Monday, November 25, 2013

Champagne Life on a Beer Budget

If you knew  me in real life you'd know that I enjoy some of the finer things in life. You know all the stuff I can't afford on a poor teacher's budget. In order to enjoy these things I've become a really good shopper over the past several years. To me it is important to save on the necessities and splurge on the un-necessities.. Right? I always try to find classic pieces that I can wear year after year. This is how I have found happiness, I swear;) No trendy business. With this in mind I've found a few recent purchases that I suggest you splurge on! 1...2...3..SHOP

If your building is a little lax like mine these are perfect to be comfy at your horseshoe table without wearing those boring old lady dress pants..I'm actually wearing them right now and they are PERFECT PERFECT PERFECT. Plus free shipping..what more could you ask for?

Another Nordstrom find..this time on the sale rack. I must admit that this is the most comfortable item I have purchased all year. They have 18 different colors and it feels like a sweatshirt. It is so sassy I swear you need to add this to your Christmas list.

A white blouse is a must have. I have one similar to this that I found at T.J. Maxx. Although it is sheer it is school appropriate if you wear a long sleeve white shirt underneath it. On weekends wear a tank top.

In order to celebrate my piles upon piles of ungraded papers I'm drinking wine instead. And gooing over pictures of my adorable niece and giving myself a homemade mani/pedi..because obviously no one can afford a gel mani unless they do it at home.. And if you do like me don't buy Shellac brand. I've found something cheaper (Of course) from Sally's.

Thee end.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ice Cream Bribery....Recent purchases

This week we did our benchmark assessments with Fountas and Pinnell which I dread. They are so tedious and I really feel like they waste so much time. I give up 8 hours of instruction listening to kids read the same books over and over again. I listen to my kids read all the time in guided reading so I feel like I already know their strengths and weakness but I don't complain:) I do as I am told. Telling a child they are a "T" or a "U" means nothing to me so that is why I don't enjoy them. Star testing is however growing on me and this week I had excellent results! Of course, I use bribery as motivation and it worked!! I have 22/25 students improve on their STAR reading test and I believe 20/25 (give or take 1 or 2) improved on their STAR math. I was excited. It is so hard to get students to care about their testing when it really means nothing to them. Our district tracks our classroom STAR testing and compares our scores with all 5th grade classes within our district.. Pretty scary huh!?

On a more exciting note, today is (or was) my 25th birthday! WOO HOO! This beauty arrived at our classroom this afternoon from my very thoughtful boyfriend. I love how they added Gert to the corner. She is my favorite. Obviously we are cheering for the Cards to win!

As a gift to myself I've done A LOT of TPT shopping this week! Today I was given a $100 check from our PTO to purchase TPT resources and I couldn't be happier to spend it. Let me share.

I've been wanting this for a while and I finally broke down and purchased it. I think it is going to be really beneficial once I sit down and read through it. I'm going to actually use it tomorrow for practice over theme!

I've purchased all three of her writing units and they are WONDERFUL!!! I don't know how I would have made it through narratives. I can't wait to use this for opinions.

I shrunk these bad boys down to 65% to glue into our math journals. We did two of these today and I really think they helped my students understand our standard better. They allow for great math discussion. After a couple more times of practice I'm going to have my students break down into groups to do them together. I quickly added these to my unit.

I printed all the stories out of both of these for my kids to read next week. They are differentiated (that's why I bought both) I think it will be a fun switch up and they will enjoy reading these during silent reading.

With all the wonderful resources I've purchased recently I don't know how I could ever make anything ever again. I have a ton of items on my wish list too so If you would like to send me $$$ let me know and we can have that immediately arranged. This weekend I'm headed back to MIZZOU for Homecoming! I'm super pumped to see all my friends from college. We have a big weekend planned. Hooray hurrah mizzou-ah!
I hope I don't have too many typos! This Cardinals game is out of control!!

I was flattered to be mentioned in the Top 50 Elementary Teacher Blogs by Teacher Certification I came in #43. I'll take it;) Check out all the other WONDERFUL blogs, they are so deserving.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Organizing Units of Instruction

Organizing our "Units of Instruction" will be the death of me this year. We have to create units meeting state wide criteria throughout the year and turn them into our district for "grading". If you ask me it is a huge waste of paperwork to fill out but it has a good purpose---to organize a unit that you can reuse year after year.

At the beginning of each unit we have an outline of the standards. I believe that we used these.

 Next, we put copies of the I can statements. We post these in our class on our "I can" wall.

After  that, I have my student checklist of standards. This allows me to do a quick assessment while walking around the room or doing an exit slip. I can track all this for RTI. These came from here, I think!

My co-teacher has helped me become extremely organized this year and I can't imagine doing it any other way. We write out our daily plans which has helped me TONS.

After that we put all of our resources, practices and assessments in order of the standards under each day. 
Life is easy. (Until you have to plan the next unit of course)

How do you organize your units? I did them online the previous two years but this year I went back to paper. I think it is much easier to understand what you are teaching if you can actually hold the papers in your hand..but maybe that is just me!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Teaching Theme in 5th Grade RL.5.2

I finally feel like I'm starting to understand 5th grade curriculum and actually know what I'm teaching now. For the past two months I have been so lost---but the more I read and study CCSS I have a better understanding of what is going on in the 5th grade world. With that in mind we started on identifying theme this week or as I would like to call it... RL5.2.
For theme this week we introduced it by looking at Story Line Online. I was observed during this lesson and it went PERFECTLY. I passed out post-it notes for students to write down their thoughts of the theme during the video. After they were finished they "turned and talked" with their partner to discuss their understanding of the theme. (I really liked this video that facilitates reading discussion, excellent example) While they are watching the video I moved around the room to check understanding on "theme"- is their theme too narrow, is it correct etc. I use a class checklist system to identify students who are struggling with this to pull during RTI time.

Moving on..

We are also looking at these two books for interactive read alouds (This is the book list we use). We are doing balanced literacy in my building and I'm really falling in love with it. The more I do with it the more I enjoy reading with my students. I have such a good group of 5th graders and they LOVE to learn. These are the books I do my guided practice with at the beginning of the week. I'm doing the I do, we do, you do model.


For shared reading, we are using THESE task cards.
This is what we are using for homework. I think I will only use the multiple choice parts of the packet though. I bought the whole 

In guided reading (small group instruction) we are using

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Performance Assessment Freebies

In my Master Of Administration class we are currently learning about Performance Assessments. With the big push of Common Core into the classrooms more performance assessment are necessary in order to help our students become proficient in more rigorous skills. I'm working on a super boring project but thought I'd share the websites I've visited throughout my research that have free performance assessments. Most of these websites align the assessment to the specific Common Core strand... So if you are looking for an exam aligned to what you are currently teaching these are perfect. Enjoy! Because they are all FREEEEE! Most contain scoring rubrics as well.

5th Grade Performance Events

DESE’s Smarter Balanced summative assessments in mathematics. These assessments are designed to measure the range of student abilities in the Common Core State Standards. Students must prove evidence with concepts and procedures, problem solving, reasoning and modeling.

14 Common Core aligned performance assessments for 5th grade created by Georgia Department of Education.  Along with intervention, differentiation, and technology ideas that go along with each assessment. 

Several different performance exams aligned with Common Core standards. Contains assessments, student samples and grading rubrics.
Performance assessments created by the New York City Board of Education. These assessments are were prepared in order to not only teach performance assessing but also to engage students in learning. They are scored based on solving the problem and critiquing the reasoning of others..    

35 different performance assessments with grading rubrics created by Mathematics Assessment Resource Service. Contains a teacher friendly outline that is common core aligned.

Five performance assessments to provide the classroom teachers with resources to assist in learning about and implementing performance-based math assessments in their classrooms. Assessments are also available in Spanish.

 One assessment for upper elementary students involving calculating passed time. Multiple problems.

Are you already using these in your classroom? Am I years behind the rest of the world? I'd love to know.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Teaching Inferences in 5th Grade RL.5.1

We don't reinvent the wheel in my building. We don't have time for it. We call it using our resources. We just finished up a week on inferences and it went so well. We dug up everything we had, reviewed our standards and came up with a plan. In our Balanced Literacy program we are doing Interactive Read Alouds and Shared Readings. We start each unit with an IRA. To teach Inferences we chose the book The Gardener By Sarah Stewart. My students loved it and it has so many opportunities to make inferences. Truly a beautiful story. Before the read, we pulled a really easy Smart Notebook activity to introduce inferences, here.

We get our list of books from this guide called Interactive Read-Alouds. It has lesson plans for each book that it list. Our school bought this book with each book that it has a lesson plan over several years ago. It is a great resource. Although it is pricey it would be totally worth it if you are looking to do IRAs in your class. You would just have to purchase each individual book on your own. The lesson plans are already made up so we just grab them and go with it.

In small group we used these free worksheets from They are simple to copy and use in a group.

We used this poster as a model for providing evidence.

& this for independent work

Next, we are teaching theme and summarizing.


Monday, September 30, 2013

What I've bought recently....TPT edition

I swear I'm not dead... my head is still above water..BARELY. Transitioning to 5th grade is tough when you have ZERO resources and ZERO dollars to spent. I've come up with my list of best TPT finds that I've purchase since school has started.. I don't even want to know how much money I've spent. Please do not remind me.

I purchased this today actually and I've over the moon to use it. I just have to find the time. None of the younger grades in my building are teaching roots yet...We are still making the transition to Common Core. This packet is a great tool that could supplement your reading program.

I just started this narrative unit today and I'm so excited for it. Since I'm teaching all 5th grade writing I've really looked into resources for it. This unit has been the best narrative unit I've purchased so far...and I purchased three others:( wah wah wah..

This will do the part for assessing wonderfully however I didn't know how I was going to each any of it!! So I had to buy the 4th/5th grade writing and grammar task cards to help with my instruction. They are a perfect pair together. Who knew?
 I have been using these everyday now!
No word wall yet since I do not have access to a colored printing.. lame I know. But I was happy with the size of these beauties.
We are posting our objectives in our classrooms and these are great. They don't come with science or SS though.. Read the fine print. I failed to do that:) Of course! Ha. Still worth it though.

The following three things I haven't been able to use yet but I've excited to fit them in sometime this year.. We just haven't learned enough to use them yet. I would recommend them all though.
So now that I've spent 1/2 my paycheck I better be sticking to 5th grade for a long while. I can't imagine switching grades again for several more years! YIKES


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Room 143

Welcome to my world. 143.

My desk is controlled chaos..I promise

I love my paper organizer to the left of my desk

I have them labled so I can just grab my lesson plans
and copies
My Big Lots steal

My books, still transitioning to lexiles.. I hate 'em

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my  curtains. My favorite seamstress made these in 2 days. She is really amazing. She could sew a house I swear.

My computer and back board

More to come!

Anyone had a lice scare yet? I truly do believe I had it two weeks ago. Two girls in my class have already had it and I'm sure it is still lingering somewhere. I had the nurse check me TWICE. I couldn't even sleep at night I was so itchy. I woke up and steamed my whole bed, washed my sheets, scrubbed my head, fried every hair with my straightener and never itched since. Everyone told me I was just going crazy but I'm not lying I really think I had it. I'm clean now though I swear

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Organizing Data & Benchmark Information

So I'm barely hanging in 5th grade. Each day is easier and so far I'm in love with it. I'm so excited to share that I am the 5th grade writing teacher and was able to give up teaching science. YUCK! I love teaching writing and I really feel like this chance will allow me to focus more on spreading my love for it! Now that I'm done being cheesy...Let me share with you how I'm organizing all my data that I have to do---behavior, Star Math, Star Reading, F&P Benchmarks and so on.

First I downloaded this editable student list and filled one with my kids first and last names.

 Then I made 1 billion copies. Seriously, I really did because I'll be using one for everything.

Then I fill them in. I label a different sheet for each benchmark and also use Quarter 1,2,3,4 for data collections. This allows me to see it in one place. I really CAN NOT stand looking through STAR data and benchmark stuff after I use it. It is just too confusing and usually has a surplus of information that isn't what I'm looking for. This way it is short and sweet. Here I've circled my students who are below level.

Hopefully this gives you an idea on how to simplify all your paperwork. Write it down and THROW IT AWAY!!! (You can always view/reprint the report again;) 
You can also do this via computer by downloading the files and saving them to your GoogleDocs or desktop. I'd be sure to back it up on GoogleDocs if you choose to do this in case your computer crashes. 

This is helping me keep my sanity.

Good luck.

Friday, August 23, 2013

One day down, One billion to go! Parent letter, expectations & Number Line Giveaway!

Well I survived my first day in fifth grade and it went so well. I was so impressed with my students and let me tell you. That usually doesn't happen the first day;) I have high expectations. The building I am now working in is extremely structured. The rules are practiced and practiced and practiced and followed to a T.  What I have noticed about this building verses other buildings is that all the teachers are on the same boat. I have never seen such unity in behavior management and it really makes a difference. I remember previously being so frustrated at other classes that didn't have the same rules as mine and my kids as well. They notice when other classes are wilder than them and it is refreshing to see a school wide expectation followed. Our Matrix is a HUGE part of our building. Today we went over it and the kids could point out where things were updated from the previous year!

I know I should have done this before but I wanted to share my first day parent letter as well as my expectations list. I modified my co-teachers list so I can not take credit for her work. She is amazingly organized and a fantastic educator. You can modify your own by clicking on the GoogleDoc

Have you seen this amazing video? This lady is such an inspiration.

I really want a class motto to say each day. I love hers:"I am somebody, I was somebody when I came and I’ll be a better somebody when I leave.  I am powerful and I am strong.  I deserve the education that I will get here.  I have things to do, people to impress, and places to go"

Don't forget to enter my Kim's Number Line Giveaway! It is over on the 26th. 

And this is me after two days of school!