Thursday, October 3, 2013

My Nerves Still Work!

Ahhhh! That's how I want to start this blog post! As many of you know...I'm working on my masters through Appalachian State University on top of beginning a new teaching job, in a new state, in a new grade level, in two new content areas.'s crazy! I absolutely love my eighth graders and I can not express how excited I am to teach Math and Science (in South Carolina none-the-less) but my life is go-go-go right now.

This week was definitely a case-in-point situation. As many of you know...again...I participated in the UNCC Writing Project over the summer and had an amazing time! I loved it and really think that it benefited me as a teacher. This week I was invited to present with my friend, Meredith, at the UNCC Writing Project's Fall Conference. Needless to say...I was nervous. We were asked to present Meredith's strength in Fine Arts (as a Drama teacher in Charlotte-Mecklenburg) and mine...apparently technology. ;)

Here are some documenting photos I took from our day...
It's Official...I'm a presenter :)
Lacy beginning our day!

Meredith and I getting ready!
The nerves are kicking in!
Loving my new day book! Especially since my last one is full!
Ahhh! Here we are! This is our presenting-room!
My homemade badge representing my thoughts on participatory learning!
The entire group ready for the fabulous day!
Overall it was a fantastic day and I enjoyed our presentation and many other's that I learned a lot of helpful information from! Not to mention I'm super excited about taking my class to Discovery Place for some Science Discourse sometime soon :)

I will be posting again soon...There's lots to catch you up on that has been going on in the fabulous life of Team 8-3 at Clover Middle...So until next time... :)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Off to a Great Start!

It's been a solid month at Clover Middle; and I can say that it has been an eventful and speedy month! I think that these have been some of the best days to start a school year that I have had. We are beginning to dive into our curriculum....Math, we started into Integers and adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing integers and in Science, we looked into topographic maps and how we use them within daily lives. In beginning our starting units of study we looked into hands-on activities and labs to get our feet wet. Check out some of our labs investigating topographic maps:

In Academy we began to read a novel together called The Juvie Three. I honestly have never heard of the book before this school year...but reading it ahead of my students, I can say that it is very interesting and grabs your attention from the beginning! But before we began reading this novel I decided to check in with my Academy kiddos (we have a small group of 14 that I get to hang out with during this time) and see what they were thinking about eighth grade so far. At the end of the first week of school (I know...this is a little late!) we created our first set of Paper Slide Videos. In their slides students, in groups, decided on 1) what they were nervous about, 2) what they are excited about, 3) what their favorite 7th grade memory was, 4) what their least favorite 7th grade memory was, and 5) what questions they still had. Check out their thoughts...

Until next time.....And I will be within the week... :)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

We Are Up & Running!!

We are up and running and running at Clover Middle School! We started our first day of school on Wednesday and had an absolute fantastic end of the week. I am beyond excited to see my eighth graders Monday morning and continue the great three days that we had this week.

I thought I would to my first post for the "official" school year on the organize and layout of my room (since I don't have all the signed forms to put my wonderful kiddos on the blog yet). Plus, the first few days are always "Hi, how are you?" "Here's how things work..." "Here's how we run..." "Introductions, introductions, introductions." I'll share some pretty cool activities, "get-to-know-you," that we did between Thursday and Friday early this week...but to's our lovely little learning environment. :)

This is my cute little Welcome door! I found this here on Pinterest and fell in love with it. I want to make sure my eighth graders feel loved...but not in a cheesy-sixth grade student way. I feel as though this Welcome door allows our 8-3 team to follow the overall "team" theme we are creating at Clover! 

This is my "While You Were Out" board. I write brief descriptions of what I cover throughout the week in case there are any absent students. This way students can check out what we covered, and come ask me specifically about assignments and topics! Great resource from Mrs. Cunningham at Cramerton (my old home!). 

I decided to make my only bulletin board my "news, calendar, and who's out" board. I keep my calendar updated with major tests, events, and projects for my students. This month is open house (for "Meet the Teacher" Night) and a Special Event for the first day of school! Underneath my calendar I will put news bulletins that come out for the school year. Flyers for events, dances, and games will be placed here. My Who's Out section is where students get their number, based on their alphabetic order of last name in each class, and move to their location when they leave the room. This helps keep track of how many students are actually out of the room and where they are! (Check out where the idea came from here!) The kids seem to pick up on it quickly and hold each other accountable for moving the numbers back! It's pretty awesome!

This is my little reading corner. I used to have a couch in my room that students loved. But I think the beach chairs are catching on here at Clover! I also have my books, most of them, labeled by A.R. grade level and points so that students know what books are on their reading level. I think I need a bigger book shelf. ;)

My awesome window in my room! It's a nice view outside and I love my navy curtains with silver chevron ribbons to hold them back! (Blinds always open!) 

The left picture is my student-resource center. I have the drawers labeled for all the materials that students need! I got this idea from a new colleague at Clover. The right picture is the side of my file cabinet that I have decorated and have an idea for....I have had students trace their hands and put goals on all fingers for the first semester. (Here's where I got this idea!) Once students finish their hands I'll put in an update :)

This is a continuation of the student-resource center for notebook paper, pens, pencils, hand sanitizer, and a pencil sharpener. Also, this is where I used black electrical tape (done by my wonderful husband) to make my homework portion of the white board. 

The finished whiteboard! Homework side, I Can statement side, with my board in the middle!
Nice little set-up :)

This is my corner! 

Bins organized with the period numbers on them. These bins help me hold onto Math and Science notebooks when students do not need to take them home. Students can keep them in my room, in these bins, rather than in their lockers. I've found this helps keep students organized too! 

This is my "Let's do our ARRRR best" board! I used blue bulletin paper with hot pink duck-tape to improvise a bulletin board! (Check out the original idea here!) It turned out not-to-shabby if you ask me. wonderful husband put this together for me! I plan on using this space to highlight students' best work and show off some fabulous students and what they are capable of. 

Finally, this is our bulletin board outside of our team rooms. All our students' names are on there and I plan on keeping this bulletin board updated with the seasons. I am super excited that we have a team bulletin board that can be used to encourage students throughout the school year. I love fru-fruing things :)

I am looking forward to beginning to document the wonderful things that my eighth graders and I are going to get into this school year. I already have my next blog planned out with exactly the activities we want to share and show-off. I am looking forward to a great year and know that my classroom is ready! 

Until next time.... :)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Welcome Back!

Welcome Back! I can not believe that it is the middle of August and we are back in action. It has been a great, wonderful, busy, and super informative summer! I enjoyed it immensely. I was booked to the max...but it was definitely worth it. I completed 16 more hours of my Masters in Middle Grades Education; that's where I got the awesome experience in the UNCC Writing Project. Check out how wonderful that experience was in my previous blog :)

I also guess I need to make it blog-official that I am switching teaching jobs. I have absolutely loved Cramerton Middle School and enjoyed every minute of my four years. I am leaving my wonderful sixth grade world of Language Arts and Social Studies to enter an eighth grade world of Math and Science. I am moving down to Clover Middle School in South Carolina and could not be more excited! I will greatly miss the friends, students, and family that I had at Cramerton, but I am looking forward to new opportunities and experiences at Clover Middle. I am eager to teach Math and Science (they have always been my favorite subjects through school) and I am excited to extend my family into the Clover community :)

With the move, I had to pack up and clean my room at Cramerton (this definitely brought some tears) and take all my things to Clover. This was done throughout the summer and during my Masters courses. It was a busy few weeks!

My room at Cramerton...all packed up!
This week was our first official week back at Clover Middle. I began my week with New Teacher Orientation (in the Clover School District) on Monday and Tuesday. We learned a lot about the district, their vision, mission, and philosophy, as well as some helpful hints and suggestions to use in our classroom. Wednesday was our first workday back at Clover and our convocation for the district. I loved the entire day. It was definitely a lot of information...but helpful and very meaningful. Not to mention the awesome teachers in the district who put together this too-cool gem...Check them out below :)

The binder of important CSD information! 

To end the week, we had workdays filled with meetings and room time. I got to meet with my new teammate (who is awesome by the way!), my department members (who are super nice and helpful), and other individuals throughout Clover. To say that I remember everyone I met throughout the week...would only make me laugh. I can say that everyone...and seriously...I mean everyone...was super supportive, encouraging, and just as excited about me being in Clover School District as I am myself! I honestly believe that I am in great hands and company in Clover and honestly believe that I am in the best school district in South Carolina! :)

I'm Clover Middle ready :)
Next week we begin with two more workdays; Monday night is "Meet the Teacher" night and I'm already looking forward to it! Then I get to meet all of my wonderful kiddos Wednesday! Let the countdown begin! I am putting the final touches on my room, the organization, and the overall "theme"...Promise to post once it all comes together. Of course, I'll recap my first three days as a Blue Eagle too!

Until then.... :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

It's Not "Goodbye"...It's "See You Later"

Today was the final day for the Summer Institute at #unccwp. It was sad...I'll be honest. Ok, was super sad. I really am not ready for this to end. I think I was serious when Jashonai and I were "joking" about showing up Monday morning around 8:45am to UNCC in the Cameron building. ;)

I have done my reflection blog (my really thinking about my learning blog), and my what I'm going to miss and not miss blog, so today, in relation to the last day, I think I'll just post some of our makes? I don't want to get emotional writing I'll just going to make a hodge podge of "makes" from our adventure. Enjoy. :)

My KaKaw's group Prezi on our Inquiry.

This morning we made three word descriptions on our experience of #unccwp for Good Morning America.

This is my Tagxedo from my blog. I posted my blogs from #unccwp into the program and these are the highlights! 

The fabulous people I met through #unccwp. These are amazing individuals who I look to keep in touch with, work with, and collaborate with from now until forever. (Thanks Kendra for the collage!) I miss everyone already :(

Until next time....

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Things to Remember

Well my #unccwp is coming to an end. I am super bummed. I would post about my learnings and understandings from the entire experience...but I did that yesterday (look at me...ahead of the game for once! Check out my wobbling here.) So, today I decided to make a quick overview of things I'll miss and things I might not miss so much from my time at #unccwp...

Things I Might Not Miss So Much....

- The squeaky chairs.

- The constant construction.

- The freezing room temperatures at times.

- The worst, most horrible, upsetting hill of all time.


Things I Will Definitely Miss....

- The calming circle.

- My ever-growing Daybook.

- The thinking and thought processing..."The Wobbling"

- The amazing group.

- And finally, but probably most of all, my ever-so-awesome-wonderful Writing Group.

Tomorrow is our last day at #unccwp for 2013. Again, I am super bummed. But I will take my thinkings, my experiences, and my friends that I made along my writing road. I'll post from our celebration (and maybe even a few tears) tomorrow.

Until tomorrow.... :)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Possibly Getting Mind Boggled?!?

I don't really know where to start today. I thought today was great at #unccwp, just like everyday has been, but I think I am getting my mind pulled in thousands of directions. I think that I am learning so many great ideas! However, I worry about applying them in my classroom.

Here's what I'm thinking...I can definitely alter some of the demos that I have seen throughout our time together. I think they will definitely improve my students' writing. Specifically six-word memoirs from Jashonai, Body Paragraphs by Lil, writing choices and creativity from Erika, Jenny, and Tiffany, multi-media sources from Kim and Ashley, and Meredith's and Wendy's music inspiration. These were all super ideas and totally "tweakable" for my own classroom. I am so inspired and encouraged to get my kiddos this year and try some of these new strategies!
My huge DayBook as of today & some of my ideas for the tweakables :)
There are a couple demos that really got me thinking...and still thinking...and really wondering how, not only can I use it in my classroom, but just thinking and questioning the way to teach writing.

Kendra's good writing rules: Still thinking on this one! Kendra asked us what the "rules" are for good writing. It was mind blowing because my group made rules, but then didn't like where writing pieces fell into a ranking system due to the restrictions of our rules.

My group's good writing "rules."
Ben's bad writing: This one specifically relates to Kendra's demo because Ben had us write a "bad" paragraph. Therefore, in order for us to know bad writing...wouldn't that mean we know what constitutes "good" writing...and therefore, we would have to know what good writing "rules" to break in order to make it bad writing?
Now that is bad writing!
Tonya's and Mary Ellen's revision: Tonya's demo today really got me thinking about my wobbling yesterday between school writing and free writing. As I mentioned in my blog before, I thought revision was dumb. I change my mind. Tonya's explanation and demo today really showed me that revision can be enhancing writing and being deeper; not necessarily just looking for errors and mistakes. That really encourages me in the revision process, not only for me...but for my students. My thinking here though came from our discussion afterwards on the idea of transition sentences. Through the outlines, that we are instructed to use, we teach students how to write transitional sentences at the end and beginning of paragraphs. Therefore, with Tonya's demo today of cutting and pasting (done by partners) writing pieces back together...wouldn't the transition sentences "give it away?" Therefore, this wouldn't work to it's fullest potential?

My re-constructed letter by Jashonai
I think I am going to leave the #unccwp with more questions than I came with. Is that ok? Did I do this right? Not to mention I'm still bummed that I had to miss Sarah D.'s demo because of my classes Monday night. :(

Until tomorrow...I'll leave you with a peak into what my night (with reading materials, prezi fixing, and project instructions) looks like :)
Getting my homework on!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Wobbling Just a Little

Ahhh, it's done, it's done! I honestly have no idea why I was so nervous today. I mean goodness; I teach my lovely little sixth graders everyday without getting nervous (OK, maybe the first day of every year I am a little nervous). But was a little ridiculous if I do say so myself?

I have to say though...I think the demo went really well!?! (, I think it did.) I think I wobbled (figuratively kiddos) more than I anticipated. I find myself REALLY not liking outlines; but then I find myself asking, what else can I do to help my students get their ideas down and written out?

In my demo I wanted to get our group to wobble with me. Wobbling about whether to use outlines, not use outlines, when to use outlines, if outlines are restrictive, etc? I like how Sally mentioned, during our after discussion, that outlines typically lead to students simply filling in blanks on a piece of paper. But, then Nick (who was in the Viking Group...with no outline) mentioned that his group had a lot of ideas, but were not sure where to begin? Therefore, I'm back wobbling. However, I do think that, as I was saying yesterday, Erika's list of suggestions from her demo would help get my students writing about their topic. Even if they create a comic strip, a letter, or even a chart or diagram...wouldn't that be similar to an outline? Their ideas would be getting down on a paper and then we could use that short writing to lead into a formal piece? I think that works...right? I mean, I think it makes sense.

Then, still in our after-demo conversation, Steve mentioned that he struggles when writing anything, even in his present day writing..So, by not giving an outline, are we preparing student writing for "real world" writing? Won't students struggle throughout all their writing as they mature? I still struggle with what to put in this wonderful-blog-thing I got going on...and I definitely struggle with where and how to start on most of my papers for my masters classes. Therefore, by not giving students an outline, would that be preparing them and helping them develop problem-solving skills when writing? Whoa, now my question is to research this more and possibly take this to a higher source? County-wide? Just an idea :)

Me doing my thing today! Demo Day!
Before closing out for today, I wanted to give you a real look at my wonderful writing group. They are fabulous and I am so thankful that the "Writing Group Gods" have placed me in this group. :)
Kim, Jenny, and Kendra down the left. Your's truly and Nick on the right. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Demos, Thinking, & Connections!

#HappyMonday! It has been a day. I began at the #UNCCWP until about 11:45am. It was, of course, a great way to begin my day. I really liked Erika's demo this morning about choosing which way to write and thinking about audience. Her demo really got me thinking about my demo (it's tomorrow and I'm already nervous!) about "school writing" and "free writing." It makes me think about outlines (which is what I'm highlighting tomorrow) and if they are really necessary? Erika gave us a huge list of ways to represent our thoughts on democracy and what it takes to be successful. Thinking about how you want to present your information allows you to think about your audience; therefore, are outlines necessary? I am anxious to do my demo tomorrow, and probably a good-bit nervous, but hoping to think more about this idea!
My graphic organizer and then letter!
Starting to map out my Inquiry thinking.
In my Recent Trends class today (the middle 1pm-5pm part of my day) we watched an interesting video about education and it's current state. I thought I would share it today since Steve shared a very similar video today on where good ideas come from. I thought it was interesting how two of my three classes included these little videos....Look at these connections :)

Until tomorrow...for a whole day of the #UNCCWP!