EOY Awards & Activities

This was my last week with students.  We celebrated with a camping theme where my team joined our classes together for camping themed activities.  I searched for something to do with my students during "down time" - when we would transition or wait on the other classes.  I found an awesome FREEBIE by Schoolhouse Divas - Math MASH.  Did you play MASH (Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House) as a child? It was probably one of my favorite games.  This freebie isn't just MASH...it also has a math component. Each fortune has a correlating math problem.  For example, if your future car is a ferrari, then the math problem might compare the price of a ferrari and the price of a ford focus.  I thought it was incredibly clever! The math isn't overly difficult, so my students didn't need any assistance with it.    

Click the above pic to download this great product!

We also had a mini-awards assembly.  I put together a little slide show and I gave out personalized awards.  Below is a screenshot of my awards.  It is a take off of a word cloud with a QR Code that links to each student's EOY Presentation that they can share with their friends and family.    
If you need EOY Awards, I have a few in my TpT store you might like.  

This Little Piggy hopes you last few days go smoothly!


A little EOY reflection on teaching practices

This year I was in a new position - it was my first time in 10 years that I wasn't a "classroom teacher".  I was a GT Pull-Out Teacher (with a twist).  The students are bussed to us rather than us going to the kids.  I taught a mix of 4th/5th Graders.  It is my dream job!   The job came with many expected and unforeseen obstacles.

One of the unforeseen obstacles was setting up a positive, productive and orderly classroom climate.  I see these students 4 days a month (sometimes 2 times a month if they are absent, we have early release, snow days, school events, holidays, testing, etc...) and I DO expect them to follow my classroom rules.  They do.  Of course, a few students need redirection - what's new?

At first, I thought I would have classroom jobs.  Great idea right?  Yup, in theory.  In practice it didn't work. How would I set up a job board that had to change daily?  My solution was clothes pins - GREAT IDEA! The problem I ran into was the kids forgot so I constantly had to remind them what their "job" was and what the responsibility entailed.  I solved it by having 1 person per table being the Table Captain and they were responsible for everything at that table for the day - passing out papers, gathering iPads, cleaning the table, sharpening pencils, getting supplies, etc...  It worked pretty well!!

Now, our district is pretty big which means that multiple elementary schools come to my classroom per day. So, I'm not just teaching a group of kids who have daily expectations and routines from 3 teachers, I'm dealing with kids who have 6 different teachers and two different school norms - that was annoying!!  I did a lot of modeling and discussing expectations the first part of the day.  I had to adjust my management style. Some of my "rigid expectations" had to be relaxed.  I've always had 2 canisters - one for sharpened pencils and one for unsharpened pencils.  Well...sometime in October, I put 1 container away and we have just have 1 pencil container.  My world didn't collapse, I survived!  

Next year, I know that I need to tighten the reigns for my group expectations. We work in groups DAILY.   I've never had an issue with my groups.  This year, we spent time making group expectations - but next year I might have to make the expectations and spend more time practicing them so they have a "clear" expectation of what I want to see. 

How do you take kids from different schools, who don't know each other and make them a classroom? Well...I did a lot of team building activities.  I also had to make sure students from different schools were in groups/partnerships together.  I think I did a pretty good job!  Two of my students won Student of the Year at their respective schools.  They told me this week that they sat next to each other at the banquet.  

My program focuses on project based learning.  I started a project in January that isn't finished.  We simply ran out of time to complete it.  Testing season hit, STAAR Boot Camps, tutoring groups, small grouping.  It was crazy day to day.  Next year, I want to try to incorporate mini-projects.

Some of the amazing things that happened this year.  
  • My team is awesome.  It's not always perfect, but we respect each other and work well together with a common vision or goal for our program.  
  • I took control of my Professional Development and that is very empowering!   In the past, I only went to classes that I was told to go to.  This year, I found classes I wanted to go to and I went.  I even used my personal days to go!  Some things are just that important.  
  • I passed the test & got my GT Certification!  

This Little Piggy thinks growth requires reflection.


My 3 Teacher Must Haves

How is your Teacher Appreciation Week going so far?  Are you feeling lucky?  We're sharing our 3 Teacher Must-Haves.  To help you get your own must-haves, we're giving away a $20 Amazon Gift Card.  

Post It Notes.  I think I go through a pad of them a day.  I use them for student thinking, anchor charts, to assess prior knowledge, exit tickets and of course as reminders.

I LOVE my little table set up - the caddie, the trash can, the supply box.  I can't live without the trash cans. Oddly enough, my older kids tend to play with the caddies, while my younger kiddos understood their purpose and left them alone.

Last, but not least is my Frixion pens.  I bought them last year after reading about them on blogs.  WHERE HAVE THEY BEEN ALL MY TEACHING CAREER?  They are wonderful pens that erase!  I have 3 of them and next year, I plan to have a whole stash of them!!

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Teacher Appreciation - My Favorite Teacher

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week. 
 This week a few of my bloggie friends and I wanted to get together and celebrate teachers!  Today we're sharing memories of our favorite teachers. 

Growing up, I was lucky to live in a neighborhood that had excellent schools.  My favorite teachers are all from Richardson Jr. High School.  I went to school there from 7th to 9th grade.  I enjoyed Middle School, especially 9th Grade.

My favorite teacher was Mr. Davis, my 9th Grade English Teacher.  He was a short little, balding man who spoke properly with a gentle tone and he called his students by their last names.  I was Miss Rollins.  He wasn't a basal teacher.  In fact, I don't know if we ever opened a textbook in his classroom.  We read a lot of articles, novels and plays.  I remember reading Romeo and Juliet as a Reader's Theatre; I was Juliet.  We did a lot of writing, I loved to write.   In fact, we wrote a short story about our interpretation of life.  Mine was titled Life is like a Book.  Mr. Davis chose the top 3 from each of his classes and made a book.  Mine was chosen.  Mr. Davis liked it so much that he entered it into a student writing contest and I won!

A pic of me in Middle School.  I think this was either the end of 7th or 8th grade.
What made him a great teacher?  I'm not 100% sure.  I know that I try to pattern my own teaching after teachers that made an impact on me, like Mr. Davis did.  I try to incorporate Reader's Theater yearly and I always think of Mr. Davis carrying around a cardboard sword wrapped with a fake rose, quoting Romeo and Juliet.

Don't forget to stop back by Wednesday for a chance to win a $20 Gift Card to Amazon!  I'll be sharing my 3 Teacher Must Haves.


My New "Do"

It's Up...It's Up...
What do you think? I love the colors.

BTW, I'm participating in a blog hop tomorrow & you can win a $20 TpT Gift Card! WOW, just in time for the BIG SALE!