Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Time Is Flying!!

This year is by far the fastest year of my teaching career I believe I have had. I can absolutely not believe that this year has just flown by. I mean goodness ... It's already DECEMBER next week!!
As this 2012 year comes to a quick close out, I would like to take a moment to enjoy the Christmas lights and reflect on how this amazing year is going :)

Learner-Centered Teaching - I have absolutely loved having the laptops with my classes. They have definitely been helpful and effective in my classroom. Students have enjoyed working with Google Docs and Google Presentations. With Google Docs students have worked individually to type and finalize their Peter Pan Essays along with an Ancient Mesopotamia writing prompt. Google Presentations have gone great with both the Blue Dolphins and Gray Dolphins. Blue Dolphins have focused their attention in small groups, of four or five, with presentations on Peter and the Starcatchers. Gray Dolphins are beginning to work in partners with Vocabulary Webs in presentation on key literary terms. I definitely believe Google Apps have my students mesmerized ;)

Relation to Common Core & Essential Standard - Using technology with the new curriculum and Common Core is a BREEZE! It fits so well! Students are able to do research more regularly with technology and the curriculum, students are able to interact with text through NOOK and Kindle Apps for PC as we read as a class, all sort of goodies within the classroom! I feel like my students are using technology on a daily basis, either as a class or small group, individual work!

21st Century Skills - Students have used Google Apps multiple times throughout this year, as well as for various projects. Students have also been able to realize the difference between credible and un-credible sources through our research processes. Students are able to realize valuable websites and understand which can be factual, and which can be "useless." Students are also learning how to interact with text in a way that they have not been previous used to. Students are able to write on books (through NOOK and Kindle), highlight passages, key words, etc. Students are also using KidBlog to communicate with the entire Dolphin team in order to relate and continue classroom conversations on our content topics. Students are learning proper Blogging and communication techniques through the internet.

Student Work Samples - Click Here for Google App Wonderfulness :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Two Day Stations

The week before the Thanksgiving Holiday break is here. What to do, what to do, with two wonderful days with the Dolphin Team?

Well, as any other teacher across the country, I am a little behind in my pacing guide. (But that's part of teaching right?) Therefore, we needed to cover A Lot (maybe an understatement) in the these precious two days before break. What better way to cover a lot of content, review, practice, and research than through STATIONS! They are a fan favorite am I right?

Here's my station break down for today and tomorrow:
Station 1: We are working on our writing prompt for the state on Mesopotamia achievements. Students picked one of the following: transportation, irrigation, or weaponry to write an essay on. Students are writing a magazine article on that topic that explains how and why it was invented, how it has influenced other civilizations and societies over time, and how it has created a lasting impact. In this station students were using articles from NC Wise Owl to gather information answering those questions.

Station 2: Basically like station one, students are gathering information using a variety of books from our lovely Media Center!

Station 3: At this station students were completing their Ancient Mesopotamian Government notes, as well as their Mesopotamia Part 2 Study Guide. We will be testing Friday the 30th!!

Station 4 (Blue Dolphins): Students were working on their Peter and the Starcatchers Google Presentations at this station. Students were logged into their Google accounts and working on their Presentation displaying characters, setting, feelings, and key words throughout the novel as we read! (They loveee the laptops!)

Station 4 (Gray Dolphins): Students were catching up on some reading in Peter and the Starcatchers. Reading chapters 11 through 14, students would have a little literature circle and work on their Character Trait worksheet. (I tweaked this page from a Pinterest site...Check it Out! Don't forget toFOLLOW ME while your there!!)

Station 5 (Blue Dolphins): Following our culture lessons on Mesopotamia, students were creating Ziggurat Pop-Up books for Ancient Mesopotamia. Students created these adorable books and then took notes from the SmartBoard in order to realize the key characteristics of Ziggurats, as well as their importance. (Too Cute Template Here!)

Station 5 (Gray Dolphins): Students have completed their Literature Circles on the novels Manaic Magee, Long Way From Chicago, The Watsons Go To Birmingham, The Bridge to Terabithia, and A Wrinkle In Time. At this station students were creating a 555 Title Page with 5 sentences, events, or unique characteristics, 5 pictures displaying those 5 sentences, and then 5 colors to make it creative. Students love making these 555 Title Pages as ways to show me that have comprehended the material and made the necessary connections.

Those stations were a hit with students! I got the classic "Class is over already?" "I love making the pop-up!" "Can we do stations again?" Well my lovely little students...the answer to the last question...Of Course!! How about TOMORROW ;)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What a Week!

I have to be honest! Last week was by far on the craziest weeks I've had throughout my four years teaching. Last week, as blogged about ;) , started off with an awesome Election Lesson. Students had a blast with it and absolutely were thrilled to talk about the real election results when they came back to school on Wednesday. (We were out Tuesday because of Election Day!)

Well then Wednesday rolled around and the Dolphins operated on a half-day schedule for our core classes. We did this because we rewarded our students who had nine or less demerits for the 1st nine week period. Students receive demerits for instances like forgetting materials, forgetting homework, overly talking, etc. Check out our Demerit Sheet HERE! Students were beyond excited to catch a "break" for their responsibility and relax as their reward. Students were able to bring electronics, games, sports equipment  all to enjoy during the extended reward break.

Thursday was our school-wide half day schedule because of Parent-Teacher Conferences. Students displayed their knowledge of Peter and the Starcatchers through a Character Log and only spent an hour each with me :( From noon to seven in the evening, Mr. Spargo (my teammie) and I were enjoying conferences with our wonderful Dolphin parents. We were able to discuss grades, behavior, and overall performance in sixth grade. It was awesome to see familiar faces and meet new ones for the first time! I do believe we get the chance to work with some pretty amazing parents :)

Friday was a BLAST! The 6th grade Language Arts teachers and myself were able to take the Accelerated Reader (A.R.) goal makers on a reward trip for the first nine weeks! We took all sixth grade students who made their goal to the Regal Cinemas to catch Wreck It Ralph (absolutely adorable!) and then the Franklin Square Ci-Ci's for lunch. Students had an amazing time and an absolute great time. We could not have asked for better bus drivers, movie helpers, or Ci-Ci's staff. It is definitely one of our most favorite trips of the year! We are looking forward to the second nine weeks when students' goals are increased in preparation for Kate's Skating Rink! Good Luck Readers :)

This week started off on Tuesday (with Monday as Veteran's Day). We have already worked our way through Peter and the Starcatchers events, Mesopotamia culture, and new Vocabulary lessons. I know I am super excited to see what the rest of this week holds!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Updates Updates! Read All about it!

I have to say that the month of November is definitely a crazy month! Between Election Day today (p.s. I Voted!), our Demerit Reward Day Wednesday, half-day schedule Thursday with Parent Conferences from 12-7pm, and our Accelerated Reader Reward Trip to the movies and Ci-Ci's Friday, this week is beyond exciting! I will certainly update with pictures later in the week with all of our exciting events this week...but I wanted to go ahead and get out our November Newsletter. Make sure to check it out and keep up-to-date with what's going on for the Dolphin Team this month :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Getting Our Voting On!

I am super excited for this year to be an election year! 
This was my first year teaching during an election year and I was certain that I needed to do something special for it! First place I decided to look...of course...was Pinterest! I was super pumped for the amount of resources that were being posted dealing with the election. I found a wonderful site called Hoosier Teacher that had an amazing idea! She used Coke vs. Pepsi..but here's my twist:

First we discussed the huge event occurring tomorrow, why it is important, and why it helps America as a Republic. After discussing these topics, we looked closely at the Electoral College and how it worked. We determined the difference between Popular Votes and Electoral Votes. In order to help with their understanding, students were then given a chance for a "Mock Election." Each student was given 2 States to represent as their Electoral Votes. Then students voted for their winner of the popular M&M vs. KitKat Election. Students wrote down their vote and then we used the interactive map found linked to Hoosier Teacher's site. Check Out the Map To Use Here!

Students then casted their vote on our SmartBoard and changed the color of their state to match their choice! Students picked blue for M&M and red for KitKat. Here are some updates:

After casting our votes and coloring our map, we discussed how the various states counted differently. It was important for students to understand that Blue won very few states, but yet lost by less than 100 Electoral Votes! Students were really into the voting process as they watched their classmates color change the map. It was awesome seeing them get so excited about the whole election process and understanding what it takes to win the presidency. Students also know to watch the news tomorrow and look for the "Magic Number" 270!
P.S...Homework for the night = Go voting with parents, grandparents!!!

Check out the Dolphin Team Elections Here - 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Seasons Come To An End

Well our softball season has officially come to an end. Games are over, practices have finished, pictures have been taken, and uniforms have even been turned in. I have to say that I am beyond proud of the lovely group of girls that I had the pleasure of coaching this season. They have been the most hard-working, determined, and enthusiastic group of players I have had the chance to coach.

We had a wonderful season! Finishing off of Regular Season in second place with a record of 9-1. Only one loss to Chavis Middle School (a great team as well!). That loss was a tough one, losing 10-0...however, we were more prepared and ready the next time we saw them.We made it to the County Playoffs for the first time in my coaching career, and the first time since 2008! We played a tough Belmont team in the first round and pulled it out with a score of 2-1 in 8 innings. They definitely gave us a run and it was a nail biter through the entire game. When we met back up with Chavis in the County Championship, we were ready. We could not have asked to be up against a nicer team. We arrived at Chavis to decorated dugouts and Welcoming signs. They definitely made us feel welcomed at their field. It was also a nail biting game throughout the innings. However, one strong inning from Chavis was all that took us down. We finished 5-0 and second in the county!!

I still get teary eyed thinking about the amazing group of girls we had this season. All of them were so sweet, so in love with the game of softball, and all possessed that drive to get better everyday. We had a blast throughout the entire season and I enjoyed every minute! I will be sad to see the 8th graders move onto High School but wish them nothing but the best...I look forward to next year with my 7th graders as we look to take it one step further next season!

On the ride home from the County
Championship game with our