Thursday, January 31, 2013

Awesomeness That Has to Be Shared!

So I'm being totally random in the post today, but I have stumbled upon two items that I feel are just too awesome not to blog and share!

The first came from Twitter...Remember to follow me here: @SarahStadler20. I was scrolling through looking at the wonderful things educators are sharing and discussing, when I found a link to Lindsey Fuller's Blog. She is also a sixth grade teacher so I was more than willing to check it out! It was wonderful but I fell in LOVE with her latest post about MLK having an Instagram. My students are absolutely obsessed with Instagram and all they talk about is making sure things are put on their accounts. I never thought to have characters in stories, famous people in history, or individuals that we study have "Instagram" accounts. It was genius! Here is her picture of the bulletin board that her students made. It is super cool and definitely gets the students interested in a different way...ways they do not even realize they are learning. I am beyond excited to try this within my classroom. (Check out the original post and her explanation of what she did HERE)

The second thing I fell in LOVE with today was a Pep-Talk that our Language Arts specialist sent us. With the daily stresses and overwhelming struggles that just being a classroom teacher comes with, this little guy really finds the words to motivate. This video is too good to keep for myself. Enjoy :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Workday Teacher

It's Thursday and it's my first day this week with students. Our benchmark window has also opened today so we are taking care of business early! Students are working diligently this morning on their Language Arts benchmark. I know they will do wonderful :)

With today being the first day with students, we have had two - much needed - teacher workdays Tuesday and Wednesday. I figured since this was a topic not typically discussed on my blog, I might as well open the door to my classroom and fill you in on the list of things I make to accomplish for teacher workdays.

Tuesday was a busy day! We had a professional development workshop first thing in the morning. It went fabulous! I attended a session called: Promoting Literacy in ELA and Social Studies. (Perfect fit since that is what I teach!) It was held by our curriculum specialists Celeste and Adam. They did a wonderful job and definitely taught helpful information for both of my content areas. They even reminded us of the awesome Gaston County website that they have created with helpful hints and tips. Check out Celeste's LANGUAGE ARTS site; Check out Adam's SOCIAL STUDIES site!

After the workshop we had the rest of the afternoon in our classrooms to get whatever we needed complete. I tackled the lovely timelines that my students did for the four ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, India, Greece, and Rome. They were fantastic! I absolutely loved them and I feel that my students really enjoyed working on them too. Below is what my desk looked like trying to reorganize and get through them:

Grading the timelines took me to basketball practice at 3pm. So the rest would wait until Wednesday. Wednesday was almost the opposite time-wise compared to Tuesday. Wednesday we had the morning to complete our personal agendas, then moved into a Faculty meeting at 1pm. The morning consisted of the final timelines to be graded, entering grades into NCWise for the 2nd 9 week period, organizing my room, and getting ready for RESEARCH!!! We are beginning our two-week stint in the Media Center to teach students the research process and get them writing their very first research paper! I love this unit and can not wait to get started. However....this takes copies, and copies, and more copies, for students to use, reference to, and get assistance from. Here's just a sneak peek at the multiple help sheets:

To end our workday Wednesday we had a faculty meeting that also double-timed into a mini workshop! It was on a great new website called ClassScape. It is helpful for assessments and students getting specific standard geared questions. You can even schedule assessments for students. Along with students taking the assessments that you assign individually, you can also take the assessment as a class, project it on your SmartBoard, and go over it together! It is fantastic! I can not wait to use it and jump into getting my classes and kiddos interested. If you visit the link above here is a picture of what you'll see and how to get started: 

Hope you enjoyed the glimpse into my busy and always hectic teacher workdays! Now it's time to keep moving on through the regular school days. Have a fabulous Thursday and Friday....until next week :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

2nd Semester?! Already?!

I am still in shock that we are only three days away from the end of the first semester. I can not believe how fast this year seems to be flying by! I absolutely love my kids, we have a wonderful time everyday, and I honestly feel as though I am teaching content better at this time in the year than I was last year (sorry to toot my own horn!).

Before we got out for Christmas Break I got a chance to meet with the wonderful members of my Pinnacle group. (Pinnacle is our Technology program in Gaston County..that I absolutely love. Pinnacle's purpose, from the application, is to:
1      Enhance existing 21st Century professionals to work in Gaston County Schools who will demonstrate the integration of proven technology into the Common Core and Essential Standards.
2      Train participants in creating learner-centered classrooms where technology is a common tool for instruction and learning. 
3      Create a cohort of teachers who will serve as technology leaders and mentors in their respective schools and assist the instructional technology facilitators in professional learning.
4     Provide enrichment for existing technology leaders in our schools.

I was accepted into Pinnacle in the summer of 2011 and am so thankful! It has taught me so much and definitely broaden not only my use of technology, but also the students within my classroom. Without Pinnacle I feel as though I could not have opened my students' eyes into the wide range of technology we use! (Not to mention the sweet technology use we get! Check out my bonuses below!)

At our Pinnacle meeting in December we were to relate the beginning of our school year to a Christmas movie. I picked The Polar Express. I felt as though the year was flying by and I was constantly picking up students, content, material, and other joys along the way! Thinking about the ending to The Polar Express and entering the second semester, I feel as though I would like to take a minute to smell the roses. I would love for things to slow down and allow some real exploration into some topics, ideas, content, and even technology that the students are interested in. My students absolutely love our conversations and content material, but there are times when they want to dive so much deeper and we are unable to. Due to time restraints and the speed at which our Pacing Guide is taking us, I would love for our Polar Express to chill out and slow down it's speed! 

One thing students really enjoyed was their timeline creation. Here is the guidelines and rubric for which students took Ancient Mesopotamia, India, Greece, and Rome and created a timeline of events showing five significant details from each. Students really got into the project and really enjoyed showing their creativeness through Social Studies. Here are some examples: 

They turned out great! Well it is about time for me to hop on that Polar Express again! Until next time..don't forget to follow me on Twitter for daily tweets about my wonderful class, my awesome basketball team, and just amazing Cramerton Middle! 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Getting Crafty!

After the winter Christmas holiday break we are back in full swing on the Dolphin team. Students were a little tried and worn out Wednesday (our first day back), but after a few sets of jumping jacks in the middle of grammar sentences, they were ready to rock-and-roll. 

The pictures from our last post, It's That Time, are finally uploaded and ready to be shared! It was a wonderful way for students to use their writing skills in a fun and crafty manner. Students enjoyed it and totally asked to spend another day in the same way!. Below are some pictures of our exciting day and the too-cute crafts students made :)

Making Christmas Ornaments!

This was new this year! Lava Lamps!


Painted Christmas ornaments

The classic Christmas cookies!

Super cute wreaths! 

Love the creativity!

Another set of snowmen!

Tasty Christmas Trees :)

Gingerbread Houses

Gumdrop Trees!

Yummy cupcakes

Very impressive pillows!

A mini gingerbread village!

Final Products!

Reindeer Rugs!

It was definitely a wonderful day for the Dolphin team! We had a great time and learned how to create "How-To" essays in the process! It's such a wonderful day with the kiddos.

Now that we are back in the groove with January rolling-in, Don't forget to check out the Dolphin Team January Newsletter for what exciting things we are getting into this month. Research is on our brains ;)