Sunday, March 24, 2013

Linky Time!

The Noun Game

I'm linking up with Latoya Reed from Flying into First. Be sure to click on the picture to join up in this linky!

Favorite Person

As if you couldn't guess... my sweet Lilly! And yes, I realize she looks a little grungy today, with her Dora pj pants and shirt she wore yesterday that I have not changed. She's had a fever the last 2 days, so I'm happy to see her smile, dirty face and all! Tomorrow will definitely have a trip in the doctor for us.. yay!

Favorite Place

Well... I grew up about 20 minutes away from Wilmington, NC, which for those of you who don't know, is the BeAcH. I spent many high school English classes at the beach.. and math classes, too, now that I think of it. ;) Now that I'm getting older (26 isn't old, right?!) I mainly like to go in the evenings, when it isn't scorching hot. 

Favorite Thing(s)

I love buying new notebooks and pens. I am Very overly organized so I have to-do lists for every day.. of my life. I also love to buy pens... these are my favorite!

Because I have to be organized, I also expect the same from my students. I made them to-do lists that they use mainly on Fridays, when we're wrapping up various activities. Grab a copy of these here for FREE!

Favorite Animal

I've always been a dog person... not so much a cat person. Here is Molly.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Letters of Love

Happy Saturday to you all! It's quite glorious outside, minus the cold chill in the air.

I've always been one to LOVE mail. Absolutely LOVE getting anything in the mail that has my name on it. Well, besides bills of course! Even emails make my heart happy! I enjoy buying cards for other people, writing a book in them, adding stickers and pictures, and sending them off with love. Hall Mark has seriously made bank off of me! When my husband was deployed the last time I sent him about 3 cards each week... all of which he brought back with him and we still have. Precious!

Heart clip art from The Pond; font from Jen Jones @ Hello Literacy
Today I wrote my first letter to my daughter, Lilly. My intent is to write her a letter each year for her birthday, and give her all 18 of them on her 18th birthday. Or perhaps I'll wait until she's 20 or 21. Or maybe even on her birthday when she has a baby of her own. Who knows! Lilly is 18 months old, so I'm a little behind, but I do plan to keep up with it--and keep it a secret! So today I wrote the very first sweet letter, added cute stickers and a picture of the 2 of us, and placed it in a "treasure chest." Letters of love sounded just right, since her name is Lilly Love Lopez. What alliteration, huh?! (Total teacher over here!)

I also decided today that I would write a sweet note to one of my extra special students. This little girl works super hard, gives school her all, asks questions, helps those even when they don't ask, and overall makes my life as a teacher easier. Here's the note I wrote for her. I plan to also give her a super cool pack of twisty crayons since she's quite the artist. And the best part? She's going to say thank you and MEAN it!
Font by Jen Jones @ Hello Literacy; background by Ashley Hughes

Do you do anything special for your students such as this? I'd love to hear about it!
Have a blessed one, people... and get off your computers... enjoy the weekend! :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Five for Friday

I don't think I can begin to express how glad I am that it's Friday... and I can sit on my couch blog-stalking while listening to Lilly give commands to the dogs and sing along to Gabba. Man, it's been a long week! A very good week--just exhausting. My husband is finishing up his training for Special Forces (Army) so he was/still is out in the field all week. That left me alone with 2 kids and 2 dogs, which equals to 4 kids, basically. Long days at school turn into long nights at home when you're the only one cooking/cleaning/tending to dogs. Again, hello FrIdAy! :)

I'm linking up with the lovely Doodle Bugs Teaching for some Five for Friday. Click on the picture to link up, too! 

1. AR Success

If we're being honest, half of my class likes to read the other half... well... just doesn't I have to FORCE any kind of reading EVEN IF it's a topic that interests them. Crazy junk! These students are low (read: really really low), so I had to think of something to encourage these struggling readers. I then made a very simple clip chart so students could show off their progress towards their AR goals. Each Monday students begin at the bottom on, "I still need to take a test." With each test they take they get to move up one spot IF they scored an 85% or higher. The picture is of the first chart I made, but then went back and added 2 more spaces--I've taken 4 of more quizzes and I've made my AR goal. Today we counted 11 out of 17 students who have made their goal.. and 3 more trailing close behind! I haven't quite yet figured out how to upload documents that aren't on TpT.. but if you'd like a copy of the chart, just comment with your email address and I'd by happy to email it to ya! ;) 

2. Hollywood Star Points

"Stop. Talking. Just. Stop." How many times have I repeated that lately? I even slowed down the sentence for emphasis, to no avail! So, last Sunday I spent way too much time cutting out Hollywood Star Points. Every time a table is doing the right thing, they earn a point. At the end of each day we note how many points each table/island has, and today we tallied up all the points and the table with the most got a small prize. Now, typically I'm not one to give rewards for doing what I expect you to do, besides our school-wide PBIS tickets, but the week before Spring Break? Hecks yah I am. And I did.. and my island friends were almost at the top of the charts! 
My tables do have group names that correspond with my Holly theme,  such as Paramount and MGM, but I thought table #s worked just fine! :)

3. Science lab fun

This week in science lab we used stream tables to teach about erosion. Students created mountains and had it "rain" on them, made plateaus and saw how deltas are formed. Pretty cool stuff! They even had to decide where to build their "houses" and do a risk assessment based on what they know about erosion. They loved it!

4. Date night... with the kids!

Since Daddy is gone, the kids and I had a date night/Mom doesn't feel like cooking night at Chick-Fil-A. Love that joint!

5. On My Honor lap books

We are almost done reading On My Honor and so the creation of the lap books has started. We have been doing word studies all along, as well as character analysis and various other activities. In the pictures the students are in the beginning processes of creating their books, starting with their vocab folders, name poems and character sketches. Much more to do!

Enjoy your weekends... you deserve it! And don't forget to link up!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Workshop Wednesday... and more fractions!

I have felt like a kid all week knowing Spring Break is right around the corner. I keep a mental countdown in my head that does include Science Lab tomorrow, the half-day next Thursday, and it most definitely included the science assembly we had today. Somehow, in my mind, assemblies or any time I'm not actually teaching equates to being closer to a much needed break. See--just like a kid!

Anyway, I'm linking up with Ideas by Jivey for Workshop Wednesday: Reading Organizers. I tend to think in terms of graphic organizers myself, so naturally we make these in my classroom all the time. We make them in most all subjects, because they are such a great teaching tool to sort out information. 

We've been reading On My Honor here recently, which the kids LOVE. Just this week we've been analyzing what the characters say, do and think, which is RF.4.3 I believe. I whipped up this Y-Chart Sunday evening... something quick and to the point. We all read together initially, then my students went back and re-read with a partner, while looking for the specifics on the organizer. Next, (which will be tomorrow and Friday), my students will create a thought bubble, speech bubble and action strip as a final product to show not only what the characters thought, said and did, but also analyze what this means. For example, if Joel thought about not telling the truth to his parents or police, how was he really feeling.. what would lead him to not wanting to tell the truth. I would post a picture of the finished product, but we haven't done it yet!

We frequently use summarizing organizers such as SWBST (someone wanted but so then) for fiction and the 5 W's + H for non-fiction (Who, what, when, where, why, how). One thing I've implemented this year with this organizers is a writing piece. My kids seem to get so lazy and used to jotting down notes of who they're talking about, and what that character did, but then when it comes to actually summarizing, as in a paragraph, they skimp out on me! Writing a paragraph after jotting down the notes has always been required, and so now after that I also have them make a connection either with that character, between the book they summarized and another book, or a connection to the world. We practice this weekly.. I'm convinced I have the world's laziest 4th graders. Really, I'd enter them in a competition!

Fractions... Again!

Seriously.. I'm over fractions. Well actually I think I'm over school/grades/conferences/bullying/disrespect/etc. and would like my break... so that I can go back to said activities with more motivation.

This is week... 112? of fractions for us, and we're moving on to multiplying fractions. Yesterday we discussed and worked with estimating fractional sums. I was worried at first that my kids would be confused, so at the last minute I had an idea that I whipped up super-duper quick.. hence the hand-written copies!

After discussing whole group, we partnered up and tackled estimating fractions. We used the phrase: "If_____ is closer to _______, and ________ is closer to _________, then ________ + __________ is about ____________." If that was confusing, try this one: "If 8/9 is closer to 1 whole, and 1/9 is closer to 0, then 8/9 + 1/9 is about 1 whole." **This can also be used for comparing fractions, so my kids told me. :)

Instead of completing boring worksheets, we pulled fractions out of a brown bag and recorded them on the sheets in the picture. I don't know what it was about the non-cute brown bag, but Lord knows they loved it.. and could do it! I looked over their responses yesterday and had to clarify some simple misconceptions, such as 5/6 is closer to 1 whole, not 1/2. Many number lines were drawn.. out of force, though, because they're lazy I tell you! :)

Two more days until Friday.. I think I can, I think I can! Don't forget to go link up with Jivey! 

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Have you forgotten EVERYTHING?!

Spring Break Blues

Maybe it's because of the weather, being *almost* warm and spring-like, or because we have 2 weeks before Spring Break, but my students most definitely act as if they have forgotten everyyyy rule/procedure that has been established since the beginning of the year. I get that they will be a little more talkative... and I get they may "forget" their homework, but the last straw was on Friday. During the middle of our fraction activity, I had a student get up and sharpen a pencil. Now yes, I know to someone who is not a teacher this seems like, "So what? His pencil broke." But to those of us who are teachers, and have established the rule to NOT sharpen pencils during instruction, especially when the teacher is talking, we know this is a big no-no. As soon as the poor little guy started sharpening, all eyes in the room first clung to me, waiting for my reaction, and then after seeing the look of horror on my face, bounced to the kid... who looked around with shock... and slowly walked away from the sharpener. 

I've decided it's time we have a refresher on the rules of the class. I made a quick and easy "Find Someone Who" activity just for this. Students have a set amount of time to walk around the room and find other students in which they can review the rules with. They should end up with 9 different signatures and answers. You can download this freebie by clicking on the link below to my TpT store.

Are your kids going crazy, too? What are you doing to counteract this??

Friday, March 15, 2013

Five for Friday


I. Am. Exhausted. Doesn't it always seem like the weeks leading up to Spring Break take the longest? Or are at least the most draining? I stayed late yesterday writing lesson plans and today as well... and still brought work home. Craziness!

Anyway, Here is my FIRST Five for Friday Linky Party! If you'd like to join, click on the picture and link up!

1. Fraction Word Problems
If you've read any of my recent blog posts, you'll know we're in the middle of some fraction lovin'. I feel like fractions have consumed my classroom. It can be so easy to have activities/games/lessons with the basics of fractions, such as how to add or subtract--yet neglect to incorporate these same skills in word problems. I don't know why, but every year it seems like my kids can do super-duper great with the skills until they see a word problem .Then it's like they're trying to read Chinese... ugh. So we've done fraction word problems most every day. Usually only one, but the goal is for them to be very comfortable with them. Today we worked with partner and completed "four squares" with fraction word problems. Box 1 is for writing or gluing the word problem. Box 2 is for taking notes on the "important stuff." Box 3 is where they solve by writing an equation, drawing a picture or any other method they can think of. Finally, box 4 is for explaining their answer. It takes a while to get students used to this, but it's beneficial once they have it down. Here's an example of one paper that was turned in today. Sloppy, but you get the point.

2. Civic Oration Speeches
The 5th graders at my school compete in civic oration contests each year. They compete in their homeroom classes, then the top 12 give their stages in front of the school. Today was that day. The topic of the speech had to be "Someone who has overcome adversity." One of my babies from a previous year almost brought me to tears! He told the story of his brother who had overcome being in a gang and going to jail. He has since turned his life around and is about to get married, in an attempt to set a good example for his daughter. My former student spoke of how he was going down the same track as his brother, until taking a trip to a prison with our SRO (school resource officer). Wow. Wow! It's so hard to believe that our babies... that are only in 5th grade know more street-wise than we do. Another girl spoke of her mom overcoming living with what seemed like an abusive boyfriend for 3 years... of which she saw. She asked the question, "Do you know what it's like to see your mom get her head smashed through a mirror? Because I do." Again, wow. These students come to school with all this baggage... let me stop. The mom in me is about to get emotional over here! 

3. On My Honor
This was our second week reading this novel. So far my students LOVE it! It's so nice to hear them want to keep reading. "No, Mrs. Lopez, let's keep going!" They're learning TONS of vocabulary words and having great discussions about character traits, theme and they're making connections. 

4. Speaking of Word Webs...
We are somewhat off and on using word webs. I've tried really hard to read their sentences daily to make sure they truly understand what the word means and use it correctly in a sentence. I read this particular sentence using the word sparse and HAD to take a picture and send it to the kid's mom.

"My mom's hair is sparse."

Now technically he didn't give any context clues, so he wouldn't get credit for the sentence... but man it made me laugh! His mom sent me text and said she would have to make herself a hair appointment this week for sure. I guess she's being bumming it... too funny! I doubt he means his mom is thin like traffic can be, but it's still funny. :)

5. "Ain't nobody got time for that!"
Okay... so this may be totally inappropriate, but inappropriate things tend to make me smile. I've seen videos posted on Facebook recently that said the phrase, "Ain't nobody got time for that!" I felt like I was missing out on something, so I asked my husband and he showed me the video of a woman whose house or possibly apartment was on fire, and she was saying "ain't nobody got time for that!" I think it was just the way in which she said it that made it so funny. Anyway, I saw this picture floating around and HAD to share. 
And here's the video if you haven't seen it... now the picture should make sense. :)
Ain't Nobody got time fo that - write out a 5-step lesson plan? ain't nobody got time for that

Hahahah! :)

Have a fabulous weekend!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted!

It sure has felt like Spring here lately! It was sunny and 70 degrees today, and about 72 yesterday. Too bad tomorrow it's supposed to be down in the 50's again. Anywayyy... I'm trying out my very FIRST linky, and saying a prayer it works! Don't laugh... I'm new to this! :) Latoya Reed from Flying into First Grade is hosting a linky party to meet fellow bloggers, so I'm taking this opportunity to do just that. To join, tell about yourself using your initials, and comment on the blogs of 2 others. Here goes... :)

Mom... I'm not going to lie, being a mom and waking up to my Lilly Love is the best part of day! She's sassy, sweet and everything in between. Today she's exactly 18 months old, and her favorite TV show is Yo Gabba Gabba. I can sing any Gabba song you want, just ask!
Gabba apparel from Target! If I had a "T" in my name it would DEFINITELY stand for Target! :)

Lunges... we have a love/hate relationship. I truly do love to workout, Crossfit (or Crossfit type workouts) being my favorite. I've never been an athlete or anything even close, but going to the gym makes my heart happy. Time, however, is of course the issue. Typically I find ways to workout in my house, such as lunges in the hallway, working around toys/kids/dogs.. or doing squats using a pink car/walker of Lilly's. Hey--do whatcha gotta go! My husband is in the Army, and on the weekends we usually go on family runs or ruck marches. This past Saturday we walked/jogged (okay.. mainly walked) a 4.5 mile trail. He carried his 45 pound ruck on his back, and I wore a 25 pound vest.. but since I pushed the stroller, it's like we're ever... right?

This is seriously the motto of CrossFit... I have indeed puked, and cried (when I got home)...  Love it!

Laughter... I find humor in most anything, most of which are inappropriate. I won't lie.. when I have a kid's name on my roster I can't pronounce, I have to laugh.. and text a friend. Or when a kid's name is not pronounced the way it's spelled, I laugh at that, too. And on Facebook/Pinterest, all of the pictures with quotes like the ones below make me chuckle, too. As a teacher, though, we all need laughter!

Well... that's a little bit about me. Hope to hear from you soon! :))))

Monday, March 11, 2013

More Fractions... and life.

Do you ever have those weeks where you feel like you're SO behind... and it's only Monday? Yes. That was my day. I feel like we got ridiculously behind when I was out for 3 days (in a row), so this week we're doubling up on math instruction. I figure it will either work really well or really, well, not well. Ha! Today was good though, because we played a review Jeopardy game, worked with a meaningful math task card provided by the county I work in, and then took our fraction assessment. I've been trying to include word problems in every corner I can, to prepare my babies for state testing coming in May. Here's a glimpse of the assessment.
 Since we've been exploring fractions for the last couple weeks, and have more weeks to follow with Common Core, I've made fraction "I Have, Who Has" games as a review. They take maybe 5 minutes and are a good, quick way to get the little brains working. Here's a glimpse of those!

Professional Development

Last Friday we had a PD day in my county. Our focus was meaningful questioning, in all subjects. We watched this video at the beginning of the session, and it was hilarious! If you have never seen it, please watch it... and laugh! The point was, I guess, that we have ALL used the "wiggly finger" approach to getting our kids to say the correct answer, yet the kids aren't actually thinking through the answer. We explored the types of questions we should be asking our students that allow them to think for themselves and lead them to becoming independent thinkers. We practiced standard-based, text-dependent questions--which is something I know I can improve on.

In other news...

Do you sometimes find it hard to maintain a balance of school, home, and personal time? That has been me lately! Sick kids, lesson plans, grading papers, collaborating, wife duties... it seems that the personal time part of the trio always seems to lack. My goal for the rest of the month is to work out at least 4 times a week. So far so good... how do you get your personal time in??

Have a fantastic week... Spring is in the air! :)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Map Time!

North Carolina Natural Resources

On Friday of last week we ended our SS unit on natural resources in NC. What a better way to end than creating huge maps using cAnDy?! Oh yes, it was such a glorious mess! Ha! I put students in groups to work, and we began by making map keys.

After making the map keys I had the idea of using Angry Bird gummies to represent hogs, but of course I thought of that after the fact. Anyway, I had already created baggies of supplies for each group to save class time, so next students sorted all their materials, then got to work. Here are some of the groups hard at work:

It was fun to see how well my students worked together for this project. Some groups tasked out who should do what, while others did everything together. Getting the Twizzlers to stick was a bit of a headache, but we'll see tomorrow morning how well they held together.

Viola! Here's a finished product:

Enjoy your week!

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