Friday, January 31, 2014

Currently: February

I don't know that I've ever been so excited for February.... mostly because that means January is over :) One month down... I think I can, I think I can!  I'm going to make this quick because it's been a LONG week... I'm linking up with Farley for February's Currently (even though it's still January for another 30 minutes!)

Listening: Ok let's just all admit it.... who out there DOESN'T love Jimmy? I have a major crush on him.... I'm so excited that he's taking over the Tonight Show! Now I can watch him every night while I try to fall asleep :)  Did you see his FULL HOUSE video the other night?? Hilarious!!  Tonight Utah even got a shout-out during the monologue :) woot-woot! (and just for the record, I am equally excited about Seth Meyers taking over Late Night... he's so cute and hilariously funny!)

Loving... ummm, yeah.... if you haven't tried these before, you are SERIOUSLY missing out!! But really, don't buy them.... you will get addicted.  It's dangerous!  This is my second bag (notice, I haven't cut into it yet... I'm not sure how much longer that will last).  I actually buy a few extra bags the day after Valentine's day (because target puts them on clearance).... yeah, it's a BAD addiction...

Thinking: I have nothing to put here... I stared at my computer for a good 5 minutes trying to think of something... anything.... nope... just thinking that I'm tired.  This week has been LONG (this was my first 5-day week after  two 4-day weeks in a row.... why is 5 days so much harder than 4?)

Wanting: I bought myself a silhouette cameo for my birthday & christmas this year.... and guess what?? IT'S STILL IN THE BOX :( I am so ashamed.... I really want to learn how to use it!!  One of my friends is supposed to help me soon. I have so many ideas, but no time to sit down and figure it all out. One of these days...

Needing: I think that "thinking" and "wanting" explain it all... I just need a day all to myself! There's something about 3-day weekends that just leave me feeling so much more refreshed (sadly, the next break is still 2 weeks away... and we have parent-teacher conferences prior to the long weekend, so it will be a LONG "short" week!)

And finally... two truths and a lie... what a FUN idea!! Any guesses what mine are?!?  Ok, here we go.... 
1. TRUTH!! YES, I really did meet Jay Leno!!  It was so cool!  My friend and I went to a taping of his show, and after standing in line for HOURS, and thinking we weren't going to get in, then they came and pulled us to the front of the line, and took us to some seats right up at the front of the audience!  Jay came out before the taping to do a Q&A session, and I decided to be brave and ask for a photo to take back to my students... unfortunately they don't let you use your NICE cameras in their studio, so all we got was a Polaroid picture :( (don't judge... it's a TERRIBLE photo!)

2. LIE.... Even though I live in Utah, home of the "greatest snow on earth" as our license plates say, I've NEVER been skiing... can you believe that?!  I'm pathetic, what can I say??
3. TRUTH... yup, I'm a southpaw. I know you're jealous.  I have my dad and grandma to thank for this one...  at least I can say I'm always in my right mind! LOL... 

So there you have it... what are you most looking forward to this month??

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Student-Friendly Report Cards (freebie!)

Woah, where has January gone?? Time sure flies these days. Anyway, today I want to talk about report cards. Every teacher's favorite thing to do, right?! I can already hear your laughter :) So we just finished our second term, and with the end of the term comes report cards and parent-teacher conferences. This year, our school set a goal to have "student-led" conferences as a way to make the students take a little more ownership of their learning, and try to make the actual parent-student-teacher time more meaningful (10 minutes is just never enough time to really tell a parent how their child is doing). 

So in my district, we hold conferences twice a year, which is a new change that just recently started. Previously we had 3 conferences during the year, but found that holding a conference before school began didn't really accomplish anything because we hadn't even met the child yet, so we couldn't really set goals and whatnot.... So it was basically just a "meet the teacher" meeting, and we ended up having to hold individual meetings with many parents prior to the next "official" conference time, because we couldn't wait until November to address any issues or concerns we had once the year began. So now we do conferences in September and February, which is great, because it gives us enough time to gather our beginning of the year assessment data, and have a good picture of where each student is at, then in February we are about half-way through the year, so we can review their progress and see if each child is where they need to be in order to reach their end of year benchmark goals. 

Okay, back to the student-led conferences.... Back in September, as we were preparing for our first conference, one of the upper-grade teachers made a form for each child to fill out.... It was just a basic form with 4 or 5 questions for them to answer, but after only ONE conference using this form, it was very clear that this was NOT going to work out.... It was PAINFUL to sit there and make a seven year old do ALL the writing (because, after all, this is a "student-led" conference, so the student is supposed to be doing the writing and goal setting)... And it took waaaaaay longer than 10 minutes to complete this form. Clearly, we had a problem. One of the first grade teachers was nice enough to share a form with me that she had gotten from her cooperating teacher when she was doing her student teaching.... It was much more simple and just involved circling some pictures as a form of self-assessment.... But it wasn't quite what I wanted....and we all know how it goes when we get a copy of a copy of a copy.... It doesn't keep it's original quality, and unfortunately whoever went to all the trouble of making it didn't put their name or any copyright info on the page, so I couldn't google it and find who made it :( insert sad face here, right?? So, please forgive me in advance if you see this and think, "gosh, this looks a LOT like something I made".... I promise I was not trying to steal your thunder.... Anyway, long story short, I decided to make my own form, and I thought I would share it with all of you!! 

As you can see, this is just a basic form that the students can fill out themselves.... I plan on having the students do their own self-assessment 3 times during the year... First in September at parent teacher conferences, again in February at our second parent teacher conference, then we will do a final one in class at the end of the year.   I keep a copy for my records (which would be great to put in data binders or other "lines of evidence" folders you might be keeping throughout the year), then the students are given a copy to take home. In the past, I've had kids that have colored these and hung them up on their fridge! How fun is that for a report card?!

You can download it for free in my TPT store by clicking here!  When do you have parent teacher conferences?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bar Model Detectives - Vol. 2

Well, hello everyone!! Sorry I've been kind of MIA lately... I've been sick off and on since Thanksgiving, and am so over this winter gunk that's been going around. I swear I just come home and collapse at the end of the day! But I am thankful that I was able to catch up on some much needed rest over Christmas break.  And speaking of Christmas break, I was also able to meet up with a few local teacher-bloggers for lunch... It was so fun to eat and chat like old friends, even though some of us had just met for the first time that day! 
Nikki - aka Melonheadz Illustrating, brought these cute little gifts for us.  She is too sweet!

Nikki, Becca, Me, Rachelle

Natalie & Rachelle in the back, Nikki, me, Becca, and Lory in front
 We had so much fun eating and chatting! I hope to see these lovely ladies again soon.  It's so fun to meet other teachers who are so passionate about education!  

So, between sleeping and being sick, I really had planned on finishing this packet over Christmas break.... Obviously that didn't happen!  I think I only turned on my computer twice the entire 2 1/2 weeks!  It was nice to not think about anything!!  At any rate, my new bar model packet is FINALLY done and I'm happy to give you a little sneak peek!

If you are not familiar with the bar model, it is an AWESOME tool to use when solving tricky word problems.  It is very popular in Singapore Math, and also appears in many common core aligned text books.  The bar model is generally introduced in first grade as a part/part/whole model for addition and subtraction, and in subsequent grades, it extends to multiplication, division, repeated addition, etc.  It is such a POWERFUL problem-solving tool when used and understood correctly.  I will admit, I did NOT like it at first... I had never seen it before, it confused my students, and it just made teaching math HARD.... so I didn't spend too much time on it, and just quickly taught it and moved on... but then it popped up again.... and again... and again.... and I soon discovered that it was in each and every chapter of my math textbook, and it was clear that it was NOT going away... that's when the bar model detectives idea was born.  I needed to teach my kids how to use the bar model, and we needed to practice it more than once per chapter in order to really understand how to use it, and make it a more natural problem-solving choice.  

When I made my first packet, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to accomplish, and was surprised at all the positive feedback I got from other teachers who were so happy to have a tool to teach the bar model successfully.  I was also pleased with my students' growth as we practiced each week.... they went from NOT understanding the bar model at ALL, to using it as their preferred problem solving method whenever they were told to "choose a way to solve".  I quickly added even more pages to the original packet, and also added task cards to put in a center.  It was quite the labor of love to give the first packet a big makeover, and hopefully it made this new packet worth the wait!!!  You can download a free sample from each packet if you click on "preview" on teachers pay teachers.... here's a few of the worksheets for you to check out:

each page is included with and without a bar model picture... that way, you can choose if you want to have your students LABEL the bar model, or if they are ready to draw their own bar model ;)

if you're looking for a way to save paper, you can also use the smaller 1/2 sheets that include 2 different versions of the problem on each page. 

Both of my bar model packets are on sale until Tuesday night, but you can comment below to win one on Monday! Just leave me your email and tell me what you're doing on your day off tomorrow.  I'll pick a winner before I go to the PINK concert tomorrow night :) (yes, the concert that I was *supposed* to go to back in October... Pink apparently got sick and had to re-schedule TWICE! I keep saying I'm too old to go to concerts on a school night... Tuesday, please be kind to me!) Have a great week everyone :)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Currently: January

I'm so excited to be linking up with "currently" this month. I feel like I'm always a day late and a dollar short, but I love reading everyone else's posts, so I'm joining in on the fun once again. So here's my January "currently":

Listening: I *love* country music!!! I'll admit, it's been a little hard turning off the Christmas music (and yes, I might have cried a little when I took down my tree yesterday), so I've turned on the "today's country" station on pandora, and it's helped me get over the post-Christmas blues. Love me some Lady Antebellum, Hunter Hayes, Taylor Swift, and all the other great tunes that have been playing while I've been working on this post!

Loving: winter break.... But really, is there any teacher that DOESN'T love it?! I'm sure after 17 days of "Saturdays", Monday is going to be pretty rough for me :( this has been a much-needed break and I am so glad it came when it did!!

Thinking: how many school days until spring break?! WHY?! (No, not just because I want another break!!) But because I'm going to Hawaii for the first time in my life during spring break!!! I'm so excited to get away from the cold and snow and do nothing on a beach for an entire week :) 

Wanting: I have spent most of Christmas break just sleeping, because I was sick from around the time of my birthday, up until just now (after 3 rounds of antibiotics, I'm finally starting to feel human again.... But oh man, I wasn't sure I would make it through December!!) Now that I finally have the energy to create, it's time to go back to school :( I have some great ideas and just need the time to make it all. Story of my life I suppose!

Needing: SUNSHINE.... Oh. My. Word. The air quality here in Utah is simply AWFUL.... I'm talking, inversions so bad you can SEE the air. It's some of the worst air in the nation. Disgusting. Gross. The end. 

Favorite memory / tradition: I'm putting 2 things here.... Christmas ornaments and Christmas Eve. One of my favorite traditions that my mom started was buying a new Christmas ornament for me and my brother each year. Now that I have my own house, it's fun to put all of my ornaments up and remember what they represent. I have ornaments from family vacations (I'd say at least half of my ornaments are Disney! Lol!) Dance figurines, precious moments, willow trees, and all sorts of fun things. I love my Christmas tree!!

My other favorite tradition is Christmas Eve. Each year, my grandma takes all of the granddaughters to see "The Nutcracker", then we have a big family party! We play bingo for white elephant presents, eat a big dinner, and Santa comes to bring all of the kids a present. It is such a fun evening and I love that we have a big extended family to celebrate with. 

Here's a picture of my tree. {sniff}. My house feels so empty right now :(

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My Truth Monday

So, a while back, my friend Denise over at SunnyDays  came up with a great idea called "my truth Monday"... And it was going to be a simple post each Monday... I fully intended on participating each and every week.... Clearly, that didn't happen!! But this week it was simple... Pick your "one word" for 2014... It's all based on an article that's been floating around in the blogosphere for a while and I really liked it. You can read more about it here

So... What's my word for 2014??

I'm sure it comes as no surprise, given that I named my blog "good ENOUGH teacher"... I've been the over-achieving, perfectionist, driving myself and my family crazy, working non-stop, making myself sick, super-teacher for too long... And after reading a book this summer, I felt that it was time to let some things go and accept that, sometimes, it's really okay to just be "good enough"... Case in point... The last day before Christmas break... I did NOT throw my class a huge party.... There were a few reasons for this, but I'll post more about that later... But let me just say... When I woke up to nearly a foot of snow that day, I was thankful I had planned a more mellow day for my kiddos. We hung out and practiced our song for the school sing-along, then when that was over, we came back and worked on a fabulous holiday packet from one of my favorite local bloggers, Lory Evans... (You can check out the packet here!) 

As you can see, it was a chill day in my classroom..... No bells and whistles, nothing over the top... But it was GOOD ENOUGH for my students. I even heard one boy declare to his table that this was "the best day ever!" That just made my whole day. It truly is the simple things in life that matter most. And if I could pick a second word, I think I would choose "simplify"... Which kind of goes hand in hand with "enough"... 

Okay, enough of my late night rambling... I'm going to leave you with a YouTube video from my dear friend Julie de Azevedo (author of The Burnout Cure, which I blogged about this summer)... This song is called "Make enough of me", and I think it's something many of us can relate to. I hope you love it. Happy 2014!!
Okay apparently I'm not smart enough to figure out how to embed a video from YouTube with this app on my iPad... So the link will have to do for now. I'll try to fix it later. Click here to view the video on YouTube.