'm not planning to QUIT teaching in my classroom. Holy smokes - every moment is a teachable moment somehow for someone! I just think that taking notes from my own recorded powerpoint at home, say in social studies, could be one way to give kids prior knowledge for the next day when I go into detail and give them problems related to that topic to solve. It'd give us more time in class to THINK :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Oh. My. Word. Do you ever come across an idea that you know you are going to LOVE? Well, that happened to me. And that idea is text-mapping.

I follow a blog called Teaching My Friends because of the text-mapping pin I found on Pinterest (see the blog post here). I love to read this teacher's blog because she has so many wonderful ideas! As soon as I saw the text-mapping idea, I knew I had to steal it.

For the last two days, I've been teaching the students how to text-map in small groups. We used a two-page article from a current Scholastic News Magazine issue. The plan was to teach them how to do it in small groups because next week, they will be mapping a 6-page text to review our economics unit!

Here are some pictures, then I'll explain.

All you need to do is copy the text you want the students to use. It could be any nonfiction text, but it's a double bonus if it's content the students NEED to learn. We are currently discussing the upcoming 2012 Presidential Election, and this series of issues is talking about topics the presidential candidates will be debating. The kids are interested in it, and it's relevant. Like I said, the next time, we'll do it on a social studies lesson.

This one was two pages; I just gave them both copies and had them tape them together so you can see the whole article there at once. If you do more pages, tape all of them side-by-side like a scroll so they can see the entire lesson laid out.

I chose to use markers instead of highlighters because there are more color options. I went step-by-step through the article, asking students to locate these items:
*Glossary (it was really a "Words to Know" box, but we discussed how it acted as a glossary)
*Bold words
*Concluding sentences
*Topic sentences

As the students found each thing, instead of "highlighting" it, they drew a box around it. The students talked together about why each thing was correct or incorrect. They did a lot of discussing and helped each other when needed (see the first photo above).

It was really nice to search for topic sentences because we also discussed supporting details. It was a wonderful review lesson.

The students made a key at the top of the page as they were working. Afterward, the finished text-maps were mounted on large sheets of construction paper. They are posted all over the room! They are beautiful!

The students really enjoyed this activity, and they learned much more from the article than if they had simply read it. Students DID have to read the article in order to find topic sentences and supporting details.

Here are some more up-close pictures of the text-maps:

I am glad I taught this in small groups to introduce the activity. I think it will help them when they do the BIG project next week. They will work on this with partners. There was a lot of excitement in the air this week!

If you are wondering what others did while I had the kids in small group text-mapping, here are some photos of that!

These students are reviewing the 19 amendments we've learned this year. They had to ask 3 questions for each amendment: 1) What does it mean in your own words? 2) Why is it important? 3) How would life be different if we didn't have it?

These students are creating a timeline for the ratification of the 19 amendments we studied this year (can you tell we're reviewing amendments?!)

These students just finished a Study Island quiz on the amendments, and they are now playing an amendment sleuthing game

These students are blogging about books they are reading

These students are watching several Brain Pop videos about voting and presidential elections, making bubble maps as they watch, discussing and adding to their bubble maps, then taking the quiz after the video "for fun"

We've been doing this for two days, and the kiddos LOVED it! A TON of learning occurred, and the kids didn't feel like it was regular ol' school work. I even really enjoyed it! BONUS! Let me know if you have text-mapped or if you are interested in it, then try it and let me know how it goes!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Literary Take on Pi Day

When I first started teaching, I celebrated Pi Day. The mathematical definition of Pi is generally known as 3.14, and March 14th is 3/14. I taught third grade for my first two years as a teacher, and I taught math. Therefore, our March 14th celebration revolved around circles and their circumference! I'd ask the students to bring in pies, and we'd measure their diameter, find the radius, and compute the circumference and area of the pie. Then, of course, we'd eat the pies! Too much fun!

For the last three years, I have not been a math teacher. I moved to 5th grade and became a reading/social studies teacher. I haven't really done Pi Day since teaching 5th grade because putting Pi into a literary context seemed a little bit of a stretch. But I have missed doing it because I'm a sucker for puns, and any holiday that revolves around one just sets my heart aflutter. (I do love saying, "Pi, Pie? Get it?!")

Well, I had a revelation a week or so ago. I was looking over some resources I'd purchased, and found these great author's purpose task cards and posters (purchase the cards here and the posters here; then see my blog post about how much I love these activities here).

As I was looking over these resources to help the kids review and get ready for the big (pardon my French) TEST, I noticed that both of them said PIE - 3 main author purposes are to Persuade, Inform, or Entertain. Then it hit me - I could do a literary version of Pi Day, but make it Author's Purpose PIE Day! Eureka!

So here's how this went down:

  • I asked parents to send in pies. I got 14 of them. Holy canoli. That's a lot of pie.
  • Students took notes from the posters about author's purpose and discussed the purposes in small groups. (What does it mean in your own words? What are some examples you've read?)
  • I set out all 24 task cards and the kids played a version of SCOOT (read about it on the blog post I linked to above)
  • I planned an activity for the students to complete at my small group table (totally unrelated - it was text-mapping; I REALLY hope I will find time to post about that tomorrow)
  • I let the students play "Roll-A-Pie"
I loved the Roll-A-Pie. This was my version of an activity in the resource with the posters I linked to above. I just used materials I had in the room to play instead of printing out the activity and having students cut and make their own. 

Using dice and small plastic containers with lids I found at the Dollar Tree, I put out some of the little containers, each with one die in it. I then wrote a little set of directions (wish I'd taken a photo) for the kids to use to play. Here's how it worked:

I wrote out 15 different objects on the poster (all of which started with P, just to practice alliteration which we've been working on - I try to combine as many things as possible to kill multiple birds with one stone). The objects were things like pizza, picnics, pencils, ponies, pink, pickles, popcorn, the principal, etc. The students were to choose a topic, then roll the die. If you have a die (or dice) in the container with the lid, they just shake the container, then turn it upside down (so they can see through the clear bottom), and the number they see is what they've rolled. This keeps the die (dice) from rolling all over the classroom and driving you nuts.

If the student rolled a 1 or 2, they had to write a persuasive paragraph about the topic he chose. So, if I chose principal, and I rolled a 2, I had to write a persuasive paragraph to or about the principal. If a student rolled a 3 or a 4, he had to write an informational paragraph about the topic. If a student rolled a 5 or 6, he had to write an entertaining paragraph about the topic. The students could play this as many times as they liked. They all had to do it at least once.

The students played the author's purpose "scoot" game around the table (3 minutes at each card; one responsible student had the timer). We had 5 students at time at my little round table playing Roll-A-Pie. I had six students at the table working on their text-mapping project. Plus, while they were working and having fun, they got to eat pie! See some more of my pictures below. We had such a blast! I hope you can use some of these ideas to do a literary version of Pi Day next year! (You really could do it any ol' day! We just did it to coincide with Pi day for math.)

Dear student, please don't choke on your pie!

All gone!

Some cool cats - doing text mapping!

More coolness and more text mapping

Roll-A-Pie - this kiddo shakes it wicked fast!

More Roll-A-Pie

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Essay of the Week

In our fifth grade classes, we implement one of Rafe Esquith's (author of Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire) favorite things - Essay of the Week (or as our kids refer to it, EOTW)!

Every week, students are required to write an essay. The topics vary. Sometimes they are based on the social studies the students are learning or writing techniques. Oftentimes, those are combined. Here are some examples from this year.

  • Do you support the bombing of the Lusitania, or do you think it was uncalled for? Support your opinion with evidence. Consider the opposing point of view.
  • Compare and contrast the Roaring 20s with the Great Depression. Create a Venn Diagram or Double-Bubble Map to plan your writing.
  • Imagine that you show up at school one morning, and there is a sign on the front door saying, "School is closed." Why did the school closed? What is the conflict? What will you do about it? Include descriptions of setting, protagonist and antagonist, three major plot events, and the conflict and solution.
Essays don't always have to be five-paragraphs. Sometimes we provide an outline for the essay so that students have the support they need to have writing success. Sometimes we just let the kids go with it and see what they come up with. We've even had students write poems for essays of the week, especially on a short week or a testing week.

This week, we're wrapping up our study of Modern America. We're covering from about 1985 until today. Here's our EOTW for this week:

Imagine you are YOU, but you live in a time when these things don't exist:
  • personal computers (laptop or desktop)
  • the Internet
  • cell phones
  • video games
What will you do on a typical Saturday? Be sure to include good descriptions of character, setting, and plot. Have a clear beginning, middle, and end.

My students are flabbergasted! I overhead one of my students say, "Oh my gosh! That must have been, like, during the 1920s!" *Sigh. I had to go tell him that I grew up without all of those things! My students looked at me like I was an alien.

But you may ask why we have an essay every week. We feel that writing is a lot like riding a bike - the more you practice, the better you'll get. We just had our statewide writing assessment, and the kids felt confident and have done a great job on the practice. I hope that our test scores will confirm our beliefs about writing and essays of the week! I started this last year, and my students did a great job on the writing assessment. 

I think that this will really pay off for them in the long run as well. Another of my students said last week to the rest of the class, "Do you realize that when we finish 5th grade, we'll have written over 40 essays?" The kids were amazed. Then another student replied, "That means we'll be REALLY ready for middle school!" 

So, my students might think I'm an outdated alien life form, but at least they seem to understand whey we have them write so much! And it appears that some of them actually appreciate it - LOVE!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Adventures in TPT

Nerdy, Nerdy, Nerdy has opened a Teachers Pay Teachers store! Have you visited this teacher-heaven-land before? I'm obsessed. I've been a TPT buyer for a while, but we decided to take a leap and create a store. I've put up some of my favorite freebies - Six Hats bookmarks and SCAMPER bookmarks. These are great for critical thinking and are best-practices for gifted learners. I've found that they work great with all learners in my regular-ed classroom.
Well, starting a TPT store, like I said, is a huge leap. We have had to redo some things to give out the best product we can possibly sell, but we are learning. It's scary to put yourself (and your ideas) out there for the world to judge, but we are trying and doing our best! We look forward to growing in this new chapter of our nerdy teaching lives.

But this post isn't really about our store - it's about two amazing stores I shop from all the time! If you teach upper elementary grades or even middle school, you HAVE to check out these two sellers!

The first seller I love is Rachel Lynette. OHMYGOODNESS! I feel like I've bought almost everything in her store! Her task cards are AMAZING! We love to play them in the game she calls "SCOOT." Here's how it's played.

You set a card out at every seat (on average, each purchase has about 24 cards). The students have a designated amount of time to work on the card (the last one we did, students had 3 minutes at each card). Once the timer went off, I shouted "Scoot!" and the students all scooted over one seat to the right. They all got to do all of the cards, and it kept them busy and moving. It was great for a Friday afternoon review of some literacy skills we've been working on. It's also great for students with short attention spans! 

Today, I set some cards out (we used the Figurative Language set) for a poetry rotation. Students had 25 minutes in each station. So, during this 25 minute station (rotation?), each student could choose from any of the cards to complete, but they had to complete at least 5. They loved it! These cards are a great change of pace. I recommend them highly! Here's a link to her store: Rachel Lynette One of my favorite things about her store is that all of her products are so reasonably priced! Most are between $2 and $3.75, and a lot of them are FREE! (Extra love for that!) She also has resources for younger elementary grades if you teach those littler kiddos.

The other seller I love is Ms. Runde from Runde's Room. She has two must-have items, in my opinion - the Literary Elements Resource Binder and the Reading Comprehension Strategy Resource Binder. Oh heavens! I use both of these fantastic resources to plan my small group reading, centers, conversation activities, as well as formative and summative assessments. The posters she includes are also amazing to have handy! You need to download the previews for these IMMEDIATELY. If you love them, they are worth the $9.99 each! These resources will be used again and again in your classroom. I suggest you print these bad boys out and stuff 'em in a binder. Keep them handy, and maybe you should put them in page protectors. I have a feeling these are going to get used A LOT!

Here is the link to her store, and also a link for the Literary Elements binder and the Reading Comprehension binder (so you can download those previews)!

*If you want some of our freebies or to check out the things we have for sale, here's a link to our Nerdy Store. Please remember that we are new at this, so we'll say this: we'd love to have suggestions, but please be kind! :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Test Confidence Posters

After my corny (punny?) post earlier about a testing confidence poster I made for my writing class, I truly enjoyed spending more time making more! Here are the posters I created for 5 days of testing for my students.

On each day of testing, I'll have the poster projected on my promethean board. Then at each student's seat, I'll have the designated "treat" of the day waiting for them. The students always give a "hardy-har-har" and think the puns are lame, but I think they really love them!

Here are all 5 posters, designed for 5 days of testing for the CRCT:

Testing Confidence Boosters

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm REALLY corny. Hokey, even. I just can't pass up a good pun. Now that testing season is upon us, my first lame test-taking confidence booster is going up on my board first thing in the morning.

Tomorrow morning, my students will be taking the statewide fifth grade writing assessment. It's a two-hour writing session, starting with reading and understanding the prompt, moving through prewriting, a rough draft, revising and editing, and ending up with a beautiful final copy and proofreading.

This test a little nerve-wracking, but my students have been working SO hard this year. All of my fifth-grade team teachers and all of our students have been working incredibly hard in writing. I know they are going to do a great job! 

When my students walk in the classroom in the morning, they are going to have a golden napkin at their seats (to symbolize getting the GOLD prize) with two vanilla cream cookies. They will also be greeted by this sign on the promethean board:

It's so lame. But that's why I love it! Now I'm going to get started working on some other posters for our CRCT. Are any of you out there as cheesy as I am?!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Because I care, the 'Care Monster' appears every March

I feel like at about the same time every year I turn into the 'Care Monster'.

The state test is coming up faster than I like, spring fever (in both teacher & student) is happening faster than I like, and my patience is running out faster than I like.
I am not going to say that I never raise my voice
- I DO! (kidding) It just seems that March is the month I find myself saying, "If I didn't care, I wouldn't be yelling." It is my passion that is expressed in my 30 second rants about getting busy, listening, doing homework, and being active in learning.

I have decided to call March the month of the 'Care Monster'. The monster is not yelling all day at everyone. The monster is not handing out huge assignments or unrealistic punishments. The monster just knows what a little bit from those that struggle could and would to improve their performance.

As I reflect on this and try to breath through not allowing the 'Care Monster' to take control, I think how bad is it really? Is it okay for my students to know that I care about them and to be passionate about learning? Is a glimpse of irrationality something that will harm them or impact them in a positive way? (Maybe I will use Edmodo to survey my students next week - get their thoughts. Nerdy, Nerdy, Nerdy - I know it!)

I would not be upset to have any of my parents, administrators, or peers observe the 'Care Monster' in action. I am sure in fact, that some of them probably have.
What does your 'Care Monster' do?