Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tried it Tuesday: Frosting Color Wheel

A few years ago, I had a good friend of mine volunteer to teach art to my kiddos every Friday...yep, EVERY Friday :) She planned everything and got her own materials.

I loved everything she did so much that I've done many of them in the two years since. I always text her a picture of our re-creations in appreciation - starting with this one. I'm using it for Tried It Tuesday, and definitely think you should try it if you teach your own art.

I like to start off the year by doing more simple line drawings, learning about shades and tints, and this week's lesson...the color wheel. Art is something you can really go crazy with, and with this lesson, your students will have fun creating and get to eat their art afterward.

So here it is...the frosting color wheel!

This idea didn't come from me, or even my friend originally. After some browsing, I think this is the original. Check it out for more detailed directions.

I wanted to teach students about primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, and this is a fun way to do it.

Start with 12 Ritz crackers (you can also use vanilla wafers if you want everything to be sweet). The picture above is from before I forgot that we needed 12 and gave the students 9 instead. Oops :).

I asked the students if they knew what the primary colors were. They knew this already, so that was great. I had bought 3 containers of vanilla frosting to use one for each primary color. You could also buy them already colored if you can find them. I mixed up the primary colors in front of them. We talked about how the colors were not as vivid as the food coloring does not get the frosting as bright.

I gave each student a good size blog of all three primary colors on their plate and they added them to their Ritz crackers. This is a good time to talk about fractions (or patterns) and they can figure out how to break their color wheel in three parts so they know how far apart to space their primary colors.

We then talked about secondary colors and how to make them. They took a small blog from their blue and red to mix up some purple, and then did the other secondary colors. Be sure to tell them to take a decent amount of frosting to mix up their secondary colors, otherwise they won't have enough to mix up the tertiary colors and will have to make more of the secondaries.

After we had done the secondaries, we talked about the tertiary colors. By this point the students were pretty confident in what they were doing and were able to mix and finish on their own.

They stayed really engaged in the task the whole time. We do art at the end of the day, so I made them take theirs home before eating them so as to avoid hyper children (sorry Parents).

I even heard some, "This is the best art project EVER" comments :)

Of course they have to test what happens when it's all mixed...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Interactive Landforms Activity

Drumroll please...

Last week I tried my first interactive notebook piece. I've seen these everywhere on blogs and TpT and felt like I had to give them a try. I tend to have a hard time coming up with great fun ideas for Social Studies, so I decided this was the place to start.

Using Lovin Lit's Interactive Notebook Templates and the posters from Landforms Posters and Bingo Game for the definitions and pictures, this is what I came up with.

Very simple, but still managed to take us two class periods to complete. How do you folks do this on a daily basis and still fit everything in? I think it took us longer cause I had to explain everything in detail as it was our first time, but still...is there a trick to speeding up?

They did pretty well on the quiz the next day, and many of them said they used their interactive notebook page to study, so that was positive :)

Have a great week!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Dyslexia Dialogue

After four long summers, I'm finally finishing up my Master's in Literacy Instruction this year. However, I still have to complete my large professional project before I'm done.

My project is going to be a booklet (and a bucket-load of research and one very long paper) about dyslexia. It's a subject I've been interested since my first year of teaching when a student a student with dyslexia (and just about every year since). It's a topic that most teachers unfortunately do not know much about because the little training we received was from research done a while ago.

A lot has changed in the area of dyslexia research in the last few years...so much that the amount of research is very overwhelming. My project will mostly focus on the background research of dyslexia (genetics, brain info, possible causes) and how classroom teachers can look for signs of dyslexia at the early grade levels K-2, so they don't have to get behind in school before they are noticed.

So, just in case some of you want to learn more about dyslexia, I'll be posting a few highlights from my weekly research visits to the library (hopefully each week :)). Here's a bit not only from this week, but from my whole summer-long research.

Thanks to  I Teach. What's Your Super Power for the pretty papers.

- The function MRI can show that there are differences in the brain when a person with dyslexia reads compared to a person without. This dispels the old belief that there really is no such thing as dyslexia and it's just simply when students don't read well.

- Dyslexia is largely genetic. While some of the genetics are not known for sure yet, we can show that around 60% of students with dyslexia also have a parent with dyslexia (unfortunately this is not always helpful yet as many of the parents don't know they have dyslexia...).

- Dyslexia and ADHD have some of the same genetic makeup and are often comorbid disorders (two medical diagnoses at the same time). Many students that have dyslexia also have ADHD and vise versa. Some studies have shown that as much as 40% - 60% have dyslexia and ADHD together, though usually are not as hyperactive as a student with just ADHD (especially girls).

- Early detection is key, because there are still studies showing that while we can teach students to read accurately at any age, fluency is hard to teach past a certain age, and some students may never learn to be fluent readers.

- One of the early factors that can be detected in students at risk for dyslexia is that they were late talkers. While children can start talking late and catch up, students at risk for dyslexia have a hard time acquiring new verbs at the same rate as other children around ages 2 - 3.

That's all for tonight. Please send me a comment below if you have any questions (or comments) about dyslexia. Anything you're curious about will help me be able to guide my research and have a particular area to focus on in the upcoming weeks.

Resources (all summarizing is in my own words...if you want the real things, here are some sources to check out):

Germanò, E., Gagliano, A., & Curatolo, P. (2010). Comorbidity of ADHD and Dyslexia. Developmental neuropsychology35(5), 475–493. doi:10.1080/875656412010494748

Koster, C., Been, P. H., & Diepstra, H. D. (2005). Differences at 17 Months : Productive Familial Risk for Dyslexia and, 48(April), 426–439.

Lyytinen, H., Ahonen, T., Eklund, K., Guttorm, T., Kulju, P., Laakso, M. L., … Viholainen, H. (2004). Early development of children at familial risk for dyslexia--follow-up from birth to school age. Dyslexia (Chichester, England)10(3), 146–78. doi:10.1002/dys.274

Shaywitz, S. E., & Shaywitz, B. a. (2008). Paying attention to reading: the neurobiology of reading and dyslexia. Development and psychopathology20(4), 1329–49. doi:10.1017/S0954579408000631

Van Alphen, P., de Bree, E., Gerrits, E., de Jong, J., Wilsenach, C., & Wijnen, F. (2004). Early language development in children with a genetic risk of dyslexia. Dyslexia (Chichester, England)10(4), 265–88. doi:10.1002/dys.272

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Reveal!

I survived my first day of my sixth year of teaching. Last week was crazy...12 hours+ at school trying to wait until the renovations were done, painting, and then putting my room together. I'm still missing my tv, clock, and haven't found the cord to plug my phone in, but otherwise am thrilled with the results. Take a look :)

This is the view from my classroom door. It's hard to get the whole thing in the picture.

Right inside my front door. Did I mention that I love IKEA? I bought all new furniture for my room for less than $500. Those pink boxes I just had to have, but they don't really have anything in them yet :)

I have a lot of very involved parents in my classroom this year, so I decided to create a little basket of things for them to do if they have time to volunteer. This way they can just walk in and have something to do without worrying about interrupting our class. We'll see if I remember to keep it filled.

I took my cue from many of you this year and got rid of my teacher's desk. This corner serves to house all the things that my desk usually would. The boxes (from The Container Store) hold all of my math and reading task cards, math centers, Reading A-Z books, student records, copies, etc. I also have my teacher toolbox (which I haven't finished), and a place for students to turn in their work. Right next to this area is my table for group work which I forgot to take a picture of.

Here's my effort to make parent/teacher/student communication better. This is my tiny version of Schoolgirl Style's organization station. I'll stick extra notes for parents here, weekly newsletters, a place for students to pick up their work if they were absent, book orders, calendars, etc. Hopefully it works. I'll keep you updated...

This is the huge bulletin board right inside my front door. The black paper is where I'll post student work to display. I wish you could see the ribbon holding them up. It's turquoise rick rack and the papers are held on with tiny bright pink clothespins. I'll have to take a closer picture, cause it looks so cute. Thanks to my helper for three weeks (a college student doing her elementary school exploratory) for putting both of the boards together :)

Love my new reading corner. So bright and clean looking

All chevron decor from the pictures is from here:

I have two white boards this year. My main one is blank - my side one is for my reading center. Here I have space for my anchor charts for reading and writing workshop, and a place for me to write what we're doing each day for my students to copy in their planners.

Here's what the whole thing looked like before I filled the book boxes and finished the board. $20 IKEA rugs anyone? :)

My book boxes hold notebooks/journals and binder for reading/writing workshop, reading books, and individual whiteboards for each student.

Anyone done the bucket filling? I bought this neat unit that has everything I need to get started.

That's it for now. After being at school for 12 hours, folding laundry, and making this post, I'm ready for bed :) Hope you have a great week!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Getting Ready...Kind of

I took a long blogging hiatus, but am trying to get back into the swing of things. It's been a very long stressful few weeks, but I've been meaning to write a new post for a few days now and find myself too tired to do anything when I get home.

I went back to work last Tuesday with two days of our in-service meetings. I did my first presentation on reading and writing workshop, which I think went well.

I don't know where this came from...please claim if it's yours. :)

Remember my tiny room (check out the "my classroom" tab if you haven't seen it)? Well, it's going through a bit of a renovation right now to add 12 feet on to the end. Yay!

Unfortunately, the project didn't get started until the week before we reported back to school, so it's been a scramble trying to get things finished. My carpet finally went in on Friday, but baseboards aren't set to go in until tomorrow, so I haven't been able to put anything against the wall yet. Still, it's going to be very exciting when it's finished.

Our other building on campus ended up in 2 inches of water two weeks ago, so they haven't been able to work in their rooms either. The carpets are dry and now clean, so tomorrow hopefully we'll all get to really start putting things together. Originally, school was set to start on Wednesday, but we've pushed it back to Sept. 3 because of these setbacks.

However, a trip to IKEA has me all ready to put some cuteness into my room :)

Plus add some of these:

And these:

And finally this:

And I'll be ready to go. Hope you all are having this much fun in your classrooms :)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Liebster Awards!

Today I was nominated for the Liebster Award - twice! Thanks to Kristen from Chalk and Apples and Tonya from Swashbuckling in Seventh for the nominations.

Liebster Awards are for blogs with less than 200 followers. It's really an opportunity to find and support new bloggers. In order to accept the nomination, you need to do the following:

1: Link back to the person that nominated you.
2: Answer the questions from your nominator (in this case I have double the questions!)
3: Share 11 random facts about yourself.
4: Nominate 5 more blogs with less than 200 followers.
5. Pose 11 questions for your nominees.

I have 22 questions to answer (yikes!) so I'm going to do that at the end in case you get bored halfway through (as I wrote that I saw something out of the corner of my eye and it turned out to be a giant wolf spider making it's way across my family room...literally folks...it was huge! My husband thankfully came down and took care of it).

Okay...11 random facts about myself :)

1. I was born and raised in California (Sacramento area) until moving to Washington for college.
2. I've never had a pet other than fish.
3. I competed in gymnastics when I was younger and then coached recreational and competitive gymnastics for 9 years.
4. Just this week I got back from a lovely vacation in Hawaii, where we try to go every year (if possible).
5. My husband and I just celebrated our 5th anniversary (see #4 :))
6. I love all water sports - specifically wakeboarding and barefooting.
7. I taught for 4 years in a multi-grade classroom teaching grades 1-8, where I was also the principal.
8. I'm a vegetarian.
9. I'm not a big fan of spiders (see above story).
10. The Time Traveler's Wife is one of my favorite books.
11. I LOVE setting up my classroom each year. Organization is my friend :)

Blogs I'm Nominating:
1. Adventures in Room 204
2. Teach and Re-Teach
3. Mrs. Patton's Class
4. I teach for Kids
5. Fit to be Fourth

Your 11 Questions Are: 
1. What is your favorite grade to teach?
2. What are your favorite hobbies?
3. Do you have any special goals for this year?
4. Where would your dream vacation be?
5. What is your favorite subject to teach?
6. What do you like the least about your job?
7. Why did you decide to become a teacher?
8. When do you start school again? (or maybe you already have...)
9. What is one school supply that you can't live without?
10. What is your favorite TpT resource?
11. How many students do you expect to have in your class?

And now...My Answers

from Chalk and Apples

1. What do you teach? 
I teach 4th grade. 

2. What school supply do you love most? 
hard one...bins, or my label maker :)

3. What is your guilty pleasure?
peanut butter m&m's...yum.

4. What's your go-to caffeine fix on sleepy mornings? 
actually, I don't really drink caffeine, but a hot shower usually does the trick

5. What are you most excited about this school year? 
finishing my master's :) (I know...it's not really about my classroom, but still relevant)

6. Who is the teacher who inspires you most?
Beth Newingham

7. If you were giving your students a wish list for Christmas gifts, what would be the #1 item on it? 
maybe a gift card to Lululemon or Barnes and Noble

8. What's your favorite Pinterest recipe? 
I'm trying to link this one on my ipad and can't get it to work, so I'm giving up for now. 

9. If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go? 
I'd like to go to the Caribbean again. 

10. What time do you wake up in the mornings?
about 5:45 (yuck)

11. If you had a day off, and nothing to do, how would you spend it? 
in the bath with a book :) 

and now...questions from Swashbuckling in Seventh

1. What/who was your inspiration to become a teacher?
My second and third grade teacher :)

2. What is your favorite grade to teach? 
3rd and 4th

3. What is a goal for this year? 
to finish my master's :)

4. What is a pet peeve of yours? 
People who can't see two sides of an issue

5. What is the best book you've read that didn't have to do with the education world?
I don't know if it's the best, but love The Time Traveler's Wife

6. What is the best teacher resource that you've come across?

7. What are three of your favorite apps for your classroom? 
I'm really behind on this topic. I like saving educational pictures on Pinterest and sharing them with my students...

8. What is the best lesson you've done? 
oh dear, that's a hard one. My students enjoyed the clay relief maps that we made of our states. 

9. Why did you start a blog?
I had a personal blog for a while, but never wrote anything on it. I figured I had more to say and share about being a teacher. 

10. What is one thing on your wish list? 
More ipads for my classroom. 

11. If there was one thing you could change about the city you work in, what would it be? 
less rain!

Well, congratulations if you made it to the end of the post. Thanks for sticking with me and thanks Kristen and Tonya for the nominations. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Break From Homework + Advice about a Workshop Presentation

Wow. It's been about a month since my last post. I've been too busy to catch my breath, let alone blog. However, I've spent the last hour and a half (that I'm supposed to be doing homework) catching up on reading everyone's wonderful blogs.

By the way...I missed the giant bloglovin' giveaway that was going around, but I've added the bloglovin' widget to my blog, so please follow me :)

This is my last week on campus in Walla Walla. Then I have one more week to finish up projects and wrap up my online class. I haven't been home in over two weeks. I'm getting eager for my own bed, organizing my house, and starting to think about my classroom again. I have managed to see my husband every weekend, which is lovely. Last weekend we met out in North Carolina for his cousin's wedding. It was my second time in the south (Florida excluded). The wedding was at a neat little castle somewhere outside of Charlotte. It was in a woodsy area and I was amazed (not being from the south) at how noisy it is outside. My experience from the south outdoors comes from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. Needless to say, my husband and mother-in-law had to share with me that the sounds coming from the moat (yes...a moat) were not from a recording, but actual real-life frogs :) hehe...

This last weekend we met up midway between Seattle and Walla Walla and went camping with some friends of ours and my sister and her family. It was great, though 100 degrees the whole time, so we're feeling a bit baked.

I'm stalling a bit from the homework, because the amount has been overwhelming. I'm wondering if I work full time with no breaks until everything is due if I will be able to get it all done. I've neglected pretty much everything except eating, some sleeping, and working out. I had high hopes for TpT products, but nothing has been happening there either. At the end, I will have finished 12 credits (16 if you count my professional project - but that's not due until the spring), wrote about 40 pages of academic research papers, logged between 60 - 100 hours of research, read countless amount of chapters, and spend many hours in class. I'm tired.

However, I have to begin thinking forward to August. This is where I need your help (if you've made it through this long post). I'm doing a workshop on Reading and Writing Workshop for our inservice meetings for some of the teachers in our conference (like a district) before school starts. It's 45 minutes long, and I will have people in it who will have never done workshops before and people who have and are just looking for a bit more information.

What do you think are the most important topics to cover? Obviously I'll talk about the basic structure of the workshops and the components (mini-lesson, independent time, conferencing/guided reading, closing). I'll cover anchor charts and doing advance planning on the lessons/conferences to make sure all curriculum is covered. Please comment and let me know what topics you think are the most important.

Thanks and please send me productive thoughts to make it through my final 2 weeks. Sorry for the lack of pictures in this post...I scratched the lens on my iphone and can't take any pictures....need to get a new one soon.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Wild Ride Begins

Today marks the unofficial end of my summer break. I have had two weeks of lovely laziness - now the work begins. Here's my next five weeks in a nutshell.

16 credits of summer school.

Week 1: Drive to Walla Walla (4 1/2 hrs.) for three days of school. Drive home.

Week 2: Drive to Walla Walla for three days of school. Drive home.

Week 3: Drive to Walla Walla for the whole week of school. Drive home. Fly overnight to North Carolina for a wedding. Fly home. Drive to Walla Walla.

Week 4: Week of school. Camping for the weekend with friends :)

Week 5: Week of school. Drive home for the last time.

Fly to Kauai for a much-needed vacation. Yay!

In the midst of all that craziness, I have a lot of stuff for TpT I need to finish up. I'm revising my poetry unit and am almost finished with a big biography unit. Send your tips for good productivity my way. I'm afraid I've become a great time-waster.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Butterfly: Social Studies Mentor Text

When I was a kid, I was totally into Holocaust books. As terrible as it was, it's something I've always been interested in learning more about. Every time I went to the bookstore, it was usually to pick out another book about the Holocaust - or check one out from the library. It's such a hard subject, though, and harder to introduce to younger grades. I want them to know what it is and be sensitive to the culture without getting into the more mature parts of it.

One way to do this is by using a picture book. There are a number of them about the Holocaust that are written for a much younger audience. I'm linking up with Collaboration Cuties for their Must Read Mentor Texts to talk about one of them.

While we're on the subject of favorites, let me tell you about another one of my favorite things: Patricia Polacco. Don't you love her books? I have a million of them, and always need more. Today's mentor texts combines the Holocaust and Patricia Polacco in a beautiful book called The Butterfly. 

This book takes place in France, which I like, because it's a little harder to find a Holocaust book set in France. It is the story of a girl, Monique, who wakes up in the night to find a "ghost" in her bedroom. The "ghost" quickly disappears, but the turns up again on another night. Monique is surprised to discover that the little girl is not a ghost, but an actual child who is living in her house. Sevrine and her family have been hiding under the floor in Monique's house for a few months. They are Jews and are hiding until they can be smuggled out of France. Monique and Sevrine get together often in the evenings until as they look out the window one night, they see their neighbor looking them. They quickly make plans to get Sevrine and her family out of the house that night.

During the book, Monique sees a butterfly outside in her garden one day. As she is admiring it, a Nazi reaches and squishes it with his hand. Later in the book, after Sevrine and her parents have left the house, Monique sees three butterflies in her garden, followed by a hundred more, which she takes as a sign that Sevrine and her parents are safe. (the afterward in the book tells you later that in real life Sevrine lived, but her parents died). This could be used to talk with your students about symbolism (oooh, a language arts lesson :)).

The butterfly part of the book reminds me of another book that I own - I Never Saw Another Butterfly. Have you read it?

It's a collection of poems and drawings done by children who lived in the concentration camp of Terezin. This camp was known for having people who were artists, poets, musicians, etc. It is a book more for teens and adults than young children, but you can select a few poems and plenty of drawings to show to them to go along with The Butterfly.
Anyway, I just love Patricia Polacco's books. This one is a great story of friendship and bravery, while introducing a historical event. As in many books, this one is based on her own life. The little girl in the story, Monique, is Patricia's aunt. If you haven't read it already, go buy yourself a copy.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tried it Tuesday: Quick Meals by One-Time Chopping

Today I'm linking up with Holly from Fourth Grade Flipper to share my tip for Tried It Tuesday.

I worked at a new school this year that takes me between 45 minutes and an hour to get there. Since my other school was 2 1/2 miles away, I was not used to this. My new job is much less stressful, but my hours are longer. 

I like to cook, but hardly made a real meal last school year because by the time I got home I didn't really have the energy to cook (plus my house wasn't usually clean and that helps contribute to my wanting to do nothing but sit on the couch). Anyways, if I didn't have a plan for dinner, we ended up making some quick meal that wasn't so healthy or ordering a pizza (this happened unfortunately often). 

I've been trying to come up with a better way to do meal planning and make dinners so I don't dread it when I get home. My most hated (is that a phrase??) task is chopping things, and my husband's favorite food is salad...so those things don't really go together. 

In addition, I find that we waste a lot of food. Mostly because it gets hidden in the drawer and I forget that it's there, or I don't feel like cooking for a few days, so then they go bad. I've seen many things on Pinterest about getting prep stuff done ahead so that meals are a breeze, so I thought I'd give it a try. 

Here's my messy fridge.
I grabbed all of my fresh produce out of the fridge and started chopping. Here's what I had with me: 

Carrots: I snack on these, so I cut them in sticks (just make sure they're not too tall to fit in your container). I put these in a jar with some water to keep them moist and crunchy. 

Green onions: Chopped these up to put in my husband's salads. 

Sweet onions: I use these for many things, so I wasn't sure what size to cut these in, but I figured I chop them most often, so that's what I chose to do. 

Broccoli: Cut in medium-size florets - we mostly put broccoli in our salads.

Red Cabbage: I don't use this very often, but happened to have some in the fridge, so I chopped it up for salads. 

Radishes: I love to snack on these, so I just cut them in half and put them in some water.

Lettuce: I knew this needed to be dry to stay fresh, so I threw it in the salad spinner. I cut a bunch of it up so that it would entice me to make lots of salads before it went bad ;)

After all this, my fridge looks great! It's all organized and colorful and pretty :) See?

Look at those beautiful veggies!
My husband and I can applesauce every fall, so we have lots of mason jars hanging around. I decided to use those as my container of choice just so I didn't have to go buy anything. You could use whatever you want, of course. 

This is just a trial run, so I have no idea how long my beautiful veggies will last. But since a lot of our food gets wasted anyways, this was bound to help me use it more frequently and hopefully eat healthier in the process. 

Yay for healthy eating and quick meals. Hopefully I can keep it up for next school year.